Hull and East Riding Green Party
Elhamy Agina. Precisely how nutty is this Egyptian MP? Don’t get me wrong – We’re familiar with nutty politicians – we’ve got our own in the news today describing what “real men’s” jobs are!
But this, rightly incendiary, Inde story reports a politician explaining why FGM must continue – despite being illegal in Egypt. His exposition is that it’s mainly to do with weak men and poorly controlled male sexuality. This is equally nutty and irresponsible and it’s certainly not taught by Islam.
But then you read that 90% of Egyptian women are FGM’d. So instead of being a nut, the Egyptian MP becomes a representative of the people (despite or including his obvious male, patriarchal attitudes).
The BBC also reports: “MP Ilhami Agina responded by saying FGM was needed in order to reduce women’s sexual appetite, to match Egypt’s men.” So he’s saying, let’s reduce whatever female sexual desire because “We are a population whose men suffer from sexual weakness”. So the practice of FGM means men are tempted less. It would be interesting to hear from Egypt’s females.
FGM is female genital mutilation where the clitoris or sometimes the entire exterior genitals are removed with a razor.
The trouble is, this is not the half of it. FGM is something practiced right across Africa in 28 of its 53 countries. It has a long tribal tradition and is clearly something which happens in different forms across the continent.
Jomo Kenyatta, once president of Kenya, explains the tradition of FGM saying that,
“The operation is (still) regarded as the very essence of an institution which has enormous educational, social, moral and religious implications, quite apart from the operation itself. For the present it is impossible for a member of the tribe to imagine an initiation without clitordectomy (FGM). Therefore, the abolition of the surgical element in this custom means to the Gikuyu the abolition of the whole institution.”
This gets to the core of it. It’s an essential part of your tribal definition, as a woman. It’s a teenage rite of passage to adulthood. We don’t have that here. There’s almost nothing we can compare it too. Our male tribalism is confined to which football team you support! Or what political party! Or a kneejerk patriotism whenever our country goes to war on another.What else? Your first sex? Passing your driving test? There’s no comparison.
And it’s not as if women didn’t have enough to put up with in the normal scheme of bodily processes either.
I remain amazed that Egypt, surely one of Africa’s more progressive countries, has a FGM rate of 90%. The same Inde article announces 1242 new cases of FGM in the UK in the first 3 months of this year. If this is still done here for tribal reasons – what is the male equivalent? What torture or mutilation do the teenage boys go through?
Egypt has raised sentencing for FGM to 5-7 years for perpetrators.
It’s time to put these negative tribal practices behind us, as a species.
Here’s Arnie Gundersen, top commentator on the unparalleled Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Arnie cites 2 recent reports, one by Japanese medics and one by TEPCO, the energy company responsible. These admit there will be numerous cancers developing in Japan due to the radiation from the triple meltdown. TEPCO has admitted a first case of cancer among one of its longterm employees.
Arnie and many others predicts at least 100,000 and as many as one million more cancers across Japan to come due to the accident
Thyroid cancer is running at 230 x higher than normal in Fukushima Prefecture, according to one report. Many more cases are expected to be discovered over the next 5 years.
These illnesses are inevitable due to exposure to radiation.
Moreover, Japan and the IAEA have a series of mathematical formulae which predict the cancer risks – and systematically underestimate them.
Nuclear power is internationally promoted and protected by the IAEA. One systemic problem is that the WHO cannot comment on radiation matters by agreement! So it is left to the top industry commission to comment.
The other problem is this: thee events weren’t supposed to be able to happen! But they did. This is the worst failure of the nuclear power industry. Instead of leaving it to the Japanese government and TEPCO to solve this, this is an international problem which demands an international response to get even close to picking up the pieces. This is because to do it properly would wreck the Japanese economy. this is essentially why Germany has renounced nuclear. However, a million extra cancers is a good reason too! Neither should Japan and TEPCO have to underwrite the costs. There is an onus on the international nuclear industry and on the international nuclear community too to clean up its mess – on behalf of Japan, its people, the people of other countries affected, and indeed the planet.
