Monthly Archives: September 2011

The Student Handjob

So here’s a publication that seems somewhat different to the usual glossy numbers offered to incoming students. And a very impressive set of articles too: Hard copies handed out at the Centre for Cultural Studies party on weds – electric version now live @ http://studenthandjob.wordpress.com/ -most Goldsmirths publication ever.

The Student Handjob studenthandjob.wordpress.com so radical… it’s fucking bodacious. .

.

International Symposium: “HUMANITIES AFTER FUKUSHIMA: Dialogues between Cultural Studies and Philosophy in the Post-Nuclear Age of Critical Junctures”


http://www.eventbrite.com/event/2154622534 (click here to register)

Friday, 28 October 2011 – Sunday, 30 October 2011

Venue: School of Arts, Birkbeck College, University of London, 43 Gordon Square, London; 

Birkbeck Collage, Main Building, Malet Street, London


Financial Help from the Japan Foundation International Exchange Fund

 

Organized by Ted Motohashi (Visiting Professor at Media and Cultural Studies Department, Birkbeck College, University of London) and LAPCSF (London Asia-Pacific Cultural Studies Forum) in partnership with Centre for Media, Culture and Creative Practices

Discussion Themes and Focuses

Inspired by Nishiyama Yuji’s documentary film “The Right to Philosophy”, comprised of his interviews with those associated with “International College of Philosophy” founded in Paris by Jaques Derrida and Francois Chatelet in 1983, this small-scale international symposium, will try to address issues surrounding the past, present and future of Humanities education and research in the age of crisis. This “crisis” particularly resonates with the natural disasters on March 11, 2011 in Japan, and the following calamitous events centered on the nuclear power-plant’s meltdown at Fukushima.

What could be the roles and responsibilities of Humanities scholars facing this crisis? Can University education stand up to the multiple challenges posed by the now increasingly technologically sophisticated neoliberal/capitalist politics? What could be the viable relationship between Cultural Studies and Philosophy education? And is it too vulgar to talk about Art and Literature after “Fukushima”?

This gathering will tackle these questions from various and broad perspectives in a kind of intellectual exchange particularly among those who are concerned with the relevant issues in the present geopolitical contexts in Japan and Britain. Although the Symposium is based on the traditional format consisting of several panels with keynote speeches and commentaries, its atmosphere will be definitely friendly, non-hierarchical and improvisational, and we hope that the participants will enjoy the intellectual exchanges at their very best forms during the three days. 

Schedule and Guest Speakers

*Keynote speech is 30~45 minutes, Commentary 15~20 minutes approximately, please.

*Participation in the symposium is free of charge, but please pay £20 for food and drinks if you would like to attend the Reception on Friday 28th and the Farewell Party on Sunday 30th  (£10 for attending only one of the two; the Keynote speakers and Commentators are free).

Friday 28th October

16:00~ Registration for the Participants


17:00~20:00 Panel 1: “Cultural Studies and Philosophy Education in Asia” (Room 421, Malet st)

Keynote 1: Koichi Iwabuchi (Waseda University)

Keynote 2: Fabian Schäfer (Leipzig University)

Comment 1: David Morley (tbc) (Goldsmiths College, University of London)

Comment 2: Angus Lockyer (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London)

Discussion


19:00~21:00 Reception (Room 421, Malet St)


Saturday 29th October

11:00~14:00 Film showing: “The Right to Philosophy” (Birkbeck Cinema, Gordon Sq)

Keynote:Yuji Nishiyama (Tokyo Metropolitan University)

Comment:Yusuke Miyazaki(University of Niigata)

Discussion

15:00~18:00 Panel 2: “Roles and Responsibilities of Intellectuals in the Age of Neoliberal Politics” (Room B35, Malet St)

Keynote 1: Sabu Kohso (New York, Artist/Activist)

Keynote 2: Jun Hirose (Ryukoku University)

Comment 1: Angela McRobbie (Goldsmiths College, University of London)

Comment 2: Jeremy Gilbert (University of East London)

Discussion

Sunday 30th October

10:00~13:00  Panel 3:  “Humanities After Crisis” (Room B04, Gordon Sq)

Keynote 1: Ryuta Imafuku (Tokyo University of Foreign Studies)

Keynote 2: Chih-Ming Wang  (Institute of European and American Studies,

Academia Sinica, Taiwan)

Comment 1: Esther Leslie (Birkbeck College, University of London)

Comment 2: Michael Gardiner (University of Warwick)

Discussion

14:00~17:00  Panel 4: “The Present Conditions and Future Prospects of Humanities Education in Universities” (Room B04, Gordon Sq)

Keynote 1: Naoki Sakai (Cornell University)

Keynote 2: Gauri Viswanathan (Columbia University)

Comment 1: Costas Douzinas ( Birkbeck College, University of London)

Comment 2: John Hutnyk (Goldsmiths College, University of London)

Discussion

17:00~18:30 Summary Panel (Room B04, Gordon Sq)

All the Keynote Speakers’ and Commentators’ final remarks (5 minutes each)

19:00~21:00 Farewell Party (Room B04, Gordon Sq) 


Participants

Apart from the invited speakers above (Keynote speakers and Commentators),

around 50 participants are expected mainly from Britain.

