Demonstrate 24 October: Bring the troops home from Afghanistan

Assemble 12 noon Hyde Park: March to Trafalgar Square
Called by Stop the War Coalition, CND and BMI
The march will be lead by anti-war military families & soldiers
Speakers include: Tariq Ali, Peter Brierley, who recently refused to shake Tony Blair’s hand because it had his son blood on it; Lance Cpl Joe Glenton, serving soldier facing court martial for refusing to return to Afghanistan; George Galloway MP; musician and poet Lowkey. Acclaimed songwriter Robb Johnson has written North West Frontier in support of the campaign to get the troops out of Afghanistan. It’s Stop the War’s song of the week and Robb will be attending Saturday’s rally, as will rapper Lowkey and the King Blues band.

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Meanwhile, Posties


A second front has been opened in the increasingly bitter industrial dispute between unions and Royal Mail that threatens to bring more chaos for millions of households and businesses.
Leaders of the Unite union, representing Royal Mail’s 12,000 managers, urged them not to cover for postal workers in the next round of national strikes. The move could see even fewer letters and parcels delivered.
The ratcheting up of pressure comes as the national stoppage enters a second day, leaving managers to operate a skeleton postal service. The Communication Workers Union, representing the rest of Royal Mail’s 160,000 staff, also announced another wave of national strike action, starting on Thursday next week.
The beginning of the strike brought disruption to millions, among them small-business owners, people on benefits, hospital patients, parents trying to get their children secondary school places, online shoppers and those racing to meet the 31 October deadline for paper tax returns.
The Guardian, meanwhile, has learned that the CWU will seek an injunction in the high court in the next few days to prevent Royal Mail taking on 30,000 extra temporary staff. Rob McCreath, of Archon solicitors, said the union had a good chance of securing a temporary injunction with immediate effect, particularly now that further strikes have been announced. This would ban Royal Mail from taking on any more extra staff until a formal hearing takes place, probably in a couple of months.
The union claims the recruitment of temporary staff, announced last weekend, breaches employment law and constitutes illegal “strike-breaking”.
A second front has been opened in the increasingly bitter industrial dispute between unions and Royal Mail that threatens to bring more chaos for millions of households and businesses.

Leaders of the Unite union, representing Royal Mail’s 12,000 managers, urged them not to cover for postal workers in the next round of national strikes. The move could see even fewer letters and parcels delivered.

The ratcheting up of pressure comes as the national stoppage enters a second day, leaving managers to operate a skeleton postal service. The Communication Workers Union, representing the rest of Royal Mail’s 160,000 staff, also announced another wave of national strike action, starting on Thursday next week.

The beginning of the strike brought disruption to millions, among them small-business owners, people on benefits, hospital patients, parents trying to get their children secondary school places, online shoppers and those racing to meet the 31 October deadline for paper tax returns.

The Guardian, meanwhile, has learned that the CWU will seek an injunction in the high court in the next few days to prevent Royal Mail taking on 30,000 extra temporary staff. Rob McCreath, of Archon solicitors, said the union had a good chance of securing a temporary injunction with immediate effect, particularly now that further strikes have been announced. This would ban Royal Mail from taking on any more extra staff until a formal hearing takes place, probably in a couple of months.

The union claims the recruitment of temporary staff, announced last weekend, breaches employment law and constitutes illegal “strike-breaking”.

US Army Drops Prosecution Of War Resistor Ehren Watada

Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada will be discharged by the end of the week, concluding the fight over his refusal to deploy to Iraq, an Army spokesman said Monday. After a court-martial proceeding that ended in a mistrial, the Army has elected not to attempt further prosecution and instead will discharge the first lieutenant, who argued he would be participating in war crimes if he fought in Iraq.

“What was approved was basically his request to resign in lieu of a general court-martial for the good of the service,” said spokesman Joseph Piek at Ft. Lewis, Wash., where Watada has been working at a desk job. The separation is classified as an administrative discharge. Watada’s lawyers said it was granted under “other than honorable conditions.” The Army previously had refused Watada’s offer to resign.

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Honduras Fighting The Coup

The must read Al Giordano’s The Field @ Narconews, latest-

5:50 p.m.: The coup regime has just cut electricity to entire neighborhoods surrounding the Brazilian Embassy and Channel 36 TV. How long do you think it will take the people to install a generator in each place? The same will happen when the regime cuts the water, the next likely step coming from that form of logic. And the people will usher in water trucks to refill the tanks. Hell, they’ll bring it cup by cup if they have to! This is a losing gambit by the Micheletti regime because it does not have control of the street.
6:52 p.m.: As predicted in the previous update, the regime’s attempt to cut electricity to the Brazilian Embassy is already an epic fail. Tim Russo just reported live on that Flashpoints radio show from inside the Embassy as the electric power went back on! A discussion about a half hour prior, on Radio Globo, included a call for generators and a pledge by the head of the electrical workers union to send technicians to set them up. A half hour later, there was light. An organized people can never be beat. That is the lesson of Honduras.

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Island March

WHEN: 12pm, Saturday, 19th September 2009
WHERE: Holyhead Town Hall, Newry Street, LL65

Hundreds of Unite members, along with people from across Anglesey will hold a demonstration tomorrow (Saturday, 19th September) against the proposed closure of the Anglesey Aluminium smelting plant by Rio Tinto.

Demonstrators will carry placards demanding Rio Tinto ‘put people before profit’ to show their anger and disappointment over its decision to close Anglesey Aluminium, one of the largest employers in North Wales.

Anglesey Aluminium, jointly owned by Rio Tinto Alcan (51 per cent) and Kaiser Aluminium (49 per cent), was unwilling to commit to the long term future of the plant therefore condemning the 500 highly skilled workers. This decision has deeply affected the lives of families associated to the smelter and will kill-off Holyhead and its surrounding communities.

Unite found it astonishing that Anglesey Aluminium has refused to accept a rescue package of £48 million, given by the national government and the Welsh Assembly government, which would’ve seen the site remain open for at least another two years.

The site is currently continuing its smelting operations and is extremely busy in meeting customer demands. However, Unite believes it is in essence squeezing every last drop of aluminium prior to the closure which will be on the 30th September.

Unite national officer for metals, Terry Pye, said: “This is a disgraceful decision by Rio Tinto. We believe the only reason for the closure is one of greed. We have been angered further by the plant’s refusal to accept a rescue package which would’ve kept the site open for a further two years.”

Unite regional officer, Graham Rogers, said: “This is a clear case of a multinational company putting profit before people. This rally will demonstrate the strength of feeling the community has towards this closure. Hundreds of families’ livelihoods hang in the balance and we will not give up on them without a fight.”

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London Welfare, Manchester Gaza

Reminder about Lobby of Parliament on the 3 March 2009.

Rally in Committee Room 14 from 12:30pm and lobby your MP from 2:30pm.

Speakers at the Rally include: Bob Crow (RMT), Phil Davies (GMB), Harry Fletcher (NAPO), Janice Godrich (PCS), Kate Green (CPAG), Colin Hampton (Unemployed Workers Centres), John McDonnell MP, Frances O’Grady (TUC), Mark Serwotka (PCS), and Mick Shaw (FBU). Everyone welcome.

Briefing from the Trade Union Co-ordinating Group regarding the Welfare Reform Bill.

Then on the 4th in Manchester!-

manunigaza1

A national demonstration has been called in support of the student occupations. It’s crucial that we have as much representation from different Universities, Colleges and Schools as possible.

We in Manchester have been in occupation for almost four weeks now, yet the University has so far refused to negotiate with us. The University still invests in the arms trade, leading to some students having to disrupt a DSTL stall (an agency of the MoD) at an official graduate recruitment fair.

The Vice Chancellor Alan Gilbert has threatened expulsion for students who are involved.

Our demands are in line with current Union policy having received an overwhelming majority at an Emergency General Meeting, attended by over 1,100 students.

Being the biggest university in the UK, all eyes are on Manchester, and the success of the occupation here is critical to the success of the national movement.

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Stop The Welfare Privatisation Bill, Lobby 3rd March

wrbl

PDF wr-3-march-lobby-leaflet

Details & Map

Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: “David Freud’s defection to the Conservatives confirms the view that the government are implementing Tory party policy. The government’s welfare reform plans are the Conservative manifesto in sheep’s clothing penalising some of the most vulnerable in society and will lead to the privatisation of a world class public service where profits will be put ahead of people. The government should seize the opportunity of Freud’s move by recognising the chorus of opposition that is gearing up to lobby Parliament and drop its regressive plans.”

Manchester Uni, Still Occupied!

Hats off to the demonstrators who are doing Manchester proud, occupied since Wednesday!

Check manunioccupation.wordpress.com

Snippets-

  • Manchester students called an Emergency General Meeting of their Student Union to take place on February 4th. Students submitted a motion that called for the development of links between students in Manchester and Palestine; a condemnation of Israel’s recent attacks and the facilitation of fundraising to help alleviate the humanitarian crisis Israel has caused in Gaza. This democratic meeting was sabotaged and ultimately destroyed by pro-Israeli Zionist students who were desperate to shield Israel from criticism and couldn’t stomach the thought of their university helping to stop the suffering in Palestine. These students employed both bureaucratic and thuggish tactics to stop the meeting from taking place. There are countless reports from students who wanted to get in but were physically prevented and the chair of the meeting refused to hear students’ complaints at the blockade and dissolved the meeting. Around 300 pro-Palestinian students then held a demonstration that went to the main administrative corridor at the university. Deprived of the means of using the normal channels of speaking to management they decided to occupy the corridor (which holds the Vice Chancellor, Alan Gilbert’s office) until the university management dealt with their demands.
  • The movement is growing and the universities are recovering their role as place of critical thinking and action. Today the largest trade union and professional association for academics, lecturers, trainers, researchers and academic-related staff has come out in support of the people of Gaza and the occupying students throughout the country.
  • The people of Manchester have been a key part of that support and instrumental in keeping us comfortable and well fed. Yesterday we received fresh fruit, bedding and kitchen equipment amongst a whole host of other supplies kindly donated by individuals and campaigns across Manchester.
  • message of solidarity sent from the Student Council of An-Najah university in Palestine:- The Student Council of An-Najah National University extends its sincerest thanks and appreciation for the courageous and principled action you have taken in solidarity with our people in Gaza. This non-violent action to pressure the administration of your university to take a more proactive stance to condemn Israeli aggression on Gaza reminds us, as an oppressed people, that we are not alone in our fight for freedom and justice.
  • Article in The Independent!
  • Even Wes Streeting, NUS careerist, has woken up- “What we’ve seen over the Gaza issue is a resurgence of a particular type of protest: the occupation. It’s a long time since we’ve seen student occupations on such a scale. It’s about time we got the student movement going again and had an impact.”
  • The Manchester Uni occupation applauds Wes for this sentiment. We would be very happy if he came over to address our occupation on the importance of building a fighting student movement for Palestine as well as using his position to push the NUS to put pressure on our Vice-Chancellor Alan Gilbert to concede to our demands, send a letter to our union’s Gen Sec Rob Pinfold congratulating us for our actions as well as Labour Students in Manchester who have been hostile to us. We would also be very happy if the NUS pledged to campaign to defend occupying students against any reprisals from management.
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351 Reported Dead From Cyclone Nargis in Burma

Via Jotman

“Utter war zone,” one Yangon-based diplomat said in an email to Reuters in Bangkok. “Trees across all streets. Utility poles down. Hospitals devastated. Clean water scarce.”
“I have never seen anything like it,” one retired government worker told Reuters. “It reminded me of when Hurricane Katrina hit the United States.”
“It was a direct hit on a major city,” said Terje Skavdal, regional head of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).

These are early reports and the toll is expected to be worse, how the regime reacts to this, if it can react and if it cancels the sham referendum remains to be seen, then will outside help be requested and how does this leave the pro-democracy forces. Also will reconstruction take advantage of this shock and impose further corrupt commercial ventures for the Generals and outside corporations gain or in the guise of being pro-democratic presage a corporate feeding frenzy as found in areas of South East Asia after the tsunami. The people need immediate help and from a junta that views many of them as enemies, the state authorities might use this as a means to further ravage opposition. But there may also be opportunities for the democracy movement who en masse have rejected the sham constitutional referendum. It would be massively helpful if external non-governmental aid can be delivered to them and not state authorities, it would be more effective, more equitably distributed and less likely to reinforce the military hegemony, how possible this is will become apparent in the coming week.

At least 351 people have been killed by cyclone Nargis as it tore through Burma this weekend.

Another 100,000 people were left homeless when the strom tore through the area, razing thousands of buildings and smashing up  streets.

Residents awoke this morning to scenes of devastation after the cyclone bore through swathes of southern Burma late on Friday and Saturday, uprooting trees, pummelling buildings and ripping up power lines.

The authorities have declared disaster zones in the five states and the regions of Rangoon, Ayeyawaddy, Bago, Mon and Karen.

The cyclone brought down power and phone lines, cutting off the military-run nation.

The coastal area of Ayeyawaddy appears worst hit by the natural disaster, but Rangoon was also battered.

The information ministry official said seven empty boats had sunk in the country’s main port, while Rangoon’s international airport as closed until further notice with flights diverted to the city of Mandalay.

Electricity supplies and telecommunications in Yangon have been cut since late on Friday night as the storm bore down from the Bay of  Bengal, packing winds of 190-240 kilometres per hour.

