Yemen – Hypocrisy in Action?

As regular visitors to this site will know, I haven’t been posting all that regularly of late.  Quite frankly, I’m too busy with my research at the moment to invest the time and energy in regular posting at the moment.

I did, however, want to make a very quick post about the developing situation in Yemen.

First off, I find it hypocritical and straight up disgusting that these various Arab powers (with Pakistan mobilising ground forces to assist with an invasion too) are able to cobble together a massive military campaign, led by the richest Arab state (Saudi Arabia) against the poorest Arab state (Yemen), but have completely failed to actively defend Palestinians against Israeli aggression.  Where the heck was this massive military power to stop Israel in its war against Gaza last year?  No where.

Pan-Arab solidarity, my foot.

Saudi Arabia and its allies are willing to sacrifice the lives of Palestinians simply to appease Israel and slaughter Hamas as a Muslim Brotherhood threat to their interests.

And the intervention isn’t about restoring democracy or defending human rights.  The vast majority (if not all) of the States involved in this obscene intervention are guilty of some of the worst atrocities in these areas of any countries on the planet.  One need only look at the Saudi-engineered coup in Egypt, complete with the a greater massacre than Tiananmen Square in the form of Rabaa.

This is rather just another reflection of the Saudi-led fears of Iran.  Nothing more, nothing less.  The Saudis live in fear of their own Shia populations (primarily found in their oil rich provinces) and the risk of losing this economic resource.

I’ll write in more detail about this later.

Right now, what’s important is that innocent people are being killed and terrorised by this military intervention, and lots more blood is going to flow before it’s other.  All the while these same military resources are being diverted away (if they were even directed in the first place) away from the war against Da’esh (which has its own problems), and Palestinians remain under occupation with Israel having a carte blanche to do as it pleases there.

There is a massive risk of this conflict escalating, not simply in Yemen itself, but in the Red Sea, the Arabian Gulf, Iraq, Syria, Iran and even Afghanistan all getting mixed up, as the various proxy wars for control and influence between Saudi and Iranian interests gets blurred into a single regional conflict spanning North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.

It would have been better to let the Houthi’s try to govern and fail, than to make them into martyrs.  There will be no military solution to this, only the peace of the graveyard – and even then the ghosts will haunt the living for decades to come.

Partisans & Selective Memories

Over the last few years I’ve largely adopted a rule of not commenting on articles or social media threads where I’m featured, or are by me.  I do break it sometimes, but I try not to.

The reason for that rule of mine is that when I do intervene, even to counter a patent lie about myself, the thread derails and it becomes a focus for personal attacks on myself rather than a discussion of whatever I’ve raised.

I do find though that partisans are intent on generally making everything political, and largely trying to force things into a binary political strait-jacket of PLP or OBA.  If I don’t explicitly criticise the PLP in a post (even a post which isn’t political at all, at least not political in the sense of our two political parties) someone tries to paint me as being pro-PLP.

It’s almost as if readers expect any post by me to be encyclopedic and defend against every possible attack – which of course would render any such post completely unreadable.

What particularly gets me is the very selective memories of some partisans who quite blatantly lie about me.

Take my International Women’s Day 2015 article, published on Bernews earlier today.

The very first comment on it reads:

“Creamy: And yet Mr Starling won’t hear a bad word said about the mysogynist-led PLP.”

This despite my explicit criticism of Mr Bean’s apparent misogyny in various articles such as:

Same Sex Marriage Right Thing To Do – July 2013

A Question of Leadership – November 2014

The Alleged Bean/Daniels Encounter – November 2014

The OBA Walkout – November 2014

It’s clear that people only read what they want to read, or remember what they want to remember, so as to fit people into their preconceived perceptions.

Due to the binary partisan nature of our society and politics, if you’re not for one party, you must be for the other.   When I criticised the PLP (including while a member) various PLPers accused me of being UBP, BDA or OBA (depending on the time).  And now with the OBA in power any criticism of the OBA (or any failure to applaud them) results in being accused of being PLP.

‘Creamy’ is blatantly lying – either because they are ignorant (and haven’t checked the validity of the accusation) or deliberately so (either to fit their preconceptions or out of deliberate misrepresentation).  The articles I link to above clearly show the lie of their comment.