Sabot not quite sabot – weekender version…

This, I presume, is for those who can’t find a spanner. But I noted the bees.

‘This settlement is long gone in Britain, used only as a bargaining chip or blackmail within industrial relations disputes. As our conditions of labour as cognitive workers have changed, morphed from the design studio to the atomised precarious freelancer, the ability to oversee a daring or critical design has been banished. Instead, we work as bees, each producing a tiny fragment of the whole. In this position as a worker, we cannot hold any critical control over the work we produce, just enact the formulations of other workers, the workers who piece together polls and focus groups, who brainstorm slogans or typefaces.’

from the always interesting DSG:

http://deterritorialsupportgroup.wordpress.com/2011/09/27/goatse-as-industrial-sabotage/

Goatse as Industrial Sabotage

This short article is not for the faint of heart. It’s not for internet dabblers, or the recently-fed. Or maybe it is- maybe this article will give some insight into the world of the digital natives. It aims to shed light on an internet phenomenon, in turn giving the shadow, depth and form of class-struggle to what might, on first appearances, seem like a decidedly two-dimensional case study. Here, we wish to talk about a meme called Goatse, and the story of how a revolting and childish prank spread to become a modern-day “sabot”, a memetic tool for workers to undermine their employers, and with it, the ideology of work.

Goatse (usually pronounced Goat-See) is an internet meme that emerged in the late 1990’s, and is a good case study for how memes transfer through populations, shifting forms and emptying themselves of content as they go (something we talk about in more depth in our chapter for the forthcoming “20 Reasons” book). The original Goatse image, cunningly entitled “hello.jpg”, was hosted at Goatse.cx –.cx being the top-level domain for Christmas Island. It constituted a shock site, akin to the later phenomenon of “rickrolling”, where a link with a disguised URL is posted onto a forum or social media site under a false pretext. In a “rick roll” the unwitting victim clicks the link, and is redirected to the youtube clip, “Rick Roll’d”, of Rick Astley singing his 1987 hit “Never Gonna Give You Up”. This false link has become one of the most popular and enduring memes and “Rick Roll’d” has been viewed almost 50 million times as of writing.

Goatse was a similar “bait and switch” prank, but involved being redirected to the (arguably) more disturbing site of a middle-aged man using both hands to pull apart his dilated rectum remarkably wide, revealing to the poor victim the depths of the man’s guts. On his left hand,a gold ring; a touching detail. It’s a remarkably foul example of the murkier undercurrents of online fora, and visible here, if you’re that type of person.

So why are we raising this spectre, this perverse underbelly of networked technology? We’re raising it because Goatse is a prime example of the meme-form, and its memetic transference has interesting knock-on implications for the design industry in general, and the critical undermining of that industry through its workers specifically.

One of the interesting developments of the internet meme-as-subject (that is, a self-aware and self-reflexive subject, rather than a metaphor for information transfer, as originally posited by Richard Dawkins) is its ability to retain its unique identity even when its form changes, or its content, or even both. Only the minimum trace of the original joke needs to remain- or no trace at all, as long as those in on the joke can trace back the heritage of the joke to the original. And so it is with Goatse- indeed, losing the “shock” factor has spread the Goatse meme far beyond its original parameters. Whilst the original “switch and bait” meme survives, running concurrently with it is a meme which functions in almost a polar opposite form. In this, graphical representations of the original image are inserted into (or spotted in) everyday commercial design. Rather than being a surprise image of such stark realness that everyone is forced into a visceral reaction on first meeting with the image, instead the image works as an in-joke IRL amongst those who consider themselves digital natives– people who operate in cyberspace as a singular territory in-and-of itself (rather than a sphere attached to the “real world”).

Examples of Goatses proliferate- some subtle, some blatant. Some can be put down to “accident”– a reading backwards of the meme. But we are more concerned with the more common occurrence– the intentional Goatse, slipped in surreptitiously to the advertising image with a wink and a nod to those who “get it”, and passing a reference to extreme rectal stretching under the noses of the paymasters.

The ability for this “in-joke” representation to appear within mainstream advertising and commercial image production relies upon two developments within postfordist capitalism: technological development and the proletarianisation of the creative industries. The first point is obvious– the development of cyberspace as a territory of virtual community, and the development of digital imaging hardware/software, has created a means of recording and disseminating chance observations of advertising hoardings, online and offline material and chance observations. It has also created a relatively lawless, anonymous environment where pornographic and extreme material can be circulated without fear of embarrassment.

