Archive for the ‘Poverty & Inequality’ Category

Launching ‘Echoes of Isolation’ in Gaza

Echoes of Isolation is the new book by imprisoned Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) general-secretary Comrade Ahmad Sa’adat and printed by Dar al-Farabi in Lebanon.  The book was launched in the Gaza Strip with a large event on November 13.

Comrade Allam Kaabi, a member of the Central Committee of the PFLP, delivered a speech on behalf of the Front. He was joined by the long-time struggler Raji Sourani, director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, and Abdel-Nasser Ferwana, a researcher on prisoners’ affairs.

Comrade Kaabi began his speech by saluting the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, the martyrs of the prisoners’ movement and the families of the prisoners, especially the family of Comrade Sa’adat.  He noted that the importance of the book stems from its basis in the reality of isolation experienced by Sa’adat from 2009 to 2012, and reviews the history of the Palestinian prisoners’ movement as well as methods of torture and policies of isolation.  Furthermore, he said, the book is distinguished because (more…)

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NZ Capitalism Ltd’s smiley new manager

by Phil Duncan

When Helen Clark led Labour into government in 1999, little was on offer for workers.  True, to the left of Labour was the Alliance Party which wanted the introduction of paid parental leave and forced this on Labour as part of the price of coalition, Helen Clark having said initially that it would be introduced “over my dead body”.  However, overall, Labour had been engaged in ensuring workers did not have any high expectations of the incoming government – thus there was no way of workers being disappointed and possibly looking left.

All Clark and her party had to do was sit out enough terms of National in the 1990s – three, as it happened – and rely on people getting bored with the traditional Tories and turning to the new, shinier Tories of the Labour Party.  Moreover, the National-led government came apart in the middle of its third term, with Shipley overthrowing Bolger and with New Zealand First going into parliamentary meltdown – NZF leader Winston Peters entered a major ruck with Shipley and many of his MPs decamped to keep National afloat.  Clark could comfortably walk into power over the rubble.

Altered political landscape

In the few weeks run-up to the latest election Clark fan/acolyte Jacinda Ardern faced a somewhat altered political landscape.  In (more…)

Balcony Over Jerusalem: A Middle East Memoir by John Lyons with Sylvie Le Clezio, HarperCollins, (2017); reviewed by Rod Such

Of all the pillars that help hold up Israel’s special type of settler-colonialism and apartheid, one of the strongest remains the role of Western media in amplifying Israeli hasbara (propaganda). That pillar, however, is beginning to crack.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the reflections of prominent Australian journalist John Lyons in his book Balcony Over Jerusalem, an account of his and his filmmaker wife Sylvie Le Clezio’s six-year stint in the city, from 2009 to 2015. There, Lyons was based as the Middle East correspondent of The Australian, one of the country’s leading newspapers.

There is much that is noteworthy in this book, such as Lyons’ detailed analysis of Israel’s various attempts at “social engineering.” This includes the multilayered, bureaucratic permit regime designed to stifle Palestinian resistance to occupation and ongoing land theft, buttressed by closed military zones and other means of land confiscation that dwarf the West Bank settlements themselves.

But what ultimately stands out in Balcony Over Jerusalem is the (more…)

by Lutte Ouvriere

“I am not Santa Claus” was the first declaration that French president Macron made when he arrived in French Guiana in late October. In this part of the old French colonial empire, half the families live below the poverty line and one youth in two is out of work; some of the inhabitants have neither running water nor electricity.

Right next door to the population living in extreme poverty is the Kourou space center from where the Ariane rockets are launched. All the equipment in the space center is ultra-modern and there’s a medical center strictly for employees only. This shocking contrast is revolting! When the population demands that the state put an end to injustice, it’s not asking for gifts, it’s asking that the state respects, at long last, the population’s right to live decently!

Last spring, the Guianans mobilized during five weeks to make their rights heard. Guiana was paralyzed by a general strike and barricades where the (more…)

by Daphna Whitmore

One of the first announcements of the new Labour-led government was that the minimum wage will rise from $15.75 to $16.50 an hour in April 2018. It will then increase each year, reaching $20 an hour by 2021. While this news got some over-excited responses (from the left and the right) most people understand this is not a seismic shift.

