Wednesday, March 21, 2018

'The Right To Be Lazy' (public meeting Manchester 24/3)

'The Right To Be Lazy' 

Saturday, 24 March - 2:00pm - 5:00pm

Venue: Friends Meeting House, Mount Street, Manchester M2 5NS
Title from a pamphlet written and published by Paul Lafarge, son-in-law to Karl Marx. Come along to listen, question and exchange views on the immediate need for a socialist revolution.

'Bitcoins: tulips from cyberspace' (public meeting London 24/3)

'Bitcoins: Tulips from Cyberspace' 

Saturday, 24 March - 2:00pm - 4:00pm

Venue: Quaker Meeting House, 20 Nigel Playfair Avenue, London W6 9JY
Speaker: Adam Buick
Discussion period

Never Forget

A year ago this month, a boat carrying about 145 people, almost all of them Somalis with official refugee documents, was on its way to Sudan from Yemen. It was passing through the narrow Bab el-Mandeb strait when it came under fire. The shots, a confidential report to the UN Security Council confirmed four months later, were ‘almost certainly’ fired from a machine-gun mounted on a helicopter. Only ‘the Saudi Arabia-led coalition forces,’ it added, ‘have the capability to operate armed utility helicopters in the area.’ (They are Apache helicopters, made in the United States.)

‘The helicopter was right over us and it had these huge lights on,’ a survivor later told a journalist. ‘They just kept shooting.’ Some of the people on the boat hid under the bodies of the dead. Others tried to signal that they were civilians by using flashlights. When the firing eventually stopped, the boat’s captain, who had been shot in the leg, managed to steer the boat back towards the Yemeni port city of Al Hudaydah before he bled to death.

Dawood Fadal, the port’s head of security, told the New York Times that the workers at the port had been overwhelmed by the number of bodies when the boat arrived. ‘Our hospitals did not have room for them so we had to put them in the fish fridges. Can you imagine what that looks like?’ he said. 

At least 42 people had been killed.

Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, repeatedly asked about the attack in the House of Commons. Each time the British government issued a two-sentence response saying it was for the Saudis to investigate. 

The Saudi crown prince Mohammad Bin Salman was fêted by the British government when he came to London earlier this month. He was greeted at Heathrow by Boris Johnson. Billboards with the slogan ‘United Kingdoms’, paid for by the Saudi government, lined his route from the airport. He had lunch with the Queen. Theresa May spoke glowingly of his record on women’s rights. At the end of his visit, Salman pledged to buy 48 Eurofighter Typhoon jets. A Downing Street spokesperson trumpeted new ‘direct Saudi investment in the UK’. There was no mention of the Yemenis.

Penny Mordaunt, the international development secretary, said: ‘We are sharing the best of British expertise.’

Moishe Postone - Marxian Competence?

