Monday, April 30, 2012

Friday, April 27, 2012

Thursday, April 26, 2012


"American unions support locked out UK workers"

"The UK workers will join an international protest with colleagues from MMP sites in France, Spain, Austria, Germany, Tunisia and GPA – the largest union in Austria."

International solidarity in response to international exploitation.

The UK subsidiary of Austrian multi-national packaging company Mayr-Melnhof, has victimised and illegally sacked over 140 workers at its factory in Liverpool. On February 18th, following lawful industrial action taken by Unite the Union over the imposition of unfair selection criteria and inferior pay for a limited number of redundancies, Mayr Melnhof Packaging Ltd, locked-out the entire workforce - the first employer lock-out in England for over fifty years. During the lock-out Mayr Melnhof victimised trade union activists, including the dismissal of four workers on trumped up charges. The last act of this rogue employer took place on March 29th, when Mayr Melnhof attempted to illegally shut the factory for good. The company issued illegal notice of closure to Unite - in blatant breach of both UK and EU employment law and has refused to open any form of consultation or negotiation. Unite will not stand by and let 140 workers be subject to illegality and victimisation. The Union is determined to fight the illegal closure and force Mayr Melnhof back to the negotiating table.

(LabourStart campaign, follow through here)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Jeremy "Berkeley" Hunt claims to have acted with "total integrity". That's as opposed to partial integrity.
I suppose the notion that integrity is something that can be sliced up and used sparingly would come naturally to someone up to his neck in carve-ups.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Who was that lady ...?
This mosaic, from the Hull Museum, is usually known as 'the Brantingham Tyche'. It was found in the remains of a Roman villa near Brough, about 12 miles west of Hull. Brough was known to the Romans as Petuaria and was a settlement of some importance. It appears to have been the chief town of a British tribe called the Parisii and was also known as Petuaria Parisiorum.
Hull was known to the Romans as nowhere at all, as it only appears on record (as Wyke) in the early 13th century.
The term tyche, according to my dictionary, is the name of the Greek goddess of good fortune (Τύχη), but appears to have been used loosely for any local female deity*. So, some think, we have an image of the Goddess of the Parisii. There is another possibility, which this article covers. My only thought on the subject is that those blue eyes don't look like they belong to a Mediterranean-based muse.
My own distant forebears were probably dwelling beyond the frontiers of the Empire, worshipping their own deities, but we're in Parisian** territory now, so a nod in the direction of those who went before does not go amiss.

*The word diva having been hijacked, devalued, and generally abused, is no longer available.

**The French capital was in Roman times Lutetia Parisiorum.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب: BBC: Bahrain versus Syria: Today, I was able to listen to BBC interview with a protester in Bahrain.  What a difference, compared to their interviews with protesters ...

[N.B., click on headline, link below not working.]

Saturday, April 21, 2012

STS Bulletin no.43

"Bahrain is not Syria." PM Cameron


"We want régime change in Syria, stay on message."

It turns out that Bernie Ecclestone's circus and freak show has done the Bahraini people a favour, and Bahraini human rights abusers (cf. Syria) no good at all. Now the media that have studiously ignored Bahrain and concentrated on the similar situation in Syria, are unable to do so any longer. The best laid schemes of politicians and men are scuppered by a greedy midget and his cast of greedy performers. Which calls for another translation -

"Keep politics out of sport."


"Don't get between us and the bloodstained autocrats' largesse."

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

But one aspect of the Titanic disaster has only recently come to light, and that was a corporate trick monstrous in its callous disregard of its employees. Individual letters sent to crew that survived and to the families of crew members who died informed them that the employee had been fired in the early morning of April 15. The charge was “gross insubordination” for abandoning ship and “disembarking on the high seas.”
By firing all of its crew, the corporation did not have to pay wages for the final voyage, pension claims, or any insurance policies of its employees, saving the company thousands and thousands of dollars. It sounds like the kind of heartless strategy that might be used in a massive corporate layoff today, but this happened 100 years ago.

(via Mary Scully and Michael Dale Kowalski, on facebook)
"International actions are taking place today including a march in Glasgow and protests in Dundee, Aberdeen and Edinburgh. This morning [Tuesday the 17th]students in Glasgow occupied BBC headquarters to highlight lack of media coverage of the Palestinian hunger strikers and international support for their cause."

