The PNN reports (12/2/2007) how non-violent demonstrations continue in spite of massive provocation. You see the apartheid wall divides olive trees from their owners. Construction of the wall also means that water supplies are diverted.
On the bulldozed land olive trees are being planted. Many of the trees that have been wilfully uprooted in Palestine by occupying Israeli forces are age old and date back to biblical times. They are a major part of the Palestinian economy and so many livelihoods are being destroyed. Not only are Palestinian farmers harassed but the military but settlers also attack them while harvesting the crop, or maybe steal the olives.
On the day before Obama is to announce his candidacy (9/2/2007) here is coverage of his progress from:
The Washington Post. This includes video of him and Clinton.
Obama’s choice of venue, Illinois, will have resonance with voters. This is the place Abraham Lincoln started his campaign with a promise of fighting to end slavery. Responses to the media campaign, and in particular the use of language such as reference to Obama as the new “boy” touch on a raw nerve (see below).>
Obama is calling for an end to U.S. involvement in Iraq saying that troops would be brought home early on.
The setting up of a textile factory in Zambia by the Chinese provided work and supported local cotton growers, but the thirst for mineral wealth at a knock-down price has put progress into reverse gear:
“But last month the factory shut down production, strangled by a new wave of Chinese interest across Africa that some critics say amounts to little more than another round of foreign plunder, as Beijing extracts minerals and other natural resources at knock-down prices while battering the continent’s economies with a flood of subsidised goods and surplus labour.”
Source: The Guardian 5.2.2007.
Whether or not those nine arrested as terrorist suspects are found to be justified, the continuing damage to community relations is deeply serious. Fear is being engendered as no one, particularly Muslims, can go about their lives free from worry. After the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes (not a Muslim, but first taken for Asian although he turned out to be South American) and the failure to find evidence in Walthamstow has made many sceptical. It has strengthened belief that the Muslim community, in particular, and black people in general are fair targets.
That the rot has set in is shown by the way that Muslim officers in the army and in the police force believe themselves to be at risk. Fear is being fuelled. Whether this is deliberate or not, it needs to be addressed urgently. The police have been handing out leaflets to try to reassure. Is there evidence that it does? President Bush has clearly used the politics of fear to gain advantage and Blair uses similar tactics whether its the fear of terrorism in foreign policy or criminal gangs at home. Fear is a well tried and effective political tool: that this has been written about and exposed seems to make little difference.
Last night (31/1/2007) we held a meeting organised by the Stop the War Campaign in Birmingham and which I was invited to chair. Forty to fifty people came along to the newly built Laurel Road Centre, once the local HQ of the Sandwell Ward Labour Party. Those who came together were at one times comrades in the Labour Party but now had gone to the four winds. Respect, Socialist Labour, Socialist Alliance as well as Labour and probably others – it would be a considerable force if all came together.
Walter Wolfgang from Labour’s National Executive was the main speaker. It’s not too usual to see someone with universal respect within Labour these days. Phil Murphy, now Honary Alderman, and my former comrade as Sandwell Ward Councillor kicked off with a philosophical and historical perspective citing Marx’s comment on the failure to learn from history with Iraq the new Vietnam. Helen Salmon represented the Stop the War Campaign in place of another indisposed speaker. Yet another contributor was missing only to turn up at the end of the proceedings. Asad Baig had been giving an interview to the BBC on the day’s events in Birmingham telling us that a ninth person had been arrested on the motorway. Asad is a resident of Alum Rock and a leading figure in resitance to terror raids. He asked those present for solidarity with Moslems who badly need moral support given the attention anyone who wears a beard or Islamic dress gets.
Walter Wolfgang addressed Iraq and Trident. While there are many reasons for not having a new generation of nuclear weapons he was deeply concerned at their proliferation and saw the need for Hans Blix’ proposal for a global summit. He saw the situation as more dangerous than it was during the cold war when at least both sides recognised each others position. Now the situation could easily run out of control. Another generation of nuclear weapons wil do nothing to ease the situation, rather it will encourage others to act in the same way.
Walter Wolfgang said that the continuing presence of foreigners in Iraq made the chance of anyone making a compromise to scale down violence wa less likely. There were in the order of 650,000 Iraqis dead, but there were no official body counts which was itself scandalous.