Friday, March 12, 2010


Spring Bo is getting up there in years. Spring Bo is a twenty eight year old horse and he is at the center of a controversy over his health and his treatment. This old horse is wasting away in front-yard pasture at James Martin's Penn Valley home where he was moved after "taking ill." Neighbors were concerned at his... conditions and called authorities who speculated Mr. Martin just didn't have the money necessary to take care of the horse. Of course, whatever money Mr. Martin has or doesn't have isn't Spring Bo's fault and a horse rescue group is on the scene hoping to save the old horse.

Mr. Martin, insists the protesters are out of line, and sure, Spring Bo is sick and old, but says, "He's not on his death bed."

According to Wikipeida ,depending on breed, management and environment, the domestic horse today has a life expectancy of 25 to 30 years. It is uncommon, but a few animals live into their 40s and, occasionally, beyond.

Spring Bo may just be one old horse, but he deserves a life in his golden years, doesn't he...and don't you have a feeling there are a lot of Spring Bo's out there we don't know about. I mean, did you know about Spring Bo before I told you.

The following is from The Union.

Old, ill horse at center of corral-side protest
By Kyle Magin
Staff Writer

James Martin stands at the gate to his property on Mooney Flat Road in Penn Valley Thursday morning, talking to Oroville protesters about the condition of the elderly equine, Spring Bo, in the corral.
James Martin stands at the gate to his property on Mooney Flat Road in Penn Valley Thursday morning, talking to Oroville protesters about the condition of the elderly equine, Spring Bo, in the corral.
That's Spring Bo behind the fence

A sickly horse touched off a debate this week over who knows best about his health.

Spring Bo, a 28-year-old horse, was moved to the front-yard pasture at James Martin's Penn Valley home early this week after the animal took ill with diarrhea.

The horse's thin look drew attention, and neighbors called Nevada County's Animal Control and eventually Oroville-based NorCal Equine Rescue.

The attention generated good news for Spring Bo. Veterinarian Dr. Sarah McCarthy accompanied Animal Control officers to Martin's land Wednesday to see the horse.

Spring Bo was unacceptably thin, McCarthy said, adding many of Martin's problems in caring for the animal stemmed from his finances: He couldn't afford the more expensive senior horse feed Spring Bo needed, though Martin was supplying him with what would be adequate feed for a younger animal.

Getting the animal proper medical care has been tough, said Martin, who said Thursday he lives on Social Security payments while caring for his sick wife, who came home from the hospital this week after surgery.

A Grass Valley nonprofit, Sammie's Friends, has stepped in to help out with feed expenses, and McCarthy said she's cautiously optimistic the elderly equine will recover.

“He doesn't have a lot of problems older horses have, like having no teeth,” McCarthy said. “It's not an out-and-out case of neglect, but (Martin) should have noticed it sooner.”

Calls to representatives at animal control familiar with the situation were not returned Thursday.

Norcal Equine showed up at Martin's home Thursday with a handful of protesters and a Chico television news crew to complain about the animal's treatment.

The group's founder, Tawnee Preisner, said Martin is letting Spring Bo waste away. The horse is simply ill, Martin said, and despite that, still gets around well.

“We want him to surrender the horse,” said Preisner, who added she has traveled as far as Nebraska to participate in wild horse roundups.

She first visited Martin's home Monday to see Spring Bo.

“It's impossible for the horse to stay warm right now because it's got no body fat,” Preisner said.

Martin acknowledged the horse isn't healthy now and isn't eating much, but said Spring Bo would come around when the weather turns warmer. After owning horses for close to 50 years, Martin said he knows the animals.

“He is underweight, but he's sick and he's pushing 30 years old,” Martin said. “He's a ranch horse and a range horse, and he's been running around all winter. I think they're way out of line. He's not on his death bed.”

To contact Staff Writer Kyle Magin, e-mail or call (530) 477-4239.


The audacity of the Dow Chemical Company is quite amazing.  Here is a company responsible for the deaths of thousands of people in Bhopal, and the contamination of water sources around the world and what do they decide to do?

They're going to sponsor a series of events to "help solve the water crisis" all over the world.

On Dec. 3, 1984, a tank storing methyl isocyanate, a highly toxic chemical, exploded at a pesticide plant owned by Union Carbide and Dow Chemical.

Shana Ortman, the U.S. coordinator of the Bhopal campaign recently told students at the University of Texas, "It's still today the world's worst unnatural disaster," Ortman said. "In the years since, the disaster has awakened the public and a movement has started and is fighting for justice. In the years since, 25,000 people have died [due to unclean water], and 120,000 people are chronically ill."

The people in Bhopal are aware that the water is poisonous, but they have no other alternative, Ortman said.

"There has been a higher rate of birth defects — boys tend to be smaller than normal, and girls tend to have menstrual problems," she said. "There has been a lot of mental illness that has not been addressed at all by the [Indian] government or either [Dow Chemical or Union Carbide]."

Despite "massive organizing" in India and support from organizations like the ICJB, the area's water remains contaminated and none of the responsible parties have attempted to clean the toxic water or chemical plant, she said.

But Dow says, what the hey, what do we care...get over it already...

I don't think so!

The following is from an email I received from  the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal.

Don’t let Dow Chemical Hijack Live Earth!

                 EARTH dies.
Read between the lines.
   This April 18, Live Earth, a series of events “to help solve the water crisis,” will be held in locations all over the worldIt is the ultimate irony that these events’ main sponsor is Dow Chemical, a corporate criminal responsible for the continued contamination of drinking water for 30,000 people in Bhopal, India and for causing severe water crises by poisoning the sources of water for people all over the world…

  • In Bhopal, India roughly 30,000 people are still drinking water contaminated with heavy metals and organochlorines, resulting in an epidemic of health problems and birth defects while Dow refuses to take responsibility.
  • In the North America, Dow is responsible for dangerous dioxin contamination around its global headquarters in Midland, Michigan, vinyl chloride contamination in Louisiana, dioxin & furan contamination in Western Canada.
  • Dow toxins are poisoning people and ecosystems in Vietnam, South Africa, New Zealand, Brazil, and Central America.
Where else has Dow poisoned with its toxic waste?  

