Sunday, 28 September 2014

Come to a book launch of ‘Beaten But Not Defeated’

Come to a book launch of  ‘Beaten But Not Defeated’ by Merilyn Moos  on Friday 14th November 2014 at Bookmarks at 6.30.

This biography charts Siegi Moos’s life, starting in Germany when he witnessed the Bavarian uprisings of 1918/19 and the later rise of the extreme right. The book then follows Siegi’s progress in Berlin between 1929-1933 as a committed Communist and an active anti-Nazi in the well-organised Red Front, before much of the German Communist party (KPD) took the Nazis seriously, and his deep involvement in the Free Thinkers and in agit-prop theatre.
Siegi escaped Germany  in 1933 and, exiled in Britain, left the Communist Party in around 1937 and for the rest of his life, sought another route to the transformation of capitalism.The book describes Siegi’s life as an exile: the loss of family, comrades, his first language and the impact of exile on his personal relationships.
This is a fascinating and often moving account of the life of Siegfried Moos, a German Communist and workers’ theatre activist in the years before Hitler came to power, and later exiled in Britain; it casts valuable new light on the advent of Nazism and the opposition to it. Ian Birchall, London Socialist Historians Group, author of ‘Sartre Against Stalinism’

 Bookmarks1 Bloomsbury Street, London
  WC1B 3QE
 0207 637 1848



Friday, 26 September 2014

Caroline Lucas' speech on Iraq/Syria bombing proposals

Friday, 26 September 2014

 Caroline Lucas: Why I oppose Government's motion on Iraq air strikes

Caroline Lucas spoke in the Parliamentary recall Iraq debate today: "Every vote I cast in Parliament weighs heavily on my mind, especially as, unlike most other MPs, I have no whip telling me what to do – I consider the evidence, reflect on the principles I was elected to stand up for, listen to my constituents in Brighton Pavilion.

 Never more so than on a day like today, when MPs are deciding whether to carry out air strikes in Iraq against the so called Islamic State (ISIL). Whatever we decide people will die. Be it directly at the hands of ISIL, whose barbarity seems to know no limits. Or when they are hit by bombs dropped by the US, France or the UK

 And, of course, people are dying as a result of the humanitarian crisis engulfing the region – the Refugee Council tell me it’s the first time since the Second World War that the number of people worldwide who are fleeing their homes is more than 50 million, and the conflicts in the Middle East are a key driver of this exodus. The death toll from the crisis in Syria is heading towards 200,000. Getting aid to all Syrians and Iraqis in need must remain one of the UK’s top priorities. Amongst the questions I have asked myself ahead of today’s vote is how best to help close down the cycles of violence, which are taking so many lives.

 There are no easy answers. But there is this certainty: killing people rarely kills their ideas. The hateful ideology of ISIL must be stopped but the risk is that air strikes will be counterproductive: every Western bomb dropped will fuel it anew, providing fertile recruitment, fundraising and propaganda opportunities. I don’t think this is like the last Iraq war.

 I don’t think that the Prime Minster is manipulating intelligence or lying to the House. There is much in the Government’s motion with which I agree. It is written in a measured and very reasonable-sounding tone. But the considered, thoughtful tone cannot get away from the bottom line, which is to give permission for the UK to bomb Iraq.

Nor can it mask that what is often called ‘precision bombing’ is rarely precise. We should be under no illusion that we are debating whether to go to war. With virtually everyone on the Government and opposition benches looking set to vote for air strikes, there is a real danger too that diplomatic and political solutions are side lined yet further – and possibly even made more difficult.

The real question should not be whether to bomb but how we can intensify work politically and diplomatically to address the fundamental hostility between Sunnis and Shias – with regional powers such as Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia centre stage and support for a fledgling new Iraqi government to deal with seemingly intractable problems like the failures of the Iraqi armed forces, sharing of oil revenues, decentralisation demands and territorial disputes a top priority.

 Also uppermost in my mind, in a week where it’s been revealed that a young man from Brighton has been killed whilst fighting for ISIL in Syria, is that there is nothing Islamic about what this extremist group are doing.

That as well as embarking upon a concerted effort to find a political solution to the current crisis, we must also redouble our efforts to tackle the radicalisation of some members of our communities, and redouble our efforts to address deeply worrying levels of anti-Muslim sentiment and incidents. Our best hope of reducing the numbers radicalised would be to champion a new foreign policy doctrine based on clear principles, consistently applied.

 This should not include selling arms to brutal regimes like Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It should not include tolerating war crimes in Gaza. We must stand up for international law. Being the only Green MP can be lonely at times, especially on days like today. But my inbox this morning is full of messages from constituents urging me to vote against air strikes and I know that when I stand up and oppose the Government’s motion, I am representing the views of many.

