This video says about itself:
2 June 2016
This video is a 2011 documentary on workers in Thailand.
By Lamiat Sabin in Britain:
Brit faces jail for aid to organising Thais
Tuesday 19th January 2016
Union activist blighted by ‘judicial harassment’
A BRITISH activist campaigning for the rights of migrant workers in Thailand appeared in court yesterday charged with defamation and computer crimes in a case blighted by bosses’ “judicial harassment.”
Employer Natural Fruit, which denies the allegations, is accused of attempting to derail his defence by threatening civil damages of 400 million baht (nearly £8m) and hefty court fees.
Company chief executive Wirat Piyapornpaiboon is the elder brother of former labour minister and former Democratic Party general secretary Chalermchai Sri-On.
In spite of its ‘democratic’ sounding name, the Democrat Party in Thailand, according to Wikipedia:
upholds a conservative and pro-dictatorship position.
The Lamiat Sabin article continues:
The company has filed four cases against him and is appealing against the dismissal of the first. After being charged during yesterday’s hearing, Mr Hall said: “I only collected raw data and took no part in analysing the data. Finnwatch officials were responsible for that.
“They also put the report on the website, not me.” Mr Hall works as an adviser to SERC, the Thai equivalent to the TUC. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “If modern slavery is to be eradicated from global supply chains, unions and campaigners must have the right to speak out.
“The number of court appearances Andy Hall has had to make — in none of which he has been found to have broken any laws — show that this is nothing more than judicial harassment.
“Thailand’s attorney general should be ashamed of helping bad bosses keep up their appalling practices, and the Thai government should be cracking down on slavery and trafficking, not on human rights defenders and trade unions.”
Bangkok South Criminal Court confiscated his passport on Thursday — the British embassy is demanding its return — and has set bail at £5,000, which was paid by Finnwatch, the Thai Frozen Foods Association and the Thai Tuna Industry Association.
Labour MEP Glenis Willmott — who represents the East Midlands, where Mr Hall’s parents live — has campaigned strongly to convince European Commission representatives to attend the court hearing.
The trial will start in May and is expected to conclude in late July.
This video says about itself:
5 July 2015
If contemporary views of ancient Athens, Greece emphasize the peaceful and harmonious nature of that polis’s democratic system, historian Bettany Hughes begs to differ. Hughes asserts that the West’s establishment of Athens as the platonic ideal of democracy is hugely ironic, for that classical society in fact employed rules, regulations and traditions deemed unthinkable, even barbaric, in our modern age – from the widespread practice of black magic; to the view of women as demonic, fourth or fifth-class citizens forced to wear public veils; to the proliferation of slavery.
Most incredibly, Athens relied on inner bloodshed, tumult and strife to perpetuate its existence and strength, declaring war every two years or so. Such practices were commonplace, even as the community soared to new intellectual heights and created wondrous sociopolitical ideals for itself that it strove to live up to and that would later form the basis of contemporary political thought.
By Jean Turner in Britain:
New light on the democratic deficit in ancient Athens
Monday 11th January 2016
Peasant-Citizen and Slave: The Foundations of Athenian Democracy
by Ellen Meiksins Wood
HISTORICAL materialists have always looked at the class and social structure of great civilisations of the past in order to map the growth of human development.
In doing so, they have paid great attention to the period of the growth of democracy and science in the Greco-Roman states from the 6th century BC to the collapse of the Roman Empire in 200 AD.
These societies were based on slavery. Because of this their collapse, according to Marxist writers, was considered to be the result of the slow growth of technology and production.
Wealthy rulers and landowners could live luxuriously on the free labour of others, so there was no need to create or use existing technology to lessen manual labour and increase production.
Paradoxically, these “idle societies” developed art, architecture, music, drama and philosophy to a peak of perfection. So science and skills existed and could not be the work of free labour only.
First published in 1988, Ellen Meiksins Wood’s book sets out to contradict this assumption in the case of agriculture. In a closely argued thesis, based on the available Greek literature and records of the time, she points out that Athenian democracy included the right of citizenship to peasants whose agricultural smallholdings fed the people of Attica.
This gave them the right to attend law courts and to vote and petition against rich citizens and landlords who were overcharging rent or threatening their land in any way. They could even sell their votes or labour to increase their income.