Does it matter?  I doubt it.  I could call the sky blue and certain people will maintain with their dying breath that I declared the sky was orange.   Even if ‘creamy’ recognises that I have, in fact, criticised mysogynism and the leadership of the PLP, they’ll simply change tack and accuse me of insufficient denunciation.  They’ve made up their mind and, I fear, no amount of pointing out their error will convince them otherwise.

Such is the intellectual dishonesty and/or mental damage that our poisonous and divisive two-party system both reflects and compounds.

Happy International Women’s Day 2015!

I generally write an annual article to commemorate this event, and this year is no different – only, as with last year, it’s on Bernews rather than my blog. 

This year I decided to build on a theme from my 2012 election platform:

“Enact Workforce Equity legislation to require all workplaces with more than 10 employees to develop a workplace equity review and plan to ensure gender and racial equity in the workplace concerning wages and decision-making.  Enable workers to seek compensation for unequal gender or racial pay regimes up until the year 2000.”

I decided to focus on the matter of gender (and racial) equity concerning decision-making in particular, and the article itself provides some useful links that I used for the argument.  I was also working on an equal pay aspect, but the article got far too unwieldy – so I’ll develop that for an article in it’s own right.

I would like to add a quote which I ultimately decided to cut from the article itself, because I think it does make a good point and is something to consider going forward.  It’s an excerpt from a 1983 work The Nouveau Poor by Barbara Ehrenreich and Karin Stallard – though over thirty years old, it still seems pretty valid to me!

“We need a feminist economic program, and that is no small order.  An economic program that speaks to the needs of women will have to address some of the most deep-seated injustices of a business-dominated economy and a male-dominated society.  Naming it will take us beyond the familiar consensus defined by the demand for equal rights – to new issues, new programs, and maybe new perspectives.  Whether there are debates ahead or collective breakthroughs, they are long overdue; the feminization of poverty demands a feminist vision of a just and democratic society.”

Closing the Recycling Centre a Backwards Step

This is just a short post alerting leaders that I’ve got a new piece on Bernews right now concerning the news the announcement yesterday that Government is to ‘suspend’ operations at the recycling centre based at Government quarry.

In this piece I mostly highlight how this announcement raises more questions than it answers and warn that this decision may prove to be a false economy – providing some short-term savings but risking greater long-term costs.

I am also concerned that this is a move towards privatisation, although I don’t discuss that issue in the piece itself – which was an immediate ‘reaction’ piece.

I hope to release a follow-up piece which highlights alternative policies towards recycling, building on what I’ve already stated publicly in the past, be it in my 2012 platform [pdf] or subsequent statements.

LTTE’s & Plagiarism

Bemused & Astonished…

I have a letter to the Editor (LTTE) in today’s RG – it replies to a LTTE published last Friday which selectively quoted from a rather obscure 2007 post of mine critiquing a speech by Dr Brown, the then Premier.

I won’t lie, I got a little kick out of having the RG publish a photo of Leon Trotsky by the way… :-)

The initial LTTE does correctly quote me, but selectively so, as it misses a bit where I explicitly state that my comment was not meant to be taken literally – that I was making an analogy concerning internal party democracy rather than actually stating that Dr Brown had translated a speech by Trotsky from 1919-1921. Trotsky MIA

One thing about this site is that ‘behind the scenes’ I can see certain statistics, things like readers, unique hits, where clicks are coming from and what they click on, what posts are more popular, etc.  It also has a feature that shows me what search engine searches have led to my site – and what post in particular.

On reading the initial LTTE I took a look at that latter feature.  I could see that in the last seven days prior to that LTTE someone had found that 2007 article using a search for ‘Ewart Brown plagiarism’.  I can only surmise that someone was looking for evidence to write such a letter for the purpose of deflection, of turning the criticism away from MP Leah Scott and back onto the PLP.

Furthermore, I think it’s reasonable to think that this person then used the ‘find’ feature to search the post, rather than read the entire post and resulting comments.  If someone searched for just ‘plagiarism’ they would find the two quotes used in the letter and completely miss my explicit statement that the comment about plagiarism was not meant to be taken literally.

A Challenge

Despite my LTTE clearing up the matter, I have absolutely no illusions that this will be the end of the matter.  Due to the divisions and prejudices of our society and its resulting political partisanship, people will believe what they want to believe, the facts be damned.

