" Madam Miaow Says: November 2007

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Victoria's nasty little secret


I found this expose of revolting labour practice at fancy underwear specialists Victoria's Secret at Random Pottins. Thanks, Charlie. For all my lingerie needs I shall be sticking to good old M&S ... DOH!

Organisations like PETA are quick off the mark when it comes to cruelty to animals. How about cruelty to humans?

Bob Dylan advertises for their New Angels collection, singing, "I'm sick of it all". Could this be a subtle reference to exploitation of VS workers? Maybe the old scourge of America's conscience is getting stuck in to something a bit more current and closer to home. Or maybe the times they really have a-changed.

Wear Victoria's Secret? I'd rather go commando.


Subject: Ask Victoria's Secret to stop its abuse of foreign guest workers in Jordan
Date: Mon, 26 Nov 2007 17:27:09 -0500 (EST)
From: National Labor Committee NLC@mail.democracyinaction.org


This holiday season ask Victoria's Secret to stop its abuse of foreign guest workers in Jordan and to immediately free six Victoria's Secret workers imprisoned under trumped-up charges.
D.K. Garments, Al Hasan Industrial CityIrbid, Jordan.

D.K. Garments is a subcontract factory with 150 foreign guest workers (135 from Bangladesh and 15 from Sri Lanka), which has been producing Victoria's Secret garments for the last year. None of the workers have been provided their necessary residency permits, without which they cannot venture outside the industrial park without fear of being stopped by the police and perhaps imprisoned for lack of proper documents.

The Victoria's Secret workers toil 14 to 15 hours a day, from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 or 10:00 p.m., seven days a week, receiving on average one day off every three or four months. All overtime is mandatory, and workers are routinely at the factory 98 to 105 hours a week while toiling 89 to 96 hours. Treatment is very rough, as managers and supervisors scream at the foreign guest workers to move faster to complete their high production goals.

Workers who fall behind on their production goals, or who make even a minor error, can be slapped and beaten. Despite being forced to work five or more overtime hours a day, the workers are routinely shortchanged on their legal overtime pay, being cheated of up to $18.48 each week in wages due them. While this might not seem like a great deal of money, to these poor workers it is the equivalent of losing three regular days' wages each week.

Workers are allowed just 3.3 minutes to sew each $14 Victoria's Secret women's bikini, for which they are paid four cents. The workers' wages amount to less than 3/10ths of one percent of the $14 retail price of the Victoria's Secret bikini.

The workers are housed in primitive dorms which have only irregular access to water. During winter months, when the temperatures can drop to freezing, the workers' dorms have neither heat nor hot water. Many workers fall ill from the constant cold.

SIX WORKERS IMPRISONED ON TRUMPED UP CHARGES

In early November 2007, when a new style of Victoria's Secrets women's underwear arrived, management set a mandatory production goal of 2,800 pieces per 10-hour shift for each assembly line of 22 sewers. It was almost impossible to reach this goal, as the workers were allowed just five minutes to sew each garment. Then on November 11, management suddenly increased the production goal to 4,000 pieces in 10 hours, an increase of 1,200 garments--or 43 percent more--with no increase in wages. Now, in effect, each worker would have to sew 18.2 garments an hour, or one every 3.3 minutes, which was impossible.

The workers protested the sudden, arbitrary increase. They wanted to speak with management, to explain how such an extreme production goal was not only unjust, but impossible to achieve. Management responded by having six of the most outspoken workers protesting the sudden production goal increase imprisoned--apparently on trumped-up charges.

The Following Workers Have Been Imprisoned Since November 11, 2007Mr. Kamal Factory ID # 467Mr. Farook Factory ID # 553Mr. Motin Factory ID # 589Mr. Delwar Factory ID # 563Mr. Mostafa Factory ID # 544Mr. Shohel Factory ID # 505

The workers begged management to free their unjustly imprisoned friends and co-workers. Management refused and the workers stopped working at 10:30 a.m. on November 12. The strike continues.

The owner of the factory is now threatening to have all the guest workers forcibly deported back to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The owner says food and water will be cut off and following that, the workers will be forcibly removed from the dorms.

The workers paid anywhere from $1,500 to over $3,000 to purchase three-year work contracts in Jordan--an enormous amount of money in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Workers had to go deeply into debt, borrowing the money on the informal market, often at five to ten percent interest per month, If the workers are deported, they will never be able to pay off their debts, and they and their families will be ruined.