 Join us to expose Live Earth as Dow’s greenwashing front!  Stand in solidarity with the people of Bhopal against this corporate propaganda!  Here’s how you can get involved…
Live Earth will consist of 6 km runs/walks (the average distance many women and children walk every day to secure water), concerts, and water education activities around the world.  We want to expose Dow’s lies by spreading the word about Dow’s crimes in Bhopal and beyond to those participating in Live Earth events, and we need your help!
Find a LiveEarth event near you at

1) Sign the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal’s (ICJB) petition against Dow’s sponsorship of Live Earth. 
2) Use our stencils to make t-shirts, signs, banners, tags, headbands, etc.  Attend a Live Earth event near you wearing a Bhopal t-shirt an anti-Dow t-shirt under another t-shirt. When the run starts, take off your first layer and make your statement. 
3) Hand out fliers about water contamination in Bhopal and Dow’s history of environmental violence.
4) Document your actions!  Send your pictures and videos to ICJB at to share with the international community of Bhopal supporters.
5) Truly help solve the water crisis by donating to ICJB, a grassroots organization composed of survivors of the Bhopal gas disaster and environmentalists worldwide working to ameliorate the crisis in Bhopal and prevent future industrial contamination.
6) Act on your own ideas on scuttling Dow’s greenwashing attempts through LiveEarth. Send us your ideas too, at or on Facebook!/group.php?gid=348498538304&ref=ts 
Access all these tools and more at !

Shana Blustein Ortman
US Coordinator, International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal
49 Powell Street, Suite 500
San Francisco, CA 94102

415-746-0306 - cell
415-981-6205 ext. 355 - office
skype: sbortman 

Please note my new hours - 10am-3:30pm Mon-Thurs

Please Donate to the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal -

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Malalai Joya is one angry Afghan women and she isn't a bit afraid to point the finger at those who are the cause.

 The following is from ZNet.

An Angry Woman

There's no democracy under occupation.
By Malalai Joya

Source: L'Humanite
Thursday, March 11, 2010

Exclusive interview with the young Afghan deputy thrown out of Parliament for having exposed foreign interference in her country.

Malalai Joya is an angry woman. She's angry about the war being carried out by the international coalition in her country, Afghanistan, angry about the UN bombs that are killing civilians in their villages, angry about calls for reconciliation with the Taliban and the war lords. "Stop the massacres in my country. Withdraw your foreign troops so we can stop Talibanization," is what the young Afghan deputy tells Western public opinion.

Huma: The conference in London, which took place at the end of January, formalized negotiations with the Taliban. What could happen next?

Malalai Joya: Millions of dollars have been promised to the Karzai regime so that insurgents will lay down their arms: at the same time millions of Afghans are dying in poverty. This will lead to the Taliban being rehabilitated, they will take control of the Loya Jirga, the meeting of the elders and the tribal leaders which is to be held soon. Can we really expect to establish democracy with such reactionaries? The Taliban aren't the only fundamentalists. When the USA and their allies overthrew Mullah Omar's regime, they replaced him with the war lords and the Northern Alliance who were led by Massoud. This group resembles the Taliban in its way of thinking. Over the past few years there's been a series of laws and judicial decisions that are scandalous. Under the pretext of national reconciliation, immunity was extended to the war lords and other known war criminals, many of whom sit in Parliament. These war lords are highly placed, they're in the Parliament, in ministries, the judiciary and they are all corrupt. And now the UN itself is crossing off the names of the ex-Taliban leaders from their black list. Is this the way to build the future of a people? Unless you want to persuade them that the Coca-Cola plant inaugurated by Karzai in the suburbs of Kabul, in our impoverished country where water is a precious resource, should serve as an emblem of the benefits of Western progress.

Huma: You were elected to Parliament in 2005. Eighteen months later you were suspended. Why?

Malalai Joya: At the opening ceremony of the parliamentary session I presented "my condolences to the Afghan people." Obviously, that didn't please a good number of deputies, who complained that they were offended. It's the war lords who wanted me out. I reminded that they had sacked Kabul during the 1992-96 civil war and that they were responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people. I said they should be dragged in front of the international courts. I also denounced the corruption, fed by the millions given by the international community under the guise of rebuilding the country. Very quickly, I couldn't go on. They cut my microphone as soon as I took the floor and I had to scream at the top of my voice to make myself heard over the insults and threats. Some deputies defended me, men and women, but they were few. I was called a communist and an infidel. The worst insults possible in their eyes. In a television interview, I ended up comparing Parliament to a zoo! Worse than stables because there at least the animals serve some purpose.

Huma: What will the reinforcement troops announced by Obama achieve?

Malalai Joya: The aim of the war was never to create democracy and justice nor to uproot the terrorist groups. The war's only purpose has been to perpetuate the occupation, install military bases and safeguard the takeover of a region that has substantial natural resources. Obama is just like Bush, if not worse, because he is escalating the war and bringing it to Pakistan. The American government is maintaining a dangerous situation in order to stay as long as possible in Afghanistan so it can more easily watch over neighboring countries like Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Uzbekistan. If Obama doesn't withdraw his soldiers there will be more bloodshed, more disasters. Look at the UN bombardments. In May 2009 in my own province more than 150 civilians were killed. This massacre allows the world a window onto the horrors being suffered by my people. But does the world really want to look in? I organized a press conference: a villager from Gerani, overcome by grief, came to tell us how he had lost 20 members of his family in the massacre. Mightn't he or other young men like him want to join up with the insurgents even if they are fundamentalists?

Huma: The situation of women under the Taliban regime finally moved international public opinion. What's the situation today?

Malalai Joya: The Afghan Constitution has clauses concerning women's rights. I was one of the many delegates in 2003 at the Loya Jirga who pushed for their inclusion, but the meeting is marked by the strong influence of fundamentalists with whom Karzai and the West cut deals. The base text might very well declare equality between men and women, but the country is ruled by Sharia law. The so-called democracy of the official Constitution is systematically flouted. It's only there as a token to attract international aid, which is then usually embezzled. Today Afghanistan is a country where women - often girls as young as 14 or 15 years - fleeing their conjugal home to escape extreme violence, are considered criminal and are imprisoned. Yes, there's an increase in the number of girls returning to school, but the records don't take into account the girls who have to leave school again, due to threats to their safety and pressure from their families to get married. Suicide has become the ultimate weapon of desperate young women, who are aware that there are alternatives but know that they will never have the right to them.

Huma: And what exactly are these alternatives?

