PSA: Solidarity with Unison

by matttbastard

via Eric Lee @ LabourStart:

This week’s message is going to be very brief and to the point.

Workers employed in care homes in north London (UK) have been told by their employer — a private company called Fremantle — that their wages are being cut by 30%, their hours are being increased, their sick pay will be a thing of the past, and their pensions are being reduced.

Their union, Unison, is calling for an international campaign of support for those workers.

I actually live in north London, so this campaign is taking place in my own neighborhood.

If you live in the UK, you should be concerned that privatized care homes are treating their workers this way. If you live anywhere in the world and work in the public sector, you should be concerned because this could happen to you next.
It will take you only a few seconds to fill in your name and email address and to send a strong message to the chief executive of Fremantle. If we all take the time to do this, we can flood her inbox today with thousands of messages from all over the world — and we can turn this around.

I know that I can count on you.

Please visit our campaign page now. And please do pass this message on. Thanks.

Eric Lee

More from the Barnet UNISON Blog here and here.

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PSA: Vote for MMP Online drive launched

by matttbastard

Vote for MMP

Press Release:

Vote for MMP today announced the launch of an online pledge and donation drive to reach millions of Ontario voters between now and the historic October 10 electoral reform referendum. On October 10, Ontarians will vote on whether to adopt the mixed member proportional (MMP) voting system recommended by the independent Ontario Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform.

This morning the first wave of emails went out to tens of thousands of Ontario voters directing them to On the campaign site, visitors are invited to sign the “MMP for Me!” pledge indicating their intention to vote for the mixed member proportional voting system.

In addition, visitors will be asked to donate just $10.10 – a figure reflecting the October 10 (or 10/10) referendum date.

“A single donation of $10.10 will not change the world,” said online campaign co-director Jim Harris. “But if thousands and then tens of thousands of ordinary voters see that together we can make history and build a stronger democracy – then all of those small donations will make a big difference.”

The MMP system was recommended by the Citizens’ Assembly after eight months of intensive study, consultation and deliberation. The Assembly included supporters of all parties and points on the political spectrum, as well as one voter from each riding in the province and reached a near unanimous conclusion to recommend MMP over the current first-past-the-post system. First-past-the-post voting was scrapped by most major democracies last century because it routinely distorts results, creates a huge portion of votes that elects no one, and usually hands majority control to a single party
without majority support.

Vote for MMP is a citizens’ campaign organized to support the recommendation of the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform. The campaign is building a multi-partisan network of grassroots supporters, as well as a growing list of prominent Ontarians, who support the move to MMP in the coming referendum.

Vote for MMP

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12,500 Martyrs

by matttbastard

Via Feminist Peace Network, AFP has more details on the so-called ‘stable‘ part of Iraq:

Heshw Mohammed tried to kill herself three times when her father would not let her marry the man she loved, swallowing tablets and surviving only because her stomach was pumped.

Beautiful, timid and abused, she exemplifies what campaigners and medics warn is a disturbing increase in women killing themselves — largely by self-immolation — in northern Iraq’s relatively peaceful Kurdish provinces.

“My father forced me to marry someone else. We were engaged just 15 days, during which I tried three times to commit suicide,” says Heshw, her eyes cast down, her fingers clenching and unclenching.


“My father would kill me if I went home. He killed my boyfriend. I don’t have any hope for the future. I’m just sitting here, waiting,” she says, refusing refreshment, her expressionless voice barely more than a whisper.

Women’s campaigners say Heshw’s story is all too common. What is unusual is that she took pills. Most Iraqi Kurdish women drench their bodies in cooking fuel from head to toe and set fire to themselves.


“Every year there has been an increase in killing. Saying it’s a cooking accident is just a lie. We must put pressure on the government to change the law,” says Aso Kamal, a 42-year-old British Kurdish Iraqi campaigner.

He quotes from newspaper reports that from 1991 to 2007, 12,500 women were murdered for reasons of “honour” or committed suicide in the three Kurdish provinces of Iraq; 350 in the first seven months of this year.

“We want to speak out about this. There is silence in Kurdistan. People say it’s a family matter. We want to change the patriarchal system in Kurdistan. Honour killing is against the law but the law is not being enforced,” he says.

As FPN notes, “women trying to flee the region are, in a word, screwed”, thanks to a national passport law that, as journalist Koral Tofiq reports, forces women to “first obtain the consent of their husband, father, uncle or brother” before they can get a passport.

Keep all this (and more) in mind the next time someone (especially the KRG and their PR reps) offers the Kurdish-controlled regions of Iraq as an example of a rare post-war ‘success story’.


