Category: "Politics"

Bulgaria and Romania, welcome to the union

The European Union now stands at 27 member states, with a total population of half a billion people.

European Union

Bulgaria and Romania, welcome to the European Union.

Privatisation of space - disaster in waiting

This is something I bring up a lot. Private companies sending people into space, it's all the hype nowadays, and obviously people are unable to see the dangers, after all what's the track record of private companies on the ground?

I was reading Another World is Possible, the blog of John McDonnell MP, who is standing in the Labour leadership contest when Blair steps down, he wrote the following entry:

For all those attentive to this website who may have been hoping to go to the meeting in Birmingham tonight, unfortunately I've been trapped at Euston station thanks to privatisation of our railway service. Branson's Virgin trains have had another incident and all trains have been cancelled to Birmingham. All passengers have been advised to travel the next day. Branson is clearly trying to sabotage one of the central planks of my campaign, which is to bring rail back into public ownership.

Coincidentally, I bumped into an angry passenger at the station, fuming at the abysmal service by Branson's Virgin trains. This was noone other than Conservative MP William Cash, ardent advocate of rail privatisation and who under Thatcher voted consistently to undermine our rail service. Poetic justice or what?

Richard Branson, capitalist billionaire who wants to send people into space, a guy who can't even keep his trains running. Do you honestly want this guy to be putting people into space?

I sure as hell don't. Space should be strictly under public control. The exploitation of space should be avoided at all costs. Just a couple of weeks back we saw the Russian Space Agency hit a golf ball off the International Space Station, not only is this dangerous, that ball could strike another satellite, or worse the ISS. They do it for money in a shameless promotion of some golf company.

Of course not that Virgin Galactic actually does put people into space (when it flies that is); it's just a high altitude aircraft with a rocket attached to it. This does not reach orbit by a long long way and so is false advertising. Until a private company manages to develop a rocket comparable to Vostok they're no where near space, they're still a long way off, so far even private rockets capable of lifting only a few kilograms into orbit have had problems with exploding, again and again.

But the point still stands, do you want a company that can't keep the trains running involved in blasting people high up into the atmosphere, and eventually beyond? Am I the only one who sees a health and safety nightmare here?

Victory for the revolution in Venezuela

The masses of Venezuela have given total support to the continuation of the revolution. The Chavez government with its progressive program easily won the election with a large majority of the vote.

The opposition marches over the last week or so were dwarfed by the revolutionary masses which turned the captial into an ocean of red.

Chavez rally

Celebrations after the victory:

Celebrations after the victory

This election gives the government another six years to continue its program, in this time the government and more importantly the people themselves must increase the rate at which factories and shops are coming under workers control and break the power of capital before it is too late. The longer the capitalists have thier economic base intact the more dangerous the situation will become.

The forces of capital and imperialism have no objections to a violent blood bath if it will restore their full power, that can only be avoided by the masses themselves taking action to break the power of capital.

50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution

Today (well I'm 30 minutes late) was the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution, or to be more exact the anniversary of when Fidel Castro, Raúl Castro, Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos returned from exile from Mexico onboard the Granma, to start the revolutionary war to overthrow the tyrannical regime of Fulgencio Batista.

Ernesto "Che" Guevara remembered by the people:

Ernesto "Che" Guevara

Veterans of the revolution out in force:

Cuban revolution veterans

Full text of Raul Castro's speech:

Comrades past, present and future combatants,

We welcome good friends of the Cuban Revolution who have offered their essential support and solidarity over these last 50 years of prolonged battle for sovereignty and freedom.

Among them I would like to mention the Guayasamin Foundation and the relatives of this great Ecuadorian friend and painter, who conceived this noble gesture of paying homage to comrade Fidel on his 80th birthday, an occasion which has brought to Havana heads of state or government, as well as other dignitaries and senior personalities from the political and cultural scenes of various countries.

On behalf of our people we thank them for honouring us with their presence at this forum.

Another reason why we are gathered here today is to celebrate the anniversary of a momentous event in our history. We are here to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the landing of the Granma yacht on 2 December 1956, a date which marks the birth of the rebel army and of its true successors: the revolutionary armed forces.

It is to the combatant people, heroic protagonist and legitimate pillar of the armed forces, and to their founder and commander-in-chief that this military parade is dedicated.

This is divided into sections representing the beautiful history of 138 years of struggle by the Cuban people for their final independence.

Firstly, the liberation army that fought the colonial yoke, then the rebel army against neo-colonial tyranny followed by the revolutionary armed forces that defend the homeland, the revolution and socialism - one army of the people in three different stages of history.