The field at the end of Ella Street, [ HU5 3AH ], simply called The Field, is close to where the famous Jack Kaye shop was and accessible down Jack Kaye Walk. It has been used for a great many years by local people and many people want to maintain this community asset.
The council proposes to build 86 homes on it. The Plan is up for discussion soon, so raise your objections to the Planning Committee.
Below is a petition that can be printed off, for the locality, and also an Individual Response form to send in your personal objection.
Return to planning firstname.lastname@example.org
It was a deep privilege to be the first from the Hull group to make it to Calais for the relief of refugees there. I went with the chair of the group, Maud, and a car packed to the gunwales with sleeping bags, tents, warm clothes, shoes, coats, and so on, all donated by people in Hull and area particularly in the light of the Syria crisis. The Syrian civil war has claimed over 220,000 lives and displaced some 11 million people, nearly half the population.
The vast majority are in countries neighbouring Syria such as Lebanon and Jordan, Turkey too. One Jordan camp has 80,000 in it. For those with the means and the courage, the countries of Europe are the goal. The camps in Calais are for the most part made up of the men, maybe 90%, and the remaining 10% women and children. Many of the women and children are in camps in Greece we were to learn.
About a third of those who have made it to Calais apply for refugee status in France, Others are determined to make it to Britain but have met even further obstacles despite their perilous journey so far. Cameron’s contribution has been to build even higher fences at enormous expense topped with barbed wire. These people won’t be among the 4000 a year he has pledged to take.
Here’s the Calais lighthouse. Over to the left is a church where 20 or so Syrian men had made camp and were sheltering in the porch. We asked them if they needed anything and they said no. Maybe the locals have been rallying around. However, the following Monday the police moved them all on, together with another 30 or so in a grassy area near the church, and another 30-ish by a warehouse loading bay – all into the giant “jongle” camp by the motorway.
We delivered to a smaller camp that we found, and with the help of a French family also delivering that day, we handed out everything that we had brought – and went off to get some more with money that the group had raised and we had left to spend!
These men, women and children are as much victims of war as anyone in the conflict. And neither are Britain’s hands clean here either, where we are almost certainly involved in helping the civil war to kick off, and where we have major responsibility in setting the Middle East on fire with the most immoral war so far this century – Iraq.
Someone worked out that the number of Syrians destined for Hull, by ratio, would be about 9 or 16 or so per year. Hull has an ancient history of helping others fleeing war and persecution. We’ll be no different this time and already a good dozen people have offered rooms for refugees. Someone who gains refugee status, technically, is provided for through housing benefit etc. But there remain needy people who fall through the gaps and could end up destitute.
Now we have sent three vans to Calais. All the goods were well received, and the needs remain as great as ever as winter approaches. Meanwhile Syria, Assad, Isis, the refugees, all are political footballs, while major powers like America and Britain, as well as Russia, decide what to do. Not setting fire to countries would be a good start.
Socialism is coming to mean ‘anything that firms can’t make a profit from’.
The term ‘Socialised medicine’ is a common US term to stand for such as the NHS, where healthcare is provided free when needed, and paid for by all through background taxation. In arch-capitalist America, it is usually as a slander term as their political class is dominated by corporate money looking for the last few vestiges of human life left to exploit.
That usage is beginning to happen over here. However, it’s a problem because it defines the discourse in terms of what big business wants, or doesn’t want. And that’s not what the focus of socialism is (or isn’t).
More precisely socialism is the workers’ control of the means of production. We can understand how a cooperative fulfills that definition. A mutual society is another example of where that can happen, eg a credit union. some of these have been going a long time now so it’s no great surprise that any number have been floated at which time they’re not owned by workers anymore, generally, but the 1% who own the vast majority of stocks and shares.
Most of the items below, for example, don’t apply because they’re infrastructure. Infrastructure is not the type of thing you are supposed to make money out of! It is obvious that they are the benefit of all and they are also usually prohibitively expensive so it makes sense for the state – on behalf of all – to foot the bill. When you start to look around at infrastructure to see how it can be privatised for corporate gain, that’s a good sign of corporate capture – that your politicians are being bought and paid for by capital, centralised evonomic power, also known as the wealthy.
So it’s in their interests to demonise socialism and describe it as in the way and to be annihilated. So socialism is coming to mean ‘anything that firms can’t make a profit from’.
