January 2011

At C4SS: Government Isn’t You — It’s a Witch

….and Seattle PD officer Steve Pomper chimes in on the city with "Just shut up and be a good little socialist"


From the Seattle Officer's Guilde newsletter "The Guardian". What is Pomper upset about? Seems that a survey done as part of Seattle's "Race and Social Justice Initiative" aimed at identifying institutional racism has got him upset, particularly the fact that the title includes the words "Social Justice". Why? Because as Glenn Beck says, "Social Justice" is really code for Socialism, and Seattle's initiative at trying to counteract some of the effects of racism, including making it that blacks and others aren't discriminated against when they get involved with or come in contact with the city is really a sinister plot to overthrow our freedoms, our traditional way of life, and individual responsibility. As a socialist, I think that's kind of funny. Only folks who either think that everyone is where they are in this country, white or black, solely because of individual responsibility and not also because of how society behaves to them, and people who have drunk the purple koolaid that Beck dishes out would really believe that that's the case.

It's fine to talk about racial tolerance, but when a city tries to get to the bottom of why exactly crime rates are different for different groups, as I understand the Race and Social Justice Initiative is doing, then there's a problem, at least if the answers show that racism is enforced by flawed institutions and not solely by individuals who are racist. Which is a little like saying that voting rights were a problem in the segregated south due to white supremacy but then saying that, oh, you know, can't do anything to actually try to make voting rights a reality.

Quoting Steve:

"The city, using its Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI), continues its assault on traditional and constitutional American values such as self-reliance, equal justice and individual liberty. But more to our immediate concern, the city is inflicting its socialist policies directly on the Seattle Police Department."

Work-around’s to get the word out from Egypt

So while Mubarak has sworn in his new cabinet, it looks like Egypt has been taken completely offline but activists are finding means and methods to work around the government crackdown on communications and get the word out.

@Jan25 Voices is a Twitter feed that gives regular updates based on phone calls made by people on the street.

Even though Western media have largely scaled back their reporting on Egypt, you can access reports given by individuals on the ground.

One recorded audio phone call painted the scene in Tahrir Square on January 30th.

This, no doubt, will hopefully be used to get the word out as a General Strike has been called with huge numbers of people expected to converge on the capital.

Although revolutions like that which have taken place in Tunisia and Egypt are not Anarchist, every little step towards counts.  The movements have been largely leaderless, spontaneous and widespread, having utilised New Media and workarounds to continue to communicate and get the word out.

Harsh, authoritarian regimes have been challenged, head on and if an entire country of people wish to throw off a 30-year-old regime that crushes dissent, expression and tortures individuals as a matter of course, then that movement must be supported from the outside whereever possible.

See here for more background regarding Egypt and the efforts of Egypt’s elite to maintain the status quo.

Now there are rumblings in Syria and Sudan.


Video showing Egyptian security forces trying to run down protesters (1:09) before unleashing a water cannon on people attempting to pray directly in front of the security forces.

Update 2:

Phillip Weiss of Salon.com writes what I’ve been thinking for a while now,

…Racism against Arabs is shutting down the American mind once again. And all my friends must turn to Al Jazeera English to get the soul of the story: that these events are electrifying to Arabs everywhere, a heroic mobilization. And not only to Arabs. When ElBaradei says, I salute the youth for overturning a pharaonic power, lovers of human freedom everywhere must be thrilled. We are seeing a dictator dissolve before our eyes. These are the events we cherished in history books; let us embrace the Egyptian movement.

Why is America so afraid?

However, while his analyses of the American administration’s attitude and approach to Israel is correct and the response by prominent commentators in both Israeli and American media has both been less than supportive of an Egyptian pro-democracy movement, Weiss transitions into a credible analysis of media coverage to, seemingly, hating on “the Jews”.  While I agree with some thoughts, such as the quote above, I disagree with and repudiate much of the rest.

Molly’sBlog 2011-01-31 19:23:00


You can be assured that something like a 'Welfare Rights Centre' wouldn't be of top of the popularity list of people such as Saskatchewan Party (conservative) Premier Brad Wall. After all the idea that anybody on welfare has "rights" is enough to double the necessary dose of blood pressure meds for such as these. That's all fine and good, but then the employees of this centre had the effrontery to actually unionize in Local 4973 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). When a campaign of harassment and selective dismissals failed to bend the workers involved it was time to close the centre entirely which is happening this month. What follows is a news story from CUPE about a demonstration held on the 24th of January to demand the centre stay open.

The government has replied to a continued campaign for the centre with a stony silence, but no doubt there is a certain amount of smug glee amongst conservative ideologues in Molly's old home province. After 35 years of operation there is suddenly no longer any need for an ombudsman-like agency to advocate for the poor ? Now that a bright new day of free enterprise has dawned the poor are at last free to go out and get jobs...or perhaps free to starve to death silently.

