Thursday, 31 July 2008

One million names on US government "terrorist" watch list

by Jerry White from World Socialist Web Site 17 July 2008 One million people including large numbers of American citizens are on the US government's so-called terrorist watch list, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which held a Washington, D.C. press conference earlier this week to mark the ominous milestone.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Fastest growing party registered by Electoral Commission

RAM media release
30 July 2008

Yesterday the Electoral Commission agreed to register RAM - Residents Action Movement. (See EC email below.)

RAM is the fastest growing party in New Zealand. We have gained 3,000 members since late February 2008, when RAM decided to switch from being a Greater Auckland local body coalition to being a countrywide people's movement that contests parliamentary elections.

On average, RAM has gained 150 new members every single week since we decided to go countrywide. Not even the Big Two parties, Labour and National, can claim this recruiting success.

"At our RAM tables, the grassroots are telling us how worried they are about meeting their bills, and also how upset they are that both Labour and National are only looking after the rich people," said Grant Morgan, chair of RAM.

RAM will be fielding a long party list in the 2008 General Election as well as standing in a significant number of electorates.

RAM has issued our Ten Commandments - ten policy priorities - which offer immediate "common sense" improvements in the lives of grassroots people.

Heading the Ten Commandments is our call for GST to be removed from food. RAM's GST-off-food petition has already attracted 20,000 signatures. We will be taking the petition to MP's in a two-week People's Procession to Parliament in late September/early October.

"The People's Procession to Parliament will be a chance for the grassroots to get a fairer taxation system as well as having their voice heard in the election campaign, which is usually dominated by spin from the big political machines," said Grant Morgan.

For more information, contact:

Grant Morgan
Chair of RAM - Residents Action Movement
021 2544 515


Jonathan Neale's ‘Stop Global Warming–Change the World’

Reviewed by Roy Wilkes
from Climate and Capitalism
July 29, 2008

Two years ago, George Monbiot published Heat, a ground-breaking book which armed a generation of activists with the technical and scientific know how to fight climate change. Jonathan Neale’s new book starts in a similar vein, by explaining the science of climate change and by showing that the technology already exists to prevent it or at least to prevent catastrophic abrupt climate change. Climate change as such is already with us, and hitting the world’s poor first and hardest.

If Socialism Fails: The Spectre of 21st Century Barbarism

"Humanity is facing the alternative: Dissolution and downfall in capitalist anarchy, or regeneration through the social revolution." by Ian Angus from Socialist Voice, Canada 28 July 2008 From the first day it appeared online, Climate and Capitalism's masthead has carried the slogan "Ecosocialism or Barbarism: there is no third way." We've been quite clear that ecosocialism is not a new theory or brand of socialism — it is socialism with Marx's important insights on ecology restored, socialism committed to the fight against ecological destruction. But why do we say that the alternative to ecosocialism is barbarism?

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Latin America’s struggle for integration and independence

by Federico Fuentes, Caracas from Green Left Weekly 26 July 2008 Commenting on how much the two had in common — same age, three children, similar music tastes — Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said to Mexican President Felipe Calderon on April 11 that "perhaps we represent the new generation of leaders in Latin America". He added, however, that one difference still remained: Calderon had still not become a socialist. "Being right wing is out of fashion in Latin America … Join us, you are always welcome."

Venezuela: Encouraging steps forward for union movement

Rank and file union members in Venezuela marching
in support of the revolution

by Federico Fuentes, Caracas
from Green Left Weekly
19 July 2008

"As a product of four weeks of meetings between the different currents in the National Union of Workers (UNT), together with important union federations, we have democratically decided, in consultation with the grassroots, that [on September 19-21] we will hold a national congress.

"By no later than February next year, we will go towards a transparent, democratic process of internal elections."

Hone Harawira on the FTA with China

Hone Harawira, MP for Te Tai Tokerau

24 July 2008

I tera wiki, i whakanuitia ana a Rererangi Aotearoa e te Minita Tapoi e Damien O’Connor, i te whakatuwheratanga o te rere-kotahi, mai i a Beijing, ki Tamaki Makaurau.