But who, and what countries, would want private corporations to make tons of money off infrastructure!? Obviously involving business is going to push up costs! There’s no economies of scale, there’s shareholders to pay off, more expensive loans to service. That is, unless you can show, or claim by owning the media, that publicly provided goods and services are inefficient or overly expensive through unionised wage claims, or whatever.
It’s obviously going to cost more and grossly unfair on those who might suddenly have to pay for medical prescriptions or for road tolls, etc.
But it’s not unknown in the UK. Our very own health system, under Blair in particular, but predating him, invited and used corporate money to fund a large number of projects, called PFI, now thought to be going to cost the NHS some £300bn by the time it’s (planned to be) paid back.
Now you don’t have to be a country with a NHS to regard hospitals as infrastructure, but inviting corporations to have a slice of the action is the essence of corporatising infrastructure, which we’ve also seen with schools and other public-private schemes.
Bosses, as a class generally, already have control of the means of production, but control of infrastructure enables not only control of production but control of the means of a civilised life.
If socialism is reduced to who runs a service, and then demonised by big business, then the debate becomes, You don’t want to control roads, bridges and traffic lights, do you? And the answer becomes, Yes! Because then they can charge for them, like toll roads, or like corporations charge for each medication.
This is as good adefinition of the economic centre ground as any. It’s also a mark of how far to the right the UK has been pushed, since Thatcher, to look at how many utilities and services have been privatised, train companies too, and the interminable slicing up of the NHS to get privatisation by stealth ,despite every claim to the contrary.
For socialism, the question is what do the workers want, not what do the bosses want! The disadvantage is that we have daily media telling the workers precisely what they should think! I suppose this is one price we pay in an arch-capitalist nation, but discovering what workers really do want, not a hard thing in a highly polled society, will be a step forward.
I wrote a blog piece once, looking at food in Britain, how much we could grow, and whether we were food dependent.
We were ok! We grow a lot, we could grow a lot more. We could also say Britain is food inter-dependent, as we trade a lot. Food in, food out, and as the planet’s 6th richest country, we can always buy ourselves out of trouble.
In other places, many people naturally want to escape famine, or drought, let alone war, or even just poverty in general. Not everyone does. Not everyone can.
The most interesting thing is that global food production has always outstripped population growth. So Malthus was onto a loser. However, humans have many more impacts. We may not be able to outrun the overall chaos we create – nuclear weapons, continuing major power wars, climate change, pollution – and most of these in pursuit of even greater inequality.
The saddest thing is that, with all our achievements, we think that’s acceptable, capitalism’s ‘collateral damage’. (Not necessarily picking on capitalism, just that we’re told it’s ‘won’ and it’s the ‘end of history’. I don’t think that’s true. It would be depressingly sad if humanity can’t come up with a better balance).
There are tragic consequences to accepting this. Indeed, some aren’t able to outrun these things as we speak – the 21,000 who starve to death a day, the 30,000 a day who die from simple diseases. A large number of them children.
And in the pursuit of profit, we miss out on all the other ‘life-game’ factors that humanity must consider: how should resources be used: limited fossil fuels, highly oil dependent agriculture and transport, potable water.
Then there’s the life-game factors we don’t consider: for many people it’s climate change, or the never-far prospects for nuclear war, or losing your job, or savings, or the next (predictable) economic downturn, let alone the sort of species die-off we’re seeing in the industrial age and the implications this has for us as we cut our own throats, oblivious.
Things we need to do well:
None of this is beyond us! Even global population: we could fit the whole human world into Texas, with the density of New York. (But who’d want either the climate of Texas or the density of New York?)
Yet, intuitively we know it could be done, there’s no particular limit to how big a city can grow (though we probably ought to think of some!)
If we don’t being to think differently, we will simply hit multiple brick walls this century: fossil fuel depletion, species extinction, marine life collapse, industrial agriculture expense, climate effects – let alone things like the banking crisis, totally of our own making!
A friend of mine coined the term ‘overdeveloped’ countries back in the 90s.
The world is suffering most, not from war-torn countries or from refugees, but from the overdeveloped countries.