Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Just a question really, why twitter?

I use Face book and quite like that. I can play scrabble , check out groups, events and what people are up to. I can have a chat and a gossip. There are links to posts, news and you tubes. I blog and pop over to others. So why Twitter?

I joined twitter, but it all seems a bit of duplication with the Face book updates and so have not really twittered. I keep getting requests for people to follow me , such as from the Green Party. Hm. I don't want to be followed, it makes me want to slap them !! Leave me alone. But that's the point of Twitter, not to be left alone.

Thoughts anyone ?


Sunday, March 29, 2009

HOPI Moves Away From Opposing Both US and Iranian Regime

I've been pondering the recent HOPI statement about Obama. Nothwithstanding some obvious and true points about Obama and the US ruling class, it seems to me to be a step away from the 'third camp' politics of supporting the working class against both the Iranian regime and US imperialism which is HOPI's main appeal.

When it first started, HOPI was quite an attractive project, and I know that it involves lots of good people with a sound outlook of defending the Iranian people against both the Iranian regime and US aggression. But its political core has shown on several occasions now that it can not resist the pull of the 'anti-imperialist' demagogy that dominates sections of the left, and it seems to be allowing it to be dragged in that direction in rather the same way that the Death Star's tractor beam dragged in the Millenium Falcon.

Here is the statement, with a few comments from me ...

Statement: Barack Obama’s ‘diplomacy’ initiative is no new beginning*

Much has been made of Barack Obama’s Newroz message, which is supposed to represent a “new beginning” for relations between the US and the Islamic Republic.

But we should take a closer look at Obama's project in the Middle East and what he is looking to gain from Iran.

This clearly is no new beginning. The speech is part and parcel of the gunpoint diplomacy initiated by George W. Bush and continued under Barack Obama. Bush himself gave out numerous messages of a similar nature during his presidency. The only difference is that Obama actually addresses the people and leaders of the Islamic Republic directly.

But his demands remain the same:
- Iran should give up uranium enrichment and accept international offers to provide fuel for nuclear power
- Iran should stop arming Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza
- Iran should stop threatening Israel
- Iran must help in achieving peace in Afghanistan and Iraq

So, why not say what you think of the demands themselves? Yes, the US ruling class is hypocritical in raising these demands, for example calling for help in achieving peace in countries where it initiated war! But what if the Iranian workers' movement raised these demands? Would we have a problem with that? If so, why not say so?!

Iran's supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameni wasted little time dismissing the message as “words”, adding he had seen no change in America's “attitude or policy”. Obama knows that it would be political suicide for the Islamic regime to accept those demands. It might be able to keep going by accepting one of the four, but this in turn would not be acceptable for Obama.

And would we have a problem with the Islamic regime committing political suicide? No - so why not say so?!

Further, why is there no comment on Khameni's comment?

Isn't there an implication here that the demands are out-of-order and the Ayatollah's response reasonable? Or if not, why not say so?!

In reality, Obama is trying to influence the Iranian presidential elections, which take place in June. Through sanctions, sable-rattling, diplomatic pressure and the enormous funding for organisations who pursue US-sanctioned ‘regime change’, the US are trying to set the political agenda of these elections in an attempt to force a politically pliant government.

He is pursuing regime change from above, in other words. But the example of Iraq clearly shows that real democracy must come from below, from the people themselves. Just like George W. Bush, Barack Obama has no confidence in the Iranian people to liberate themselves. In fact, by ratcheting up the existing sanctions against Iran - and by threatening even stricter sanctions - he actually undermines the work and efforts of many workers, students and women’s organisations who are fighting against the theocracy. Sanctions disorganise the working class as people squander their fighting energies on day-to-day struggles to simply survive. Sanctions dramatically degrade the ability of the working people to struggle collectively on their own account, to radically refashion society in their own image, to organise and fight.

It is rather strange that Obama has used Iran’s support for ‘terrorism’ as the justification for his new round of sanctions. After all, the US are very keen on getting Iran to attend their ‘Afghanistan conference’. It seems that when the Iranian government acts in the interests of the US, they make a perfectly acceptable ‘partner’.

Hands Off the People of Iran is clear: US-led imperialism, whoever is at its helm, is the greatest enemy of the people of Iran and indeed the peoples of the whole world.

Is it really? Would you say that to the loved ones of the people whose bodies hang from cranes in a recent post on this blog? To those executed for homosexuality, or imprisoned and tortured for trade union activities?

And as the hyperbole escalates, we reach the statement that US-led imperialism is the greatest enemy of the peoples of the whole world. Really?! There is not a people on the planet who have a greater enemy - for example, their own ruling class - than 'US-led imperialism'?

There can be no ‘peace’ based on gunpoint diplomacy or a ‘deal’ between one section of the Iranian theocracy and US imperialism - this would actually entrench the US project in the Middle East and provide backing for the disastrous war in Afghanistan, currently being stepped up by Obama. Hopi fights for a nuclear-free Middle East as a step towards a nuclear-free world.

Our campaign also fights for:

- No to imperialist war! For the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of US/UK troops from Iraq and all the Gulf region!
- No to any imperialist intervention. The immediate and unconditional end to sanctions on Iran.
- No to the theocratic regime
- Opposition to Israeli expansionism and aggression
- Support to all working class and progressive struggles in Iran against poverty and repression
- Support for socialism, democracy and workers' control in Iran

So finally we see a statement against the Iranian regime. Except for the implied criticism in the paragraph starting He is pursuing regime change form above, this is the first time the statement has criticised the Iranian regime. But it is deliberately outnumbered by statements against the US. It also comes across as tagged on the end, rather like the 'notes to editors' after the end of a press release.

(I'm also faintly puzzled by the inclusion of a demand about Israel. It is a demand I agree with, but there is no explanation as to its relevance to a campaign whose title is just about Iran. Sure, Israel has a nasty government and is in the same region as Iran, but there are others that fit that description too.)

HOPI's stance now seems not so much 'a plague on both your houses' as 'a really big plague on your house and a small infection on yours'.


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Pics From G20 Protest

Reporting on today's Put People First march in London to coincide with the G20 summit, I thought I would start with the most amusing placard of the day. Private Fraser would love it.

Next, here's the other 'arf and kiddiwinks on the Tube from Whitechapel to Temple preparing to protest. (Indulge me, please, this is one of only two occasions on which we have all managed to go on a demonstration together.)

In the spirit of which, here is young Harrison in his RMT hat.

I will be posting lots of RMT pics on the RMT London Calling website later this weekend, so will include just one here - a snap of part of the RMT contingent, with a few branch banners and flags on display.

A comment here ... Loads of unions had contingents with logo-adorned flags, banners, T-shirts, Hi-Vi vests, whistles and what have you. But very few had anything with any demands or political slogans on. The one exception on the RMT contingent was the 'No to EU' banner at the front, which I avoided straying too close to.

It seems to me that unions are preoccupied with branding themselves rather than raising their demands - with being seen to be there rather than using being there to promote their issues and battles. Where were the logo-adorned placards demanding 'Stop The Job Cuts', or 'Scrap the Anti-Union Laws', or 'Decent Pay and Jobs for All'?!

