These are all the Blogs posted on Saturday, 6, 2010.
Saturday, 6 February 2010
Skewed priorities in East End
From The East London Advertiser.
YOUNGSTERS are being educated in the crypt of an East End church because of a major shortage of primary school places in Tower Hamlets, it emerged this week. Five and six-year-olds are having their lessons among the church relics and stone pillars in the basement of Christ Church on the Isle of Dogs because the borough's 75 primary schools are full to the brim. And in March the pupils will be shuffled around again as they are forced next-door into a temporary building in the grounds of St Luke's Primary.
The Advertiser has learnt that at the beginning of last year's September term 80 primary school kids were left without a place, including 53 Reception Year pupils and 27 in Year 1. Since then education chiefs have had to squeeze the children into William Davies Primary in Bethnal Green as well as the church, even if their parents live at the other side of the borough. But there are still 10 five-year-olds stuck at home because they do not have a place at a school.
Blackwall and Cubit Town ward councillor Tim Archer has hailed the fiasco "unbelievable". "I refuse to believe this is the best the borough can come up with."
But the borough has been given £8 million 'payback' by the developers responsible for the Spitalfields site in the west of the borough adjacent to the City of London. And what are they spending that on first? What they call the Brick Lane regeneration scheme. And what are they working on in Brick Lane? Why the mosque! A minaret, free standing to get round the little trifle of this former synagogue, build as a Hugenout church being a listed building. And all the other work centred around the mosque which you can see in the photographs left and here which I took last month.
St Lukes Primary School is in Poplar, on the Isle of Dogs in the east of the borough, these days called Docklands. St Lukes was once a parish in its own right but closed (I think in the 40s but I am not certain of that date) and combined with Christchurch. St Lukes primary is a Church of England school working closely with the parish in things like Carol singing at Christmas and has some of the best exam results in the borough. Hard as the school and the church have worked to make the crypt friendly I think they, and the other schools deserve better.
Adult education in Tower Hamlets has also been cut.
Posted on 02/06/2010 1:58 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 6 February 2010
A Musical Interlude: Dove Stà Zazà (Gabriella Ferri)
Posted on 02/06/2010 8:10 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 6 February 2010
A Musical Interlude: Dove Stà 'O Mullah (Gino Il Pollo)
Posted on 02/06/2010 8:13 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 6 February 2010
Danish special forces storm cargo ship to thwart Somali pirate attack
From The Times
Danish special forces stormed a Slovenian-owned ship and rescued the 25-strong crew yesterday in the first known case of Western forces intervening during an attack by Somali pirates.
The rescue began at dawn when the captain of a cargo ship named the Ariella sent out a mayday call, saying a skiff carrying six armed pirates was approaching his vessel 100 miles (160km) north of the Somali coast in the Gulf of Aden.He also said that the ship was ringed by barbed wire, giving the crew time to lock themselves in a safe room with a VHF radio.
An Indian naval ship, the Tabar, picked up the signal and a French EU maritime patrol aircraft checked the vessel. It saw armed men and contacted the Danish warship Absalon, which was ten miles away.A Russian naval ship, the Neustrashimyy, picked up a second skiff carrying seven more pirates who were part of the attack on the Ariella but had not boarded her. It was unclear last night what would happen to those pirates. Russia could prosecute them, hand them over to the Slovenians for prosecution or transfer them to Kenya or the Seychelles.
Alternatively they could be made to walk the plank, be keelhaulled or cast adrift in an open boat with only a cabin boy to eat. Sod their human rights.
Posted on 02/06/2010 10:52 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 6 February 2010
You Don't Want Kids? Have Them Anyway. Have Some Extra, Just For Me
The population crash
1 February 2010
Across Europe, we are having fewer babies. In many places, such as the deserted town of Hoyerswerda in east Germany, the falling birth rate is already taking its toll
• Get the full statistics behind this story on datablog
A block of high-density housing is demolished in Hoyerswerda, Germany, which has lost half its population in the last 20 years. Photograph: Alamy
Hoyerswerda, a town two hours beyond Dresden close to the Polish border, has lost half its population in the last 20 years. It is an ageing ghost town. The young and those with qualifications have left – young women especially. And those that remain have given up having babies. Hoyerswerda (known to its citizens as Hoy Woy) seems a town without a purpose, in a corner of Europe without a future.
