Eric Lee answers Morning Star smear

June 30, 2010 at 7:26 pm (Champagne Charlie, israel, Middle East, palestine, stalinism, unions)

John Haylett, a prominent member of the Communist Party of Britain (the remnants of the old Stalinist CP), and former editor of its paper, the Morning Star, recently (June 26 in the print edition) wrote a vituperative attack upon Eric Lee, editor of LabourStart, the world’s leading trade union website. Eric is also a long-standing supporter of the “two states” position on Isreal/Palestine. The attack was significant because the CPB nominally adheres to a “two states” position rather than the “absolute anti-zionist” line of those, like the SWP and the Islamists, who seek the destruction of the state of Israel. But to read much of what appears in the Star (including Haylett’s piece) you’d never guess it. The article also includes a number of downright lies about Eric Lee and the organisation Tulip (trade unions linking Israel and Palestine) – indeed to read Haylett’s piece you’d get the impression that  the CPB positively opposes trade union links between Palestinian and Israeli workers. Here’s Haylett’s piece:

Trade unionists smeared over Gaza stance – John Haylett on Zionist attempts to misrepresent solidarity activists

Supporters of Israel’s efforts to colonise east Jerusalem and other occupied Palestinian territory are to go on the offensive to win back lost ground in Britain’s trade union movement.

LabourStart editor-in-chief Eric Lee made this clear in a fringe meeting at Unison conference in Bournemouth earlier this month.

Addressing the Trade Union Friends of Israel (TUFI) meeting, Lee accused those trade union leaders who have grown tired of excusing Israel’s crimes against human rights of either rushing ahead of their members and agreed union positions or of, bizarrely, following the lead of Guardian writers and BBC reporters.

He insisted that only a fraction of union members actually care about Palestine, suggesting that the issue is driven by “hard left” groups such as the Socialist Workers Party rather than, for example, by Muslim trade unionists.

Of course he may have been smarting a little as a result of Unison deciding, for the first time, to ban TUFI from having a stall at its conference.

In addition, Unison delegates voted to condemn the Israeli military attack on the Free Gaza flotilla, to reaffirm 2009 conference calls for an end to all UK arms sales to Israel, for recognition of the results of the 2006 Palestinian election and for an economic, cultural and sporting boycott of Israel, to condemn uncritical Histadrut backing for Israel’s attack on the flotilla and to suspend links with Histadrut pending a review of bilateral relations.

This response was, as Lee recognised, in line with trade union developments across the globe.

Unite and colleges union UCU have voted to boycott Israel and, in the case of UCU, for an end to its relationship with Histadrut.

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has condemned the killing of civilian campaigners on the Mavi Marmara, urged an end to the blockade of Gaza and slammed expansion of Israeli illegal settlements on the West Bank.

At its annual congress in Vancouver this week, South African centre Cosatu put down an amendment urging support for boycott, disinvestment, sanctions (BDS) against Israel.

Cosatu called BDS “the only remaining peaceful form of global resistance and practical expression of solidarity” and it commended the decisions taken by its SAMWU and SATAWU affiliates.

Transport union SATAWU members refused to unload Israeli shipping and municipal workers’ union SAMWU declared every municipality in South Africa “an apartheid Israel-free zone.”

Earlier this month, the International Transport Workers Federation executive board voted for stronger action in support of Palestinian workers and against the blockade of Gaza.

The Norwegian Ports Union responded to requests from Palestinian trade unionists by initiating a two-week boycott of Israeli ships, while its Swedish equivalent applied similar sanctions that lasted until this Thursday. Californian dockers also took a stand, boycotting an Israeli freighter last weekend.

As Cosatu international relations secretary Bongani Masuku said, the stronger ITUC position on Palestine “shows that the growing global tide of workers and peoples against Israeli apartheid is unstoppable and must be strengthened.”

