Monday, June 27, 2016

France says NON to TTIP

France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls has dismissed the possibility of an agreement on the US-EU transatlantic trade deal, since it goes against the interests of the European Union.

“No free trade agreement should be concluded if it does not respect EU interests. Europe should be firm. France will be vigilant about this,” Valls said addressing members of the governing Socialist Party on Sunday.

“I can tell you frankly, there cannot be a transatlantic treaty agreement. This agreement is not on track,” Valls added.

Valls pointed that the agreement “would impose a viewpoint which would not only be a breeding ground for populism, but also quite simply be a viewpoint that would be bad for our economy.”

The TTIP – or Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – is a EU-US free trade treaty project that was dubbed as controversial the moment it was proposed three years ago and has been criticized for its secretiveness and lack of accountability ever since.

The proposed agreement aims at promoting trade and multilateral economic growth by creating the world’s largest free-trade zone. Backers say it would help small businesses opening up markets and making customs processes easier, while trade tariffs on products would be reduced.

But critics fear big corporations would be the only ones to profit from the deal, with corporate interest coming even ahead of national interest.

The French minister has also stressed the “dramatic” consequences of canceling quotas on milk, stipulated in the TTIP deal. Dairy sector is particularly important to France, being a key driver of its economy.

The negotiations on the treaty were expected to be over by the end of 2014, however they are still in progress with the next round being scheduled for July.

The project has been met with quite fierce opposition in Europe, especially in France and Germany, with critics speaking of its negative effects on environment and agriculture.

Thousands of protesters took to streets in the German city of Hannover in April, opposing the deal in fear it would put corporate interest before the national. Large corporations will be given more prerogatives than middle-sized and small businesses if the project is accepted, the protesters believed.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Vale Brian Dunnett

Brian Dunnett passed away today, Saturday 18 June 2016, aged 81 in Sutherland Hospital, after a long illness.

Brain Dunnett on Mandolin – Bush Music Club Rehearsal at National Folk Festival
Towards his last days he was surrounded by his family and many comrades and friends. He enjoyed their company and took pleasure in remembering old times. He displayed great dignity and courage, he knew he was not coming home and when his situation become terminal he did not want any medical intervention.

Brian was the son of a railway worker. A political and trade union activist for well over 50 years, from his early working life at the Chullora Railway Workshops, where he was a shop steward for the Electrical Trades Union, and later at the Eveleigh Workshops. He was a leading member of the Eureka Youth League in the 1950s-60s and for more than 30 years, a member of the Communist Party of Australia. He participated in the SEARCH Foundation from its formation.

Brian was always a fighter for social justice and human rights. He was opposed to corruption of any kind. He was involved in many demonstrations, particularly against the Vietnam War, and conscription. He had a strong interest in international solidarity and was particularly concerned with the mass killings of members of the PKI in Indonesia under the Sukarno Regime in 1965 and 1966.

Whilst still working on the railways, one of his proudest achievements was gaining a Post Graduate Diploma from Ku-ring-gai College, later Macquarie University. This was evidence of his perseverance, thoughtfulness and ability.

He was a keen supporter of maintaining the Eveleigh railway workshops at Redfern as a historical area.

He had a long involvement in the folk music scene and participated in many Folk Music Festivals in Canberra and elsewhere. Particularly since his retirement, a major focus was on collecting railway folk songs and promoting railway workers’ stories and music, as an important component of Australian working class history.

Brian leaves his long-time partner, Maureen Champion, his two children, Mark and Angela, and two grandchildren, Felicity and Alysha – along with a wide circle of friends associated with the railways, folk music, and left political activism, as well as in Kurnell where he and Maureen spent many happy years.

As Pam and Tony have commented, ‘we have lost a comrade and friend of over 50 year’s duration – we will miss him’.

We extend our condolences to his devoted family and to his many friends and comrades.

Pam and Tony Hawkins
Beverly Symons

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Yannis Varoufakis | Noam Chomsky | NYPL 2016

Published on 27 Apr 2016 | New York Public Library

Yanis Varoufakis considers himself a politician by necessity, not by choice. An economist and academic by training, he became Greece’s finance minister amidst the country's financial crisis, creating an image for himself both beloved and reviled. He discusses his complicated role in his new book, And the Weak Suffer What They Must?: Europe's Crisis and America's Economic Future, and on the LIVE stage alongside renowned academic and theorist Noam Chomsky. 

YANIS VAROUFAKIS is the former finance minister of Greece. A professor of economic theory at the University of Athens and former member of parliament for Athens’ largest constituency, he is the author of The Global Minotaur, among other books. He lives in Athens. 

NOAM CHOMSKY is widely credited with having revolutionized the field of modern linguistics. Chomsky is the author of numerous best-selling political works, which have been translated into scores of countries worldwide. Among his most recent books are Hegemony or Survival, Failed States, Hopes and Prospects, and Masters of Mankind. Haymarket Books recently released twelve of his classic works in new editions. His latest books are What Kind of Creatures Are We? And Who Rules the World?

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Mohammad Ali 1942 – 2016

Muhammad Ali on the Vietnam War-Draft

"My conscious won't let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America. And shoot them for what? They never called me nigger, they never lynched me, they didn't put no dogs on me, they didn't rob me of my nationality, rape and kill my mother and father ... Shoot them for what? ... How can I shoot them poor people, Just take me to jail."

Monday, June 06, 2016

Vale Dave Swarbrick

Dave Swarbrick, a fiddler who electrified the British folk tradition as a member of the band Fairport Convention, died on Friday. He was 75.

Dave Swarbrick and Fairport Convention were prime movers in trad-rock, which connected the 1960s ferment of folk-rock and psychedelia to a deep British heritage of storytelling ballads and nimble dance tunes. His fiddle playing had the deliberately rough-hewed sound of rural tradition; his tone could be sweet or scratchy, his phrases songful and melancholy or propulsive and gnarled with ornamental turns and quavers.

He also sang, wrote songs and played viola, mandolin, mandola and guitar.

He was born in New Malden, Surrey, near London, on April 5, 1941. He learned to play fiddle as a child in Yorkshire. In the 1950s, the pianist Beryl Marriott heard him in a skiffle band and invited him to join her traditional Gaelic band, beginning a long association.

By the early 1960s Mr. Swarbrick was being heard on the BBC series “Radio Ballads,” a mixture of oral history and music produced by the songwriter Ewan MacColl; he also recorded with MacColl, Bert Lloyd, Peggy Seeger and other folk musicians. One of his most riveting fiddle feats was his accompaniment to Lloyd singing Jack Orion.

He appeared on seven albums with the Ian Campbell Folk Group in the early 1960s and in 1965 began recording with Martin Carthy, a leader of Britain’s folk revival. Mr. Swarbrick released his first solo album, “Rags, Reels and Airs,” in 1967.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Teong – In The Middle

The thesis offers a view: that the whole creative enterprise, or the process of creating, is about being free. It is practising to be free from oneself – to free oneself from attachments to things and thoughts. That is, it is a practice based not on religious or intellectual dogma, but on possibilities, the core value of any spiritual practice. In this context, it is hoped that the word 'spiritual' or 'spirituality' no longer needs to remain a branded persona non grata in current art practice or art discourse – and so, we no longer need "to muffle humanity's vital breath, its essential being and very soul."

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