Marxist philosopher Moishe Postone, a critic of value theory, died on the 19th March
Andrew Kliman, in Reclaiming Marx’s Capital, “Postone’s Counter Critique”, reveals Postone’s scientific incompetence on the subject of Marx’s value.
To set the context of Marx’s Capital...
  • Capital Volume I is a critique of the political economy of capitalist production, conceived by Marx as the process of producing value as capital.
    In Volume I, Marx investigates capitalist production under idealized conditions in which commodities sell at their values.
  • Capital Volume II is a critique of the political economy of capitalist circulation, conceived by Marx as the social process of circulating value as capital.
    In Volume II, Marx investigates capitalist circulation under idealized conditions in which commodities sell at their values.
  • Capital Volume III is a critique of the political economy of capitalist distribution, conceived by Marx as the social process of distributing value as capital.
    In Volume III, Marx investigates the interconnected capitalist processes of producing, circulating and distributing value as capital under realistic conditions in which commodities do not sell at their values.
Just after Engels published Capital Volume III, a marginalist economist, and Austrian Minister of Finance, Eugen Böhm-Bawerk, in his book “Karl Marx and the Close of his System”, famously claimed that Marx unconditionally contradicted himself:  price = value in Volume I, but price ≠ value in Volume III.
Böhm-Bawerk had been scientifically trained in conditional methodology, where a scientist investigates idealized conditions before progressively investigating more realistic ones, but he was in no mood to recognize conditional methodology in Marx.
Postone is scientifically naive.  He blithely sidesteps the “unconditional contradiction” by claiming that...
  • Marx never intended “to write a critical political economy”.
  • Marx never intended to use “the law of value to explain the workings of the market”.
In other words, Postone wriggles out of his “unconditional contradiction” by unconditionally contradicting Marx’s thoroughly well-known intention, already announced in his well-known Contribution — Marx’s unconditional subtitle to Capital: “A Critique of Political Economy”.
To this extent, Postone has nothing of value to contribute to Marx’s value.
Andrew Kliman proceeds to consider Postone’s emphasis on Marx’s intentions in Capital — which is philosophical guesswork on Postone’s part — as follows...
  • “The crux of the problem, once again, is that Postone is discussing Marx’s intentions and method when the point at issue is instead the logical consistency of his arguments....”
  • “I suspect that [Postone’s] misplaced emphasis on intentions and method is due in part to the influence of relativism within much of the humanities and social sciences.  If our presuppositions fully determine the conclusions at which we arrive, as relativism holds, then the logic of our arguments is irrelevant; presuppositions lead to conclusions directly, not through logical argument.  If that were so, one could bypass the logic of Marx’s arguments and acquit him of error simply by explaining “where he was coming from.”  It seems to me that this is the methodology of Postone’s discussion.  I do not mean to suggest that he is a relativist; his text indicates otherwise.  My point is simply that, if Postone had been working in a different milieu, he might have been more cognizant of the need to respond to allegations that Marx’s arguments are logically flawed.”

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Even among the rich, there is racial inequality

 There are structural forces that prevent upward economic mobility—and stability—for Black men living in the United States according to researchers at the United States Census BureauStanford University and Harvard University.

1. Black boys who grow up in the nation’s wealthiest families are more likely than their White counterparts to live in poverty as adults.
White boys who grow up rich are likely to remain that way. Black boys raised at the top, however, are more likely to become poor than to stay wealthy in their own adult households. Even when children grow up next to each other with parents who earn similar incomes, Black boys fare worse than White boys in 99 percent of America. And the gaps only worsen in the kind of neighborhoods that promise low poverty and good schools.
2. The racist argument that Black people have lower cognitive ability—which causes them to earn less—is nonsense.
The disparities that remain also can’t be explained by differences in cognitive ability, an argument made by people who cite racial gaps in test scores that appear for both Black boys and girls. If such inherent differences existed by race, “you’ve got to explain to me why these putative ability differences aren’t handicapping women,” said David Grusky, a Stanford sociologist who has reviewed the research. A more likely possibility, the authors suggest, is that test scores don’t accurately measure the abilities of Black children in the first place.
3. This study thoroughly debunks the notion that class is more important to race when it comes to economic mobility.
“One of the most popular liberal post-racial ideas is the idea that the fundamental problem is class and not race, and clearly this study explodes that idea,” said Ibram Kendi, a professor and director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University. “But for whatever reason, we’re unwilling to stare racism in the face.”
4. The gap between whites and blacks is much wider than other groups.
The research makes clear that there is something unique about the obstacles Black males face. The gap between Hispanics and Whites is narrower, and their incomes will converge within a couple of generations if mobility stays the same. Asian-Americans earn more than Whites raised at the same income level, or about the same when first-generation immigrants are excluded. Only Native Americans have an income gap comparable to African-Americans. But the disparities are widest for Black boys.
5. Black men raised in the millionaire households are just as likely to be incarcerated as white men whose families earned an average of $36,000 a year.
The new data shows that 21 percent of Black men raised at the very bottom were incarcerated, according to a snapshot of a single day during the 2010 census. Black men raised in the top 1 percent—by millionaires—were as likely to be incarcerated as White men raised in households earning about $36,000.

