Monthly Archives For March 2013

Is emigration state policy? – LookLeft magazine investigates

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Is emigration state policy? – LookLeft magazine investigates

The new issue of LookLeft magazine, Ireland’s leading progressive media outlet available in newsagents country wide, includes articles on emigration and how it has benefited conservative forces in the Republic and an in-depth look at the events and impact of the 1913 Lockout.

In an article investigating the impact of emigration on the Republic, British and Irish civil service documents are quoted which back up the argument that successive Governments’ have tacitly supported the export of our youth.

These include one quoting civil servant Alexis Fitzgerald, an advisor to Taoiseach John Costello commenting that, “High emigration, granted a population excess, releases social tension which would otherwise explode, and makes possible a stability of manners and customs which would otherwise be the subject of radical change.”

In his in-depth look at the 1913 Lockout’s importance ‘then and now’ historian Brian Hanley asks is the establishment really interested in commemorating the ‘divine gospel of discontent’ as preached by James Larkin.

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50 Truths about Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution

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This article by Salim Lamrani was published on Opera Mundi on March 9th 2013. This translated version by Tim Anderson was published on venezuelanalysis.com.

President Hugo Chavez, who died on March 5, 2013 of cancer at age 58, marked forever the history of Venezuela and Latin America.

1. Never in the history of Latin America, has a political leader had such incontestable democratic legitimacy. Since coming to power in 1999, there were 16 elections in Venezuela. Hugo Chavez won 15, the last on October 7, 2012. He defeated his rivals with a margin of 10-20 percentage points.

2. All international bodies, from the European Union to the Organization of American States, to the Union of South American Nations and the Carter Center, were unanimous in recognizing the transparency of the vote counts.

3. James Carter, former U.S. President, declared that Venezuela's electoral system was “the best in the world.”

4. Universal access to education introduced in 1998 had exceptional results. About 1.5 million Venezuelans learned to read and write thanks to the literacy campaign called Mission Robinson I.

5. In December 2005, UNESCO said that Venezuela had eradicated illiteracy.

6. The number of children attending school increased from 6 million in 1998 to 13 million in 2011 and the enrollment rate is now 93.2%.

7. Mission Robinson II was launched to bring the entire population up to secondary level. Thus, the rate of secondary school enrollment rose from 53.6% in 2000 to 73.3% in 2011.

8. Missions Ribas and Sucre allowed tens of thousands of young adults to undertake university studies. Thus, the number of tertiary students increased from 895,000 in 2000 to 2.3 million in 2011, assisted by the creation of new universities.

9. With regard to health, they created the National Public System to ensure free access to health care for all Venezuelans. Between 2005 and 2012, 7873 new medical centers were created in Venezuela.

10. The number of doctors increased from 20 per 100,000 population in 1999 to 80 per 100,000 in 2010, or an increase of 400%.

11. Mission Barrio Adentro I provided 534 million medical consultations. About 17 million people were attended, while in 1998 less than 3 million people had regular access to health. 1.7 million lives were saved, between 2003 and 2011.

12. The infant mortality rate fell from 19.1 per thousand in 1999 to 10 per thousand in 2012, a reduction of 49%.

13. Average life expectancy increased from 72.2 years in 1999 to 74.3 years in 2011.

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Profitable Poverty in Extremadura: Bailing Out Banks, Evicting Poor People

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This is a translation of a piece written by Manuel Cañada, a militant in Trastienda, a social rights collective. It was originally published in Rebelión on 30th June last year. A friend from #AcampadaMérida (manifesto here) suggested I translate it as it helps provide the context to the situation in Extremadura. However it has universal resonance, particularly so in countries living in the wake of burst property bubbles.

The discourse of social Darwinism and the 'the kingdom of the plasma screen TVs' cited in this translated text on evictions in Extremadura ought to be particularly relevant to Irish readers. This morning, the head of the Department of Finance has declared that it 'is not necessarily appropriate that banks should be using taxpayers' money to subsidise people living in accommodation, even if it is a family home, that is beyond their means', citing an 'unnaturally low' level of repossessions (as if there were anything 'natural' about a neo-liberal state that protects the financial sector at all costs!). Meanwhile, Michael Noonan the Minister for Finance has cited, on the public broadcaster, the problem of satellite TV subscriptions taking priority over mortgage repayments.

Bailing out banks, evicting poor people

by Manuel Cañada

I ask of the political economists, of the moralists, whether they have calculated the number of individuals it is necessary to condemn to misery, to undue labour, to demoralisation, to infancy, to crapulous ignorance, to unconquerable misfortune, to absolute penury, so as to produce a rich person.

Almeida Garret

12th of June 2012, in Mérida's Juan Canet neighbourhood. It is not yet nine in the morning and a group of riot police, armed with plastic bullet rifles, oversee the rapid removal of furniture from a council house. It is one of 16 such evictions carried out in Extremadura in the last month and a half. Expectant rifle sights scan the doors and cots scattered in the middle of the street. A woman, until now a resident of the flat, begs unsuccessfully to be allowed in to her home to pick up the bottle so she can feed her son. No, these neighbourhoods are not reached by the psalms that speak of the greater interest of the child, nor is there room in the suburbs for affectations of compassion. “They treat us like terrorists”, says an older woman, consumed by rage. For some time now we have ceased to be surprised by the presence of riot police and special operations teams in these slums of misery. It is the silent war, the war of the rich against the poor, the coming social war.