Malalai Joya: All of the troops must leave and the militia of the warlords must be dismantled. Democracy can't be established by an occupying force that does nothing more than spread out and strengthen the Talibanization of my country. And it's my people who suffer. If the US and UN troops who are occupying my country don't voluntarily quit Afghanistan within a reasonable timescale they will find themselves confronted by even stronger resistance from the Afghans. The Western governments deliberately ignore that people are fighting to reconstruct the peace and safety of their country, in ways respectful of the rights of each man and woman. Democratic parties and associations are more often than not fighting in secret. Let's not forget that the Constitution bans the existence of all non-religious parties whose frame of reference does not include the Qur'an. Student protests against the recent bombardments and the rallies of hundreds of women last month at Kabul show the world the true path towards a real democracy in Afghanistan. There are so many faceless heroes and heroines. Their battle is in their towns and villages. Why does no single Western leader recognize the existence of a progressive movement that could emerge and play a role? I'm not losing hope, we need Western public opinion, and, in the course of my travels, I recognize that it's evolving. There have been protests against reinforcements being sent, people no longer believe in a "just war." But pressure needs to mount in order to sway the warmongering governments.

Translated by Kristina Wischenkamper and reviewed by Henry Crapo.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Kathmandu! Just saying the word brings to mind the exotic. Perhaps, it should really bring to mind the Revolution. That's what is going on, has been going on, and will be going on in Nepal. Maoist revolutionaries have captured the heart of the people with an unorthodox brand of communism - it's not your Uncle Joe's communism and it's not your hippie Kathmandu.

The following is from Jed Brandt's blog.


I can't leave home for a few weeks without everything going crazy.

It took a bit for my time to adjust, to see things as they are coming here and where they're coming from. Not the instant back-and-forth rhythm of New York multi-tasking anxiety time. Most days the electricity is out in Kathmandu. You can hear chickens in the morning, children playing after school and quiet talk at night when the old women laugh and call across the rooftops. Blackouts make working a computer hard, but the pace of people living by hands and minds alone, without so much mediation, is not a place I've ever spent much time. And I do love it here. The city is dirty. The people are upright, direct and curious. I've made friends quickly, though I've gotten the impression its easier to get married than find a date.

Kathmandu is a valley. The Tanglang range of the Himalaya is the wall in the sky that separates South Asia from the Tibetan plateau to the north. The white caps are breathtaking when you can see them. Pollution is horrible. Cars only arrived in Kathmandu 20 years ago. Most of the city is built for footpaths, but that doesn't stop every sort of vehicle from ripping through trying to cut around the traffic jams. It's some kind of anarchy on the streets. People complain about it, then go do it themselves. I've seen three people hit by cars, none of which stopped. Motorcycles are everywhere and drive as they want. I've only seen one traffic light and it wasn't lit. The daily load shedding blackout.

Exhaust just hangs in the valley, air still as often as not. Along the main roads, commuters and pedestrians alike wear face masks of all kinds to filter out what they can. In any large crowd you can hear coughing, men clearing their throats. The air only clears after rains, which are rare save for the summer monsoon. We did get hail the other day, which tore apart the beautiful aloe plant on the patio where I'm staying. It was a grand dame of an aloe, now pocked with holes as big as dimes.

I have been lucky to have met many children, a few of whom are also friends. I'm listening to Sade, Beirut and Alicia Keys. Drinking with the neighborhood guys on Holi, I got to name the cat from the bodega below Lucita. She is beautiful, with patches of silver and black tiger stripes mixing up her pure white coat. Holi morning, the young men came up the stairs of the building I'm staying in to ambush me on the roof with red powder and buckets of water. Then they hugged me and poured another bucket over my head. Holi is a water balloon fight that doesn't stop until they start throwing buckets of colorful water and raw pigment, red, green, blue and orange. Best holiday ever. Girls do get pretty soaked though, not so fun sometimes. It's an occasion for both carnival and hooliganism. Lots of laughing. I tried to ask the guys about the meaning of the holiday and they decided to pour tall glasses of khukuri rum. I do try to oblige.

Did I mention there is a revolution going on?

We haven't seen a revolution in our lifetime. Not a communist revolution anyway, with broad support and participation sustained, growing over such a short period of time.

The Maoists are unorthodox, to be sure. They have defied everyone's expectations, friend and foe alike. To their credit, they haven't let their enemies tell them who they are or been confined to some historical script handed down by the Comintern in 1930-whatever. After a 10-year People's War, starting in 1996, they grew exponentially among the rural people who make up the heart and body of Nepal.

People were fed up with the absolute poverty, a despotic monarchy and the whole system that didn't let them advance no matter how hard they worked. It was the Maoists who saw in that backwardness the semi-feudal, semi-colonial predicament of their country, a resonance they share for all the many other differences with pre-revolutionary China.

Millions cast their lot with the communist promise that it was they themselves who could fix what the ruling classes plainly didn't want to. Starting with two guns. Two guns. They neither sought nor accepted shady foreign sponsors and still brought a king down. That was people, and a determined, revolutionary leadership. Violence was not the issue.

"The masses are the makers of history," is how Mao put it, advice Prachanda's party apparently heard well.

When organized revolutionaries grew into a people who could not endure the old order, the very horizon of the possible shifted. The US state department calls that terrorism, and under Obama has continued to put the Maoist party on it's list of certified terrorists even after they fought for and won Nepal's first democratic elections. Terror is not a word any honest person could use to describe what is happening here. People are unafraid, and if anything impatient things haven't gone further. The communists were transformed, and so were the broad masses of people. They said: "we had to unlearn our slogans to start the People's War," which meant, I think, that they are not disciples of doctrine, or simple prophets of rage. Terrorism is a politics of fear. The communists have fought a People's War, and their spirit is light.

For a new mainstream

Refusing any offers to become another parliamentary party, who are widely despised here for their profound corruption, the Maoists demanded nothing less than a constituent assembly to draft a constitution. Through the course of the People's War, despite flexibility on almost everything else, the Maoists never departed from this insistence. And they got that much. I tried to think what could happen if we had our own constituent assembly, a constitution not written by slave-traders to protect their own entitlement. It's not just radical in Nepal, this idea that people constitute governments. It's as unheard of in Bloomberg's New York as in twisted hereditary monarchy of North Korea.

Red flags are everywhere. From the moment I arrived and everywhere I've been. They fly alongside Nepal's unique two-pointed flag at the national stadium. Set in rows along the fences of the National Army's central, public training grounds, all over. When I'm reading in restaurants, the times I've had a book by the Maoists, three different waiters have commented that they were the "real government." Prachanda is especially admired, since it was his leadership that broke the old patterns of impotent protest followed by corrupt cooptation.