Last week, Tourism Minister Damien O’Connor was heaping praises upon Air New Zealand as they launched the first non-stop service between Auckland and Beijing.

E mea ana te minita, “he marea hokohoko tino nui ki Haina, mo ake tonu”.

“This very important long-term Chinese market” was how the Minister put it.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Rolling the Dice Once Again - in Iran

by Glen Ford from Thomas Paines Corner Tom Engelhardt, the prolific intellectual engine of the Nation Institute’s daily column TomDispatch, recently predicted that the Bush administration won’t attack Iran because…well, because they’re too sensible to launch such a mad enterprise. In a July 9 piece titled: “Why Cheney Won’t Take Down Iran,” Engelhardt acknowledged the many signs that point towards an air assault on the world’s fourth biggestoil exporter by the United States, Israel or both. “Given the Bush administration’s ‘preventive war’ doctrine,” wrote Engelhardt, “which has opened the way for the launching of wars without significant notice or obvious provocation, and the penchant of its officials to ignore reality, all of this should frighten anyone”.

Thursday, 24 July 2008


RAM, a grassroots people's movement, has released it's TEN COMMANDMENTS for the election campaign. These demands will be "common sense" to many grassroots people. All of the demands undermine the market.

RAM will be standing a full list of candidates for the party vote and will be contesting a number of electoral seats. RAM's membership has soared to over 3,000, making it one of the 5 biggest parties by membership in the country.

Because Labour & National are political twins (the LabNats) a vote for RAM will be a vote for a grassroots alternative to their market policies.


1 Remove GST tax from all our food.

2 $2,000 ‘baby bonus’ to every mum.

3 Lift minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Offer first-home buyers a 3% interest state loan.

5 Free lunches in schools serving poor areas.

6 Free tertiary education plus a student living allowance.

7 Free & frequent public transport in our main cities.

8 Offer cheap solar panels to homeowners.

9 Restore to workers their free right to strike.

10 Enshrine the Treaty of Waitangi in a new constitution to guarantee the mutual rights of Maori & non-Maori.

An A5 leaflet has been produced for mass distribution. If you would like copies of the leaflet email RAM chair Grant Morgan

Go to RAM's website for PDF files of RAM's popular "GST-off-food" petition and RAM membership forms. To join RAM is $1 for three years.

Other news and information relating to RAM can be found on the UNITYblog sidebar.

John Minto on Condoleezza Rice

Condoleezza Rice and her policies are not welcome here
from Christchurch Press 21 July 2008
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is a picture/postcard representative for Bush’s America. She is intelligent, articulate, attractive, well groomed and fashionably dressed. She seems cool, calm, even queenly. She is the ideal person to represent the US and drive American interests because she provides the soft public face for a host of aggressive, immoral policies to expand the empire.
See also:

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Mates & Lovers - A History of Gay New Zealand

Why you should read 'Mates & Lovers'

by David Herkt
29 June 2008

In Oamaru's Public Gardens, 120 years ago, in 1888, 40-year-old Joseph Fletcher said to 20-year-old Jacob Crawford "All right, you young bugger, we'll have a fuck too'. Crawford said 'Alright, put it up my bloody arse, Joe."

A year later, in 1889, Robert Gant, a photographer resident in the Wairarapa, was taking photographs of himself and his friends dressed in drag enacting women's tea-parties, the Chinese porcelain tea pot forever poised, unpouring, above the cup.

New threats of war against Iran

from Stop War on Iran, a US anti-war coalition
July 2008

Recent news makes it clear why it is more important than ever that we take to the streets on August 2. According to press reports, President Bush has given the Israeli military the go-ahead to prepare for an imminent attack on Iran. Israel is also using U.S. bases in Iraq to prepare for the attack.

For a Union Response to Capitalist Climate Change Plans

by Tim Gooden
12 July 2008

Right at the beginning of his draft report on climate change, Professor Ross Garnaut points out that global warming can't be beaten unless an international “prisoner’s dilemma” gets resolved.