BACKGROUND:I. 14 to 15 Hour Shifts / Seven Days a Week(Workers at the factory 98 to 105 hours a week)
7:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. (Work, 5 1/2 hours)
12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. (Lunch, 1 hour)
1:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. (Work, 5 hours)
6:30 p.m. - 6:45 p.m. (Break, 15 minutes)
6:45 p.m. - 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. (Work, 2 1/4 to 3 1/4 hours)

II. 75 Cent-an-hour Minimum Wage
75 cents an hour
$5.97 a day (8 hours)
$35.84 a week (48 hours)
$155.30 a month
$1,863.62 a year

III. The legal regular work week is eight hours a day, six days a week, for a total of 48 hours. All weekday overtime must be paid at a 25 percent premium, or 93 cents an hour. Work on Friday's--the Muslim holiday--must be paid at a 50 percent premium, or $1.12 an hour.On average D.K. Garments foreign guest workers are forced to work 5 1/4 overtime hours each weekday in addition to 13 1/4 overtime hours on Friday, the weekly day off. Each day the workers are being shortchanged of 2 3/4 hours' overtime pay legally due them, or $18.48 a week. In effect, this is the equivalent of losing three days' regular pay each week, which is an enormous amount of money for these poor workers.

Please write The Limited/Victoria's Secret and urge them to respect workers rights in Jordan.
[Write to the person / address below; edit the sample text as appropriate.]

Leslie Wexner, CEOLimited Brands Inc.3 Limited Pkwy. Columbus, Ohio 43230 United States
Phone: (614) 415-7000 Fax: (614) 415-7080 E-mail: http://us.f836.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?To=tkatzenmeyer@limitedbrands.com

Dear Mr. Wexner,
Please stop the abuse of Victoria's Secret's foreign guest workers at the D.K. Garments plant in Irbid, Jordan, and immediately release six workers imprisoned under trumped up charges.


STOP PRESS: Not only are they bad on labour rights, they're also ecological vandals.

By mailing more than a million catalogs a day, Victoria's Secret is leading the way in global forest destruction. Approximately 395 million catalogs are mailed by Victoria's Secret each year--that's more than one million a day. Almost all of these catalogs are produced from virgin fiber paper with little or no recycled content. Paper for these catalogs is destroying Endangered Forests like the great northern Boreal forest of Canada. Victoria's Secret is also destroying forests in the Southern U.S. The Southern U.S. is one of the most biologically diverse regions of our country where nearly six million acres of forest are logged each year, primarily for the production of paper.

Sponsored by Wetlands Activism Collective
Phone: (201) 928-2831 Email: activism@wetlands-preserve.org


Also found this about gay action in support of Palestinians at Victoria's Secret Weapon.

Victoria's nasty little secret


I found this expose of revolting labour practice at fancy underwear specialists Victoria's Secret at Random Pottins. Thanks, Charlie. For all my lingerie needs I shall be sticking to good old M&S ... DOH!

Organisations like PETA are quick off the mark when it comes to cruelty to animals. How about cruelty to humans?

Bob Dylan advertises for their New Angels collection, singing, "I'm sick of it all". Could this be a subtle reference to exploitation of VS workers? Maybe the old scourge of America's conscience is getting stuck in to something a bit more current and closer to home. Or maybe the times they really have a-changed.

Wear Victoria's Secret? I'd rather go commando.


Subject: Ask Victoria's Secret to stop its abuse of foreign guest workers in Jordan
Date: Mon, 26 Nov 2007 17:27:09 -0500 (EST)
From: National Labor Committee NLC@mail.democracyinaction.org


This holiday season ask Victoria's Secret to stop its abuse of foreign guest workers in Jordan and to immediately free six Victoria's Secret workers imprisoned under trumped-up charges.
D.K. Garments, Al Hasan Industrial CityIrbid, Jordan.

D.K. Garments is a subcontract factory with 150 foreign guest workers (135 from Bangladesh and 15 from Sri Lanka), which has been producing Victoria's Secret garments for the last year. None of the workers have been provided their necessary residency permits, without which they cannot venture outside the industrial park without fear of being stopped by the police and perhaps imprisoned for lack of proper documents.

The Victoria's Secret workers toil 14 to 15 hours a day, from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 or 10:00 p.m., seven days a week, receiving on average one day off every three or four months. All overtime is mandatory, and workers are routinely at the factory 98 to 105 hours a week while toiling 89 to 96 hours. Treatment is very rough, as managers and supervisors scream at the foreign guest workers to move faster to complete their high production goals.

Workers who fall behind on their production goals, or who make even a minor error, can be slapped and beaten. Despite being forced to work five or more overtime hours a day, the workers are routinely shortchanged on their legal overtime pay, being cheated of up to $18.48 each week in wages due them. While this might not seem like a great deal of money, to these poor workers it is the equivalent of losing three regular days' wages each week.

Workers are allowed just 3.3 minutes to sew each $14 Victoria's Secret women's bikini, for which they are paid four cents. The workers' wages amount to less than 3/10ths of one percent of the $14 retail price of the Victoria's Secret bikini.

The workers are housed in primitive dorms which have only irregular access to water. During winter months, when the temperatures can drop to freezing, the workers' dorms have neither heat nor hot water. Many workers fall ill from the constant cold.