No one will admit to liking Congress, but I've met supporters from the currently governing UML. Decent people. Reformist, if none to happy about the Maoists' initiative. Imagine Todd Gitlin merged in a lab with Gus Hall and you'll have some idea what creeps their top leaders are. That said, the regular activists are mostly the sort of NGO professionals we have back in the states. Well-suckled by the foundation tit, their method was to keep popular mobilization in the range of complaint and petition, and at the leading levels are not interested any change not brokered through their coffers.

The current prime minister from UML was unelected. He took the seat Prachanda vacated over the issue of whether the old royal army would accept civilian control, which is to say by the elected Maoists. Prachanda fired the former commander of the National Army, who refused to step down. The unelected "democratic" figures abided a soft coup, with the UML's leader and the pro-Indian, ceremonial President Yadev prancing around these last few months as if they were a government. There is a fluid split between the careerists and the honest revolutionaries in the UML. How they will act when the chips are down is still not clear, not even to them.

I talked with one couple, the husband from a leading UML family and the wife with a significant government job directing cultural activities. The husband denounced the Maoists, who had not learned that liberal democracy was the only way the world could be, that even China had embraced capitalism. He said UML was not communist, despite their full name United Marxists and Leninists, but that it was "tradition." His wife smiled and said that many "patriots" were Maoists, though not her, and that while she was not herself any longer in the UML, she was hopeful for the future "no matter how it goes". I think the husband was embarrased, which amused her, so he told me the Maoists had bombed his family home in the south a few years back. He had share croppers on his land. The Maoists apparently organized them to squat the same land. He lived in Kathmandu, earning income from from the tenant farmers and keeping a seasonal residence, while his child studied in at college out of the country.

It turned out that the Maoists included those farming on his land, and that when he went to talk with them they worked out a deal of some kind. I was kind of stunned that he just went and talked. "I knew them," he said. He still has his family home, now repaired. He's kind of sore about it. They did blow up part of his house, which rattled him no doubt.

Provocations and dress rehearsals

Nepal's revolution is not over. The old army, bureaucracy and foreign treaties are still in effect. That said, no work can be done without the sanction of the Maoists - not construction, not constitution or transportation throughout the length of the country. This is what Lenin called "dual power", not to be confused with the the sometimes usage by American radicals to mean oppositional mutual aid or serve-the-people programs. Here there are two armies and no real government, a situation of increasing pressure where one side or the other will decide to act decisively.

The government tried to smuggle in some arms and explosives after working out arrangements with the Indian government. They couldn't even sneak them in. Young Communist League members assembled 200 unarmed activists and blockaded the convoy. They alerted the UN and media, and in turn were attacked by armed police reinforcements. A few people were injured including a Maoist rep in the Constituent Assembly.

What I picked up in that incident was that the Maoists have the organizational capacity to act, and that even the National Army and police may not be reliable should they be called out against the people. After all, how did these Maoists even know about the arms shipment arranged behind closed doors by the president, the unelected prime minister and the Indian military?

The UML Prime Minister said the weapons were for "training police." He didn't explain what kind of police work required explosives, wires and other bomb-making materials. Nor was this egregious violation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, supposedly providing for the constitutional framework, noted by the international press. It was certainly noticed here.

Should the current, unelected President Yadev and some section of the National Army attempt a military coup, backed by India, the Maoists are quite sure that the entire population would rise up. Since the first democratic uprising here in 1990, called Jana Andolan I through the People's War and up to the 2006 Jana Andolan II that overthrew the king, there are expectations of a breakthrough far beyond the ranks of committed revolutionary communists.

Not the old playbook

I've been surprised to find the complaints of some American radicals online, who are convinced that participating in elections and attempting to bring in the broadest range of support are some kind of sell out. The facts are these: the Maoists have made every effort to complete a democratic revolution, which ain't nothing, but have not limited themselves to what the semi-feudal, semi-colonial system can bear. They maintain their People's Liberation Army. The Young Communist League is the most powerful social action force in the country, unarmed but disciplined. The Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) already left the government they were elected to lead rather than pretend that "representation" was enough when the National Army and bureaucracy resisted transformation and civilian control.

Prachanda, Bhattarai and the Maoist leadership already had the chance to become broker-politicians, and they said no thank you. They launched a war, they won an election and they left the government rather than fake it. Which brings us to now.

Audacious as can be, they returned to their base and have launched a series of mobilitzations and public education forums that will escalate provided a constitution to their liking is not delivered. They are the largest party, the legal and extra-legal opposition to an unelected government wrapped around what's left of the deposed monarchy's state apparatus. The next major mobilization is for International Women's Day.

May 28 is the deadline for Nepal's constitution to be delivered. That doesn't look likely due to substantial interference from foreign powers and the parliamentary cretinism of the corrupt political class.

The only way it could come to pass is if the UML reformists (called here status quo-ists) were to unite with the Maoists. Leftist parties of one stripe or another won 62% of seats in the Constituent Assembly, enough to ratify a "people-centered" constitution. UML leaders Oli & PM Nepal have ruled that out unless the Maoists disband the PLA and YCL, which they say will not happen until the new constitution is ratified to their satisfaction and under their leadership, if at all. For its part, Nepal Congress party, formerly the parliamentary apparatus and spoils system of the monarchy, is utterly despised as a tool of India and the landlords. Congress received around 20% of the vote, act like king-makers and keep forgetting that crown lies in the gutter.

The terms are set and the time frame known.

May 28 - deadline for the constitution

Every event, each provocation and mobilization is about contesting the allegiance of the broad mass of people. Prachanda capped a training session for 5,000 cadre in the walled city of Bhaktapur that if a constitution isn't ratified to guarantee social transformation and national sovereignty that the people will revolt and that his party is prepared to lead it.

Nepalis are famously gentle people, which is not to say they don't fight. They are known throughout the world for that as well. Prachanda's name means, alternatively, "the fierce one" or "the awesome one." He's usually smiling, and shows emotion on his face. What stands out most about the Maoists isn't just their character. The world is full of upright people. These Maoists have looked back at previous attempts to build socialism and learned uncommon lessons.

What they've come up with, and this has been noted in every conversation I've had, is that without revolution coming from the conscious activity of the most oppressed, the working people and democratic intellectuals freed up from the feudal autocracy, communism would not be worth the word. That's what they learned from 20th Century socialism, and its good to hear from the leaders and member of a communist party contending for power.