A Brief Sketch of the Materialist Conception of History

Part 1

In opposition to the conventional notion that the present form of society has always existed, the Socialist points out that it has existed for not more than a few centuries, and was preceded by other forms of society. In point of fact, the life history of the human race is made up of a series of fundamental changes in social relations.

Broadly speaking, mankind has experienced four distinct forms of society, which are Primitive Communism, Chattel Slavery, Feudalism, and Capitalism. However, the knowledge of the changes in society must necessarily be connected with a knowledge of the causes underlying the changes.

Poverty and Mental Health

Poverty produces People with a host of mental health disorders.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is generally the result of violence, and violence is more common in low-income families and shelters. A host of severe disorders, Depression, Anxiety and other disorders become very common for the victims of this disorder. Studies have shown that Children Who Grow Up In More Violence Areas Are “weakreal-time neural connections” in the areas of Brain that manage “moral and emotional processing”. Trauma is not always caused by violence; Sometimes it can be a huge pressure on a developing mind that the vastness of the disorder among the World’s poor is not yet counted, but the symptoms of its spread are evident in many studies.
One Study found that 30 To 70 Percent of people Living in war-affected countries are suffering from PTSD.
Another found that there are currently Two Billion People where violence affects their development.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

In emerging economies and developing countries, poor people live under constant threat of all those things which they have lost or have been taken from them.
Some people have the risk of losing it for war and violence, by others, by more subtle forces of debt collectors, Jobs and Food insecurity or civilization such as aggression.
Generally, there is not a single thing on stake: losing a means of transport means Missing on food or jobs, possibly a home, medical care, and life of loved ones.
A study in 2012 found that poverty is the main cause of generalized anxiety, especially for Women And Mother; 1.3 billion people have 70 percent of Women in poverty.

Paranoid Personality Disorder

In developing countries, poor people have to constantly cope, which is a consistent and very real danger, can leave a lasting impression on their mind, resulting in suspicion and suspicion of everything.
Typically, negative Early Development Experiences and hostile home life are known for traditional reasons, and early adulthood, symptoms are not problematic or clear.
In developing countries and poor areas, children are at risk of personality disorder due to excessive domestic conditions, lack of education and dissemination of violence or deception from adults.
In September, UNICEF published this research: The population of children is constituted in the largest population, 27% of the 47% of the adult population is 19.5% global child population is poor, this means that more than 380 million children They have to live under severe conditions which can change their mental health forever.

Major Depressive Disorder

Depression is a dangerously elusive way, which harm mental health in developing countries. Finding suffering is difficult, because it is felt rather than being transmitted.
Depression is dependent on physical aspects and language, it is difficult to understand the severity of each case. For example, a Study Conducted In Zimbabwe states that it is ” Understanding culture-specific vocabulary is important. ”
There is a word or phrase in every culture that shows signs like depression, but in most of these countries, some, if any, are available for the Help of Mental Health Clinics or psychiatrists.
It is seriously debilitating, especially for those whose livelihood depends on physically strenuous work. Due to the absence of investment in mental health provisions for depression, in the 36 countries, the estimated $ 1 trillion is lost every year.
In 2014, a study in Pakistan found that half women were disappointed because of oppressive cultural standards. In Uganda, most affected the HIV / AIDS epidemic in some areas, spike was seen due to a decline of 21 percent.

Bipolar Disorder

Like depression, sometimes it may be difficult to detect and treat Bipolar Disorder in some areas of developing countries.
Often in the areas of stigma, victims are fully imprisoned due to traditional or ceremonial care, help in many developing countries.
There are no resources required for Approximately 25 To 50 Percent of people with disorder development are estimated to attempt suicide, and 15 percent are successful, the rate is 30 times more than the normal population.
Apart from genetic disturbances, the most common contributing factor is misuse of substances and trauma, both of which are living in poor areas. It is estimated to be between 18 and 24 years, rural areas are more common in urban areas than the three times more common disorder.