Referencing the writings of Xenophon, Homer, Demosthenes and the comedies of Aristophanes, she finds that peasants could own slaves but, depending on their wealth or success, either worked alone or alongside them. Of course, women and children were classified as chattels in the household so even here … labour could be either family or slaves. The edges are blurred but the argument, that Athens was a slave society per se, is cast in doubt.
This is an important correction to Marxist thought.
Plato and Aristotle regarded slavery as necessary to allow the development of the ideal society which, of course, excluded any intellectual role for women. They opposed the concept of peasant-citizens in a democracy since they were involved in what they regarded as menial work such as agriculture, building, crafts and other forms of labour.
Meiksins Wood criticises the dependence of Platonic philosophy on the rejection of human labour and experience and honours those ancient Greek philosophers whose scientific thinking was returned to in Europe in the 15th century AD, leading to technological advances which overcame feudalism and opened the door to capitalism.
A thought-provoking book which fully merits its reprint.
This video says about itself:
1 June 2015
Author Michael Bundock talks about his book on Francis Barber on This Day Live, which describes how Dr Samuel Johnson left the bulk of his estate to a Jamaican born slave who had served him faithfully for many years.
By Angela Cobbinah in Britain:
Enduring legacy of friendship
Saturday 10th October 2015
Michael Bundock’s biography of Francis Barber tells the extraordinary story of the Jamaican slave who inherited the bulk of Dr Samuel Johnson’s estate, says ANGELA COBBINAH
IT IS estimated that there were between 3,000 and 5,000 black people living in London in the 18th century, an inevitable result of Britain’s involvement in the slave trade.
One of them was Francis Barber, a former slave who became the servant of Dr Samuel Johnson, the compiler of the English dictionary.
Although Barber lived with Johnson for more than 30 years and became his heir, little is known about him.
He has now been rescued from obscurity by Michael Bundock’s compelling biography, which places his life firmly in the context of black history.
“Francis Barber’s story is fascinating and I felt it was important to tell it,” he says.
“It is also a reminder that there was a significant black community in 18th-century London and that slavery wasn’t something that happened somewhere else.”
But at the heart of the story is the extraordinary friendship that existed between servant and famed man of letters at a time of heightened hostility towards black people in the face of the increasing legal and moral challenges that would lead to the abolition of the slave trade a few decades later.
Born on a sugar plantation in Jamaica, Barber was brought to England by his owner in 1750 and joined Johnson’s household off Fleet Street in London aged 10. He would live there almost continuously until Johnson’s death in 1784, by which time his wife and three children were also part of the set-up.
Notoriously eccentric, Johnson scandalised society by what was considered his liberal treatment of “Frank” over the years, giving him light duties and even allowing him to bring his black friends to the house. When he died, Johnson caused further upset by leaving Barber the bulk of his estate.
Childless and given to bouts of melancholy, Johnson also had much to gain from Barber’s company, says Bundock, a lawyer whose interest in Barber emerged from his role as director of Dr Johnson’s House Trust. “Barber looked upon Johnson as a father figure but it was a two-way relationship that underwent role reversal over time. When Johnson fell ill Barber and his family looked after him. They both brought something to one another.”
Johnson’s affection for Barber was also framed by his strong sense of Christian duty and his aversion to slavery.
“Johnson was quite clear in his approach to slavery and on a number of occasions he spoke and wrote publicly against it,” Bundock explains. “He certainly did not regard Barber as a slave, while Barber thought of himself as a free man.”
Indeed, Barber felt free enough to walk out of Johnson’s employ when he was 14 and work for an apothecary in Cheapside. Later, like a wayward son, he ran off to sea during the seven years’ war, much to Johnson’s distress.
But how to write a book about someone whose written account of himself amounts to no more than the most basic of details?
Bundock did so by trawling through the archives as well as literature and press reports of the day in which Barber, thanks to his Johnson connections, makes walk-on appearances.
While these offer a view of how others regarded him, we inevitably have little idea of how he regarded the world or his position in it. Although richly researched, the book is a bit like a party in which the guest of honour has failed to show up.
“His voice does not come out,” acknowledges Bundock. “You have to work around this lack of a voice and sometimes make suppositions.”
Frustratingly, it transpires towards the end of the book that the striking cover image hich we have clung on to in the absence of a substantial personality is probably not of Barber after all.
“I don’t think it matters very much,” insists Michael. “The portrait can be taken almost as a symbol of the black community at the time, one that Barber was very much part of.”
