The Washington Post reports (28/2/2007) on the early days of the 2008 contest for President. While for the Democrats Clinton remains in the lead there are detectable changes among black voters if not white towards Obama who is seen as the most inspirational candidate. However CNN paints a different picture saying that in its survey it found whites more ready to say it was time for a black president.
Press Release: For immediate release 0030 hrs Tuesday 27th February
STANDING ROOM ONLY AS GEORGE GALLOWAY MP LAYS INTO BUSH AND BLAIR’S WAR CRIMES
There was standing room only at the Birmingham Stop the War Coalition AGM with George Galloway MP on Monday night (26/02/07). The meeting elected a broad range of people from Roger McKenzie of Midlands TUC to former Labour Councillor John Tyrrell and RESPECT Councillor Salma Yaqoob to help lead Birmingham’s large anti-war movement.
George Galloway gave a powerful analysis on the disasters that are the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan. This is what Galloway cited as the main points from the meeting:
“The world’s mightiest superpower, poodle in tow, is being humbled by the weight of populations that refuse to be occupied. But rather than remove our sons and daughters from the death and destruction of war, Blair chooses to take our youth, conscripted by high unemployment and low wages, and shift them from one illegal, immoral, unwinnable conflict in Iraq to another illegal, immoral, unwinnable conflict in Afghanistan.
“Bush and Blair know they are beaten. Yet just like the Vietnam war, when the US chose to spread the killing to Cambodia before eventually scrambling defeated off embassy roofs, so today they stoke up the flames of fury by preparing for aerial war in Iran. But I warn them this: the brutal flames of war will not just be felt in Tehran. The safest option for all is that our troops leave Iraq and Afghanistan now in order to let the people of these countries decide their futures.
“I, and everyone at the impressively large meeting of Birmingham Stop the War Coalition call on the vocal majority that is against the war to continue winning the arguments. We demand that all Birmingham MPs and Councillors oppose existing and further wars. For some, we will have to find their backbone by hounding them into representing the views of their voters rather than their careers. The size of our movement gives us the chance, and responsibility, of preventing greater carnage committed in our name.”
Interesting to see M & S competing in the market for fair trade cotton goods. Potential exporters are manufacturers located in Palestine.
Freedom Clothing Project imports cotton goods and invests in small livelihood projects. They support cotton production in Turkey which is then sent to a manufacturer in Bethlehem who produce high quality tee-shirts. I have samples of their goods and recommend any who are interested in supporting fair trade in general, or Palestinian producers in particular to contact them.
Just how dangerous it is to question what is happening to Africa’s wealth is demonstrated in the arrest of a British woman investigating human rights violations in Angola. On the one hand ruling elites are propped up by industrial giants prospect for oil and precious minerals, on the other the bulk of the population may be starving, suffering from preventable epidemics such as aids and lacking opportunities for education. Views of African people propagated in colonial times still abound fuelling racism and discrimination. Those like Mugabe know this, but still indulge themselves with the backing of Barclay’s Bank and now China.
Birmingham have spent a great deal of effort setting up a Children’s Rights organisation to ensure that children in care get their entitlement to a fair hearing. Advocates are employed to ensure this happens. Problem is it’s not independent of the Social Care and Health Department representatives of which fight shy of criticism. As a City Councillor I was used to doing things a bit differently and as a result a material difference could be, and was made for several young people. Many social workers are brilliant, sometimes their managers less so.
Now we learn that we have a poor record caring for our children as a nation, whereas nearby Holland does a much better job. Why?.
This morning I sat, eyes glazed, as I was updated on my role and duties as a school governor. It all seemed to me to be mechanistic, ensuring target after target is met. Problem is it’s the kids who are at the heart of all this. One thing scientists are always careful of is not to alter the very matter that they are studying, since observation itself can create change. Don’t SATs do just that? Time spent on improving performance are denying all sorts of other experiences that young people should be enjoying: music, expressive arts, just creative play. The very things that do make a difference and inspire. English and maths out of contact doesn’t. It kills you off. Of course schools are aware of this and work hard for their children. Problem is clueless inspectors turn up on the door step, probably failed teachers, and rubbish anything that doesn’t directly relate to mechanistic performance. They should go the circus and work with seals.
One thing about New Labour is that it will pluck prospective candidates from anywhere. excepting, that is, anyone who might have a whiff of adherence to Labour tradition and its founding values. Well, you might say, we live in a different world where things have changed. Too right they have. We find ourselves bottom of the pile in such fundamental matters as looking after and rearing our young. Mr Reid trumpets “two new prisons”, a symbol of failure if ever there was one. The two are not unconnected. If we can’t even look after our children what hope is there? Under New Labour baby went out with the bath water.
Now that Clare Short has decided to abandon Ladywood the line up of prospectives to plug the gap looks formidable. There’s a former Conservative candidate and whole range of hopeful City Councillors some of whom have only recently waltzed onto the scene who should have a health warning attached.
Last night (14/2/2007) Ray Mallon aka Robocop, aka Elected Mayor of Middlesbrough,came to say what a good job he was doing as mayor. He was a salesman he said without the self interest of “two-bit” politicians so he was able to put Middlebrough’s case without fear or favour. Corruption had been the name of the game before he came on the scene and he was there to see it stamped out. Opposing the idea of the elected mayor, Khalid Mahmood asserted that a considerable number of elected mayors in the U.S. were either in jail or under investigation. Ray made it clear that he was above suspicion.