This is something I may have hoped for, glimmers of it got me here. But the depth of that commitment, among cadre and common people alike, it is still startling. I could get used to it, I think the world could, too. Nepal is confirming to me that all rumors to the contrary, people aren't stupid. When they can stand on their own feet, organize and fight: people will embrace a force that gives them dignity and refuses the narrow confines of "what's in it for me and mine." Their secret weapon is their open spirit, which are my words, not theirs; and true nonetheless.

Democracy at stake

I can't articulate this fully because I still don't know enough, but caste functions something like what we call race in America. There are poor Brahmins and wealthy people who came from nothing. But the mark and habits of caste still ring. Fighting the caste system, the Maoists do not engage in demagoguery against the privileged castes. In place of feudal entitlement, where chauvinistic rules kept state and military jobs in the hands of the privileged, the Maoists have already declared autonomous national territories as part of a federal democratic republic. Their own top leadership is largely from what have been those same privileged castes. The changes they demand are, among other things, exactly to end of that system of straight-up exclusion.

Blocking a constitution through parliamentray tricks (or some form of putsch) in the capital would threaten not only counter-action by the Maoists, but popular uprisings with their own characteristics from the peoples most to benefit from constitution that is secular in fact as well as word. Any effort of the old structure to perpetuate itself will be broadly seen for a direct attack on Nepal's heretofore excluded peoples. Kathmandu hosts the broken constituent assembly, but the crisis is national.

Complaints from the privileged have the same ring as racial paranoids in America, who still think America is a "white republic", and that any check on their prerogatives are the end of the world. Upper class advocacy groups using identity politics claim that a federal republic will "disintegrate" Nepal, missing the way enfranchisement brings a genuine patriotism that can't be faked, or glossed over by rulers speaking in the name of all.

Resentment isn't the currency of the communists. There isn't demagoguery whipping people up against productive national capitalists or the privileged castes. The comprador bourgeoisie, the type who make money selling the rest of the country out to India, and feudal landlords are feeling the heat. Even there the point is to change the power arrangement not "go get 'em".

The argument for a federalization itself, and its democratic potential, has been wildly popular. Nepalese people are patriotic, no doubt. But they also have a two major religions, a southern Tarai region that was totally excluded from self-determination and dozens of language groups. No other social demand has so frighted the formerly entitled as the Maoist insistence on a federal democratic republic, but attempts to use religion or communal fear have not worked as well in Nepal as India, where Hindutva fascists have an unfortunate mass base in many areas.

The Maoists do not agitate against religion or the religious. They are rational and atheist in a deeply faithful country. Not surprising since Buddha was born in Nepal and wasn't himself so much for the hocus pocus end of religious practice. The Maoists credit Buddha with introducing atheism in one of their articles. From that position of respect, they advocate for science, technology and Marx's dialectical materialist understanding of the world. They want schools to be public to educate everyone, not the largely private financial rackets they still are here for all but the wealthy. Commitment to science, innovation and human dignity will serve them well.

The People's Liberation Army adopted the Geneva Conventions just about the time our own country tore them up. They built base areas in the countryside and advanced towards the capital. For their success, the Maoists have been largely ignored by the very people who should be shouting from the rafters that a revolutionary internationalist, secular and people-based movement has caught fire in the Himalayan mountains.

Great powers are allied against this revolution. India, the United States and the entire disinformation machinery we call mainstream media (from left to right) has insisted that communism is done. And can be killed in silence should it raise its face. Here people are doing it . And it is those people who need honest solidarity, which more than anything means letting the world know what is happening.

climb it

If the mass media won't show what is happening, I hope someone is writing it on the walls. There are less than three months until the deadline for the constitution. There is no center to hold. Word must get out.

I know folks want a lot of local color, or novel dish of some sort. It is so different here and people are really so much the same. Laughter. Silliness. What the world calls football. For myself, I have laughed every day and cried a few times, which reminds me of nothing so much as my mother, who could laugh and cry at the same time, and who loved a good fight.

So yes, I am impressed. I'm no fortune teller. Who knows how things will go. The Maoists have a track record that has won them the respect of their countrymen. They are self-critical of communist history and determined to solve those real problems through advance and not retreat. They don't want to be the new boss. They want communism, socialism and a New Democracy for Nepal. And it's good to hear, what we can do and not what we have to accept.

Peace to the street, war on the palace.

Jed Brandt

PS: did I mention that nobody in Nepal even knows who Glenn Beck is?

Tuesday, March 09, 2010


Thousands of union and health care activists marched on the Ritz in Washington DC today where big shots from the health insurance industry were meeting. They came for the obvious reasons and to make citizens arrests of those who are the leading conspirators stealing money from millions of Americans forced to exist wit...hin a private system.

The demonstration is organized by Health Care for America NOW!, a national grassroots campaign for quality, affordable health care. This coalition asked the directors of about 100 groups to risk arrest at the event.

Isn't it about time these liberal leaders did something real to push through even just a little reform. I mean, we're not talking about the revolution here, just some bill in Congress that even if passed wouldn't yet bring us up to the level of health coverage found in any other industrial country in the world.

Chief executives of the top five health insurance companies raked in a combined total of more than $113 million in 2007 and 2008, according to executive pay experts at my organization, the Institute for Policy Studies.

The highest-paid health insurance exec was Ronald Williams of Aetna, who made $35.6 million over the past two years. It would take an American worker with average pay more than 1,000 years to make that much.

The following is from AFL-CIO Now Blog.

Thousands Tell Big Insurance: Blocking Health Care Reform Is a Crime

Posted By James Parks On March 9, 2010

credit: AFL-CIO
AFSCME members declaring the Ritz-Carlton a crime scene.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told the crowd: “It takes the average worker 212 years to earn what the average CEO makes in a year. What do you call that? GREED.”
credit: AFL-CIO
AFSCME President Gerald McEntee to Congress: “You better take our side before we arrest you!”

Thousands of union members, community activists, religious leaders and others turned out in Washington, D.C., today to confront Big Insurance and demand insurance companies stop plotting to kill [1] health care reform even as Congress debates bills to reform the nation’s broken health care system.