A Saudi slippery slithery snake

Saudi Arabia’s 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, heir to the Saudi throne after eliminating his rivals, has been on a PR tour, first to the United Kingdom and now to the United States starting March 19. 

MbS, as he is known from his initials, is responsible for bombing and starving Yemenis. He’s also gunning for a war with Iran, blaming Iran for the Middle East turmoil. Meanwhile, he imposed a blockade of Qatar and tried to force a showdown with Hezbollah in Lebanon by holding its Prime Minister Hariri hostage. Recent reports reveal that he has even been holding his own mother under house arrest, hidden from her husband King Salman, for fear she would stand in the way of her son’s ruthless power grab.

it is true that MbS is making some reforms. Women will soon be able to drive and the morality police are not as repressive. Movie theatres are opening, and more cultural events are allowed such as visits to sports stadiums (although most are gender-segregated). But these reforms are minor cosmetic changes in the larger picture of a kingdom that brooks no dissent internally and is committing war crimes abroad. While Saudi Arabia will soon lose the distinction of being the only country in the world where women can’t drive, the regime continues to be the world’s most misogynist, gender-segregated country. The guardianship system gives men authority over the most important decisions in women’s lives, and women are forced to be covered in black from head to toe when they are out in public.

According to Human Rights Watch, “Mohammed bin Salman’s well-funded image as a reformist falls flat in the face of Yemen’s humanitarian catastrophe and scores of activists and political dissidents languishing in Saudi prisons on spurious charges. Baby steps on women’s rights reforms don’t paper over Saudi Arabia’s systemic abuses.”

Don’t be fooled. Beneath the veneer of reform is a priince who believes that his bloodline gives him the right to become the next absolute monarch in a family that has ruled the nation with an iron fist since its founding in 1932. The Saudi kingdom is still governed by an intolerant version of Islam, Wahhabism, and spreads that ideology around the world. The government still represses the Shia minority and non-Muslims, and remains a country where atheism is a capital offense and all churches are banned. Free speech and free association are forbidden. There are no national elections and political parties are banned, as are unions and most civic organizations. Criticizing the Saudi regime can lead to flogging, harsh jail sentences or beheading.

To consolidate his power at home before the death of his father, King Salman, MbS rounded up hundreds of his rival elites and held them hostage in the gilded Ritz-Carlton Hotel until they turned over billions of dollars, real estate and shares of their companies to his control. Some detainees were subjected to such physical abuse that 17 were hospitalized and one died in custody, with a neck that appeared twisted, a badly swollen body and other signs of abuse. The whole affair was framed as a fight against corruption, but all transactions were conducted in secret and outside the law. Those who  have been released are banned from travel and are afraid to denounce bin Salman for fear of further reprisals. 

The prince is portrayed as a Saudi Robin Hood taking from the elite to spread to the poor bought a $500 million yacht from a Russian vodka financier, a $300 million French chateau described as “the world’s most expensive home,” and a $450 million Leonardo da Vinci painting purchased at a Christie’s auction—the most expensive painting ever sold.

From here

Fact of the Day

Overall 14 million people live in poverty in the UK – over one in five of the population. This is made up of eight million working-age adults, four million children and 1.9 million pensioners.

Ireland's Poverty

The Social Justice Ireland report, Poverty Focus 2018, concludes that, overall, 1 in every 6 people in Ireland today live on incomes below the poverty line, making up 16.5% of the population.
The research found 780,000 people live in poverty in Ireland today – over a quarter being children (26.5%).
More than 104,000 working Irish people are at risk of poverty, according to the report.
Dr Seán Healy, CEO of Social Justice Ireland said at the launch of the report:
"If people in employment can't be guaranteed a life free from poverty, then there is something seriously wrong. We have been saying for quite some time now that Ireland's social contract is broken. This is further proof. The priorities of our policy makers should reflect the will of the people. This is not the will of the Irish people. Policy makers need to take action."
Eamon Murphy, Economic & Social Analyst with Social Justice Ireland, said:
 "Workers rights are not being protected when 104,000 people can have a job but still be at risk of poverty. Who is to be held responsible? Surely it must be employers availing of precarious employment contracts and low pay. Who is going to take responsibility for ensuring a job is always a route out of poverty, not into it? That should surely be the most basic function of our Government."


