Sunday, November 6, 2011

Layer 492 . . . Iran, Palestine, Education, Plan B and Protest Songs

London Calling

I'm writing whilst listening to Bruce and the E Street Band in a window on a screen - the brilliant DVD of their Hyde Park concert.

It's impossible to forget that gig - the opening chords crashing into the evening; London Calling; the Strummer-like yelps - Ow Ow Ow Ow . . . Bruce yelling - "Is there anybody alive out there??!!!"

There was life a-plenty on the streets of Stokie, walking home from last night's firework party. Approaching midnight, but bars and cafes still busy - spilling out on to pavements. Walking and meditating . . . on London.

Walking through the terraced streets - noticing glammed-up midnight girls getting into cars - heading off to bars and clubs.

I do enjoy these 3 generation get-togethers - like the one at the firework party. It's brilliant seeing the excitement and wonder on the faces of the little ones as fireworks light up the garden and the sky; as huge bangs ricochet around the onlookers. Even at midnight the streets sounded like a city in the middle of a civil war.


America's itch to brawl has a new target – but bombs can't conquer Iran

A post-imperial virus has infected foreign policy. We've been here before, we know the human cost, and now we must stop

I really couldn't believe my ears and my eyes when I discovered late last week that Israel, America and Britain are threatening to bomb Iran. What the fuck!

Simon Jenkins sums the situation up very well:
This time there will be no excuses. Plans for British support for an American assault on Iran, revealed in today's Guardian, are appalling. They would risk what even the "wars of 9/11" did not bring: a Christian-Muslim armageddon engulfing the region. This time no one should say they were not warned, that minds were elsewhere, that we were told it would be swift and surgical. Nobody should say that.

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine can promote peace, truth and reconciliation

The Israel-Palestine situation demands truth and reconciliation. We hope to aid that process

by Desmond Tutu and Michael Mansfield
We have visited Israel/Palestine on a number of occasions and every time have been struck by the similarities with the South African apartheid regime. The separate roads and areas for Palestinians, the humiliation at roadblocks and checkpoints, the evictions and house demolitions. Parts of East Jerusalem resemble what was District Six in Cape Town. It is a cause for abiding sadness and anguish. It revolves around the way in which the arrogance of power brings about a desensitisation. Once this has occurred it permits atrocious acts and attitudes to be visited on those over whom power and control are exercised. What such people are doing to themselves just as much as their victims should also be of concern.

This pantomime of choice has created a mess, and an awful paradox

Choice is a driver of inequality. The more money and education you have, the better the choices you can make
Labour did make huge efforts to compensate within a system that naturally generated inequality. But they made no effort to change the system itself. League tables stayed. Testing stayed. Teaching to the test stayed, and so did the idea that education was for the achievement of academic results, not for the nurturing of eager enquiring minds.
Very well said, Deborah. When did we EVER hear a politician talking about nurturing eager enquiring minds????


And how come we're such a stupid country we allow them to get away with this???

Our kids deserve a LOT better.


The moribund mainstream of politics risks letting loose the ghouls

Lib Dems no longer occupy the centre left, Labour is mired in the past. And so appears evil genius Nigel Farage

by John Harris - excellent as ever
Read [Plan B], and you get a sense of what politics might be like if its practitioners actually rose to the moment.
[Plan B says] - "Stop cutting - the economy needs a kickstart, which the private sector cannot manage, and which only the state can achieve." There's more: "Raise benefits levels for the poorest families," it advises, "to ensure that money goes to people who most need it, and who will spend it, thus boosting aggregate demand." Using the most straightforward of arguments, it also makes the case for a domestic separation of retail and investment banking, convincing moves on executive pay and more. As the Guardian subsequently reported, its plans are supported by a cabal of non-parliamentary Lib Dems, though not a single Labour voice – from either inside or outside the shadow cabinet – would come out to publicly express any interest, let alone support. As a result, for all that the text chimes with the moment, it has the quality of Soviet-era samizdat: a dangerous broadside from well beyond a tired mainstream".

We Lib Dems back the Compass Plan B

Letter in the Guardian.


100 leading economists tell George Osborne: we must turn to Plan B

Chancellor must change strategy and enact emergency measures to avoid a double-dip recession, experts say
A hundred leading economists have made an impassioned call for the government to step back from the brink of a new economic crisis and back a Plan B to save existing jobs and create new ones, amid growing fears of a double-dip recession.
In a letter to the Observer, the umbrella group of distinguished experts from across the country argue that the chancellor must rethink his strategy and enact emergency measures to kickstart growth and save the UK from growing unemployment and a further fall in living standards.
Condemning the intransigence of the chancellor, George Osborne, as he pursues the coalition government's austerity programme, the economists write: "It is now clear that Plan A isn't working. Wave after wave of economic figures… have all concluded the British economy is faltering." And they warn: "Doing nothing is not an option."

Billy Bragg and Johnny Flynn: where have all the protest songs gone?

As many young people become political and take to the streets, musicians Billy Bragg and Johnny Flynn reflect on the dearth of protest songs to accompany them


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