This is a perfect time to reaffirm the full validity of the words spoken by comrade Fidel in his central report to the first congress of the Communist party, 31 years ago, as he said:

"The rebel army was the soul of the revolution. Its victorious arms opened the way for a new free, beautiful, striving and invincible new homeland. Its soldiers vindicated the blood generously shed in all the struggles for independence and with their own blood laid the foundations of Cuba's socialist present. They gave to the people the weapons wrested from the oppressor in an epic struggle, and merged with the people to become forever onward the armed people."

When "there was not yet the party which would emerge later on, the army was the factor of cohesion and unity of the entire people and the same that guaranteed power for the working people and the existence of the revolution".

And "upon the foundation of our party, the vanguard of our working class, the symbol and synthesis of the ideals, aspirations and history of the Cuban revolution from the glorious days of La Demajagua until now, and follower of the work of Marti's Revolutionary party and of the courageous founders of the first Marxist-Leninist party of Cuba, our army, heir to the heroism and patriotic honour of the liberation army, that has victoriously carried on its struggles, placed in the hands of the party the banners of the revolution and has ever since and forever been its most loyal, disciplined, humble and staunch follower". This is what Fidel said.

Also, in the context of the 50th anniversary of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (the Far), it is fitting to ratify the monolithic unity between the people, the army and the party. This unity has been deeply rooted over the years following the triumph of the revolution on 1 January 1959. This unity is our main strategic weapon, which has made it possible for this small island to resist and overcome so many aggressions from imperialism and its allies. This unity provides a basis for the internationalist work of the Cuban people and is the reason for the heroic deeds of its children in other countries around the world, following Marti's maxim that "Homeland is Humanity".

We are experiencing an exceptional moment in history.

Many thought that the demise of the socialist block and the collapse of the Soviet Union would spell the end for the international revolutionary movement.

Some even suggested that we abandon the ideals to which entire generations of Cubans had dedicated their lives, while over the last few years the US government, in the opportunistic manner characteristic of them, have stepped up their hostility and aggressiveness against Cuba to an unprecedented high, in the hope of economically suffocating the country and overthrowing the revolution by intensifying their subversive acts.

In this regard, the surprise and frustration of our enemies was great, and the admiration of the oppressed masses even greater, when they witnessed the perseverance, equanimity, maturity and self-confidence that our people have shown over these last four months.

Despite the manoeuvres and pressure of the United States and its allies, the prestige enjoyed by Cuba around the world has strengthened.

An example of this was the 14th Non-Aligned Summit successfully held in our capital last September, and more recently the unprecedented support given in the United Nations General Assembly to the resolution condemning the US blockade on our country.

In Latin America, the application the neo-liberal formula imposed by the United States and their European buddies has led the continent into the sad situation of being the region in the planet where the opulence of the oligarchy with close links to foreign capital is the most insulting and obnoxious when compared to the poverty, insalubrities and ignorance in which the majority of the population lives.

Over recent years, the peoples of Latin America have been progressively expressing their feelings of indignation and repudiation towards the treacherous and submissive policies adopted by traditional governments and parties.

Popular and revolutionary movements are getting stronger and despite Washington's multimillion-dollar campaigns of disinformation, the blackmail and brazen interference, new and experienced leaders are assuming the leadership of their nations.

The attempt by the United States to economically annex Latin America by way of the FTAA was thwarted while a project of integration known as the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, Alba, is taking its place following a proposal by president and brother, Hugo Chavez, to benefit the dispossessed masses.

Recent events in the international arena bear witness to the failure of the adventurous policies of the current US administration. On 7 November, the people of that country showed by the ballot box their rejection of the strategic concept of pre-emptive war, the use of lies to justify military interventions, kidnappings and secret prisons, and the despicable legalisation of torture in the so-called war on terrorism.

Three years and seven months after President Bush euphorically and precipitately declared on board an aircraft carrier "mission accomplished" with regards to the war in Iraq, the bodies of young American soldiers killed in a war spurred by the desire to control the region's energy resources continue to be sent back to the United States.

Nobody dares anymore to predict when it will end.

The US government is at a dead-end: on the one hand, it realises that it cannot prolong occupation in Iraq, while on the other it admits that it doesn't have the minimum conditions needed to pull out without damaging their interests.

Meanwhile, the number of deaths and mutilations continues to mount among civilians subjected to an internecine war, the result of the anarchy and chaos created by the US invasion.

Some in the United States are now suggesting that they simply withdraw from the chaos that they themselves created.

We don't know what they will do in this case, with the Nato left high and dry by its American buddies in the conflict in Afghanistan, which is also becoming increasingly unmanageable and dangerous.

In the eyes of the world, the so-called "crusade on terrorism" is unavoidably heading down the path to a humiliating defeat.

The American people, just as in the case of Vietnam, will put an end to these unjust and criminal wars.