Recent/ongoing industrial disputes etc.

a)London Fed AGM 28/9 10.30 am Development House
b)Lambeth College UCU Strike Ballot 29/9 to renew strike over new contracts, Unison at LC also in dispute,  demo in support 7/10 Clapham Centre 5pm (see http://lambethcollegestrike.wordpress.com/)
c)13/10 series of 4hr strikes by Unison members in hospitals and ambulance crews see http://www.unison.org.uk/at-work/health-care/key-issues/nhs-pay/home/
e) TUC demo 18/10 see http://britainneedsapayrise.org/
f) National Pensioners’ Convention launches Pensioners’ manifesto 5/11 see http://npcuk.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Pensioners-Manifesto-2015.pdf


National Pensioners’ Convention launches Pensioners’ manifesto 5/11/2014

Despite what some may claim, Britain’s older generation are not to blame for the economic crisis. Neither does it help when the media suggests that there is a conflict between young and old, especially when the age groups share the same concerns over affordable housing, public transport, low incomes and retirement ages.

But growing older can be a real challenge. Britain’s state pension is amongst the least adequate in the developed world, some of the stories surrounding the care of older people are absolutely shocking and last winter over 30,000 pensioners died from the cold.

A country can be said to be judged by the way it treats its young and older members. That is why we need a series of policies that improve the lives of Britain’s 11m pensioners, as well as protecting future generations of older people. At the General Election we will call on candidates to support our Pensioners’ Manifesto that will put the concerns of older people at the heart of the political process.


Thursday, 25 September 2014

The Latin America Conference

The Latin America Conference takes place annually in London. This year’s Conference takes place in London on Saturday November 29 at Congress House and tickets can be bought on this page.http://www.latinamerica2014.org.uk/
With special guests:
• Aleida Guevara, daughter of Che
• Juana Garcia, Venezuelan Women’s Ministry
• Alicia Castro, Argentinian Ambassador
• Guisell Morales Echaverry, Nicarguan Charge d’Affaires
Plus:
• Miguel Angel Martinez, former Vice-President, European Parliament
• George Galloway MP
• Chris Williamson MP
• Christine Blower, NUT General Secretary
• Kate Hudson, CND
• Andy De La Tour, Actor
• Tariq Ali, writer
• Owen Jones, writer
And films, stalls & discussion on topics such as:
• Cuba: building a better world under the eye of the empire
• After Chavez – the Empire strikes back in Venezuela
• Nicaragua, 35 Years on – the second Sandinista Revolution
• For Peace, Development & Progress – the new Latin America in the World Today
For updates please follow us on Twitter @latinamerica14

Monday, 22 September 2014

Kurdish Demonstration Wednesday 24th 1pm Parliament Square



Subject: Kurdish Demonstration Wednesday 24th 1pm Parliament Square

 From Kurdish Unity Facebook To all, 

we will be gathering on - Wednesday 24th September at 1pm - for a Gigantic Protest in Parliament Square. According to new information, the situation in Rojava, Kobani, is even more serious than previously thought. It is the difference between Kurds holding onto their freedom currently in Syria to Kurds losing control completely and facing a genocide on a scale possibly not seen in the History of the Kurds. This will inevitably impact the Kurds in all parts of Kurdistan. 

We are calling upon Kurds from all parts of Kurdistan. Bakur, Başur, Rojhilat and Rojava to gather in Unity to protest against ISIS terrorists and to call for the UK government to send both humanitarian and arms to Kurds in Rojava. 

 Please bring as many people as you can. Our turnout must be in thousands. It is very important that Kurds UNITE and stand TOGETHER on Wednesday 24th September. 

This is the TIME and day to UNITE and stand SHOULDER to SHOULDER with KURDS from all parts of KURDISTAN. This coming week on 24th of September at 1pm in Parliament Square. 

Organised by Ciwanen Azad UK and Britain Kurdish People's Assembly 

Monday, 15 September 2014

Mayan People's Movement Defeats Monsanto Law in Guatemala

IC Magazine (acknowledgements to derek wall)


  Mayan People's Movement Defeats Monsanto Law in Guatemala GUATEMALA -

On September 4th, after ten days of widespread street protests against the biotech giant Monsanto’s expansion into Guatemalan territory, groups of indigenous people joined by social movements, trade unions and farmer and women’s organizations won a victory when congress finally repealed the legislation that had been approved in June.

The demonstrations were concentrated outside the Congress and Constitutional Court in Guatemala City during more than a week, and coincided with several Mayan communities and organizations defending food sovereignty through court injunctions in order to stop the Congress and the President, Otto Perez Molina, from letting the new law on protection of plant varieties, known as the “Monsanto Law”, take effect. On September 2, the Mayan communities of Sololá, a mountainous region 125 kilometers west from the capital, took to the streets and blocked several main roads.

At this time a list of how individual congressmen had voted on the approval of the legislation in June was circulating. When Congress convened on September 4, Mayan people were waiting outside for a response in favor of their movement, demanding a complete cancellation of the law –something very rarely seen in Guatemala. But this time they proved not to have marched in vain. After some battles between the presidential Patriotic Party (PP) and the Renewed Democratic Liberty Party (LIDER), the Congress finally decided not to review the legislation, but cancel it.

