Tuesday, March 30, 2010

16 Year Old California Girl Sentenced to Life in Prison Without Parole, for Killing her Pimp.

Sara Kruzan was sentenced to life in prison in 1994 without parole.  She was just 13 years old when she was raped by her then future pimp, GiGi, before raping and pimping her, he groomed her.  He took her ice skating and to the mall, she describes him as a father figure - he befriended her when her mother was using drugs.  He "broke her in"  when she was 13 i.e. raped her and then pimped her on the street as a prostitute working 12 hours at a time. This continued until one day, when she could not bear it any longer, at the age of 16 years old, she killed her pimp.

The judge tried her as an adult in California, stating that she had no "moral scruples" - she was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole - she will die in prison for killing her abuser - the man who sexually  abused her as a child, raped her as a child and sold her as a prostitute as a child.  

Whilst killing people cannot be condoned you can understand why a young woman exploited and tortured in this way could turn on her perpetrator.  There are questions also to be asked in general about being sexually exploited and abused as a child in exchange for money - why would men want to buy sex from a child who was being pimped, raped and tortured by her abuser?  Without punters there can't be prostitutes and pimps!

 In America she was still legally a minor - a child, she was not allowed to drink, or vote or get married yet she was tried as an adult and sentenced to serve her whole life in prison, this is immoral.

Sara Kruzan hasgiven an interview watch it here

If you want to write to Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger and President Barak Obama please read the information on the case here

Sara Kruzan has been in prison for 16 years.

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The Daily Mail song

Doing the rounds on Facebook...enjoy .


Monday, March 29, 2010

Sainsbury's Shamed into Stopping Sexist Labelling

The press release below rather tickled me. As both a mother of three boys and as a woman worker in a male-dominated industry, I completely get where they are coming from and applaud their small but worthwhile victory. That said, I'm not too keen on promoting the military to either boys or girls.


PINKSTINKS has forced UK supermarket giant Sainsbury’s to withdraw the ‘sexist’ labelling on some of its children’s clothes.

The retailer – which has more than 500 stores nationwide – has agreed to re-label thousands of children’s dressing-up outfits after pressure from Pinkstinks and the group’s 13,000 supporters.

Sainsbury’s has now admitted that its gender-specific product-labelling was ‘not acceptable’. The store was selling princess outfits and a ‘circa 1940s’ nurse outfit labelled GIRLS, while pilots, superheroes, soldiers and most astonishing of all, even doctors white coats were marked BOYS.

Abi Moore, Pinkstinks co-founder said: “We asked what sort of message this was sending to girls about what they are ‘fit’ for and what their aspirations might be. As far as we are aware, there are more women at medical school than men nowadays.

“On our website – - one of our most popular role models is Flight Lieutenant Kirsty Moore, the first female Red Arrows pilot. An amazing achievement and yet Sainsbury’s pilots’ outfits were also labelled ‘boys’. As were the army outfits even though women have been fighting alongside men at the front line for years.

“We simply drew to Sainsbury’s attention the fact that it would be a hugely confident and independent little girl who would dare risk the ridicule of her friends by asking for a costume in-store clearly ‘meant’ for boys, no matter how much she wanted to dress up like a doctor, while the nurses outfit sends a message to boys that they are not ‘meant’ to be nurses either.”

Sainsbury’s has pledged the outfits with new non-gender specific labels will be in-store from July.

Sainsbury’s customer director, Gwyn Burr, told Pinkstinks: “It isn't acceptable to suggest certain professions are the reserve of any gender.

“This is an error and one I am seeking to address ASAP. The new labels which will be non gender specific will go on the next allocation of clothing, so will be in store from July.”

Says Abi: “Though this may seem trivial, it is important. This kind of labelling is part of the drip, drip of messages that girls (and boys) receive on a daily basis about their roles in life and the expectations that they should have. Pinkstinks is committed to tackling any kind of gender stereotyping, in particular that which is aimed at children, which we see as damaging, limiting or just plain old-fashioned.

“We want to congratulate Sainsbury’s on its swift action to redress this
matter and hope other retailers will follow their lead. We will be

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Cross post -The Sex Work Shibboleth

Laurie Penny has written what I consider a very balanced thoughtful piece about sex work. It echoes many of my concerns about both sides of the feminist debate . She has kindly agreed that I can post her article here :

For feminists, arguments about sex work have become an ugly, obstructive shibboleth. The debate about whether feminism can ever tolerate the sale of sex has raged for over five decades, and in recent years the question has opened old wounds in the fabric of feminist unity, leading to such embarrassing flashpoints as the verbal abuse and police intimidation of sex workers and their allies at the Reclaim the Night march in 2009.

