This video shows an Eurasian oystercatcher in Sweden.
This video shows an Eurasian oystercatcher in Sweden.
By Antoine Lerougetel in France:
29 April 2016
Many young people turned out in the Northern French city of Amiens on April 26 following calls on social networks for demonstrations. The Communist Youth Movement (MJC), the youth wing of the … French Communist Party (PCF), supported calls for demonstrations.
The demonstrations took place at the same time that both presidential candidates visited a Whirlpool factory in Amiens, drawing widespread media attention. The factory is due to close in 2018, causing 300 workers to lose their jobs. On the March candidate Emmanuel Macron, who grew up in Amiens, was accosted by workers at the plant for his support for austerity policies and for the El Khomri labour law, which the government of Francois Hollande rammed through the legislature to reduce job protections for workers and further informalise employment. Neo-fascist Marine Le Pen also visited the plant in a demagogic attempt to pose as a friend of French workers. The Whirlpool plant will be relocated to Poland as with the Amiens Goodyear factory, which closed 3 years ago.
The World Socialist Web Site spoke to demonstrators, many of whom remain divided as to whether to abstain in protest of both right-wing candidates, or to vote for Macron in order to prevent Le Pen’s victory. Participants in the demonstration reflected on the experiences drawn from four months of protests in 2016 against a right-wing Labour Law, which reduced job protections for workers and laid the basis for the further informalisation of employment. Macron supported the law in his role as a leading official in the Socialist Party (PS) government of President Francois Hollande, and police brutally suppressed the protests.
Over a hundred young people gathered in front of the Maison de la Culture in Amiens.
Susie and Mona, two art students who supported Unsubmissive France candidate Jean Luc Mélenchon in the first round but who are not members of any party, spoke to the WSWS.
Susie said, “It does not surprise me that Le Pen got into the second round, it was expected. If she wins there will be more violence, more racism, more hatred. With Macron, it’s at the finance level that it’s going to change a lot. For the workers and the poorest this will not help much.”
WSWS reporters asked Susie what she thought of Le Pen’s attempt to appeal as a defender of the interests of workers. Susie replied, “She’s campaigning like Macron. He never came during his campaign in the first round.
“It’s been a while since Ruffin [François Ruffin, standing for parliament in Amiens in the legislative elections in June, backed by the PCF, the Greens and Mélenchon] has been asking him to come. She dares to go there because she’s a liar. I’m not against people who vote Le Pen, it’s just that she manipulates them. …”
Mona added, “They’re so fed up with the Hollande government that Le Pen has been able to profit greatly from it. She used the terrorist attacks and laid it on thick. People were so frightened and thought she would act against terrorism. All she’s going to do is close the borders. There will be blockages, she’ll do totally anti-democratic things.”
The WSWS asked Susie and Mona about the danger of a third world war. Mona said, “It’s a possibility, the situation is so unstable. We’re young and it appears very far away. I did not know that France is preparing nuclear war. It’s true that Trump is trigger-happy. France could be a target. What can we do?”
Interjecting in support of one another’s points, they told the WSWS: “We want to demonstrate against both, they both have closed and very risky policies … They do not meet our expectations. Macron will have exactly the same policies as Hollande.
“He is a presidential candidate thanks to Hollande. He’ll do nothing thing for young people. He said that we should get used to terrorism and a state of emergency … With Le Pen, it will be racism and civil war, as is happening in America with Trump. It will be ‘France first,’ just like Donald Trump says about America.”
Catherine, a student at Amiens University, said, “This demonstration is called ‘against Le Pen,’ but I am here first because I am curious about who is here, because if this demonstration calls for a vote for Macron I will be against it. I’m looking for a movement that wants neither Le Pen nor Macron. A Macron presidency would be very free market, continuing with all the privatizations, the deterioration of the conditions of workers and government workers. Under Marine Le Pen it would be the same thing, plus racism, fascism. In both cases very negative.”