On the windswept roof of the Lausitz Tower, the town's only landmark, I meet Felix Ringel. A young German anthropologist studying at Cambridge University, he has passed up chances taken by his friends to investigate the rituals of Amazon tribes or Mongolian peasants. As we survey the empty plots of fenced scrub below, he explains that the underbelly of his own country seemed weirder and far less studied than those exotic worlds.
In its heyday in the 60s, Hoyerswerda was a model community in communist East Germany, a brave new world attracting migrants from all over the country. They dug brown coal from huge open-cast mines on the plain around the town. There was good money and two free bottles of brandy a month. But the fall of the Berlin Wall changed all that. It was here in 1989, in the towns and cities of Saxony, that the people of the east started moving west to capitalism and freedom. At the head of the queue were the young, especially young women.
Under communism, East German women worked more, and were often better educated, than the more conservative western hausfrau. But when their jobs disappeared in the early 90s, hundreds of thousands of them, encouraged by their mothers, took their school diplomas and CVs and headed west to cities such as Heidelberg. The boys, however, seeing their fathers out of work, often just gave up. In adulthood, they form a rump of ill-educated, alienated, often unemployable men, most of them unattractive mates – a further factor in the departure of young women.
Reiner Klingholz, director of the Berlin Institute for Population and Development, calls it a "male emergency" – but this is not just an emergency for men. The former people's republic is staring into a demographic abyss, because its citizens don't want babies any more.
"There has been nothing comparable in world peacetime history," says the French demographer Jean-Claude Chesnais. After the Berlin Wall came down, millions of East Germans who stayed behind decided against producing another generation. Their fertility more than halved. In 1988, 216,000 babies were born in East Germany; in 1994, just 88,000 were born. The fertility rate worked out at 0.8 children per woman. Since then it has struggled up to around 1.2, but that is still only just over half the rate needed to maintain the population. About a million homes have been abandoned, and the government is demolishing them as fast as it can. Left behind are "perforated cities", with huge random chunks of wasteland. Europe hasn't seen cityscapes like this since the bombing of the second world war.
And nowhere has emptied as much as Hoyerswerda. In the 80s, it had a population of 75,000 and the highest birth rate in East Germany. Today, the town's population has halved. It has gone from being Germany's fastest-growing town to its fastest-shrinking one. The biggest age groups are in their 60s and 70s, and the town's former birth clinic is an old people's home. Its population pyramid is upturned – more like a mushroom cloud.
In a school in a partly demolished suburb known simply as Area Nine, I meet Nancy, a tattooed and quietly spoken social worker. Forty years ago, her parents were among the newcomers: her mother was a midwife, her father a train driver. "There were modern flats and services here then. It was a prestige development. When you asked the kids what they wanted to do when they grew up, they had ambitions to drive buses or work in the power station. But now parents find it very difficult to encourage their children when they have no jobs or prospects themselves. My friends have all left. I'd like to stay, but I have a three-year-old daughter and the schools are no good any more. I'll probably go too."
Further out, in Area 10, I come across Marco. He is 27. "Only criminals live in this neighbourhood now," he says. The child of an alcoholic mother and a violent father, Marco spent five years in the town orphanage and now does odd jobs to pay off debts. "I've never experienced a family. I'd love to have my own. But this place is empty for me. I get so angry . . . I'd like to go to America when I am out of my debt; that's my dream." The dream of a doomed man in a dying town.