What’s that? Simply, that each globally competing national economy, like Australia, gains most short-term benefit “if it does less of the mitigation itself, and others do more”.

But if all countries act in this way there will be no solution to the overall climate crisis –the total worldwide rate of investment in sustainable, carbon-free technologies will fall way short of what’s needed to stop global climate catastrophe.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Rising Prices Reinforce Need for Food Security Policies

by Martin Khor
15 July 2008
The new key to food security is self-sufficiency, not trade, and policies are needed to expand local food production and invigorate the agricultural sector particularly in developing countries.

Now Labour considers building "affordable housing"

Scratch the surface of Labour's much trumpeted "social policies" and you're likely to find another motive, which is to grease the slippery wheels of capitalist profit making. Thus Working For Families is effectively a wage subsidy to employers paying poverty wages. KiwiSaver transfers the earnings of workers worried about their retirement into a billion dollar investment fund to boost business growth. So after doing nothing for grassroots people in the face of a skyrocketing housing costs, now that the boom has gone bust Labour's "market liberals" decide it's a time to look at building more houses (in partnership with the private sector of course). Which is more important for Labour's leaders: to make housing cheaper or to prop up the housing industry during the economic bad times?
Govt considers big housing projects as industry cools 9 July 2008 by Claire Trevett from NZ Herald The Government has hinted it is considering starting large-scale housing developments to help boost the number of affordable homes. Yesterday the Prime Minister said caucus had considered the issue because, while the housing sector has cooled,"there are a lot of people looking for an affordable home ... but there is still the issue of land." Finance Minister Michael Cullen said the economic slowdown meant there was less demand on the construction industry which the Government could take advantage of over the next two or three years. Neither would reveal further details of what was proposed, but it could indicate the Government is looking at further developments similar to those under way in Whenuapai and Tamaki, which will provide a mix of cheap and mid-priced homes with state houses. The Government is already working on a stocktake of spare Crown-owned land which could be freed up for housing developments. Housing minister Maryan Street has also been considering establishing Urban Housing Authorities to undertake large-scale new housing developments. Ms Street has previously said large-scale urban housing projects, such as those established in Australia, are needed to ensure substantial growth in supply of affordable housing.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Treelords deal – an opportunity for flaxroots Maori to assert their rangatiratanga

UNITYblog editorial 15 July 2008 For Labour the $500 million “Treelords” settlement with central North Island Maori was a calculated attempt to win back Maori support in election year after a series of recent injustices perpetuated against Maori. It remains to be seen how successful they'll be. But whatever the motivation of Labour’s leaders, the Treelords deal has set a new precedent for Treaty settlements in terms of comprehensiveness and size. Other iwi and hapu will now push for similar sized settlements in the years ahead. Treaty settlements are going to remain an important battleground for Maori in their struggle to achieve justice in the 21st century. The question for Maori, is how will the resources gained under such settlements be managed and who will benefit? Maori activist and lawyer Annette Sykes believes the Treelords deal is underpinned by a “corporate model of management” which won’t see benefits flow to all Maori equally. In her article The Sovereignty Debate? Has it been silenced? she asks whether this model will “respect all rangatira in the tribal community, women and children alike, and ensure an active participation by those affected by decision making processes around land use and benefit distribution?” Sykes believes Central North Island iwi are at a “crossroads in their journey to protect their sovereignty and self-determination”. While there’s certainly a real danger of corporate capture, Treaty settlements like the Treelords deal could also be an opportunity for flaxroots Maori to assert their rangatiratanga. Truly public ownership of resources “by the people for the people” through hapu or iwi structures, or other democratic organisations would bring the most benefits to flaxroots Maori. The years ahead are likely to see struggles within Maoridom between the corporate model of management favoured by a Maori elite and flaxroots Maori who want to see equal distribution of resources and wealth, co-existing with sustainable management of the land. The outcome of that struggle could have a wider impact on all communities living in Aotearoa who are being battered and beaten by market forces. If wealth and resources coming to Maori through Treaty settlements were to be used in a co-operative, equitable and sustainable way then this would show other people living in this country what public ownership of resources might also mean for them. See also Rawiri Taonui: Cullen's Waitangi deal too late to swing Maori votes

