Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Genoa G8 trials and Their Aftermath

A short but perceptive analysis of the trials of both police and protestors and their different outcomes, by Yasha Maccanico, is one of the the main articles in the latest Statewatch News:

"The events of 19-21 July 2001 represent a wake-up call in terms of the brutality of policing and preemptive criminalisation used against a mass popular and international demonstration. It resulted in the death of protester Carlo Giuliani and in thousands of people from the European Union and beyond experiencing an array of repressive measures. These measures included temporary detention in humiliating circumstances and physical violence. The two key trials of police officers concerned events at the Bolzaneto barracks, which was turned into a make-shift prison to hold protesters for the duration of the summit, and the Diaz school. The school was used as a dormitory, where a late-night police raid, justified on the basis of fabricated evidence (a Molotov cocktail brought into the school by police officers), and spurious claims (for instance “the presence of black tops”) resulted in injuries to scores of protesters, many of whom were sleeping when they were attacked."

The full nine page article is available as a pdf download from Statewatch:

Monday, March 16, 2009

Debt: the First Five Thousand Years

Anthropologist David Graeber examines the origins of money and debt and the relationship both have to violence in this essay on MetaMute:

"Commodity money, particularly in the form of gold and silver, is distinguished from credit money most of all by one spectacular feature: it can be stolen. Since an ingot of gold or silver is an object without a pedigree, throughout much of history bullion has served the same role as the contemporary drug dealer’s suitcase full of dollar bills, as an object without a history that will be accepted in exchange for other valuables just about anywhere, with no questions asked. As a result, one can see the last 5 thousand years of human history as the history of a kind of alternation. Credit systems seem to arise, and to become dominant, in periods of relative social peace, across networks of trust, whether created by states or, in most periods, transnational institutions, whilst precious metals replace them in periods characterised by widespread plunder. Predatory lending systems certainly exist at every period, but they seem to have had the most damaging effects in periods when money was most easily convertible into cash."

The Dirty Thirty: Heroes of the Miner's Strike

During the Miner's Strike of 1984-85 only 30 miners out of 2,000 from the Leicestershire coalfield went on strike against the programme of pit closures. They became known as the "Dirty Thirty" and travelled the world arguing their case, and raising money to enable the strike to continue. Five Leaves press is publishing a new book about these 30 courageous men and the women's support group that backed them in their struggle. Written by David Bell and based on interviews with most of the surviving miner's and the support, The Dirty Thirty is illustrated with photographs and ephemera from the strike.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

New Naturalist

Richard Mabey examines the history of the New Naturalist series in The Guardian, and recounts some of the most seductive descriptions in past volumes, before suggesting how the series might be developed in future years:

"This is not to wish the NN to be something entirely different, or to join the kind of largely autobiographical, lyrically tinged work now clunkingly known as "nature writing". It is to ask whether the series really fulfilled its high purpose of making the inquiring spirit of field biology available to a wide public."

Friday, March 13, 2009

Bruce Sterling

Darren Waters interviews science fiction writer Bruce Sterling on the BBC website:

"The difficulty with interviewing Bruce Sterling is knowing where to start. His interests range from literature and design culture, to futurism, political activism, micro and macro economics, technology and 11th Century writers."
"Sterling is not looking to produce manifestos of the future to try and corral people into making change, despite his strong activist feelings around issues such as the global economy and climate change. He says "I like ideas as abstract constructs. I don't fancy myself as political organiser.

"I am too literary and poetic to be an organiser or rabble rouser. I am an attention philanthropist, always pointing to stuff other people are doing."