SIX WORKERS IMPRISONED ON TRUMPED UP CHARGES

In early November 2007, when a new style of Victoria's Secrets women's underwear arrived, management set a mandatory production goal of 2,800 pieces per 10-hour shift for each assembly line of 22 sewers. It was almost impossible to reach this goal, as the workers were allowed just five minutes to sew each garment. Then on November 11, management suddenly increased the production goal to 4,000 pieces in 10 hours, an increase of 1,200 garments--or 43 percent more--with no increase in wages. Now, in effect, each worker would have to sew 18.2 garments an hour, or one every 3.3 minutes, which was impossible.

The workers protested the sudden, arbitrary increase. They wanted to speak with management, to explain how such an extreme production goal was not only unjust, but impossible to achieve. Management responded by having six of the most outspoken workers protesting the sudden production goal increase imprisoned--apparently on trumped-up charges.

The Following Workers Have Been Imprisoned Since November 11, 2007Mr. Kamal Factory ID # 467Mr. Farook Factory ID # 553Mr. Motin Factory ID # 589Mr. Delwar Factory ID # 563Mr. Mostafa Factory ID # 544Mr. Shohel Factory ID # 505

The workers begged management to free their unjustly imprisoned friends and co-workers. Management refused and the workers stopped working at 10:30 a.m. on November 12. The strike continues.

The owner of the factory is now threatening to have all the guest workers forcibly deported back to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The owner says food and water will be cut off and following that, the workers will be forcibly removed from the dorms.

The workers paid anywhere from $1,500 to over $3,000 to purchase three-year work contracts in Jordan--an enormous amount of money in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Workers had to go deeply into debt, borrowing the money on the informal market, often at five to ten percent interest per month, If the workers are deported, they will never be able to pay off their debts, and they and their families will be ruined.

BACKGROUND:I. 14 to 15 Hour Shifts / Seven Days a Week(Workers at the factory 98 to 105 hours a week)
7:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. (Work, 5 1/2 hours)
12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. (Lunch, 1 hour)
1:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. (Work, 5 hours)
6:30 p.m. - 6:45 p.m. (Break, 15 minutes)
6:45 p.m. - 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. (Work, 2 1/4 to 3 1/4 hours)

II. 75 Cent-an-hour Minimum Wage
75 cents an hour
$5.97 a day (8 hours)
$35.84 a week (48 hours)
$155.30 a month
$1,863.62 a year

III. The legal regular work week is eight hours a day, six days a week, for a total of 48 hours. All weekday overtime must be paid at a 25 percent premium, or 93 cents an hour. Work on Friday's--the Muslim holiday--must be paid at a 50 percent premium, or $1.12 an hour.On average D.K. Garments foreign guest workers are forced to work 5 1/4 overtime hours each weekday in addition to 13 1/4 overtime hours on Friday, the weekly day off. Each day the workers are being shortchanged of 2 3/4 hours' overtime pay legally due them, or $18.48 a week. In effect, this is the equivalent of losing three days' regular pay each week, which is an enormous amount of money for these poor workers.

Please write The Limited/Victoria's Secret and urge them to respect workers rights in Jordan.
[Write to the person / address below; edit the sample text as appropriate.]

Leslie Wexner, CEOLimited Brands Inc.3 Limited Pkwy. Columbus, Ohio 43230 United States
Phone: (614) 415-7000 Fax: (614) 415-7080 E-mail: http://us.f836.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?To=tkatzenmeyer@limitedbrands.com

Dear Mr. Wexner,
Please stop the abuse of Victoria's Secret's foreign guest workers at the D.K. Garments plant in Irbid, Jordan, and immediately release six workers imprisoned under trumped up charges.


STOP PRESS: Not only are they bad on labour rights, they're also ecological vandals.

By mailing more than a million catalogs a day, Victoria's Secret is leading the way in global forest destruction. Approximately 395 million catalogs are mailed by Victoria's Secret each year--that's more than one million a day. Almost all of these catalogs are produced from virgin fiber paper with little or no recycled content. Paper for these catalogs is destroying Endangered Forests like the great northern Boreal forest of Canada. Victoria's Secret is also destroying forests in the Southern U.S. The Southern U.S. is one of the most biologically diverse regions of our country where nearly six million acres of forest are logged each year, primarily for the production of paper.

Sponsored by Wetlands Activism Collective
Phone: (201) 928-2831 Email: activism@wetlands-preserve.org


Also found this about gay action in support of Palestinians at Victoria's Secret Weapon.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Bush must go!


No, not that Bush. The other one!

Waiting for the third season DVD of Battlestar Galactica to drop in price, I'm filling in with Rome, the plush HBO double season box set telling the epic story of Julius Caesar's rise to power.

Boy! There's a lot of pre-Christian debauchery we only saw alluded to in I, Claudius, including lashings of lashings, pervy sex (you know, with the woman on top) and gore galore.

It's educational, as well. Did you know that the Brazilian wax was invented in ancient Rome? Funny (or furry), as even into the 1970s women sported magnificent unshorn thatches you could knit into a sweater until the men's mags gave us something else to be neurotic about. But in Rome the women have the sweetest little zebra-stripe landing-strips of fuzz. We know this from the mandatory full-frontal bonkathon in every episode.

