Recent blog entries

Spanish Ebola nurse: infected others in holiday swimming pool?

English news reports of Teresa Romero, the Spanish nurse infected with Ebola mention that she had been on holiday when she first started experiencing the symptoms of Ebola.

As most people know by now, a patient becomes infectious the moment that they start to exhibit symptoms.

Abbott may kill more Australians than Putin

Australians are the third biggest group of casualties in the MH17 tragedy this week. Australia's leader, Prime Minister Tony Abbott, is already calling Mr Putin to account before the facts have even been confirmed.

The startling reality is, OECD research already suggests that Mr Abbott's own policies have the potential to kill more Australians.

Balancing a budget with sex work?

Tony Abbott has attracted worldwide ridicule for himself and our country (not for the first time of course) with his infamous wink incident this week.

In fact, people repeatedly sharing this incident on social media are not really adding much to the national debate. Anybody who's opinion actually matters already knew Tony Abbott is not fit to even lead a scout group, let alone a whole country.

Why I hope Craig Thomson avoids jail

Craig Thomson has finally been convicted of all those fraud charges that everybody has been talking about throughout the years of Rudd/Gillard Government.

It is worth remembering how Gillard deflected all the questions about Thomson:

"Everybody is innocent until proven guilty"

Well, unless you are a refugee or a coloured person (or both).


Sudáfrica: Los metalúrgicos son expulsados de COSATU por defender el socialismo

Links International - 0 sec ago

[English at and]

Por Unión Nacional de Trabajadores Metalúrgicos de Sudáfrica (NUMSA) y también Dale McKinley

23/11/2014 -- Sin Permiso -- Ha pasado lo que habíamos advertido a los trabajadores sudafricanos y al público en general. El Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores Metalúrgicos de Sudáfrica (NUMSA), con sus 350.000 miembros fue expulsado del Congreso de Sindicatos de Sudáfrica (COSATU) en las primeras horas de la mañana del sábado (después de la una de la mañana), 08 de noviembre 2014 , en una reunión del Comité Central Ejecutivo Extraordinario (SCEC). Esta expulsión tuvo lugar tras una votación 33 a 24.

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Categories: Community

Online state election advertising

Daniel Bowen - Tue, 25/11/2014 - 21:29

Only a few days until the state election, and the campaign is heating up.

Miller and Staikos signs for the state election 2014

Here’s something interesting I’ve noticed: apart from posting and advertising on Facebook, the Liberals have paid for Google Adwords advertising — that is, links to appear above search results on Google.

They’ve covered the names of a number of Labor candidates in marginal seats, plus their state leader’s name (linking to the more positive “Our Plan” site), and the name of their main opposition party and its leader. They don’t seem to have covered opposition candidates in some marginal seats such as Prahran and Frankston, and nor have they included the Greens.

It’s all interesting stuff. I wonder how many people searching for information on Labor candidates end up clicking through to the Liberals’ “Frankston Line Facts” or “Backwards Under Labor” web sites?

I didn’t spot any evidence that Labor have done the same thing, but they have gone in strong advertising on the mainstream media web sites: this morning the Herald Sun and The Age web sites are covered in ads for them attacking Napthine and Abbott.

An article in Crikey (Paywall) last week suggested that political advertising doesn’t actually work very well, a position also supported by research done in America. Personal interactions such as doorknocking (and I guess handing out flyers) work better.

That can be difficult to organise, but has been happening a lot in the marginal seats this year.

The somewhat antiquated “Electronic media blackout” kicks in from midnight tonight, but only applies to TV and radio. I guess we’ll continue to see online ads right up until, and during, Saturday’s vote.

  • Note that the Libs’ 44% fare increase claim (which is repeated on the Frankston Line Facts site) appears to be more scare-mongering. Apparently in one radio interview some months ago, Daniel Andrews misspoke and suggested Labor would remove zone 2 altogether. Their actual policy is to cap fares at zone 1 rates — the same policy as the Coalition, which is why PTV has felt confident enough to press ahead with it from January. (If zone 2 was completely removed, current zone 2-only trips would go up in price to the higher zone 1 fare — a 44% increase.)
Categories: Community

Photos from the past week

Daniel Bowen - Tue, 25/11/2014 - 03:47

A few photos from the past week or so…

Sunday afternoon in Bentleigh. Has either major party pledged to fix the 703 Smartbus? No, neither of them has. The sign closest the camera is telling you to check the timetable… this is because part of the route doesn’t run at all on Sundays. On the other side, if you zoom in, you will see that automated sign by the station still doesn’t work properly after nearly four years, and the buses are 45 minutes apart, in breach of the government’s own Smartbus standard.
Bentleigh bus stops and level crossing

A rare sighting of the only X’Trapolis train running on the Frankston line. Thank goodness they’ve spent up big on gimmicks like this, rather than fix basic problems… like the sign telling you whether you need to cross the tracks to platform 3, which has been incomplete since June.
X'trapolis train at Bentleigh station

Worried about home burglaries? Don’t be — the poilce are on the job.
Poilce targetting home burglaries in area

These things come with some new fridges. They stop items in the door falling over. What are they called? And can you buy them?
Fridge door...what do you call these things?