Just as a taste what life might be like if your are on the Cabinet under Ray, Stewart Stacey sitting next to me got a lashing from him. “It’s very rude to be reading the Evening Mail while I’m talking” he barked. Stewart pointed out that far from ignoring him he was writing notes about what was being said!
I asked how such matters as the Unicef’ report on the state of British children would be addressed by going further down the route of individualism. This has been one of the things cited as a reason for the state of affairs. I also ventured that I was glad he wasn’t Birmingham’s elected mayor. Mr Mallon pointed out that I didn’t know him and the the press had played up the idea of “zero tolerance” without looking at other aspects of his leadership. Chris Game, sitting next to Khalid Mahmood, so I thought he was opposing, thought my view “simplistic”. He pointed to elected mayors in places like Holland with the highest standard of child care in the report. To me the consequence of tackling crime head on had lead to overcrowded jails filled with people many of whom have a mental illness. There has been a high suicide rate not least among vulnerable women. Ray pointed out that he visited primary schools regularly.
The Unicef Report on the state of the world’s children is scathing on Britain. It has made us all catch our breath. The feeling I get working with children in care (recently subject to a fairly damning report) is that as collective parents a poor example is shown. The information about Britain is only a part of this report which emphasises that where gender equality is practised it is the child who benefits.
As far as the situation in Britain goes it is interesting to hear views expressed by our continental neighbours. When we say proudly that our 4 years are reading they respond with “why aren’t they out playing?”. The hot house of examinations, bad enough at 16+, is replicated at 7, 11 and 14 with SATs. Why? It clearly isn’t helping our young, quite the reverse.
Regrettably the situation is a reflection of the society where a number of issues preoccupy us taking our eye off focussing what is important. Headlines are filled with alerts on crime, terrorism, gambling and other ideas which are doing great harm to us as a nation. Our responses to them have all received considerable criticism: prisons are stuffed full and are in inhuman; dealing with terrorism has lead to the stigmatisation of sections of the community and grave injustice and casinos are being promoted at every turn.
As Cabinet Member for Transportation in Birmingham from 2003-4 I was challenged to introduce charging for entering the city centre. I resisted because of the poor provision of public transport in Birmingham and the region, not because I am opposed to doing something drastic to combat congestion and pollution. I did support the development of the Midlands Metro, bus lanes, park and ride, cycling routes and any way to improve the quality of transport and the environment. Clearly though a sustainable future requires something much more fundamental than tinkering at the edges. Even so I was branded by the motoring lobby as anti-car. Some of these people are fanatical in their insistence on living for the present, damn the consequences of continued gridlock now and much worse for our children in the future. Anyone who dare support improvement for the public transport system can depend on them for venting their wrath. They must be pleased with the current post holder who succeeded me, “Gridlock” Gregory, who has done is best to put to reverse what was done by the Labour Council and the Passenger Transport Authority. Bus usage continues to decline apace and there are no alternatives while Metro developments are in limbo.
The strong lobby of motorists opposing road charges threatens the agenda to seriously combat the effects of pollution on the climate, which we’re are continually told are potentially catastrophic.
From George Rishmawi
June 20 – August 18th 2007
Come and celebrate Palestine, learn Arabic, study history, know the people and their culture, share some time with local families and volunteer with a local community organization
The Palestinian summer celebration is a unique annual program that gives people from all over the world the chance to encounter the life and culture in Palestine in addition to donating some of their time to a local community organization through voluntary work and internships. The Palestinian summer celebration 2007 will take place in the Bethlehem area in Palestine, between Wednesday June 20th and August 18th 2007. the annual celebration is organized by Siraj Center for Holy Land Studies in partnership with Bethlehem University and the US based Society for Biblical Studies. Participants will also have the opportunity to listen and question high level speakers of various positions and expertise.
An Arabic language Course and a Modern Palestine Course are offered by Bethlehem U as apart of the program. Three credits hours will be given for each course, upon the participant’s request.
Courses out line
ARSP 101 Introduction to Palestinian Spoken Arabic
HIST 120 Modern Palestine
An opportunity to serve a good cause:
Voluntary work in over 50 different organizations in Bethlehem and the surrounding towns of Beit Sahour, Beit Jala and Doha, also in the three refugee camps in the vicinity Dehaisheh, Aida and Azza who have been suffering the longest tragedy in the history of humanity.
Tips of anticipated voluntary work
1. Office work, like writing, editing, web design
2. Work with Children at Summer camps and Children centers
3. Physical work in agriculture, schools and centers
All participants are invited to submit their resumes so we can send it to a number of organizations and set you up at the right place where your skills and effort are most needed and appreciated.
Where to go home to:
Accommodation will be in the hospitality of local families in the Bethlehem and the vicinity depending on the voluntary work place. Participants will have the chance to share the lives of the local family’s and get exposed to real life situation where they can practice there freshly learnt Arabic and Palestinian culture, experience the tasty traditional Palestinian dishes and all other aspects of Palestinian extended family life. Such an experience will give the participants the chance to build relations with their host families that may last for ever.
Never the less accommodations at guest houses are available for daily, weekly or monthly rates.