Guy-talk transcends time: Roman geezers discuss women and we learn that in those days skinny = unattractive. Yet here are the women all looking like supermodels in their size zero frames. I reckon the vomitorium got a good work-out for this series. It's not even as if the lads could pop out for a quick one with big healthy women as the brothel workers (ooh, doggy style) all look like they moonlight for Pan's People.

Fat birds with big bushes. Heaven forfend! Even the famously sophisticated HBO audiences may not be quite ready for that.

Kenneth Cranham gives it some class as Pompey Magnus much as Peter O'Toole and Helen Mirren did in Bob Guccione's Caligula, starring a pop-eyed Malcolm McDowell. The 1970s audiences were pop-eyed, too, what with all the porny bits Bobby spliced into the movie when the talent wasn't looking. However, a deft cut spares Cranham the indignity of grunting over the teenage Octavia, foisted on him by her evil mother who is, aiming high but falling short thus far, not a patch on Sian Phillips's Livia.

Brutus is played as an upper class twit from the nobility who is destined to land the first regicidal blow in the defence of his class, while all the other characters are merging into mush at the moment.

I'm waiting to see if Mark Anthony's funeral speech is sullied for me by Splintered Sunrise's audacious despoilage and whether I shall be seeing in my mind's eye the chief antagonists of Reespect and Respect Renewal.

Bush must go!


No, not that Bush. The other one!

Waiting for the third season DVD of Battlestar Galactica to drop in price, I'm filling in with Rome, the plush HBO double season box set telling the epic story of Julius Caesar's rise to power.

Boy! There's a lot of pre-Christian debauchery we only saw alluded to in I, Claudius, including lashings of lashings, pervy sex (you know, with the woman on top) and gore galore.

It's educational, as well. Did you know that the Brazilian wax was invented in ancient Rome? Funny (or furry), as even into the 1970s women sported magnificent unshorn thatches you could knit into a sweater until the men's mags gave us something else to be neurotic about. But in Rome the women have the sweetest little zebra-stripe landing-strips of fuzz. We know this from the mandatory full-frontal bonkathon in every episode.

Guy-talk transcends time: Roman geezers discuss women and we learn that in those days skinny = unattractive. Yet here are the women all looking like supermodels in their size zero frames. I reckon the vomitorium got a good work-out for this series. It's not even as if the lads could pop out for a quick one with big healthy women as the brothel workers (ooh, doggy style) all look like they moonlight for Pan's People.

Fat birds with big bushes. Heaven forfend! Even the famously sophisticated HBO audiences may not be quite ready for that.

Kenneth Cranham gives it some class as Pompey Magnus much as Peter O'Toole and Helen Mirren did in Bob Guccione's Caligula, starring a pop-eyed Malcolm McDowell. The 1970s audiences were pop-eyed, too, what with all the porny bits Bobby spliced into the movie when the talent wasn't looking. However, a deft cut spares Cranham the indignity of grunting over the teenage Octavia, foisted on him by her evil mother who is, aiming high but falling short thus far, not a patch on Sian Phillips's Livia.

Brutus is played as an upper class twit from the nobility who is destined to land the first regicidal blow in the defence of his class, while all the other characters are merging into mush at the moment.

I'm waiting to see if Mark Anthony's funeral speech is sullied for me by Splintered Sunrise's audacious despoilage and whether I shall be seeing in my mind's eye the chief antagonists of Reespect and Respect Renewal.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven


The challenge: to tell the story of the tragic demise of the Respect party through satire and vulgar abuse of the literary classics or whichever other cultural medium floats your boat.

Anyone uninterested in the ins and outs of the far left look away now.

Today I am mostly quoting John Milton and Paradise Lost, Book 1 (including line numbers). This was one of Paul Foot's favourite poems, so a double heaping of irony here.