It was tricky, but I managed to get the Christmas tree box into the bagging area so the self-serve checkout could weigh it. (Our old plastic Christmas tree finally died last year.)
Please place the Christmas tree in the bagging area

Categories: Community

Ebola epidemic exposes the sickness of the global economic and political system

Links International - Tue, 25/11/2014 - 03:35

An awareness campaign against Ebola in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, September 25, 2014.

By the Peoples Health Movement

November 2014 -- PHM Global News, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On August 8, 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Ebola outbreak a "public health emergency of international concern". The declaration came four months after the WHO reported a major Ebola outbreak in Guinea in West African. The epidemic broke in Guinea and spread to three of its neighbours – Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. The cumulative number of cases and deaths as at November 12 stood at more than 13,000 cases and 5160 deaths. Most public health experts agree that the official figures are a major underestimation of the extent and spread of the disease.

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Categories: Community

Climate activism: 'It's not enough to criticise. Build movements that confront the crisis'

Links International - Tue, 25/11/2014 - 03:13

Gemma Weedall addresses Socialism 2014 in Malaysia.

By Gemma Weedall

[This is based on a presentation Socialist Alliance's Gemma Weedall gave to Socialism 2014, a conference organised by the Socialist Party of Malaysia. ]

November 20, 2014 -- Green Left Weekly -- Climate change is the biggest and most urgent threat facing humanity today. We are seeing global temperatures rise at an unprecedented rate, with 13 of the 14 warmest years on record having occurred in the past 14 years.

In fact, if you are under 37 years of age, you have never seen a year of below average temperature.

Last year in Australia, over 150 weather records were broken, including experiencing our hottest day, week, month and year on record. It is likely that these records will not be long-standing, with all signs indicating they will be broken again this coming summer.

There are predictions that at current rates of emissions increases, the Arctic will be ice free in summer as soon as four years from now, but in the best case scenario, in about 20 years.

This represents a dangerous tipping point that will take us into uncharted territory from which we may not be able to return.

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Categories: Community

Passion and Patience in the Town Without Pity

Sea Shepherd - Tue, 25/11/2014 - 02:12
Passion and Patience in the Town Without Pity

Commentary by Sea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson

 Sea ShepherdThe albino Risso's dolphin captured this weekend in Taiji swims with its family for the last time in the cove.
Photo: Sea ShepherdOperation Infinite Patience
has been underway on the ground in Taiji, Japan since September 1st. Three months completed, with another three months to go for the 2014-2015 season. It is indeed frustrating for the Cove Guardians being on site for six months, year after year. But that is why the campaign is called Operation Infinite Patience.

No dolphin will be killed out of sight and out of mind. Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians have documented every kill, every capture, and every inhumane act of brutality. It is a frustrating, soul-scarring ordeal. Yes, we have critics telling us that we should do more, but unfortunately there is not much more that can be done within the framework of non-violent opposition.

Some commonly asked questions about Operation Infinite Patience:

1. Why don't we scare the dolphins away like we have done in the Faroe Islands?

The answer to that is we cannot operate boats within 12 miles of the coast without those boats being seized by the Japanese Coast Guard.

2. Why don't we cut the nets and free the dolphins?

We did that in 2003, and saved the lives of 15 dolphins at the expense of two activists arrested and jailed for a month and released after $8,300 in fines. The warning given was that if this were attempted again, all Sea Shepherd members would be banned permanently from Taiji. This means that we could do it once but not again, and if that happens there will be no one to document the killing and captures.

Japan does not enjoy the freedoms that people in Europe have, and the Japanese police have extraordinary powers. The Cove Guardians are opposed by the police and the Coast Guard. They would dearly love for the activists to break the law, which would give them the reason to oust all Cove Guardians permanently.

3. What does the campaign accomplish?!

  1. It keeps the slaughter before the eyes of the international public with live streaming and media stories.
  2. It costs a great deal of money for the Japanese authorities to police the Cove for six straight months every year.
  3. It continually reminds the people of Taiji that the world is watching their every move.

If not for the Cove Guardians, Taiji would slip out of the concerns of the public internationally. The documentary The Cove was incredible, but without the Cove Guardians it would be long forgotten by now.

Sea Shepherd began the campaign in Taiji, Japan in 2003, when I sent Brooke MacDonald, with her camera, to Taiji. Her video and photos exposed the slaughter in headlines worldwide. That was the same year that Alex Cornelissen and Allison Lance were arrested for freeing 15 cetaceans from the cove. One of our crew that year was Ric O'Barry. He returned with Louis Psihoyos to make the Academy Award-winning film The Cove, of which Sea Shepherd was a participant.

The Cove succeeded in focusing international attention on Taiji. Unfortunately since the release of the film in 2009, the slaughter continues without any sign of an end in sight. It continues primarily because of the demand for captive dolphins by dolphinariums worldwide. As long as captive dolphins are exhibited for amusement in marine aquariums, the slaughter will continue.