The boisterous, energetic, diverse crowd marched from the AFL-CIO and AFSCME buildings and DuPont Circle to the sound of beating drums and shouted slogans like, “Blocking health care is a crime” and “Health care can’t wait.” The crowd was so large, it completely encircled the block-long Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Washington, D.C., where the front group for the nation’s biggest insurance companies, the America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) is meeting. Health Care for America NOW ([2] HCAN) sponsored the rally and march. We live-tweeted the event [3] here.

Nicole Varma from Arlington, Va., who has no health care insurance because she is unemployed was among those taking part in the rally.
I am unable to get my medications because I can’t afford them. We need to send a message to the insurance companies that they definitely need to listen to the people. We don’t want insurance abuses. We want real health care reform.
Workers repeatedly expressed how they struggle to afford health insurance, an ever-growing expense that is eating away at their ability to pay a mortgage or send children to college. Here’s George Estright, a member of AFSCME Local 2162 who traveled from Harrisburg, Pa., for today’s rally.
We support health care reform to control insurance company profits. It’s not right for working Americans to pay for 200 percent profits for insurance companies. We need something that is fair and equitable.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka laid it on the line, telling the crowd:
The insurance companies won’t stop unless we stop them—and we do that by passing health care reform legislation.
So today we’re here to put the insurance companies on notice: We will not allow you and your lobbyists to bully Congress into not acting. Not on health care or any of the issues important to America’s working families.
Marcus Grimes, a former English teacher from Virginia, says he lost his sight because he didn’t have health insurance o cover a $3,000 operation he needed. He told the crowd health care is the issue of this generation:
We are at the crux of our generation. This is our time. We ask you insurance companies. We ask you senators. We ask your representatives. What side of history do you want to be on? We should no more people dying…We stand as one. We walk softly, but we carry a big stick.
The crowd placed a crime scene tape around the hotel and several leaders and victims of health insurance abuse delivered a “warrant” to the front of the hotel calling for the arrest of the insurance company executives.
Check out rally hotos from the Alliance for retired Americans [4] here.
[5] AFSCME President Gerald McEntee told the crowd that Big Insurance “is devastating our families and they’ve been getting away with it for years. We’ve had enough.”
Listen up Congress. This is a life and death battle with the insurance companies. I’m here to tell everyone that justice will prevail.
[6] AFT President Randi Weingarten said:
Our health care system exists to insure people who need it, not to make profits for insurance companies. That’s why we need real health care reform.

Article printed from AFL-CIO NOW BLOG:
URL to article:
URLs in this post:
[1] health care reform:
[2] HCAN:
[3] here:
[4] here:
[6] AFT:


Women workers took to the streets of Hong Kong for International Women's Day and directed their anger at both government of Hong Kong and Indonesian government. "We are women, we are workers!" The women complained about recruitment agencies that illegally overcharge women migrants.

Another group of women went after the sexism in the mass media. An example of what they were talking about concerned the outrageous sexist attacks and sexual harassment against well-known youth activist Christina Chan Hau-man by various gossip sheets and others.

Yet one more group gathered outside a hotel where the Hong Kong Women's Commission (WoC) were holding a luncheon talk for bigwigs. Chan Po-ying said, "Our protest today is similar to the first international women's day 100 years ago. Then it was also about equal rights, about universal suffrage, about a minimum wage and maximum working week. We are still fighting for this and we will keep fighting."

The following is from China Worker.
International Women's Day in Hong Kong

“We are women, we are workers!” reporters

7 MARCH, CAUSEWAY BAY: “We are women, we are workers!” This was one of the chants that rang out in the street outside Indonesia’s consulate in Hong Kong as more than 200 Indonesian migrants protested at the scamming activities of recruitment agencies that illegally overcharge women migrants. “Blacklist bad practise employers and agencies” was one of the slogans on the forest of placards. The consular protest on Sunday 7 March was organised by the Indonesian Migrant Workers’ Union (IMWU) and Coalition for Migrants’ Rights (CMR). It was the most colourful and forceful of several demonstrations over the weekend leading up to the 100th International Women’s Day on 8 March. Many activities were timed for Sunday, as this is the only day off work for most of Hong Kong’s 300,000 female migrant workers.

The Indonesian government with its “labour export” policy was the immediate target of the protest, but for these women the Hong Kong government was also under fire. “Instead of upholding the law and punishing and blacklisting bad practise employers and agencies, the Hong Kong government under Donald Tsang’s administration has chosen to suspend the employers’ levy for several years now, freeze the wage increase, ban Nepalese from entering Hong Kong, and exclude live-in domestic workers (mostly migrants) from the statutory minimum wage law,” said a statement from the Coalition for Migrants’ Rights.

Indonesia has “exported” at least six million workers, more than half of whom are women. The policy is promoted by president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) who has set a target to rake in at least 1.25 trillion rupiah yearly in remittances from Indonesia’s overseas workers. Inyo, one of the organisers of the protest on 7 March, told that the roots of the government’s policy was the imperialist crisis, the effects of which fall disproportionately upon migrants and women. “Migrant workers [remittances from abroad] are the second largest source of national income for Indonesia after the oil and gas industry. We are protesting about the policies of the government. There is no bailout for working people or for women.”

Youthful protest against sexist media attack

6 MARCH, CHAI WAN: The 100th International Women’s Day got an even earlier start in Hong Kong. On 6 March around 50 demonstrators assembled outside the Chai Wan offices of Oriental Press Group. They were protesting over outrageous sexist attacks and sexual harassment against well-known youth activist Christina Chan Hau-man by the gossip sheet, Oriental Sunday. This magazine carried front cover paparazzi photographs of Chan at home in her underwear brushing her teeth. The reports were not only a gross invasion of her privacy but had a clearly intended political purpose to denigrate the recent youth protests for democracy and against a government ‘white elephant’ high-speed train project. Oriental Sunday’s completely fabricated “report” alleged that neighbours had made complaints about Chan and implied she led a ‘permissive lifestyle’.

The incident highlights a much wider problem of sexism in the mass media. The protest outside the magazine office, at which Christina Chan recounted her experience and attempts to obtain a public retraction from the magazine’s management, was a clear sign that such media attacks will not be tolerated.

Chan was arrested after the 30,000-strong pro-democracy demonstration on 1 January and charged with assaulting a police officer. Showing the sexist bias of the state apparatus and not just the media, police officers at her interrogation forced Chan to lift up her shirt so they could photograph her tattoo! According to Wikipedia, an anonymous administrator in an online forum for police officers posted rape threats against her after her arrest.