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by Isabel

An interesting comparison between Dubya and Napoleon

French Egypt and American Iraq can be considered bookends on the history of modern imperialism in the Middle East. The Bush administration’s already failed version of the conquest of Iraq is, of course, on everyone’s mind; while the French conquest of Egypt, now more than two centuries past, is all too little remembered, despite having been led by Napoleon Bonaparte, whose career has otherwise hardly languished in obscurity. There are many eerily familiar resonances between the two misadventures, not least among them that both began with supreme arrogance and ended as fiascoes. Above all, the leaders of both occupations employed the same basic political vocabulary and rhetorical flimflammery, invoking the spirit of liberty, security, and democracy while largely ignoring the substance of these concepts.

Pentagon decides not to send US soldiers “Freedom Packages” (additional information about Left Behind: Eternal Forces)

Maybe what the war in Iraq needs is not more troops but more religion. At least that’s the message the Department of Defense seems to be sending.

Last week, after an investigation spurred by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, the Pentagon abruptly announced that it would not be delivering “freedom packages” to our soldiers in Iraq, as it had originally intended.

What were the packages to contain? Not body armor or home-baked cookies. Rather, they held Bibles, proselytizing material in English and Arabic and the apocalyptic computer game “Left Behind: Eternal Forces” (derived from the series of post-Rapture novels), in which “soldiers for Christ” hunt down enemies who look suspiciously like U.N. peacekeepers.

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NDP Fumbles on MMP

by matttbastard

This is (one of the reasons) why I don’t regret letting my party membership lapse. More from Uncorrected Proofs here. Money quote:

…[T]he Daily Dissidence and Jan From the Bruce hit the nail on the head when they point out that the NDP’s failure to campaign on MMP will further alienate the party in a campaign that will likely be dominated by the issues of education reform and electoral reform. The NDP’s weak position on both issues, which very much mirror the Liberal positions, will surely push the party to the sidelines. […] Many progressive voters who care dearly about education reform and electoral reform may just drift to the Greens, who seem to have adopted solid and clear positions on what are sure to be important wedge issues.

Wake the fuck up and smell the frappuccino, Howard; MMP is the only thing that will save the Ontario NDP from succumbing to total irrelevance.

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The Other Shoe (Finally) Drops

by matttbastard

Good riddance, about goddamn time, etc. Too bad the rumoured alternative [edit: or not, depending on whose unnamed sources you believe] isn’t much of an improvement.

Kyle has more, to which I’ll add this near-hysterical April 2007 WaPo op-ed (which clearly shows where that queasy feeling in Chertoff’s gut comes from) and this Nov 2006 speech Chertoff gave at the annual Federalist Society lawyers convention, in which the [edit: possibly] soon-to-be former DHS director (and Federalist Society alum) makes all too plain his far-right ideological pedigree.

Meet the new boss, etc…?

Related: Spackerman profiles the (soon to be) acting AG Paul Clement; Chertoffs likely possible replacement? You gotta be shitting me -Clay Johnson III sounds like Harriet Miers in BVDs.

Update: Always bet on black?

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Global Women’s Rights Office? Yes, Please!

by Isabel

In honor of Women’s Equality Day (August 26), Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) has announced that when the House reconvenes this fall, she will introduce a bill to equip the US government to advocate for global women’s rights. The legislation would establish a Commission on International Women’s Rights and a special State Department office to advise the president and secretary of state on international women’s issues. It would also give the president power to block US aid to governments found to be engaged in gross violations of women’s rights.

“In many countries, women are still being subjected to brutal honor killings, forced to obey repressive social norms, and rendered invisible in the eyes of the law,” said Maloney, a longtime women’s rights advocate in Congress. “My [law] recognizes that while we continue to wage the fight for true equality at home, we also have an obligation to help women everywhere break the binds of gender oppression.”

If this ends up happening (and the President actually ends up blocking aid to countries that encourage or turn a blind eye to the mistreatment of women), it will be a very good thing. Especially in light of things like this.

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Hypocrisy, Thy Name Is…

by matttbastard

Stephen Harper, 03.17.07:

Conservatives represent the interests of “hard-working people who didn’t have the time to stage protests or the money to hire lobbyists.

Stephen Harper, 08.26.07:

“Dear friends”, blah blah blah, “Conservative values”, blah blah blah, “Conservative accomplishments”, blah blah blah, Conservatives “work for the well-being ofpeople that work hard, and have no time to protest, and who don’t have the time to protest, or have the money to hire protesters.

Stephen Harper: consistently full of it.

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