Many feminists, like Finn MacKay of the Feminist Coalition Against Prostitution, feel that the purchase of sex from women is always and only misogyny: “Equality for women is a farce in a society where it is considered normal for men to buy our bodies.

“We can't be free while so many of us are literally for sale. As long as I believe prostitution is a form of violence against women, then how can I work alongside anyone who promotes it as a job like any other?”

A Moral Quarrel

Furious debate about sex work and pornography dominated the discussion at the recent Women’s Question Time event in London, organised by the charity Eaves, where feminists were invited to put questions to prospective Women's ministers in the run-up to the General Election.

Pandora Blake, a feminist sex worker, attended the event. “I hadn't realised quite how aggressively hostile most of my sisters are to my ideals,” she said. “It’s worrying that so many of the best female politicians seem unable to see nuance when it comes to the sex industry".

At this event, like so many others, issues such as abortion rights and the pay gap were elbowed out in favour of monolithic tub-thumping about sex work that played out a worrying tendency on the part of contemporary feminists to moralise rather than strategise.

On the other side of the debate, many pro-sex work feminists believe that the protection of sex workers should be the only consideration.

“Criminalisation of kerb-crawling, to take one example, is harmful to sex workers because ultimately they are the ones who suffer,” said Nine, a former support worker for Edinburgh prostitutes. “Sex workers who still need to make their money are faced with doing business with clients they would ordinarily have rejected. It concerns me greatly that the mainstream feminist movement refuses to look at the harmful effect of laws like these, which they support simply in the name of sending a message to men.”

Giving space to abusers

Unfortunately, tolerant attitudes such as Nine’s are too often manipulated by patriarchal apologists concerned with maintaining a status quo that constrains and commodifies female sexuality. Easy examples of such apologism can be found on the popular networking site for johns, Punternet, which rates and reviews prostitutes as ‘pieces of meat’. Worryingly, the International Union of Sex Workers (IUSW) recently recruited on the site, encouraging punters to write to their MPs to safeguard their favourite hobby.

If the exclusionary tactics of abolitionist feminists are unsound, the unscrupulous attitudes of organisations like the IUSW are hardly more laudable. The attitude that abusive punters are an inevitability, and the related reasoning that one cannot fight the misogynist meat market, hardly offers an answer to people like Rebecca Mott, a former prostitute:

“The torment of being prostituted has never left me. On the first night, when I was fourteen, I was gang-raped for many hours. That was the test to see if I was suitable material for prostitution. You learn that your body is there to be damaged. That you have no right to say no. That your purpose is to service men in any and every way they can think of. It is so much easier to speak only of women who appear in charge of their own working environment, rather than the reality.”

Too often, the pro-prostitution lobby is guilty of silencing the voices of women like Mott – just as the abolitionist lobby refuses to acknowledge sex workers whose experiences differ. The sex work debate is a sea of unheard voices, private tragedy and misinformation in which moral squabbling obscures the real-life concerns of many vulnerable women.

A legal no man’s land

The net result of all this wrangling is that the legal status of sex work remains an unworkable, precarious Jenga tower of muddled laws and moral equivocation. Recent changes to the law in Britain have altered that situation very little. Welcome efforts to focus police attention on those who buy the sexual services of abused women, such as Clause 14, which makes it a criminal offence to buy sex from ‘a woman controlled for gain’, has been balanced by more regressive and punitive sanctions against soliciting.

In Britain, as in many other developed countries, women who work as prostitutes are stranded in a socio-economic no man’s land, their work just about legal enough to offer a seedy but acceptable outlet for restrained bourgeois sexual mores and an economic option for women in desperate financial circumstances, and just about illegal enough that the market for commercial sex remains illicit and underground, depriving sex workers of public dignity and of the full protection of the justice system, and satisfying the prudish public drive to punish those who sell sex.

Amongst all of this moralising, misogynist apologism and equivocation, it is stupendously difficult to have a productive conversation about sex work. “There are very few spaces in which feminists with different perspectives on this issue get together and talk about it and find points to agree on,” said Nine. “There frequently isn't even room for debate at all, just point-scoring and shouting over people.”

The stagnation of the sex work debate around a brutal moral binary can be seen as the greatest extant danger to the future of feminism, particularly if one believes, as I do, that if we all stopped shouting at each other for a while we could hold the revolution tomorrow.

Belle De Jour: a misleading cipher

The keenest example of this unimaginative binary thinking is the Belle de Jour problem. Dr Brooke Magnanti of Bristol was recently forced to out herself as the former PhD student and prostitute behind the blog which turned into the book which turned into the lucrative, trashily unchallenging ITV adaptation, Secret Diary of a Call Girl, in which Billie Piper wears a variety of rump-revealing latex dresses and does a lot of heavy breathing.