This music video says about itself:
Bob Marley & The Wailers – Slave Driver [Live at Harvard Stadium/Amandla Festival]
Amandla–Festival of Unity—was a world music festival held at Harvard Stadium in Boston, Massachusetts, on July 21, 1979. The goals of the concert were to support and celebrate the liberation of Southern Africa as well as the on-going efforts of people in Boston to end racism in their families, schools, workplaces and communities.
By Lamiat Sabin in Britain:
Cameron vows to blow 25m on jail in Jamaica
Thursday 1st October 2015
Huge facility would take inmates repatriated after being convicted in Britain
The Tory PM claims that the prison transfer agreement will save taxpayers around £10m a year, despite being paid for by funds set aside to help poor countries in need.
Prisoners sentenced to more than four years and with at least 18 months left to serve would be flown out from 2020 as the first cohort to be locked up in a new 1,500-bed facility.
Shadow international development secretary Diane Abbott criticised the deal as misguided, “wrong in principle” and a “superficial public relations initiative.”
The MP, who has Jamaican-born parents, added: “I do not believe aid money should be spent on building prisons merely as an adjunct to the British criminal justice system.
“If David Cameron is really interested in seeing a decrease in the levels of criminality in Jamaica, he should be investing more in education projects and helping to promote local agriculture and manufacturing, which would provide legal employment for young Jamaicans.
“As it is, catastrophic economic conditions and the absence of employment opportunities force too many Jamaicans down the road of criminality.”
Jamaican officials pressed multimillionaire Mr Cameron, whose slave-owning family received compensation when slavery was abolished in 1834, to consider making national reparations and apologise to Caribbean countries for Britain’s role in the slave trade.
But he refused to apologise and instead promised the prison deal as part of a £200m plan to “reinvigorate” ties with the island by letting British firms bid for contracts to build roads, ports and bridges.
Britain also has prisoner transfer agreements with Albania, Nigeria, Somaliland, Rwanda and Libya.
David Cameron in Jamaica once again made much of so-called abolition of slavery, ignoring Britain’s central place in atrocities: here.
London: Why has a memorial to slaves quietly been dropped? David Olusoga. For 13 years, Memorial 2007 has been raising money for the project in Hyde Park rose gardens, but the government has refused to help: here.
From the Clarion-Ledger in Mississippi, USA:
Notable Mississippians join chorus to change state flag
5:54 p.m. CDT August 15, 2015
In a letter appearing in a full-page ad in today’s Clarion-Ledger, author John Grisham, actor Morgan Freeman, legendary quarterback Archie Manning, “The Help” author Kathryn Stockett and others are calling for removal of the Confederate emblem from Mississippi’s state flag.
With other states removing their Confederate battle flags, Mississippi remains the last with the Confederate emblem flying over the statehouse.
“It is simply not fair, or honorable, to ask black Mississippians to attend schools, compete in athletic events, work in the public sector, serve in the National Guard, and go about their normal lives with a state flag that glorifies a war fought to keep their ancestors enslaved,” the letter says. “It’s time for Mississippi to fly a flag for all its people.”
Former Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale and Mississippi business leader Jack Reed Sr. signed the letter. So did music legend Jimmy Buffet, former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Reuben Anderson, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Richard Ford, Grammy-winning producer Glen Ballard, Basketball Hall of Famer Bailey Howell, former Gov. William Winter, baseball legend Boo Ferriss and a host of others.
The letter is the latest in a growing wave, from House Speaker Philip Gunn to Mississippi’s SEC football coaches to the great-great-grandson of Confederate President Jefferson Davis — all saying the Confederate battle flag belongs in a museum.
“The tide is turning with business leadership saying it hurts our ability to recruit corporations and with coaches saying it hurts our ability to recruit athletes,” said state Sen. John Horhn, D-Jackson. “The flag is a turnoff.”
Gov. Phil Bryant pointed out that voters spoke on the matter in 2001.
Author Greg Iles, who signed the letter, said 14 years is a long time.
“Think of America in 1931 and then in 1945 — that’s 14 years, and a tectonic shift in national identity. Think of 1961 and 1975,” he said. “The Confederate flag is no longer a viable state or national symbol in 2015.”
He believes that “clinging to the past through symbols is hurting Mississippi now,” he said. “And it has the potential to cripple economic development going forward.”
Bryant says he has no plans to call a special session on the matter.