Ric O'Barry's Dolphin Project continues to oppose the killing in Taiji. They operate separately from Sea Shepherd but it is good to have a diversity of approaches.

Sea Shepherd is however the only group that has maintained a daily presence six months of the year since 2010, and although it is frustrating and heart-wrenching campaign, it is the only approach that falls within the boundaries of practicality, non-violence and the law. If Sea Shepherd's Cove Guardians break the law in Japan, there will be no more documentation and the one action taken that violates the law will be the last action that we can take, because it will result in complete expulsion.

Some people say we should boycott Japan and Japanese products. I think this could be a good strategy and we encourage individuals to do just that, BUT Sea Shepherd does not have the resources to organize a global boycott and experience has taught us that national blanket boycotts are generally not effective.

In the face of obstacles, the incredible stubbornness of the Taiji dolphin slayers, and the despicable support of this slaughter by the Japanese government, the Cove Guardians continue to endure the experience of seeing and hearing the dolphins die. They continue to expose the slaughter to the world with the hope that the pitiful screams of the dying dolphins will reach the ears of people in Japan. The Japanese people — and people in the international community — must pressure those in power in Japan to address this issue that brings so much shame and dishonor to the entire nation of Japan.

It is amazing that a small handful of brutal fishermen are able to bloody the flag of Japan with their barbaric acts of brutality without being stopped by the Japanese people. But, then again, as a Canadian I have seen my own government ignore the majority opinion of Canadians with their ongoing policies of support for the horrific slaughter of baby seals on Canada’s eastern coast.

Sea Shepherd is opposed to the slaughter of the dolphins. We are not opposed to the people of Japan. However we do insist that the people of Japan have a responsibility to humanity to end this obscenity that stains the waters of the cove each and every year with the innocent blood of these highly intelligent, socially complex, self-aware and sentient beings.

What happens in the cove is murder, plain and simple. It is murder most heinous, torturous and shameful. It must be ended.

Cove Guardians Visit our
Cove Guardians
site for more information.
Categories: Community

Zwelinzima Vavi: The 'root cause' of the crisis in COSATU

Links International - Mon, 24/11/2014 - 13:11

For more on COSATU, click HERE. For more on South Africa, click HERE.

Speech by Zwelinzima Vavi, general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), to mark the 40th anniversary of the South African Labour Bulletin

November 21, 2014 -- COSATU, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- First let me say congratulations to the South African Labour Bulletin on its remarkable achievement of 40 years of uninterrupted critical publishing. Thank you for the honour of this invitation. For 40 years you have provided a voice to the voiceless; you exposed the brutality of the capitalist system that continue to brutally exploit workers; you have created space for policy debates that shaped the policies not only of trade unions but of the liberation movement as a whole.

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Categories: Community

Another Albino Dolphin Captured in Taiji’s Infamous Cove

Sea Shepherd - Mon, 24/11/2014 - 03:29
Another Albino Dolphin Captured in Taiji’s Infamous Cove

Albino is Part of the 15th Pod of Risso’s Captured in Taiji this Season; Remainder of Pod was Brutally Slaughtered in Killing Cove While Babies Were Dumped at Sea with Little Chance of Survival

Awaiting their fate netted in the cove, the pod and albino Risso's dolphin huddle close together Awaiting their fate netted in the cove, the pod and albino Risso's dolphin huddle close together
Photo: Sea ShepherdTen months after the world was captivated by a beautiful juvenile albino bottlenose dolphin who was captured from among a superpod of dolphins driven into the cove in Taiji, Japan, an albino Risso’s dolphin was driven into the cove and taken captive yesterday in Taiji (Nov. 23 Japan Time), Sea Shepherd’s volunteer Cove Guardians report. The albino Risso’s dolphin was part of the 15th pod of Risso’s captured this season. The Cove Guardians have named the newly captive albino dolphin “Shiro,” which means “white” in Japanese.

As the killing boats were heading back into port on Sunday morning (Japan Time) after an initially unsuccessful hunting trip, the Cove Guardians report the killers came across a peaceful pod of approximately 16 Risso's dolphins swimming in the waters near Taiji. Spotting the rare albino dolphin among the pod, the killers immediately knew this was a lucrative find. They wasted no time driving the Risso's pod ruthlessly toward the cove, where the stressed and frightened family was eventually netted off with no means of escape.

Within the family unit there were multiple calves and juveniles, including one young albino. The Taiji murderers drove the entire family under the tarps on the killing shore, where 11 members of the family were brutally slaughtered. Two dolphins were taken into captivity, including the unique albino, who will undoubtedly bring the killers a large payday in the future.

Black smoke is seen hovering as boats chase the panicked Risso's podBlack smoke is seen hovering as boats chase the panicked Risso's pod. Photo: Sea ShepherdAs the family members were ripped from the protection of their pod and slaughtered in the cove, three babies were loaded into slings and transferred onto a banger boat. These babies were taken back out to sea and dumped, lost and scared, with a very slim chance of survival without the protection of their family pod.

Karen Hagen of Norway, now serving as Cove Guardian Leader on the Ground, is a veteran Cove Guardian volunteer who was present in Taiji with Sea Shepherd last January when the superpod of bottlenose dolphins was driven into the cove. Unbelievably, she has now witnessed and documented the capture of two rare albino dolphins.