Annette Sykes: The Sovereignty Debate? Has it been silenced?

by Annette Sykes
Indigenous Intelligence Review
29 June 2008

The Central North Island tribes have reached a crossroads in their journey to protect their sovereignty and self-determination. In recent decades these highly articulate tribal nations have been leaders in a number of political, legal and economic strategies that promote the recognition of individual tribal entities as sovereigns enjoying government-to-government relationships with the New Zealand Government. Their cries for self government having being made in forums from the Waitangi Tribunal through to the United Nations, and from the hallowed halls of political power in Wellington through to rank and file protests on the street and national hui in Turangi called to discuss the injustices of policies of the Crown that deny Maori their tino rangatiratanga.

Israel’s threat to Iran pressures US

from British Socialist Worker
8 July 2008

The US is so bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan that recent threats by Israel to attack Iran’s nuclear sites has sent waves of panic through the US military.

The top US commander Michael Mullen warned Israel at a recent high level meeting that he has serious doubts that any attack will succeed.

According to military analysts, any operation to destroy Iran’s nuclear sites will also have to target missile bases and other facilities. This would involve hundreds of warplanes.

Mullen is worried that an attack would rebound on the US’s troubled occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq, which share long borders with Iran.

To add to US woes, Iran said that it will respond to any attack by closing the strategic Strait of Hormuz, choking off 20 percent of the world’s supply of oil.

Iran also warned that it will fire long range missiles at Israel, with the danger of sparking a regional war that could draw in Lebanon and Syria.

Following the meeting with Israeli military commanders, Mullen said, “Opening up a third front right now would be extremely stressful on us, very challenging, with consequences that would be difficult to predict.

“This is a very unstable part of the world and I don’t need it to be more unstable.”

Monday, 14 July 2008

Antarctic Ice Shelf Collapse 'Imminent'

by Geoffrey Lean
13 July 2008
The Independent

Scientists are warning that an Antarctic ice shelf the size of Northern Ireland is on the verge of disintegration, even though it is now the middle of the southern hemisphere's winter.

The European Space Agency says new satellite pictures show that the Wilkins shelf – the largest to be threatened so far – is "hanging by its last thread". Extending for approximately 5,600 square miles, it has been held in place by a thin ice bridge connecting it to an island, but this is now fracturing.

The shelf, which lies near the base of the Antarctic Peninsula, had not been expected to collapse until the early 2020s. It provides further evidence that the planet is warming more quickly than predicted.

Scientists are stunned that it is continuing to melt in the depths of winter, and believe that warm water is welling up from the ocean to attack it from underneath. So far seven shelves on the peninsula have collapsed due to climate change.

On Friday, President Bush – who last week told the G8 summit "Goodbye from the world's greatest polluter" – defied a 2007 ruling by the US Supreme Court to take action on global warming under the Clean Air Act.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Organic agriculture is not enough: we must replace annual with perennial crops