If the governor were to call a special session later this year for economic development, Horhn expects the flag issue to be raised.
In a survey conducted by The Clarion-Ledger, 64 of Mississippi’s lawmakers said they supported changing the flag, 24 opposed it, nine said they were undecided, and 96 wouldn’t respond or give an answer.
Of those that did respond, most Democrats supported the change, while most Republicans opposed it.
On June 17, white supremacist Dylann Roof allegedly walked into the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and killed the Rev. Clementa Pinckney (who was also a state senator) and eight other members.
On a website authorities found, Roof talked of wanting to start a race war.
In one photo, he posed with a U.S. flag set on fire. In another, he posed with a Confederate battle flag, wearing a T-shirt that said “88,” a reference to “Heil Hitler.”
In the wake of that massacre, Republican Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley took down Confederate flags on the statehouse grounds, and Republican South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley successfully lobbied the Legislature to remove the Confederate flag flying over their statehouse grounds.
“It is a new day in South Carolina, a day we can all be proud of, a day that truly brings us all together as we continue to heal, as one people and one state,” Haley said.
“We must always remember our past, but that does not mean we must let it define us,” Gunn said in a statement. “As a Christian, I believe our state’s flag has become a point of offense that needs to be removed. We need to begin having conversations about changing Mississippi’s flag.”
Across the nation, discussions have begun over what to do with Confederate emblems.
Wal-Mart, Sears, Amazon and eBay have all nixed the sale of Confederate flags, and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has ordered the Confederate flag no longer appear on license plates.
Last week at the University of Texas in Austin, President Gregory Fenves announced the statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis would be moved from the campus’ Main Mall to an exhibit in the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History.
Horhn said it would be a terrible tragedy if the Confederate emblem remained in the state flag at the time the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum opened to the world in December 2017.
“It would diminish the impact of the museum and how far we have come in Mississippi to have the flag still there to officially represent our state,” he said.
In a number of Mississippi towns, city councils have voted to remove the state flag from city buildings. The city of Greenwood is expected to take up the issue Tuesday.
“There were 4 million African-American slaves under this (Confederate) flag,” said state Sen. David Jordan, D-Greenwood. “To us, it’s just as bad as the swastika.”
Grisham said the change is “simply the right thing to do, and at the right time. The war is over. Let’s preserve its history and heritage but get rid of the symbols that continue to divide us.”
From daily The Independent in Britain:
Vast scale of British slave ownership revealed
46,000 Britons were slave owners on the day that slavery was abolished in 1833 and all received a share of a £17 billion compensation payout from the Government
Sunday 12 July 2015
The shocking scale of British slave ownership has been revealed in scores of official records which have found that thousands of modern-day Britons are related to owners who received huge sums in compensation when the trade was abolished.
A five year project by University College London has compiled the identities of 46,000 Britons who owned slaves, mainly in the West Indies, on the day that slavery was abolished in 1833.
Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha, Benedict Cumberbach, Ben Affleck and author George Orwell are just some of the high profile ancestors [sic; descendants] of the slave owners revealed in the files.
Records from the Slave Compensation Commission show that some 800,000 Africans were freed upon abolition after being kept as legal property.
Upon their liberation the Commission paid out the modern equivalent of £17 billion in compensation to the UK’s tens of thousands of owners – the largest government pay-out since [sic; before] the 2009 bank bailout.
The colossal sum represented 40 per cent of government expenditure in 1834.
Researchers from UCL led by Professor Catherine Hall and Dr Nick Draper have published the files into an online database which is available for the general public to access and search for the names of all those who received compensation.
John Gladstone, the father of prime minister William Ewart Gladstone, who owned nine sugar plantations, received the most money in compensation being paid £106,769 or the equivalent of £80 million today.
The great-grandfather of novelist George Orwell, Charles Blair, received £4,442 or the modern day figure of £3 million in compensation.
It is now thought that 10 per cent of Britons who died in the 18th century benefited from slavery and that up to 15 per cent of the British elite were connected to the trade.
A new BBC documentary named Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners, reveals that slave ownership was not just reserved for Briton’s wealthy gentry however.
The two part programme, presented by historian David Olugsoga shows that middle-class families with occupations ranging from home country vicars to iron manufacturers also had a stake in the trade.
Other surprises included the discovery that 40 per cent of slave owners living in the colonies were found to be women who had inherited what was then regarded as human property through their partner’s wills.
See also here.