“It is horribly sad to see another albino dolphin taken by the killers here in Taiji. These rare, beautiful, and unique animals will spend the rest of their days confined to small tanks, where they will live out their shortened lives performing tricks for food,” said Hagen.

This was the 15th pod of Risso's to be slaughtered in the cove this season, bringing the total number of Risso's dolphins brutally murdered to approximately 170.

Aside from Risso’s, there have only been two other species brought in this season — one pod of bottlenose dolphins and one pod of pilot whales.

“By this time in the season last year, the killers had captured and slaughtered multiple species of dolphins, from pilot whales to Pantropical spotteds, from striped to Risso’s and more. This year, they have caught 15 pods of Risso’s and one pod of bottlenose and one pod of pilot whales. While I am very happy for the dolphins that are not being found, I am very concerned that the reason they are not being found is because these species have been driven toward extinction and depleted from Taiji’s waters,” said Sea Shepherd Senior Cove Guardian Campaign Leader, Melissa Sehgal.

The albino Risso's dolphin, chosen to be sold for captivity, is transferred via sling from the cove The albino Risso's dolphin, chosen to be sold for captivity, is transferred via sling from the cove
Photo: Sea ShepherdFor a staggering six months of each year – from September until March – entire family units, or pods, of dolphins and small whales at a time are driven into Taiji’s killing cove. Banger poles are hit against the side of the hunting boats to create a “wall of sound,” disorienting the sound-sensitive marine mammals and making it nearly impossible for them to escape the drive. Once netted into the cove, the dolphins and whales face brutal slaughter or a lifetime in captivity. In a drive just as stressful as the drive into the cove, remaining pod members — usually juveniles and infants — are driven back out to sea with little hope of survival on their own.

Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians are the only group on the ground in Taiji every day throughout the entire six-month hunting season, documenting and live streaming every capture and every slaughter for the world to see. The 2014-2015 season marks the fifth year of Operation Infinite Patience, and the Cove Guardians will not stop shining a spotlight on this atrocity until the slaughter ends.

Cove Guardians Visit our
Cove Guardians
site for more information.
Categories: Community

United States: Lorain County labour defends political independence

Links International - Mon, 24/11/2014 - 02:41

Ohioans successfully defeated Right to Work last time -- but it may come around again. Meanwhile, unions around Lorain have had it with Democrats who attack labour. Photo: AFSCME.

Click for more on left electoral politics at the municipal level.

By Bruce Bostick

November 17, 2014 -- Labor Notes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In Ohio’s most trade union-dense county, the dominant Democratic Party machine declared war on what has historically been its own base: labour. So last year, in opposition to the machine, the labour federation in Lorain County, the Central Labor Council (CLC), ran and elected several independent candidates.

This time around, as an anti-union “Right to Work” bill looms again in Ohio, the CLC is taking aim at the leader of the pack: City of Lorain mayor Case Ritenauer.

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Categories: Community

Cut the waste! Stop the boondoggles!

Club Troppo - Sun, 23/11/2014 - 02:48
Junction Oval

Junction Oval

Victorian Premier Dennis Napthine announces a “plan” to spend $20 million upgrading Junction Oval at St Kilda to accommodate the AFL team named after the suburb, even though it hasn’t played or trained there for decades. The plan appears not to have been checked with the local council or the AFL, and would apparently need another $37 million in infrastructure funding from the Abbott government.  At first glance it looks to be a complete waste of money with few if any redeeming features.

The Melbourne East West Link tunnel is a vastly more expensive but equally dubious project in cost-benefit terms that Napthine has rammed through despite very widespread opposition, including from the ALP which has said it won’t build it under any circumstances if elected.

The Baird government in New South Wales is pressing ahead with grandiose motorway schemes which almost certainly wouldn’t pass any rational cost-benefit analysis, and the ACT government is also apparently proceeding with plans to build a 12 km light rail line which most definitely doesn’t pass any rational cost-benefit analysis.

Meanwhile, in the Northern Territory, the Giles CLP government is apparently about to announce a plan to sell the government-owned Territory Insurance Office, partly in order to qualify for infrastructure funding from the Abbott government, and partly to get out from under a huge potential contingent liability because TIO is apparently unable to reinsure risks for providing insurance cover for properties built in cyclone surge zone or on floodplains (many of which should never have been approved for development and construction in the first place).

What will happen to Darwin foreshore properties if a cyclone surge arrives on a significant high tide.  The mooted TIO sale is partly the result of decades of bad planning, as well as the Abbott government's ill-considered infrastructure funding policies.

Nightcliff jetty in a fairly ordinary storm. What will happen to Darwin foreshore properties if a cyclone surge arrives on a significant high tide. The mooted TIO sale is partly the result of decades of bad planning, as well as the Abbott government’s ill-considered infrastructure funding policies.