This is the culture where the in-joke can breed, but this form of technological development comes hand-in-hand, fist-in-glove with new ways of organising the labour which produces this commercial cultural material in the first place; an atomised form of organising creative labour which has wholly changed the way graphic design works. It’s all very well creating the arena for subverted advertising to be passed around, but what was also needed was a particular disinvestment of cultural and creative workers, an alienation from the productive process whereby sabotage of their own creative output became more important than fulfilling the allotted task.

Within this environment the “in-joke” differs markedly to workplace in-jokes of the past. Today, you might be the only person in your office who gets the joke. But worldwide you’re connecting to thousands of others in a form of exploded solidarity. It’s a dynamic form, a vivid social relationship the marketeers can – for the time being – only dream of invoking with their cosy stock images of friends-coming-together, sharing a joke over a glass of chardonnay. The proletarian – especially within the present conditions, the info-prole – is a force who pushes forward innovation through her resistance to capital, and it is capital who exists on the back-foot, damming the flow of proletarian innovation, demanding enlarged logos in order to harness its power.

Here Goatse acts as a rejection of labour; and not just labour, but an ideology ofpost-fordist labour, where we are not simply selling labour-time, but selling ourselves, our creative and cognitive skills, as a product for an employer to buy. Perhaps here we can see Goatse as a morphing of the dialogic image. The dialogic image emerged as a strategy in the 1970s and 80s in the work of Dutch designer Jan van Toorn. The design presents multiple conflicting messages, with a view to forcing a demystified, critical reading from its audience. Here it is used in a positive form, influenced by Enzensberger’s theory of ‘emancipatory media’; it is considered, logical, a conscious and explicit criticality, aimed at heightening a social awareness of the constructed nature of the visual environment. A criticality negotiated between an autonomous, individual designer, an adventurous client, and a broad, undifferentiated public audience – a product of a social settlement already dead in the UK, now finally being destroyed in the Netherlands.

This settlement is long gone in Britain, used only as a bargaining chip or blackmail within industrial relations disputes. As our conditions of labour as cognitive workers have changed, morphed from the design studio to the atomised precarious freelancer, the ability to oversee a daring or critical design has been banished. Instead, we work as bees, each producing a tiny fragment of the whole. In this position as a worker, we cannot hold any critical control over the work we produce, just enact the formulations of other workers, the workers who piece together polls and focus groups, who brainstorm slogans or typefaces.

In this scenario, the dialogic image must be reduced to a short-hand: Goatse, the in-joke, provides that. Within Goatse, the dialogic image is covert; unable to exercise any significant level of authorial control within the design process, the designer forces the critical dissonance by tapping into the in-joke. Rather than a critical dialogue between worker and employer being an open one, it has become a secretive conflict; rather than a critical design image being a conscious attempt to demystify design as a mediated process, it becomes an attempt to undermine and destroy the design process. Adopting the supposedly most efficient working process for capital has pushed design to eat itself. The dialogic image has become the weaponisation of ridicule; the designer has become a postfordist saboteur of the industrial process, and the ever-present spectre of sabotage as the unspoken clot of class-war clogs another artery of capital.

Free Education

The Centre for Cultual Studies at Goldsmiths University of London took a decision to make as many as possible of its lecture series open to the public without fee. Seminars, essays, library access etc remain for sale. Still, here is a chance to explore cultural studies without getting into debt. The classes are MA level, mostly in the day – though in spring the Capital course is early tuesday evening We usually run 10 week courses (though Stiegler and Berry-Slater run for 5 weeks in the Spring) . Reading required will be announced in class, but preliminary reading suggestions can also be found by following the links. RHB means main building of Goldsmiths – Richard Hoggart Building.

Autumn Term – starting October 3rd.

Mondays 11am – 1pm
Cultural Theory – Lecture
Prof Scott Lash
RHB 137A
http://www.gold.ac.uk/media/CU71002A%20%20Cultural%20Theory%202011-12.pdf

Tuesdays 11am – 1pm
Postcolonial Theory ­ Lecture/Seminar
Dr Bhaskar Mukhopadhyay
RHB 342a
http://www.gold.ac.uk/media/CU71011A%20Postcolonial%20Theory%202011-12.pdf

Wednesdays 10am – 12 noon
Critical Theory – Lecture
Dr Luciana Parisi
RHB 308
http://www.gold.ac.uk/media/CU71007A%20Interactive%20Media%202011-12.pdf

There will be additional open lecture series in the Spring (venues tbc)

Spring Term

Sound, Text and Image – Dr Sophie Fuggle (mondays)
http://www.gold.ac.uk/media/CU71022A%20Text%20and%20Image%202011-12.pdf

Capitalism and Cultural Studies – Prof John Hutnyk (tuesday evenings)
http://www.gold.ac.uk/media/CU71012A%20Cultural%20Studies%20&%20Capitalism%2
02011-12.pdf

Biopolitics and Aesthetics – Dr Josie Berry-Slater (thursdays)

http://www.gold.ac.uk/media/CU71027A%20Biopolitics%20&%20Aesthetics%202011-12.pdf

Media Philosophy – Prof Bernard Stiegler (thursdays)
http://www.gold.ac.uk/media/CU71024A%20%20Media%20Philosophy%202011-12.pdf

all welcome.

