Bad habits are contagious

By Boris Kagarlitsky

August 14, 2008 -- Georgia has resolutely condemned Russia's actions in Chechnya. Russia has severely criticised NATO actions towards Serbia. Later on the Georgian authorities tried to do the same thing in South Ossetia as the Russian authorities had done in Chechnya. Moscow decided to treat Georgia in the same way as NATO had treated Serbia. Bad habits are contagious.

Two communities affected by one new global market – the trade in carbon dioxide. In Scotland, a town has been polluted by oil and chemical companies since the 1940s. In Brazil, local people's water and land is being swallowed up by destructive monoculture eucalyptus tree plantations. Both communities now share a new threat.

As part of the deal to reduce greenhouse gases that cause dangerous climate change, major polluters can now buy carbon credits that allow them to pay someone else to reduce emissions instead of cutting their own pollution. What this means for those living next to the oil industry in Scotland is the continuation of pollution caused by their toxic neighbours. Meanwhile in Brazil, the schemes that generate carbon credits gives an injection of cash for more planting of the damaging eucalyptus plantations.

The two communities are now connected by bearing the brunt of the new trade in carbon credits. The Carbon Connection follows the story of two groups of people from each community who learned to use video cameras and made their own films about living with the impacts of the carbon market.

By Hugo Moldiz, translated and introduced by Federico Fuentes

August 10, 2008 -- “Given everything that is occurring in Tarija, Santa Cruz, Pando and Beni, we have to denounce … that we are on the threshold of a real coup d’etat against the constitutional order”, announced Bolivian minister of the presidency, Ramon Quintana, on August 7.

The day before, two bullets were fired into his car in an assassination attempt during a visit to the city of Trinidad, in Beni. Beni is part of the “half moon” of the resource-rich eastern departments including Santa Cruz, Tarija and Pando, that are a stronghold of the opposition to the left-wing government of indigenous President Evo Morales.

“What the prefects are doing today is nothing more than an act of sedition, of contempt, or organisation of illegal forces, paramilitaries, to go against all public liberties”, added Quintana.

By Jorge Sanmartino

On July 21, 2008, some 15 days before the recall referendum, the Bolivian Workers Central (COB) initiated an indefinite general strike with roadblocks and permanent protests until its pension law project is approved by Congress. It was the most important protest that the COB has organised in years. Jamie Solares, the most radical of all the COB spokespeople, even maintained that if the law was not approved the COB would call for a “protest vote”. The current executive secretary of the Departmental Workers Central of Oruro (COD) was the executive secretary of the COB until 2006.

With a combative tone, Solares tends to invoke Lenin to justify some of his own actions. Could we therefore invoke the advice of the old Bolshevik leader in order to explain what the COB is doing today? Because its indefinite general strike, blockading the main highways in the country, blowing up bridges with dynamite and direct confrontation has cost the lives of two miners in Huanuni and more than 30 injured.

By Barry Healy

A Life for the Revolution, Documentary by Chris Den Hond, 90 minutes, 2005; A Man Called Ernest Mandel, Documentary by Frans Buyens, 40 minutes, 1972, available of two-disc DVD, available from http://www.iire.org

Ernest Mandel, said to be perhaps the most important Marxist theoretician of the second half of the 20th century, died aged 71 on July 20, 1995. These two documentaries reveal why he was so respected but also expose a great deal more.

A Life for the Revolution uses Mandel’s life as a lens to examine some of the most significant revolutionary developments of the last few generations, with stirring archival footage and interviews with participants. The 1972 “talking head” interview A Man Called Ernest Mandel, in which he explains important aspects of socialist democracy and workers’ control of the means of production, is packaged as an extra.

Teacher and actor Brian Jones educated and moved his audience with his talk, ``Martin Luther King's last struggle'' at the United States' International Socialist Organization's ``Socialism 2008'' conference in Chicago on June 20, 2008.

By Dennis Brutus and Patrick Bond

August 6, 2008 -- Durban's University of KwaZulu-Natal vice-chancellor Malegapuru Makgoba is expected to deliver an edict that the Centre for Civil Society will close on December 31. The reason given by dean Donal McCracken to a sceptical School of Development Studies (where the centre is housed) is that staff do not have "permanent" funding. But neither do most of the university's research units, and there is money in centre reserves for at least a couple of years, plus ongoing donor support for many of our projects.

Hence this "execution" will be doggedly resisted because UKZN still has many staff and students who remember the struggle for non-racial democracy and don't mind speaking out to challenge misguided decisions.

As the two most senior academics in the centre, holding an honorary professorship and tenured research chair, respectively, we will resist, despite what a UKZN internal report recorded -- an environment of "intimidation and bullying", in which management "deploys power rather than intellect", as Rhodes professor Jimi Adesina put it.

Image removed.
Hiroshima, August 6, 1945.

By Norm Dixon

August 6 and August 9 2009 mark the 64th anniversaries of the US atomic-bomb attacks on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In Hiroshima, an estimated 80,000 people were killed in a split second. Some 13 square kilometres of the city were obliterated. By December, at least another 70,000 people had died from radiation and injuries.

Three days after Hiroshima's destruction, the US dropped an A-bomb on Nagasaki, resulting in the deaths of at least 70,000 people before the year was out.

Since 1945, tens of thousands more residents of the two cities have continued to suffer and die from radiation-induced cancers, birth defects and still births.

A tiny group of US rulers met secretly in Washington and callously ordered this indiscriminate annihilation of civilian populations. They gave no explicit warnings. They rejected all alternatives, preferring to inflict the most extreme human carnage possible. They ordered and had carried out the two worst single terror acts in human history.

As the world corporate media goes Olympics mad, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal has assembled a range of alternative viewpoints on what the modern Olympic Games really represent. While -- when it suits their interests -- establishment media commentators and capitalist governments loudly proclaim that ``sport and politics don't mix'', it soon becomes apparent that the Olympics spectacle is drenched in politics and the promotion of the worst aspects of dog-eat-dog capitalism. But sometimes it is also a site of struggle, as this selection of articles, drawn from the Links and Green Left Weekly archives, as well as other progressive sources, reveals.

At the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games the enduring image was Tommie Smith and John Carlos, African-American athletes, raising their gloved clenched fists in support of the Black Power movement during the ``Star Spangled Banner''. They were subsequently banned from the games for life. Black Power Salute looks at what inspired them to make their protest, and what happened to them after the Games. Featuring Tommie Smith, Lee Evans, Bob Beamon and Delroy Lindo. Click HERE for parts 2-6.

Also read about Peter Norman, the Australian athlete who gained third place, who supported Smith's and Carlos' protest. Norman is the subject of a new documentary, Salute, which can be previewed here.

Part 1