The show, now in its third series, has become the dominant vehicle for the Belle De Jour meme, stripping out everything that was realistic and challenging about Dr Magnanti's blog and leaving a deodorised husk of middle-class male fantasy in which a massively undercast Piper perkily advises the audience to “'work out what the client wants, and give it to him as quickly as possible”.'

Feminists have justly denounced the show as duplicitous, portraying sex work as entirely safe, glamorous and lucrative for all those prepared to devote themselves entirely to the sexual service of rich men. However, commentators from Kira Cochrane to India Knight have failed to notice that Secret Diary of a Call Girl is ITV's convenient fiction, and not Dr Magnanti's reality.

Dr Magnanti herself was working in the elite eschelons of the sex trade, with no pimp or drug habit to worry about, but even so, critics have failed to notice that the show bears about as much resemblance to the blog as Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves might bear to the life of a medieval peasant.

Poor Dr Magnanti. All she wanted was to develop her writing and discuss her experiences. Instead, she has been distorted, idolised, victimised and vilified by anyone and everyone with a barrel to beat about prostitution. From glamorous courtesan to tragic victim, it’s not just Belle's body that can be bent into any position you fancy.

The one thing that almost no-one has asked is why a PhD student might find herself selling sexual intercourse to fund her studies in the first place. Commentators are slow to connect Belle with a bankrupt higher education system in which indebted students routinely live well below the poverty line to afford the degrees their future employers increasingly demand. Just last week, a report by Kingston University suggested that since the abolition of the student grant, the number of students funding their degrees by working as prostitutes and strippers has increased fivefold. Basic socio-economic analysis of this kind is what is missing from both sides of the contemporary conversation about prostitution.

There is a trench of faff and fighting at the core of the sex work debate where a rigorous analysis of work and capital should be. Sex work is an economic question, not a moral one: in a world where shame and sexual violence are still hard currency, the normalisation of the sex industry is a symptom not of social degeneration, but of the economic exploitation of women on an unprecedented scale, in a feminised labour market where all working women are expected to commodify their sexuality to some extent.

Nothing obscures this crucial approach so much as the dogmatic insistence, on both sides of the debate, on the primacy of a faux-feminist notion of ‘choice’.

With sex work, as with many other feminist flashpoints, the notion of ‘a woman’s free choice’ is fetishised and taken out of context in order to obscure useful analysis. The word ‘choice’ has been manipulated by the neoliberal consensus in order to erase the influence of brutal capitalist paradigms on the deeds and decisions of poor people, and of poor women in particular.

Liberated sex workers insist that their work is ‘a free choice’, whilst abolitionists and many exited sex workers claim that prostitutes suffer such abuses that the very notion of ‘choice’ is anathema. The term has already been devalued by wider society to the extent that any sexual choice made by a woman is assumed to be an empowering act of autonomous agency – especially when the net result of that choice is financial exchange.

Abolitionist feminists unwittingly play into this misleading rhetoric of ‘choice’ with their insistence that women in the sex industry have none, that, as Finn Mackay puts it, ‘prostitution is non-consensual sex’ - as if choice and consent are ever enough to justify industrial abuse. As if choice were something made in a vacuum, unconstrained by socio-economic conditions.

The underlying assumption of this analytical cul-de-sac - that any woman’s sexual choice, however restricted, is positive and empowering - could only have currency in a world where female sexual agency is still seen as abnormal.

Decriminalisation: a way forward?

The supreme irony of this sociological stalemate is that, on many counts, the ultimate goals of pro-protection and abolitionist feminists are one and the same. Both camps, for example, believe that women and men who sell sex should not face legal sanctions, and both factions understand that the persecution of prostitutes by law enforcement officers is a form of state violence against women that needs to be eradicated as a matter of urgency.

But achievable aims like these are sidelined by partisan squabbling. So intense was the debate around Clause 14 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill that practically no opposition was brooked against other, more directly damaging clauses of the Bill, such as those that gave police greater powers to raid brothels and confiscate any earnings found on the premises. “Women are being turfed out onto the street in their scanties,” observed feminist academic Dr Belinda Brooks-Gordon. “Does anyone have an answer to this?”

Even in this bitter debate, however, occasions for hope do occur. A recent collaboration on the Guardian’s Comment Is Free blog between Thierry Schaffauser of the IUSW and Cath Elliott concluded that feminists should work together on decriminalisation:

“While we've all been busy arguing over other things, those most in need of our help continue to suffer violence. We believe the criminalisation of sex workers/prostitutes helps to legitimise those who attack them. Criminalisation of soliciting is a sexist law.”