Zoogenesis

Do check out Richard Iveson’s blog if you are interested in Animal Studies, Derrida, Foucault… expect stuff later on Deleuze, Stiegler, Kafka, Burroughs etc:

http://zoogenesis.wordpress.com/

Popular Music and Human Rights

Pantomime Terror in print (see downloads page for the pdf).

This is the flyer for the set: Popular Music and Human Rights 2-vol set

New Term – just like the old term in the neoliberal university – Red Mole 1970 – flashback with this archival gem.

click here to get the full PDF: redmole1970

click here to get the full PDF: redmole1970

Millibrand’s labour opportunism is not worth the paper its paraphrased from.

Re Millibrand’s Tuition Fee ‘pledge’ – if this below from ‘Research Fortnight’ is true, why stop at a 6K cap? Surely 0.35% can be extended to 0.70% or more? 1.35% would surely fix it all? Need to reread the entire article, but the key trick is here:
‘So let’s imagine an ambush by a political party on the eve of the next general election advocating an immediate cut in the fee cap to, say, £6,000. This would imply a cut in CPI of about 0.35 per cent, corresponding to a saving of about £1.2bn in spending. Throw in savings on loan defaults, access and the National Scholarship Scheme and a stunning political calculation emerges. Thanks to the CPI effect, it will be possible for a party to go into the next election on a platform of cutting fees to £6,000 and restoring the corresponding block grant for teaching—with zero net impact on the public finances.’http://www.researchresearch.com/index.php?option=com_news&template=rr_2col&view=article&articleId=1103452
My maths is shit – but like everyone else I smell a rat. Labour is not even good at opportunism. We’ve had pledges from shiny-bodgie wannabee’s before now.

Guardian – corruption, diamonds, Hazare… tigers… toxic… : ‘Rio Tinto, which is investing £292m on what it calls the Bunder project, vehemently denies that the mine has anything to do with Masood’s murder’

Shehla Masood battled corruption in India. Was that why she was killed?

The shooting of a prominent activist was ‘unfortunate’, says a minister. But her friends suspect that she knew too much to live

Shehla Masood

A family photograph of Shehla Masood, who was campaigning against plans to open a mine when she was killed.

For many of her 38 years, Shehla Masood had campaigned tirelessly against corruption. Glamorous and combative, she had embraced India‘s Right to Information Act with gusto, rattling out applications in all directions, exposing wrongdoing at the highest levels of Madhya Pradesh state where she lived, upsetting many powerful people with a great deal to lose. Judges, police and politicians from the local ruling BJP party had all come into her sights and been exposed for misusing public cash.

In recent months, she had turned her attention to mining conglomerate Rio Tinto‘s plans to extract 37 million tonnes of diamond-bearing ore from land in one of the finest strands of teak forest in the country.

Then, on 16 August, Shehla was found dead in her car outside her home in a prosperous area of Bhopal, with a single gunshot to her neck. More than a month later, the investigation has hit a brick wall. Even the offer of a £7,500 reward – an enormous sum for India – has failed to elicit a single witness to a killing that took place in broad daylight in a busy street.

It is Tuesday morning in that same respectable street in Bhopal. A large khaki tent is pitched opposite Shehla’s house. Four police officers, posted to guard her family, sprawl inside on charpoys, fast asleep. The road leads to a large slum, whose residents pass regularly in front of the house, much as they must have done on the morning she died.

It was Shehla’s father, Sultan Masood, who found her lying with her head back in the front seat of her little silver Hyundai Santro car. “I called: ‘Shehla, Shehla’, but she didn’t speak. I took some water and splashed it on her face and then her dupatta [scarf] slipped down and I noticed the black hole in her neck. I started screaming: ‘Somebody has killed my daughter, someone has shot my daughter.'”

It is almost inconceivable that no one saw the killer or heard the shot, but Shehla’s fate appears to have been a warning to others to keep silent.

For Shehla, though, silence was never an option. In the past few months, she had targeted Rio Tinto’s diamond plans. Environmentalists feared that the mine project in Chhatarpur district – inaugurated by the chief minister in 2009 – threatened the watershed of Panna Tiger Reserve and the Shyamri river.

In a letter to India’s home minister in July, she wrote: “The Rio Tinto company began exploring in this eco-sensitive zone before being granted government permission. The officials who objected have been transferred from their positions.”

The high court of Madhya Pradesh had already ordered the national and state governments to explain why mining had been permitted, according to the petition, “in gross violation of rules and regulations”.

Shehla planned to launch her own legal challenge and had started to file right-to-information applications to gather evidence.

