susanreads: Dreamsheep with UK flag (UK sheep)
I know, you don't hear from me for months on end... If any UK people are reading this (yes, I posted it to [community profile] uk too) ... VOTE this Thursday, i.e. tomorrow (assuming you're registered; it's too late now if not).

The Guardian's guide to the practicalities (link courtesy of [personal profile] rydra_wong)

tactical voting guide (of course, you might know better; I disagree with them about Colchester, where I'm far from the only person who will never vote again for the former MP who voted for the Health and Social Care Act 2012).

If you already know who you want to vote for and you're certain they won't win, or that they'll win easily and don't need your vote, vote anyway! On the one hand, several recent elections and referenda prove that nobody knows anything in politics nowadays; on the other, one day electoral reform will be debated in Parliament again and the more egregious the gap between votes and seats is, the more seriously they might take it. If you don't vote, you will be ignored.
susanreads: my avatar, a white woman with brown hair and glasses (Default)
ISDS: Invester State Dispute Settlement mechanism, a system of courts run by corporate lawyers in which companies can sue governments, outside of the normal judicial process, when they claim to have been discriminated against. Apologists for the mechanism say its purpose is to protect firms when government unfairly favour domestic firms over foreign ones, or expropriate their property. That's not how it's actually used.

TTIP: Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, a big trade deal currently being negotiated between the US and the EU (see also TPP (US and Pacific countries), CETA (Canada and EU)). Includes ISDS mechanism.

Promoters say TTIP will be good for the economy and create jobs, but of course it will destroy jobs and only be good for some big firms that are doing well in the economy already, because that's how these trade deals work, from NAFTA onwards (and maybe before that, before my time). But if ISDS stays in it'll be even worse: a danger to all our public services and a benefit to no-one except evil multinationals.

A case in point: Canadian-Australian company OceanaGold wants to open a gold mine in El Salvador, which would pollute the country's remaining clean water (90% of their water is already contaminated). El Salvador rejected the mine, so the company is suing them at ICSID (International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes), a World Bank tribunal. This is the sort of thing ISDS will be used for if we don't stop it. More detail from The Guardian.

There's a petition to the World Bank to drop the case against El Salvador at Sum of Us, and you can join the fight against TTIP in the UK at noTTIP.
susanreads: Dreamsheep with UK flag (UK sheep)
How many issues have the Greens, the Liberal Democrats, UKIP, the SNP and Plaid Cymru all in agreement?

If you're in the UK, pretty much whoever you voted for, you've probably noticed that our voting system is a big mess. The Electoral Reform Society and Unlock Democracy are running a joint campaign to do something about it, with a petition which is to be handed in on May 18th: Make Seats Match Votes.
susanreads: People of pallor against racism: text on brown gradient (anti-racism)
... well, the best at-a-glance commentary on the dickery in question that I've noticed, anyhow.

This might be a strange topic for my first post in months, and I've got a horrible cold and had a very bad night and thought posting was a few levels of engagement above what I'm currently capable of; but I saw this and it got my brain in gear. Posted on someone's tumblr that I follow by RSS (not being on Tumblr), I've traced it to its source, which is Monday's chainsawsuit comic.

I don't know whether it's embeddable; there's a feed here, [syndicated profile] chainsawsuit_feed (which has a lot of other things on it as well as the comics; also, sometimes NSFW). Transcript by me:
1) Two people, the one with a self-satisfied grin says "well i think that all lives matter".
2) The person with the self-satisfied grin is holding a fire hose. "we should care exactly equally at all times about everything".
3) There are two originally-identical houses, one of which is on fire in a major way. The person with the fire hose, saying "all houses matter", is hosing down the house that isn't on fire.

Unusually for the internet, Kris Straub's commentariat mostly seem to get it, though as you go further down that becomes less so ...

(Since I'm not on Twitter, I wouldn't know what they were talking about if I didn't follow This Week In Blackness. Panel 0 would be the Twitter hashtag #BlackLivesMatter.)
susanreads: One Red Drop: Cuts hurt when its you thats bleeding (benefit cuts)
I've had this earworm stuck in my head all day. Oddly, I managed to avoid it yesterday, but this morning, there it was. It might be less annoying if I could remember all of it - even after looking up the lyrics this afternoon, I forget what comes after "Below, below, below" ...

I shouldn't be celebrating the death of the Wicked Witch of the West, not because that's icky (she did enough damage not to be forgiven for a hundred years), but because her legacy is still with us. Her current heirs and assigns are doing their best to finish the job of destroying the society she didn't believe in ...
digression about that )
... and in her wildest dreams, I don't suppose she imagined they'd get away with privatising the NHS, but here we are.

I found a site about positive things we can do to remember the people her government attacked, but I can't get that song out of my head ...
Sing it high
Sing it low
Let them know the wicked witch is dead.
susanreads: Dreamsheep with UK flag (UK sheep)
I doubt anyone reads me who doesn't already know about the Tories' plans, in the Health and Social Care Bill, to destroy the NHS. 38 Degrees have put up billboards to publicise the danger, and you can download posters and leaflets at their blog. It appears that the govt. will try to push the Bill through the Lords tomorrow (19th March), then back to the Commons for the last time. A lot of Lib.Dem. and cross-bench Peers, and Lib.Dem. MPs, seem to have been bought off with minor changes that don't affect the crucial elements of the Bill: privatisation, postcode lotteries and even more red tape getting in the way of staff doing their jobs. The TUC's Going to Work campaign has a tool for you to "adopt" a member of the House of Lords, to ask for their support for an amendment delaying the Bill, as well as the usual write-to-your-MP mechanisms.
susanreads: my avatar, a white woman with brown hair and glasses (Default)
This week, President Obama decided to order an in-depth review of the Keystone XL pipeline. Campaigners, assuming the review will be honest, reckon this means the pipeline will never be built. More detail at the currently-top blog post on the Tar Sands Action site. Meanwhile, I was directed to the pledge page, where there's an embedded video. Transcript under the cut. )
susanreads: Dreamsheep with UK flag (UK sheep)
From a post on Liberal Conspiracy:
The bill is expected this autumn.