by Dr. Stan Cox from Institute of Science in Society Humans now directly manage 27 percent of the Earth's surface area, harvesting more than 40 percent of the planet's biological productivity for our own uses. Yet food production per person is on the decline, and agriculture worldwide is doing more than ever to worsen the global ecological crisis. Like the Hindu god Shiva, today's agriculture is both a creator and a destroyer, partly as the consequence of conscious decisions taken by farmers, agribusiness executives, government officials, and food buyers. But the productivity and ecological impact of agriculture are also inherent in the crops and cropping methods that humans have relied upon for 10 000 years. The problem of agriculture Since its inception, agriculture has relied on annual plants that are grown from seed every year and harvested for their seed. That requires tilling of the soil, which can be done on a small scale without causing great harm, as in small, intensively hand-managed plots or on annually flooded land along a river. But every civilization that has practised tillage on a large scale has suffered the often catastrophic consequences of soil erosion. Industrialization has compounded the problem through burning fossil fuels and chemical contamination. The world's natural landscapes are covered mostly by perennial plants growing in mixed stands, whereas more than two-thirds of global cropland is sown to monocultures of annual crops. Conversion from natural to agricultural landscapes dramatically alters ecological conditions. Across the planet, more land has been converted from perennial to annual cover since 1950 than in the previous 150 years. This recent expansion of cropland has made it more and more necessary to apply chemical fertilizers and pesticides, which disrupt natural nutrient cycles and erode biodiversity. Perennial plants are highly efficient and responsive micromanagers of soil, nutrients, and water. Annual crops are not; they require churning of the soil, precisely timed inputs and management, and favourable weather at just the right time. With shorter growing seasons and ephemeral, often small root systems, annual crops provide less protection against soil erosion, wasting water and nutrients, storing less carbon below ground, and are less tolerant of pests than are perennial plant communities. Read the rest of this article here

Solidarity with activists arrested during last year's state terror raids

The October 15th Solidarity Group in Wellington was formed to support those people arrested by police during last year’s state terror raids. The group has issued a statement (below) and is calling on other groups and organisations to support a day of action on 30 August to protest the continued victimisation of tino rangatiratanga activists. While the police failed in their attempt to lay terrorism charges, people are still facing charges under the Arms Act. The depositions hearing for these charges will begin on 1 September, and last for at least a month. This will require those charged to be in Auckland for a month at their own expense. October 15th Solidarity Group is calling groups and individuals to sign-up to the solidarity statement. Email Resources (leaflets, posters, etc.) are available from the October 15 Solidarity website. To make a donation to help support those arrested during the depositions hearing, and to cover the costs of producing resources, mail a cheque to PO Box 9263, Wellington. Or deposit the money directly into the October 15th Solidarity bank account: Bank: Kiwibank, Account name: October 15 Solidarity Account Number:38-9007-0239672-000 See also The SIS and Police: the job of inventing a terrorist threat
Solidarity statement: We demand the unconditional freedom of the people who are facing charges as a result of the state terror raids on 15 October 2007. Attempts by the Police to lay charges under the Terrorism Suppression Act (TSA) failed but people are still facing politically motivated charges under the Arms Act. These charges are the result of a racist operation. Police used the Terrorism Suppression Act and over $8 million to harass and punish political activists who they saw as supporting Tino Rangatiratanga. The Police have arrested a few people but we're all targeted. The arrests of October 15th are aimed at intimidating and frightening all of our communities and cannot be tolerated. We therefore call on everyone to stand up against this attack on our communities. We support the global day of action on 30 August 2008 and are mobilising to demand the unconditional freedom of the people facing charges as a result of the state terror raids.

Friday, 11 July 2008

Constitutional Rights for Nature

This a ground breaking approach to protecting the environment that deserves attention. Enshrining the rights of nature under the democratically decided constitution of a country would be a powerful mechanism for pursuing sustainable societies.

Ecuadorian Assembly Approves Constitutional Rights for Nature

from Climate and Capitalism 10 July 2008 On July 7, the 130-member Ecuador Constitutional Assembly, elected countrywide to rewrite the country’s Constitution, voted to approve articles that recognize rights for nature and ecosystems. “If adopted in the final constitution by the people, Ecuador would become the first country in the world to codify a new system of environmental protection based on rights,” says Thomas Linzey, Executive Director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund. The following clauses will be included in the constitution that will be submitted to a countrywide vote, to be held 45 days after Assembly finishes its work later this month.

