Can we make poverty history?

Submitted by Janine on 14 May, 2005 - 8:55

The basic statement of the Make Poverty History campaign, and a response by No Sweat


Today, the gap between the world’s rich and poor is wider than ever. Global injustices such as poverty, AIDS, malnutrition, conflict and illiteracy remain rife.

Despite the promises of world leaders, at our present sluggish rate of progress the world will fail dismally to reach internationally agreed targets to halve global poverty by 2015.

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The trouble with Northern Ireland

Submitted by Janine on 14 May, 2005 - 11:42 Author: Sean Matgamna

Why is Northern Ireland so intractable? Sean Matgamna looks to the intricacies of Irish history and the peculiarities of the Six County entity for an explanation.

There are two distinct peoples in Ireland, who see and define themselves differently and antagonistically, the Catholic “Irish-Irish” Nationalists and the Protestant “British-Irish” Unionists.


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 16/05/2005 - 20:51

"The Provisionals were devoutly Catholic, politically primitive, physical force on principle, traditional Republicans. They prepared for an offensive war."

This isn't really a fair statement. If you read the document "Where Sinn Fein Stands" (1970), written by the caretaker executive of Sinn Fein (i.e. the Provisionals) you'll see they're not politically primitive or devoutly Catholic. What they objected to was the "extreme Socialism" of the Stalinists of Official Sinn Fein.

"There is no doubt that an extreme form of socialism was being pushed on the Movement by the 'policy- makers'... and their aides. This was a further reason for the [Provisional] 'walk-out'. While we, who went to Parnell Square, believe in a Democratic Socialist Republic of all Ireland, it seems certain that the ultimate objective of the [Official] leadership which remained at the Intercontinental Hotel is nothing but a totalitarian dictatorship of the Left."

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The trouble with Northern Ireland: part 2

Submitted by Janine on 14 May, 2005 - 11:36

Read part 1 here.


The entity designed for majority-Protestant self-rule was to have a new political mechanism transplanted into it.

A statelet designed to let Protestants rule was to be reformed in such a way as to abolish majority rule, and in its place put institutional power-sharing — guaranteed by law — between Catholic and Protestant parties.

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Platform: Nuclear Politics

Submitted by Janine on 13 May, 2005 - 11:17

While George Bush hypocritically rails against nuclear proliferation in Iran, the US and Europe are colluding in extending nuclear energy in the countries affected by the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. This survey — we have edited it slightly for reasons of space — was published recently on the Schnews website.

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Being Skint

Submitted by Janine on 13 May, 2005 - 11:14

Duncan Morrison reviews “Skint”, BBC1, Mondays, 10.35pm

The documentary series Skint has reminded me how valuable good documentaries can be. Using a not quite fly on the wall style, the makers ask questions to their subjects as they go through their lives. They follow a number of people and families in the Birmingham area as they struggle to make ends meet. These are Britain’s poor.


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 01/07/2005 - 22:14

I was in Birmingham this morning and as I was heading towards New St Station for my train home I passed a Big Issue seller.As there is one on virtually every street corner I didn't pay much attention.It was only when he came right up to me that I recognised him as the guy on the BBC Skint programme who has a young son.I turned back and bought a copy from him to which he replied "Bless you sweetheart".He seemed cheerful despite his circumstances and I thought what a brave face he is putting on.We all think we have problems but sometimes it takes someone who has bigger worries to make us think what is really important in life.A lesson to us all.

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Poor on the outside, rich on the inside

Submitted by Janine on 13 May, 2005 - 9:24

Joan Trevor reviews the documentary “Cinema Iran” (Channel 4) and looks at some of Iran’s cinematic output

On the surface, Iranian cinema is everything US cinema isn’t, so Mark Cousins began his Cinema Iran programme interviewing movie goers in New York.

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Support Bus workers in Iran

Submitted by Pete on 13 May, 2005 - 9:09

Statement of Campaign in Defence of Bus Company Workers of Sherkat Vahed


Submitted by Pete on Sat, 14/05/2005 - 10:19

This letter was sent in protest at the attacks on Iranian unions and activists. Other unions should be asked to send similar protests and seek to make direct links to those under attack.

Mr. Seyed Mohammad Khatami
Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection
Islamic Republic of Iran


TUR/FW 10 May 2005

Dear President,

Automobile factory worker arrested on and missing since 12 April 2005, and violent attack on premises of a union

On behalf of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), which represents more than 145 million workers through its 233 affiliated trade union centres in 154 countries and territories worldwide, I am writing to you to protest strongly at some recent events that seriously affect Iranian workers' rights.