The 6 March protest was organised by the Association for the Advancement of Feminism (AAF) together with informal youth groups, to demand an apology and retraction from the editors of Oriental Sunday. When management refused to come outside to meet the demonstrators, the protest marched into the building, and staged a close-up version on the building’s 5th floor. Loud chanting and drums could be heard from the street below.

Oriental Press Group had sales last year of 1,637,522,000 HK dollars (US$211 million). Its journalism specialises in marketising women’s bodies. It is high time such capitalist media corporations were taken into public ownership and placed under the democratic control and management of the workers, with women workers taking a leading role in this in order to correct an extremely distorted and reactionary view of women and much else, and to open the media to a democratic exchange of views.

“Elderly women – the poorest of the poor”

8 MARCH, KOWLOON: A sizable crowd gathered to watch as a dozen protesters from the League of Social Democrats picketed the Mira hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui on Monday 8 March. Inside the luxurious hotel the Hong Kong Women’s Commission (WoC) were holding a luncheon talk for bigwigs – typical of how governments and establishment bodies have hi-jacked international women’s day. Originally, when launched in 1910, international women’s day was a means to organise women against the capitalists and their political servants. Attending the luncheon were Executive Council member Leung Chun-ying (well known for denying his membership of the CCP), Chief Executive of Hang Seng Bank Margaret Leung Ko May-yee, and Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Paul Tang Kwok-wai.

The LSD protesters smashed a baton in the road depicting the government’s broken promises to women and especially retirees. “The provision of social welfare is minimal,” said Leung Kwok-hung (Long Hair). “We demand more provision for women and especially for housewives who currently are excluded from retirement scheme provisions. Elderly women are the poorest of the poor in Hong Kong, which is why you can see many of them out on the streets at night collecting cardboard and plastic bottles for recycling,” he explained.

The old age pension in Hong Kong is just 1,000 HK dollars (US$129) per month, which no one can live upon. Many old people are forced to rely on their children to support them in old age. “There are hundreds of thousands of women in Hong Kong who have no pension cover,” said Chan Po-ying of the LSD. “This was the most important demand we wanted to highlight today.”

“The women’s commission who organised this 8 March luncheon is a government body, but it’s just a decoration without any power,” she told “Our protest today is similar to the first international women’s day 100 years ago. Then it was also about equal rights, about universal suffrage, about a minimum wage and maximum working week. We are still fighting for this and we will keep fighting,” said Chan Po-ying.

  Inequality and poverty in Hong Kong

  • The number of women living in poverty rose from 485,000 in 1996 to 635,000 in 2008 (Hong Kong Council of Social Services). Poverty is rising fastest among women.
  • Incidents of violence against women in the family are also rising, which is linked to the economic crisis. Newly reported battered spouse cases almost doubled from 3,598 in 2005 to 6,843 in 2008. Women accounted for 80% of the victims.
  • According to HKCTU, female restaurant workers are paid 30% less than their male counterparts.

Monday, March 08, 2010


WANTED: Karen IgnagniSomebody has to do it.

Thousands of persons from far and wide will be converging on Washington D.C. to arrest health insurance executives. the health insurance lobbying group - will be at the Ritz-Carlton hotel
in Washington, DC for its annual policy conference on March 9th and 10th - figuring out more and better ways to make super profits off the backs of the sick.

It's a strange industry, huh, but let's face it, that is exactly what the private health insurance industry is all about. They sure as hell aren't doing anyone any favors. But then, isn't that what capitalism is all about. Well, yeah, so maybe we just ought to march on Washington and get rid of capitalism itself.

Well, maybe later.

    WANTED: Mark Bertolini

  • WANTED: Michael McCallisterWANTED: Stephen Hemsley

  • WANTED: David Cordani
WANTED: Angela Braly

The following is from Citybizlist Baltimore.

Hundreds of Maryland Residents Headed to DC Health Care Crime Scene
Local Health Care Reform Supporters to Join Thousands in Washington to "Arrest" Health Insurance Executives

(Baltimore, MD) -- On Tuesday, March 9th, 300 Baltimore residents will pile into six buses to join thousands of other health reform supporters in Washington, DC to protest the health insurance industry and its ongoing campaign to protect its profits and block comprehensive health insurance reform. Health reform supporters from across the country will come together on Tuesday March 9th to make a mass citizens' arrest of the health insurance executives who are denying care, hiking up premiums, and contributing to the deaths of 45,000 people each year.

America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) - the health insurance lobbying group - will be at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Washington, DC for its annual policy conference on March 9th and 10th, and people from across the country will descend upon the hotel to let the insurance companies know they are not welcome in the nation's capital. AHIP has been spending tens of millions of dollars to spread lies and misinformation about much-needed health care reform, and it's time Congress listened to us - not the insurance companies.

Baltimore residents Dorothy Bryant and Russell Kovach will be among the thousands out in front of the Ritz armed with arrest warrants, badges, crime tape, "wanted" posters, and more. The crowd will be deputized as officers to carry out the arrests of the Big Insurance CEOS and AHIP leaders for their crimes against America's health. Together, these sheriffs will disrupt the insurance companies' plotting session and fan out into the streets for other actions that send a clear and dramatic message to Congress: Listen to everyday Americans. Not the insurance lobbyists. We've had enough. The time for real reform is now.

"It's time to put the enemies on notice. We will not allow the big corporations and their lobbyists to bully Congress to a standstill. This means confronting the health insurance industry that has secretly spent tens of millions to protect its profits by trying to kill reform," said Dorothy Bryant, a member of AFSCME Council 67. "I've decided that if Congress can't hear me from Baltimore, then I'm going to DC and making my voice heard."

"The insurance companies and their cronies in Congress have done everything they can to muddy the issue and drag down reform," said Russell Kovach, a Baltimore resident. "There are two sides in this fight, and it is time for members of Congress to pick one. They can stand with us and support real change, or they can side with the insurance industry. We've had enough, and we're heading to DC to say so."

Learn more online at


I'm usually not real big on email protests, letters and the like, but this campagin sponsored by Survival International is an interesting one. The idea is to wipe out the use of terms like 'stone age' and 'primitive' to describe tribal people. What I think is most significant about this campaign is that actually it will make all of US aware that usage these terms to describe a tribal people is really racist and allows for the dismissal in many real ways of tribal people and cultures.

The following is from Survival International. 

‘All the years of calling the Indian a savage has never made him one.’
Luther Standing Bear, Lakota Sioux.