Ultimately, all feminists believe that vulnerable women need to be protected from abuse, violence and stigma, and all true liberals oppose cultures that brutally shame and commodify female sexuality. If our goals are to be realised, the sex work shibboleth must be broken. Feminists need to put aside ideological differences and work towards a radical restructuring of neoliberal attitudes to sex, to work and to sex work.

It is not enough to seek to criminalise prostitution at the expense of vulnerable women, and neither is it enough to cede responsibility to misogynist market forces and offer protection within an imperfect, abusive sex industry as the only realistic alternative.

If we want a world where women’s bodies are more than just commodities, feminists need to get radical, we need to get smart, and we need to be prepared to lay down our weapons and take the fight to the real enemies. If we stop fighting each other and turn our energies on the pimps, the abusers and the superstructure of misogynist free-market capitalism, there are exhilarating victories to be won.

This article was published at The Samosa on the 25th of March, 2010.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Heathrow protesters win third runway challenge for further public consultation

Good news :

Campaigners have won a High Court battle for further consultation into plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport.
Councils, residents and green groups had said the government's approval of the runway was flawed by "conspicuously unfair" public consultations.
The group argued that the expansion decision was at odds with the UK's overall climate change targets.

The coalition which sought the judicial review into the government's decision to give the go-ahead for the expansion includes six local authorities, Greenpeace and the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).
The coalition said in a joint statement that the government's Heathrow policy "is in tatters this morning" after Lord Justice Carnwath ruled the decision to give the third runway the green light was "untenable".
The statement said: "If the government wants to pursue its plans for Heathrow expansion it must now go back to square one and reconsider the entire case for the runway."

Hayes and Harlington Labour MP John McDonnell, who has led the campaign against the expansion of Heathrow for the last 30 years, said: "In essence this judgment means that the game is up for a third runway at Heathrow and I am calling upon the government to accept the inevitable and lift this threat to my community.
"What we need now is a sensible approach to developing a sustainable transport policy based upon high-speed rail."

Well done .

Pic apparently is John McDonnell with campaigners with the flags of the other protesting nations at Heathrow Terminal One .

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Launch of UK Feminista

I received an e-mail press release, see below, about the launch of a new campaign organisation. Unfortunately I can't make the event . Of course like the left, there are many types of feminism and lots of arguments and sometimes unsisterly behaviour to say the least. I'll watch this with interest, fingers crossed !

Press release from UK Feminista

New feminist organisation to launch as feminism in the UK surges

On Saturday 27 March a unique new campaign organisation called UK Feminista (1) will be launched at a public event in London (2). The brainchild of activists Kat Banyard, Anna van Heeswijk, Sandrine Leveque, and Ellie Cumbo (3), UK Feminista will help build a national movement in order to effect real and lasting change in gender relations.

There are clear signs of a resurgence in UK feminism. On Saturday 6th March thousands of women marched through central London demanding an end to violence against women as part of the annual Million Women Rise march. The Fawcett Society reports a threefold increase in membership over the last three years, and three books on feminism are being released this year in close succession; one – The Equality Illusion – authored by UK Feminista co-founder and Director Kat Banyard.

The many feminist conferences, marches, blogs and websites that have proliferated over recent years have also started to generate headlines with many media commentators remarking on a new wave of feminist activism (4).

UK Feminista co-founder and Director, Kat Banyard, said:

“We are witnessing a sea change in attitudes towards feminism. Women and men in the UK are busting the myth that we live in a post-feminist age by attending marches, conferences and demonstrations in ever increasing numbers. The reason for this increase? Well, with 100,000 women raped each year in the UK*, a gender pay gap of nearly 23%, and women constituting less than 20% of MPs, it is becoming increasingly clear we need feminism now more than ever.

“UK Feminista aims to harness this growing momentum around feminism and ensure it translates into real gains for women’s rights. By acting as a bridge between ordinary people passionate about gender equality and the many fantastic feminist organisations spearheading campaigns, UK Feminista seeks to make the UK feminist movement a force to be reckoned with.”

Sasha Rakoff, Director of OBJECT (5), said:

“OBJECT is delighted to offer our support to the organisation. There is a real feeling in the air that we, the women’s sector, are packing some punches at the moment and now more than ever the conditions are ripe to get activism out there on the streets – back as part of the culture of feminism. This is just what the women’s sector needs.”

Orlanda Ward, Coordinator of the National Alliance of Women’s Organisations (NAWO) (6), said:

“NAWO is delighted to be associated with such a flourishing new organisation. Grassroots feminism in the UK must remain strong, and UK Feminista is set to play a valuable role in ensuring women's voices continue to heard."