So stretch out huge in length the Arch-fiend lay
[210]
Chain'd on the burning Lake, nor ever thence
Had ris'n or heav'd his head, but that the will
And high permission of all-ruling Heaven
Left him at large to his own dark designs,
That with reiterated crimes he might
Heap on himself damnation, while he sought
Evil to others, and enrag'd might see
How all his malice serv'd but to bring forth
Infinite goodness, grace and mercy shewn
On Man by him seduc't, but on himself
[220]
Treble confusion, wrath and vengeance pour'd.
Forthwith upright he rears from off the Pool
His mighty Stature; on each hand the flames
Drivn backward slope their pointing spires, & rowld
In billows, leave i'th' midst a horrid Vale.
Then with expanded wings he stears his flight
Aloft, incumbent on the dusky Air
That felt unusual weight, till on dry Land
He lights, if it were Land that ever burn'd
With solid, as the Lake with liquid fire;
[230]
And such appear'd in hue, as when the force
Of subterranean wind transports a Hill
Torn from Pelorus, or the shatter'd side
Of thundring Aetna, whose combustible
And fewel'd entrals thence conceiving Fire,
Sublim'd with Mineral fury, aid the Winds,
And leave a singed bottom all involv'd
With stench and smoak: Such resting found the sole
Of unblest feet. Him followed his next Mate,
Both glorying to have scap't the Stygian flood
[240]
As Gods, and by their own recover'd strength,
Not by the sufferance of supernal Power.
Is this the Region, this the Soil, the Clime,
Said then the lost Arch Angel, this the seat
That we must change for Heav'n, this mournful gloom
For that celestial light? Be it so, since hee
Who now is Sovran can dispose and bid
What shall be right: fardest from him is best
Whom reason hath equald, force hath made supream
Above his equals. Farewel happy Fields
[250]
Where Joy for ever dwells: Hail horrours, hail
Infernal world, and thou profoundest Hell
Receive thy new Possessor: One who brings
A mind not to be chang'd by Place or Time.
The mind is its own place, and in it self
Can make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n.
What matter where, if I be still the same,
And what I should be, all but less then hee
Whom Thunder hath made greater? Here at least
We shall be free; th' Almighty hath not built
[260]
Here for his envy, will not drive us hence:
Here we may reign secure, and in my choyce
To reign is worth ambition though in Hell:
Better to reign in Hell, then serve in Heav'n.
But wherefore let we then our faithful friends,
Th' associates and copartners of our loss
Lye thus astonisht on th' oblivious Pool,
And call them not to share with us their part
In this unhappy Mansion, or once more
With rallied Arms to try what may be yet
[270]
Regaind in Heav'n, or what more lost in Hell?
So Satan spake, and him Beelzebub
Thus answer'd. Leader of those Armies bright,
Which but th' Omnipotent none could have foyld,
If once they hear that voyce, their liveliest pledge
Of hope in fears and dangers, heard so oft
In worst extreams, and on the perilous edge
Of battel when it rag'd, in all assaults
Their surest signal, they will soon resume
New courage and revive, though now they lye
[280]
Groveling and prostrate on yon Lake of Fire,
As we erewhile, astounded and amaz'd,
No wonder, fall'n such a pernicious highth.
For Daddy, the witchhunting bastard, made me doeth it.


If you read all the above you will have noticed that I haven't had to change a word (sort of). Methinks Milton had a Tardis or sumthin' for he sure sayeth the sooth.

We love your food but youse can sod off


The UK got its first Chinese politician this year (at MP level - it's complicated) but, as luck would have it, she's an MLA in Belfast, a city not most famed for its universal love.

Anna Lo is the first ethnic politician to be elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly (Alliance Party) so you just knew there would be, ahem, "problems".

These have now arrived by the truckload. Today sees a march against Ms Lo by loyalists whose original intention was to go through Donegall Pass, the region's Chinatown. And not just the usual suspects including the BNP - the Lord Mayor waded in with his support of the march when the route was forced to change and will now go through the city centre.

The pretext for the unleashing of all this bigotry is that she had written a letter complaining about a previous parade which had prevented one of her constituents getting to their job at the hospital. With their tiny brains short-circuited by the uppity ethnic, revenge would be swift and lumpen.

The Chinese can rest assured that the march is not racist now that the organisers have said they will probably have a nice takeaway afterwards. And the community should take comfort from the letter posted through the door of every Chinese household telling them this wasn't personal (but we know where you live).

I hope they piss in the marchers' prawn balls

Reminds me of a variation of the old Jewish joke. Anna Lo is walking home late at night when she'd stopped by some thugs.
"Are youse Catholic or Protestant?" they demand.
"Look at me, I'm Chinese Taoist," she says.
"Yes, but are youse Catholic Chinese Taoist or Protestant Chinese Taoist?"
And then proceed to give her a kicking anyway.

Thanks to Splintered Sunrise for the tip and to this report.

STOP PRESS: Update - loyalist parade called off.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

The raptors are coming ...


In a lighter satirical moment, Splintered Sunrise has had fun with Mark Anthony's funeral speech from Julius Caesar.

I've done it before but I'm having another crack at Yeats's Second Coming:

Burning and burning in the widening gyre
The raptor cannot hear his conscience;
Principles fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of comradeship is drowned;
The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity and get to appear on Question Time.
Although the very worst stamp their little hobnails when they don't.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of
Socialist Worker
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert
A shape with ferret body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Westminster to be born?

The raptors are coming ...


In a lighter satirical moment, Splintered Sunrise has had fun with Mark Anthony's funeral speech from Julius Caesar.

I've done it before but I'm having another crack at Yeats's Second Coming:

Burning and burning in the widening gyre
The raptor cannot hear his conscience;
Principles fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of comradeship is drowned;
The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity and get to appear on Question Time.
Although the very worst stamp their little hobnails when they don't.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of
Socialist Worker
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert
A shape with ferret body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Westminster to be born?

Saturday, 17 November 2007

When wise monkeys rule ...