There are also fears that the poorer outlying areas of Yangon, with their flimsy houses, might have been hard hit.

Thailand’s meteorological department downgraded Nargis to a depression today, but warned of flash floods and heavy rains in  northern, central and eastern Thai provinces as the storm crept over the border from Burma.

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Happy May Day in Grangemouth

The workers won, some further talks are planned but they proved (at least in circumstances where industrial action directly impacts crucial infrastructure- ps everyone stop marching in London, try shutting down fuel distribution instead) an organised united action based on just demands can prevail.

Talks are likely to take place next week between unions and management at Grangemouth oil refinery, BBC Scotland has learned. It is also understood that the company has withdrawn, for now, its proposal to close the final salary pension scheme for new employees.

Seumas Milne:- Whether this will lead to the much-predicted “summer of discontent” or simply escalating industrial guerrilla warfare remains to be seen. What is certain is that Gordon Brown can no longer afford the simmering disaffection the pay ceiling has created among such a crucial part of Labour’s electoral base. “There’s scope if they need to compromise,” Mark Serwotka, the leader of the main civil service union, told me yesterday. “But the situation’s turned quite dramatically. They underestimate the anger among core voters, as the 10p tax crisis has shown, and there are going to be big consequences.”

Those are likely to be industrial and political. When even Richard Lambert, the director general of the CBI, and Mervyn King, the governor of the Bank of England, feel able to rail publicly at the disastrous impact of the City’s pay and bonus extravaganza, Brown can hardly expect public service workers to meekly carry the can for the government’s failure to bring the corporate feasting to heel. And as the prospect of recession looms, the question of who will shoulder the burden of retrenchment is bound to grow sharper.

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RIP Rosario Sanchez

(Photos from Poética Digital / Revista de Poesía en la Red) What a woman! Sadly I only learn of her through her obituary, but take some time yourself and read about the 17 year old who fought on the front lines against the Spanish Fascists in ’36, an elite dynamiter she inspired this poem-

Rosario, dinamitera,
the dynamite watched over your pretty hand
envying its fiery attributes . . .
The enemy knew well
the hand of this maiden
that is no longer a hand, because
without moving a single finger
it ignited the dynamite
and made her a star.

Rosario Sánchez was one of the first women to enlist in the revolutionary militias that fought Francisco Franco’s troops in the civil war, joining the day the Spanish army rose up against the republic in July 1936.

She was 17, one of the few women fighters on the front-line in defence of Madrid, and the only one among the élite dynamiters section. Within two months, her right hand was blown off in the trenches while she was making bombs and explosives.

While Sanchez was recovering in hospital, she received a visit from the distinguished Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset. The republican poet Miguel Hernandez, who was to die in prison in 1942, wrote a poem in her honour [see above].

The republican government ordered female milicianas to withdraw from front-line fighting in 1937, and Sánchez became a postwoman. A driver took her every morning to the front to collect and distribute correspondence between the combatants and their families. But her nickname, “La Dinamitera”, stuck.

Later she worked with “La Pasionaria”, the Communist militant Dolores Ibárruri, trying to recruit women for the jobs left by men who had gone to the front. She married a handsome young sergeant, Paco Burcet, who promptly went off to fight in Teruel; they lost contact for the rest of the war.

In 1939, with Franco on the point of entering the Spanish capital, Rosario Sánchez burned her papers and buried her rifles, left her baby daughter with her mother, and went to join her father, a left-wing republican, in Valencia where the government had withdrawn. They headed for Alicante, to take a boat to safety. But the boats failed to arrive and they were detained. Her father was executed.

Rosario Sánchez was imprisoned and condemned to death “for joining the rebellion” – a common sentence for those who resisted Franco’s rebellion with arms. The sentence was commuted to 30 years’ jail, of which she served three. After her release in 1942 she tried to find Paco, and eventually learned that their civil marriage had been dissolved by Franco’s dictatorship. Paco had remarried and had two sons, and she found herself a single mother (she later had another daughter).

She set up a little stall in Madrid selling cigarettes, which sustained her throughout the dictatorship until her retirement. With the advent of democracy she became a fount of oral history, whilst losing none of her Communist convictions. She recorded her memories in exercise books and said, in her eighties, “I had the opportunity to fight when women didn’t fight. They stayed at home. I lost my hand. It didn’t matter. I was prepared to lose my life.”

In recent years she was finally recognised as “war wounded” – mutilada de guerra – for defending the republic.

by Elizabeth Nash

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