I will however extend a challenge to those who want to insist that I’m guilty of hypocrisy on this matter.

If it is true that Dr Brown plagiarised a speech of Trotsky’s from the 8th and/or 9th congress of the Russian Communist Party (as my comment, if taken literally, implies), then one can easily enough review Trotsky’s speeches.  One could event trawl through his entire writing, beyond the confines of 1919-1921 if that initial search proves fruitless.

If Dr Brown plagiarised, then just as the original Hello Beautiful source for MP Leah Scott’s article was found, so too could the original source from Leon Trotsky.

If one can’t find it, then what I explicitly said at the time, that I was making an analogy about the sentiments, as a criticism of what I saw as an attempt to stifle internal party democracy and the organic vibrancy of organised labour, would stand, no?

And if it is found that Dr Brown did indeed plagiarise Leon Trotsky, one can bring that to light and lay out my alleged hypocrisy for all to see.  I’ll make a public apology – I’ll even walk the length of the island in a pink dress as some form of public atonement.

I know for a fact that no such speech by Trotsky will be found, but I challenge anyone to try.  We can even approach the disciplinary committee of Bermuda College to rule on it – heck, lets make it a learning moment for all about plagiarism and integrity, and I can even raise money for a charity during the walk.

I’m willing to put my proverbial money where my mouth is – will my detractors?

The least I’d ask of the original LTTE writer is a public apology in the RG.

I’m certainly guilty of some clumsy writing.  But not hypocrisy on this plagiarism issue.

Bizzaro Island?

It’s often said that ‘Bermuda’s another world’.

We are indeed a bit of a bizarro island.  I note with some degree of bemusement how some commentators are using the original LTTE, and my follow-up, to accuse the PLP of being communist.

There’s some irony in using the writings of a socialist criticising the PLP for not being even social democratic, let alone socialist or communist, to argue that the PLP’s communist.  Certainly some twisted logic there…

 

Hi there…

My apologies to regular readers – I’ve been somewhat awol blog-wise.

After the week of labour action at the end of January I’ve been focused on my PhD research, which is kind of a priority.  As a result I’ve put the blog somewhat on the back-burner.

I haven’t been completely absent though.

Plagiarism?

I’m actually referenced, along with the blog, in a Letter to the Editor (LTTE) in the RG concerning the whole fiasco relating to Leah Scott.  I’ve written a reply, also in the form of a LTTE for the RG, and I hope it will be published soon.  As such I’ll not add anything further in relation to this particular LTTE at this time.

On the matter of Leah Scott’s plagiarism fiasco I’ve also got a press release on Bernews.

Basically, I argue that she shouldn’t have plagiarised in the first place, but having been caught out she had an opportunity to fully apologise and use it as a ‘learning moment’ to hammer home to our students the seriousness of plagiarism as an academic offence. Instead, she acted disingenuously and it’s because of that disingenuity that – to me – warrant her to resign as the Junior Minister of Education.

Or be made to resign…

Voting Rights for Prisoners?

I also have an opinion piece, complete with a draft amendment to the Parliamentary Election Act 1978, arguing that granting votes to certain prisoners (those with a sentence of less than 12 months – or with less than 12 months remaining on their sentence; or on parole) should have the right to vote.

I argue that this is in line with the concept of restorative justice and, while the link didn’t go into the published article, is also in line with the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights concerning voting rights for prisoners.

Mini-Platform on Drugs – Alcohol Section

In addition, I have released the first part of mini-platform on drugs.  I wrote this last summer but have held off releasing it for some time.  I’ve decided to release it in part, section by section, beginning with the alcohol part.

Point Counter Point

Not too long ago I published an article asking “where’s the BTUC?”, noting that the lack of response to the press conference by the Premier and the Minister of Finance yesterday was detrimental to the organised labour movement, and I was arguing that the BTUC need to respond soon and, more specifically, rebut the points made by the Government there. Point2

Well, shortly after that, the BTUC did exactly what I was advocating and have released a rebuttal to the Government’s press conference last week.

Point1

Needless to say they’ve got quite a radically different perspective of the events in question, and seem quite (understandably) angry.

