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):

 

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