Oh dear! A story right on its doorstep - within its doors - and the BBC managed to miss it. Not very professional, unless they were suppressing the story. After all the dreaded P-word would appear in a story about the BBC suppressing news from P*******e.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Israel has forced low-cost airline to cancel the tickets of three women from Manchester intending to travel to Bethlehem via Tel Aviv this weekend for a gathering of pro-Palestinian activists. informed the women by email that the airline would refuse to carry them and no refund would be paid. The move follows pressure on airlines from Israel to ban known activists.
One of the women, retired nurse Norma Turner, said had caved in to pressure. "It never crossed my mind that Israel could stop people with British passports leaving British airports," she told the Guardian.
Israel has promised to deny entry to hundreds of activists due to arrive at Tel Aviv airport on Sunday en route to the West Bank for a week of educational and cultural activities.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"Also on the panel were such influential international relations scholars as John Mearsheimer who shared with me the view that the evidence in Goldstein’s book did not establish that, as Mearsheimer put it, ‘war had been burned out of the system,’ or that even such a trend meaningfully could be inferred from recent experience. Mearsheimer widely known for his powerful realist critique of the Israeli Lobby (in collaboration with Stephen Walt) did make the important point that the United States suffers from ‘an addiction to war.’ Mearsheimer did not seem responsive to my insistence on the panel that part of this American addiction to war arose from role being played by entrenched domestic militarism a byproduct of the permanent war economy that disposed policy makers and politicians in Washington to treat most security issues as worthy of resolution only by considering the options offered by thinking within militarist box of violence and sanctions, a viewpoint utterly resistant to learning from past militarist failures (as in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Iran). In my view the war addiction is real, but can only be treated significantly if understood to be a consequence of this blinkering of policy choice by a militarized bureaucracy in nation’s capital that is daily reinforced by a compliant media and a misguided hard power realist worldview sustained by high paid private sector lobbyists and the lure of corporate profits, and continuously rationalized by well funded subsidized think tanks such as The Hoover Institution, The Heritage Foundation, and The American Enterprise Institute. Dwight Eisenhower in his presidential farewell speech famously drew attention to the problem that has grown far worse through the years when he warned the country about ‘the military-industrial complex’ back in 1961."
"Aside from the U.S. being addicted to war I heard no references in the course of the panel and discussion to the new hierarchies in the world being resurrected by indirect forms of violence and intervention after the collapse of colonialism, or of structural violence that shortens life by poverty, disease, and human insecurity. I cannot help but wonder whether some subtle corruption has seeped into the academy over the years, especially at elite universities whose faculty received invitations to work as prestigious consultants by the Washington security establishment, or in extreme cases, were hosts to lucrative arrangements that included giving weapons labs a university home and many faculty members a salary surge. Princeton, where I taught for 40 years, was in many respects during the Cold War an academic extension of the military-industrial complex, with humanists advising the CIA, a dean recruiting on behalf of the CIA, a branch of the Institute for Defense Analysis on campus doing secret contract work on counterinsurgency warfare, and a variety of activities grouped under the anodyne heading of ‘security studies’ being sponsored by outside financing."
(Richard Falk, 10 April 2012)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

"When the king puts the poet on the payroll, he cuts off the poet's tongue."
An Arab proverb, according to Pete Seeger in this interview.
How well we know it. Who now remembers a work by onetime Poet Laureate, Cecil Day-Lewis, praising a campaign to get workers to work extra, unpaid hours? Of course he was well paid for his product by the right-wing daily that hired him. C. Day-Lewis, former Communist Party member, who took the Queen's shilling (or pipe of port).
I wonder how many anthologies carry those verses by the great man.

Something else I learned from the interview - the air of "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" is from an Irish lumberjack's song. Bearing in mind the fondness of the Irish for recycling old airs with new lyrics, I wonder if that tune is Irish in origin.

One reader, in a comment, has raised the idea of a Nobel Peace Prize for Comrade Pete. I wonder if he would be comfortable in the company of Kissinger, Begin, Saadat?

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Galloway demanded that Blair be tried as a war criminal, that British troops be withdrawn from Afghanistan without further delay. He lambasted the Government and the Labour Party for the ‘austerity measures’ targeting the less well off, the poor, the infirm and the new privatizations of education, health and the post office. It was all this that gave him a majority of 10,000.

New movements are now springing up at home, challenging political orthodoxies without offering one of their own. Little more than a scream for help.
Respect is different. It puts forward a left social-democratic programme that challenges the status quo and is loud in its condemnation of imperial misdeeds. In other words it is not frightened by politics. Its triumph in Bradford should force some to rethink their passivity and others to realise that there are ways in which the Occupiers of yesteryear can help break the political impasse

(Tariq Ali)
Meanwhile,in France -
Jean-Luc Mélenchon: This goes to show that the political space occupied by the Front de gauche continues to grow. Our words, our vocabulary, are no longer marginalized, as they were in the decades 1990 and 2000. In 2007, the hegemony of the ideas of the right reached their paroxysm. It was a period when they hammered us with the idea that everything should be managed "like a private enterprise". It was also the moment when the social [2] movement caved in, when the Socialist Party (PS) renounced its singularity with respect to European social democracy by placing in question (abandoning) its central alliance with the communists.
After this crushing cultural victory, Nicolas Sarkozy sought to break the main social fortress by enacting the LRU [3] the objective of which was to deliver the education system to the private market, and by attacking the workers’ fortress, as represented by the railway workers.
Today, the Sarkozy government is up to its neck in a situation it no longer controls. There is no longer any room for a popular renewal of Sarkozysm.