Regarding the nerve agent attack in Salisbury; in 2016, Porton Down
admitted it had no details of 'Novichoks' and the Russian defector
Vil Mirzayanov claimed it could be produced in any small laboratory.

Of 'Russia's nerve agent device',
How do we know it's theirs?
As when it comes to evidence,
In politics, who cares?
It surely can't be Russian 'cause,
They're 'Communists' no more;
And being Capitalist now means,
They're decent to the core!
Our Government could equally,
Have come up with the guess;
That it could be the Taliban,
Kim Jong-un or I.S.
In Russia's Embassy they 'found',
Some twenty-three new spies;
A few days after the attack,
Egad--what a surprise!

Is this a ploy by Downing Street,
Who want to justify;
That Porton Down's few extra quid, (1)
Was simply 'by the by'?
If Porton say of 'Novichoks',
Their details are unknown; (2)
Then how can May with certainty,
Say Russia's cover's blown? (3)
Remember WMD’s
And the Iraqi scare,
And Armageddon in an hour,
By honest Tony Blair?
The point we wish to emphasise,
In this new 'Cold War' clash;
Is be prepared in the next weeks,
For loads more balderdash.

(1) Porton Down was opened in 1916 to develop chemical warfare
agents. The lab is to receive extra funding of £48m for 'defence'.

(2) In 2016, Dr Robin Black, then head of the detection lab
at Porton Down, stated that there was no independent
confirmation about the chemical properties of Novichoks.

(3) The OCPW say it will take weeks to identify the chemicals.

© Richard Layton  

Commemorating the Commune

March 1871 saw events of great significance in the history of the working class movement. We refer to the establishment of the Paris Commune of 1871. 

On 18 March 1871, when they learned that the regular army was leaving Paris, units of the National Guard moved quickly to take control of the city. The followers of Blanqui, who went quickly to the Latin Quarter and took charge of the gunpowder stored in the Pantheon, and to the Orleans train station. Four battalions crossed the Seine and captured the prefecture of police, while other units occupied the former headquarters of the National Guard at the Place Vendôme, as well as the Ministry of Justice. That night, the National Guard occupied the offices vacated by the government; they quickly took over the Ministries of Finance, the Interior, and War. At eight in the morning the next day, the Central Committee was meeting in the Hôtel de Ville. By the end of the day, 20,000 national guardsmen camped in triumph in the square in front of the Hôtel de Ville, with several dozen cannons. A red flag was hoisted over the building.

It still holds a message for us, a message of hope and a message of warning. For the first time, a section of the French working class, owing to a set of favourable circumstances, obtained control of supreme power and held it for a period of three months. Their defeat was due to many causes, chief of which were the unity of the international capitalists against them and the as yet unreadiness of the French working class for a social change in their interests. But the people were not ready for such a fundamental change, and the forces without were too strong. The French Capitalists had made an arrangement with Bismarck under which one of the first stipulations was the pacification of Paris, and accordingly, Bismarck released the captured French troops, who were let loose upon Paris by the Versailles government. The Communards contested with unsurpassed bravery and devotion every foot of ground and resisted for several days after the gates of Paris had been opened by treachery, and bitter was the toll they paid for the rising. The savagery of the government troops even called forth comment from such a conservative paper as the London Times. Such was the vengeance wreaked by the French ruling class for an insurrection that failed. It will be well for the working class to remember the Commune and profit by its lessons.

The great lessons of the Commune of Paris, and its annual celebration helps to bring vividly home to the socialist worker the deep meaning of the class struggle and the ruthlessness of the master class when its interests are threatened. It is by no means the only valuable lesson afforded by that historic tragedy, but it is one that will repay a moment’s attention. On the heads of the Communards mountains of calumny have been heaped. Therefore, it is our duty to vindicate the memory of those brave men and women.

Criminalising the rescuers

The Spanish charity Proactiva Open Arms picked up 218 migrants who were in unsafe rubber boats in international waters off Libya's coast then took them to Sicily. The charity ignored a message from the Libyan coastguard claiming responsibility for taking in migrants in that stretch of sea. A Sicilian court impounded the boat and Italian authorities seized the ship  on the grounds that members of its crew had violated international agreements on handling migrants and helped illegal migration into Europe. Proactiva's lawyer dismissed the charges, and explained it did not know about any international agreement with Libya.

"Finally an Italian prosecutor who blocks human trafficking," Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy's anti-immigrant League said on Twitter, commenting on the court decision.

Proactiva released footage that it said showed a young boy sitting in his father's lap on its ship after the rescue. "He would have never forgiven us had we returned him to hell," Oscar Camps, the founder of Proactiva, said on Twitter. The United Nations has said migrants - hundreds of thousands of whom remain in Libya - face dire conditions there. Those who make the crossing tell of being extorted, beaten, tortured, raped, starved and forced to work for no pay. "In these situations, the priority is to save lives and that is what we did," Camps told reporters. "We have seen a campaign to delegitimise NGOs working in the Med. Today rescues have become criminal offence," Camps said. It is the second time Italy has seized a rescue vessel. A German ship, the Iuventa, was impounded in August on accusations it had aided illegal immigration. The group, Jugend Rettet, also denies the charges and is seeking to get the ship back.

Climate Refugees

Climate change is likely to most affect the poorest and most vulnerable, making agriculture difficult or even impossible across large swaths of the globe, threatening water resources and increasing the likelihood of floods, droughts and heatwaves in some areas. Sea level rises and violent storm surges are also likely to hit low-lying coastal areas, such as in Bangladesh.
Climate change will result in a massive movement of people inside countries and across borders, where tens of millions will pour into already crowded slums, according to the World Bank. More than 140 million people in just three regions of the developing world are likely to migrate within their native countries between now and 2050. Within countries, the effects of climate change will create multiple “hotspots”: made up of the areas people move away from in large numbers, and the areas they move to.
In sub-Saharan Africa, 86 million are expected to be internally displaced over the period; in South Asia, about 40 million; and in Latin America, 17 million. Nearly 3% of the population was judged likely to move owing to climate change in the areas studied – a proportion that might be repeated elsewhere.
“Climate change-driven migration will be a reality, but it does not need to be a crisis, provided we take action now and act boldly,” said John Roome, a senior director for climate change at the World Bank group.
The 140 million figure extrapolates from current trends, but could be reduced if changes are made. If economic development is made more inclusive, for instance through better education and infrastructure, internal migration across the three regions could drop to between 65 million and 105 million, according to the report. If strong action is taken on greenhouse gas emissions, as few as 30 million to 70 million may migrate.
Kristalina Georgieva, the chief executive of the World Bank, said: “The number of climate migrants could be reduced by tens of millions as a result of global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and with far-sighted development planning.”
The World Socialist Movement believes such optimism is unfounded under capitalism

Monday, March 19, 2018

The Plundering of the Indigenous Peoples Continues

Indigenous communities in Latin America, who have suffered the plunder of their natural resources since colonial times, are reliving that phenomenon again as mega infrastructure are jeopardising their habitat and their very survival.

