cover photo

elmussol

elmussol@elsmussols.org

cow pat bustin'

 Xerta 
some bubbles need bursting

 Xerta 
This article is not long but worth a read of the full thing. Chock full of clear-thinking and bullshit clearing.

OffGuardianOffGuardian wrote the following post Tue, 08 May 2018 21:00:57 +0200
Gina Haspel and the Normalising of Torture
Gina Haspel and the Normalising of Torture

Gina Haspel is almost certainly going to be the next director of the CIA. This shouldn't happen, but it will.

For those unfamiliar: Haspel was deputy head of the Agency under now-secretary of state Mike Pompeo. But that wasn't her first job. She also oversaw the CIA torture programme in a secret black-site in Thailand. In 2005 she was promoted (probably because she's really good at torturing people), and was then in charge of the CIA's global network of torture sites.

This makes her a terrible person, but probably quite a good CIA agent.
proper public holiday

 Xerta 
Happy International Workers' Day comrades!

Solidarity!
  
I also thought it about time that the #rebelpeasant hashtag was resurrected.
  
@elmussol
Mutually, i congratulate you too!
Also, with the coming Valpurgis night you!
  last edited: Wed, 02 May 2018 00:03:31 +0200  
nuance is a rare gift

 Xerta 
Revolutionary Left Radio is rapidly becoming one of my favourite listens. The presenter, Brett O'Shay approaches leftist theory in a heroically non-sectarian way. This post is prompted by the fact that the latest issue is On Syria: Civil War and U.S. Imperialism which is the most nuanced, coherent and intelligent thing I've heard on the whole Syria tragedy in ages. I've cut my ties to BBC News and The Guardian over Syria coverage and it is a relief to hear something that isn't simplistic and gung ho.

Syria episode download
RevLeftRadio podcast feed

Its sibling podcast: The Guillotine (which concentrates more on current events rather than theory) is also required listening with absolutely top-notch ranting from the excellent Dr Bones.

The Guillotine podcast feed

#revleftradio #theguillotine
Pilot rebellion leaves Ryanair up in the air

 Xerta last edited: Wed, 21 Mar 2018 00:14:02 +0100  
This just made me smile. Union work is not as glamorous as punching Nazis in the face, but just as important. Let's see if O'Leary caves in some more (we can but hope).

USI - Union Solidarity InternationalUSI - Union Solidarity International wrote the following post Sat, 10 Feb 2018 19:14:46 +0100
Pilot rebellion leaves Ryanair up in the air
Pilot rebellion leaves Ryanair up in the air

Just in time for Christmas in 2017, Ryanair – until then a notoriously anti-union company – relented and announced that it was prepared to talk to pilots unions and even recognize them. The company has been hugely successful on the strength of its no frills service (not always as cheap as the promises) and its determination not to recognize unions. It is now the second biggest airline in Europe in terms of passenger numbers — 129 million in 2017 compared to the Lufthansa group’s 130 million – and probably the most profitable. Ryanair made a profit of €1.5bn in 2017 on a revenue of €6.5bn, compared to Lufthansa’s profit in 2016 of $2bn (€1.6bn) on a revenue of $36bn (€29bn).

So what made the Ryanair bosses change their collective mind? The simple answer is that the threat of industrial action by Ryanair’s pilots in Ireland, Britain, Italy, Germany, Spain and Portugal in the run-up to Christmas had its intended effect on management. “Christmas flights are very important to our customers,” according to Ryanair’s chief executive, Michael O’Leary, “and we wish to remove any worry or concern that they may be disrupted by pilot industrial action next week.”

The Financial Times saw O’Leary’s emollient statement as “a capitulation”. For 23 years as Ryanair’s boss, O’Leary had vowed never to recognise unions even gaining some notoriety for crossing a picket line of baggage handlers to help load a plane.  But Ryanair had been the instrument of its own crisis in the weeks running up to O’Leary’s dramatic volte-face. In the last quarter of 2017, the company was forced to cancel more than 20,000 flights apparently as the result of changes to the pilot rostering system.

From the beginning of 2018, a change in the way the annual 900-hour limit on pilot flying time is calculated brought Irish airlines into line with operators throughout the rest of the European Union. Ireland had previously used the year from April to March to calculate flying time. Now they have been obliged to adopt the EU’s practice of basing calculation on a calendar year.

In principle the switchover should have had no significant impact. For one thing, Irish airlines had plenty of warning about the change, and for another it should have been a relatively trivial matter to scale down flying time to fit a notional shorter year running from April to December. The Irish airlines might have had to suffer a financial hit but, considering Ryanair’s profit margin, that could hardly have been a significant issue for the company.

Instead of dealing with something that was essentially an accounting problem, Ryanair’s rostering department responded to the change “by over-allocating annual leave in the final four months of 2017, which meant almost half of the company’s pilots took a month off between September and December compared to 40 percent in a normal year”. At least that’s what Michael O’Leary told Reuters news agency.

The pilots themselves believe that Ryanair’s problems are more complicated than a temporary scheduling difficulty; their colleagues were leaving the company in droves and Ryanair’s flight cancellations and its demand that pilots give up a week of their annual leave merely exacerbated the feeling that the company treated its pilots “like janitors” as one serving captain told Reuters.

Ryanair pilots throughout Europe embarked on a hectic schedule of meetings and Facebook and WhatsApp messaging. Within a week of Ryanair’s initial actions, representatives of twenty of the company’s 87 bases across the continent were demanding new contracts. By December, pilots in Germany, Italy, Ireland and Portugal had threatened or actually called strikes that would have been the first of their kind in the airline’s history. The Italian pilots were still threatening to strike in early February.

“The discontent has always been there,” according to one pilot, “but the cancellations triggered everyone to mobilise.”