Shehla’s younger sister, Ayesha, has returned from the US, where she is studying microbiology, and has been trying to make sense of what happened, ploughing through her computer hard drive, digging out her correspondence, looking for a clue. Sitting in the living room of the elegantly furnished, two-storey family home, the 34-year-old said: “She told a friend who met her five days before her death that she had information that would shake the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh to its core.”

Ayesha Masood fears the killing is linked to those who stood to gain from the deal with Rio Tinto. Gopal Krishna, founder of the Delhi-based ToxicsWatch Alliance, had been working with Shehla in the weeks before her death. He said she had just started making fresh right-to-information applications and planned to launch her own public-interest challenge to the mine in the high court.

Vinita Deshmukh, a journalist and activist who has followed the case closely, said: “It was more convenient and more economical perhaps to snuff out the life of Shehla. Money and power almost always overpower the laws of this country, especially when it comes to big projects that generally throw up lucrative commissions and kickbacks to officers and elected representatives.”

Madhya Pradesh’s home minister, Uma Shankar Gupta, dismissed such suggestions. It was “unfortunate” that she was killed, he said, but no one in government wanted her dead: there were plenty of more capable right-to-information activists and nothing had happened to them.

As for the Rio Tinto mine, it could not possibly be illegal, he said: “If the chief minister went over and inaugurated it, it has to be legal.”

Rio Tinto, which is investing £292m on what it calls the Bunder project, vehemently denies that the mine has anything to do with Masood’s murder.

A spokesman said: “Rio Tinto started exploring for minerals in India in 1996 after the sector was opened for foreign direct investment. In 2004, Rio Tinto made news across the world with the discovery of significant diamond deposits at the Bunder project in Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh. We are currently at the evaluation stage and doing detailed studies while our application for a mining lease is pending with the government of India. We have a very strict, transparent ethics policy that is uncompromising no matter where we operate.

“We learned through the media of the shocking death of Ms Masood, for which we extend our sympathy to her family and friends. We join with the community of Bhopal in condemning such acts of violence and the loss of life.

“We cannot understand why our name is bring linked with this tragedy. We never met nor had any contact with Ms Masood and are unaware of any communication she had with the ministry of environment and forest. We have had no communication with the CBI [Central Bureau of Investigation] so are unaware of any details about the investigation.”

The man in charge of the murder inquiry, Deputy Inspector General Hemant Priyadarshy, thinks it was a professional job. All the possible motives are being considered, he said. “We are speaking to everyone. Nobody is outside the reach of the law.”

His job would be simpler had Shehla chosen to tackle fewer establishment figures. “I fear for my life,” she said in an interview a month before her death. “But I will continue working and carry on … It is the nexus between politicians and babus [officials] which is slowly poisoning our country. The fight is between the powerful and weak and I represent the weakest and the poorest of society.”

The day she died she was due to pick up the responses to a right-to-information request on judges’ expenditure, before addressing a rally in support of national anti-corruption campaigner Anna Hazare’s hunger strike (she was his campaign organiser in the state) and inviting people to name and shame corrupt politicians and officials. She was winning praise from the national BJP party in Delhi through her close friendship with one of its MPs, Tarun Vijay, but that only seemed to breed jealousy and fear of her influence in the local party. Someone was spreading rumours that Shehla, a Muslim who also worked as an events organiser, was a spy for Pakistan. And then there was her acrimonious dispute with a senior police officer, whom she had accused of corruption.

Ayesha Masood sits in the living room, rattling through the list. She seems uncertain where to turn next, unsure that the police will crack the case, seeing the reward as a sign of desperation. The family demanded the local police be taken off the investigation after they initially concluded that Shehla had shot herself, despite no weapon being found at the scene. They are happier now that the CBI is in charge, but still she doubts that they will get justice. “If highly influential people are involved, India is very good at sacrificing its own citizens,” she said.

There is no doubt that Shehla made many enemies during her years of anti-corruption activism. The identity of her killer may prove elusive for some time to come.

We are all Troy Davis (well, hardly, but its a fucking outrage that the USA executed over a thousand people since 1975, and then some)

A cartoon made for Troy Davis by the activist known cartoonist Carlos Latuff

Since I have been writing about this in relation to MIA, maybe its worth noting for the record, that the cited (is this only ‘citation’?) image cartooned here appeared in its original gross form in several films, including in full in the Monkees’ Jack Nicholson and Bob Rafelson ‘Head’ (dir. Rafelson 1968), and in what is arguably the first extended music video (shot on 2 inch quadruplex video in PAL format and transferred after production to film stock) ‘200 Motels’ (dir. Frank Zappa and Tony Palmer 1971). It was used as background visuals for the song ‘The Story of Isaac’ by Leonard Cohen on his 1972 tour – as seen in the long lost and recently reassembled film Bird on a Wire (dir. Tony Palmer 2009) and the still was a backdrop in Woody Allen’s ‘Stardust Memories’ (dir. Allen 1980). Details: South Vietnamese national Police Chief Nguyễn Ngọc Loan executes alleged communist Nguyễn Văn Lém – the picture taken by Pulitzer prize winner Eddie Adams on 1 February 1968, with film by Vo Suu – original footage now available on google video:

http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=2390091327094425662&hl=en&fs=true

Neil tours us round Deptford.

Why thanks Neil:

http://transpont.blogspot.com/2011/09/convoys-wharf-latest.html

Transpontine: South East London blogzine – things that are happening, things that happened, things that should never have happened. New Cross, Brockley, Deptford and other beauty spots. EMAIL US: transpontine@btinternet.com Transpontine: ‘on the other (i.e. the south) side of the bridges over the Thames; pertaining to or like the lurid melodrama played in theatres there in the 19th century’.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Convoys Wharf Latest

The future of Convoys Wharf, site of the former Royal Dockyard on the Deptford riverfront, has been discussed here before. A revised planning application for the site has recently been submitted by News International (former owners of the site) and Chinese property developer Cheung Kong (current owners).There is a lot of local concern about the plans – not just about the impact of what is proposed, but in relation to the loss of the potential once in a hundred years opportunity to do something special here that makes a positive difference to people in Deptford. Challenging these plans, put forward by two of the world’s most powerful conglomerates in the world, is a daunting prospect.Enter Deptford is…, ‘a group of local residents who want to ensure that the redeveloped Convoy’s Wharf offers the best for Deptford and its future. We are NOT affiliated to any political party, commercial interest or quango’. This Saturday 24th September, 10 am to 12 noon, they are organising a ‘planning objections workshop’ in the Blue room at the Albany, Douglas Way.They say ‘Many local residents are worried about the impact of the redevelopment, and are keen to ensure that their concerns are heard by the council. But the planning documents are numerous and complex, and many people who want to respond to the application simply don’t have the time to read them fully. Even those who do have time to read the documents may not know enough about the planning system to be able to write an effective response. So we are holding an URGENT planning objections workshop THIS SATURDAY MORNING at the Albany theatre in Deptford, to provide help and advice to people wanting to comment on this planning application’.

Is that all there is?

A couple of weeks ago I took a group of visitors to Goldsmiths on a guided walk around New Cross and Deptford, focusing on the history of the area and some of its buildings. It was an interesting group, mainly from USA and India, including among others critical architects, a photographer, a film maker and a singer/theatre writer.

The theme of their meeting was globalisation and preservation and this seemed very apposite to Deptford. After all it is arguably one of the birthplaces of a kind of globalisation, the East India Company having been based here, and various colonial and slaver expeditions starting out from the Deptford shipyards. And ‘preservation’ is part of what the argument about Convoys Wharf is all about – how can or should any development reflect the site’s history and preserve the memory of shipbuilding and migration (as for instance Shipwright’s Palace argue)? And what about the site of the historic Sayes Court garden?

One thing that is very striking about the area, looking at it through the eyes of visitors, is just how much it is a zone in transition. I kept finding myself saying on the one hand, ‘until recently this was here’ and on the other ‘soon there will be a new tower block here’. Another feature for an area so tied up with its riverine history is how cut off much of Deptford is from the river itself, not least by the walls around Convoys Wharf. The current planning application promises to restore public access to the river, and that is essential. But does that mean we should just accept any scheme that offers a view of the water?

Another theme that emerged from chatting to the visitors was how similar the experiences of urban development, and specifically riverside development, are across the world. Unimaginative identikit schemes, often by the same architects and developers in different countries, with ‘luxury flat’ tower blocks and sterile semi-public spaces. Is that all there is?

#Facebook #Gmail adblockers and the new FB status ticker removal

Reposted all this here cos who knows how long the post will stay onb my FB page (if they even bother to set the algorithm to watch):

 

welcome to the administration – learn to like it circa 1989

Mister Pip and volunteers build a Library

Postcourier, 15 Sept 11

Arawa to get new library

BOUGAINVILLE’S estranged capital, Arawa, should have a big library built by end of the year, the Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA) has announced.
The Bougainville Library project is about to take another step forward when VSA volunteer Barry Binding leaves Wellington on September 20 to spend six weeks developing a project management plan for the $350,000 building.
The library – or stori haus – is the inspiration of Wellington writer Lloyd Jones, whose 2007 Man Booker Prize-winning[shortlisted] novel Mister Pip is set in Bougainville.
As well as developing a project management plan, Mr Binding will also organise the timber needed for the project, and will prepare the site for building.
The library will be built on the grounds of Arawa High School. It has been designed by Wellington architect Paul Kerr-Hislop and will be built by trainee carpenters from Arawa Carpentry. VSA helped set up Arawa Carpentry in 1999 as part of the reconstruction process following 10 years of civil war.
Mr Binding, a Kapiti Coast builder, returned from a two-year VSA assignment based at Arawa Carpentry in May 2010. While he was there, he built a model of the library to give local people a chance to see what it will look like. He is one of several VSA volunteers who have been closely involved with the library project. He is looking forward to returning to Bougainville to start the next stage of the process.

http://www.postcourier.com.pg/20110915/ispost03.htm

 

The blacklisting of Rio Tinto – NAJ Taylor

The blacklisting of Rio Tinto

Too many invest in companies – such as Australia’s Rio Tinto – without any consideration of the ethics of doing so.