Across the rest of Germany, Hoyerswerda is regarded as a feral wasteland – complete with wolves. Slinking in from Poland and the Czech Republic, they are finding empty spaces where once there were apartment blocks and mines. And the wolves, at least, are staying. A few kilometres down the road, near the tiny town of Spreewitz, wolf enthusiast Ilka Reinhardt can't believe his luck: "We have more wolves than we have had in 200 years." The badlands of former East Germany are going "back to nature". And Europeans should be worried, for some fear that eastern Germany is, as it was back in the 1960s, a trailblazer for the demographic future of the continent.
Europe's population is, right now, peaking, after more than six centuries of continuous growth. With each generation reproducing only half its number, this looks like the start of a continent-wide collapse in numbers. Some predict wipeout by 2100.
Half a century ago, Europe was basking in a postwar baby boom, with 2.8 babies per woman in Britain, 2.9 in France, and 3.2 in the Netherlands. Then levels sank back. Demographers assumed that fertility would settle down at about the level required to maintain the population – slightly more than two babies per woman. The trouble is, nobody told Europe's women.
In the real world, the swinging 60s saw a great deal of sex and not a lot of procreation. By the mid-80s, alarm bells were ringing. "Europe is entering a demographic winter," declared demographer Gérard-François Dumont. Ron Lesthaeghe at the Free University of Brussels blamed "post-materialistic values, in which self-development becomes the primary aim".
A resolution at the European parliament in 1984 warned that Europe's share of the world's population was set to halve between 1950 and 2000, and was likely to halve again as soon as 2025. This trend, it said, "will have a decisive effect on the significance of the role Europe will play in the world in future decades".
The 20th century began with western Europe producing 10 million babies a year; by the end it couldn't manage 6 million – 2 million fewer than it needs to maintain the population in the long term. That baby famine is now heading into a second generation; it is no longer a blip. Demographically, Europe is living on borrowed time. It already badly needs foreign hands to keep its societies and economies functioning, and should stop pretending otherwise.
Thirty years ago, 23 European countries had fertility above replacement levels; now none does, with only France, Iceland, Albania, Britain and Ireland anywhere near. And last year's economic downturn threatens to depress fertility further. "There is a good bit of evidence that hard economic times cause people to delay having babies or not have one altogether," says Carl Haub, from the Population Reference Bureau in the US.
In Germany, where fertility has been low for more than a generation, demographers report a large decline in the desired family size. "Today, 48% of German men under 40 agree that you can have a happy life without children. When their fathers were asked the same question at the same age, only 15% agreed," says Europe's top demographer, Wolfgang Lutz of the Vienna Institute of Demography. Thirty per cent of German women today say they don't intend to have children at all.
Once a country has very low fertility for a generation, it begins to run out of young women able to gestate future generations. Germany is there already: it has only half as many children under 10 as adults in their 40s. Demographer Peter McDonald calculates that if Italy gets stuck with recent fertility levels, and fails to top up with foreign migrants, it will lose 86% of its population by the end of the century, falling to 8 million compared with today's 56 million. Spain will lose 85%, Germany 83% and Greece 74%.
Jesse Ausubel, a futurologist at Rockefeller University in New York, fears "the twilight of the west" as Europe's population thins and ages. "Civilisations have simply melted away because of poor reproductive rates of the dominant class . . . The question may now be whether, underneath the personal decision to procreate, lies a subliminal social mood influencing the process. The subliminal mood of Europe could now be for a blackout after 1,000 years on stage."
Far-fetched? Maybe. But population historian David Reher told the journal Science in 2006 that, "As population and tax revenues decline in Europe, urban areas could well be filled with empty buildings and crumbling infrastructure . . . surrounded by large areas which look more like what we might see in some science-fiction movies."
David, come and see Hoyerswerda. The future is already here – complete with wolves.