In my own naive way, I like to think that lefties can think and chew gum at the same time, whatever the evidence to the contrary. Right now that means opposing another bloody fiasco in the middle east in the form of an attack on Iran AND having the capacity to criticise the revolting practices in that country.

Yet, with the ratcheting up of the west's war machine, suddenly we've gone deaf, dumb and blind to the actual suffering in Iran. Homophobic persecution of gays is wrong in any society with a claim to civilisation. Hanging kids for sexuality expressed before they're out of puberty is straight out of a horror film. Violent hatred of women is well creepy. But mention these and you run the gauntlet of furious lefties screeching, "Move along. Nothing to see." (See an example here. And here.)

Surely, any warmonger who can use criticism of the Iran regime to make a case for yet another armed conflict is clearly barking and should be argued with on principled terms, not terms dictated by them in a deformed debate.

There's a tendency on the left to focus on The Big Picture and ignore the nuts and bolts of human misery, preferring the rarified atmosphere of their mountain-top Theoryland from where they can hand down The Knowledge to the rest of poor deluded fools. I have my suspicions that for some, revolution in the head is easier to cope with than change on the ground. I favour both.

We've all seen the lefties who love the masses but hate the actual flesh 'n' blood people in the masses (or even the poor grunts in their own organisations). They'll make the most piteous noises of solidarity with the oppressed in the abstract but ignore it when it happens to real people under their own noses. They will even abandon their own stated objectives of republicanism, secularism, working class socialism, open borders, abortion, gay rights, etc, when it suits them.

The trouble with the half-smart white middle-class boys (mostly) running the left and dominating the net is that their experience is drawn from a very small pool. Wade through their thoughts and you wouldn't get your ankles wet. Like the frogs in the well, they look up and see the circle of sky and declare it to be the entire world. Anyone contradicting that view has to be crushed using a variety of sleight-of-hand methods including diversion, smoke and mirrors, vilification, anything but dealing with the issues in a productive way that reflects the supposition that we are all on the same side.

The first rule of the bureaucrat; protect the system. The second law of the bureaucrat ... (yeah, we know.)

I think we should remember why we are lefties in the first place. The system has to serve humans, not the other way round. Some people have forgotten that.

When wise monkeys rule ...


In my own naive way, I like to think that lefties can think and chew gum at the same time, whatever the evidence to the contrary. Right now that means opposing another bloody fiasco in the middle east in the form of an attack on Iran AND having the capacity to criticise the revolting practices in that country.

Yet, with the ratcheting up of the west's war machine, suddenly we've gone deaf, dumb and blind to the actual suffering in Iran. Homophobic persecution of gays is wrong in any society with a claim to civilisation. Hanging kids for sexuality expressed before they're out of puberty is straight out of a horror film. Violent hatred of women is well creepy. But mention these and you run the gauntlet of furious lefties screeching, "Move along. Nothing to see." (See an example here. And here.)

Surely, any warmonger who can use criticism of the Iran regime to make a case for yet another armed conflict is clearly barking and should be argued with on principled terms, not terms dictated by them in a deformed debate.

There's a tendency on the left to focus on The Big Picture and ignore the nuts and bolts of human misery, preferring the rarified atmosphere of their mountain-top Theoryland from where they can hand down The Knowledge to the rest of poor deluded fools. I have my suspicions that for some, revolution in the head is easier to cope with than change on the ground. I favour both.

We've all seen the lefties who love the masses but hate the actual flesh 'n' blood people in the masses (or even the poor grunts in their own organisations). They'll make the most piteous noises of solidarity with the oppressed in the abstract but ignore it when it happens to real people under their own noses. They will even abandon their own stated objectives of republicanism, secularism, working class socialism, open borders, abortion, gay rights, etc, when it suits them.

The trouble with the half-smart white middle-class boys (mostly) running the left and dominating the net is that their experience is drawn from a very small pool. Wade through their thoughts and you wouldn't get your ankles wet. Like the frogs in the well, they look up and see the circle of sky and declare it to be the entire world. Anyone contradicting that view has to be crushed using a variety of sleight-of-hand methods including diversion, smoke and mirrors, vilification, anything but dealing with the issues in a productive way that reflects the supposition that we are all on the same side.

The first rule of the bureaucrat; protect the system. The second law of the bureaucrat ... (yeah, we know.)

I think we should remember why we are lefties in the first place. The system has to serve humans, not the other way round. Some people have forgotten that.

Monday, 12 November 2007

The Worst EU Lobbying Awards 2007



Your chance to vote for the biggest corporate scumbags lobbying in the European Union.

They are all foul so it's hard to choose between them. Here's a taster:

"Cabinet Stewart for running the International Council of Capital Formation (ICCF) - this so-called ‘unique European think-tank’ is in fact a front group for US-based opponents of the Kyoto Protocol.

"Repsol for misshaping the EU's research agenda on agrofuels to fit narrow commercial interests, at the expense of genuine measures to combat climate change.

