The Take: Occupy, Resist, Produce

With a massive economic crisis underway I thought it timely to post The Take by Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis on Argentina’s experience. An inspirational look at how workers reacted to losing their livelihoods by occupying their factories, resisting the authorities and co-operatively producing goods for the benefit of themselves and their communities.

In suburban Buenos Aires, thirty unemployed auto-parts workers walk into their idle factory, roll out sleeping mats and refuse to leave. All they want is to re-start the silent machines. But this simple act – the take – has the power to turn the globalization debate on its head. Armed only with slingshots and an abiding faith in shop-floor democracy, the workers face off against the bosses, bankers and a whole system that sees their beloved factories as nothing more than scrap metal for sale. With The Take, director Avi Lewis, one of Canada’s most outspoken journalists, and writer Naomi Klein, author of the international bestseller No Logo, champion a radical economic manifesto for the 21st century.

War Comes Home to Britain

John Pilger describes “the erosion of liberal freedoms” as “symptomatic of an evolved criminal state.”

Freedom is being lost in Britain. The land of Magna Carta is now the land of secret gagging orders, secret trials and imprisonment. The government will soon know about every phone call, every email, every text message. Police can willfully shoot to death an innocent man, lie and expect to get away with it. Whole communities now fear the state. The foreign secretary routinely covers up allegations of torture; the justice secretary routinely prevents the release of critical cabinet minutes taken when Iraq was illegally invaded. The litany is cursory; there is much more.

Continue reading “War Comes Home to Britain”

If this becomes Obama’s war, it will poison his presidency

‘Pakistan is being ripped apart by the fallout from the Afghan occupation,’ writes Seumas Milne, ‘If the US escalates, the impact will be devastating’.

The armed assault on Sri Lanka’s cricket team in Lahore has been a brutal demonstration, if any more were needed, that the war on terror is devouring itself and the states that have been sucked into its slipstream. Pakistan is both victim and protagonist of the conflict in Afghanistan, its western and northern fringes devastated by a US-driven counter-insurgency campaign, its heartlands wracked by growing violence and deepening poverty. The country now shows every sign of slipping out of the control of its dysfunctional civilian government – and even the military that has held it together for 60 years.

Continue reading “If this becomes Obama’s war, it will poison his presidency”

Rice is aid, pasta not

Another excellent report by Mel Frykberg, this time about Israel’s relentless punishment of Palestinians through the continuing obstruction of the delivery of desperately-needed aid  – including such items as pasta, paper and hearing aids – to Gaza.

Red-faced and unusually tongue-tied Israeli officials were forced to try and explain to United States Senator John Kerry during his visit to Israel last week why truckloads of pasta waiting to enter the besieged Gaza Strip were not considered humanitarian aid while rice was.

Kerry, chairman of the US Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, visited the coastal territory on a fact-finding mission. The purpose of the visit was to assess the humanitarian situation on the ground and the level of destruction wrought by Israel’s three-week military assault on Gaza, codenamed Operation Cast Lead.
Continue reading “Rice is aid, pasta not”

Robert Fisk on Flashpoints

Note: The interview begins at 3:40.

Today on Flashpoints: Internationally-renowned Middle East reporter Robert Fisk talks to Dennis Bernstein about Afghanistan, Iraq and the recent attacks in Gaza and the way in which the Western press continues to fail in covering these stories

Russell Tribunal on Palestine

In the tradition of Bertrand Russell and Jean-Paul Sartre’s citizens tribunals, the Russel Tribunal has been reconstituted to investigate war crimes committed by Israel in Gaza. (thanks Frank Barat)

Press Release
Wednesday 4th March 2009

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine was launched today at a press conference chaired by Stéphane Hessel, Ambassador of France. The initiators, Ken Coates, Chairman of the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, Leila Shahid, General Delegate of Palestine to the European Union, Belgium and Luxembourg and Nurit Peled, Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, discussed the history and reasons on why they called for the creation of this Tribunal. Speaking for the Organising Committee, the former Belgian Senator Pierre Galand explained how it will work. Amongst more than a hundred international personalities who have given their support to this Tribunal, Ken Loach, Paul Laverty, Raji Surani, Jean Ziegler, François Rigaux, Jean Salmon and François Maspero were present to give encouragement.

Continue reading “Russell Tribunal on Palestine”

After the neocons

‘The slaughter in Palestine has led to a significant breach in the walls of the Israel lobby in the US,’ writes the great Phil Weiss in the latest issue of Red Pepper. ‘For the first time, Jews who saw what the occupation was doing to the country are speaking out and setting up organisations that break with the traditional leadership’.

If I could sneak one message out to the world on a scrap of paper from inside the Israel lobby in America, it would be that the plague years are over. Not that things are so great here. The blacklists and smearings of Israel’s critics continue, the intellectual lockdowns in all of public life are still going on. But the huntings and houndings and scorn for those who question Israel – they have eased.

The change began before the horrors of Gaza. Obama’s election had a real effect. A large political fact that went largely unreported – certainly it went unreported in the US – is the extent to which the Obama-McCain race was about the role of neoconservatism in our foreign policy. McCain was all mobbed up with neoconservatives. Obama had his share too, but far fewer, and certainly he dislikes neoconservative ideology. He would talk to Iran, for example. The neoconservatives rallied around McCain desperately, against all hope – they have always been visionaries and dreamers – although some of the shrewder of them made the migration to Obama, as shrewd neocons had in past phases of their lunacy migrated from Democratic Party to Republican Party, and back again, depending on who they thought was better for Israel. Almost immediately after the election, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the central hive of neoconservatism, began purging neocons. It was a beautiful thing to watch. The AEI is based near the White House –Dick Cheney and his wife used to hang out there. Now feverish ideologues who had been granted status by the conservative think-tank, supported by oil men and hedge fund kings, were turned out into the street. They have had to do what we on the left have done and start blogs on a shoestring, so that they will have a place to replay their arguments for the Iraq war for the rest of their lives.

Continue reading “After the neocons”

Pakistan’s drift into the hands of extremists

‘The intention of the attack on Sri Lanka’s cricket team was to send a clear message to Washington: Pakistan is ungovernable,’ writes Tariq Ali.

The appalling terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricketers in Pakistan had one aim: to demonstrate to Washington that the country is ungovernable. This is the first time that cricketers have been targeted in a land where the sport is akin to religion. It marks the death of international cricket in Pakistan for the indefinite future, but not just that, which is bad enough. The country’s future is looking more and more precarious. We do not know which particular group carried out this attack, but its identity is hardly relevant. The fact is that it took place at a time when three interrelated events had angered a large bulk of the country and provided succour to extremist groups and their patrons.

Continue reading “Pakistan’s drift into the hands of extremists”

Israel Boycott Movement Gains Momentum

[www.apartheidweek.org]
http://www.apartheidweek.org
Mel Frykberg of the excellent Inter Press Service on the growing momentum of the BDS momentum.

RAMALLAH – “Standing United with the People of Gaza” is the theme of this week’s Israel Apartheid Week (IAW), which kicked off in Toronto and another 39 cities across the globe Sunday.

A movement to boycott Israeli goods, culture and academic institutions is gaining momentum as Geneva prepares to host the UN’s Anti-Racism Conference, Durban 2 next month amidst swirling controversy.Both Canada and the U.S. are boycotting the Durban 2 conference in protest over what they perceive as a strongly anti-Israel agenda.

The first UN Anti-Racism conference, held in the South African city Durban in 2001, saw the Israeli and U.S. delegates storm out of the conference, accusing other delegates of focusing too strongly on Israel.

Continue reading “Israel Boycott Movement Gains Momentum”