First, I would like to voice our strong concern following the detention and "disappearance" of Mr. Parviz Salarvand, a worker at the Iran Khodro automobile construction company. According to our information, workers have started to protest last year, and again in recent months, at deteriorating working conditions at the company, as management has systematically been pressuring the workers in order to obtain a higher output. Workers are not allowed to form their own labour organization and many of them are currently being hired on a temporary contract basis, which makes them ineligible for the benefits that permanent employees enjoy. According to our sources, management had furthermore announced the deduction of their new year's bonuses and proclaimed the unequal treatment of permanent and temporary contract workers.

After having expressed sympathy for the demands of the temporary workers, Mr. Parviz Salarvand was arrested by the company’s security department on 12 April 2005. Subsequently he was, in an allegedly brutal way, interrogated in the basement of the security section of the company, and has not been heard of for 25 days. After that period, the company's security department confirmed that he is being detained, but refused to give any more comments.

Another very worrying event occurred yesterday, Monday 9 May, when reportedly more than 300 men of the Iranian Workers' House (Khaneh Kargar) and of the Islamic Shora of the Vahed Bus Company in Tehran attacked a meeting of the founding committee of this company's workers' union. This meeting was taking place in the premises of the Bakery Workers’ Association.

Around 2 pm, when the members of the founding committee were having lunch, they noticed the arrival of a large number of security forces in front of the union offices. We were informed that a few minutes later, around 12 buses containing more than 300 men of the Workers' House and the Islamic Shora arrived. They immediately started to tear down the union's premises, to smash up doors and windows, to tear up documents, to destroy library books and to attack about 10 members of the founding committee.

All this took place while the security forces were present and even filmed the incident. They nevertheless confiscated press cameras and tape recorders from the ISNA news agency and newspaper reporters. Some attackers held placards with slogans such as "death to hypocrites" and "trade unions, a refuge of Taghout", the latter being a known reference to the previous monarchy.

One of the attackers allegedly intended to cut the tongue and neck of founding committee member Mr. Mansour Ossanlou, with a knife, while the Chief Executive of the Supreme Council for the Coordination of Islamic Shoras, Mr. Hassan Sadeghi, tied Mr. Ossanlou’s hands behind his back, for the attacker to get on with the assault. Mansour Ossanlou afterwards had to be taken to the hospital, where his neck and tongue had to be stitched.

The ICFTU denounces these recent developments, and particularly their violent nature. In view of the many recent violations of trade union rights in Iran, we would like to remind you that Iran must respect internationally recognized workers' and democratic rights, such as the right to freedom of association. As a member of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Iran is under an obligation to respect and enforce the fundamental principles enshrined in Conventions 87 and 98 on the right to freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining.

We therefore urge you, Mr. President, to order the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Parviz Salarvand as well as an investigation into this incident, and to see to it that such violent attacks on peaceful and legitimate union meetings do not occur again.
I look forward to your swift and decisive action in this matter.

Yours sincerely,

General Secretary

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Haifa and Leicester

Submitted by AWL on 12 May, 2005 - 11:02

Leicester University has cancelled a talk by Muslim lesbian feminist Irshad Manji because of fears of hostile reaction from right-wing local Muslims.

Compare Haifa. Ilan Pappe, a lecturer at Haifa University, is a vehement anti-Zionist, as unpopular with right-wing and conservative opinion in Israel as Irshad Manji is with right-wing and conservative Muslims.

Pappe has had trouble at the university, and some professors there are very hostile to him, but he is still in his job, still lecturing.


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 13/05/2005 - 17:23

So you are comparing the situation in universities in the occupied territories to Leicester? The situation of Palestinian academics and students is apparently the same as a cancelled meeting? Universities cancel controversial political meetings all the time. Most disturbing about this is the AWL's constant and neo-con style obsession with 'mooslims'. Ah ha you think Israel is bad Look at these Moooslims...over and over again. If this is 'third campism' you can keep it.

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Free Eritrean union leaders!

Submitted by Janine on 12 May, 2005 - 9:03

From Eric Lee, Labourstart

We have received a report from Geneva regarding the arrests and detention without trial of three trade union leaders in Eritrea. You may remember Eritrea — it is sometimes in the news because of its ongoing conflict with Ethiopia (from which it won its independence several years ago). But what you may not know is that the country is a single-party state which brutally represses dissent.

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A future for social housing?

Submitted by Janine on 12 May, 2005 - 5:45

by Tony Osborne

Some Councils, like Hackney where I live, are scrabbling to get on the Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO) ladder. They think this is the only way they are likely to raise the money after years of (their own!) neglect and mismanagement, to comply with central government’s directive that all Council homes must reach a “Decent Homes” standard by 2010 However, this is by no means guaranteed even if given ALMO status.

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