What do these planning/infrastructure fiascoes in various states and territories have in common? Answer: – Tony Abbott the Infrastructure Prime Minister. Of course, the Infrastructure PM label is a false flag anyway, because as far as one can tell the Coalition government hasn’t committed any more funding to infrastructure projects than did its predecessor.  What it has done is to create an incentive for State and Territory governments to flog off existing publicly-owned enterprises and assets, seemingly without any form of evaluation as to whether a sale actually makes sense, in order to qualify for federal infrastructure funding that also appears to be granted without any meaningful cost-benefit assessment of the projects on which the federal money is to be spent. To the extent that there is any rationale behind the Commonwealth’s encouragement to sell existing state-owned businesses and assets, it appears to go no further than a universal blockheaded ideological “private good public bad” slogan. The objective of encouraging State and Territory governments with federal subsidies to use sale proceeds of public enterprises to fund new “core” infrastructure appears to be little more than an open invitation to the Premiers and Chief Ministers to indulge in massive and wasteful electoral boondoggles.

I wonder why no one in the mainstream media has noticed these patterns, and why no one is discussing them? They say we get the governments that we deserve, but surely we don’t deserve as bad as this. The Rudd and Gillard governments were a very long way from perfect, but at least they established a rigorous independent body called Infrastructure Australia to evaluate both the Commonwealth’s own projects and state and territory projects partly funded by the Commonwealth.  Rudd/Gillard conspicuously and unforgivably sidestepped IA evaluation when implementing the National Broadband Network, but in general terms IA provided a critically important accountability/transparency mechanism in areas involving huge expenditures of public money.

Infrastructure Australia has been almost completely sidelined by the Abbott government, a decision that has attracted almost no public attention. Except from Peter Van Onselen, that is:

IA is entirely independent of government, makes recommendations based on policy and research outcomes, and does not factor into its recommendations political considerations such as the marginality of seats being serviced by potential projects (or the need to help out state colleagues in the lead-up to elections).

In opposition, the Coalition pledged to retain this body, ­reappoint its chairman Rod ­Eddington (hardly a Labor stooge), and guarantee that projects costing more than $100 million go through the IA cost-benefit analysis.

In government, it has sought to bypass IA, hasn’t reappointed Eddington and won’t commit to cost-benefit assessments until after political decisions have been made. We have seen this in the announcements made concerning the East West Link in Melbourne, and WestConnex in Sydney. In fact on more than one occasion the government has proceeded with projects IA specifically concluded wouldn’t see a return on investment for taxpayers.

We are currently witnessing waste of public money on a gargantuan scale with little or no public scrutiny or discussion. And all this from a Federal Coalition government elected on a platform of cutting waste! It is truly bizarre.

Categories: Community

Bankers reject Forrest’s cashless welfare proposal

Club Troppo - Sat, 22/11/2014 - 22:57

Forrest Review

In a submission to the Forrest Review of Indigenous jobs and training, the Australian Bankers’ Association (ABA) rejects Andrew Forrest’s Healthy Welfare Card proposal.

The card was one of the review’s key recommendations and is meant to be cheaper and easier to administer than the government’s existing income management system. But according to the ABA, the proposal would require significant changes to current technology and cost time, money and resources.

Forrest’s idea is to provide welfare recipients with a card that doesn’t allow cash withdrawals and blocks access to alcohol, gambling and illicit services. The review argues that the new system would be cheaper and easier to administer than the government’s current income management arrangements because it would rely on the mainstream banking system and existing payments technology. However in a submission to the review, the ABA stated:

The ABA does not support using the banking and payment system for the implementation of the Healthy Welfare Card or an extension of the income management policy as a mandatory approach for all recipients of social security payments and assistance. There are a number of technological and practical considerations associated with the Healthy Welfare Card, which undermines the implementation of a workable, efficient and effective scheme.

In the current payments system, blocking access to cash and gift cards is relatively straightforward. But as the ABA points out, the system cannot automatically block purchases of prohibited goods like alcohol at merchants that sell alcohol alongside other goods such as groceries. The best it can do is block access to entire categories of merchant (eg pubs taverns and bars, package stores – beer, wine and liquor).

According to the ABA’s submission:

… currently there is no technology that would enable a card to block transactions or payments at individual purchases or allow some purchases and not others from a particular MCC [Merchant Category Code]. This change would require a substantial overhaul of the existing EFTPOS system in use by all Australian retailers to identify goods individually and if necessary preclude their purchase prior to check-out. It would require new EFTPOS devices and new transaction instructions (electronic messages and codes) to be introduced, which would potentially disrupt the efficiency of the payments system and increase the cost of point of sale transactions for all users (p5).

In the United States, proposals for cashless welfare systems have run into similar problems. In Massachusetts the government established a commission to see if it was feasible to move welfare payments to a cashless system. After receiving advice from consultants (the Ripples Group) the commission recommended against moving to a fully cashless system.

