Archive for the ‘Political & economic power’ Category

Workers’ protest, Noumea, January 2016

by Phil Duncan

Sunday November 4 saw the long-awaited referendum in New Caledonia on whether to become independent or stay part of France.  Given the population make-up, as the French government has historically ensured a sizeable pro-French settler population, the rejection of independence was hardly surprising.  The vote was 56.4% for staying with France and 43.6% for independence.  French president Macron declared this outcome to be a show of “confidence in the French Republic”.  However, the voting figures suggest that the majority of Kanaks, the Melanesian indigenous population, continue to favour independence.

France maintains artificial majority

For instance, the territory is divided into three provinces and in the two with predominantly Kanak populations, people voted decisively for (more…)

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by Daphna Whitmore

A law to allow anyone to change the sex on their birth certificate, no questions asked, is before parliament. This demand arose under the banner of transgender rights. Measures to make life easier for transgender people should be supported, however this law change will have potentially negative unintended consequences for women and girls and this deserves discussion.

Abortionrally

Trans ideologues want to strip the word ‘woman’ of its meaning. Wellington abortion rights march, December 2018. Photo by Deidra Sullivan.

Currently trans-identifying people can change their birth certificate with an application through the Family Court with medical evidence of living as the nominated sex and with some safe guards against predatory males who may want to manipulate the process.

Trans ideology has sprung up rapidly and taken hold in surprising quarters. It is problematic because it actually has little focus on the rights of transexuals. Transgender is now a catch-all term of which a significant number are cross-dressing heterosexual males, some of whom identify as lesbians with penises. (more…)

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 (more…)

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 (more…)

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. (more…)

Pic: Caribbean 360

On Saturday October 6th, a magnitude 5.6 earthquake hit the northwest region of Haiti. The worst-affected area was ​​Port-de-Paix, a city of just over 460,000 people and the capital of the North-West department. The quake killed at least 17 people and injured about 430.

The North-West Department is one of the most remote areas of the country. Running water, electricity, roads, hospitals, schools, universities, are mirages – the government talks about them but the people do not see them.

Just over 200 years ago Haiti was at the front of the struggle for human freedom

Indeed, the state does not provide any public services.  The roads linking this department to other parts of the country are in a sorry state.  In the houses anti-seismic or anti-cyclone standards have not been applied. The state does not apply them in public buildings either.

The area of Port-de-Paix struggles under the weight of poverty and ill-health, while the situation is even worse in the other communes of the department. With such a cocktail, any natural phenomenon, depending on its scale, can be transformed into a social catastrophe and a human tragedy. And it is always the poorest who are the most affected.

Some areas are difficult to access, because of the state of the roads, so relief is hard.  The hospital in Port de Paix is ​​ (more…)

by Don Franks 

jail_5“New Zealand has one of the highest imprisonment rates in the world, second only to the United States, with over 5000 people currently in our 17 prisons. We could be excused for thinking the problem is huge, too big too handle …”

Social reformer Celia Lashlie wrote that in 2002. Today, 10,645 inmates are crammed inside 18 overflowing jails.

Successive government policies paved the way for this massive increase. (more…)