by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh

Belisario Betancur, the ex-president of Colombia (1982-1986) died in his bed on the 7th of December, 2018.  He corpse hadn’t even time to go cold before he received and avalanche of eulogies from politician, ns and the press.  El Espectador gave over various pages to him and the magazine Semana did likewise.  They are all in agreement, the man of peace has died, but unlike Salvador Allende, the real Man of Peace in Benedetti’s poem, he did not die under fire from the bullets, warplanes and tanks of the Empire, but rather he died in peace and will be buried in the midst of a wave of praise.

The eulogies from the press are not surprising.  Betancur was, after all, one of them and social etiquette is to speak well of the dead, especially if he happens to be a president of the country.  You only have to look at all the liberals praising the recently deceased president of the USA, George H.W. Bush, the man who brought new vigour to conventional warfare and also to the death squads in Central America.  Death pardons everything.  It would seem scientists can discuss whether we are born with a blank slate, but without a doubt the press and the powerful give a kind of blank slate to some when they die.  It is hardly surprising.  But, what has the reformist left in Colombia to say for itself?

Reformist view

There are two tweets that embody a certain vision of Betancur and the issue of Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

The increasingly parasitical nature of capitalism today is reflected today in a number of ways.  One is the artificial nature of share ‘values’ and how workers’ jobs, pay and conitions are affected by this.  Below is a piece dealing with the latest round of massive layoffs by GM in the United States and how these layoffs reflect the increasingly parasitical forms of capital/ism today.  It is the editorial from the latest set of fortnightly workplace bulletins produced by The Spark, a US Marxist workers’ current.

General Motors is closing down five plants and laying off 14,500 workers.

That announcement – shocking because it comes in the midst of so-called “good times” – was justified by one lie after another.

No one wants cars, says GM. Not true. In 2018, six million cars will be sold. The problem isn’t car sales. The problem for GM and the other two “American” companies is that cars produce less profit than do trucks and SUV’s. GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler have now decided to hand over the car market – except for the biggest, most profitable luxury models – to Japanese companies.

Remember, the three companies did this once before, when they ceded the market for small cars to Japanese and German automakers.

Ford, GM and FCA are now throwing away the whole car market. They don’t give dealers many choices, and they push consumers to “step up” to an SUV or even a truck – all the while counting out more profit.

GM expects these job cuts to provide it with 4.5 billion dollars (US) more profit by the end of 2020.  But, says GM, the auto industry is changing rapidly, and GM needs to accumulate more profit to invest in electric cars and self-driving vehicles.

Well, if that were the issue, GM already could have been investing – and many times that much. It had the money, but instead GM gave it away to Wall Street. Over the last three and a half years, GM bought back stock to the tune of 10.6 billion US dollars, and put in motion plans to buy back almost four billion more – 14.5 billion US dollars.

Stock buy-backs do nothing but Read the rest of this entry »

Sign the change.org petition to re-instate Meghan Murphy

MeghanM

Meghan Murphy

Meghan Murphy is one of Canada’s pre-eminent feminist journalists and the editor and publisher of “Feminist Current”. Feminist Current’s reach is international.

For a decade Murphy has dedicated herself to articulating feminist arguments and analysis and has provided a digital platform for amplifying the voices of the movement for the liberation of women.

As such she and the women who write for Feminist Current often address issues that provoke considerable dissent and heated response.  In many cases this has led to harassment, venomous, hateful comments and threats on social media. These sites, including Twitter, rarely come to the defence of women who experience hateful responses on their platforms. Women complain frequently about threats of violence and depictions of violence against women and are repeatedly ignored.

Over the course of a few weeks, Meghan Murphy was repeatedly locked out of her Twitter account for statements and valid questions such as these: “Men aren’t women. How are transwomen not men? What is the difference between men Read the rest of this entry »

by Don Franks

protest

Concessions by Labour to its coalition partner New Zealand First have further reduced workers’ rights on the job. Legislation will be in the form of the Employment Relations Amendment Bill, now a formality to become law. 

The two recent concessions to the bosses, via NZ First, concerned union access to the workplace and the multi-employer collective agreement, or Meca.