NAJ Taylor Last Modified: 12 Sep 2011 12:24

 

 

Papuans protest against Freeport and Rio Tinto’s Grasberg mine outside of Freeport’s office in Jakarta [EPA]

[This is the first of four pieces examining Rio Tinto and mining in Indonesia's West Papua province]

Investing in conflict-affected and high-risk areas is a growing concern for responsible businesses and investors. Often times companies based in developed countries operate in lesser-developed, foreign markets, where governance standards are lax, corruption is high and business practices are poor.

These pieces focus on one specific Anglo-Australian company that operates in West Papua, one of the poorest provinces of Indonesia. The risks for the company include the potential to contribute to environmental and social damage in a foreign market. The risks for investors include financing a company that does not get its risk management right. This is the story of how the Norwegian Pension Fund blacklisted Rio Tinto.

An ancient copper mine located near Huelva in southernmost Spain changed hands in 1873. A group of opportunistic Anglo-German investors, equipped with modern techniques that favored mining aboveground, acquired it from the Spanish government. The mine’s copper had stained the surrounding water to such an extent that the indigenes named the river Rio Tinto – literally meaning “red river”.

The mine at Rio Tinto had supplied the Phoenicians, ancient Greeks, Carthaginians, and the Roman Empire. Its copper had paid for Carthage’s numerous wars on Rome and had been held by both Scipio and Hannibal. We can only assume that these investors, aware of such indelible marks on the environment and history, missed the irony, because they named their company Rio Tinto.

However, the red river has since flowed a long way from home. The company has expanded its operations through Australia, North and South America, Asia, Europe, and southern Africa – across coal, aluminum, copper, diamonds, uranium, gold, industrial minerals, and iron ore. Rio Tinto is now so large that its dual listing on the Australian and London stock exchanges commands a value of over $100bn.

What’s left behind near the Spanish town of Huelva is a 58-mile-long river flowing through one of the world’s largest deposits of pyrite, or fool’s gold. Because of the mine, the river has a pH reading similar to that of automobile battery acid and contains virtually no oxygen in its lower depths. In the late 1980s, temporary flooding dissolved a power substation, a mandibular crusher, and several hundred yards of transport belts.

More recently, NASA astrobiologists used the conditions of the river to replicate the conditions of Mars. “If you remove the green,” one of them remarked, “it looks like Mars”. The thinking goes that if something could live in such an acidic river, then there is likely to be life on Mars too.

Every Australian – through public monies invested by elected governments, or their choice of superannuation fund, insurer, and bank – is funding this red river now too. Rio Tinto is so large and so profitable that, for the average Australian, investment in it is very near unavoidable.

Blacklisted

On September 9, 2008, amid the turmoil of the global financial crisis, the Norwegian government announced that it had liquidated its entire $1bn investment in Rio Tinto for “grossly unethical conduct”. Operating the second largest fund in the world, the Norwegians’ decision focused solely on the Grasberg mine in West Papua on New Guinea, which it believed posed the “unacceptable risk” of contributing to “severe environmental damage” if it were to continue funding the Anglo-Australian mining giant.

Rio Tinto had been blacklisted.

The following day, Rio Tinto’s official statement relayed that the company was “surprised and disappointed”, given both its recognised leadership in environmental sustainability and its noncontrolling interest in the Grasberg mine. As with most claims of sustainability, the truth is otherwise.

Rio Tinto should not have been surprised by the Norwegian stance on Grasberg. Records show that there had been months – in fact, years – of dialogue with the Norwegians about Grasberg’s inadequate environmental and social performance. Rio Tinto had faced a litany of signposts indicating that multinational and Indonesian involvement in West Papua was not meeting various standards, laws, and norms: Institutions such as the World Bank, the Australian Council for Overseas Aid, the International Finance Corporation, the Overseas Private Investment Commission, the United Nations Committee against Torture, the US State Department, and the Indonesian Environment Ministry, as well as many US and European politicians, independent environmental assessments, international media, Papuan leaders, civil society groups, and shareholders had brought the problems to Rio Tinto’s attention.

That an institutional investor should act on environmental, social, and corporate governance considerations is a newly evolving development within the global investment industry, and one in which many Australian institutional investors and service providers have been quick to claim leadership. However, the blacklisting of Rio Tinto by the Norwegian government was uniquely public, transparent, and forward-thinking. Yet this wholesale dumping of one of Australia’s blue-chip stocks received only syndicated coverage in the local media.

Behind the headlines of the global financial crisis is a deeper, more systemic fault line that rewards rampant capitalism. Too many invest in and operate mines such as Grasberg without any consideration of the ethics of so doing.