Pragna Patel, Chair of Southall Black Sisters (7), said:

“Southall Black Sisters strongly welcomes the establishment of UK Feminista. Grassroots activism is a crucial part of campaigning for legislative and cultural change, but due to our stretched resources we are unable to directly support and sustain significant numbers of activists ourselves. UK Feminista will therefore be an invaluable resource for our work.”
For further information or to request interviews please contact Kat Banyard on 07775 855037 or

Notes to editors
1) UK Feminista supports and promotes grassroots feminist activism. Our purpose is to end the continuing inequalities between women and men.
2) UK Feminista will be launched on Saturday 27 March. The event will take place from 11am-3pm at the Women’s Library, London Metropolitan University, 25 Old Castle Street, London. E1 7NT. Speakers will include Hannah Pool (journalist), Darinka Aleksic (Abortion Rights), Frances Carlisle (Latin American Women’s Rights Service), Anna van Heeswijk (OBJECT), Katie McGrainor (Birmingham Fems), and Gail Cartmail (Unite the union).
3) Founder biographies: Kat Banyard is Director of UK Feminista and author of The Equality Illusion: The Truth About Women and Men Today, published by Faber and Faber (; Anna van Heeswijk is Campaigns Coordinator at OBJECT; Sandrine Leveque was previously Campaigns Manager at OBJECT; and Ellie Cumbo is Campaigns Coordinator at UK Feminista.
4) A selection of recent headlines:
Feminism is showing signs of life, The Telegraph, 9/3/10
The continuing lack of equal pay proves feminism's work is still far from done, The Observer, 7/3/10
How the 'new feminism' went wrong, The Guardian, 6/3/10
Forty years of women's liberation, The Guardian, 26/2/10
Feminism: what went wrong? The Telegraph, 12/1/10
The march of the new feminists, The Independent, 29/11/09
5) OBJECT is a human rights organisation which challenges the sexual objectification of women in the media and popular culture.
6) NAWO is an umbrella organisation for over 100 organisations and individuals based in England.
7) Southall Black Sisters’ aims are to highlight and challenge violence against women; empower them to gain more control over their lives; live without fear of violence; and assert their human rights to justice, equality and freedom.

*E. Povey et al., ‘Home Office Statistical Bulletin: Crime in England and Wales 2006/7, Home Office, 2008

Kat Banyard

UK Feminista
Address: PO Box 66215, London. E8 9DE
Mobile: 07775 855037


Monday, March 22, 2010

Cross post - After Bolton: tactical choices for anti-fascists

Some feel we should be blogging 24/7. Yes you, fuckwit in residence Anon. Well we all have lives outside the internet. You know, work, life , stuff to deal with. Sometimes I blog lots, other times I struggle to find time. I had planned to do a round up on the demo in Bolton, might still find some time . In the meantime I have cross posted Dave's post here, to kickstart a discussion about what the left needs to do re the rise of the far right .

OVER the top comparisons with the streets of Italy during the Bienno Rosso thankfully remain alarmist nonsense. But it is the case that the fascist right now has an established street thug presence in Britain for the first time since the 1970s, and has even started to intimidate leftwing meetings.
Broadly there are two potential responses from the left. The first is to attempt physical confrontation, as happened in the face-off between the English Defence League and Socialist Workers’ Party-led Unite Against Fascism campaign in Bolton yesterday.
There are conflicting reports about what happened. Socialist Worker was quick to proclaim the day ‘a huge success’. Sure. What else could it possibly have been, comrades? But even discounting the perennial police tendency to downplay the numbers on leftwing mobilisations, most media accounts suggest that the EDL had significantly more support.
If matters had come to a serious scrap, there is little doubt as to which side would have got a pasting. For all the streetfighting man belligerence of the UAF leadership – and two key SWP figures were arrested on the Bolton demo – there is a real question as to whether or not the far left is actually capable of putting a tough guy strategy into practice.
Trying to do so may be counterproductive, anyway. Rather than bus white student lefties into northern mill towns en masse, the real task at hand is to get local people to turn up in large numbers wherever the EDL decides to march. Many people will understandably not show their faces if violence is virtually guaranteed.
And of course, the EDL, which includes all too many seasoned football hooligans, is absolutely up for a ruck. The promise of a spot of bit of a barney on the day will only come as an added attraction to the layers it seeks to influence.
The second approach, typified by Searchlight-sponsored Hope Not Hate, centres on such comparatively unglamorous tactics as the organisation of anti-racist pop concerts, and the hard graft of canvassing in areas where the British National Party has a good chance of securing local government or even Westminster representation.
Sections of the far left criticise HnH as ineffectual at best and craven cowardice at worst. But at least it is not being distracted by an outfit that remains – for now, at least – thankfully a sideshow. It is also quite clear which of the two campaigns is having the greater impact.
This is not an either/or choice. Clearly, there could be times ahead when reruns of Cable Street or Lewisham will be on the order of the day. Progressive organisations will probably have to reconsider their security measures. But in the meantime, my donation ahead of the election will going to HnH.