Survival’s Stamp It Out campaign aims to challenge racist descriptions, however unwitting, of tribal peoples in the media.

What’s the problem?

Terms like ‘stone age’ and ‘primitive’ have been used to describe tribal people since the colonial era, reinforcing the idea that they have not changed over time and that they are backward.
This idea is both incorrect and very dangerous. It is incorrect because all societies adapt and change, and it is dangerous because it is often used to justify the persecution or forced ‘development’ of tribal peoples. The results are almost always catastrophic: poverty, alcoholism, prostitution, disease and death.

How can I help?

Survival would like you to be on the lookout for terms like ‘stone age’ and ‘primitive’ used to describe tribal peoples in the media today. When you spot one, please fill in one of our Stamp it Out postcards or e-cards with the information given below and send it to the editor.

How do I get my free, colour Stamp It Out postcards?

Email, phone (+44) (0)20 7687 8700 or write to our postal address and Survival will send you some.

How do I send Stamp it Out e-cards?  (Not sure how this will work coming directly off my can also go to  and do it there)

Fill in the form with the information given below and click “Send postcard to editor”.
Dear Editor ,
Your recent article/programme 
referred to the 
Terms like 'primitive' and 'stone age' have been used to describe tribal people since the colonial era. They reinforce the idea that these peoples have not changed for generations. But this is not true. All societies adapt and change - not just ours. Tribal people are no more 'savage' than the rest of us.
The idea that tribes are backward leads directly to their persecution. For example, it is claimed that forcibly developing tribes is 'for their own good', and helps them 'catch up' with the 'civilised' world. The results are almost always catastrophic: poverty, alcoholism, prostitution, disease and death.
I hope you will refrain from using such terms in the future.
Email address * (required)  

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London cops decided it was best to attack anti-fascists and let the nazis drink their beers and scream their hatred far and wide. Truth of the matter it is always up to us to take down the white supremacists, the racists, the fascists. You can't leave such matters up to the state and you can't beg the state to do it for you. That's the way it is and always will be.
The following is from Lenin's Tomb (of all places).

The police, the fascists and the antifascists

Fifty UAF protesters were arrested yesterday. No EDL protesters were arrested. All fifty UAF protesters were doing nothing more than making use of their democratic right to protest against fascists and racists. The organisers maintained a disciplined protest, and the speeches at the UAF protest were straightforwardly anti-racist. By contrast, the EDL thugs were plainly up for a fight, and their speeches clearly incited racist hatred, particularly when an EDL speaker, a young Sikh from Nottingham called Guramit Singh, said to ecstatic cheers: "God bless the Muslims... they'll need it when they burn in fucking hell." Singh is the one of the EDL's poster boys, promoted to prove they are a non-racist party. But Singh is a racist, fond of expressing such enlightening thoughts as: "fuck the p*kis … i just think we shud burn the cunts now".

EDL activists, who have a record of violent mayhem, were allowed to roam around, visit the pubs and get tanked up, more or less uninhibited. Meanwhile police attacked peaceful UAF activists, broke them up into four separate groups and kettled them. Some were manhandled before being shoved onto a double decker bus that was procured for the occasion. The EDL message board is filled with praise for the Metropolitan Police and how they handled the "reds and asians". It's a big pick-up for the brain-dead bampots, who are otherwise posting an incredible amount of racist 'poetry' that doesn't scan, though it can only be a matter of time before this horseshit ends up being turned into a 'Great White' record production, with the BNP's Joey Smith vocalising.

There's a lesson in this. The state can definitely shut down the EDL whenever it wants to. It can easily prevent rampages of the kind that have taken place in Luton and Stoke. It had no difficulty in rounding up EDL thugs in Scotland recently. No doubt cops in Bolton would have no serious problem complying with a ban on the EDL in Bolton, should it be decreed. It would be astonishing if the EDL wasn't, like the rest of the far right, penetrated from top to bottom by the security services, so I don't doubt that the police have the information about their tactics and organisation to stop them terrorising communities. But because they can doesn't mean they will, and it is a complacent error to think that this can be treated as a policing matter and ignored by the left. Policing and criminal justice in such matters is highly politicised, and it can't be otherwise.

Think about the context. Just in the last couple of weeks, we've had a number of major, contrived scandals about the influence of Muslims in politics - there was the furore about Amnesty and Moazzam Begg, the disgraceful Andrew Gilligan hit piece on Tower Hamlets council, and the preposterous "hijab gates" conspiracy theory. There is a ceaseless stream of background noise about mosques, mega-mosques, extremists and burqas. On top of which, we have the right-wing still pushing paranoid claims that New Labour deliberately created a multicultural Britain in order to get more Labour voters. We have attempts to normalise racist language, wherein celebs and others seriously tell us that "P*ki" is just an abbreviation. We have pernicious arguments about black criminality, which Rod Liddle didn't invent by his lonesome. And from the government, we have revisionist attacks on 'multiculturalism' and integrationist discourses on citizenship (that's a diplomatic way of talking about state attempts to put manners on black and Asian people). These ideas emanate from the right, but are now being taken up by some on the centre-left, in the vain hope of appropriating their apparent ability to summon loyalty from some voters. New Labour's attacks on minorities, beginning with the vilification of Asians in the spring and summer of 2001, and followed up with repeated attacks on Muslims, have helped normalise this kind of racism.

In broad brush, an elite backlash against the anti-racist consensus of a decade ago has now found its echo in public attitudes - which, on this topic, have moved sharply to the right. It has also galvanised racist violence. The University of Essex study of Islamophobia and hate crime in London confirmed that media reportage and the rhetoric of politicians acted as a decisive motivator and catalyst for violence against Muslims in the capital. That's what is fuelling support for these racist gangs, and that's the adhesive that unites explicit neo-Nazis with right-wing football hooligans. Those who want to respond to this by bigging up the flag while letting the police decide how to handle the far right are missing the scoop. The EDL are a political problem, and they can't be opposed in an apolitical, technocratic way. That is a way of ducking the issue. And nor can they be dealt with by meeting them half-way, or trying to steal their 'patriotic' clothes. That is a futile attempt to find a short-cut, which doesn't exist. The overwhelming burden of evidence is that the more the left validates the politics of nationalism, and concedes territory on 'multiculturalism', the more it feeds into the right's agenda. The agenda of the right on race relations has to be confronted, not accomodated, just as its beneficiaries in the far right must be opposed, not ignored.