We hope that the US authorities will learn that war is not the solution to the growing problems afflicting the planet; that proclaiming their right to irresponsibly attack "60 or more dark corners" of the world, even when they are already stuck in two of them, makes their differences with other countries more complex and profound; that power based on intimidation and terror will never be anything more than a passing illusion and that the terrible consequences of this on the peoples of the world, including the American, are clear to see.

We feel certain that the way to resolve the pressing conflicts afflicting mankind is not through war, but rather political solutions.

We take this opportunity to once again state that we are willing to resolve at the negotiating table the longstanding dispute between the United States and Cuba, of course, provided they accept, as we have previously said, our condition as a country that will not tolerate any blemishes on its independence, and as long as said resolution is based on the principles of equality, reciprocity, non-interference and mutual respect.

In the meantime, after almost half a century, we are willing to wait patiently until the moment when common sense prevails in the Washington power circles.

Regardless of this, we shall continue to consolidate our nation's military invulnerability based on the strategic concept of the War of All the People which we planned and began introducing 25 years ago.

This type of popular war, as repeatedly proven throughout modern history, is simply invincible.

We will continue to improve the preparation and combative cohesion of the regular troops and their reserves, the territorial militia, the production and defence brigades and other elements of the territorial defence corps, including all levels of the party, state and government structures.

We will continue to prepare the theatre of military operations while developing communications and the modernisation of combat resources in order to improve combative skills and adapt them to their envisaged use in the event of an attack.

We will also continue to strengthen the important work carried out on all fronts by the dedicated combatants of the ministry of the interior.

We will preserve the freedom of the Cuban people and the independence and sovereignty of the homeland at all costs.

With the strength derived from hundreds of years of struggle and the patriotic energy characteristic of our people, so noble and heroic, let us raise our voices in harmony to proclaim:

Long Live Fidel!

Long Live Free Cuba!

And today the people of Venezuela decide if they want to continue their revolution.

Rise of creationism in UK schools

From the Guardian:

Dozens of schools are using creationist teaching materials condemned by the government as "not appropriate to support the science curriculum", the Guardian has learned.

The packs promote the creationist alternative to Darwinian evolution called intelligent design and the group behind them said 59 schools are using the information as "a useful classroom resource".

A teacher at one of the schools said it intended to use the DVDs to present intelligent design as an alternative to Darwinism. Nick Cowan, head of chemistry at Bluecoat school, in Liverpool, said: "Just because it takes a negative look at Darwinism doesn't mean it is not science. I think to critique Darwinism is quite appropriate."

OK well Nick Cowan should be sacked and banned from teaching. He's either pushing a religious agenda on to his students or he is deeply ignorant about intelligent design and shouldn't be in a position to teach his ignorance.

The fact the founders of ID started with a conclusion and then worked backwards to try and throw something together to try and support their beliefs means it should be treated very suspiciously even if it was a science.

Using arguments disproved a hundred years ago, isn't science and finally by definition alone, it is not science.

I'll quote US District Judge John E. Jones III who dealt with those on the Dover School board who tried to push it:

In making this determination, we have addressed the seminal question of whether ID is science. We have concluded that it is not, and moreover that ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents. [...] The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID Policy. It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy.

The government here has also made its position clear on the matter. However we have no legal framework to defend ourselves from religious encroachment like our comrades do in the United States.

But the government has made it clear that "neither intelligent design nor creationism are recognised scientific theories". The chairman of the parliamentary science and technology select committee, the Lib Dem MP Phil Willis, said he was horrified that the packs were being used in schools.

"I am flabbergasted that any head of science would give credence to this creationist theory and be prepared to put it alongside Darwinism," he said. "Treating it as an alternative centralist theory alongside Darwinism in science lessons is deeply worrying."

The organisation that sent these materials out to every secondary school in the country is called Truth in Science, from looking over their website it is obvious they're just a religious organisation with an agenda to rubbish evolution.

From their website:

This has considerable social, spiritual, moral and ethical implications.

It is not the task of science to deal with spiritual or moral issues. Science is the search for truth and it will not change the truth just to try and make people feel better by putting them into a delusional stupor.

Those loony creationists

They'll try and say anything to rubbish evolution, come on at least get some intellectual standards. Roger Oakland, speaking in the creationist "documentary" The Evolution Conspiracy:

When the communists took over China the entire child population was forced to attend propaganda classes, where they were taught not some words of wisdom from Lenin or Stalin, but a fundamental course in Darwinian evolution.

You mean school? Yeah when the Maoists took over children went to school instead of having to work 16 hours a day just to try and feed themselves. They went to school and were taught evolution, the very same thing you're taught in school in America the UK and any other developed society. Those Maoists are so evil forcing those children to go to school and learn about science!

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