With Christmas ten days away and no sign of the pilots stepping back, Ryanair calculated it was facing the loss of 150,000 passengers — representing around €20m of revenue — over the Christmas season if it didn’t act soon.  Ryanair sent letters to pilot unions in its major European markets announcing its readiness to negotiate. “If the best way to [remove the threat of disruption to flights] is to talk to our pilots through a recognised union process,” O’Leary said in a statement, “then we are prepared to do so, and we have written today to these unions inviting them to talks to recognise them and calling on them to cancel the threatened industrial action planned for Christmas week.”

Antonio Piras, the general secretary of FIT-CISL, the Italian transport federation, commented that “Ryanair initially thought it could function by ignoring the rights of its employees but now, faced with reality, it is opening its eyes”

Michael O’Leary has acknowledged that union recognition will mean “significant change” for the company but he is bullish about it. Ryanair has changed its culture before and continued to prosper, he says, while Eddie Wilson, Ryanair’s chief people officer, acknowledged an inevitable “pressure on costs”. But the bosses insist that none of this represents any kind of “climbdown”.  “[With] the size we’ve got to, things probably had to change and we always knew it and it’s now,” Wilson said. Ryanair’s business model “will stay the same”.

It’s almost as though nothing in Ryanair’s world has really changed. Talks are proceeding, but there is unfinished business.

Unions have argued that recognition must extend to all the workers employed by the company, from pilots to cabin crew and from cabin crew to baggage-handlers. Liz Blackshaw of the London-based global union, the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) does believe that Ryanair is changing but, she said, “this change is incomplete without the same recognition being afforded to all categories of workers.”

Perhaps more significant is the question of whether Ryanair will succeed in its attempt to negotiate separately with different national unions, thereby gaining an advantage. On 24 January 2018, a letter from the international pilots’ organization, the European Cockpit Association, signed by 11 trade unions, demanded that Ryanair agrees to a joint meeting with all the unions and commits to introduce permanent direct employment contracts by 1 March in accordance with the local laws of the country where staff are based.

Ryanair refused the idea of meeting the unions collectively saying that such a collective of unions would have no legal standing or licence to negotiate.

But the history of this dispute suggests otherwise. The pilots have taken action across a continent, and that action has undoubtedly been coordinated. If that approach survives, we may be beginning to see a transformation, not just of Ryanair, but of worldwide air transportation.  And who knows where that might end?
More details

Largest airlines in Europe

Ryanair’s Annual Report 2016

Arthur Beesley, “Ryanair backs down in battle over pilot unions”, 15 December 2017, Financial Times.

Conor Humphries, “Three months that shook Ryanair: How cancellations sparked a pilot revolt”, 20 December 2017, Reuters.

Conor Humphries, “European pilot group demands Ryanair meet unions collectively”, 24 January 2018, Reuters.
#NoG20: Let’s Disc-Harrow G20 – RTF Call For Protests

 Xerta last edited: Wed, 21 Mar 2018 00:55:34 +0100  
This rebel peasant likes this one.

Enough is Enough! wrote the following post Tue, 02 May 2017 15:40:44 +0200

#NoG20: Let’s Disc-Harrow G20 – RTF Call For Protests

We are young peasants, land-searching, reapropriating, cooperating and working in all types of agriculture-related fields around europe. we are determined to create alternatives to the agro-industrial-complex and capitalist globalization. we struggle for practical, local-based solidarity-networks with a conscience of the social and ecological issues related to the imperia of industry and their states. our agrarian fight is a long term and mostly localized one, but resistance for more autonomy and against authorities can also puncutally rise – and travel to express dissent.

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Submitted to Enough is Enough

Note: Enough is Enough is not organizing any of these events, we are publishing them for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on.

We will make agricultural topics a content within the upcoming G20-summit-protests in Hamburg and beyond.

We believe that we’ve got to overcome the time of resource-destruction and cultural-war against small-scale-farming – as a matter of survival.
We declare ourselves critics of elite-led politics: good things come from below!

RTF vs. G20

The elites of G20 agreed in meeting in the harbour-city of Hamburg in july, so some of us agreed on meeting there as well, to bring up food- and agriculture-related issues during the protests. Mass-disobedience already seems to take shape with hundreds of thousands expected on demos and blocades of the summit and the harbour during the action days in july.

We call all farming-friends on supporting the protesters practically with food and logistics as only well-fed protesters can stop this summit!

The G20, an alliance of the dominant nation(confederation)s of the world will bring forward more agreements that don’t fit us. they might talk about “migration issues” but only with the aim of containing, seperating and managing peoples lives. They strengthen the freedom of markets and keep restraining the liberties of humans. “green-finances” as another key issue of their mafia-meeting are just another spectacular try in absorbing ecologist themes for capitalist and speculative monopoly-type-development. 

Their understanding of globalisation results in exploitation, forced work- and (peasant-)migration, war, climate-chaos as well as a rising dependance on the capitalist, energy-excessive and extractivist model. it’s big time for a new global riseup towards an ecologist, foodautonomous and anticapitalist future. Our strength stays the everyday struggle in working the land, the forrest and the seas. but we have to raise our voices in concrete jungles sometimes.  

The food- and health-issues remain central to give more independance to the people. small structures still feed the world and fight for local balances as all investigations could show. but agreements coming out of their summits have never significantly arranged the systematic injustice within food-sovereignity-issues on this planet. Their “gam.....
Happy International Workers' Day

 Xerta last edited: Wed, 21 Mar 2018 00:56:15 +0100  
If like me you're a bit sick of the preponderance of religious holidays, here's one you can get behind.

#solidarity
great political butties of our time

 Xerta last edited: Wed, 21 Mar 2018 10:50:40 +0100  
Despairing at the news (aren't we all). I could rant for hours but won't. I would therefore like to summarize my feelings as follows:

Both Brexit and the USofAmerican Presidency fall into the category of "Would you like mayonnaise or ketchup on your shit sandwich?" choices.
Leaked treaty texts confirm TTIP threatens democracy

 Xerta last edited: Wed, 21 Mar 2018 10:39:20 +0100  
To add to the growing list of reshares on this topic, The more I read the more I... what? Despair? Become enraged? The whole process and result are just completely and utterly wrong. This frightens me to the core of my being. Seriously.

USI - Union Solidarity InternationalUSI - Union Solidarity International wrote the following post Mon, 16 May 2016 20:00:54 +0200
Leaked treaty texts confirm TTIP threatens democracy
Leaked treaty texts confirm TTIP threatens democracy

The secret draft texts of the proposed US-EU ‘free trade’ agreement TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, recently released by Greenpeace Netherlands, confirm what critics have maintained from the outset; TTIP is a trade deal that threatens democracy.

The treaty negotiations were never centred on reducing tariffs between the US and the European Union, which are at historic lows. Like the finalised but as yet unratified Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), TTIP’s principal objective is to further expand the already considerable power of transnational corporations by restricting the regulatory power of governments and locking the system into place to prevent new regulatory initiatives.

The leaked chapters (13 out of a projected 24) show how TTIP would undermine the capacity of governments at every level to adopt and enforce laws and regulations to defend worker and consumer health and safety and the environment against corporate depredation.

The blunt instrument for lowering standards and ensuring they remain low is the chapter on regulatory harmonization (what the EU negotiators call ‘Regulatory Cooperation’ and the US ‘Regulatory Coherence, Transparency, and Other Good Regulatory Practices’). Any and all regulatory proposals must be evaluated for their impact on trade and investment, must conform to a ‘least burdensome’ requirement (in which no regulation is the benchmark) and must be subject to a cost/benefit analysis. Governments are required to signal in advance any proposed regulations they intend to adopt and must guarantee interested ‘natural and legal persons’ (read: corporations) input into the drafting and review process. Corporations as legal persons on either side can ‘petition’ for the amendment or repeal of any regulation they find objectionable. The precautionary principle established in EU law is nowhere mentioned in the EU draft text, which proposes instead the ‘mutual recognition of equivalence of regulatory acts” – a pre-emptive surrender of Europe’s generally higher standards.

An institutional role for transnational corporations is developed further in the chapter on Technical Barriers to Trade, the WTO-based mechanism under which corporations have challenged regulations concerning, for example, plain-packaging requirements for tobacco products, country of origin labelling, chemical rinses on poultry meat and import restrictions on genetically modified crops. The US draft stipulates that “Each Party shall allow persons of the other Party to participate in the development of standards, technical regulations, and conformity assessment procedures” and that “Each Party shall permit persons of the other Party to participate in the development of these measures on terms no less favorable than those it accords to its own persons.” Transnational corporate committees replace democratic process. The ‘right to regulate’ evoked in the EU draft investment chapter published last year is meaningless in the light of provisions which completely eviscerate democratic decision-making.

What else do the leaked texts tell us? The US is seeking to crack open the potential EU market for ‘products of modern agricultural technology’, ie. genetically modified crops. The draft chapter on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures creates a web of ‘science-based’ requirements which would make it even more difficult for the EU to maintain its restrictions on GM imports and production. The EU would be required to enrol in the US-driven International Initiative on Low Level Presence, a programme designed to eliminate restrictions on the import of non-GM foods containing the traces of GM contamination which have become ubiquitous with the expansion of GM agriculture. The ‘international initiative’ is GM colonisation by stealth.

The texts contain much more that is toxic to democracy and the labour movement, and we haven’t even seen the full list of services annexes or the chapters on intellectual property or financial services, all of them instruments for enhancing corporate power. The leaks expose the utter hypocrisy of governments on both sides trying to sell TTIP as an agreement which will respect the regulatory role of the state and guarantee a high level of worker and consumer safety and environmental protection.

On investment, the heart of the treaty, the EU’s proposal for an international investment ‘court’ to handle investor lawsuits is a cosmetic rebranding of the closed tribunals which the US continues to press for in investor-to-state dispute settlement cases (ISDS). Both would empower international investors to challenge laws, regulations, even administrative and court decisions which they find objectionable.

CETA contains ISDS and expanded investor ‘rights’ in their most toxic form, which makes it a potential TTIP proxy. Virtually all US-based transnational corporations have subsidiaries in Canada which can make use of CETA provisions, including ISDS, to attack EU regulation. The corporate offensive can spread more widely through the ‘most favoured nation’ mechanism. This would enable corporations and their subsidiaries in other countries with similarly comprehensive trade and investment treaties with the EU to claim the same investor ‘rights’ established in CETA. TTIP/CETA is a package deal. Opposition to TTIP continues to grow. On May 7, over 40,000 people demanded ‘Stop TTIP’ in Rome in a demonstration organized by the Italian national trade union centre CGIL, the CGIL foodworkers union FLAI and civil society groups (pictured above). Unions together with civil society organisations will have to build on the leaks to maintain the momentum of protest in order to defeat both.

This article, which has been edited, was originally published on 11 May, 2016, by the IUF at  http://www.iuf.org/w/?q=node/4988
More details

[1] The leaked draft texts: https://ttip-leaks.org/#docdoc9
[2] Trade deals that threaten democracy: http://www.iuf.org/w/sites/default/files/TradeDealsThatThreatenDemocracy-e_0.pdf
[3] The US-driven International Initiative on Low Level Presence: http://www.fas.usda.gov/international-statement-low-level-presence
[4] Cosmetic rebranding of TTIP: http://corporateeurope.org/pressreleases/2016/02/zombie-attack-ttip-corporate-super-rights-come-back-dead
a[p]titude

 Xerta last edited: Wed, 21 Mar 2018 11:47:51 +0100  
This made me giggle for ages and ages.

Another World is PossibleAnother World is Possible wrote the following post Sat, 28 Jun 2014 14:50:16 +0200
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Paris attack response

 Xerta last edited: Wed, 21 Mar 2018 12:05:00 +0100  
So this was one of the first allegedly thoughtful things I read today about yesterday's monstrous events that made me think that the author wasn't in a state of hysteria and/or had suspended their critical faculties.

Anarkismo.net wrote the following post Sat, 14 Nov 2015 16:41:26 +0100

Attacks in Paris : Against their wars, our solidarities

A wave of deadly attacks took place last night in Paris and Saint-Denis. The French government has been conducting wars in several countries (Libya, Mali, Syria ...) for years. These wars today have an impact on the French territory.
We are confronted to attacks aiming to spread terror and to stir up divisions within the population. Alternative Libertaire condemns these attacks: killing people at random in the street in the sole purpose of frightening is abject. These attacks are the work of a political movement - the Salafist jihadism - whose first victims are the civilian populations of the Middle East and which has already hit Beirut in recent days. This same political movement that continues to wage war against Kurdish progressive forces in Syria.

Following these attacks, we will witness a securitarian frenzy maintained by political forces who use fear to draw us against each other Already, immigrants and the Muslim minority in this country are beginning to be affected by political statements and are subject to indiscriminate reprisals.

Strenghtening freedom-restricting devices will not prevent new attacks. The state of emergency is the suspension of many democratic rights, the legalization of large-scale repressive measures with regard to various layers of the population that have nothing to do with the attacks.

We stand against government taking this opportunity to ban unionist and ecologist mobilizations to come. All this will lead to divide and strengthen fears and hatreds. All this will only lead to an escalation between terrorist attacks increasingly bloody and security responses increasingly repressive. The answer is neither the withdrawal nor the militarization of society.

The solution will not come from those who have contributed to this situation by their militarist policies, imperialist, discriminatory, hateful. They use this to impose an increasingly police state and a national unity between exploiters and exploited, which we reject and denounce.

The solution requires the strengthening of solidarity, in the neighborhoods and at our workplaces, and through the consolidation of all those and all those who refuse all regimes of terror. Do not remain isolated! Let's get together to discuss our responsibilities to the situation, particularly in terms of joint actions of all social transformation forces.

Alternative Libertaire, November 14, 2015

Translated by Johan for Workers Solidarity Movement (Ireland) from the French original at http://www.alternativelibertaire.org/?Attentats-de-Pari...leurs

nice T

 Xerta last edited: Wed, 21 Mar 2018 12:36:50 +0100  
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good stuff happening all over

 Xerta last edited: Wed, 21 Mar 2018 12:53:33 +0100  
Catalan project harvests unwanted fruit and veg for people in need

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Barcelona-based Espigoladors sends volunteers into the fields to pick leftover produce for distribution to the vulnerable and unemployed
  
Ester Ranzen missed an opportunity I think,
  
ester ranzen? you old bastard
  
New Kate Sharpley Library Bulletin

 Xerta last edited: Wed, 21 Mar 2018 13:25:55 +0100  
Always on my read list. History from the bottom, which is of course how it should be, Note to self, put the whole archive in my dav...

Anarkismo.net wrote the following post Wed, 15 Jul 2015 11:09:03 +0200

July 2015 Kate Sharpley Library Bulletin online

KSL: Bulletin of the Kate Sharpley Library No. 82-83, July 2015 [Double issue] has just been posted on our site.
The PDF is up at: http://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/vmcx14
Contents list is at: http://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/37pwk5

Contents:
An Appeal to the Young: Some thoughts on a best seller by Barry Pateman
Two American anarchist newspapers online
La Nueve – 24 August 1944. The Spanish Republicans who liberated Paris by Evelyn Mesquida [Book review]
Death of Eduardo Escot Bocanegra, Andalusian libertarian shipped to the Nazi Camp in Mauthausen by Ángel del Rio
London Anarchist Bookfair 2015
Marcelino de la Parra, Anarcho-syndicalist Guerrilla from León by Antonio Téllez Solà
Help AK Press & Friends Recover from Fire
Thoughts on local anarchist newspapers in 1980s Britain
Colin Parker 1948-2015 by Nick Heath
International Anarchist Manifesto on the War [1915]
who owns it?

 Xerta last edited: Wed, 21 Mar 2018 13:27:45 +0100  
Inspiring stuff. The video is downloading now.

ROAR Magazine wrote the following post Thu, 23 Jul 2015 18:09:10 +0200

The PAH: defending the right to housing in Spain

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In Spain, where the government bails out banks, the Platform for People Affected by Mortgages (PAH) bails out families and defends their right to housing.



In February 2009, after the Spanish government had shown itself incapable of enforcing Article 47 of the Spanish Constitution — declaring that “all Spaniards have the right to enjoy decent and adequate housing” — a citizens’ assembly was held in Barcelona to establish the Platform for People Affected by Mortgages, or the PAH (Spanish: Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca), a social movement which would wait for neither government action nor market corrections for this right to be enforced.

The PAH’s immediate aims are simple — the prevention of the systematic eviction of tens of thousands of debtors across Spain — but its larger dream is bolder: the achievement of the socio-economic conditions in which the human right to housing may be secure.

It is the ceaseless energy of this grassroots platform, its repertoire of organizing tactics, and its ability to bring disaffected and disadvantaged people together that has made it so popular amongst Spain’s mass of indignados and so feared by its minority class of bankers, developers and investors whose interests are secured by the casta suits of the governing PP and the opposition PSOE — or the PPSOE, as one PAH organizer put it.

It is this movement of people which we in the international left should look to for both inspiration and instruction in the fight against austerity. And it is for this reason that this article has been written: to paint us a portrait of the PAH and to give us a glimpse at how it operates — how it feels, how it looks, how it speaks — in its oldest branch of Barcelona.

No one left behind


Most people’s first encounter with the PAH will be through its weekly welcome assemblies held in Barcelona’s tightly-knit barrio of Hostafrancs, where upon entry you’ll be greeted with a friendly smile and, if you’re a first-timer to the meetings, you’ll be given a paper rose made with a Catalan flag tied to its stem. As you adjust to the sweaty heat generated from the 80 or so people squashed into the PAH headquarters, all waving their hand-held fans to keep the heat at bay, you might notice that a good deal of the participants and a large majority of the organizers are women.

On a letter printed and placed onto the doors of the assembly hall, a PAH participant thanks her new friends for providing the warmth and love that only a mother knows, for helping her to help herself and then to help others, for bringing dignity and hope back into her life. These are the elements — dignity, respect, mutual-aid — which define a welcoming assembly, and are seen by the PAH to be absolutely integral to the participants’ struggle to reclaim their right to housing.

Tears are not uncommon in these assemblies, especially when the veterans are invited to stand up to tell the newer participants of a recent victory they’ve had: their stories are always moving, the responses always touching, and you see that the PAH really is a family, a place where the pain and gain of one is felt by all.

For those most in need of emotional support there is a smaller closed assembly where people may come to tell their story in an open environment of mutual respect and listening, where people may come to see that others are experiencing and feeling the very same as they do, where they can see that the guilt is not theirs, that they can still hold their heads high.

If the heart of the PAH is the welcoming assembly, then the head must be its actions and coordinating assembly, which meets once a week to keep the gears of the movement oiled. But before this assembly even begins to discuss the host of actions the movement has in gestation, it must decide on the day-to-day responsibilities of the attendees. Everyone present is asked to contribute to one small but essential part of the PAH — one pair to help out with cleaning, another to update the calendar, someone else to record minutes, another to keep track of time while someone else moderates — and all are rotated every week.

For anyone schooled in more bureaucratic forms of social and political groups, this process — which is as true of the more routine tasks as those duties with more responsibility — may seem tedious and unimportant, but it is of course the process which matters here; the process of participation, of mutual support and of self-organization which define the PAH as an organization where everyone has a role to play, where everybody leads and none are left behind.

Tom Joad’s inheritors


Once into gear the assembly can cover much ground, and within a couple of hours of one particular meeting the group had already discussed three major campaigns. First was the Citizens’ Legislative Initiative, or the ILP, a major joint campaign between the Barcelona PAH, the Alliance Against Energy Poverty and the Observatory for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which has gathered around 140,000 signatures in Catalonia calling for emergency measures to combat the social crisis created by mortgage evictions and utilities cut-offs.

The ILP draws on a mechanism allowing citizens’ proposals to be voted on by Catalan parliament, requiring 50,000 signatures to be effective, meaning that the Barcelona ILP has nearly tripled the required amount of petitioners. The ILP, which will be voted on today, July 23, proposed five measures which could stem the flow of around 50 families per day from their houses to the streets or to precarious housing. They demand that any remaining debt of the evictees be liquidated, allowing them a second chance to rebuild their lives.

They furthermore demand that empty apartments held by banks be used as emergency housing for evictees, while for those facing eviction they demand the right to a ‘social rent’, which means that indebted homeowners may pay only what they can pay, and that cut-offs of water, gas and electricity must end immediately, with the state stepping in to assure access if the companies cannot respect the rights of their customers. If the ILP passes parliament this July, the PAH and its social partners will have scored a truly enormous victory for thousands and thousands of families across Catalonia.

It will be an important victory because the PAH knows that their fight is one which must also confront the myriad of factors that compound Spain’s housing crisis, including the squeeze of rising energy bills arriving in the mail from private utility companies (‘monstrous’ organizations, as one PAH organizer described them) and the cuts in healthcare and education that have accompanied previous cuts in wages and benefits. Meanwhile, the explosion of ‘flexible’ contracts means that credit is impossible to get by for many, endangering people’s ability to pay their monthly rents or mortgage payments on time.

What’s more, this crisis exists in a global context where international investment and financial companies like Blackstone (see the video #BlackstoneEvicts) and Goldman Sachs buy up tens of thousands of empty apartments at heavily discounted prices from banks. One of the largest deals secured by Blackstone involved some 40,000 apartments in Catalonia alone, with a real value somewhere near 6.4 billion euros, which were purchased for the sum of 3.6 billion euros: if the banks can give Blackstone a discount, the PAH asks, then why can’t they give the people one?

This is why the PAH has begun organizing alliances with similar movements in the UK, the US and soon perhaps in Brazil, where the Movement of Workers without Roofs is facing the same investment banking foes as its counterparts in Spain. The fight being fought from Barcelona’s barrios, from London’s New Era Estate, from the US boroughs, from anywhere where “there’s a fight so hungry people can eat,” Tom Joad’s inheritors will be there.

The PAH’s Obra Social


But far away from the negotiations with the banks, from the political labyrinth of the Catalan parliament, from the long hard work of building national and international alliances, the bread and butter of the PAH remains the prevention of eviction and homelessness.

When all efforts of the debtor fail, when all negotiations and offers are rejected, after lies are told and myths are spread to scare people into making strangling payments (that, for example, the debt may be paid by the children; that, for instance, a migrant might be forced to return to their home country for a failed mortgage), then the PAH’s Obra Social (Social Work) will step in to ensure that the family will not end up on the street — sleeping, perhaps like so many thousands of others in Barcelona, in the ATM vestibules of the very banks that evicted them.

