Archive for the ‘At the coalface’ Category

by The Spark

Since the spring (NZ autumn – Redline), the Trump administration has imposed a wave of tariffs on 1,102 imported goods, from aluminum and steel, that is, the building blocks of basic industry, to consumer items like washing machines, solar panels, and LED lighting.

Do these tariffs signal a real change in U.S. trade policy? Or are they one more instance of Trump grandstanding, playing to the chauvinism of his America First voting base?

For all the furore Trump’s rhetoric has produced, it is much ado about little. Even if the tariffs that Trump has announced take full effect – which is doubtful – they will hit only a very small portion of the roughly three trillion dollars a year in imports into the U.S. As Stephen Gallagher, managing director of Société Générale, explained, “… right now it’s more of a temper tantrum on trade, as opposed to a real war” (Wall Street Journal, June 19) although, as Gallagher points out, there is always the risk that it could develop into something much bigger.

But Trump’s tariffs have already produced a (more…)

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by Don Franks

“Auckland’s phoney homeless make $100 a day on the streets” is a Herald piece by Amanda Saxton, about a few skid row alcoholics who assemble early each morning to sit together and drink.

A group of apparently lazy, cynical, dishonest parasites, permanently partying, preying on each other and neglectful of their own children. 

“They look homeless, act homeless, and half of them actually are homeless. But Phillip and the group’s kaumātua Sole Johnstone have houses to go home to each evening.”

“Why would we work, slaving 40 hours a week, when we can get $100 a pop sitting here? And I can get drunk at the same time.”

“On a good day, Phillip makes about $100 begging. On an amazing day, $200 – that’s on top of his benefit and his partner’s salary. He says he spends about $100 a day on beer and the odd bit of whiskey”. (more…)

Lutte Ouvriere’s 2018 fete

The piece below is the July 2 editorial from the national network of workplace bulletins produced all over France every week by the revolutionary workers’ current Lutte Ouvriere.The bulletins are read by hundreds of thousands of workers. On one side of the leaflet is an editorial – the same for all leaflets – presenting Lutte Ouvrière’s position on current political issues. The other side has short articles – they change from company to company – written by members of Lutte Ouvrière workplace groups and that focus on working and living conditions inside the company. The leaflets are free but collections are regularly organized to help finance them.

European heads of state and government recently gathered in Brussels with a view to finding a solution to the so-called “migrant crisis”. An agreement was reached, but it only confirmed the measures that have already brought shame on the Europe of the rich. This agreement is designed to force migrants to stay in the poorest countries of the world and to ensure that women, children and men who try to escape misery and war continue to be treated like criminals.

Governments hosting far-right ministers went home triumphant from the summit. But what about the political leaders who, like Macron, claim to defend a European ideal? Their hypocrisy is despicable! They make resounding speeches exposing the dangers of nationalism and xenophobia but the words they use to justify their rejection of migrants are the words of the far right.

For instance, Macron refuses to open French harbors to NGO-sponsored rescue ships. He claims that the NGOs which look after migrants are (more…)

Last month Palestinian journalist, editor and author Ramzy Baroud spoke at meetings around New Zealand, talking about the current situation in Palestine and promoting his new book  (see here).  Below is an article he wrote last month, highlighting that the problem is not the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza but the entire apparatus of the Zionist state, in ‘Israel’ as well.  Here we reprint a recent article of his.

by Ramzy Baroud

June 5, 2018, marked the 51st anniversary of the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.

But, unlike the massive popular mobilization that preceded the anniversary of the Nakba – the catastrophic destruction of Palestine in 1948 – on 15 May, the anniversary of the occupation is hardly generating equal mobilization.

The unsurprising death of the ‘peace process’ and the inevitable demise of the ‘two-state solution’ has shifted the focus from ending the occupation per se to the larger, and more encompassing, problem of Israel’s colonialism throughout Palestine.

Grassroots mobilization in Gaza and the West Bank, and among Palestinian Bedouin communities in the Naqab Desert, are, once more, widening the Palestinian people’s sense of national aspirations. Thanks to the limited vision of the Palestinian leadership those aspirations have, for decades, been confined to Gaza and the West Bank.

In some sense, the ‘Israeli occupation’ is no longer an occupation as per international standards and definitions. It is merely a phase of the Zionist (more…)

US-armed Saudi troops in Yemen

by Yassamine Mather

During the last few days the port of Hudaydah in Yemen has been the scene of fierce battles between a Saudi-led coalition and Houthi forces – the latest phase in a bitter civil war. Hudaydah, a city of 600,000 people, has been the only major port controlled by the Houthi rebels and its proximity to the capital, Sana’a, makes it a strategic asset. Seventy percent of the country’s imports pass through it.

The attack on the port is said to be part of a cynical plot to stop discussions of a peace plan prepared by UN envoy Martin Griffiths. He had warned that an attack on Hudaydah would “take peace off the table in a single stroke”.1Naturally, the Trump administration denies egging on the attempt to capture Hudaydah – despite being challenged by US senators, including those worrying over continuing arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Last week, in a show of concern, acting assistant secretary of state for near east affairs David Satterfield gave specific information about the location of targets that should be avoided, based on satellite data.

Not a Sunni-Shi’a conflict

However, on June 15 the US and the UK opposed Sweden’s attempt to (more…)

Every week the French revolutionary organisation Lutte Ouvriere produces workplace bulletins at hundreds of workplaces all over France where they have members and supporters.  The bulletins deal with issues in those particular workplaces along with an editorial that goes into all the bulletins and deals with national or international issues.  Below is the editorial from the bulletins of June 25.

The Lifeline is a refugee rescue ship, like the Aquarius. Outfitted by a German non-governmental organization, it is stranded at sea off the coast of Libya with 230 migrants on board because the Italian and Maltese governments deny them the right to dock. France, which is so used to lecturing other governments, is refusing them too. Once more we are witnessing the terrible predicament of women, men and children hopelessly knocking on Europe’s doors, after having been through hell.

In Italy, the far-right Minister of Internal Affairs, Salvini, is using this affair to make a show of his intransigence. He has already made proposals worthy of the racist laws adopted under Mussolini, for example a law that would oblige all Roma people to be registered.

In France, Minister of Internal Affairs Collomb speaks the same language as far-right politicians. He claims that France is under the threat of “being submerged”. And he boasts of his recent decisions making it harder for refugees to be eligible for asylum status and increasing the number of expulsions.

Asylum seekers wander from one (more…)

Veteran social justice activist Maire Leadbeater’s latest book is a meticulously-researched work on the attitudes of successive New Zealand governments, both Labour and National, in relation to the independence struggle in West Papua.

In the 1950s, New Zealand supported independence for the former Dutch colony, but this changed in the early 1960s.  Since then governments here have pursued policies which have put their relationships with Indonesian regimes, including the vicious Suharto dictatorship, ahead of the right of the people of West Papua to freedom.

Maire has previously exposed NZ government collusion, by both Labour and National, with the Indonesian dictatorship’s murderous invasion and occupation of Timor Leste (formerly East Timor).  Her work around the cause of the people there led to her being awarded the Order of Timor Leste by the Timorese government last year.

Today, the ‘democratic’ regime in Jakarta pursues murderous policies in West Papua, policies about which we hear very little in New Zealand.

Maire’s new book See No Evil: New Zealand’s betrayal of the people of West Papua, published by Otago University Press, is an important breach in the wall of silence in this country around (more…)