Friday, November 5, 2010

RSA Animate - Smile or Die

Acclaimed journalist, author and political activist Barbara Ehrenreich explores the darker side of positive thinking.

Morales: “We have two paths: either Pachamama or death"

From Poor countries to demand climate justice by Jennifer Waller, Workers World:

With the close of the most recent round of climate talks in Tianjin, China, which took place during the first week of October, the world is gearing up for the next major talks in Cancún, Mexico, to begin in late November. The Tianjin talks, with delegates from more than 150 countries, produced very little progress, as the fundamental divide between the desires of rich countries and the needs of poor ones was not resolved.

At this point, few are optimistic that the talks in Cancún will result in a binding global deal. Many fear they will resemble those that took place in Copenhagen last year, which resulted in a nonbinding accord that fails to hold rich countries accountable for their contribution to climate change.

Adjacent to these arguably fruitless U.N.-organized talks, there is a growing global people's movement for climate justice that is calling for real solutions through system change. This movement can be seen protesting outside the official climate talks, from Copenhagen to Cancún. It has also taken steps to come up with real solutions for the climate crisis, under the leadership of Indigenous Bolivian President Evo Morales.

Morales organized the first World Peoples Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, which took place in Cochabamba, Bolivia, this past April. Unlike the Copenhagen conference, which excluded most climate justice activists, nonprofits and even some heads of state from certain discussions, the conference in Cochabamba welcomed all people. With about 30,000 participants from more than 142 countries, the conference addressed the climate crisis as a symptom of the larger disease of unbridled consumption, greed and disrespect for Mother Earth — all characteristics of imperialist capitalism.

People's Agreement in Cochabamba

The Cochabamba conference called for greenhouse gas emissions to be cut in half by 2020, the creation of an international climate tribunal to judge countries on their contribution to the climate crisis, and the organization of an international referendum on the climate crisis.

The conference culminated in the creation of a People's Agreement, an extensive document discussing the great dilemma humanity now faces: "to continue on the path of capitalism, depredation and death, or to choose the path of harmony with nature and respect for life."

[ ... ]

As President Morales stated in Cochabamba in April, "We have two paths: either Pachamama or death. We have two paths: Either capitalism dies or Mother Earth dies."

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'Birth and death of a Banksy' – mysterious artwork covered up

By Dale Fuchs, The Independent

A work attributed to the British graffiti artist Banksy has caused a dispute in the elegant seaside city of San Sebastian – but not, as is often the case with his work, because the authorities were irked by the defaced wall. The problem this time was that other graffiti artists were so jealous of Banksy's artwork that they tried to destroy it.

The street-art saga began when Banksy's documentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop (about people with names like Neck Face and Buff Monster), aired in late September at the San Sebastian Film Festival. The next day, a nine-foot-high image, entitled A Frame Beyond Compare, appeared on a wall in the city's old quarters.

The work depicted a man studying an ornate painting missing a canvas, apparently a reference to the picturesque city or a tongue-and-cheek barb at the films on show and the short lifespan of street art. The graffiti was not signed by Banksy, whose tag has appeared everywhere from fake bank notes to live animals to cartoon signs on a recent episode of The Simpsons. And it was not even clear whether the mysterious artist had travelled to San Sebastian incognito, as he was believed to have done at the Sundance Film Festival in January.

But the work was done with his characteristic black-and-white stencilled style, supposedly inspired by a few anxious minutes of hiding from police under a truck. And the entranced art lover in the image was a clone of a figure that appears on the Banksy website accompanied by the usual dark-humoured cast of Banksy characters, victims of war and capitalist abuses.

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New Anti-capitalist Party covers for union betrayal of French oil strike

By Alex Lantier, World Socialist Web Site

The isolation and betrayal of the French oil strike against the pension cuts of French President Nicolas Sarkozy is a major political experience for the working class internationally, as well as for workers in France still striking against Sarkozy. After two weeks of strikes and police strikebreaking, against which the unions organized no mass protests or sympathy strikes, the oil workers voted Friday to return to work.

A significant political consequence is the exposure of the class-collaborationist politics of the New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA) of Olivier Besancenot. It has responded to this event by shamelessly covering for the betrayal of the unions and the bourgeois “left,” with deceitful pseudo-radical rhetoric.

The exposure of the NPA's politics is a critical question of class strategy for workers. Their objective function is to prevent workers from breaking with the union bureaucracy, which has made its strategy clear: to isolate and sell out every section of the working class that struggles against Sarkozy's cuts. In protecting the unions, the NPA is acting as direct opponents of the strategy advanced by the World Socialist Web Site: forming committees of action independent of the unions and the “left” parties, to organize mass political strikes to bring down the Sarkozy government.

Besancenot, who was silent in the last week of the oil strike, gave an extensive interview to Le Parisien yesterday. Remaining totally silent on the issue of Sarkozy's strike-breaking and the complicity of the unions, he gave a pass to the unions and the bourgeois “left” parties.

Asked about the “wearing out of the [strike] movement,” Besancenot replied: “We were quite close to obtaining a long-term general strike.”

One wonders how Besancenot could possibly have arrived at this conclusion. Not only was there no serious attempt to organize a general strike, but no struggle was waged against the public opponents of a general strike. These included the General Confederation of Labor (CGT) union and its leader Bernard Thibault, and the rest of the union bureaucracy.

Thibault denounced the call for a general strike as “abstruse, unclear.” As subsequent events have made clear, Thibault's opposition to a general strike was part of a broader strategy of isolating strikers and negotiating with management behind the backs of the workers. Not only did Thibault abstain from defending oil workers from state attack, but the CGT is now refusing to disclose the details of the deal it negotiated, under which the Marseille oil terminals have gone back to work.