Fortunately, the march was not bereft of such banners, this being a good example ... Workers of the World Unite - defend women, migrants, youth ...

... and this making a highly pertinent point too. These were on the anti-capitalist, feminist and internationalist contingent that Workers' Liberty supported.


Friday, March 27, 2009

God Will Not Interveve, Says Friday Fuckwit

Archbishop Rowan Williams tells us that God will not intervene to save the planet. That's a pretty safe prediction, I'd say, as the Divine One has already omitted to intervene to stop famines, tsunamis, hideous diseases, earthquakes and the suchlike. And how about the Holocaust? Now that would have been as good a time as any for some divine intervention.

So let's get this right ... God creates the world, then sits back while a small proportion of its inhabitants form themselves into a ruling class and destroy his creation. And does nothing. Millions suffer in poverty and agony through no fault of their own, but although he is more than capable of intervening, he chooses not to. And we are supposed to worship this geezer?!

In the Gospel of St Luke, the parable of the Good Samaritan denounces those who would pass on the other side and not intervene to help a man lying beaten at the roadside. But it's OK for God to pass on the other side, yes?

Further, despite the fact that God has no intention of intervening to save the planet, the Archbishop would still have us all say our prayers each day. And praying, if I remember rightly, consists primarily of asking God to do stuff ie. to intervene.

So let's follow the Archbishop's (implied) advice. Stop praying and fight capitalism.

In the meantime, what are the chances of our FF realising the real reason why God won't intervene: because he doesn't exist. Pretty slim, I'd say, but the real fuckwittery in Williams' comment is that even if God does exist, he's not much use, is he?

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Batshit Bogle

Brilliant !

Check out her blog , she describes herself as :

Home is the London suburbs where husband Jamie and I live cheerily among lots of books and no TV. I'm currently studying for a BA (Divinity) at Maryvale Institute. I loathe instant coffee,extreme feminism, narrow-mindedness, cold pasta, "inclusive language" and stewed tea. Am happy attending a Mass in the Ordinary Form, love good hymns. Favourite modes of transport are train or bicycle. Am extremely fond of my nephews, nieces, great-nephew, great-niece, and godchildren and I also like buttered toast, sticky chocolate cake, rain,old-fashioned detective stories, Pope Benedict XV1, making jam, winter teatimes, sleeping out of doors on warm summer nights, Christmas, Pimms,ginger wine, and making patchwork quilts. I've got a list of men who ought to be bishops.

Hat Tip to Shiraz.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Pope and witchcraft : swap one set of superstitious nonsense for another set of superstitious nonsense

The Pope calls on Africans to reject witchcraft.

...he urged his listeners to reach out to those Angolans who believe in witchcraft and spirits.

"So many of them are living in fear of spirits, of malign and threatening powers. In their bewilderment they even end up condemning street children and the elderly as alleged sorcerers," he said.

In his homily, the pope urged Catholic to try to convince those who had left the Church that "Christ has triumphed over death and all those occult powers.

Errr, this from a Church that has a Chief Exorcist :

Father Gabriele Amorth who is Pope Benedict XVI's 'caster out of demons' made his comments during an interview with Vatican Radio.

Father Amorth said: "Of course the Devil exists and he can not only possess a single person but also groups and entire populations.

"I am convinced that the Nazis were all possessed. All you have to do is think about what Hitler - and Stalin did. Almost certainly they were possessed by the Devil.

"You can tell by their behaviour and their actions, from the horrors they committed and the atrocities that were committed on their orders. That's why we need to defend society from demons."

According to secret Vatican documents recently released wartime pontiff Pope Pius XII attempted a "long distance" exorcism of Hitler which failed to have any effect.

Father Amorth said: "It's very rare that praying and attempting to carry out an exorcism from distance works.

"Of course you can pray for someone from a distance but in this case it would not have any effect.

"One of the key requirements for an exorcism is to be present in front of the possessed person and that person also has to be consenting and willing.

Apparently the Chief Exorcist is quite a busy man :

In a small room, well away from the street so that no one hears the screams, Father Gabriele Amorth does battle with Satan. He is a busy man.

As the Vatican’s top exorcist, Amorth performs the mysterious, ancient ritual dozens of times a week. A confused world engulfed in tragedy and chaos is turning increasingly to black magic, the occult and fortune-telling, he said, proof that the devil and his handmaidens are having a field day.

“These customs open the door to evil spirits and to demonic possessions,” Amorth said. “Exorcism is God’s true miracle.”

The practice of exorcism driving demons and evil spirits from people or places has been experiencing a renaissance of late, from Europe to the Americas to Africa.


In Italy, the number of exorcists has increased more than tenfold in the last decade to about 300. This year, one of the country’s largest archdioceses established a special task force to handle the growing demand for devil detox.

Amorth is arguably the world’s most famous practitioner of exorcism and certainly its greatest promoter.

He co-founded the International Assn. of Exorcists, an organization of priests that meets in secrecy every two years, and he remains its president emeritus. Author of numerous books on the subject, he has had a hand in recruiting, training or inspiring most of today’s exorcists.

Amorth said his calendar is always full. “I have three this afternoon,” he said matter-of-factly recently.

With little prompting, he whipped out his equipment, sheathed in a weathered leather bag that is always at his side: a silver and wooden crucifix, an aspergillum for sprinkling holy water and a container of baptismal oil.

He acted out simple steps from the ritual, wrapping his purple priest’s stole around the shoulders of a visitor and making the sign of the cross on her forehead. (All clear, he pronounced.)

In an exorcism, that opening is followed by prayers, anointment with the holy water and oil, then a demand to the devil that he state his name and be gone. Anything can happen: If the person is possessed, and that’s a rarity, he or she will often turn violent and fight the intervention, Amorth said.

Hmmm, seems the Pope does irony.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Support RMT's Fightback Against Job and Pay Cuts

I suspect my plea for messages of support for our industrial action ballot on London Underground and Transport for London may have been a little crowded out by our Friday Fuckwit Pastor Phelps. So this is a wee post to bump it back to your attention.

Tomorrow, RMT sends out ballot papers to nearly 10,000 members on LU and TfL. You can read about the issues here on the 'RMT London Calling' website, which is run by reps and activists in the union's London Transport region, not by head office. Suffice to say, we face 1,000 job cuts, thousands more to come, a 5-year pay freeze that amounts to a year-on-year pay cut, and a clampdown on attendance and discipline involving stories of injustice that would make your hair curl.

Management are laying it on thick that workers in other industries are losing their jobs and agreeing to pay cuts or freezes, trying with some success to make RMT members feel guilty and selfish for standing up for ourselves. The truth is that if RMT did not fight back, it would not save one single job or or stop any pay cuts in any other industry. Conversely, effective action by Underground/TfL workers may start to turn the tide of workers taking the hit for the bosses' crisis.

It would be a real boost for workers' morale and confidence if we could circulate messages of support. Tell Tube workers that we are right to fight back, that accepting attacks on pay and jobs will not help workers in other industries one bit, that the bosses have got a rank cheek telling workers that we have to pay for their crisis and that we should tighten our belts while they are ostentatiously not tightening theirs.

Please email messages to me, giving your name and if relevant the union/campaign you are a member of.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Fuckwit Friday

We missed Friday Fuckwit last Friday - there was too many to pick from I suppose.

This week out of the plethora of fuckwits, I would like to propose Pastor Fred Phelps, of Topeka, Kansas.

If you follow Louis Theroux' documentaries of weird and wacky people you might of come across Pastor Phelps - he and his kin stood on the streets with placards such as "God hates fags"

Looks like Kansas has got too small from Fred - he's coming to London to campaign with his homophobic placards and banners, he is threatening to picket outside a Waltham Forest primary school because it was celebrating LGBT history month. The school used a book about two gay penguins to demonstrate that people of the same gender could have loving relationships with one another.

However Pastor Phelps is banned from entering Britain in order to stop him spreading "extremism and hatred". He had intended to picket a play about a homophobic killing.
A message on the group's website announcing their plans said: "God hates the UK and the school fag tyranny, where conscientious parents face religious persecution for withdrawing their children from lessons on lying fag so-called history." Read more here

So Freddie Fuckwit - you bigoted intolerant fool you can feck off - Britain has enough bigots and homophobes without you ading to the toxic soup.

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Protesting for Jobs, Pay and Justice

The main reason for my sparse blogging of late is the amount of union work I have been doing. This is due to having been elected to a new post (RMT London Transport Regional Council Secretary), and due to the massive dispute we are entering into.

London Underground is cutting 1,000 jobs, and making a five-year pay offer of RPI+1% in year one, followed by RPI only for the next four years - in reality, a year-on-year real-terms pay cut. Meanwhile, RMT rightly accuses London Underground managers of an attendance and discipline crackdown, including breaking its own procedures. Transport for London (the Underground's parent company) plans an unspecified number of job cuts - probably running into thousands - and won't even talk to the union about pay, because, it says, the gap between the employer and the union is so wide as to make talks pointless.

While thousands of jobs are lost each week across industry, and some union bureaucrats think that the only way to stop this is to sign off pay cuts for their members (but not for themselves), it is good indeed that RMT is fighting back, and is balloting all its members in all grades in London Underground at TfL for industrial action.

You can read more about this dispute on the RMT London Calling website here, and more rank-and-file views here.

But I know that Stroppyblog reader like a nice set of protest pics, so here is the demo that I joined this morning at 7.30am ...


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dates for your diary

A bit of a round up of events coming up.

For An End to Immigration Detention

Saturday 21st March 2009 Gather 11.30am at Bedford Town Centre to march from Bedford to Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre, to demonstrate between 12.30 and 2pm.

End indefinite immigration detention of women, men and children:
About 25,000 people - including 2,000 children - accused of no crime, are detained indefinitely each year at great human cost and great expense to tax-payers. All detention centres are operated for profit. Many of the people detained are victims of rape and other torture whose trauma is exacerbated by being detained.

An end to medical abuses and the detention of torture survivors including victims of rape: People with severe mental and physical health problems and disabilities are routinely detained, some for months or even years. Around 70% of women in detention are rape survivors. Detainees are frequently denied access to adequate medical care.

An end the detention of children and families:
Children, pregnant women and families are detained indefinitely in Yarl’s Wood removal centre and elsewhere. Some young mothers are separated from newborn babies to be placed in detention, causing permanent damage to both parents and children.

Details at No Borders website.

HOPI (Manchester ) We Stand with the Iranian Students
Against war, militarism, sanctions and repression

25 March 2009
13:00 - 15:00
University of Manchester Students' Union Oxford Road

Manchester HOPI along with our friends in Manchester's Iranian community are calling a day of action on the 25 March at the University of Manchester Students' Union (UMSU) starting at 1pm. We are calling this demonstration in solidarity with members of the Students for Freedom and Equality group, who have been arrested and tortured by the Iranian regime for standing up against imperialism, militarism, homophobia, patriarchy and state repression.

The students who have been arrested are Amirhosein Mohammadifar, Mohammad Poorabdollah, Sanaz Allahyari, Alireza Davoudi, Bahman Khodadad, Hosein Sarshoomi and Arsalan Sadeghi. They were arrested under the guise of presenting a threat to national security. The regime uses the threat of war and further sanctions as an excuse to put down student and worker insurgency. Students in Iran have been at the forefront of the fight for democracy and liberation in Iran, linking up with the workers', women's and national movements in the process.

We will be holding a demonstration outside of the students union and collecting letters to be sent to the Iranian Embassy calling for our comrades immediate release. We will also be collecting signatures for a petition against sanctions to be sent to the Foreign Office.

Details on Facebook.

Zionism - origins and consequences
a socialist historical view

01 April 2009
19:00 - 22:00
Indian YMCA
Fitzroy Square,

Zionism, as manifested in the State of Israel, is in the news, yet often misunderstood as both opponents and supporters often blur distinctions between 'Zionists', 'Israelis' and 'Jews'.
We shall look at how the political Zionist movement arose, and how it has changed, as well as its consequences for both Palestinians and Jews. We shall also consider our attitude as socialists.
CHARLIE POTTINS is a national committee member of the Jewish Socialists' Group who writes for Jewish Socialist magazine.
In his youth Charlie was a member of the Labour-Zionist youth movement Habonim.
This meeting is organised by the Socialist History Society together with the Jewish Socialists' Group.

Details on Facebook.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Carnival of Socialism

I'm a bit sad I suppose, but I do enjoy trawling around the blogs and doing the Carnival is a good excuse. Its a general Carnival this time, but I have some themes within it. I'm not pretending to be balanced here, its what has caught my eye.

Last week was the 25th anniversary of the start of the Miners Strike. Bloody hell that makes me feel old !
I was particularly involved with women's groups and "Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners"and so have added this, an old blog post, as there a film of the activities of LGSM and a little clip of the "Pits and Perverts" benefit .I was there !!

Quite a few bloggers have written about this anniversary and their memories. Will has a post and a YouTube clip and states , in his usual delicate prose:

Meanwhile, Thatcher is dying slowly, and hopefully in pain, while she pisses and shits in her filthy stained Victorian knickers like a rodent does -- not having control over anything in that department like.

Dave reminisces and discusses the tactics at the time :

Back in the day, I was a skinny young student Trot with an exaggerated ‘aircraft carrier’ version of the flat top haircut all the boys then used to sport in honour of Morrisey, and like hundreds of thousands of other people, an ardent supporter of the dispute.

I was frequently to be found shaking a bucket outside Leytonstone tube station to raise cash for the local support group, and was actively engaged in attempting to win miners to my group’s particular brand of far leftism. Mainly this seemed to involve buying them beer and discussing intensely how victory could best be assured.