Employers have a responsibility to enter into Meca bargaining but will not be compelled to settle an agreement. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daphna Whitmore

Screen Shot 2018-11-24 at 11.35.23 PM

Trans activists in the UK had this billboard taken down claiming it was ‘offensive’ and ‘transphobic hate speech’

Science is under attack as universities, workplaces and governments are drawing up policies and laws to codify a fiction that makes creationism look sensible. We are suppose to believe that trans women are women, lesbians can have penises, and biological sex is a social construct. The idea that a man can literally be transformed into a woman, and a woman can be a man, has gained ground over the past decade. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daphna Whitmore

Today, iwi-owned company Go Bus locked out close to 100 bus drivers in Hamilton. The drivers have been in negotiations since March 2017 and want a living wage of $20.55 an hour. Many of the drivers are paid less than $18 an hour, some as low as $17.30, and are struggling. They have rejected a 1.9% pay increase offered by the company.

Screen Shot 2018-11-19 at 2.13.51 PM

First Union members block buses leaving the depot

The drivers belong to First Union and announced a partial strike to start 19 November. It was to be a fare strike with free rides for passengers on Go Bus in Hamilton, Te Awamutu, Otorohanga and Katikati. The company have responded aggressively by locking out the union members hoping to force submission.This is the biggest lockout of First Union members since 2006 when 500 employees were locked out by the supermarket giant Progressive Enterprises.

Go Bus is owned by Tainui and Ngai Tahu iwi, and despite giving lip service to supporting a living wage their companies are hard-nosed profit-driven entities. Ngai Tahu is the wealthiest iwi and the largest corporate land-owner in the South Island. In 2017 their net worth increased by $89m to $1.36b.The second in wealth of the iwi is Waikato-Tainui which has assets of $1.22b. The lockout shows that today’s iwi are capitalist enterprises and bear little resemblance to the iwi of classical Maori society before colonisation. Read the rest of this entry »

Daphna Whitmore

Parliament is considering a law change to allow people to change their sex on their birth certificates by simply filling out a form. If the law is passed there will be no requirement to show any proof of living as the opposite sex. When people have raised concerns about the possibility that this could be abused by predatory males (demanding access to female changing rooms, public toilets, women’s refuges, being housed in women’s prisons etc) they have been attacked with slander, threats and slurs by some strident transactivists. The transactivist campaign has been grotesquely authoritarian, energetically censoring, de-platforming, and hounding those who even question the implications of these changes.

We reprint below an article by Renee Gerlich, a feminist, activist and writer, who has been raising concerns and calling for a proper consultation before any change is made that can impact the rights of women. The article was published on Scoop Media on May 28 this year, and then taken down some time later. Scoop editors Joe Cederwall and director Alastair Thompson had removed it without consulting Renee. She was never given any satisfactory explanation of why her article was censored (see here).

Green Party sex self-identification proposals are “transphobic”


by Renee Gerlich

The government is currently discussing submissions on the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration (BDMRR) Bill. Preliminary hearings have made it appear that this bill largely affects cremation law and updates the existing BDMRR Act by digitising and making historic documents and family genealogy more accessible. Public submissions, however, overwhelmingly emphasise gender identity. The current BDMRR Act allows individuals to change the sex marker on identification papers, like birth certificates – many submitters want this process to be made easier.

Organisations from the Green Party to the Human Rights Commission, Young Labour, Rainbow Youth, the Law Society and “Parents and Caregivers of Transgender Children” want to see barriers removed from the process of changing the sex marker on one’s birth certificate. They want the BDMRR Act amended so that birth certificates can be modified without cost or court procedures. It is claimed that this would be in the interests of “documents with dignity” and “transgender rights”. I argue that while the falsification of historic documents and identification papers may appeal to some trans-identified individuals on a personal level, it is not in the interests of trans-identified people as a group. In fact, proposals that erase evidence of gender transition to conflate it with biological sex can easily be viewed as “transphobic”, to use the language of transactivism, since they involve a refusal to confront the realities of gender transition in favour of systematic invisibility. Read the rest of this entry »