The minimum wage has risen every year for over a decade, mostly pushed by union and community campaigns for a living wage. Despite talk of the new coalition being a ‘change government’, the Labour-led team will have boosted the lowest-paid workers a mere 25 cents an hour more than the National government likely would have. The living wage remains, as ever, postponed.

(more…)

The Trump administration has come in for criticism for its lackadaisical attitude to the plight of storm-battered Puerto Rico.  In the article below, a Puerto Rican Marxist outlines the wider appalling impacts of US imperialist domination of this Caribbean island.

by Héctor Reyes

My uncle picked me up at the airport and took me directly to Pavía Hospital in Hato Rey, a relatively new hospital. Afterwards, we went to his home to brace for the storm. As we made our way to his house, which lies atop a hill that oversees San Juan, its airport, and the city of Carolina, I watched as the neighbors of a condominium complex joined a crew of workers in frantically clearing dozens of large branches and trees that had been downed by Hurricane Irma less than two weeks earlier.

When Maria hit, there were several regions on the Island that had not recovered yet from the damages caused by Hurricane Irma. There were people who were still waiting to have their electrical power restored. Irma devastated the Island’s infrastructure, which had been in a state of neglect for a long time, particularly the power grid. The condition of the infrastructure on the Island is the product not only of the economic crisis that Puerto Rico has been trapped in for more than a decade, but even more so of the criminal conduct of the U.S., having kept the Island under colonial control for 119 years.

The colonial trap

Since the early 1950s, the U.S. has proclaimed to the world that Puerto Rico was not its colony, that it had made a special arrangement with the Island (the Estado Libre Asociado, ELA), only to recognize last year, through all three branches of the federal government, that it was not true, that Puerto Rico was an (more…)

by Robert Belano

On Sunday (October 22), Argentinians went to the polls for the second and final round of mid-term elections. While the mainstream media celebrated the success of President Mauricio Macri’s right-wing Cambiemos coalition, a growing political polarization has strengthened the far left as well. Amid continued economic crisis, the anti-capitalist proposals of the Left and Workers’ Front have resonated strongly with increasing numbers of workers and youth.

A growing left alternative in Argentina

As perhaps the strongest recent electoral showing for an anti-capitalist coalition in the world, the Frente de Izquierda y los Trabajadores (FIT, Left and Workers’ Front) won five percent of the overall vote, earned two congressional seats and various municipal seats, and achieved close to 20 percent of the vote in the northern province of Jujuy.

The FIT had impressive results throughout the country and particularly in provinces and cities with higher concentrations of workers and poor people, such as Jujuy and the industrial center of Greater Buenos Aires. Sunday’s results represent an increase in votes of 30 percent for the FIT since the primaries, held only last August. The left coalition surpassed its 2015 totals by around 50 percent making this year’s election results, along with those in 2013, among its most successful yet.

Leaders of the FIT. Image by Juan Manuel Foglia

The FIT is an electoral coalition that was formed in 2011 and is composed primarily of three Trotskyist parties — the Partido de los Trabajadores Socialistas (PTS, Socialist Workers’ Party), Partido Obrero (PO, Workers’ Party), and Izquierda Socialista (IS, Socialist Left). Among the coalition’s demands are: the right to free and unrestricted abortion, an end to all layoffs and furloughs, a 6-hour work day without any reduction in wages, the non-payment of Argentina’s external debt, the nationalization of all foreign trade and large land holdings, a massive public works program, and the forging of a workers’ government.

More than 1.2 million people cast their ballots for the FIT, sending a strong message to the ruling class and the mainstream media that they can no longer ignore this phenomenon. It is clear that large numbers of Argentines, particularly workers and young people, are rejecting not only the austerity and repression associated with the capitalist parties but also the “lesser evil” argument that Peronism and the reformist candidates (more…)