Previous posts related to this, found here.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Support the British Airways Strike!


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St Patrick's Day ...if you're straight .

Pink News reports :

A gay rights group in New York will protest at the traditional St Patrick's Day Parade today.

The group, Irish Queers, plans to disrupt the parade, which excludes members of the LGBT community on the grounds that it is a religious event.

"We're sick of hearing city officials say they can't intercede in the homophobia because it's a religious march," said Tierney Gleason of Irish Queers.

"If it's a religious anti-gay parade, and uniformed cops and firefighters have to be pulled out.

"It can't be both privately religious and publicly Irish."

Today's St Patrick's Day parade will be the 247th in the New York's history.

The parade is organised by the Ancient Order of Hibernians, an Irish-Catholic fraternal organisation.

In 1991 it was legally redefined by the NYC Parade Committee, meaning that organisers could ban gay groups.

The parade is one of the largest St. Patrick's Day events in the world.


Christine Quinn, the openly gay New York City Council speaker, last year boycotted the event in favour of Dublin's St. Patrick's Day.

She tried, unsuccessfully, to broker a deal with the organisers to allow gay and lesbian participation.

Quinn, a potential candidate for the Mayor of New York City in 2009, is still hopeful that LGBT Irish-Americans will one day march.

Meanwhile :

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has been accused of hypocrisy for taking part in a pre-St Patrick's Day march which bans gays.

Mr Adams is in Boston, Massachusetts for the annual celebration and has accepted an invitation to join the march, although Boston's mayor Thomas Menino refuses to attend because of the anti-gay policy.

He also attended and spoke at a club last night which bars women, despite his party's attacks on "elitist and sexist" men-only establishments.

Mr Adams said today at a St Patrick's Day breakfast: "I am against exclusion, I am for inclusivity."

Err, seems not.

Hat Tip Liam.


For St Patrick's Day

May the luck of the Irish rub off on you

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tuesday Tossers: Gordon Brown and Andrew Adonis

The shared award of Today's Tuesday Tosser goes to Gordon Brown and Andrew (I refuse to call him 'Lord') Adonis for their disgusting comments attacking Unite members for striking back against British Airways' attacks on their jobs and conditions.

Workers who feel that their livelihood and security is under threat have chosen not to lie downs like lambs at the slaughter, but to stand up for themselves. Despite the obstruction of the anti-union laws, they have clearly demonstrated a large democratic majority to take industrial action. Good for them. What exactly, Mssrs Brown and Adonis - is "deplorable" about that?!

What is actually "deplorable" (although sadly not surprising) is leaders of a Party set up to speak for workers speaking so stridently against them. Shame on the pair of 'em.

Mind you, I'm not sure that Adonis counts as a Labour 'leader' in any real sense, as I don't remember him being elected by anyone, but I do remember him being a LibDem.

I imagine that had they been around a couple of thousand years ago, Brown and Adonis would have equally deplored the Spartacus uprising. After all, didn't that turn out to be 'suicidal', as they say the Unite BA strike is? Damn slaves, should just have buckled under and worked harder - keep the Roman empire in business in order to keep themselves in work. Should be grateful they've even got a job, blah blah blah.

No doubt our resident right-winger David Duff will slag off the BA workers and defend Brown's and Adonis' comments - but hey, that pretty much says it all.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Does the Economic Crisis Mean that Employers "Have To" Cut Jobs?

I just wrote this for my blog on the RMT London Calling website, and since Stroppyblog regularly(ish) discusses matters concerning workers and the economic crisis, I thought I would share it with Stroppyreaders too.

Both London Underground and Tube Lines - and, no doubt, many other companies - will tell us that they "have to" cut jobs because of the economic crisis. But a look at London Underground's history shows that this is not just untrue - it is the opposite of the truth.

London Underground began in 1863, when private companies starting opening lines. By the 1920s, the Underground had expanded into a web of lines beneath London, run by several different private companies.

There was a recession during the 1920s, and the government gave a public subsidy to the private owners, explicitly both to improve the Tube and to create jobs at a time of high unemployment.

London Underground came into public ownership in 1933, under the new London Transport Passenger Board (LPTB).

The economy was again in recession, but public ownership led to investment, improvements and extensions on a large scale, with the added bonus of again creating jobs during another period of high unemployment. With the LPTB's New Works Programme announced in 1934, the Underground saw extensions to the Central, Northern, Piccadilly and Bakerloo Lines, electrification of the Metropolitan line north of Rickmansworth, and new tunnels, stations and escalators. Despite improvements slowing during the war, by 1947 the average speed of the train service had increased by 18% since 1933.