Categories: Community

The root of all evil? – ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus argues that getting rid of cash will reduce crime

Club Troppo - Sat, 22/11/2014 - 03:11

It may be devoted to 70′s nostalgia, but Björn Ulvaeus sees Stockholm’s ABBA The Museum as a harbinger of the future. The museum doesn’t accept cash. Since his son’s home was burgled a while ago, the former ABBA member has been campaigning for a cash-free future arguing that cash enables crime:

We can be reasonably sure that the thieves went straight to their local peddler. We can be absolutely sure that the ensuing exchange of goods never would have taken place in a cashless society. In the long run it would be extremely impractical for the peddler to trade stolen goods for milk and bread for his children. The drug pusher would be equally uninterested in TV sets and computers. In a cashless society he wouldn’t be in his business at all. His business wouldn’t exist, full stop.

All activity in the black economy requires cash. Peddlers and pushers can’t make a living out of barter. It is highly improbable that a coca farmer has use for my son’s jeans. He wants cash. Imagine if there wasn’t any. From farmer to addict a drug changes hands many times and every time cash is a must. Imagine if there wasn’t any.

According to recent media reports, Sweden is already well on the way to becoming a cashless society. Four out of five purchases are made electronically or by debit card.

But not everyone is sold on the idea of a cashless future. Former Sweden Police Chief and Interpol President Björn Eriksson warns that "little has been said about the major challenges that a cashless society brings. It infringes on people’s privacy. It can make life difficult in sparsely populated areas. It can make a society vulnerable and increasingly open to sophisticated internet crimes."

Categories: Community

Heaven or hell? Books look back on the German Democratic Republic

Links International - Fri, 21/11/2014 - 12:37
Stasi Hell or Workers’ Paradise? Socialism in the German Democratic Republic ― What Can We Learn From It?
By John Green & Bruni de la Motte
Artery Publications, 2009
50 pp.

Red Love: The Story of an East German Family
By Maxim Leo
Pushkin Press, 2013
272 pp.

Reviews by Barry Healy

November 16, 2014 -- Green Left Weekly -- The German Democratic Republic (GDR, or "East Germany") disappeared a quarter of a century ago after 41 years’ existence. The East German state is mostly remembered as “Stasiland”, as Anna Funder’s history of its secret police is called.

Yet, for all of its Stalinist failings, East Germany’s values still stubbornly retain many Germans’ endorsement, especially those of the eastern regions. In 2008, Der Spiegel surveyed young Germans nationwide and discovered that most defended what the GDR stood for.

This is usually dismissed as merely a form of nostalgia, but these two texts grapple with the fuller picture. What they recall are memories of when the fear of fascism could motivate whole nations ― and the promise of socialism inspired.

Husband and wife team Bruni de la Motte and John Green have personal links to the GDR. Born in Britain, Green studied in the GDR between 1964 and '68 and then worked on GDR television for 20 years.

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Categories: Community

Democratic Left Front (South Africa): 'Defend NUMSA! Struggle for an independent, socialist workers' movement'

Links International - Fri, 21/11/2014 - 11:40

For more on NUMSA, click HERE. More from the Democratic Left Front.

Statement by the Democratic Left Front (South Africa)

November 20, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In December 1985, millions of oppressed and exploited in South Africa and indeed across the world celebrated the birth of a giant of the working class, the Congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU).

Forged in struggles on factory floors, mine shafts, farms and homes of the rich across the country, the independent trade union movement became a powerful expression of the unity of the working class. COSATU embodied the principles of workers’ democracy and unity, fought for improvements in the lives of ordinary workers and played a leading role in the struggle against apartheid and for socialism.

On the eve of its 30th anniversary, COSATU’s rich legacy of independent workers’ struggles is being torn asunder. The expulsion of National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) by the leadership clique of COSATU threatens the very existence of the federation.

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Categories: Community

Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians Monitoring Captive Transfer Of Bottlenose Dolphins Captured In Taiji’s Brutal Drive Hunt

Sea Shepherd - Fri, 21/11/2014 - 00:16
Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians Monitoring Captive Transfer Of Bottlenose Dolphins Captured In Taiji’s Brutal Drive Hunt

Cove Guardians Believe the Dolphins are Being Transported to a Marine Park within Japan, Call Upon Japanese Supporters to Help

Bottlenose transfer in full swing at Harbor. 4 dolphins have so far been loaded upBottlenose transfer in full swing at Harbor.
4 dolphins have so far been loaded up
Photo: Sea ShepherdSea Shepherd Conservation Society volunteers on the ground in Taiji, Japan are currently monitoring the transfer of bottlenose dolphins captured last year in Taiji’s brutal drive hunt, now destined for a lifetime in captivity.

Sea Shepherd’s volunteer Cove Guardians have been standing watch since 5 pm yesterday (Japan time), monitoring the captive transfer process throughout the night. The Cove Guardians documented as buyers examined dolphins purchased by Taiji Whale Museum — one of Taiji’s three captive facilities. The dolphins were being held both at the Whale Museum and in Taiji’s harbor pens.

An estimated five dolphins are being transferred, including trained dolphins from Taiji Whale Museum and untrained dolphins taken directly from the harbor pens.

Based on information gathered by the Cove Guardians, Sea Shepherd believes that these dolphins will be transported to a marine park within Japan and not outside of the country, though their precise destination is not yet known. Sea Shepherd is calling upon its supporters within Japan to help identify the identity of the buyers who purchased the transferred dolphins as well as the dolphins’ final destination within Japan.