Now I must say that I am not a great fan of the welfare system. Even without some almost miraculous change to a new and freer society, however, there are better ways to handle the actual problems than what has been created by decades of bureaucratic empire building. Better for both the recipients and for society in general. If, however, we are stuck with the system as it is, or with only minor tinkering with it, then the existence of an outside advocate for people trapped in the system is essential. It's the old "division of power" and "checks and balances" idea that is actually one of the better inventions to come about in politics. Without such an advocate welfare recipients are reduced to little more than helpless toys in the hands of a bureaucracy.
But enough editorializing. Here's the story. You can follow the story more as it develops at the website of the Saskatchewan division of CUPE or at the 'Support Welfare Rights Workers' Facebook page.

Regina Welfare Rights rally

“Who is going to care for our clients? How will they cope?” asks Theresa Poness, a staff member at the Welfare Rights Centre in Regina.

Speaking at a rally in downtown Regina on January 24, Poness said she and her co-workers, members of CUPE 4973, are worried about how Regina’s most vulnerable citizens will manage when the Centre’s doors close next month.

The Welfare Rights Centre has provided advocacy and support services for people on low incomes for 35 years. But the government plans to terminate the Centre’s funding on February 25.

That doesn’t sit well with CUPE and anti-poverty activists. They have been trying to arrange a meeting with Social Services Minister June Draude for months, but have received no response. Yesterday, they took their concerns to the front door of the Social Services building.

“Silence is not an appropriate response from a Minister,” CUPE National President Paul Moist told the rally. Moist attended the rally with National Secretary-Treasurer Claude Généreux and CUPE staff. “People on low-incomes in this city need these services and our members need these jobs.” He urged the Minister to arrange a meeting.

Anti-poverty activist Peter Gilmer told the crowd, “The city desperately needs to maintain the valuable work of the Welfare Rights Centre,” noting other anti-poverty groups don’t have the capacity to handle the extra workload.

“Advocacy is a critically important service,” Gilmer said. “Those with wealth and power can protect their own interests. We need more people, not less, to defend those who cannot. We must ensure these services continue,” he told the rally.

For more information, check out CUPE’s facebook page Support Welfare Rights Workers

Bravest woman in Egypt

The Picket Line — 1 February 2011

William Matthews criticized his fellow-Quakers in England for their intolerance toward Friends who were willing to pay tithes (artificial rents historically assigned to the establishment church). After all, he wrote, if you are so opposed to tithes that you refuse to pay them, why on earth are you still paying your war taxes?

Continue reading at The Picket Line …

birthday week 2011 – days 1 & 2

Yes, we have birthday weeks around here – why only celebrate like mad men for one day? My birthday week started yesterday, Sunday, and will last until Sunday, February 6th. My actual birthday is tomorrow, February 1st. I’ll be turning 29 years old (and no, I won’t be ‘holding’). So, yesterday, to get things started [...]

Monday Lazy Linking

Updating my blogroll

In my aim to get into regular blogging again (i have ridiculous numbers of unfinished drafts in dark corners of my hard drive that inertia (with a little help from a life that has been considerably busier - for good reasons - in the last few months than in the previous few years, and from various temporary computer problems) has prevented me from turning into finished blog posts...) i have decided to go through my blogroll and weed out dead links, blogs that no longer exist or have changed URL, etc - and have discovered in the process that quite a lot (possibly even the majority) of my blogroll is at least somewhat out of date - so, this is going to be an ongoing process...

As quite a few bloggers that were on my blogroll have stopped actively posting, but their blogs still exist online and still contain some very valuable writing, i've created a new blogroll section called "No longer updated, but still worth reading", into which i've moved the likes of FWD/Forward, Here Be Dragons and HackAbility. (As an aside, i was quite upset by FWD's very abrupt and un-warned-of ending, and in particular by their decision to permanently remove the ability of commenting on all their existing blog posts. Comment threads are actually the thing i value the most highly about the whole internet... but i will get round to writing about that properly at some point...)

(There are also quite a few blogs which haven't updated for a long time but - like this one in the last year or so - are or have been very infrequent anyway, and thus it hasn't quite felt fair to move them into that category. If there are any remaining in other sections of my blogroll that anyone reading knows are permanently inactive, let me know and i'll move them.)

A few blogs also seem to have disappeared from public view altogether: SexAbility and The Rett Devil both seem to have changed status to "invited readers only" (which is a shame, as both were great blogs containing some awesome and powerful writing, but of course is the prerogative of their owners), while Joel Smith's blog "NTs are Weird" (aka "This Way of Life", former URL http://thiswayoflife.org/blog/) seems to have disappeared altogether and its address taken over by an (interestingly autism-themed) advertising site.

A few others, notably Questioning Transphobia and Bird of Paradox, have changed URL, and i've updated those both here and on my RSS feed.

Anyway, aside from being an acknowledgement of changes, this is also a call for anyone reading (if anyone is still reading!) to recommend me other active blogs that cover similar ground to me and/or those i already link to - as i'm aware that, having been mostly out of the blogosphere for a while, there are likely to be excellent blogs i haven't discovered that have started up while i have been away...

Comment here if you'd like me to link to you, or if you spot a broken link/log that has changed URL/etc that i haven't!

Autscape 2011: Call for Proposals

Proper posts have been delayed by computer issues. In the meantime, i might as well reproduce the call for proposals for Autscape 2011 (closing date 18th February) here. Still not sure if i am going myself, although i might submit something loosely bas…

Continue reading at Biodiverse Resistance …