She continued, “I know Le Pen is at Whirlpool today and Macron only wanted to meet the union [leader]s. Le Pen wants to appear to be a defender of the workers. They vote Le Pen because they are disappointed with the politicians and because they believe that Marine Le Pen is the only one who will defend them, but it is manipulation. These people are completely desperate.” …
“Yes, I am aware that we are moving towards a third world war,” she added. “It makes me angry, sad and I wonder how we came to this. How is it possible that Trump came to power? We have to think internationally. It’s the whole world that could be at war and not just France. It is in the interest of everyone to come together and find the common cause that will make us change the system in depth and, yes, fight the people who want to carry out this war.”
This video says about itself:
2 April 2017
Australia is the world’s most arid continent, and its blistering daytime heat can be a potential killer. Using thermal imaging, we are given a fascinating glimpse into how the Red Kangaroos cool their body temperatures and avoid the deadly effects of the mid day sun.
This CBS video from the USA says about itself:
Monday’s May Day Demonstrations Might Be Bigger Than Expected
28 April 2017
Many protesters may use day to express dismay over Trump deportation efforts. Jeff Nguyen reports.
From daily The Morning Star in Britain:
US: Immigrants will march against Trump
Saturday 29th April 2017
Activists in major cities across the United States, including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, expect tens of thousands of people to join demonstrations, starting with morning neighbourhood protests and culminating in rushhour city centre events.
They also plan an overnight vigil in Phoenix, a farm workers’ demonstration outside Miami and a White House rally.
Pro-immigrant events in Seattle are expected to be followed by anti-capitalist marches.
“We’re seeing an unprecedented amount of enthusiasm and activity. It’s driven by the fact that the Trump administration has made immigration the tip of the spear,” said New York Immigration Coalition executive director Steven Choi on Thursday.
“If you are an immigrant in Los Angeles, the safest place you can be on Monday is in the action in downtown Los Angeles,” said SEIU local leader David Huerta.
By Roger Sutton in England:
Get set for May Day – a chance to build the struggle
Saturday 29th April 2017
AS we approach May Day this year, the struggle of workers both within Britain and internationally is clearly intensifying.
With threats to world peace growing, along with the increasing dominance of the economic system with massive multinational companies at its heart, workers are having to fight harder to maintain what has been won in the past. The need for international solidarity between workers is crucial.
The big London May Day this year is seeking to highlight some of the key fights going on by trade unions like the RMT Southern rail dispute, the Unite BA Mixed Fleet dispute, the small but crucially important PCS and Unite battle at the Equalities and Human Rights Commission and the Bectu Picture House fight.
With all the big campaigns over the NHS, the need for proper housing, against the attacks on the disabled, attacks on the environment, opposing military adventurism and the many union campaigns to preserve jobs and social services, it is vital that all these different fronts in resisting the current economic system are brought together, something given greater focus with a general election looming. May Day seeks to give that focus to all the myriad battles going on across the country and the world.
We are also pleased to welcome back PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka. The key area of education will be covered by NUT vice-president Kiri Tunks.
In London migrant workers in particular face constant battles, especially in the hospitality sector — hotels, restaurants, catering, cleaning etc.
Many employers seek to exploit migrant workers and bilk them out of basic rights and conditions. Union organising has been the most effective way to fight this exploitation but is a challenging area to deal with.
Local trade union councils are taking part in many key struggles around local hospitals, education, postal services and against racism.
London May Day has always been a clear and visible expression of solidarity and unity across communities and workers from all backgrounds.
The massive support from many different migrant workers’ groups and from different communities has been a vital part of London May Day.
We have input from people in so many different struggles, including Tamils, Kashmiris, Pakistanis, Indians, Sri Lankans and Bangladeshis. There are many others too from Africa, South America and Europe who show the importance of internationalism and the fight against racism which tries to divide workers.
It is very welcome to see the spread of May Day-related events across Britain year by year in which trade union councils and local unions are playing a leading part.
It is important to ensure the traditions of May Day are maintained with the central core of workers across the world standing in solidarity, supporting each other in the fight against the capitalist economic system.
For us to really show such solidarity the importance of fighting the anti-union laws is key, to allow the strong to help the weak in battles against bad employers.