©Fred Pearce 2010. Extracted from Peoplequake: Mass Migration, Ageing Nations and the Coming Population Crash by Fred Pearce
Posted on 02/06/2010 3:00 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 6 February 2010
The Leftist Party In France Whose Leader Defends The Veil (In French)
NPA : nouveau parti antiféministe?, par Caroline Fourest
LE MONDE | 05.02.10
e paradoxe ne vient pas du fait qu'une jeune femme de 22 ans ne voit aucune contradiction entre la décision de se voiler pour Dieu et celle de militer dans un parti d'inspiration trotskiste luttant contre le sexisme. Le Front national a bien des militants noirs ou d'origine arabe. La nature humaine est ainsi faite : des affinités contradictoires peuvent aisément cohabiter au sein d'un même individu. Sans doute faut-il s'en réjouir. Mais que penser de la cohérence des convictions politiques d'Olivier Besancenot ? Antisexiste et ferme face à l'intégrisme chrétien anti-IVG, mais ému par la réaction religieuse lorsqu'elle porte un voile.
A l'en croire, il ne faudrait y voir qu'un "signe privé", comparable à l'engagement chrétien de l'abbé Pierre. Sauf que le voile n'est pas l'emblème des musulmans progressistes, mais l'équivalent de la messe en latin chez les catholiques... Le drapeau des musulmans traditionalistes et réactionnaires. C'est donc le camp de la réaction que Besancenot choisit de soutenir en présentant une candidate qui le porte. Non sans y voir la preuve que le NPA "s'intègre" dans les quartiers.
Le voile serait-il devenu l'emblème des quartiers populaires ? Les féministes de culture musulmane, qui souhaitent lui résister, ont-elles encore leur place au sein du NPA ? La question se pose en voyant la candidate et son parti leur faire la leçon. Qu'elles se le disent... "On peut être féministe, laïque et voilée !"
La chanson n'est pas nouvelle. Des prédicateurs islamistes bien connus ont écrit les paroles : il existerait un "féminisme islamique", qui, contrairement aux soixante-huitardes débridées du "féminisme occidental", souhaite préserver le corps et la pudeur des femmes. Officiellement, ce féminisme-là n'est pas soumis... Sauf à Dieu et à son ordre patriarcal. Certes, ce féminisme religieux n'est pas incompatible avec le fait de militer contre le capitalisme. En revanche, il l'est avec le féminisme progressiste et laïque, à qui il fait la guerre. Tant pis. L'émancipation sexuelle attendra. Olivier Besancenot a fait ses calculs et il a choisi... de céder à l'adage : "Les ennemis de mes ennemis sont mes amis."
Le NPA n'irait pas jusqu'à déménager son siège à Monaco sous prétexte que Nicolas Sarkozy critique les paradis fiscaux. Mais le "sexisme", c'est autre chose. Plus secondaire. Nicolas Sarkozy critique le voile ? Présentons une femme en voile ! "Léger", nous dit le communiqué. Pourquoi faire dans la demi-mesure ? Une candidate en burqa, voilà qui aurait permis un contre-positionnement "révolutionnaire" !
Même "léger", ce choix marque un tournant. Longtemps, le NPA s'est contenté de délibérément ignorer tout débat sur l'intégrisme et la laïcité pour se concentrer sur ce qu'il appelle les "vrais problèmes" : la lutte des classes. Là aussi, vieille rengaine. Certains marxistes ont toujours un Grand Soir, plus important à faire. En son temps, le combat du MLF a, lui aussi, été jugé "petit-bourgeois" et "secondaire". En 1976, une militante féministe, qui venait de dénoncer le viol commis par un "camarade" immigré, a connu un véritable procès de Moscou. Ses "camarades" gauchistes l'accusaient de stigmatiser les classes populaires. Le réflexe perdure. Olivier Besancenot s'est tu lors de l'affaire des caricatures. Il ne dit jamais mot contre l'intégrisme qui sévit dans les quartiers populaires. A l'entendre, ces débats ne servent qu'à encourager "l'islamophobie".