And whatever quibbles I had, then or now, I remain convinced that strategically speaking, Scargill’s handling of the situation was right. Indeed, he probably had little alternative but to act as he did.

In another post he goes on to look at the continued impact of Thatcherism on the former mining communities, as does Chris Dillow, who highlights the social and economic costs of pit closures .

For more on the Strike check out : Tom Watson MP, Mick Hall, Bob from Brockley, Snowball and HarpyMarx.

Last week was International Women's Day and to mark that here are a collection of posts that highlight the struggles and crap still facing women both here and across the world.

Now regardless where you stand on sex workers, I'd say most would agree that a 14 year old girl should be treated as a victim of rape and not taken to court for 'profiting from criminal earnings' . The school found lubricants and condoms in her bag and called the police not social services. Surely this was a child protection issue ? Check out the F Word for more.

The F Word also has some posts on the worrying attitudes to domestic violence and rape, including:

between 10-20% think domestic violence is acceptable in some way in response to “nagging”, flirting with other men, dressing in ‘sexy’ clothes in public, and not “treating him with respect”.

Another post highlights the rise of domestic violence in London.

Rape is often used during war against women, Feministing reports how it is used in South Africa against lesbians to 'correct' them. Murderers of lesbians also seems to be walking free there.

Caroline critically comments on coverage of a young woman who killed herself, which attributes some responsibility for the bullying that lead to it to her 'slutty' behaviour.

Fighting back, Coatsey reports on Iranian Women activists with links to demos on IWD.

Charlie also has a post for IWD looking at women's role in the context of the wider working class struggle.

Meanwhile a 75-year-old Syrian woman has been sentenced to 40 lashes by a Saudi court, for “mingling” - ie having two men in her house who are not related to her.

Moving on to religion and women, the F Word also highlights the Vatican's contribution to IWD. What's contributed most to women's liberation ? Well of course this is all relative to where you live , but generally most would suggest the pill, access to abortion, right to vote, equal financial rights, work etc.

Wrong, its the washing machine! Of course, because that's women's role isn't it, breeding and housework. Love this quote:

The author writes that "even though early models of the washing machine were expensive and unreliable, the technology had improved to the point that there is now the image of the super woman, smiling, made-up and radiant among the appliances of her house."

Radiant and smiling, hm, think it might be another 'appliance ' they are thinking , though I have heard of 'uses' for the spin cycle.

Yeah, keep women in their place, but even worse is the lack of humanity in this report of the Catholic Church in Brazil towards a pregnant nine year old girl:

In Brazil, there is a horrific story of a 9-year-old girl who was raped and impregnated (h/t Falloch’s comment). It’s believed that the rape was committed by her step-father. The girl was not only pregnant at that young age, but also pregnant with twins. And so, as makes perfect sense, she had an abortion. Because she was raped, because she was much to young to have a child, and because the stress of having twins would of course have been far too much for a 9-year-old’s body to handle. And she could have died.

Now, the Catholic Church has excommunicated both the girl’s mother and the doctors who performed the abortion, which likely saved the girl’s life.

Well then. At least they didn’t excommunicate the girl, right? Maybe they decided that she was much too young to have made the decision to have the abortion on her own, or to understand what was happening. But not too young, apparently, to be forced to give birth to the twins caused by her rapist. Not too young to quite possibly die in the process.

In defending the decision, the Church’s lawyer has said:

“It’s the law of God: Do not kill. We consider this murder,” Miranda said in comments reported by O Globo.

But rape, apparently, is a-okay. After all, I don’t see the step-father, who allegedly admitted to having raped the girl since the age of 6, being excommunicated. Killing a fetus is apparently worthy of such censure and shunning. Horrifically violating a small child, though? Well, we all make mistakes. And this stance is of course nothing new.

How anti abortionists have the nerve to take the moral high ground and express concern for life when that seems, for women, to end when they are born. How could anyone with any compassion make a child, a 9 year old abused child, go through giving birth to twins .

This post by Will highlights the double standards and hypocrisy of the Catholic Church.

A final post on religion, this time from New Humanist highlighting some delightful t-shirts produced by The Passions for Christ movement . These include a series of "Ex-" T-shirts in which members declare that, thanks to Christ, they are now ex-fornicators, ex- masturbators, ex-homosexuals or ex-porn addicts. They even have a link to a blog where :

P4CM member Dameco wrote a blog on her myspace entitled Overcoming Masturbation, which testified to her 7 year battle with masturbation and God's power to deliver her from this sin. Since then, people from all over the world have been writing in saying that they too have battle with this sin and did not know they could be free from it until they read her testimony.

There is a clip where she talks about overcoming her 'appetite for lust'.

MarshaJane has suggested we should bring out some Stroppyblog t-shirts after a recent debate here.
Perhaps 'wanker, you say that like its a bad thing!' or 'I have an appetite for lust'? Suggestions please.

I really don't get what their problem with wanking is. I mean if god bothers want to insist people wait for marriage before sex then surely let them have a wank? Why is it wrong ?

Anyway, enough of that.

Right , a few more posts here, some sent to me, that don't fit into my themes .

Jim is cheered by the news of Bristol Palin not going through with a forced marriage and also posts on what Labour Party members think.

Two posts from Phil .One assessing "History and Class Consciousness" and another on building a campaigning Trades Council.
Phil is also hosting the next Carnival.

"Life is complicated yet beautifully simple" has a post on the 'detention' of Phil Woolas .

And finally a book review from Benjamin Solah .



Sunday, March 15, 2009

Carnival of Socialism...

Will be a little tomorrow.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Euro Election: An Opportunity Grabbed Then Wasted

If all the practicalities work out, there will be a list of trade union candidates on your ballot paper in June's European elections - but with the unfortunate title of 'No to EU - Yes to Democracy'. The first half of this statement should be great news, but it leads into a second half which is bad news.

With thousands of jobs being lost every week, workers facing pay cuts and public services being slashed and privatised - and Labour along with the parties that have always backed the bosses allowing this to happen - there is a crying need for an election campaign that stands for the interests and demands of workers. A socialist election campaign for jobs, services and democracy.

This need is even more pressing given the BNP's high chance of getting Euro seats and the big bucks that go with them. Mainstream anti-fascism's slogan of 'Vote for anyone but the BNP' is unconvincing and has limited effect when the 'anyone' is just a range of anti-working-class parties. To hope to mobilise working-class people to outvote the BNP, it seriously helps to have someone who deserves our vote.

So a national campaign fielding lists of trade-union candidates in every region is a great idea. And good on the RMT for looking to officially endorse such a thing.

But there is a problem, and a big one at that. In fact, there are three problems: the politics of the slogan, the narrowness of the platform and the way in which it has been put together.

As the recent oil refinery walkouts showed the need for the working class to fight back but to avoid nationalism, the slogan 'No to EU' encourages that nationalism just when it is important to challenge it. Our priority now has to be to promote and organise Europe-wide (and broader) workers' unity. We should offer an alternative vision of a workers' Europe rather than suggest that isolated British capitalism is somehow better than a European capitalists' club. We should indict capitalism - rather than simply 'the EU' - for the havoc its crisis is wreaking on working-class lives.