Yet no one in the “left” political establishment has moved to expose the rotten role played by the CGT. As Le Monde noted gratefully last week, Besancenot was among those who avoided criticizing Thibault and other bureaucrats. It wrote: “Compared to the beginning of October, Olivier Besancenot has put away his criticisms of unions, which he described as a bit weak, and his calls for a 'new May 1968.'”

Claiming that the unions “got close” to a general strike is to lie shamelessly about their betrayal of the workers' struggle.

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Iran marks anniversary of US Embassy takeover with angry words

By Scott Peterson, Christian Science Monitor

Iran kept up its near-relentless anti-American rhetoric as it marked the anniversary on Thursday of the seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran in 1979, just days before it is due to resume nuclear talks with Western powers.

Anti-US students chanted “death to America” and predicted the fall of the “great Satan,” the nation still officially most vilified by the Islamic Republic, during the annually staged event. Anti-Americanism has remained a pillar of the Islamic revolution since 52 diplomats were held hostage for 444 days.

Iranian officials have largely continued with the anti-US stance, despite several verbal and written overtures from President Obama to break the ice on three decades of mutual hostility.

The sentiment expressed in Iran throughout the anniversary – and uncertainty over the scope, quality, and even location of any upcoming talks – does not suggest a positive outcome. Also in doubt is American willingness to navigate the nuclear issue with Iran's current hard-line government.

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Feminism turns capitalist

Wealthy women prefer investment, not charity, to help their poorer sisters, writes Linda Morris (Sydney Morning Herald):

... By the early 1970s the Gary estate was worth $US60 million in today's dollars. Tracy Gary could have blown her inheritance on parties, drugs and good times. Instead, uncomfortable with her wealth, at age 25 she resolved to give $1 million of her bequest away to charity by her 35th birthday. ''My siblings thought I was daft giving it away before having a good time.''

But Gary took seriously her parents' strong work ethic and admonition that with wealth came the burden of social responsibility. She switched her share portfolio out of well-performing but what she, as an anti-war protester, considered unethical munitions and chemical manufacturing firms supplying weaponry for the Vietnam War and reinvested in a niche organic tea manufacturer and a childcare centre.

In 1975 she founded what has become her life's work: a network to support wealthy women who wished to use their fortunes to help wider society. She sought to turn around the attitudes of mega-rich matriarchs such as those of the Levi Strauss and Hewlett Packard fortunes who considered themselves custodians for their dead spouses' special interests and gave exclusively to museums, art galleries and private boys' colleges.

Gary has since written Inspired Philanthropy, the step-by-step guide for creating a giving plan and leaving a legacy. She has come to Australia this week, her first visit in 15 years, to urge a new generation of self-made women and entrepreneurs to share their wealth and, amid all the worthy causes, to direct some of their dollars to programs aimed at improving the lot of their less fortunate sisters.

Harnessing the power of the female purse for the benefit of women and girls is a somewhat controversial movement that began in the United States in the 1970s and is finding traction in Australia. There are now more women controlling more wealth in Australia than ever - almost a third, according to a report published by the Boston Consulting Group in July - and this is expected to grow exponentially as more women move into the workforce. ...

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Baba Vanga Predictions: November 2010 World War III

Vanga (Vangelia) Pandeva Dimitrova was born in Petrich, Bulgaria, the Rupite area in the Kozhuh Mountains of Bulgaria on January 31, 1911 and died there on August 11, 1996. She was also known as Vangelia Pandeva Dimitrova, Vangelia Gushterova and most commonly as Baba Vanga. She lost her eye-sight when she was 12-years-old after being swept away by a tornado. She was found alive, but blinded. She said it was then that she received her ‘gift’. When she was 16-years-old she began making prophecies and quickly became famous because of the accuracy of her predictions. People from around the world sought her out seeing insight into the future, including Adolf Hitler is said to not have liked what she told him.

Among her predictions is that World War III will start in early November 2010 and last until October 2014. According to her prophesy, the war will start out like any other war, but quickly escalate into chemical and nuclear warfare that will have devastating consequences on the Earth and people for years to follow.

Vanga claimed her visions were given to her from unknown creatures from another dimension. At times people who had lived hundreds of years earlier and at times aliens from a planet they call ‘Vamfim’ brought the visions to her. According to people who knew her, she predicted her own death and that a 10-year-old French girl would inherit her gift and become known to the world.

[ ... ]

Baba Vanga predictions include (remember, these predictions are by an uneducated, illiterate woman):

* In 1979 she predicted (probably) Vladimir Putin: ‘Everything will melt away like ice yet the glory of Vladimir, the glory of Russia are the only things that will remain. Russia will not only survive, it will dominate the world.’
* In 1980, Vanga predicted the accident of the submarine Kursk ‘At the turn of the century, in August of 1999 or 2000, Kursk will be covered with water, and the whole world will be weeping over it.’ The accident occurred in August 2000.
* In 1989 she predicted the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. ‘Horror, horror! The American brethren will fall after being attacked by the steel birds. The wolves will be howling in a bush, and innocent blood will be gushing.’
* 2008 – Assassination attempts on four heads of states. Conflict in Indonesia. That becomes one of the causes for the start of WWIII.
* 2010 – The start of WWIII. The war will begin in November of 2010 and will end in October of 2014. Will start as a normal war, then will include usage of nuclear and chemical weapons.
* 2011 – Due to the radioactive showers in Northern Hemisphere – no animals or plants will be left. Muslims will begin chemical war against Europeans who are still alive.
* 2014 – Most of the people in this world will have skin cancer and skin related diseases. (as a result of chemical wars)
* 2016 – Europe is almost empty

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