Toute la gauche de la gauche n'est pas prête à jouer ainsi les "idiots utiles" de l'islamisme. A Lutte ouvrière, au Front de gauche, et même au NPA, dans toutes ces formations, il existe des militants qui refusent de trahir l'esprit de Mai 68 et le MLF sous prétexte d'aller chasser de l'électeur en terres populaires. A eux de se faire entendre. Avant que l'"avant-garde éclairée" ne devienne définitivement une arrière-garde obscurantiste.
Posted on 02/06/2010 5:35 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 6 February 2010
Tom Tancredo's Tea Party Speech
There is a bit of a brouhaha going on about this speech. Tancredo is a blunt speaker, but I don't believe he is calling for a return of the Jim Crow laws and suppression of the black vote as some are trying to make out. His issue all along has been massive Mexican and Third World immigration and its effects on American culture. The national Tea Party Convention is taking place in Nashville, Tennessee. Tancredo delivered these remarks:
Ever since FDR and with the brief break between 1980 and 1988, which we call the Reagan era, this country has been moving inexorably to the left. Whether a Republican or a Democrat was in office, or in control of Congress the march was always toward bigger government and less individual freedom.
It seemed as though we were doomed to experience the political equivalent of the proverbial frog in the water syndrome. Every year, the liberal Dems and RINO Republicans turned the temp up ever so slightly till it seemed we would all be boiled to death in the cauldron of the nanny state.
And then, because we don’t have a civics literacy test to vote, people who couldn’t even spell vote, or say it in English, put a committed socialist ideologue in the White House named Barack Hussein Obama. He immediately turned up the heat under that cauldron so high and so quick that people started jumping out of the water all over the place.
If John McCain had won we would have had a replay of Bush 1 AND 2. The temperature of the water would continue to rise albeit more slowly, but with the same result in the long run.
Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi would be mildly irritated and offer only tepid opposition. The Republicans in Congress would be unwilling to voice real opposition to a President in OUR party. If McCain had been elected, the Neocons would be writing flattering editorials in the Weekly Standard and the Wall Street Journal. Congressman Guiteriez and President McCain would have been posing in the rose garden with big smiles as they received accolades from La Raza for having finally passed an amnesty.
President Calderon and President McCain would be toasting the elimination of those pesky things called borders and major steps taken toward creation of a North American Union.
If McCain had been elected, Sarah Palin would not be free to tell it like it is, the Republicans Congress would never be voting in 100 opposition to left leaning legislation, there would be no Republican in Ted Kennedy’s seat and Chris Matthews would only have had twitching of the toes, instead of that tingle that went all the way up his leg when Obama was elected.
But worst of all, if McCain had been elected, America would have been moving down the same collectivist path and there would have been no Tea Party, no 9-12ers, no rally for America on the Washington Mall, and WE WOULD NOT BE HERE!
So the race is on for the soul of America. The President and his left wing allies in the Congress are going to look at every opportunity to destroy the Constitution before we have a chance to save it. So put your running shoes on. If the Republican Party isn’t keeping up, take it over or run it over. My main concern is that after we make big inroads in the fall, folks will go back to complacency and think the job has been done.
Posted on 02/06/2010 3:53 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Saturday, 6 February 2010
A Part-Of-The-Problem Literary Interlude: This Be The Verse (Philip Larkin)
This Be The Verse
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.
But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.
Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.
-- Philip Larkin
Posted on 02/06/2010 3:04 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 6 February 2010
NYU Tries To Pretend That It, And The Emirates, "Share A Vision"
Sarah Leah Whitson continues her recent transparent campaign to fend off those who have attacked her for her fund-raising trip to Saudi Arabia, one of the worst violators of human rights in the world, where she told them all about the anti-Israel reports for which her organization has become so famous, , and Joe Stork, and Nadia Barhoum, two toilers in the anti-Israel vineyards for many years (Stork for thirty years, in fact), before they joined Human Rights Watch, and of course, the inimitable Mark Gerlasco, who kept accusing Israel of "war crimes" and, while his accusations are comicallyu unsupported, what has plenty of evidence behind it is the charge that Mark Gerlasco is an obsessive collector of Nazi -- he gets especially excited about newly-acquired S.S. material -- memorabilia, of which he apparently has thousands of pieces. Then there are, on the Human Rights Watch Board, such famously anti-Israel propagandist-writers as Helena Cobban (married to William Quandt, whom the late . B. Kelly described to me as a shill, deliberate or not, for the Al-Saud). So here's the upshot: Human Rights Watch pretends to at long last care about the slaves of the Gulf Arab states, and NYU, still intent on creating a UAE campus in order to recycle for itself some of those petrodollars, now pretends to care, under the pretend-gaze of HRW, about the treatment of foreign workers in the Emirates. It's all transparent, or should be.