The Obra Social is the body which — when the bank is not prepared to find alternative housing for the tenant, when there is no room at anyone’s inn — will help the evicted family occupy one of the thousands of empty apartments owned by the banks. But to say that the banks actually ‘own’ these empty flats is, as one PAH organizer put it, entirely misleading, for it was the Spanish people who bailed out these banks during the crisis, and it is therefore the Spanish people who own these properties.

The PAH has a simple slogan: the government bails out banks, our platform bails out people. Here the shibboleth of private property becomes particularly naked and grotesque when, as in Spain, you have one of Europe’s greatest number of empty apartments and its greatest rate of evictions. Can we still imagine a world where this does not occur, where human rights finally come to trump contractual rights? The members of the PAH certainly can.

Timothy Ginty is a freelance writer completing a master’s degree in World History at the University of Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona. You can read his blog, Lives and Times, here.

:::::::::::::::::::::

To learn more about the PAH, the documentary Seven Days with the PAH (Siete Días en la PAH), is available (with English subtitles) here, and you can download the book Vidas Hipotecadas (in Spanish) here.

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how capitalism weks

 Xerta last edited: Wed, 21 Mar 2018 13:28:54 +0100  
More of this kind of thing coming with that treaty that cannot be talked about.

USI - Union Solidarity InternationalUSI - Union Solidarity International wrote the following post Wed, 22 Jul 2015 17:20:17 +0200
Gabriel Resources takes Romania to World Bank ISDS Court over Rosia Montana
Gabriel Resources takes Romania to World Bank ISDS Court over Rosia Montana

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July 21, 2015. This is the date when the locals of Rosia Montana obtained a subtle confirmation that their village is saved from the destruction of Gabriel Resources. The company admitted yesterday in a press release that they have lost hope in ever mining Europe’s largest gold deposit. At the same time Gabriel Resources announced the submission of a Request for Arbitration at the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes. They demand compensation and a special settlement from the Romanian state for failing to harvest 314 tonnes of gold and 1,500 tonnes of silver, expropriating hundreds of local properties and leaving behind a waste lake containing cyanide – a toxic chemical used in the process of gold extraction.

Romania’s largest civil society movement opposed Gabriel Resources. This citizen involvement was, without exception, directed towards the state and respect for its own laws, seeking out irregularities and pinpointing corruption at all levels of power.

The defeat of Gabriel Resources is a clear indication of the commitment of Romanian citizens to defending their rights, freedom and democracy. The 15-year long campaign to Save Rosia Montana contributed to building a young democratic movement in Romania and has led the country in a direction that cannot be reversed.

The company’s plans to start the project did not crumble due to the high level of corruption in Romania, indeed Gabriel Resources have only got this far because of the corruption. The Romanian state got stronger and more independent only when corrupt officials were exposed. There is no possibility of saving Romanian taxpayers’ money if officials within the Government do not fight the good fight, if they, for example, hire a law firm closer to a mining company than to public interest.

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A protest for Rosia Montana

This arbitration case proves once again that the ISDS clauses are being used to plunder people and nations of budgets allocated for health or education. In response to this, the Save Rosia Montana campaign demands total transparency and accountability from the authorities and all legal representatives present at all stages of the process.

“This arbitration illustrates that companies such as Gabriel consider profit more important than people; that the will of a few  ‘Wall-Street billionaires’ has greater legitimacy than the legislation of a whole nation. There are three known facts about this mining project: it was deemed illegal by national courts on several occasions, it was unwanted by the local population as well as millions of ordinary people country-wide,  it was promoted by numerous politicians since charged with corruption and in many cases already serving long jail sentences. Why Gabriel investors continued to invest throughout 15 long years in such an obviously bad deal, remains a mystery”, commented Eugen David, president of the Alburnus Maior Association.

Romania must not be penalised for being a democratic country with institutions prepared to say no to absurd actions designed to alter national legislation so that a mining project becomes legal. The company sought these changes after years of unsuccessful attempts to get their illegal project approved. These modifications to legislation included the framework for a private company to expropriate citizens of their legally owned property.

“The Save Rosia Montana campaign asks all its friends and supporters for solidarity against ISDS clauses and corruption. We stand united to save Rosia Montana!”, added Eugen David.

For more information please contact Tudor Bradatan, mobile: 0040 745370524

– Via London Mining Network and Save Rosia Montana
  
it's time

 Xerta last edited: Wed, 21 Mar 2018 13:44:03 +0100  
This is pretty damn good.

ROAR Magazine wrote the following post Mon, 29 Jun 2015 01:24:45 +0200

Greek referendum: euro crisis explodes into dramatic climax

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Those who accuse the Greeks of “recklessness” are mistaken: the creditors’ utter contempt for democracy left them with no other choice but a rupture.


The announcement came like a bombshell.

Tsipras’ spectacular decision late on Friday to fly back to Athens and put the Eurogroup’s final bailout offer to a referendum — with the government advising voters to reject the deal — has stunned friends and foes alike.

Now, with depositors lining up at ATMs to withdraw cash, the Eurogroup refusing to extend the current bailout program, the ECB capping its emergency liquidity assistance for Greek banks, and Greece set to miss a €1.5 billion IMF payment on Tuesday, the long-awaited endgame is finally upon us. After five long and exhausting years, the euro crisis has exploded into its dramatic climax.

Those who now lambast the Greek government for its supposed “recklessness” in calling the referendum are profoundly mistaken. Yes, as I have argued many times before, Tsipras’ and Varoufakis’ belief that they could somehow extract an “honorable compromise” from the creditors was always extremely naive. But in the end it was the creditors’ utter contempt for democracy that pushed Tsipras with his back against the wall, forcing him to sign up to an agreement that they knew would split his ruling party and government.