Part 2 to follow next week.

This is an extract of a chapter from the book, Evolutions in Sustainable Investing: Strategies, Funds and Thought Leadership, to be published by Wiley in December 2011.

Follow NAJ Taylor on Twitter: @najtaylordotcom

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/08/2011823133628702154.html

DJ Lenin in the House.

- image from Chaos Camp 11 @ Podopolog.

September 11 – Happy birthday Teddy. W. Great Pachyderm.

For a proposed preface to a new edition of Dialectic of Enlightenment, Adorno writes a letter to Horkheimer, and says:

‘One experience has not been anticipated in the book, although it is hinted at in other texts of ours: at least our young people have set out to resist the transition to the totally administered world that is not being brought into being seamlessly, but by means of dictatorships and wars. The protest movement in all the countries of the world, in both blocs as well as the third world, testifies to the fact that wholesale integration does not necessarily proceed smoothly. If this book assists the cause of resistance to achieve a consciousness that illuminates and that prevents people from submitting to blind practice out of despair and from succumbing to collective narcism, that would give it a genuine function’

Quoted in Detlev Claussen

Protesters confront battleships en route to world’s largest arms fair

10.09.2011 10:49

For immediate release:

Protesters confront battleships en route to world’s largest arms fair

HMS Dauntless is Daunted

Today, warships en route to the world’s largest arms fair were disrupted by protesters angry at a trade that inflicts untold misery and death across the planet. Protesters, including locals, manoeuvred six kayaks in front of the ships to prevent them gaining access to Royal Victoria Dock.

At a time of austerity and government cuts, East London will be hosting Defence Systems Equipment International (DSEi) from 13th – 16th September, with much of the cost borne by the taxpayer.

Every 2 years the ExCeL centre in London’s dockyards welcomes dictators, arms dealers and suspected war criminals in an attempt to persuade them to buy British weaponry. Many of the weapons used by dictators to kill demonstrators during the Arab spring were procured from DSEi exhibitors.

This year DSEi falls on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people. It is worth remembering that (according to the British Medical Journal) nearly 400,000 people die every year from armed conflict.

A spokesperson for Disarm DSEi stated “The same politicians that shed crocodile tears for the 9/11 victims are fuelling the fires of war and armed conflict around the world. It is up to ordinary people to intervene to stop the obscene traffic in arms. DSEi, the world’s largest arms fair, must be stopped.”

This is just one action in a concerted campaign. Protesters have vowed to disrupt DSEi throughout the week, including a day of action on the 13th to blockade the DLR and prevent delegates attending the event.

For further information and pictures contact – 07592 769 907 or 07415 810 637

Notes for Editors:

Several warships will form part of this year’s DSEi – hosting receptions and showcasing military technology, including HMS Dauntless, the pride of the British Navy.

Over 1200 arms companies will be selling their wares to 25,000 buyers from around the world, including military delegations from some of the world’s most repressive, human rights abusing regimes.

DSEi is held in Newham, one of London’s most impoverished boroughs. Whilst the government has subsidised DSEi by £320,000 and paid up to £4million for policing, Newham council are being forced to cut
£116 million from their budget over the next four years.

For years leading up to the “Arab Spring”, arms companies have exported equipment to the regimes which are now being condemned by governments rapidly backtracking on their support. A report issued in April this year confirmed that since 2009 the UK have exported components for military helicopters to Algeria, sub-machine guns and tear gas to Bahrain, machine guns to Egypt and hand grenades to Jordan. British defence contractors have also sold small arms ammunition to Syria, hand grenades, sniper rifles and tear gas to Saudi Arabia and shotguns to Morocco.

DISARM DSEi
Stop the world’s largest arms fair!

Photos of Kayaks vs The Dauntless here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/67368949@N04/

Disarm DSEi
- Homepage: www.dsei.org

Wikileaks on Bougainville.

From UTS:

Dear Bougainville Supporters,

Below are the links from Wikileaks to confidential documents about the Bougainville Class Action – Sarei vs Rio Tinto.

FOREIGN POLICY IMPLICATIONS OF SAREI VS. RIO TINTO

http://www.wikileaks.org/cable/2006/09/06PORTMORESBY401.html

SAREI VS. RIO TINTO

http://www.wikileaks.org/cable/2006/08/06PORTMORESBY319.html

Contents page http://www.wikileaks.org/origin/71_0.html

Meze Mangal

Not sure how I feel about mass exposure of this (since its the best food in the borough) but, via Transpontine, here it is:

Eray and Koray – self-styled ‘Cypriot Eminem and Dr Dre’ have a great new track out celebrating the delights of Meze Mangal, the Turkish restaurant in New Cross. Filmed on location in and around the place, the track starts off ‘I know this little place on Lewisham Way (what near the college?), if I had the money I would go every day…’. Look out for those Love, Peace and Kebab Grease T-shirts. All with a little bit of help from Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance.

 

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