Comrade Tariq seems to be hoping that some new leftist parliamentary alliance will develop from Galloway's stunning victory, one that draws in the "Occupy" activists, and furnishes them with some sort of Marxist "programme of demands". If that happens (and it won't), then it's the beginning of the end for the opposition to the global capitalism steamroller. When will Marxists and Social Democrats - and Greens - learn that playing party politics is playing away? The ruling class makes the rules, and they make them (and ignore them or change them) to suit.The "Occupy" movement seems, to me anyway, to have hit the buffers, to have run its course. But to co-opt it to the "parliamentary road", to ersatz democracy, is tobetray them in the same manner that a Blair or a Milliband would betray them. The Met isn't tooling up, the Tories aren't trashing human rights legislation, to hamstring elected representatives. The enemy is preparing to make war on the people, and the war will be fought on the streets.
Galloway's victory, Mélenchon's rapidly increasing support, are signs of an increasing public awareness of the failures of the capitalist system; a realisation that the puppets kept in charge by a corrupt political structure have no answers to the current economic crisis other than further impoverishment of the majority. To lead a disillusioned population once more into the blind alley of pseudo-democracy is both an act of treachery and an act of political suicide.

"Nescis, mi fili, quantilla ratione mundus regatur." Count Oxenstierna.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Cuts our masters will not contemplate.

(Lifted from Bryan Waters' Facebook)

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

I am in receipt of a further communiqué from a planet in a far-off galaxy. I've extracted a couple of gems to copy here, the rest will be consigned to Troll Limbo. Any other correspondence from that source will receive the same fate.

Extract #1 "The US has a better record at the UN on Palestine/Israel than England."
I take 'England' to mean the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as England does not have a seat at the UN.

Extract #2 "This attitude came not from the 'UK's ruling class' but from the English people as a whole. The English people as a whole have done wrong by the Palestinian people."

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

What's not to like? And he's scored tonight, though only from a penalty. More goals, Lionel, the Barça must go through.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Professor Richard Falk on Israel's continuing punishment of Hanaa Shalabi
Hanaa Shalabi has been released from illegal detention in return for ending her hunger strike. She has not, however, been returned to her home, but to Gaza where she has been hospitalised. Let's hope that the Israelis don't bomb the hospital, a nasty habit of theirs. She hopes to return to her home in Jenin, but ...

Sunday, April 01, 2012

The troll has obliged me by leaving another deposit. I post it here as an example of his cretinous approach. This is pretty tame by his standards. I won't be allowing any more of his crap to appear here unless he exposes himself as the vile racist shit-stirrer that he really is.
The Palestinians and Israelis need to hug each other and unite. They need to jointly stand up to the English. Before the English empire came in 1918, Palestinians [immigrants, native borns, Sunnis, Jews, Atheists, Christians, Shiites, Agnostics, seculars etc.] generally got along okay. The sectarian conflict in Palestine really got going after 1918, during English occupation. Can you at least acknowledge this? The English issued property deads for the same piece of property to multiple different "owners", causing fights between Palestinians, Israelis and foreign owners. Today, there are often 8 people who owned the same house [have keys to the same house] that was confiscated in 1948 paying below market prices. The old house was torn down and is now part of a skyscraper. As a result Palestinians feel cheated and wronged and angry and demand oodles of money and their house back [which they can't get.] Who is the villain here Mr. Hope? Isn't the real culprit England? Didn't they wreck the place and then leave it in the middle of a civil and regional war?

Note the hugging business. This is the phony caring bit that usually accompanies the venom. Then there's the talk of 'market prices' as if some contract was exchanged and property wasn't seized at gunpoint. The fact that the land grab took place after the British administration/occupation ended is irrelevant to this anglophobe. He can't allow any reference to Israeli war crimes, human rights abuses, or ethnic cleansing to feature in his whitewashed version of Middle Eastern events. No mention either of Washington's veto of UN attempts to intervene to end the land grab. You wouldn't know that Washington had any interest or involvement in the Middle East. This joker could teach Stalinist historians a thing or two about the airbrushing of history.
That the UK's ruling class was culpable in its handling of Israel/Palestine is undeniable. But to argue they have been anything but the USA's menials and yesmen since 1948 is only possible if one ignores the obvious.
"Speaking at No 10 shortly after he chaired another meeting of the Cobra emergency contingencies committee, the prime minister welcomed Unite's decision and called on the union to engage constructively in talks expected to start next week at the conciliation service Acas."

Thinking back:
When tanker drivers voted to strike the Cameronians declared that army drivers were being trained in preparation for scab duty. Then the "irresponsible obedients" of the nation were ordered to drive around wasting wasting fuel, but topping up at every petrol station they passed.
Chaos ensued.
In addition, same tory zombies and paranoiacs were instructed to turn their garages into fire hazards by storing as much petrol as they could get hold of. There was no mention of ACAS or negotiating tables.
Cries of horror were heard on all sides, but the Cameronians were on a mission.
In a private message from MPs to constituency associations, seen by the Daily Telegraph's Charles Moore, members were told: "This is our Thatcher moment."
The message reportedly continues: "In order to defeat the coming miners' strike, [Thatcher] stockpiled coal. When the strike came, she weathered it, and the Labour party, tarred by the strike, was humiliated. In order to defeat the coming fuel drivers' strike, we want supplies of petrol stockpiled. Then, if the strike comes, we will weather it, and Labour, in hock to the Unite union, will be blamed."