BTUC statement Jan 30th 2015 (pdf)

As I noted previously, the trust relationship between the Government and the unions was in tatters last year.  The genesis of this week’s crisis highlighted that and further eroded what little trust remained.

It’s hard to imagine there’s any trust, whatsoever, remaining after the last 36 hours.

My previous post, calling on the BTUC to respond and rebut argued that without the BTUC’s response the Government is able to selectively reveal some proposals, and to do so without context.  I argued that this seemed, to me, a deliberate attempt to sow division and play off different factions of the working class against each other – specifically against the organised labour movement (the unions).

The rebuttal by the BTUC would appear to largely gel with my own reading.  It makes clear that the more controversial proposals (cap on financial assistance in particular) were not those of the unions at all, but proposals from the Government instead.  Indeed, the BTUC response states the following:

“The first four (4) items discussed were ‘caps’ on Financial Assistance, Consolidation of Schools, Travel and the Agricultural Exibibition.  Recognising that they were pre-approved items from the Cabinet meeting on Monday, January 26, 2015, the BTUC after some discussion agreed that if these cuts are to be made, it was the Government who must justify its position on these contentious items to the public.  The BTUC wondered why the Government needed permission from the BTUC for such cuts.  The BTUC realised it was a sad way for the Government to place accountability on the BTUC for their political decisions.”

Yeah, the language there clearly expresses the breakdown in relationships between the two sides and directly challenges the Government to clarify who put forward these proposals.  In the press conference yesterday this was somewhat ambiguous – with the implication from the Government side that this was a union proposal.

The rest of the BTUC’s document provides context to other decisions which were absent from the press conference yesterday, especially the increase in GEHI contributions for spouses (explaining that the unions recognised that GEHI is currently underfunded).

The BTUC document provides a reasonable account of the Wednesday talks, and it challenges Government to refute it.

“The BTUC categorically rebuke the falsified allegation and the slanderous remarks made by the Honourable Premier, Michael Dunkley JP, MP and the Honourable Minister of Finance, Minister Bob Richards JP, MP.  We call upon the persons who were actually in the room, Dr. Derrick Binns, Mrs, Cherrie Whitter, Mr. Anthony Manders, Mr. Gary Phillips, Mr. Martin Law, Mr. John Harvey and Mrs. Jonelle Christopher to authenticate the accuracy of the above mentioned.”

While the relevant civil servants involved would not be able to do so (it would be a breach of civil service orders), but the hired negotiators for Government (Gary Philips, Martin Law and John Harvey) are not under such orders – although its likely their contract with Government precludes revealing such information.  Only an order from the Premier would allow the release of the authentication the BTUC challenges the Government to reveal.

I’m not sure what the Government were thinking here.

Did they expect the BTUC to not respond to the provocation of yesterday?  Or did they expect it, but calculated they would be able to solidify their own support base and sow enough doubt to achieve whatever they hoped (sow division and confusion, both among union members and between the unions and other sectors of society?)?

The BTUC have picked up the gauntlet thrown down by the Government in their provocation on Thursday.  They’ve picked it up and directly challenged the Government to refute the account they’ve given of the Wednesday talks.

There are two questions (well, and sub-questions) now

  1. Will the resulting duel go ahead or can some resolution be achieved in advance?
    1. Will the Government consider itself check-mated by the BTUC’s rebuttal and concede – removing furloughs and sticking with the agreement of the Wednesday talks?
    2. Or will the Government continue to provoke a confrontation with organised labour?  If this is the case the resulting actions are the fault of Government, not organised labour.
  2. If the duel is to proceed, then ‘when’ and ‘how’?
    1. Will we see a return to ‘Occupy Cabinet’?
    2. Will we see an expansion of the ‘occupation’ to other key points (Cabinet, House of Assembly, Clifton for example)?
    3. Will we see mass action like last week, or targeted and rolling action?
    4. Will we see novel actions develop?
    5. What can we expect for the resumption of parliament, I believe on February 13th?  And for the Budget?

I still think the BTUC should go one step further and release their full proposals from earlier in the Budget Reduction Working Group talks – they claimed to have proposed savings of up to $65-85m (I’m not sure of the range, but I figure they’ve put a low, medium and high range in their valuations).

Right now it’s all point counter point.  The question is what’s the next thing to expect, and when?