However, according to Lee and his colleagues in Tulip (Trade unions linking Israel and Palestine) – the latest zionist ploy to pull the wool over trade unionists’ eyes, the willingness of more people than ever to criticise Israeli expansionism is because they don’t know the facts.

This patronising and misleading statement belies the difficulty that Palestinian solidarity campaigners have had being heard in the mass media.

Like the majority of Israel’s Cabinet, Lee, TUFI and Tulip claim to be in favour of a two-state solution, but they are uncritical of every act by the zionist state that makes that goal less credible.

Annexation of east Jerusalem and expansion of the illegal colonies on the West Bank aren’t, according to these Tel Aviv mouthpieces, major obstacles to a peace settlement based on a two-state arrangement.

No, it’s the military threat posed to Israel’s very existence by “a potentially nuclear-armed” Iran, which is currently funnelling sophisticated weapons to Islamist resistance groups Hamas and Hezbollah, and Tehran’s aims are clearly “exterminationist.”

The idea that Israel, the most militarily powerful state in the region with its nuclear arsenal, fears annihilation at the hands of Iran and its paramilitary allies is strictly for the birds.

Equally, Lee clutches at straws in claiming that Palestine Solidarity Campaign members believe that Israelis should be “driven into the sea or sent back to Germany and Poland.”

Solidarity with the Palestinian people’s national rights is based on justice and internationalism not anti-semitism and it is shameful to suggest otherwise.

Similar short shrift should be given to Lee’s tendentious assertion that “we have the Palestinian trade union movement on our side” or that the Palestinian trade unions are “at best lukewarm on the question of BDS.”

Palestinian trade unionists do not need the Histadrut to speak on their behalf. They speak for themselves and welcome peaceful acts of solidarity such as BDS.

Trade union members in Britain should prepare themselves to be smeared and misrepresented in the hysterical zionist campaign to derail the movement in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

It illustrates the weakness of zionist arguments, not their power, and shows that the movement for justice is growing.

Now, Eric Lee has replied:

Reply to John Haylett’s article in the Morning Star

John Haylett accuses me of being part of a “hysterical zionist campaign” in his Morning Star article of 25 June (“Trade unionists smeared over Gaza stance”).

Indeed, he goes further and says that Trade Unions Linking Israel and Palestine (TULIP), which I helped to found, is “the latest zionist ploy to pull the wool over trade unionists’ eyes”.  He calls myself and those who agree with me “Tel Aviv mouthpieces”.

I’ll leave it up to readers of the Morning Star to decide who is being hysterical and who is being smeared.

Let’s first of all correct a few facts:

Haylett calls us “supporters of Israel’s efforts to colonise east Jerusalem and other occupied Palestinian territory”.

We are no such thing.

Haylett says that “annexation of east Jerusalem and expansion of the illegal colonies on the West Bank aren’t, according to these Tel Aviv mouthpieces, major obstacles to a peace settlement based on a two-state arrangement.”

Really?  Where did we say that?  Or have we not said the exact opposite, repeatedly?

For example, speaking in Belfast in March and representing TULIP, I opened my talk saying that we oppose settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, have supported every Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories so far, and support a two-state solution based on withdrawal from those territories.

TULIP’s founding statement speaks of “Israeli and Palestinian states living side by side, within secure and recognised borders” — which is identical to the viewpoint of the TUC and British unions in general.

I have devoted years of my life, both in Israel and abroad, supporting a two-state solution including Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territories.

To say otherwise is a libel.

Haylett says we criticized “trade union leaders who have grown tired of excusing Israel’s crimes against human rights.”

This is not true.

I don’t actually know trade union leaders who have excused “Israeli crimes” and have now grown tired of doing this, but would be happy for Haylett to tell us who they are.

What we did criticize is those trade unionists who have forgotten what we have always stood for (a two-state solution), and have instead embraced the view of the reactionary Iranian regime (a one-state solution).

Haylett quotes me as saying that “only a fraction of union members actually care about Palestine” — but doesn’t challenge this.