"Viscount Etienne Davignon, for advising EU Development Commissioner Louis Michel about African development issues, even though he sits on the board for Suez – a transnational corporation looking to expand its energy and water business into Africa.

"Shell for an advert suggesting that their oil refineries emit flowers not smoke."

And my personal favourite, "BAE, nominated for promoting deadly weapons as environmentally friendly." Green bullets, anyone?

Watch video clip

Vote now

Thanks to Ollie.

The Worst EU Lobbying Awards 2007



Your chance to vote for the biggest corporate scumbags lobbying in the European Union.

They are all foul so it's hard to choose between them. Here's a taster:

"Cabinet Stewart for running the International Council of Capital Formation (ICCF) - this so-called ‘unique European think-tank’ is in fact a front group for US-based opponents of the Kyoto Protocol.

"Repsol for misshaping the EU's research agenda on agrofuels to fit narrow commercial interests, at the expense of genuine measures to combat climate change.

"Viscount Etienne Davignon, for advising EU Development Commissioner Louis Michel about African development issues, even though he sits on the board for Suez – a transnational corporation looking to expand its energy and water business into Africa.

"Shell for an advert suggesting that their oil refineries emit flowers not smoke."

And my personal favourite, "BAE, nominated for promoting deadly weapons as environmentally friendly." Green bullets, anyone?

Watch video clip

Vote now

Thanks to Ollie.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Yo! What happened to health and safety?



My mate, punk-rock blues guitarist Gary Lammin, witnessed a fine bit of irony at the public launch of the "Yo! What Happened to Peace" exhibition at The Foundry in trendy Shoreditch on Tuesday.

Some bright spark had decided that mood of the cafe upstairs from the collection of anti-war posters would be enhanced by the use of naked candles stuck into the necks of wine bottles.

This being the opening of the UK leg of the international tour, it drew a heaving crowd.

You know what happens next.

One young black woman in a long scarf and permed hair passes too close to a candle and the next thing her scarf's alight, her coat's alight and her hair's on fire. Everyone's gawping while she's screaming. Gary has the presence of mind to leap across the room and smother the flames, singeing his own fingers in the process, not an ideal situation for a guitarist about to head off to America and record with Pierre De Beauport, the Rolling Stones' guitar specialist.

She's in shock. Gary's in shock. No-one calls an ambulance and now the venue managers are apparently telling her it's her fault because she was wearing a long flammable scarf.

The cherry on the icing on the cake is the reaction from the yuppie at the bar. Before dashing over to save the distressed damsel, Gary had plunged his hands into the nearest liquid in the room: a pint sitting on the bar.

He returns to the bar and the disgruntled yuppie who says,

"Excuse me, that was my drink."

"Frightfully sorry. Would you like me to buy you another one?"

"Yes, that would be the thing to do."

Gary, his blood up, racing with adrenalin, and still with the smell of burning flesh in his nostrils, is commendably restrained for a diamond geezer. He says,

"I will buy you one, mate. But before I do, consider this. You won't be drinking it, you'll be wearing it."

Gary and his mate Mark leave the yuppie scum to their deathtrap jollities and head off to find one of the few remaining working-class pubs in the area where the clientele act like human beings and not Fellini grotesques.

Yo! What happened to health and safety?



My mate, punk-rock blues guitarist Gary Lammin, witnessed a fine bit of irony at the public launch of the "Yo! What Happened to Peace" exhibition at The Foundry in trendy Shoreditch on Tuesday.

Some bright spark had decided that mood of the cafe upstairs from the collection of anti-war posters would be enhanced by the use of naked candles stuck into the necks of wine bottles.

This being the opening of the UK leg of the international tour, it drew a heaving crowd.

You know what happens next.

One young black woman in a long scarf and permed hair passes too close to a candle and the next thing her scarf's alight, her coat's alight and her hair's on fire. Everyone's gawping while she's screaming. Gary has the presence of mind to leap across the room and smother the flames, singeing his own fingers in the process, not an ideal situation for a guitarist about to head off to America and record with Pierre De Beauport, the Rolling Stones' guitar specialist.

She's in shock. Gary's in shock. No-one calls an ambulance and now the venue managers are apparently telling her it's her fault because she was wearing a long flammable scarf.

The cherry on the icing on the cake is the reaction from the yuppie at the bar. Before dashing over to save the distressed damsel, Gary had plunged his hands into the nearest liquid in the room: a pint sitting on the bar.

He returns to the bar and the disgruntled yuppie who says,

"Excuse me, that was my drink."

"Frightfully sorry. Would you like me to buy you another one?"

"Yes, that would be the thing to do."

Gary, his blood up, racing with adrenalin, and still with the smell of burning flesh in his nostrils, is commendably restrained for a diamond geezer. He says,

"I will buy you one, mate. But before I do, consider this. You won't be drinking it, you'll be wearing it."