Having said that, 'No to EU' is RMT's policy, and I am very much in favour of unions fighting for their policies in the electoral arena. It would be wrong to say that unions should assert only those of their policies that I agree with!

But even if you agree with RMT's policy (as probably the majority of activists and members do), 'No to EU - Yes to democracy' is far too narrow a focus. Although there is some logic to a candidacy in the European Union's elections to focus on the politics of the European Union, there is no reason at all why it should do so exclusively. This is a reckless missing of a good opportunity to fight for a broad programme of working-class demands.

A socialist electoral challenge should not just be a bare political statement. It should be something through which current workers' struggles can express themselves in the electoral field. Current fights such as those against Post Office privatisation or the thousands of job losses in the railway industry will not find an expression in 'No to EU - Yes to Democracy'. On the other hand, workers involved in those struggles could well have used a broader jobs/services/democracy platform to express our grievances and give impetus to our fightback.

It is as though the union has picked up a powerful weapon then pointed it in the wrong direction. Meanwhile, most other unions either continue to wield a weapon that for several years has been pointing at themselves (the Labour Party), or refuse to wield a weapon at all.

RMT's support for 'No to EU - Yes to Democracy' has been agreed by the union's Executive, but not until after a letter from 'No to EU - Yes to Democracy' had circulated implying RMT's support! It was then presented to the union as a done deal, with no opportunity to debate the name or the platform. It came upon us with very little warning: it was not mentioned at the RMT-sponsored conference on working-class political representation in January, and when Bob Crow spoke at our Regional Council meeting at the end of January, he suggested that there might be 'People's Charter' candidates in the Euro elections (a much better, if imperfect, prospect). Many RMT activists are unhappy at having this imposed without debate, and even if there is no outcry, neither will there be a great deal of enthusiasm or active involvement in the election campaign.

The source of both the poor politics and the undemocratic practice is the same: the CPB / Morning Star. Fresh from helping Derek Simpson limp to re-election, the Star has now reverted to the obsession that has gripped it for decades: that All Bad Things Come From The EU. It is a dead-end that leads away from the internationalist socialism we need and which succours the nationalism that divides our movement.

Stalinism casts a long shadow.

By the way, there is already a blog called 'No2EU'. It links to the UK Independence Party and is written by someone called 'Bulldog'.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

"Gay Scientists Isolate Christian Gene" - You Tube spoof

Hat tip Tami on Facebook.


Guest post: Public sector workers made to pay the price - again

Here is a guest post from Caz. It exposes very well how top managers are squandering money then making workers pay the price. Workers in many public services - and no doubt the private sector too - will tell you that it seems that once you get to a certain level of management, you can make whatever cock-ups you like and get away with it. Meanwhile we mere workers get booted for the slightest mistakes and face redundancies even without making mistakes!

Today at work I came across this little gem. Another appalling misuse of money at the highest level - millions squandered on an incompetently handled, and then dumped, computer project for prisons and probation.

I happened to read the article with my 'risk of redundancy' letter sitting on my desk. Dozens of workers in my probation area have also received letters. Budget cuts from the Home Office our bosses tell us. We must all make sacrifices they say (well, apart from the managers who've feathered their own nests in the 'cuts' reorganisation). They assure us they'll protect the front-line (shame about the proposed cuts in front-line admin workers!).

But here in front of me is a report that tells me £155 million of tax-payers' money (and presumably in part probation funding) was just thrown away.

Obviously workers in probation can do the math. Over the next three years probation budget shortfalls will likely lead to redundancies, attacks on terms and conditions and a reduced service. And we'll be told it's because there just isn't any money.

So who is held to account for fiascos like the probation IT project?

Who's held to account for all the fees paid to 'consultants' in previous years?

Or the privatised contracts allowing cowboy outfits to make vast profits whilst delivering a poor service?

Ordinary probation workers face redundancy so that probation managers can save a fraction of the millions wasted at the top over recent years.

We can, and will, do our best to fight back at a local level. In my area both napo and Unison have already had a successful indicative ballot for action. Hopefully we can turn that into an official vote for action to oppose any compulsory redundancies.

Unfortunately there's no sign yet of a national campaign (not from Unison at any rate). Our union leaders should be fighting to hold those responsible for these scandals to account instead of sitting back whilst we pay the price for incompetence and greed.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sayed Pervez Kambaksh sentenced to twenty years

In Afghanistan a student has been sentenced to 20 years for downloading and circulating articles on women's rights that also question parts of the Koran:

Sayed Pervez Kambaksh, the student journalist sentenced to death for blasphemy in Afghanistan, has been told he will spend the next 20 years in jail after the country's highest court ruled against him – without even hearing his defence.

The 23-year-old, brought to worldwide attention after an Independent campaign, was praying that Afghanistan's top judges would quash his conviction for lack of evidence, or because he was tried in secret and convicted without a defence lawyer.

Instead, almost 18 months after he was arrested for allegedly circulating an article about women's rights, any hope of justice and due process evaporated amid gross irregularities, allegations of corruption and coercion at the Supreme Court. Justices issued their decision in secret, without letting Mr Kambaksh's lawyer submit so much as a word in his defence.

Mr Kambaksh was found guilty of blasphemy and sentenced to death last year for circulating an essay on women's rights which questioned verses in the Koran.

It later emerged he was convicted by three mullahs, in secret, without access to a lawyer. The sentence was commuted to 20 years on appeal. At that appeal, in October, the key prosecution witness withdrew his testimony, claiming he had been forced to lie on pain of death. The prosecution then appealed to the Supreme Court to reinstate the death sentence. The defence appealed to quash his conviction altogether.

Meanwhile, the student has been languishing in a Kabul jail, fearing for his life. Islamic fundamentalists have been baying for his blood while moderate groups have led marches countrywide demanding his release.

Much of the attention is on the fact that it was clearly not a fair trial,but surely the fact that someone could face potentially a death sentence for being in anyway critical of the Koran and seemingly questioning the rights of women in society is scary . Its bad enough in this country when religious groups, of all faiths, get upset at criticism and take offence, but to face death or long imprisonment? Is religious belief that fragile ?

That is why I do think a secular state is better than one founded on religion . It allows religious freedom but not privilege , of any belief and none. Though I think the 'none' to describe atheists presumes they do not have strong ethical and principled beliefs , they can have though not ones based on gods .

I have commented before that the lot of women and girls is pretty crap in Afghanistan and that they are failed by the occupiers, the new Government and that the Taliban still strikes fear and uses violence. On another post about attacks on girls some said ...but yeah the Taliban are *still* better blah blah blah. Well it seems that whether its the present Government, occupiers or the Taliban its women and men who challenge the religious fundamentalists, who question and think for themselves that suffer .