Chapter: Rights for Nature Article 1. Nature or Pachamama, where life is reproduced and exists, has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution. Every person, people, community or nationality, will be able to demand the recognition of rights for nature before the public organisms. The application and interpretation of these rights will follow the related principles established in the Constitution. Article 2. Nature has the right to an integral restoration. This integral restoration is independent of the obligation on natural and juridical persons or the State to indemnify the people and the collectives that depend on the natural systems. In the cases of severe or permanent environmental impact, including the ones caused by the exploitation of non renewable natural resources, the State will establish the most efficient mechanisms for the restoration, and will adopt the adequate measures to eliminate or mitigate the harmful environmental consequences. Article 3. The State will motivate natural and juridical persons as well as collectives to protect nature; it will promote respect towards all the elements that form an ecosystem. Article 4. The State will apply precaution and restriction measures in all the activities that can lead to the extinction of species, the destruction of the ecosystems or the permanent alteration of the natural cycles. The introduction of organisms and organic and inorganic material that can alter in a definitive way the national genetic patrimony is prohibited. Article 5. The persons, people, communities and nationalities will have the right to benefit from the environment and form natural wealth that will allow wellbeing. The environmental services cannot be appropriated; its production, provision, use and exploitation, will be regulated by the State. “Public organisms” in Article 1 means the courts and government agencies, i.e., the people of Ecuador would be able to take action to enforce nature rights if the government did not do so.

We need an MMP type campaign for free public transport

UNITYblog editorial 11 July 2008 A just released Australian report claims petrol could hit $A8 ($NZ10) a litre within a decade. The report confirms that people on low incomes will be the worst affected by Peak Oil scenarios. See 'Fuel for thought - The future of transport fuels: challenges and opportunities' But still NZ's Labour government wants to spend billions of dollars on new roading projects. They've been deafened by the honks of the roading lobby and aren't hearing the voices of people calling for a 21st century public transport system. Green Party co-leader Russel Norman responding to the Aussie report in the NZ Herald says: "Petrol at that price would make the Government's entire motorway building project a white elephant - modern day Easter Island statues. Our new motorways would be monuments to short sightedness and profligate waste of resources." "We have no choice but to move to a far less oil-dependent economy, because rising prices will give us no choice." That's why we need to forget about tinkering around with emissions trading schemes that are next to useless and build a nationwide, multi-organisation, campaign for free and frequent public transport. This is the solution that's desperately needed and which hundreds of thousands of people in NZ - and around the world - will see the sense of. Free and frequent public transport needs to be turned into the kind of high profile broad-based campaign that won MMP voting.

Poll finds low public support for Labour’s emissions trading scheme

by Health Unionist 11 July 2008 A poll published this week has found very low public support for Labour's emissions trading scheme. Some caveats need to be borne in mind. The poll was commissioned by NZIER, who are lobbying against the scheme. And the main finding was that most people know very little about it. However, it highlights that people don't like emissions trading – quite justifiably –because it will raise prices and erode living standards. It will also fail to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by anything like the required amount. We must clearly side with people and planet and reject emissions trading. NZIER media release here:

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Green Fascism and the Greening of Hate

from Climate and Capitalism
June 27, 2008

“We’re not left or right, we’re green.” That phrase has been repeated ad nauseum by green politicos who think they are being clever, but constant repetition doesn’t make it true. The green movement can’t escape politics — there are eco-socialists and eco-anarchists and eco-liberals and eco-capitalists, and many subdivisions in each current.

A particularly nasty current in the eco-capitalist camp are the eco-racists, people who blame foreigners — especially foreigners with dark skins — for ecological problems.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Oil price shock means China is at risk of blowing up

by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard from The Telegraph 7 July 2008 The great oil shock of 2008 is bad enough for us. It poses a mortal threatto the whole economic strategy of emerging Asia.The manufacturing revolution of China and her satellites has been built oncheap transport over the past decade. At a stroke, the trade model looks obsolete.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

George Galloway: I'm Off To Iran Before Israel Bombs It

by George Galloway
30 June 2008
By the time you read this, I will be in Iran. I've never been there before, never met an Iranian leader - I don't even like the present Iranian leadership - so remember all that, because it might become important.

Hone Harawira on Maori health

Below are the notes for a formal speech Hone Harawira, MP for Te Tai Tokerau, was to give at the Public Health Association Conference Tapu Noa: Environmental, Physical or Both? in Waitangi, 1 July.