Gary and his mate Mark leave the yuppie scum to their deathtrap jollities and head off to find one of the few remaining working-class pubs in the area where the clientele act like human beings and not Fellini grotesques.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Two blondes, one headshot



Has anyone ever seen Heather Mills and Ann Coulter in the same room? Which is which in the headshots?

Yup, Macca actually married Ann Coulter and this is what she has over the old liberal softie.

Heather is a snob and a social climber but she doesn't deserve the level of vitriol she's getting from the press. Even so, an unfortunate resemblance to Ann minus a brain and fight-skills does set my teeth on edge whenever I see her. Especially as she dissed the 189 bus route that Macca was rather fond of and which does remarkable service round these here parts.

If I were her mate, I'd say, "Girlfriend. Shut the fuck up. Enjoy your thirty million and put some meat on your skinny behind. You can afford to eat proper now you've ditched the veggie pensioner. Be happy. Get fat. Make some women friends."

Of Ann, Henry Rollins puts it best in his testosterony way, in his Love Letter to Ann Coulter. If you want to have a go at a mad blonde, don't pick on Lady Mucca who is obviously in distress, try this or this or this.

Like The Thatch, Ann tests even my sisterly virtues. But let us not forget it is her womanhood that is her one positive asset. The rest she gets from the lads.

Two blondes, one headshot



Has anyone ever seen Heather Mills and Ann Coulter in the same room? Which is which in the headshots?

Yup, Macca actually married Ann Coulter and this is what she has over the old liberal softie.

Heather is a snob and a social climber but she doesn't deserve the level of vitriol she's getting from the press. Even so, an unfortunate resemblance to Ann minus a brain and fight-skills does set my teeth on edge whenever I see her. Especially as she dissed the 189 bus route that Macca was rather fond of and which does remarkable service round these here parts.

If I were her mate, I'd say, "Girlfriend. Shut the fuck up. Enjoy your thirty million and put some meat on your skinny behind. You can afford to eat proper now you've ditched the veggie pensioner. Be happy. Get fat. Make some women friends."

Of Ann, Henry Rollins puts it best in his testosterony way, in his Love Letter to Ann Coulter. If you want to have a go at a mad blonde, don't pick on Lady Mucca who is obviously in distress, try this or this or this.

Like The Thatch, Ann tests even my sisterly virtues. But let us not forget it is her womanhood that is her one positive asset. The rest she gets from the lads.

Monday, 5 November 2007

Priorities, much?


While the Left burns, this is the sort of thing happening in the big wide world.

One woman was so incensed by the war in Iraq that she exercised what we all thought was her freedom of speech and read out the list of British soldiers killed there at the Cenotaph on the Day of Rememberance in 2005.

So Kafkaesque is life under Labour that peacenik Maya Anne Evans was arrested and fined £250. She now finds herself facing prison for acting on a point of principle and not paying a fine that most people would consider an absurd waste of the police and court's time anyway.

But in the greater scheme of things, her moving expression of a wish for peace is regarded as a bigger travesty than an invasion that has left over a million Iraqi war dead and 171 dead British soldiers.

Maya reminds us that, three years ago this Thursday, when allied forces bombed the town of Fallujah with white phosphorous bombs - a substance that burns to the bone - 550 out of the 700 bodies recovered were of women and children. What a horrible way for anyone to die. It cries out for protest, not a slapping down of dissent.

I'm actually in awe of people like Maya and her associate, Milan Rai, for their courage even to the point of going to prison, as Milan has already done and Maya may yet have to do. If the Left was stronger and hadn't been hobbled by sociopathic cliques over the years, perhaps Maya and her fellow activists would find themselves better supported by a wider vibrant anti-war movement. As it goes, best of luck, Maya.

Priorities, much?


While the Left burns, this is the sort of thing happening in the big wide world.

One woman was so incensed by the war in Iraq that she exercised what we all thought was her freedom of speech and read out the list of British soldiers killed there at the Cenotaph on the Day of Rememberance in 2005.

So Kafkaesque is life under Labour that peacenik Maya Anne Evans was arrested and fined £250. She now finds herself facing prison for acting on a point of principle and not paying a fine that most people would consider an absurd waste of the police and court's time anyway.

But in the greater scheme of things, her moving expression of a wish for peace is regarded as a bigger travesty than an invasion that has left over a million Iraqi war dead and 171 dead British soldiers.

Maya reminds us that, three years ago this Thursday, when allied forces bombed the town of Fallujah with white phosphorous bombs - a substance that burns to the bone - 550 out of the 700 bodies recovered were of women and children. What a horrible way for anyone to die. It cries out for protest, not a slapping down of dissent.

I'm actually in awe of people like Maya and her associate, Milan Rai, for their courage even to the point of going to prison, as Milan has already done and Maya may yet have to do. If the Left was stronger and hadn't been hobbled by sociopathic cliques over the years, perhaps Maya and her fellow activists would find themselves better supported by a wider vibrant anti-war movement. As it goes, best of luck, Maya.

ShareThis