On the island of Assunção in Northeast Brazil, the village of the Truká indigenous people was split in two when the flow of the São Francisco River was diverted. The transfer, officially called the São Francisco River Integration Project, seeks to capture the river’s water through 713 km of canals, aqueducts, reservoirs, tunnels and pumping systems. According to the government, the largest national infrastructure work of this type will ensure the water security of 12 million people in 390 municipalities in the states of Pernambuco, Ceará, Paraíba and Rio Grande do Norte and will benefit rural and riverbank communities. But the project, according to what Truk, will hinder the process of demarcation of indigenous territories and will not bring them any benefits.
“The Truká people have always been from this region. We are an ancient people in this territory. We have always lived on the riverbank fishing, hunting, planting crops. We did not need a canal,” lamented Claudia Truká, leader of the village in the municipality of Cabrobó, in the state of Pernambuco. “The transfer will have many negative effects. It affects the vegetation and our animals, and it draws water from the river, not to bring water to those who are thirsty but to favour agribusiness. There are other ways to solve the lack of water,” she said. “We were already colonised by the Casa de la Torre (an estate transformed into a sort of barracks from which ranchers conducted raids of indigenous lands in the seventeenth century), which together with the Capuchin (Catholic Franciscan order) favoured that process. Once again the Truká people are going through a process of colonisation,” she said.
In the department of Madre de Dios, in the Amazon jungle in southeastern Peru, the Harakbut indigenous people are suffering the impacts of another megaproject. In 2006, the U.S.-based Hunt Oil company was granted a concession to a plot of land for the exploration and exploitation of natural gas, overlapping with the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve, in the ancestral territory of the Harakbut. In 2017, the company handed over that land because it had obtained no conclusive results within the deadlines for the exploration. However, there are five other producers interested in resuming the megaproject, Andrea Cardoso, a professor at the Arturo Jauretche National University, told IPS.
“The withdrawal of Hunt Oil from Harakbut territory does not mean that the problem has been solved, the impacts on the forest continue and have left their marks,” she said. According to Cardoso “the presence of the oil company has generated divisions in the communities, even within families. The company’s so-called public relations officers have convinced many indigenous people to work for them, or to accept goods or money. But other members of the communities continue to work on raising awareness about the oil industry’s irreversible impacts on the forests,” she said. In addition, the camps of company workers “generate diseases and the breakdown of the social fabric,” Cardoso said. The oil industry activity there is being carried out at the headwaters of several rivers, “which are the only sources of water for more than 10,000 people, including indigenous people and non-native colonists,” she added. For that reason, she said, “the rivers get polluted, with solid and liquid waste dumped directly into the forests and rivers, contaminating the soil and water and therefore also fish, one of the main sources of food for these communities.”
The researcher pointed out that the indigenous people of the Amazon basin, shared by eight South American countries, “know their territory better than anyone else. They are adapted to their environment and have great knowledge of the soils, flora and fauna, as well as their own technologies to take advantage of their natural resources, playing a role as guardians of the environment.” According to Cardoso, the case of the Harakbut people must be analysed in a broader Latin American context. Since the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century, she said, “indigenous movements in Latin America have been at the centre of the political and social scene, in the framework of neoliberal practices implemented by different governments of the region,” with the influx of transnational capital for exploration and exploitation of fossil fuels. “It’s in this context that there has been a loss of control over the common goods of nature and of indigenous peoples’ territories, as a consequence of the territorial dispossession, in a cycle of transnational extractivism that threatens our Americas,” she concluded.
In Ecuador, René Unda, from the Salesian Polytechnic University, highlighted the case of the Mirador-San Carlos Panantza Project, in the Condor mountain range, on the Amazonian western border with Peru, which plans to mine for gold, silver and copper “compromising several watersheds, nature reserves and forests that play a protective role.”
Unda said that one of the most affected indigenous peoples in the initial exploration stage are the Shuar, on both the Ecuadorian and Peruvian sides. In a fragile ecosystem, a mining project of this scope “involves a profound transformation of their ways of life and their modes of survival,” he told IPS. They are guardians of the environment “with their struggle and resistance. Not only against the coalitions that represent the interests of the government and of the corporations, but also against sectors of their own peoples who support the mining projects,” said Unda.
Luciana Guerreiro, an expert in indigenous autonomy processes at the University of Buenos Aires Gino Germani Research Institute, said that in Argentina, “one of the main threats to indigenous populations is the expansion of large-scale mining.”
One emblematic case is in Andalgalá, in Argentina’s northwestern province of Catamarca, where the Minera Alumbrera mining company has operated the first open-pit mine in Argentina for more than 20 years, currently in the process of closure and clean-up, she told IPS. Guerreiro explained that “these ventures not only plunder the mineral resources and wealth of the territories they exploit, but also the water, a fundamental element in areas where it is scarce, leaving local people and their main traditional productive activities devastated and impoverished” and affecting their spirituality and their relationship with nature.
Another case is that of the Diaguita community of Aguas Calientes, in the north of the same Argentine province, which is fighting to keep out mining companies such as Buena Vista Gold.
“In these cases the only thing the communities can do is resist, protest and stop by their own means those who try to steal their land,” said the expert. “The defence of the territories carried out by the Diaguita communities becomes a socio-environmental defence, since their territories also include the Laguna Blanca Biosphere Reserve, a protected natural area of great planetary importance for its biodiversity,” she said. The Diaguita communities, she stressed, “maintain a close link with nature, which means protecting and respecting it; a spiritual relationship, with what they consider mother earth or ‘Pachamama’.”
According to Guerreiro, the “pattern of development” in Latin America “responds to the logic of the global financial markets…and keeps alive colonial relations, denying the specificity of territories and populations with their own ways of life, and recreating relations of subordination and exploitation. However, the peasant and indigenous communities of the region – permanently subjected to persecution, dispossession and defamation – have historically resisted, and continue to resist, encroachment,” she said.