Here's the story:
NYU imposes strict labor standards for UAE campus
By Cynthia Johnston
DUBAI (Reuters) - New York University has imposed strict labor standards for construction of its campus in the United Arab Emirates, where critics say migrant worker conditions are sometimes tantamount to forced labor.
NYU, which will start building its Abu Dhabi campus this year, said it agreed with its Emirati government partners to require contractors to limit work hours, let workers keep their passports, and absorb recruitment costs often born by laborers.
"From day one, it was clear that we and our Abu Dhabi partners had a shared vision for the creation of a remarkable new liberal arts college," NYU Abu Dhabi spokesman Josh Taylor told Reuters in an emailed statement.
"Our commitment to ensuring the rights of those who will build and operate our campus is an essential component of that shared vision," he added.
The move comes as the UAE is trying to repel criticism over treatment of foreign laborers sometimes trapped into paying job recruitment fees that can leave them deep in debt while their passports are held by employers.
"NYU Abu Dhabi's commitments should go a long way toward fixing the major sources of labor abuse," Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director for Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.
"These provisions set a new minimum standard so that companies will no longer be able to treat worker abuse as a necessary part of doing business in the UAE," she added.
The Gulf Arab country, where foreigners outnumber nationals, has built itself into a regional business and tourism hub using cheap foreign labor, many from the Indian subcontinent.
UAE officials, who say criticism of labor conditions is exaggerated, stress the country has already taken steps to improve conditions. In June, the government outlined standards for workers' housing, but employers have five years to comply.
NYU is building its campus on Saadiyat Island, a planned $27 billion art and culture hub off the Abu Dhabi coast that will house a branch of the Paris Louvre museum and New York's Guggenheim.
NYU said laborers involved in building its campus would work no more than 40 hours a week, with the exception of construction workers who could work a 6-day work week of 8-hour shifts. Overtime would be voluntary.
The rules would also prohibit contractors from seeking employment bans on workers who sought to change jobs, a common practice in some sectors in the UAE. Employees would also be provided health insurance and be paid via bank transfer.
Human Rights Watch has previously accused the United Arab Emirates of exploiting thousands of Asian workers hired to build museums and art galleries on the showcase island. But last month it said the Emirates had made progress on workers' rights.
The UAE Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), of which Saadiyat Island is a flagship development, has said special care was being taken over workers' welfare.
A labor ministry official said last year that as well as encouraging "model" housing for workers, the UAE would set up labor courts and allow workers to switch jobs if employers delay wages by two months.
In recent years, workers have gone on strike over late payment of wages. Workers can now report delayed salaries through a Ministry of Labor website.
Human Rights Watch, while welcoming the steps by NYU and its partners, said it was concerned because the measures did not include a guaranteed minimum wage nor clear provisions for penalties or independent monitoring of compliance.
"Without clear penalties, such as treble damages and termination of the contract, these requirements will have no teeth," HRW's Whitson said.
NYU Abu Dhabi spokesman Taylor said the university was committed to monitoring and enforcing compliance, and details of that would be finalized before construction starts.
Posted on 02/06/2010 8:19 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 6 February 2010
A Musical Interlude: 'Leven Thirty Saturday Night (Arthur Schutt & His Orchestra)
Posted on 02/06/2010 9:29 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald