Gay Pride 2012: A brief report from New York City

July 11, 2012

This report on NY Gay Pride was irst published on the Kasama Project blog. Ish also writes at The Cahokian.

June 24, this last Sunday was the 42nd annual gay pride parade in New York City. The event commemorates the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall uprising in which lesbian, gay and transgender New Yorkers fought back against a police raid against the Stonewall gay bar.

It’s been a long time since what started out as a “march” was officially turned into a “parade.”

The parade is now shorter than it once was: In recent years the parade route was shortened by request of the city of New York, allegedly to save money. The good news is that the parade is still the occasion for queer New Yorkers to celebrate in the streets. Thousands of people marched, thousands more lined the route, and thousands more went down to the Village — no longer really the gayborhood it once was — to party on the streets and piers.

There were plenty of contingents and floats from the dread corporate sponsors, as well as from the usual spectrum of community and religious organizations. Plastic rainbow gewgaws bearing corporate logos piled up in the streets as the parade passed.

Read the rest of this entry »

Against Asset Sales

July 9, 2012

Annette Sykes, Mana President: asset sales and tangata whenua
Ian Anderson, Chair of Mana Rangatahi ki Poneke: public control of assets

Asset sales legislation has passed despite opposition from some 80% of those polled, and up to 88% of tangata whenua. Kai and korero on the fightback at Wellington Library Mezzanine.

July issue of the Spark online

July 9, 2012

Editorial, Byron Clark

The cover of every issue of The Spark contains the slogan ‘For workers power and international socialism’ this issue contains several articles that show how the class struggle is unfolding today. New Zealand has been condemned for the seaborne sweatshops that fish in New Zealand waters. It’s not much better for migrant workers on land either. Two Fijian woman have been exploited as domestic workers in Wellington, an International student was murdered on his first day at work, and it’s possible that the company who contracted him will not face any penalties. There is some good news too though, a victimised union delegate at Southern Paprika Ltd has been reinstated.

There is struggle within the workers movement too. We defend socialist involvement in the struggle to keep assets in public hands, against sectarian criticism levelled at the Workers Party recently. Ian Anderson looks at the issue of equal marriage which is connected to the discussion about recognising the importance of queer rights currently taking place within the Mana Party.

We also look at last month’s budget and publish a follow up to last issues ‘science under capitalism’ article, this time looking at the possibilities for science under a socialist system.

July Spark pdf

Class struggle today: Ports of Auckland & AFFCO disputes

July 7, 2012

Mike Kay

In the first half of 2012 we have seen the bosses attack New Zealand workers in some of their strongest bastions: the Ports of Auckland and the freezing works. In this talk I want to focus on a single aspect of both disputes, namely, the role of iwi in assisting the workers.

This was most pronounced in the Talley’s/ AFFCO dispute, where up to 90% of the union membership is Māori. Also, quite crucially, 40% of beef production at AFFCO comes from Māori trusts. Talley’s must have perceived the defeat suffered by unionists at ANZCO/ CMP in Martin last year as a signal that they too could finish off the union in their plants. After a mere ten hours at the negotiating table Talley’s locked out hundreds of workers who refused to sign Individual Employment Agreements that gave away terms and conditions that had been built up over years.

Now it’s no secret that the leadership of Meat Workers Union struggled to organise the dispute. After 20 years without a major “blue”, they were caught on the hop by Talley’s full frontal assault. They turned to the CTU for help. But it was the involvement of the CTU’s Māori representative body, the Rūnanga, and its Vice President Māori Syd Keepa in particular, that were decisive in turning around the fortunes of the meatworkers. Read the rest of this entry »

Science under socialism: part II

July 5, 2012

Jonas Salk, pioneer of the polio vaccine, who released it free of charge.

In this follow-up to “Science under Capitalism” published in the June issue of The Spark, laboratory technician and Workers Party member Josh Glue considers the possibilities for scientific progress in a future run along socialist lines.

Socialism is the period of movement toward a classless stateless society run through democratic workers control of the means of production, distribution and exchange, coupled with a high level of democratic involvement from all people in decision making at a community level. Science has been driven, efficiently but single-mindedly, by the capitalist system since that system’s beginnings in the wake of the French revolution and the industrial revolution throughout Europe.