All Different - All Equal

Communities secretary Sajid Javid promised to expand English language classes, claiming that 770,000 people can speak little or no English, most of them women from Pakistani or Bangladeshi communities. The actual number is closer to 138,000, many of them pensioners. Younger Britons of Bangladeshi and Pakistani heritage almost all speak English. So if he’s serious about bringing “divided communities together”, then why is he so focused on 0.3% of the population? By focusing on Bangladeshi and Pakistani women, ministers risk stereotyping entire communities and stoking exaggerated cultural differences. 

If the government is serious about increasing access to Englishlanguage lessons, why did it slash funding by £132m between 2010 and 2015? It is handing over only £50m to implement its entire integration strategy.

Surveys consistently find ethnic minorities feel strongly affiliated to Britain, and support tolerance, democracy and equality – all features of  "British values".

One of the biggest differences between BME people and white British people isn’t culture – it’s political engagement. Black African people are four times less likely to be registered to vote. For every one case of voter fraud, more than 10,000 BME people are not registered. 

To achieve equality in the job market we’ll need to stamp out racism. The National Centre for Social Research found 44% of those surveyed believed that “some races are born harder working than others”. If you believe this – who would you hire for a job?  A CV with an English-sounding name received three times as many interviews than the applicant with a Muslim-sounding one.

We need a society that makes space for the reality of people’s differences without overstating them.

Taken from here

No Deal

Greenpeace says household brands including PepsiCo and Johnson & Johnson are refusing to disclose where they get their palm oil from despite vows to stop buying from companies that cut down tropical forests to grow the widely used commodity.

Greenpeace said international consumer goods companies are “way off track” in meeting a 2010 commitment to remove deforestation-linked palm oil from their supply chains by 2020.

“Corporate commitments and polices have proliferated, but companies have largely failed to implement them,” it said. “Alarmingly, the destruction of Indonesia’s rainforests for palm oil shows no signs of slowing down.” 

Globally, four industries — palm oil, soya, logging and cattle rearing — are the biggest destroyers of the virgin forests that are a crucial buffer against the rise in global temperatures. Indonesia, which has overtaken Brazil as the country cutting down its forests at the fastest rate, lost 24 million hectares of rainforest between 1990 and 2015.

Greenpeace said neither the industry initiative nor governments can be relied on to prevent palm oil producers from clearing forests.

“Palm oil traders, typically corporations that also have plantation interests, continue to allow oil from rainforest destroyers into their mills, refineries and distribution systems,” it said.