The transfer process is a frightening and stressful experience for dolphins and whales, who spend hours or even days confined to tiny, dark, coffin-like crates on the moving transport trucks. Depending on the final destination, the Cove Guardians expect that the transfer of these bottlenose dolphins could take up to several days.

In addition to the stress of the transfer process, dolphins and small whales captured in Taiji have already been through a horrific nightmare by the time they are loaded onto trucks and taken to their new marine prisons. When a pod is driven into Taiji’s killing cove, the killers and trainers work side-by-side to select the “prettiest” dolphins and whales — those without visible scars — to be sold for captivity. As the Cove Guardians have documented repeatedly, the captive selection process occurs simultaneously to the slaughter process. The newly captive cetaceans are forced to witness the murder of the other members of their pod, swimming in the blood of their own family.

A transfer truck prepared to transport bottlenose dolphins in tiny, coffin-like cratesA transfer truck prepared to transport bottlenose dolphins in tiny, coffin-like crates
Photo: Sea Shepherd“The Cove Guardians continue to document the inextricable link between the captive industry and Taiji’s brutal slaughter of wild, migrating dolphins and small whales. Taiji town in Japan has proven to be ground zero for the international trade in captive cetaceans,” said Sea Shepherd Senior Cove Guardian Campaign Leader, Melissa Sehgal.

“Bottlenose dolphins are especially lucrative in the captive trade. A bottlenose who has already been ‘trained’ to perform tricks for food can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Selling these dolphins marks a big payday for the greedy Taiji trainers,” Sehgal added.

The Cove Guardians have confirmed that the bottlenose dolphins currently being transferred were captured during the 2013-2014 hunt season.

For a staggering six months of each year – from September until March – entire family units, or pods, of dolphins and small whales at a time are driven into Taiji’s killing cove. Banger poles are hit against the side of the hunting boats to create a “wall of sound,” disorienting the sound-sensitive marine mammals and making it nearly impossible for them to escape the drive. Once netted into the cove, the dolphins and whales face brutal slaughter or a lifetime in captivity. In a drive just as stressful as the drive into the cove, remaining pod members — usually juveniles and infants — are driven back out to sea with little hope of survival on their own.

Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians are the only group on the ground in Taiji every day throughout the entire six-month hunting season, documenting and live streaming every capture and every slaughter for the world to see. The

2014-2015 season marks the fifth year of Operation Infinite Patience, and the Cove Guardians will not stop shining a spotlight on this atrocity until the slaughter ends.

**CALL TO ACTION**: Melissa Sehgal and the Cove Guardians are asking Sea Shepherd’s dedicated supporters in Japan to help these bottlenose dolphins, who have already endured such tragic loss and suffering.

Please help Sea Shepherd and the dolphins by helping us identify:

  • The identities of the buyers of the captive bottlenose dolphins

  • Any aquariums or marine parks in Japan currently expecting the arrival of new dolphins

Please send any relevant information to Sea Shepherd at:

Thank you for your concern for the dolphins!

Cove Guardians Visit our
Cove Guardians
site for more information.
Categories: Community

Why greens must be red and reds must be green

Links International - Thu, 20/11/2014 - 13:37

November 16, 2014 -- Climate & Capitalism, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- In these videos Ian Angus argues for a movement based on socialist and ecological principles, to save humanity and the rest of nature from capitalist ecocide.

Angus is editor of Climate & Capitalism, a founding member of the Ecosocialist International Network, co-author of the Belem Ecosocialist Declaration and editor of The Global Fight for Climate Justice. The presentation, delivered in Ottawa, Ontario, on November 16, 2014, was organised and co-sponsored by Ottawa Ecosocialists and Ottawa Socialist Project. It was recorded and edited by Albert Dupuis.

In part one, Ian Angus’s talk is introduced by Richard Fidler, who writes and blogs at Life on the Left. In part two, the question and answer period is chaired by Peter Gose, professor of sociology at Carleton University.

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Categories: Community

Escocia: El Partido Socialista Escocés después del referéndum

Links International - Thu, 20/11/2014 - 12:38

[English at]

Por Dick Nichols

12 de noviembre de 2014 -- Viento Sur -- La iglesia Augustine United Church de Edimburgo es un lugar frío cuando sopla el viento, como era el caso cuando el Partido Socialista Escocés (Scottish Socialist Party, SSP) celebró su conferencia anual de 2014 el pasado 25 de octubre.

Sin embargo, el ambiente se caldeó cuando los más de 200 miembros presentes del SSP pasaron a abordar los retos que plantea un vibrante nuevo periodo que se ha abierto en la política escocesa, marcado por una implicación popular sin precedentes en el activismo y el debate sobre el futuro de Escocia. Esta fase comenzó con la derrota de los defensores del “Sí” por un 55 % contra un 45 % en el referéndum por la independencia del 18 de septiembre. El efecto más sorprendente de esa victoria para el establishment del Reino Unido es el hecho de que el “victorioso” Partido Laborista Escocés, el principal partido impulsor de la campaña “Better Together” (“Mejor juntos”) contra la independencia, está ahora en crisis.