Cutting jobs during recession simply increases unemployment and worsens public services: it does not help economic recovery, and certainly does not help workers or service users. Instead, the government should give extra funding to London Underground to improve its services, increase its staffing levels, bring forward its upgrades, make its stations more accessible, and build extensions and new lines. And it should bring the engineering functions back into an integrated, publicly owned London Underground, without compensating the private owners who have sucked so much out of the system.

London Underground and Tube Lines may be using the recession as a pretext for attacking jobs and conditions - but they are actually doing the opposite of what needs to be done. The government can pay people benefits to be out of work; or it can pay them wages to carry out socially-useful work. It's obvious which is better, isn't it?!

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Real Men - Tough Guise by Dr Jackson Katz

Saw Dr Jackson Katz today at a conference on domestic abuse - on the macho paradigm, he asks why is being a man so connected with being violent?

Watch his film called Tough Guise - it's really thought provoking, he doesn't say things that many feminist women haven't said but it's important that men say this.  Talking about men's violence towards women's isn't anti male, it's talking about what happens in our world and we need to ask what we gonna do about it.  He makes the point that men fear violence from other men.

Watch the a film Dr Katz made video here - he is an anti violence educator and has made a series of films about masculinity.

He wants us to challenge how men are taught to be violent - the tough guise is not a good way for men to be and we need to change the media and institutions around us.

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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Sarah Palin a hypocrite, hell yeah!

Ahh, I have missed Sarah Palin, with her gaffes, cringe worthy interviews and good old home grown ignorance . So here is her latest:

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin -- who has gone to great lengths to hype the supposed dangers of a big government takeover of American health care -- admitted over the weekend that she used to get her treatment in Canada's single-payer system.

"We used to hustle over the border for health care we received in Canada," Palin said in her first Canadian appearance since stepping down as governor of Alaska. "And I think now, isn't that ironic?"

The irony, one guesses, is that Palin now views Canada's health care system as revolting: with its government-run administration and 'death-panel'-like rationing.

Hypocrisy more like .

Hat Tip Charlie Pottins on Facebook.

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Monday, March 08, 2010

Should The Left Stand Against Nazi Nick?

Nick Griffin is standing as the BNP candidate in Barking & Dagenham, raising the prospect of Britain having its first fascist MP since Oswald Moseley. And part of the problem is that the Labour candidate, sitting MP Margaret Hodge, represents everything that is wrong with New Labour, everything that has driven many white working-class people into the arms of the BNP.

In an area with inadequate housing, run-down public services, unemployment and little hope, urging people to vote for more of the same maybe an uphill struggle. So should there be a left-of-Labour candidate in Barking & Dagenham?

Such a candidate may take votes away from the BNP which Hodge and Labour could not, as s/he could stand up for jobs and services, share voters' disgust at New Labour, but offer working-class answers as an alternative to racist pseudo-answers.

But on the other hand, what if a left-of-Labour candidate actually took more votes away from Labour and let Nazi Nick win?!

For me, there is no absolute principle one way or the other. It is neither beyond the pale to vote for Hodge nor to stand against her. In general, in this coming general election, I would advocate standing a socialist candidate against a New Labour candidate where it is credible to do so, and voting Labour elsewhere ie. in the big majority of constituencies.

In Barking & Dagenham, though, I don't think I, or anyone else without a fairly intimate knowledge of the area, is in a position to judge. Rather, I think we need an honest assessment based on reports from socialists active in the area about the reality on the ground.

Possibly, the vast majority of voters are so appalled by Hodge that no amount of knocking up for Labour will convince them to vote for her, but a credible, known-and-liked, socialist candidate could win their votes away from the BNP. If so, stand.

Or possibly, no such prospective candidate exists, and it is possible to convince enough people to bite the bullet and vote Labour, and hopefully convince at least some of them to get active in fighting for working-class interests. In which case, don't stand.

Both these options point to the conclusion that whether we would stand or vote against them or not, we want Labour to win the seat. Especially given that only Labour or the BNP will win it, this is quite right.

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Friday, March 05, 2010

International Women's Day events

Here are a few I have found :

International Women's Day Rally
Against War, Sanctions and Patriachy! For Women’s Liberation from below!

If you are outraged by 31 years of anti-women Islamic laws against Iranian women! If you are disgusted by 31 years religious oppression and repression! If your heart is full of pain because of fallen heroines such as Neda and Taraneh! If you hate the inequality and discrimination against women! If you oppose patriarchy in any form!

Join Our March on March 7 2010 on the occasion of the International Women’s Day to support the Iranian women’s struggle against the anti-women Islamic regime of Iran!