One eviction every three days. The Extremaduran regional government (in Spanish, la Junta de Extremadura), a weatherproof homeowner and judge, has let eviction be the guide of its housing policy. 764 eviction cases are open, and of these, we are told, 90 are to be carried out imminently. This is happening in a region with near 150,000 people who are unemployed, with more than 60,000 in receipt of no benefits whatsoever, and when the number of people seeking assistance from Cáritas food programmes keeps multiplying. A tsunami of marginalisation and misery is advancing with its mouth wide open and, while this is going on, the Extremaduran government starts spinning the roulette wheel of eviction. “I only get €436 euro in unemployment benefit and I have to pay €143 in rent. How do they expect me to pay another late payment bill”, says one of the women threatened with expulsion. “They don't want to apply the rent reductions to me because they say I have previous debts”, another neighbour complains. “Can you believe they have the right to threaten you with getting thrown out on the street for a debt of €800?”. The stories of uncertainty and fear pile up. The regional government, the property owner, mobilises police and judges to frighten poor people, but it does not seem to show the same diligence or energy in fulfilling its obligations as landlord. The lifts stopped working a long time ago in many blocks and the neighbourhoods are filling up with cockroaches, but the exemplary government of Extremadura can only think about making money, and, especially, in that most profitable of investments: fear. The vineyard of the powers that be, always sprinkled with fear.

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Action Plan 2013 – ‘The Gathering’ Writ Large

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Paul Murphy MEP and David Murphy of the Socialist Party provide a critical appraisal of the government’s Action Plan 2013 and argue that Ireland needs a radically different action plan.

Another year and another instalment in the Action Plan for Jobs from the government. After the self-proclaimed sensational success that was the 2012 action plan, with 92% of its targets being hit, unemployment still stands at over 14%. Self-congratulation is no congratulation.

With over 87,000 people having emigrated since the last Action Plan was launched, what does Action Plan for Jobs 2013 have to offer? Well, not a lot, despite containing 333 ‘actions’ to build on last year’s 270 ‘actions’. It continues to outline the next steps in the government’s plan to create 100,000 new jobs by 2016 and makes a big effort to be savvy by using the latest business jargon like “Disruptive Reforms”.

It contains some of the government’s favourite catchphrases like “governments don’t create jobs…but create the environment for jobs to be created” and Enda Kenny’s mantra of making Ireland “the best small country in which to do business”.  It contains lots of lofty ambitions, but in effect doesn’t contain a lot of ideas to actually get people back to work. It is a plan firmly anchored within a neo-liberal framework, calling for less regulation and  tax cuts for businesses together making Ireland more 'cost competitive', while hoping for a major increase in Foreign Direct Investment.

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Condolences and Solidarity with the Family of Comandante Hugo Chávez

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The Communist Party of Ireland expresses its condolences and solidarity with the family of Comandante Hugo Chávez, with the people and government of Venezuela.

Hugo Chávez has left an indelible mark on the history of the Venezuelan people and of Latin America. Through his policies of distributing wealth in the interests of the poor and working people he has transformed the lives of millions.

His Bolivarian Revolution has inspired millions of Venezuelans and has given hope and inspiration to millions of working people throughout Latin America, greatly contributing to the changes now under way in that continent. His revolution broke the spell of “TINA” (“there is no alternative”), so cleverly woven by western imperial interests.

His contribution was to put socialism back on the agenda, with renewed vigour, as the only real alternative to the bankrupt and moribund system that is inflicting great hardship on working people.

His revolution touched not only the lives of the Venezuelan people but also the poor of the United States, to whom the nationalised Venezuelan oil company distributed free fuel for a decade or more. He did more than any president of the United States, from Clinton to Obama, did for the poor of the United States itself.

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Theatre Review: Olwen Fouéré Performing Book 4 of Finnegan’s Wake at Centre Culturel Irelandais, Paris

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Theatre Review: Olwen Fouéré, riverrun, (Book 4 of James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake), Centre Culturel Irelandais, Paris, February 8-9

Many's the more than million readers who bravely started on the journey “riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us…” and perhaps made it as far as the terrible, multilingual thunder bolt announcing the Fall of Man

(bababadalgharaghtakam

minarronkonnbtonntonnerronntuonnnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntohoohoordenenthurnuk!)

before folding their tents and heading home. More's the pity because Finnegan's Wake is first and foremost a tipsy, cock-eyed, hallucinatory, verbal performance, full of trap doors and staged scenes. (No chance, really, that such a text could be published in enlightened times.)

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Book of Condolences Opened for President Hugo Chavez in Connolly Book, Essex St, Temple Bar

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A public book of condolences has been open in Connolly Books, Essex Street, Temple Bar, to allow the Irish public to express their condolences and solidarity with the family of Comandante Hugo Chavez and the revolutionary working people of Venezuela.

It will be an opportunity to show our solidarity with the Venezuelan Revolution and to honour the passing of a great internationalists and anti-imperialist.

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Rally For X: March 4th, Dublin Castle, Assemble 6pm, Central Bank, Dame St

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Rally For X
March 4th is the eve of the 21st anniversary of the X ruling. EU health ministers will be in Dublin Castle that day. Come and demand that Ireland’s Health Minister takes action to protect women’s lives.
Assemble 6pm, Central Bank
March to Dublin Castle

Call on your TDs to support X legislation.
Come to the activist meeting: 8pm, Wed, March 13th, Teachers Club, Parnell Sq, Dublin.

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