The occupiers haven't helped and the Taliban won't , however much they really really don't like the US.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The stone throwing chimp

Much discussion about the chimp who seems to have stored stones, planning his attacks on people visiting the zoo he is in:

There has been scant evidence in previous research that animals can plan for future events.
Crucial to the current study is the fact that Santino, a chimpanzee at the zoo in the city north of Stockholm, collected the stones in a calm state, prior to the zoo opening in the morning.
The launching of the stones occurred hours later - during dominance displays to zoo visitors - with Santino in an "agitated" state.
This suggests that Santino was anticipating a future mental state - an ability that has been difficult to definitively prove in animals, according to Mathias Osvath, a cognitive scientist from Lund University in Sweden and author of the new research.
"We've done experimental studies, and the chimps in my mind show very clearly that they do plan for future needs, but it has been argued that perhaps this was an experimental artefact," Dr Osvath told BBC News.
"Now we have this spontaneous behaviour, which is always in some sense better evidence."
Cracking show

Good for Him ! But the fact is he is agitated when he throws them and given that i'd hazard a guess that he doesn't like being imprisoned in an enclosure being gawped at by people for their entertainment and would much rather have his freedom in the wild.


Sunday, March 08, 2009

Homer Hangs On

Stroppyblog's original Wanker of the Week / Friday Fuckwit - Derek Simpson - has crawled back into office as General Secretary of Unite, following a less-than-impressive victory with just 38% of the vote on a woeful 12% turnout. My calculations tell me that means that just four-and-a-half per cent of his members want Derek to be their leader.

Simpson also polled just two-thirds of the votes that he received when first elected in 2002, when he beat Ken Jackson by 89,521 votes to 89,115. Perhaps the better his members know Derek Simpson, the less they like him.

Jerry Hicks came second with 25%, with right-winger Kevin Coyne trailing in third with 19% and some other geezer 1% behind him.

Goodness, makes you wonder what a credible left-wing candidate could have achieved.

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Friday, March 06, 2009

"Oh for gods sake get away " : Protestor chucks green custard over Mandelson

You tubes below, but no sound.

Slow motion, to really enjoy :

And if you want the sound, check out the BBC news clip .

I think Mandy can be this week's Friday fuckwit. Well he could be every week really .


Thursday, March 05, 2009

Carnival of Socialism

Ooops, almost forgot about this. I'm down for the carnival on the 15th March.

See over here for details.

I'll be looking around the blogs, but do please send me links to interesting posts that you think should be in the Carnival .

It will be a general Carnival, not themed, but given today is the 25th anniversary of the start of the Miners Strike i'd like to include some posts on this.

Leave links in the comments here by the 13th March.


Monday, March 02, 2009

Support the Iranian people, oppose Tehran's clerical fascism - Article by Peter Tatchell

Below is an article by Peter, reproduced here with his permission :

Support the Iranian people, oppose Tehran's clerical fascism

Peter Tatchell says solidarity with the Iranian freedom struggle is non-negotiable, no matter how much the US threatens a military strike

Red Pepper website - February 2009

Principled, consistent left-wingers do not base their politics on the unprincipled, inconsistent geo-political manoeuvres of western powers. We stand with the oppressed against their oppressors, regardless of what the west (or anyone else) demands or threatens.

US sabre-rattling against Iran is worrying. A military attack must be resisted. However, opposition to Washington's war-mongering and neo-imperial designs is no reason for socialists, greens and other progressives to go soft on Tehran's despotism.

Iran is an Islamo-fascist state - a clerical form of fascism based on a confluence of Islamic fundamentalism and police state methods. It differs, of course, from traditional European-style fascism, being rooted in religious dogma and autocracy. This makes it no less barbaric. Iran under the ayatollahs has a history of repression as bloody as Franco's clerical fascist regime in Spain. Sadly, it merits far less outrage by the left.

Tehran's tyrannical religious state embodies many (though not all) the characteristics of classical fascism: a substantially corporatist political and economic system maintained by a highly centralised repressive state apparatus. This repression includes bans on non-Islamist political parties and free trade unions, and a regime of unfair trials, detention without charge, torture, executions, media censorship, gender apartheid, violent suppression of peaceful protests and strikes, and the persecution of left-wingers, trade unionists, students, feminists, journalists, gay people and religious and ethnic minorities.

Even lawyers and human rights defenders - are imprisoned and tortured.

The government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is also pursuing a racist, neo-colonial policy against Iran's minority nationalities, such as the Arabs (who are abused even more harshly than the Israelis abuse the Palestinians), Kurds and Baluchs.

It used to be axiomatic that left and progressive movements fought fascism, wherever it is found and whatever its form. We do not appease or collude. Well, not until recently. Nowadays, there is a whole section of the left that has abandoned the freedom struggle in Iran. It goes to extraordinary lengths to ignore, downplay or apologise for the excesses of the tyrants in Tehran.

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament invited the Iranian ambassador as a guest speaker to its 2005 annual conference. It preferred to host the representative of an Islamo-fascist regime, rather than the leaders of Iran's left-wing opposition and anti-nuclear peace movement. Indeed, CND members who objected to the feting of the ambassador of a dictatorship were forcibly ejected from the conference.

A similar fate befell Iranian refugees who joined the Stop the War Coalition marches. When they backed the call "Don't Attack Iran" they were welcomed, but as soon as they also condemned Tehran's depotism they were denounced by some of the left and shoved out the of the demonstration by thuggish StWC stewards.

We are told by these muscular leftists that Iran is a democracy and that President Ahmadinejad is elected. Nonsense. But even if this were true, so what? Tony Blair was elected but that did not make the Iraq war right. Israel is a democracy but this is no justification for its indiscriminate bombing of Gaza and its occupation of Palestine.

The truth is that Iran is no democracy. Liberal, secular, green, socialist and national minority political parties are outlawed. All candidates for election are vetted by a clerical council and those who dissent from the mullah's orthodoxy are barred from standing for public office. Moreover, the conservative state-controlled media favours establishment candidates and denies, or restricts, coverage of genuine reformists and progressive ideas. Iran is not a democracy.

Human rights abuses in Iran are often dismissed by sections of the anti-imperialist left as "exaggerated" or "neo con fiction," despite incontrovertible evidence from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and from Iran's underground left-wing, student and trade union movements. This shocking denialism is wholly divorced from reality and is a sordid betrayal of the Iranian people's struggle for liberty and justice.

Some left-wingers argue that since the US is the main upholder of the unjust imperialist economic system we must therefore support those who oppose the US. Because Tehran is against the US, we should support, or at least not undermine, the Iranian regime.

This is a total perversion of anti-imperialism and internationalism. By this logic, the British left should have supported the Nazis during the Second World War, because Hitler was against British imperialism and his victory would have hastened the demise of empire.

The left groups and activists who hold the view that the enemy of my enemy is my friend are the mirror image of the neo cons. Their stance on Iran is determined by an international political agenda and power play, not by the interests and rights of the Iranian people. They have allowed opposition to US imperialism to trump social justice and human rights in Iran.

For nearly 40 years I have campaigned in solidarity with the Iranian people, supporting their struggle against dictatorship - first against the western-backed Shah and then, since 1979, against the ayatollahs.