As the meeting was held on a marae Hone spoke without notes, though covering many of the points made here.

Kia ora koutou katoa

On this day in 1842, the governor's newspaper Te Karere o Niu Tireni, made the following comment:

"...e hoa ma, kua wareware pea koutou ki te pukapuka i tuhituhia ki Waitangi, i roto i taua pukapuka ka waiho nga kauri katoa, nga awa, nga aha katoa ma te tangata Maori hei aha noa atu ki a ia."

[Translation] "...friends, perhaps you have forgotten that document written at Waitangi where in that document all the kauri, the rivers, everything is left to the Maori to do with as he wishes."

Three years later, the British launched a full-blown assault on Kawiti's pa at Ohaeawai, with cannon and troops outnumbering Kawiti's followers by six to one.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

"Why can't the Government lift the GST on everyday living items, e.g. food and petrol?"

UNITYblog editorial 5 July 2008 The cost of petrol is spiking upwards again and likely to reach $2.50 per litre. Working people are really hurting. A recent letter from the NDU express asks the question: "Why can't the Government lift the GST on everyday living items, e.g. food and petrol?". The correspondent goes on to say: "I travel 70km per day to get to work. I estimate the cost of petrol plus wear and tear on the car is around $150 per week. Take this off our lousy wage. And we have to ask ourselves, is it worth getting out of bed at 5am five days per week or financially are we in the same boat if we stay at home and collect the dole? What's the government going to do?" This crisis for working class people is going to be a big election issue. RAM is continuing to build the "GST-off-food" campaign, which will run right up until election time. The response has been overwhelming on the streets of working class suburbs across the country. The extent of grassroots anger means there's the opportunity to turn this demand into a real mass movement that the politicians in parliament cannot ignore.

The spectre of socialism for the 21st century

by Michael A. Lebowitz

A spectre is haunting capitalism. It is the spectre of socialism for the 21st century. Increasingly, the characteristics of this spectre are becoming clear, and we are able to see enough to understand what it is not. The only thing that is not clear at this point is whether the spectre is real – i.e., whether it is actually an earthly presence.

Secret report: biofuel caused food crisis

"Biofuels have forced global food prices up by 75% - far more than previously estimated - according to a confidential World Bank report obtained by the Guardian." by Aditya Chakrabortty for The Guardian, July 4, 2008

Friday, 4 July 2008

Truck blockade - positive spin off for Aucklanders

by Ondine Green 4 July 2008 1) Aucklanders report that, as long as they stay off the motorways, traffic this morning is at Sunday morning levels and it's much easier and more pleasant to get into work. In my personal experience, the bus I travelled on was half empty, got to its destination five minutes early, and passed almost as many bicycles coming up Great North Road than cars. The truckies' protest has had the positive spin off of showing Aucklanders what the city could be like without car congestion. Wouldn't it be great if it could be like this all the time? What if - for example - private cars were barred from the CBD on a permanent basis, with free and frequent buses and trains picking up the slack? 2) The truckies are carrying out a political strike. If ordinary workers tried to do this, they would be liable to major fines, asset seizures or even jail time. Why don't nurses, McDonalds workers or electricians have the right to do what the truckies are doing?

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

A poem to welcome Condoleezza Rice to New Zealand

murderers are coming there’s been an announcement can it be true? when are they due? murderers are coming should we drop everything? stand back in awe? wipe the floor? murderers are coming has there been an error? should we tidy up? ask for a donation in a cup? murderers are coming is there anything to eat? should we offer them a drink? what do you think? murderers are coming should we clean the streets? they’re here to protect who’s going to object? murderers are coming should we put on a show? the kids are in bed the carpet is red. murderers are coming should we change the sheets? make it nice? put the champagne on ice? murderers are coming is it time to speak? should we make a toast? enlist the Holy Ghost? murderers are coming how long have we got? should we sign a deal? ask them how it feels? murderers are coming what shall we call them? our very good friends? is this how it ends? - Vaughan Gunson