We live in a world where poor Indian people die because they can’t afford treatment for the under-studied black fever disease. We live in a world where the millions of sub-saharan Africans with HIV-AIDS can’t afford the life-saving HAART medicine available in the West. We live in a world where a pesticide company’s plant vented toxic gas over a Bhopal slum, killing thousands and leaving thousands more with lung cancer and those victims can’t even get chemotherapy.

But what if profit didn’t motivate scientific research? What if new avenues of research were funded by a free society, without a ruling class to exploit their wealth and with the knowledge that the profits of that research would benefit all equally in that society? Read the rest of this entry »

Examining regional mobility

July 3, 2012

Byron Clark

The recent Australian census revealed that 483,000 New Zealanders are currently living in Australia. 130,000 of them are Maori. The figures have provoked some coverage in the media, including a number of articles quoting William Bourke, the founder and director of the Stable Population Party, which wants an end to the Trans-Tasman Travel agreement that allows New Zealanders to live and work in Australia. The party, with a level of support that sees it lumped in the ‘others’ statistic in polls, represents the most reactionary wing of the environmental movement, those that see the problem as one of ‘too many people’. Another policy is ending parental leave for women having more than two children.

Australian recruitment firms are looking for workers in New Zealand to fill a supposed labour shortage in Western Australia. Over a thousand people have registered for a “fly in, fly out” scheme that would see New Zealanders spend five weeks in Western Australia and then two weeks back home. They would be paid in New Zealand dollars to New Zealand bank accounts. In Kaikohe, an impoverished town in the far North with a population of 4100, one in every six people have signed up to work in Australian mines. 2499 people in and around Kaikohe are receiving an unemployment benefit, so earning prospects of NZ$127,000 to NZ$180,000pa are a huge draw card.

Salaries are well in excess of even what a skilled miner would earn locally, NZ$85,000 and NZ$90,000pa. The work is not easy though- Twelve-hour days, seven days a week in 40 to 50 degree Celsius heat in the middle of the dusty outback. This is the definition of the Australian expression “hard yakka”. Hamilton builder Tim Bennett, 24, who went to work in Western Australia to pay off debt working in exploration drilling told TVNZ that the lifestyle was “miserable”.

“We were lucky if we got to stay in a caravan park. Sometimes it was just tents and a caravan out in the desert.” Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Occupy This Album (2012)

July 1, 2012

Byron Clark

Wired magazine journalist Quinn Norton wrote about the music of the Occupy movement way back in December 2011, stating that “A movement goes nowhere without creating culture as it grows.” ‘Occupy This Album’ seemed almost inevitable. This is the closest thing possible to an official sound track that could come out of this loosely organised and non-hierarchical movement. All proceeds from the album go back to Occupy Wall Street activists.

Ambitiously the album was going to contain 99 tracks, playing on the slogan of “the 99%” that the movement has popularised. The CD version consists of 78 tracks, though the download version contains 99. Big names from previous generations of protest-musicians feature here: Patti Smith, Willie Nelson, Ani DiFranco (singing the union song Which side are you on?), Yoko Ono, and Joan Baez all leant their talents to this project. Even folk legend Pete Seeger- now in his mid-90s appears here, speaking on the track Industrial Park by his grandson’s band ‘The Mammals.’

Alongside those artists are tracks from more contemporary artists. Thievery Corporation and Third Eye Blind are probably the most recognisable names. Leftist punk rockers Anti-Flag, and rapper Immortal Technique are both here, and while the politics is good the heavy punk and hip-hop don’t slot in so well with an album that is mostly folk and progressive rock. Tom Morello, of Rage Against the Machine, now performs ‘World Wide Rebel Songs’ which makes for a better fit. Another great track is English singer-song writer Lloyd Coles The Young Idealists which exemplifies the album’s mood and musical style. Listening to this album you’ll also be exposed to some songs by lesser known artists such as Build the Sun and Jennie Arnau, as well as the novelty of a cover of Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A’Changin’ performed by documentary film maker Michael Moore. Read the rest of this entry »


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