The Shah was bad enough, but the Islamists who overthrew him are far worse. They have out-butchered the Shah many times over; executing or assassinating an estimated 100,000 Iranians in the last 30 years. Many of those murdered - usually after gruesome torture - were left-wingers, trade unionists and other progressive Iranians.

The traditional socialist maxim used to be: fight the tyrants and support their victims, solidarity with oppressed people everywhere. This was the response of the entire left to the Shah's brutal misrule. It stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the Iranian freedom struggle.

But in 1979, defying all its historic values and ideals, large chunks of the Iranian and international left backed the Islamist revolution of Ayatollah Khomeini. Their reasoning was that by supporting an anti-US movement this would help weaken US global hegemony. Many of us warned at the time that this opportunistic alliance with fundamentalist Islam would spell disaster for the Iranian left and progressive movements.

Sure enough, beginning a couple of years after the Islamists seized power, tens of thousands of leftists, workers, secularists, students and women's rights campaigners were arrested, tortured and executed.

Despite this bloody history of tyranny, some left-wingers and anti-imperialists still shy away from campaigning against the Tehran regime.

The police-state oppression in Iran is some of the worst in the world. According to Human Rights Watch, in March 2008 an Iranian parliament member, Hossein Ali Shahryari, confirmed that 700 people were awaiting execution in Sistan and Baluchistan province, which is only one of Iran's 30 provinces.

Many of those on death row are Baluch political prisoners; sentenced to death for resisting Tehran's ethnic persecution. This staggering number of death sentences is evidence of the intense, violent repression that is taking place under the leadership of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The regime's terror is wide-ranging. Student leader Meisam Lofti was executed in 2007 on false charges of being a gang member.

Members of minority faiths, like the Baha'is and, sometimes, Sunni Muslims, suffer severe harassment.,9171,950013,00.html

The regime's crackdown includes the enforcement of harsh morality laws. In 2004, in the city of Neka, a 16 year old girl, Atefah Rajabi Sahaaleh, who had been raped and sexually abused by men for many years, was convicted of "crimes against chastity." She was hanged by the method of slow, painful strangulation, hoisted by a crane in a public square.

This strangulation technique, sanctioned by the Iranian President, is deliberately designed to prolong the suffering of the victim. The hanged person is left dangling and writhing for several minutes before they eventually asphyxiate and die. Truly barbaric. You can see for yourself Iranian justice in action. Watch here:

On 5 December 2007, Makvan Mouloodzadeh, a 21-year-old Iranian man, was hanged in Kermanshah Central Prison, after an unfair trial. A member of Iran's persecuted Kurdish minority, he was executed on charges of raping other boys when he was 13. In other words, he committed these alleged acts when he was a child. According to Iranian law, a boy under 15 is a minor and cannot be executed.

At Makvan's mockery of a trial, which was condemned by Human Rights Watch, the alleged rape victims retracted their previous statements, saying they had made their allegations under duress. Makvan pleaded not guilty, telling the court that his confession was made during torture.

He was hanged anyway, without a shred of credible evidence that he had even had sex with the boys, let alone raped them. The lies, defamation and homophobia of the debauched Iranian legal system was exposed when hundreds of villagers attended Makvan's funeral. People don't mourn rapists.

Labour activists are also victimised. Mansour Osanloo, leader of Tehran's bus workers syndicate, remains in jail - together with other trade unionists. He was sentenced to five years jail in July 2007 for his peaceful, lawful defence of worker's rights.

Oppressing his own people is not enough for Ahmadinejad. His regime also exports terror abroad. It supports the Hezbollah fundamentalists in Lebanon, who, like Israel,
indiscriminately attack civilian areas.

In addition, many of the death squads in Iraq are trained, armed and funded by

These include ex-Badr Brigade members who, during the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, lived and trained across the border in south-east Iran. Nowadays, they assassinate political, sexual and religious dissidents; usually gunning them down in their house, workplace or street. No trial. No evidence. Summary execution, aided by Ahmadinejad's government.

The case for regime change in Iran is overwhelming, but it must come from within - by and for the Iranian people themselves - not as a result of US neo-imperial diktat.

Many Iranians hope for a non-violent Czech-style 'people power' democratic revolution, involving mass strikes and street protests by socialists, liberals, secularists, democrats, women, students, trade unionists, religious dissenters and minority nationalities. Others believe that the nascent insurrections by Arabs, Baluchs, Azeris and Kurds will burgeon into full-scale revolutionary war that will encircle and topple the Tehran regime.

To those who accuse me of aiding the US propaganda war against Tehran and helping pave the way for a military strike, I say: not true. Support for democratic and left forces inside Iran can help undermine the case for war. Progress towards securing a democratic, progressive Iranian government is one of the best ways to thwart a possible military strike by Washington. Such a government would pose no threat to anyone. This would make it much harder for the neo cons to persuade the American public and military to go to war. They would no longer have the excuse that Iran is a terroristic, fundamentalist, anti-Semitic dictatorship that is striving to develop nuclear weapons and which poses a threat to international peace and security.

If Iran ceased to be a fanatical religious tyranny, the case for war would be seriously weakened. The pro-war Republicans and Democrats in the US would lose the battle for hearts and minds. Most public opinion would desert them. Anti-war US politicians and activists would be empowered and enhanced.

We must do everything we can to stop a US military attack on Iran - not because we want to save the Islamo-fascist regime but because such an attack would strengthen the position of the hardliners in Tehran; allowing President Ahmadinejad to play the nationalist card and portray himself as a heroic war leader. It would also give him an excuse to further crack-down on dissent, using the pretext of safeguarding national security and defending the country against US imperialism. This would set back the Iranian struggle for democracy and human rights.

Moreover, a US attack on Muslim Iran would increase the sense of grievance felt by Muslims worldwide; radicalising Muslim youth, fanning the flames of fundamentalism, increasing support for Islamist parties and resulting in thousands of new recruits to the ranks of Jihadis and suicide bombers.

Tragically, the leadership of the UK and US anti-war movements have been sleep-walking into making the same mistakes over Iran as they made over Iraq. They are silent about the regime's despotism and oppression. Mirroring the neo con indifference to human rights abuses in Iran, they refuse to show solidarity with the Iranian peoples' struggle for secularism, democracy, social justice, human rights and for the self-determination of national minorities. There is nothing remotely left-wing about this is sad and cruel betrayal. Put bluntly: it is collusion with tyranny.


Meet Tamar Katz, Israeli Army Refuser

One of the things that has kept me away from blogging over the last couple of weeks has been my involvement in the forthcoming visit to Britain by Tamar Katz, a young woman who has refused to serve in Israel's army.

Don't miss this if you can possibly help it.

The Shministim speak: Israeli student jailed for refusing to serve in army tours Britain, 5-14 March 2009

British activists are hosting a speaker tour with Tamar Katz, one of the Shministim, Israeli high school students jailed for refusing to fight in the occupied Palestinian territories. She is being brought over by Workers’ Liberty students, but the meetings are being hosted by a variety of organisations.