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Categories: Community

Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt on the 822

Daniel Bowen - Thu, 20/11/2014 - 07:41

Incumbent Elizabeth Miller has gone strong on “saving the 822″, promoting via Facebook and an ad the front page of the local Leader newspaper last week, apparently trying to imply that Labor is proposing to scrap the route completely.

822 bus ad

822 promotion (Elizabeth Miller Facebook page)

Having put the claim out there on Facebook, the Liberals have done nothing to quell people’s fears that the route might be scrapped. Comments on the Facebook post have included:

  • Its the only way i can get to work and school :///
  • You cannot remove the 822.. its the only bus route running along east boundary road.. its central for anyone that lives around bentleigh area as its our way to Chadstone & Southland… You have gotta be joking.
  • Our children use the 822 a lot. It is needed for children for school outings as well. … I also see many elderly using that bus as I believe it travels to southland and Chadstone which allows for them to shop and also catch up with friends. This is only a small part of how useful that bus route is. Think before you remove. Elizabeth Miller keep up the good work.
  • For me and all the other passengers of the 822 bus rely on this bus because it gets us to our everyday destinations and without it would be a dissapointment! If you fet rid of this route you will make peoples lives much more difficult.
  • please save the 822 bus.

This is classic FUD — Fear Uncertainty and Doubt. There is NO plan to scrap the route.

So I asked the Labor candidate Nick Staikos about it, and he said their intent is the logical move of the route off the backstreets and onto East Boundary Road (as proposed in the 2010 bus reviews), for a speedier trip and to better space out the north-south bus routes — there’s a huge gap between the Frankston line and the 822, with no services on Jasper or Tucker Roads.

But they’d do any change with community consultation to make sure as many people as possible are happy.

Part of that change might be moving the 701 from Mackie Road onto Marlborough Street to cover the section removed from the 822. As I wrote a few months ago, that’d be a good solution as it would remove duplication on Mackie Road (which also has the 767).

It would be difficult to have the 701 turn right from Marlborough Street onto North Road could be troublesome with no lights at that intersection, but the 2010 plan had it following the current 822 route as far as Duncan Mackinnon Reserve, then heading back towards Oakleigh.

Labor aren’t talking about proposed bus frequency upgrades. The 822, like most suburban buses, is appallingly infrequent, particularly on weekends. Public transport spokesperson Jill Hennessy mentioned there was some kind of bus strategy coming, but so far we don’t know what’s in it.

There’s obviously some detail to nut out, but nevertheless the Liberals’ posturing is nonsense. It seems to be trying to imply that everything is fine with the local buses… clearly not the case. One way of reading it would be that “only the Liberals” will fail to do anything whatsoever to improve them.

Fact is, local buses in Bentleigh do need improvement. Making the 822 a main road bus is a good start. Making it and other routes more frequent is also vital.

  • PTV stats show the 822 has about 450,000 boardings per year — around 1600 each weekday, 575 Saturdays and 388 on Sundays — the latter not being too bad, given it’s only an hourly service, but given it serves too of Melbourne’s busiest shopping centres, there’s a huge potential to carry more people if it ran more frequently.
  • Labor has said several times they would make an announcement around buses… This is important, as many areas only have buses. The policy has just been released today, and in summary is a $100 million package of upgrades. I haven’t digested the detail yet, but it’s got specifics on a number of routes, particularly the growth areas most dependent on buses. I can’t see anything in the Bentleigh area — not the 822, and also not the 703, which was promised an upgrade to full SmartBus status in the 2010 election by Labor.
Categories: Community

South Africa: World Bank shrugs at inequality and corporate subsidies

Links International - Thu, 20/11/2014 - 03:02

ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa's Lonmin's Bermuda-based "marketing" operations were revealed as a major source of tax avoidance.

Click for more by Patrick Bond. For more on South Africa, click HERE.

By Patrick Bond

November 20, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- South Africa is achieving a sizable reduction in poverty and inequality through its fiscal tools" -- that was the main claim by the World Bank’s Pretoria-based country director Asad Alam last week, in the foreword to the November 2014 report, Fiscal Policy and Redistribution in an Unequal Society.

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Categories: Community

Ukraine: 'Without peace, humanitarian crisis will be uncontrollable', warns European Left

Links International - Thu, 20/11/2014 - 02:43

More on the political situation in Ukraine.

Statement of a delegation of the Party of the European Left just returned from Kiev

November 17, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- A delegation of the Party of the European Left (EL), headed by two of its vice-presidents, Margarita Mileva and Maite Mola, returned on November 16, after a four-day visit to Kiev.

The aim of the trip was to learn about the situation of the conflict in Ukraine on the ground, in such difficult moments in which the tension increases dangerously and threatens to put an end to the ceasefire, the Minsk agreements and to restart large-scale combats in the province of Donbas.

During these days, the delegation met with activists of social movements, non-governmental organisations, organisations in defence of civil and human rights of Kiev and Donbas, with independent journalists and media activists as well as the Communist Party of Ukraine.

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Categories: Community