Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Private Armies in Iraq

The story on Channel 4 News this evening about private security firms in Iraq make one wonder whether the British death toll is being disguised. They showed the grieving family of one soldier who will get no military funeral because he signed up with a private army in Iraq.

They also quoted from one security man who was hired to protect American soldiers. I will repeat that. hired to protect American soldiers and derided their lack of security consciousness concluding "If they get killed by a roadside bomb they will have nobody but themselves to blame." For someone employed to protect them I have to say this is probably not an attitude his employer would want made public.

Moreover the idea that the American army need to be protected by security guards does nothing for their macho image.

The fact is that private soldiers, who will get no flag-draped coffins going home, are very convenient for Bush and Blair.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Animal Rights on BBC2

I have just been watching a scientist on BBC2 comparing Animal Rights protesters with terrorists and explaining that all medical advances have been brought about by animal experiments in the past which proves conclusively that there will never be an alternative in the future.

His case was undermined just a little by the way he was puffing away on a cigarette throughout. Obviously all those experiments proving that beagles get cancer if you force them to smoke were lost on him.

I am not an animal rights supporter - I stroke the cat occasionally but that is about it. I do know that equally serious scientists are seeking alternatives to the old fashioned methods of animal experimentation.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Paranoia Paedophilia and other things beginning with P

I do have a concern about behaviour which my father or his would have regarded as innocent sending parents into a panic which they blatantly enjoy.

A pupil was leaving a football match at our local park. I asked him what the score was and got a mouthful of abuse from his mother. Then they left. Then they came back and she said that her poor son had told her that I was his teacher and she apologised. She still didn't see anything wrong with abusing - with glee - any adult who so much as spoke to her son.

And this wasn't one of those Sun readers who attack paediatricians because of limited reading ability. This was an articulate, concerned but just a bit paranoid parent.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Socialism 2006

Socialism 2006 looks like being an excellent weekend on November 25/26th. We've got a wider range of speakers and debates than ever - something for everyone.

There should also be an opportunity for Socialist Party teachers to meet on the Sunday to discuss union work.

The details of the event are on the website
You can also buy tickets online at that site.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

White poppies

A lot of fuss about newsreaders being made to wear poppies. I thought the idea of charity was it was voluntary. A lot of people choose to wear poppies and they think the money is going to a good cause.

My mother always wore a white poppy. She made it herself. People celebrated the end of the war. It was only later that the generals and the politicians decided to make 11th November into a celebration of the glory of .... politicians and generals.

And the idea that people fought for the freedom to be forced to wear a poppy is not fascism but it is a bit ironic.

The state has money to wage war. To look after the victims of war apparently is a job for charity. What if it were the other way round. What if the state looked out for the victims of war but the generals had to hold charity drives to buy cluster bombs?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Boycott Israel

“I lost my sister, my brother-in-law and five of my nieces and nephews this morning. I feel nothing now; I can’t find the right words. All I know that the attack wasn’t a mistake. Israel fired six shells, how can that be a mistake? Israel wants to push us from our homes, but we will stay. This is our land.”

-- Omar Thamena, 46, engineer

“A third of unarmed Palestinians killed during IDF operations in the Gaza Strip since the abduction of Gilad Shalit have been minors, according to a new report prepared by Physicians for Human Rights, to be published Wednesday. Between June 27 and October 28, 247 Palestinians, including 155 civilians (63 percent) were killed by the IDF. Among the civilians killed, 57 were minors. This figure does not include minors who were armed.”

-- Haaretz, 8/11/2006

“We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population.”

-- David Ben-Gurion, May 1948, to the General Staff. From Ben-Gurion, A Biography by Michael Ben-Zohar

I do not know whether boycotting Israel will halt its genocidal policy towards the Palestinians. I do not know whether the boycott of Apartheid helped to bring it down.

I do know that the ANC called for the boycott of Apartheid; I do know that Palestinians have called for a boycott of Israeli produce.

I also know that not supporting Israel or not supporting Apartheid is simply refusing to be an accomplice.

Israel does not use suicide bombers against unarmed civilians. It uses long-range artillery and it apologises once in a while. That does not make it morally superior does it?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Bernie Sanders - first socialist senator?

The victory of Bernie Sanders in Vermont shows the potential for someone who stands against the millionaires to gain support. Right wing republicans cannot afford healthcare, right wing republicans cannot get their kids through college - they want someone to look after their economic interests.

He approved of the idea of millionaires voting against him - it is in their class interests to do so!

Bernie described socialism on Democracy Now! as follows:

"Well, I think it means the government has got to play a very important role in making sure that as a right of citizenship, all of our people have healthcare; that as a right, all of our kids, regardless of income, have quality childcare, are able to go to college without going deeply into debt; that it means we do not allow large corporations and moneyed interests to destroy our environment; that we create a government in which it is not dominated by big money interest. I mean, to me, it means democracy, frankly. That's all it means. And we are living in an increasingly undemocratic society in which decisions are made by people who have huge sums of money. And that's the goal that we have to achieve."

Bernie is not a member of the CWI and his view of socialism is more on the Scandinavian model. Nevertheless his victory does show what is possible.