With talk of new public holidays we have to remind all of the long-held call in Britain for May 1 to be a public holiday, as it is in many countries across Europe and the world.
Over the last decade we have seen the rich getting richer and working-class gains, achieved over decades of hard struggle, being attacked.
We need to celebrate what workers have achieved here and across the world and get the message across that it is only by joint working-class action that we can protect and expand what is in our interests.
That is how we got the NHS, education for all, better housing, proper jobs for young people, decent pensions, social care — all now under serious attack.
May Day in London has always given a focus each year on key working-class battles, going back to Skychefs workers, Ford and Vauxhall workers, Remploy workers, the miners’ and printworkers’ battles of the ’80s and the PCS National Gallery dispute, but also in 2014 we marked the deaths of two major figures in the struggle — Tony Benn and Bob Crow.
There has also been increasing involvement from the unions in the area of culture and the arts. It is always important to keep those working-class battles to the forefront, each year showing how the struggle continues.
We look forward to welcoming you to Clerkenwell Green where marchers will assemble on Monday May 1.
Roger Sutton is organiser of the London May Day Organising Committee. For more information visit www.londonmayday.org.
This video says about itself:
28 April 2017
By Robert Stevens and Chris Marsden in Britain:
Blairites declare UK Labour party unelectable
28 April 2017
Yesterday, the old war criminal himself, Tony Blair, went on Rupert Murdoch’s Sky TV and refused to endorse Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, stating that Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May would win the election.
The issue was not to run a “conventional partisan election” that relegated Britain’s exit from the European Union to one issue among many, he asserted. The task was to build a parliamentary opposition across party lines to a Brexit that takes “membership of the single market and the customs union off the table.” On this basis, Blair urged voters to consider also backing Liberal Democrats and anti-Brexit Tories.
In the Labour Party and in the media, Blair’s followers are taking up the theme of Labour’s un-electability under Corbyn with less reserve than even their political mentor. A striking feature of this offensive is how it centres on denunciations of any and all calls for social equality.
On Wednesday, Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee asked, “How can Labour survive this Tory tidal wave?”
She cited a Tuesday morning meeting at the Smith Institute where Labour MPs heard a “presentation by Deborah Mattinson, of Britain Thinks, and Nick Pecorelli, of The Campaign Company—leading pollsters and focus groupers who have followed Labour’s fortunes over decades.”
These “leading pollsters,” Toynbee declared in apocalyptic tones, had explained that Labour was doomed because “[t]he class and culture divide between Labour leaders and its putative voters yawns too wide to bridge.”
Mattinson and Pecorelli had explained “[t]he thinking” of working class voters “now is that Labour doesn’t like ‘people like us’, is neither ‘one of us’ nor ‘on our side’. Whose side is it on? It’s the party of posh metropolitans who defend only immigrants and people on benefits.”
She continues, “The words the leadership uses have little meaning or resonance with erstwhile Labour voters. ‘Austerity’ is empty verbiage to them, says Mattinson. Social justice, equality, fairness—these have no traction; they are abstractions that, if understood, are viewed with suspicion: more money for immigrants and people on benefits.”
The meeting cited by Toynbee is properly understood as one hosted by a right-wing Labour Party think tank, featuring two right-wing Labourites advising right-wing Labour MPs on why a further shift to the right is the order of the day.
Mattinson and Pecorelli, the apparently disinterested pollsters, told the Labour bureaucracy precisely the message it wants to hear because they are both political creatures spawned from out of the bowels of the party machine. And both have played their own role for decades in helping shift Labour to the right under Blair and his ally and successor, Gordon Brown.
Campaign Company boasts that Pecorelli was an adviser to Brown and a “Labour Party Assistant General Secretary covering Policy and Campaigns, economic consultancy and NHS management.”
Mattinson was Brown’s chief pollster when he was Blair’s chancellor from 1997 to 2007 and remained in the role after Brown succeeded Blair as prime minister in 2007. She has written numerous articles for Progress, the main Blairite think tank.
The Smith Institute, named after former Labour leader John Smith, is directed by Paul Hackett, previously “Special Adviser to the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott MP and other ministers at the Department of Communities and Local Government (1997-05).”
All of them traded on their political connections with the bureaucracy to go private, so they could be paid more handsomely for their so highly valuable insights.
Mattinson began her career under political consultant and former advertising executive Philip Gould, the man enlisted by Blair’s director of communications, Peter Mandelson, as a strategist and polling adviser to Labour in the general elections of 1987, 1992, 1997, 2001 and 2005.
A New Statesman article in 2010 notes that she was in on the ground floor and assisted Gould in running “something called the Shadow Communications Agency, which had been tasked with helping to make Labour electable again. Thus was born the focus group, a phenomenon familiar to advertising agencies, but hitherto unknown in the world of British politics.”
The article notes that, under Blair and Brown, “there was scarcely a domestic policy announcement that had not first been road-tested on Middle England.”
Mattinson’s previous work on behalf of Labour includes “Emerging from the Darkness,” an internal report commissioned by the party’s then-interim leader, Harriet Harman, in 2015, following Labour’s defeat in the 2015 general election under Ed Miliband.
Based on interviews with 10 focus groups in Watford, Croydon, Nuneaton, Edinburgh and Glasgow, the report said that, under Miliband, the Labour Party was “in thrall to the undeserving.” It had to “redefine and revitalise its brand,” and be “for middle class voters not just down and outs.”
The report was hailed by the Blairites as pointing the direction of travel for the party, before Corbyn’s landslide leadership contest victory on an anti-austerity, anti-war ticket temporarily cut across such moves.
This heralded an 18-month campaign to get rid of Corbyn by any means necessary, leading to the present offensive meant to guarantee the party’s defeat on June 8.
The contempt for the “undeserving” and hostility to “social justice, equality, fairness” points to the real social layers represented by the Labour Party.
To return to Mattinson, she was a co-founder of Opinion Leader Research Limited (OLR), which was owned by Chime Communications. By 2007, she owned about 2 million shares worth around £1 million in Chime Communications. OLR’s accounts showed that its three directors, including Mattinson and co-founder Viki Cooke, took home in 2007 aggregate emoluments, excluding pension contributions, of £445,502. The highest paid of the three, who is not named, took home £223,000.
After Brown was kicked out of office in 2010, Mattinson and Cooke left Chime to set up Britain Thinks later that year.
While spewing out right-wing propaganda denouncing benefit claimants, it is the social layer epitomised by Mattinson and Pecorelli who have amassed enormous wealth via their parasitic relationship to the Labour and trade union bureaucracy, which they have now negotiated into a personal fortune.
A 2007 investigation by the Sunday Telegraph found that in the previous two years, OLR won nearly £3 million worth of contracts “across an astonishing array of government departments and agencies.” These included the Treasury run by Brown and the Department of Constitutional Affairs “when it was led by Labour’s deputy leader, Harriet Harman, a close friend of Miss Mattinson.”
Britain Thinks, whose latest work on the upcoming June election was described by Blair himself as “required reading”, boasts of its relationship with clients including McDonald’s, E-Bay, British Gas, Centrica, Barratt Development’s, Morrison’s and Waitrose. Other clients listed are the UK government’s Home Office and, lo and behold, the Guardian.
Mattinson, Pecorelli, Cooke and Toynbee represent the political dregs of New Labour. The opinions they cite are those of “focus groups” that are used to reinforce a political message that serves a privileged social layer grown exceedingly wealthy as a result of the pro-business, privatisation agenda championed by Blair and Brown.
They have far more in common with May than with her government’s victims. Only such selfish and venal creatures could describe references to the austerity measures that have ruined the lives of millions as “empty verbiage.”
This video says about itself:
Troglobites: Strange Cave Specialists – Planet Earth – BBC Earth
31 March 2017
Many caves are like islands, cut off from the outside world and other known civilization. This isolation has resulted in the evolution of various strange creatures. These species range from the blind salamander to the Belizean white crab and are considered cave specialists and are better known as troglobites.