If it passes, the private sector, as well as the voluntary sector, will be encouraged to bid to run schools, youth centres, care homes, libraries.

Every public service – except the military and judiciary – will be on offer to companies whose first priority is to make a profit.

So it looks as if they're not even waiting to see whether they get away with selling off the NHS before doing what they obviously wanted to do all along.

I don't have the energy to write my own rant, so I'll quote what cartoonist Darryl Cunningham wrote about the Tories and the economy:
We don't have left-wing parties in the UK. What we have instead are three right-wing parties, one of which has a radical ultra-right arm, who are obsessed with free-market monetarist policies beyond the point of common sense. [...] There is no society in their philosophy, just a collection of individuals competing against one another.


Britain's economy has barely grown since the austerity measures began. We have the highest level of unemployment in fifteen years. The government has slashed public-sector jobs, putting more than 100, 000 people out of work. These deficit-reduction policies have failed to revive the business confidence that was supposed to encourage private-sector hiring. No effort has been made to stimulate growth by spending, because this runs counter to the right's myth that all government spending is wasteful and harmful.

This is blundering idiocy. Any fool can see that these policies are driving the country into the ground, but our glorious leaders are so wrapped up in their dogma, that they'd rather destroy the economy for a generation, than admit they're wrong.
susanreads: my avatar, a white woman with brown hair and glasses (Default)
I missed my self-imposed deadline for posting. I'm pushing a lot of self-imposed deadlines lately, but they're either too routine to write about or specific to my other ID.

That doesn't stop me listening to podcasts and playing browser games, doh.

I could blame the season, but actually I can sleep late at any time of the year.

There are a number of things that would make me angry if I thought about them, so I'm not thinking about them; also, other people have written about them better. Cameron's government actively ruining the economy for everybody but their rich friends! Rape culture! Colonial wars thinly disguised as something else! Tabloid attacks on anybody who can't fight back! You know all that already, yeah? People claiming to speak for the 99% are refusing to listen to people from groups that make up most of that proportion (example, see also comments)? I can't be bothered to pretend to be surprised.
susanreads: One Red Drop: Cuts hurt when its you thats bleeding (benefit cuts)
1. March for the Alternative

I feel somewhat guilty that I'm not planning to go to this, but I decided a few years ago that my marching days are over. cut for me me me me )

2. WWF's Earth Hour

This one is easy. Though this hypocrite inclines me to think it's not actually useful. WTF, WWF? If Cameron agrees with you, you must be doing something wrong.
susanreads: Dreamsheep with UK flag (UK sheep)
The British election system is broken.

The system we'll be asked to vote for or against on May 5th is AV, Alternative Vote, also known as Instant Runoff. It's the system used (with added bells and whistles) in voting for the Hugos and such fannish elections as TAFF. You rank the candidates in order of preference and the ones with fewest votes are eliminated until one candidate has more people-who-prefer-that-candidate-over-the-rest than all the rest. In fannish elections it's referred to as STV, Single Transferable Vote, but apparently in politics that's the name for something more complicated.

The No campaign want to keep FPTP, First Past the Post. Their main argument seems to be the supposed extra cost of AV, which is a blatant lie.

Cut for length. If you're a UK voter, please read )
susanreads: my avatar, a white woman with brown hair and glasses (Default)
It's Helen Keller Day on Second Life, and for those of us who don't hang out there, FWD is hosting a Mythbusting Blogswarm. Until recently I only knew the usual story about how "miracle worker" Anne Sullivan taught Helen to communicate. Her life after that isn't so widely publicised, possibly because she grew up to have opinions of her own and be a political activist. "Inspiring" stories of "overcoming" disability is one thing; real women with Opinions is something else.

From Wikipedia:
Keller went on to become a world-famous speaker and author. She is remembered as an advocate for people with disabilities amid numerous other causes. She was a suffragist, a pacifist, an opponent of Woodrow Wilson, a radical Socialist and a birth control supporter. In 1915 she and George Kessler founded the Helen Keller International (HKI) organization. This organization is devoted to research in vision, health and nutrition. In 1920 she helped to found the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

She also wrote books, and articles, including How I Became a Socialist, which includes her response to an article that assumed she had "imbibed such opinions" from "Mrs. John Macy" (Anne Sullivan):
Mr. Macy may be an enthusiastic Marxist propagandist, though I am sorry to say he has not shown much enthusiasm in propagating his Marxism through my fingers. Mrs. Macy is not a Marxist, nor a socialist. Therefore what the Common Cause says about her is not true. The editor must have invented that, made it out of whole cloth, and if that is the way his mind works, it is no wonder that he is opposed to socialism. He has not sufficient sense of fact to be a socialist or anything else intellectually worthwhile.
I think she would do well in Bloglandia!

More posts about Helen Keller can be found at the blogswarm master post. Some of her political writing is online at the Helen Keller Reference Archive.

I seem to have used rather a lot of scare quotes here.


susanreads: my avatar, a white woman with brown hair and glasses (Default)


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