If there is any evidence that rank-and-file union members in their millions (or even their thousands) are engaged with these issues, produce it.  It doesn’t matter what side of the issues you fall on.  The fact is that only a tiny minority of trade union members in the U.K. care about Israel and Palestine.

Haylett writes that “Lee, TUFI and Tulip claim to be in favour of a two-state solution, but they are uncritical of every act by the zionist state that makes that goal less credible”.

Really? Every act?

TULIP has played a key role in getting across to the world the Israeli Histadrut’s call for a lifting of the blockade on Gaza.

TULIP and TUFI have both consistently called for an independent Palestinian state, even when the right-wing government in Israel does not do so.

And I personally have long played an opposition role within Israeli politics which is well documented and goes back nearly thirty years.

Haylett seems unaware of these bare facts, so I have only one word of advice for him: Google.

Furthermore, he is convinced that there is no nuclear threat from Iran.

The fact that the entire international community — including Russia and China — have agreed to impose even more severe sanctions on Iran carries no weight.

He writes with authority that “the idea that Israel, the most militarily powerful state in the region with its nuclear arsenal, fears annihilation at the hands of Iran and its paramilitary allies is strictly for the birds.”

So there is no Iranian nuclear program?  The Iranian regime is not committed to the extermination of Israel? Its proxies in the region — Hamas and Hizbollah — have not repeatedly expressed their commitment to destroying the Jewish state?

Israel has nothing to worry about, according to Haylett.  Some of us might beg to differ.

Haylett is so convinced that he is right, and is so poorly informed, that he chose to tell Morning Star readers that “at its annual congress in Vancouver this week, South African centre Cosatu put down an amendment urging support for boycott, disinvestment, sanctions (BDS) against Israel.”

Ignoring the fact that the international trade union congress is not an annual event, Haylett’s article appeared after the world’s unions rejected the COSATU amendment.

Instead of calling for a boycott of Israel and isolation of its trade union movement, the world’s unions voted last week to support a two-state solution, rejected Hamas extremism, reinforced their commitment to Israel’s right to exist and so on.

Instead of throwing the Histadrut out, it elevated Histadrut leader Ofer Eini to the post of vice president of the International Trade Union Confederation and made him a member of the organization’s highest bodies, including its 25-member Executive Board.

Haylett quotes favorably from COSATU international relations secretary Bongani Masuku, who speaks of an “unstoppable” tide of support for the Israel boycott — a tide that apparently was stopped in Vancouver last week.

He neglects to tell Morning Star readers that Masuku was convicted last year by the South African Human Rights Commission of hate speech directed against the country’s Jewish community.  Masuku is anti-Semite and racist, but Haylett quotes him favourably.

Haylett says that we are “hysterical Tel Aviv mouthpieces” who exist to “pull the wool over the eyes” of honest trade unionists, that we uncritically support everything the Israeli government does including the settlements in the occupied territories.

Haylett says that we have “smeared and misrepresented” the views of others.

There is not a grain of truth in what he writes.

Shame on the Morning Star for running such a dishonest and libelous article.

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An Opportunity and a Threat

June 29, 2010 at 5:52 pm (abortion, Lib Dems, Max Dunbar, Tory scum)

Via this gloriously strident piece from Laurie Penny, here’s a long article on the F Word about a fray that’s going to be reopened any time soon.

Lisa Ansell brings fresh points to what often seems like an over-rehearsed debate.

1) Rather than on the health and protection of the patient, the abortion debate is essentially focused on the rights of a fictional person that does not exist in any legal or medical sense.

2) There is not yet a satisfactory objective answer to the question of where life begins.

3) It is the only medical issue in which the patient is deemed unable to understand the moral implications of their treatment.

4) We think that ‘pro-life’ craziness is a vulgar American phenomenon that couldn’t possibly catch on here. Unfortunately:

We have an All Party Pro Life Group within the House of Commons, whose administrator is funded by the innocuous sounding CARE.

CARE is one of a number of Christian lobby groups within Parliament. ‘Christian Action, Research and Education’ has been described as ‘architects’ of various attempts to restrict abortion provision, and its establishment of a presence in Parliament has come under scrutiny from the Charities Commission. Its annual report shows that it has had 20 interns working within the House of Commons, at a cost of £70000, even though it is prohibited from political lobbying. Its interns are present in the offices of senior members of the Conservative party, in the office of a backbench Labour MP and the offices of several Liberal Democrat spokespeople. ‘Christian Concern for our Nation’ spends a great deal of time and money supporting MPs who will further its cause.

These groups are mirroring tactics of fundamentalist Christian groups in the US, with a concerted, long-term strategy of attacking gay rights and abortion. Their influence is being keenly felt within the Conservative party, and their presence is established in a House of Commons which has changed dramatically.

In recent political history, there has been little desire among the majority of politicians and pro-choice groups for abortion to become a political issue – these groups have pushed it back onto the political agenda.

Seventy one of the MPs who voted against the cut in the upper-time-limit for abortion stood down at the end of the last parliamentary session, and little is known about the views of the MP’s who have just taken their seats. It may be tempting to dismiss Nadine Dorries MP when she says that ‘the real opportunity for abortion law reform would arise with a Conservative government’, but pre-election polls showed a majority of Conservative MPs supported a cut in the 24-week limit.

Our Prime Minister and our Equalities Minister both support a cut in the 24-week limit, and regardless of Cameron’s murmurings of ‘abortion on demand’, it seems likely that this issue will find itself discussed in Parliament sooner rather than later.

While it has always been an issue where MPs vote with their conscience, the fragile nature of our coalition government means that the need to support its policies could take precedence over legal, medical and scientific arguments which support a woman’s right to autonomy over her own body.

Image of Argentinian pro-choice demo by Gabby DC

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Support the (Belgian) police!

June 27, 2010 at 9:13 pm (Catholicism, Champagne Charlie, Christianity, religion)

Vatican taken by surprise over Belgium police raids

By David Willey
BBC News, Rome

The police raid in Belgium last week which broke up a meeting of the country’s Catholic Bishops – who were discussing how to deal with the paedophile priest crisis – took the Vatican by complete surprise.

There has been a change of tone in the Vatican’s reaction to the abuse crisis. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state and Pope Benedict’s number two, was furious when he heard how the police prevented the bishops from leaving the building where they had been meeting for nine hours.

The police took away their mobile telephones to prevent them communicating with their staff, or with the Vatican.

They also seized files from the headquarters of the Catholic church in Brussels including a laptop belonging to the former head of the church in Belgium, Cardinal Godefried Daneels.

They allegedly profaned the tomb of at least one former Belgian cardinal at the cathedral in Mechelen during what seems to have been a frenetic search for possible incriminating documents.

Officials said they were searching for evidence of possible abuse. Cardinal Bertone angrily told reporters during a conference he was attending at a Catholic university in Rome that not even communist states dared to treat church authorities and church property in this way.

He summoned the Belgian ambassador to the Vatican and handed him a formal protest note.

Pope Benedict’s own reaction in a letter to the head of the Belgian church was more measured.

While deploring the way in which the Belgian police had conducted their search for evidence of possible crimes of paedophilia committed by Belgian clergy, he said he was happy to let justice take its course provided the rights of all parties – victims of alleged paedophilia and accused priests – were respected.

This marked a definite change of tone in Vatican reaction to the clerical sexual abuse crisis which has hit the Catholic church in Europe and the Americas in recent years.

Some high-ranking Vatican officials have habitually dismissed media coverage of predator priests as “idle gossip”.

Belgium, like many other countries in Europe, may have a strong Catholic history, but is also subject to strong secular influences. Although the Vatican claims 75% of the population are members of the Catholic church, regular Sunday mass attendances have dwindled dramatically in recent years to about 5%.

Last year the Belgian parliament made a formal diplomatic protest to the Vatican over the Pope’s remarks about the use of condoms to combat Aids.

The Pope was on his way to Africa – the continent most seriously affected by the Aids – and his remarks aroused a storm of protests.

Critics included the prestigious British medical journal, The Lancet.

‘Cloud of ambiguity’The Vatican rejected the Belgian protest as an “attempt to silence the Pope’s moral teaching”.

Official relations between the Vatican and Belgium are clouded with a certain ambiguity.

No concordat or treaty governs relations with the Holy See.

Belgium was part of France between 1795 and 1815 and the Napoleonic concordat between France and the Vatican signed at the beginning of the 19th century lapsed after Belgium became an independent state and separated from the Netherlands.

But the practical effects of the Napoleonic concordat were profound.

Its recognition of the Catholic religion paved the way later for full state subsidies for other “recognised religions”.

The Belgian state pays salaries for teachers of religion in state schools, stipends and pensions for Catholic clergy and for the renovation of church buildings.

Last week Pope Benedict appointed a new Bishop of Bruges to replace Roger Vangheluwe, the longest serving bishop in the country who resigned in April after admitting that he had been sexually abusing a boy for years.

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Alan Plater, jazz and Ronnie Scott

June 26, 2010 at 1:53 pm (BBC, comedy, good people, jazz, literature)

‘He’s dead? (pause) Is it serious?’

Alan Plater is dead, and it is serious. It’s another loss to that tradition of serious, thought-provoking drama on mainstream TV. Drama that challenged you, but was popular and accessible. The Wednesday Play, anything by Dennis Potter, Coronation Street at its Chekhovian best and anything by Plater – even an episode of  ‘Midsummer Murders’ or ‘Lewis’: the sort of TV now under mortal threat from the bosses of the BBC and ITV and the lash of Simon Cowell. Jimmy McGovern’s ‘The Street’ was a brave attempt to maintain the tradition, but was, of course, cancelled.

Plater adhered to a gentle and rather romantic sort of socialism ( I say “gentle” -but an early stage play had a string of British prime ministers shot dead on stage), and was a keen and knowledgeable jazz fan. Jazz featured in much of his work (‘The Beiderbecke Affair’, ‘ Doggin’ Around’ and ‘The Last of the Blonde Bomshells’ as well as projects with musicians like Kenny Baker, Bruce Adams and Alan Barnes): he once said, “My approach to dramatic structure is to play Duke Ellington’s 1940 version of Harlem Airshaft, which contains all you need to know about dramatic structure, if you have ears to listen.”

In later years Ronnie Scott’s Club in Soho became almost a second home, and Ronnie himself a close friend. Here’s what Plater wrote about his relationship with jazz in general and with Ronnie Scott and the Club in particular:

Ronnie The Actor

There’s a well-worn line that runs: drummers and banjo players are guys who hang out with musicians. You can add writers to that list. Most of us wanted to be something else – in my case, Raich Carter in the winter, Bill Edrich in the summer, Jimmy James twice nightly and Duke Ellington after midnight. Nobody under fifty will know who the hell I’m talking about, the Duke aside; but writing plays was strictly a fifth best career choice.

The irony is that over the last couple of decades I’ve made a better living writing drama related to jazz than most people do playing the stuff: The Beiderbecke Trilogy, Rent Party, Misteriosos and of course, the BBC film, Doggin’ Around, starring Ronnie at the Club.

It was one of his few acting jobs – maybe the only one.

He accepted it on condition that he wouldn’t take his clothes off – ‘unless, of course, the part demands it.’

His performance, as himself, was an object lesson. It included an impeccable piece of telephone acting. His dialogue ran, from memory, something like this:

‘He’s dead? (pause) Is it serious? (pause) Does that mean he can’t play the tour? (pause) So tell me the bad news.’

The central character in Doggin’ Around, a sardonic American pianist, played by Elliot Gould, says later in the movie: ‘Life: that’s just a fancy word we use for filling in time between gigs.’

There was a lot of that in Ronnie, the way he stood at the mike, insulting the audience, the food and various ethnic minorities, saying to the world: take it easy. Folks, none of it is very important, apart from the music. And jazz by definition is a thing of the moment. If your ears blink, you miss it, and miss it forever. That’s why we don’t talk when the band is on-stage.

The jokes were crucial. All compulsive joke-collectors (and it takes one to know one) are busy keeping melancholy at bay. ‘We laugh lest we cry.’

There are dozens of moments to treasure. On an afternoon chat show, the ntotally admirable Mavis Nicholson commented on the fact that Ronnie was smoking. His immediate response was : ‘My doctor says I need the tar.’ Back in the 1970’s he played with his quintet (the band with Louis Stewart) at our studio theatre in Hull to a 200% capacity audience. Somebody must have been chucking them in. It can now be revealed that over 300 people crammed into an auditorium with 150 seats; the fire officer probably retired long ago.

That night Ronnie explained that the seagulls flew upside down over Stockton because there was nothing worth shitting on. I recycled the gag, substituting Gateshead for Stockton, for a play in Newcastle in 1995. It still works. That’s the way to maintain our British heritage.

(From ‘Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Farrago’, ed: Jim Godbolt, pub: Hampstead Press, 2008)

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Kaufman on the Graun on the budget

June 25, 2010 at 5:55 pm (Champagne Charlie, Guardian, Lib Dems, Tory scum, truth)

From today’s Graun:

• Re your leader, Seumas Milne’s article and all your other moans about the budget (24 June): you wanted this government. You’ve got it. Stop whining.

Gerald Kaufman MP

Lab, Manchester Gorton

(NB: Mr Kaufman isn’t a favourite of us Shirazers – but  on this occasion he’s sure hit the nail on the head).

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Government bases policy on Daily Mail web archive

June 23, 2010 at 6:51 pm (Max Dunbar, Tory scum)

In the speech for his slash-and-burn budget, George Osborne said that ‘there are some families receiving £104,000 a year in housing benefit’. My roving Budget 2010 satirical eye has noticed that the government have quietly admitted that this figure was not based on actual case studies but on potential rates.

The Guardian rang the DWP to check this out. A spokeswoman said that: ‘It is what the rate would be… We don’t have any figures on how many people are claiming that rate.’ The story continues:

However, she added that a search of the Daily Mail and the Sun newspaper websites would throw up stories of people being paid the same if not more.

Case closed!

Also, read Alastair Campbell on this:

In this era of Freedom of Information, surely if such sums were being paid in such a controversial benefit, we would know how many, where they lived and who they were.

But the same spokeswoman admits the £104,000 is based on what a family who were housed in Kensington and Chelsea, one of the wealthiest parts of the UK, WOULD receive IF they were given a five bedroomed home. In other words the chances are there are no such families taking £104,000 at all.

In a weird form of mitigation the spokeswoman says that whilst they have no records of such large claims (we are only the government, eh?) a search of the websites of the Sun and the Daily Mail would ‘throw up stories of people being paid the same if not more.’

The Chancellor made an eye-catching claim, one that will be used to justify major cuts, without any government knowledge that such a claim was justified, beyond reports published on the websites of two tabloid newspapers not best known for their objectivity. Interesting approach to communication of major policy decisions.

(Thanks to Dan and Dan)

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RIP Frank Sidebottom

June 23, 2010 at 6:35 pm (Champagne Charlie, comedy, funny, geeks, good people)

Goodbye, papier-mâché head. You made me laugh, anyway.

At least your creator Chris Sievey has been spared a pauper’s grave.


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Gideon’s Red Box of Doom

June 22, 2010 at 5:56 pm (capitalist crisis, Lib Dems, Max Dunbar, Tory scum)

A few initial impressions from an economics layman:

1) Won’t the concessions to the poor like the raise in the personal allowance be completely swallowed up by the VAT hike/working benefits cuts?

2) Why a cut in corporation tax when Labour left corporation tax lower than it had ever been?

3) Could we not cut the deficit by closing down offshore tax havens? In fact, why no mention of tax havens at all?

4) Given that Obama recently wrote to all G20 nations warning against a slash-and-burn approach, on top of the BP debacle will this not damage our relationship with America?

5) In fact, isn’t the slash-and-burn strategy a massive gamble anyway? Economists like Paul Krugman and Martin Wolf have warned that the right approach is Keynesian pump-priming to stimulate the economy. Wolf’s recent open letter to Osborne (worth the free registration) ends: ‘So remember this: the imposition of futile misery is not an act of wise policy, but rather a sign of folly.’

6) The example of Canada in the 1990s does not hold because it had a prosperous America to trade with and this softened the austerity blow. The UK is next to the eurozone, which is fucked.

7) How do the Lib Dems sleep at night?


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World Cup: Argentinian team support for Mothers of the Plazo de Mayo

June 21, 2010 at 6:51 pm (anonymous, democracy, Human rights, Jim D, sport)

Ian W writes:

We are bombarded daily by the World Cup. The organisers of the event claim
that it is non-political, yet it is dominated by large multinatonal
Here you can see a photograph of the Argentine football team holding a
banner. This photo has been effectively censored by the international press and  Toutube has also blocked it. Why?
The banner simply states that the members of the football team support the
call for the for the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo to be awarded the Nobel
Peace Prize. Who are these mothers? They are the mothers of young men and
women who “disappeared” during the Dirty War carried out by the Argentine
Military Junta between 1976 and 1983.
An estimated 30,000 “disappeared”, that is were killed, because they were
socialists, communists, trade unionists, community organisers, students,
activists and so on who opposed the military dictatorship. Some of these
young women had babies, about 500 in total, who were not returned to their
natural families to live with their grandparents as their own parents had
been killed. The babies were given to military families who supported the
One day a week between 1977 and 2006 the Mothers, now grandmothers, would
walk around the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires demanding to know what had
happened to their children. They even did this during the dictatorship and
for their bravery three of the mothers also disappeared, that is were
killed, for daring to question the military dictatorship.
The present football team now supports the call for these mothers to be
awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace.

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The Thing About Roy Fisher (happy 80th)

June 19, 2010 at 4:57 pm (jazz, Jim D, literature, poetry)


By Roy Fisher

The pianist Joe Sullivan,
jamming sound against idea

hard as it can go
florid and dangerous

slams at the beat, or hovers,
drumming, along its spikes;

in his time almost the only
one of them to ignore

the chance of easing down,
walking it leisurely,

he’ll strut, with gambling shapes,
underpinning by James P.,

amble, and stride over
gulfs of his own leaving, perilously

toppling octaves down to where
the chords grow fat again

and ride hard-edged,  most lucidly
voiced, and in good inversions even when

the piano seems at risk of being
hammered the next second into scrap

For all that, he won’t swing
like all the others;

disregards mere continuity,
the snakecharming business,

the ‘masturbator’s rhythm’
under the long variations:

Sullivan can gut a sequence
In one chorus-

-approach, development, climax, discard-
And sound magnanimous,

The mannerism of intensity
often with him seems true,

too much to be said, the mood
pressing in right at the start, then

running among stock forms
that could play themselves

and moving there with such
quickness of intellect

that shapes flaw and fuse,
altering without much sign,

so wrapped up in thoroughness

it can sound bluff, bustling,
just big-handed stuff-

belied by what drives him in
to make rigid, display,

shout and abscond, rather
than just let it come, let  it go-

And that thing is his mood:
A feeling violent and ordinary

That runs in standard forms so
wrapped up in clarity

that fingers following his
through figures that sound obvious

find corners everywhere,
marks of invention, wakefulness;

the rapid and perverse
tracks that ordinary feelings

make when they get driven
hard enough against time.

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