Date and Time: 7th March 2010 at Noon

Assembly: In front of the Embassy of Islamic Republic of Iran
16 Princes Gate, London SW7
Nearest Underground Station: South Kensington

Message from 8 March women’s organisation (Iran-Afghanistan)
Inci Kaya (European Democratic Women Movement)-Turkey
Yassamine Mather(Hands Off The People of Iran)
Houzan Mahmoud (Organisation of women’s Freedom in Iraq)
Sabrina Qureshi (Million Women Rise)

Gissoo Shakeri (singer) – Ziba Karbasi(poet)
Arashk Farahani (rap singer) – Nahid Naimi (play director)
8 March Women’s Organisation (Iran-Afghanistan)-UK

Supported by:
Million Women Rise
European Democratic Women Movement
Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq-Abroad representative
Rhythms of Resistance
Iranian Youth Committee-UK
Solidarity Council with Iranian People’s Struggle
Hands off People of Iran Email:
For more information please call: 07521134454

Million women rise

12pm MEET Opposite Hyde Park (Speakers Corner End) on PARK LANE
(Nearest Tubes: 1 Min from Marble Arch)


(Nearest Tube: Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, Charing Cross)

AFTER MARCH CELEBRATION: 4.30pm - 1am ALL welcome. Food, performances, swimming pool, DJs and chill-out space. Entry fee on the door — donation if unwaged, £5 low-waged and £10 waged. The 52 Club,, 52 Gower Street WC1E6EB, a wheelchair accessible venue.





Details here .

Housmans have a month of events , 'Focus on feminism,' that are worth checking out. Details here .

For more events around the country , check out this website, also for events worldwide.

The F Word have a good post about the issue of these events, when women only, including trans women. Hopefully events will be inclusive .
I also hope there won't be a repeat of women being silenced and barred from speaking, such as happened with Teresa Mackay from the TGWU , who was due to speak on sex workers .
I also hope that organisers won't ask the police to intervene to question sex workers if they turn up, as happened disgracefully at a recent Reclaim the Night demo.
HarpyMarx reported on this and called for open debate , here's hoping ...

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Being gay is not a crime!

By Manchester socialist, Gordon Shand

In 2010, nearly half a century after buggery was decriminalised in this country, you would think it impossible that any person should be registered as a sex offender for having consensual sex. Regrettably, truth is sadder than fiction.

After applying for a position as a volunteer at Wormwood Scrubs prison, John Crawford from London discovered that his Criminal Record Check showed him to be a sexual offender because of two counts of buggery dating back to 1959. 51 years later, when applying to work with vulnerable people, Crawford remains legally bound to disclose a conviction received when he was just 19 and extracted after weeks of beatings in a police cell. If he failed to mention his buggery conviction he could be prosecuted under the Sexual Offences Act 1956.

Crawford has taken his grievance to court and in doing so launched a landmark legal battle to overturn his 1959 conviction for buggery. In an interview with the Guardian, Crawford explained that "what I want to do is apply for voluntary work and, when it comes to the box on the application form that says 'do you have a criminal record', I want to be able to say no."

As the old slogan goes “an injury to one, is an injury to all” and as such we should all show our support of John Crawford’s case and others like him. You can sign a general petition to abolish convictions for buggery at and there is a facebook group in support of his case at

I originally read about his case in the Pink Paper at!


Thursday, March 04, 2010

International Women's Day, March 8th

Anyone have any events they know of ?

Happy to plug them here .

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Donate Now! Manchester HOPI is Walking for Workers in Iran

Apologies for lack of posts, both myself and Janine not too well at moment.

Apologies also for the delay in posting this, via Facebook :

On March 5th six members of the Hands Off the People of Iran Manchester branch will be walking the Bogle, a fifty six mile walk round Manchester. We are walking to raise money for the charity Workers' Fund Iran, which was set up in December 2005 with the aim to reduce and relieve poverty amongst Iranian workers (both employed and unemployed) who are victims of the economic policies of the Iranian regime, including mass non-payment of wages. The charity is not aligned to any political organisation. Funds sent to Iran will be distributed amongst the most needy working class families who are facing destitution. We hope the funds will stop families sending their children to the streets as beggars or peddlers and selling their body parts, which is a common practice at the moment.

In Iran, hundreds of thousands of workers are being consigned to poverty by the oppressive Iranian state. Practical solidarity is one of the greatest things we can do for Iranian workers; it helps the revolutionary struggle against the Islamic Republic continue. Give generously!

We are hoping to raise over £300 pounds for the charity. You can donate by going to our Charity Choice page. It's a secure and ethical way to donate over the web.

We will keep you all up to date with how much we're raising.

So donate now !!