February 26, 2011
From United Steel Workers
PITTSBURGH, Feb. 24, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The United Steelworkers (USW) welcomed the release from jail today of Juan Linares Montufar, a union leader of the National Mexican Mine and Metal Workers Union – also called Los Mineros – who had been unjustly imprisoned since December 3, 2008.
Linares's unconditional release follows a week of union protests at Mexican embassies and consulates in more than 40 countries, including 17 cities in the U.S. and Canada.
"This is a tremendous victory for international trade union solidarity," said USW President Leo W. Gerard. Steelworkers in the U.S. and Canada have lobbied for Linares's release and provided support to his family.
"The unlawful detention of Juan Linares is a gross human rights violation that has brought shame and disgrace on the Mexican government," Gerard said. "We hope that Juan's release means that the Calderon administration will now drop all charges against the union's leader, Napoleon Gomez, and end its campaign of persecution against Los Mineros, the mine and metalworkers union."
Gerard adds that the Mexican government's authorities are not to be absolved, and the USW will demand reparations for Linares and his family. "As a union leader and a prisoner of conscience, we give tribute to his courage and heroism in standing up for his union."
Mexican prosecutors dropped bank fraud charges against Linares, the President of the union's Justice and Oversight Commission, after the former union members who originally made the fraud accusation withdrew it. German Larrea, the owner of the Grupo Mexico mining company - which has waged a five-year assault on the mineworkers union - had been ordered to appear as a witness March 2 in Linares's case.
The release of Linares comes as Mexican President Felipe Calderon is to meet with President Obama in Washington on March 3.
A fact sheet on the charges and imprisonment in Mexico of Juan Linares Montufar is available at: www.usw.org/.
Contact: Ben Davis, 412-562-2501 (O); 202-550-3729 (C); email@example.com
February 24, 2011
Reds don't have to use blue language
The anti-student fees protests brought new people onto the streets, and new ways of speaking with them.
Seeing Harry Potter-themed placards suggesting fees would bar entry to Hogwarts or were beyond the wickedness of Voldemort made me feel particularly old.
I know the Harry Potter books from reading them to my children.
The protesters knew them well from the other side of the bedtime booktime.
New protesters bring new energy and imagination, including a group of student protesters pushing against police lines with massive cardboard and sponge books.
Watching officers pushed aside by oversized copies of Negative Dialectics by radical philosopher Theodor Adorno brought new meaning to the phrase "words are weapons."
The prevalence of home-made signs by new protesters also brought a great deal more slang into the protests - putting the demotic into the demo.
Like the protester I saw carrying a life-size cutout picture of David Cameron with "Dickhead" and a crude picture of a penis scrawled across his forehead, or the more prosaic but forceful "Osborne, f**k off."
At the risk of waving a big waggy middle-aged finger of pomposity, I think there is a place for strong language in protests, but there is also a time to be more restrained.
Because my waggy finger really is getting old, some of my references are so historic that I have included explanatory extracts from my personal Solipedia, so that younger readers do not have to resort to Wikipedia.
My feeling is that strong language can help to express the feeling of the moment, but you need to use a little judgement about alienating some people.
I remember facing this issue when selling "Bollocks to the poll tax" T-shirts on the streets.
It was a good slogan reflecting popular rage, but we need to be careful not to be wearing out our swearing - and also about other issues.
The T-shirts were popular with teens, but if they were particularly young there was always an anxiety that some angry mum would remonstrate with us instead of demonstrate with us.
So the swearing is not always appropriate, especially not when the movement gets broader.
I was a Unison branch secretary for five years.
In the broadest movement - the trade union movement - you have the socially conservative next to life's natural anarchists and all shades in between.
Some people swear like troopers, some are deeply religious and are offended.
And it is often a surprise who is sacred and who is profane.
There is also no correlation between who is the best union militant and who is the most socially liberal, so the meetings have to be respectful to all.
It is all about judgement.
And the main judgement to make is that the left is organising a campaign to change the world, not change our lifestyles.
It is about organising the largest number of people into the most militant possible activity.
We should always choose the language that helps us do that, which means using the vernacular if it helps put over our case, but not if it puts people off.
In my judgement, there is one one special case - the "C-word."
By this I mean using c**t as a pejorative, not a descriptive - an insult ("you are a c**t"), rather than an actual reference to part of a woman.
The fees protesters showed a new willingness to "drop the C-bomb."
Slogans I saw included: "Cameron put the N in cuts" or the shorter "C**tservatives."
I think this is a special case because the C-word has a long association with misogyny.
The harshest profanity is intimately connected with womanhood.
Using the C-word as a swear word suggests that there is something bad about being a woman.
The 1811 edition of the Dictionary Of The Vulgar Tongue - a compilation of "buckish slang, university wit and pickpocket eloquence" - defines c**t as "a nasty name for a nasty thing."
The strength of the swearword relies on the strength of ill-feeling towards the feminine.
This is still a word that hates women and I don't think we should be using it.
I am all for banning the C-bomb, although we should approach those using it with a bit of generosity, not least because ideas and words can get jumbled up in a contradictory fashion - both the placards using the C-word I saw were carried by women.
This is not a new argument.
I can recall demonstrating with the Right To Work marchers outside the Conservative conference in 1982.
A group of young radiologists began chanting: "Maggie Thatcher's got one, Norman Tebbit is one."
They were gently told that their hearts were in the right place, but their mouths weren't - that the bad thing about Mrs Thatcher was not her womanhood and that they weren't just disrespecting Mrs T and Mr T, they were also disrespecting their sisters.
It was a debate held in a comradely fashion and the chanting changed. I would hope that the lessons of 1982 have not all been lost in the past 30 years, not least because we can always find new ways to insult our leaders.
In 1982 Robin Day accidentally enraged Tory minister John Nott on TV, describing him as a "here today, gone tomorrow politician."
Nott blew a fuse and embarrassed himself by charging out of the news studio.
When Nott was then seen entering the conference, 5,000 protesters surged forward and chanted with one voice to the "here we go, here we go" chanting tune: "Roooobin Day, Robin Day, Robin Day, Robin Day, Robin Day, Robin Da-ay."
If the name of the BBC's lead interviewer can become a humiliating insult, we don't need to use misogynist swearing.
The Uninteractive Encyclopaedia
(1) Norman Tebbit
Standard-bearer of the hard right in Thatcher's government.
A thin Eric Pickles.
(2) Robin Day
BBC interviewer and host of Question Time.
A cross between David Dimbleby and John Humphreys in a polka-dot bow tie.
(3) John Nott
Tory defence minister.
Imagine current Defence Minister Gerald Howarth, but not fancying himself as much.
Canadian Peace Alliance Convention 2011
April, 29-May, 1
The Canadian Peace Alliance Convention will take place this April in Toronto. The Convention is a great opportunity for activists to get together, share strategies and plan our work to build the broadest and most effective peace movement in Canada.
Since we last met in 2008, the war in Afghanistan has deteriorated, Canada has extended its troop deployment and anti-war sentiment has grown. We have organized multiple speaking tours with international activists, notably Malalai Joya to tell Canadians the real story about life for the Afghan people. We have also watched as the Harper government has systematically tried to silence voices for peace and social justice in Canada. We have marched to end the siege of Gaza and in solidarity with the Tamil people and the Egyptian Revolution. We have developed a campaign to redirect military spending to human needs rather than war.
Each of these efforts requires more work to shape the political debates in Canada. Join us at the CPA convention to discuss next steps and to share your experiences building the peace movement.
» For member groups - Please note that Convention Resolutions must be submitted to the CPA office at firstname.lastname@example.org by March 10, 2011
Find us on facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/group.php?gid=2695765401
February 23, 2011
OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT FOR THE 3RD INTERNATIONAL YOUTH CONGRESS IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE FIVE CUBAN HEROES UNJUSTLY IMPRISONED IN UNITED STATES JAILS.
OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT FOR THE 3RD INTERNATIONAL YOUTH CONGRESS IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE FIVE CUBAN HEROES UNJUSTLY IMPRISONED IN UNITED STATES JAILS.
The Young Communist League, on behalf of every youth movement and student organization in our country, summons the youth and students associations, and in general every young men or women with good will in the World, to unite, as in many occasions, for the defense of truth and justice.
The struggle for the release of this Five Heroes from prison represents a battle for the truth and against terrorism. The objective is to break the wall of silence imposed by the government of the United States to public opinion on this matter, to denounce the manipulation and the lie of a biased and unjust trial and to demand the immediate freedom of our five brothers.
Imperialism continues to level all its disdain against human dignity with total irrationality; arbitrarily ignores all the statements from international organizations and creates all kinds of legal and political barriers that hinder the finding of a solution to free the Five. Only actual mobilization of public opinion will make possible the necessary influence to achieve the justice our people is fighting for today.
Humanity is living a critical moment of its history and we as the youth are responsible for this victory for the sake of the future.
This forum will be in favor of five men that combine the highest values of dignity, altruism, courage and solidarity.
We invite you all to celebrate this event on June 12th, and 13th, 2011, celebrating the 3rd International Youth Congress in Solidarity, in Havana, Cuba.
Our youth and our people will be proud to welcome you, in order to exchange experiences together and meditate about ideas that must be multiplied to achieve the victory in this battle.
Freedom for the Five Heroes!
Freedom for the Truth and Justice!
Until Victory Always!
Young Communist League
February 22, 2011
The following resolution was adopted by the Vancouver & District Labour Council at it's February meeting. It was drafted and recommended by the Young Workers Committee, many members of which attended the 17th World Festival of Youth & Students, where the Western Saharawi struggle was highlighted.
Because the Western Sahara has been Occupied by Morocco since 1974 and before that, was occupied by Spain
Because the Western Saharawi want independence from Morocco in order to become a self governing body
Because the VDLC is a leader in matters of international solidarity
Because the Western Saharawi are being brutally beaten and tortured and imprisoned by the Moroccan government,
The VDLC will support the campaign to liberate the Western Saharawi political prisoners in Moroccan prisons and will support the fight of the Western Saharawi for independence.
From COAT (Coalition to End the Arms Trade)
For decades, Canadian governments--Conservative and Liberal alike--have preached peace and human rights, while facilitating the steady flow of weapons, ammunition, tear gas, armoured vehicles and many other military and so-called "security" products to repressive, undemocratic regimes in the Middle East and North Africa. These governments are responsible for widespread, violent and systematic abuses of human rights, such as torture and murder. By exporting military and police products to these countries, Canada is complicit in aiding and abetting numerous authoritarian, U.S.-backed regimes that maintain a tight grip on power through propaganda, intimidation and sheer brute force.
Inspired by popular revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, and growing protests throughout the region, the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT) has compiled information on military exports and produced data tables for 16 recipient countries in the Middle East and North Africa. COAT's tables show the value of "Munitions" in 22 categories from "Group 2" of Canada's "Export Control List," as published in reports by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) called "Export of Military Goods from Canada."
Here are links to the individual country tables showing Canada's munitions exports:
Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey, UAE, Yemen
According to DFAIT's official reports--which unfortunately only document some of Canada's military exports--the Canadian government permitted military sales valued at more than $1.8 Billion to the Middle East and North Africa between 1990 and 2006. (The Government of Canada has failed to produce any reports since 2009, when it released data on 2006.) Unfortunately, DFAIT's reports do not document the export of any "dual use" military products, even when these have been sold directly to the armed forces of foreign governments. Neither do DFAIT's reports include any data on military exports to the U.S., despite the fact that: (1) the U.S. receives about 3/4 of Canada's military exports, and (2) Canadian military products are assembled into complete weapons systems in the U.S. and are then re-exported to other countries. Because of the inadequacies in DFAIT's transparency on Canadian arms exports, the data assembled in COAT's tables is--regrettably--incomplete. However, this is the best publicly-available information on Canada's military exports to the Middle East and North Africa.
Human Rights: To accompany its data tables on military exports, COAT has also produced lists of web resources on human rights abuses for each of the 16 Middle East countries receiving military and/or police products from Canada. These resources contain ample evidence to corroborate the assertion that Canada should immediately stop exporting the tools of war and repression to states where military and police forces have impunity, and where human rights abuses are so extreme and endemic.
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