Tamar, 19, was jailed three times, for a total of 51 days at the end of 2008, for refusing to take part in military service. She explained why:

“I refuse to enlist in the Israeli military on conscientious grounds. I am not willing to become part of an occupying army, that has been an invader of foreign lands for decades, which perpetuates a racist regime of robbery in these lands, tyrannizes civilians and makes life difficult for millions under a false pretext of security.

“I oppose the anti-Palestinian policy of attrition and the oppression, not because I prefer the Palestinian society to the Israeli one, but out of an understanding that this policy has led us down a dead-end road politically and to immorality, forced especially on soldiers stationed in the Occupied Territories. I am not willing to become one of those holding the gun pointed indiscriminately at Palestinian civilians, and I do not believe that such actions could bring any change except ever more antagonism and violence in our region.”

This is an excellent opportunity for student and trade union activists who opposed the war in Gaza to learn more about the ‘other Israel’ – Israeli anti-war activists, students and workers who desperately need our support and solidarity.

Tamar will be speaking at universities across the UK, as well as to some trade union meetings, including the rail union RMT’s London Transport Region, which is sponsoring the tour.

More information as and when:

7pm, Thursday 5 March – LONDON
Meeting and reception hosted by RMT London Transport Region and Finsbury Park RMT
The Twelve Pins pub, 263 Seven Sisters Rd, London N4 2DE (next to Finsbury Park tube)
For more information email Janine

Lunchtime, Friday 6 March - BRIGHTON
Sussex University – email Koos

7pm, Friday 6 March - LONDON
“International Solidarity for Women’s Liberation” – meeting to celebrate International Women’s Day hosted by Feminist Fightback, Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq and others
Room 3a, University of London Union, Malet Street
Email Rebecca
Facebook event here

2.30pm, Saturday 6 March - NEWCASTLE
RMT Women's Conference, Grand Station Hotel Email Janine

1pm, Monday 9 March – MANCHESTER
MR1, University of Manchester Students' Union, Oxford Road - email Hazel Kent
Facebook event here

6pm, Monday 9 March – BRADFORD
Richmond Building, Bradford University, hosted by University of Bradford Union - email Lloyd
Free tickets here

Evening, Tuesday 10 March - CAMBRIDGE
Cambridge University, hosted by Workers’ Liberty – email Patrick

1pm, Wednesday 11 March – NOTTINGHAM
A40 Clive Granger, University Park, Nottingham University, hosted by Nottingham Student Peace Movement - email Adam
Facebook event here

7:30pm, Wednesday 11 March – SHEFFIELD
Arts Tower Lecture Theatre 6, Sheffield University, hosted by Workers’ Liberty – email Daniel
Facebook event here

6.30pm, Thursday 12 March - EDINBURGH
Edinburgh University – email Darcy Leigh.

1pm, Friday 13 March – LONDON
The Underground, East Building, Houghton Street, LSE, hosted by LSESU Palestine Society – email
Facebook event here

For more information about the tour in general, email Heather Shaw or ring 07969 597 251
For more about the Shministim, visit


Sunday, March 01, 2009

University of the bleeding obvious!!

Lots of research proves what we already know, are there academics out there who can explain why we need research into:

Women in bikinis turn male heads and switch off the part of the brain that curbs sexism (Though they did justify their research by showing what was happening to men's brains)

"It is as if they are reacting to these women as if they are not fully human," said Susan Fiske, professor of psychology at Princeton University, who made the study on 21 male undergraduates using a medical scanner to analyse their brain activity. She told the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago: "I wouldn't argue for censorship, but I would argue that it is important to know about the impact of the images you are showing."

The study focused on a region of the brain called the medial pre-frontal cortex, just above the eyes, which, when activated seems to damp a man's tendency to express hostile sexist thoughts about women, Professor Fiske said. Men who express the strongest sexist tendencies tend to have a less active medial cortex. It becomes decactivated in men who are the most hostile to women, but only for women in bikinis, she said.

"So basically they are particularly likely to treat these women as objects, at least that is the interpretation of the data we have so far. It is a preliminary study but it is consistent with the idea that they are responding to these photographs as if they were responding to objects rather than people."

It was "shocking" to find that the pictures of scantily clad women deactivates the medial pre-frontal cortex, Professor Fiske went on. "The only other time we've observed the deactivation of this region is when people look at pictures of homeless people and drug addicts who they really don't want to think about what's in their minds because they are put off by them."

The panel of 21 heterosexual male students were first rated in terms of their sexist attitudes to women, using answers to interview questions. Then they were placed in a brain scanner while viewing a set of images of women in bikinis, women in clothes and men in clothes. The scientists also used "sexualised" images, where the head of each semi-naked photograph was cut off so that only the torso was visible. The men were then given memory tests on what they had remembered about each image, with and without the heads.

"Heterosexual men had the best memory for the sexualised bodies of women - this is cutting-off the heads - even though they had seen the bodies for only 200 milliseconds," Professor Fiske said. The findings have wider implications for society because they show how sexualised images in the media and in advertising can dehumanise women by encouraging men to think of them in terms of objects to be acted upon, she said. "There is an avoidance-related dehumanisation or dementalising kind of response. This one is an approach-orientated response. These women are attractive, they are seen as sexually inviting.

And other useful research has been:

Fake orgasms differ from real ones
Professor Gert Holstege of the University of Groningen asked women to place their head in a scanner while having an orgasm with their partner. They were then asked to fake an orgasm and the scans were compared. The result? Different parts of the brain experience real orgasms and create fake ones.

The rhythm method of contraception is unreliable
A study in the British Medical Journal concluded women can get pregnant at any time of their monthly cycle. If you want to get pregnant, there is no substitute for frequent bonking (not a conclusion the researchers reached).

Men are attracted to women who wear red
Students at the University of Rochester, New York rated a woman's attractiveness in attire of varying hues. Most women opted for red. The researchers said this suggested they associated red with sex. Surprise! Red light district, scarlet woman, lipstick, painted nails; no clues there, then.

The more fit you are the longer you will live
Researchers from Washington, US, who studied 15,000 former servicemen concluded the highly fit had half the risk of death of the least fit.

Living near a busy road increases the risk of asthma
A study of 5,000 children by the University of Southern California found air quality affected health. They said: "Living in residential areas with high traffic-related pollution significantly increases the risk of childhood asthma."

Hurrying makes people less attentive
US researchers assessed the walking speeds of randomly selected pedestrians in 31 countries using stopwatches and a complicated measures. They concluded that "the more people rush around the less time they have to devote to factors that are peripheral to their main goals".

Giving up smoking is good for your lungs
Scientists at the University of Glasgow assessed smokers six weeks after they had quit. They found that they had improved their lung function by 15 per cent. What is even more remarkable is that editors at the American Journal of Respiratory and critical Care Medicine thought this a study worth publishing.

Binge drinkers are more likely to fall over
Scientists at Wake Forest School of medicine in the US who questioned 2,000 students concluded getting drunk made them prone to lose their balance.