 Lolita Chávez from the Mayan People’s Council summarized the essence of what has been at stake these last weeks of peaceful protests as follows: “Corn taught us Mayan people about community life and its diversity, because when one cultivates corn one realizes that there is a variety of crops such as herbs and medical plants depending on the corn plant as well. We see that in this coexistence the corn is not selfish, the corn shows us how to resist and how to relate with the surrounding world.”

 Controversies surrounded law The Monsanto Law would have given exclusivity on patented seeds to a handful of transnational companies. Mayan people and social organizations claimed that the new law violated the Constitution and the Mayan people’s right to traditional cultivation of their land in their ancestral territories. Antonio González from the National Network in Defense of Food Sovereignty and Biodiversity commented in a press conference August 21:

“This law is an attack on a traditional Mayan cultivation system which is based on the corn plant but which also includes black beans and herbs; these foods are a substantial part of the staple diet of rural people.”

 The new legislation would have opened up the market for genetically modified seeds which would have threatened to displace natural seeds and end their diversity. It would have created an imbalance between transnational companies and local producers in Guatemala where about 70 per cent of the population dedicate their life to small-scale agricultural activities. That is a serious threat in a country where many people live below the poverty line and in extreme poverty and where children suffer from chronic malnutrition and often starve to death.

 The law was approved in June without prior discussion, information and participation from the most affected. It was a direct consequence of the free trade agreement with the US, ratified in 2005. However, recently the protests started to grow and peaked a couple of weeks ago with a lot of discussions, statements and demonstrations.

 At first the government ignored the protests and appeared to be more interested in engaging in superficial forms of charity like provision of food aid while ignoring the wider and structural factors that cause and perpetuate poverty in Guatemala such as unequal land distribution, deep rooted inequalities, racism, to name but a few. But soon enough they decided to act. Even though politicians claimed not to act on social demands, it is without doubt a decision taken after enormous pressure from different social groups in society.

 Criminalizing the Mayan people - again There was a great risk that the Monsanto Law would have made criminals of already repressed small farmers who are just trying to make ends meet and doing what they have done for generations – cultivating corn and black beans for their own consumption. The Monsanto Law meant that they would not have been able to grow and harvest anything that originates from natural seeds. Farmers would be breaking the laws if these natural seeds had been mixed with patented seeds from other crops as a result of pollination or wind, unless they had had a license for the patented seed from a transnational corporation like Monsanto.

 Another risk expressed by ecologists was the fear that the costs for the patented seeds would have caused an increase in prices and as consequence caused a worsened food crisis for those families who could not afford to buy a license to sow.

 Academics, together with the Mayan people, also feared that the law would have intensified already existing fierce social conflicts between local Mayan communities and transnational companies in a country historically and violently torn apart. Mayan people and Mother Earth Currently international companies are very interested in gaining control of the abundant and rich natural assets that Guatemala possesses.

There is just one problem: the Mayan people - or actually most people - in Guatemala do not agree with a policy of treating nature like a commodity to be sold off piece by piece, especially when they receive nothing in return. It is very difficult to argue that it is a rentable business for Guatemalan society as a whole, and less the local communities, when it is a rather small but powerful economic elite which benefits on behalf of the environment, nature and society.

 So what happens when the people organize in defense of their territory? The international companies call the government and have them use whatever means necessary to remove those standing in their way so they can construct megaprojects like mines or hydroelectric dams or extend monocultures in any region they see fit without much concern for those who might be affected. Last month three men were killed when police used violent force to evict a community whose population had organized itself to protest against a hydroelectric megaproject in their community in Alta Verapaz. Hundreds of police officers were sent to the area on orders from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Mauricio López Bonilla.

 It was not an exceptional case by any means. Ongoing conflict As for the Monsanto Law, for a chilling reminder of where this was most likely headed, one need look no further than the USA: according to information from Food Democracy Now, a grassroots community for sustainable food system, Monsanto’s GMO Roundup Ready soybeans, the world’s leading chemical and biotech seed company, admits to filing 150 lawsuits against America’s family farmers, while settling another 700 out of court for undisclosed amounts.

 This has caused fear and resentment in rural America and driven dozens of farmers into bankruptcy. It is impossible to predict how this controversy might unfold, but the reality in Guatemala today is one marked by an ongoing conflict between the government and the Mayan people, who constitute over half of the population. Nim Sanik, Maya Kaqchikel from Chimaltenango comments on the victory over the Monsanto Law: “The fight to preserve collective property of Mayan communities such as vegetable seeds, which historically have served as a source of development and survival for the Mayan civilization, is a way to confront the open doors that the neoliberal governments have widely open in favor of national and transnational corporations that genetically modify and commercialize the feeding of mankind. We have just taken the first step on a long journey in our struggle to conquer the sovereignty of the people in Guatemala.”

 Article originally published at UpsideDownWorld.org. Republished at IC Magazine with permission READ & SHARE THIS ONLINE Footer Unsubscribe - Edit your subscription info@intercontinentalcry.org