Deliberately tabling one outrageous proposal after another, the creditors’ intention was clear from the very start: they were never even remotely interested in any positive “deal”; the only thing they would settle for was Syriza’s complete and total surrender — ideally followed by technocratic regime change inside Greece. Paul Krugman was therefore entirely right when he referred to the creditors’ ultimatum as “an act of monstrous folly.”

Backed into a corner by the virulent moves of the Eurogroup and the IMF, Tsipras responded in the only sensible way: he rejected the absurd proposal that the creditors had put on the table, took the decision to his people, and advised them to vote against the creditors’ disastrous ultimatum. What is surprising is not that he made this move per se — but that it took him so long to do it.

For five months, the creditors suffocated Greece, depriving it of all liquidity in a brazen attempt to force Tsipras to sign up to humiliating concessions that would have condemned the Greeks to years — if not decades — of extreme austerity. For five months, they doubled down on their cynicism and steadfastly refused to make even the most minimal concessions. For five months, they publicly belittled and degraded the democratically-elected representatives of millions of Greeks who had already suffered untold hardship.

If Tsipras had signed up to this unacceptable deal, it would not only have meant political suicide for him and his party; it would also have spelt an unmitigated disaster for the Greek people — not to mention the lasting damage it would have inflicted upon the political prospects of the European Left more generally. If there’s anything reckless about Tsipras’ approach, it’s that he even let the creditors get this far to begin with.

It was high time for the Big No — the resounding OXI!

For five years, European leaders and Greek elites sacrificed this beautiful country and its exceptional people at the altar of the financial markets to save a handful of reckless speculators inside the European banks and to convince international investors that the monetary union was irreversible. For five years, they punished the Greeks for a deep-rooted structural crisis they had no part in creating. For five years, they kicked the can down the road, hoping that the fundamental contradictions of financialized capitalism and the European monetary union would somehow magically disappear if only the inevitable moment of reckoning could be indefinitely pushed into the future.

This approach has now been exposed as a catastrophic but utterly predictable failure. Doubling down on their extreme positions with the malicious intent of forcing the Greeks into a self-defeating deal or disorderly exit, it was the creditors themselves who brought the Eurozone to the brink. Of course they will boast that Greece has long since been “ring-fenced” and that the fallout of a Greek default can now be contained, but investors will draw their own conclusions when they see a full-fledged member of the Eurozone descending into chaos. It is no surprise that the euro is already tanking in the Asian markets.

The gravest irony is that, all this time, there was a very straightforward and socially acceptable way out of the deadlock. The sensible solution would have been to write off a significant chunk of Greece’s debt. But, as even the IMF has since officially admitted, this option was politically unpalatable to Greece’s “partners” from the very start. In the early years, the Europeans feared that a debt write-down would lead to the collapse of some of their biggest private banks. Now that Greece’s debt has effectively been socialized, these same European leaders fear an electoral backlash from their Euroskeptical taxpayers, who now stand to bear the brunt of the impending Greek default.

In other words, it was the very intransigence of the creditors, the utter unwillingness to tell their own voters the truth about the Greek bailout and their stubborn refusal to even contemplate a sustainable and socially just resolution of the crisis, that led us to this dramatic apotheosis.

Greece and Europe now find themselves on the eve of a rancorous rupture. At the start of a week that will undoubtedly go down in history as a make-it-or-break-it moment for Europe’s ill-fated neoliberal project, the skies over Greece are already darkening. A full-fledged bank run over the weekend forced the government to keep the banks closed on Monday and to impose an ATM withdrawal limit of 60 euros per day. The knock-on effects on the economy and society will make it very difficult for the Greeks to vote in peace.

In this respect, the creditors’ intentions are once again crystal clear: shocked and outraged by Tsipras’ unexpected move, they will do everything within their power to obstruct the democratic process and influence the outcome of the vote. Their goal won’t even be to keep Greece inside the Eurozone anymore; their number one priority right now is simply to prevent Syriza from being able to publicly claim a victory — for that would risk emboldening other anti-austerity forces across the continent, most significantly Podemos in Spain. They would rather see Greece go down in flames than cut Syriza some slack.

This is why the Eurogroup refused to extend Greece’s current bailout program, not even for a few days: they knew the ECB would not be able to maintain its emergency support of the Greek banks without such a program, and they knew that without this support the Greek banks would not be able to open on Monday. This, in turn, would force the Greeks to vote under conditions of extreme financial uncertainty, emboldening the terror-campaign of the neoliberal opposition and possibly skewing the vote in favor of a fear-induced yes.

Meanwhile, the unelected wing of the Troika technocracy has taken the trolling to a whole new level. IMF chief Christine Lagarde argued that, since the creditor offer expires on Tuesday, Tsipras is technically asking his people to vote on a deal that no longer exists anyway. European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker added on to this by releasing a new proposal that was supposedly in the works before the Greeks “unilaterally” walked out of the negotiations. Both moves are clear attempts to destabilize popular expectations ahead of the vote and confuse the electorate about the clarity, legality and historic significance of the choice that now lies ahead of them.

Make no mistake: Sunday’s referendum will mark a defining moment in Greece’s modern history and a decisive turn for Europe’s neoliberal project. The choice is very clear. Five years after the people of Greece first rose up against the anti-democratic imposition of the Troika’s austerity measures, they have finally been given the chance to decide upon their own destiny: either they will vote yes to a lifetime of austerity within the eurozone, or they will roar back at the creditors’ inhumane demands with a proud and resounding “NO!” — thereby opening the way for a thousand yeses to a new, democratic and socially just Europe, freed from the shackles of debt servitude, the noose of a deflationary single currency, and the tyranny of an unaccountable financial technocracy.

The stakes have never been higher.

Jerome Roos is a PhD researcher in International Political Economy at the European University Institute, and founding editor of ROAR Magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @JeromeRoos. Image/photo

let me just read that again

 Xerta last edited: Wed, 21 Mar 2018 13:39:39 +0100  
Hat-tip to @mjd on gnusocial for this.

American police killed more people in March (111) than the entire UK police have killed since 1900 - Uncommon Thought Journal
American police killed more people in March (111) than the entire UK police have killed since 1900 A Black youth faces police. Courtesy Ben Kesling via twitter. A total of 111 people were killed by police in the United States in March of 2015. Since 1900, in the entire United Kingdom, 52 people have been killed by police.

Don't bother adjusting for population differences, or poverty, or mental illness, or anything else. The sheer fact that American police kill TWICE as many people per month as police have killed in the modern history of the United Kingdom is sick, preposterous, and alarming.

In March:

Police beat Phillip White to death in New Jersey. He was unarmed.

Police shot and killed Meagan Hockaday, a 26-year-old mother of three.

Police shot and killed Nicholas Thomas, an unarmed man on his job at Goodyear in metro Atlanta.

Police shot and killed Anthony Hill, an unarmed war veteran fighting through mental illness, in metro Atlanta.

I could tell 107 more of those stories.

This has to end.
  
the right to strike

 Xerta last edited: Wed, 21 Mar 2018 15:37:38 +0100  
@Anarchism News+ Sabcat go 2 fer 2 on posts this week. Support them: their T-shirts are ace.

Tory Assault on Rights Is a Sign of Fear and Weakness

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Quite rightly much has been made of Tory proposals to replace the Human Rights act, undermine the right to strike and introduce new laws to tackle extremism. The much quoted phrase  “For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens ‘as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone” is seen by many as a chilling portent of an Orwellian future. It reminds me of the pantomime baddy Emperor Palpetine from Star Wars. Cameron’s plans, outlined days after the Tories won a commons majority, aren’t the words of a triumphant leader secure in his victory they’re the words of a man who’s scared because he understands he has the backing of less than 24% of the electorate and fears resistance to his programme is going to be fierce.

This is the democratic backdrop that Cameron is operating in when he says that the government will tackle “extremists” who are trying to “undermine democracy”.  The attack on the right to strike is a move that even Thatcher never tried to make and during her government she stuffed the copper’s mouths with gold, protected their pensions, swelled their numbers, in short recruited a Tory voting army with the monopoly on violence. In contrast Cameron’s Tories have attacked the police with every bit as much vigour as they have attacked the rest of the public sector. These same police, under current Tory proposals are to become a quasi Stasi expected to monitor and approve, amongst other things,  the social media output of those given the “extremist” label.  An under funded and under resourced Stasi. You can’t create a police state without spending money on the police. For this reason resistance to these new measures is likely to come from the likes of the Police Federation as much as it is from organisations like Liberty. This isn’t to say the police are suddenly our allies just merely less enthusiastic enemies.

None of this of course assures a defeat of Tory proposals regarding civil liberties or implementation of further punitive cuts but it does demonstrate the weakness of their position and their awareness of that weakness. You don’t try to silence the opposition without genuine fear of what they say. You don’t attack the right to strike unless you believe those strikes can harm you.

We’ve got the power in our hands, in our workplaces, in our communities. The Tories know it.  We just need the confidence to come together and use it.
sensible on the election

 Xerta last edited: Wed, 21 Mar 2018 15:40:21 +0100  
@Anarchism News+ This is so much better than the nauseating hand-wringing going on in the "circles of the devastated" (non-exclusive list: tactical voters, PR advocates, non-jingoist unionists, Labour/Green voters).

The Tories Are in. We Predict a Riot.

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Another 5 years of Tory Rule. People are upset about this and rightly so although their reasoning varies from the realistic and considered to the outlandishly foolish.

At Sabcat we’re not disappointed that Labour failed, they offered us nothing but Tory austerity with watered down rhetoric, it’s why they lost. In the coming weeks we’ll see Labour scramble further to the right believing that they didn’t beat the Tories because they weren’t Tory enough, ignoring the lesson of the SNP riding to victory in Scotland on an anti-austerity ticket.

A Sabcat member, Andy Bennetts stood as a candidate for Class War in Lichfield on the platform “Don’t Vote. Organise”  Although he claims his campaign was an electoral success, despite national turnout rising, in Lichfield it fell from 71% in 2010 to less than 62% last week, 120 people did still vote for him. These 120 didn’t so much reject his platform as make a trip to a polling station to personally tell him “fuck you, Bennetts”.  It’s believed one of the 120 was his mother.

Nationally the Tories got the votes of 24% of the electorate, the largest group, 35%, were those of us that saw nothing on offer for us in the ballot box and stayed away from the polls.  There’s already a lot of crying from some quarters about these “missing” voters and their apparent ability to change the result.  This of course assumes that these missing voters just forgot to turn up – some us wouldn’t piss on a politician if they were burning in the street let alone vote for them – or that these missing voters would have all voted the same way. The other problem of course is that even with a different result, the only possible alternative result, a Labour government, wouldn’t really have been a different result at all.

So, there we have it. As always, the government won. The party that forms that government might have a majority in Parliament with the support of 24% of the electorate but that doesn’t translate to a majority where it counts. On the streets. 76% of us, the overwhelming majority didn’t vote for these clowns.

We’ll see in the coming months and years how willing we are to accept their programme. At Sabcat, we predict a riot along with other more creative forms of resistance to the Tory onslaught.