Tuesday, 27 January 2009


The worldwide financial crisis has led to the collapse of the Government in Iceland: (http://tinyurl.com/c3wl7d)

I have no sympathy whatsoever for greedy bankers, business figures and politicians. The plight of the Icelandic people, however, is a completely unneccessary tragedy which has been wrought by the same free-market policies that have caused chaos across the world. Iceland was doing fine until the state-owned banks were sold cheaply to cronies of the right wing parties. They engaged in the same casino banking that we have seen elsewhere in the world, with ridiculous leverages and complex financial products. We all know it went pear-shaped when the economic crisis hit and the banks could no longer borrow money and Western allies who have previously been happy to use Iceland as a military base refused to give any assistance. Furthermore, Gordon Brown used anti-terrorist legislation to bully Iceland. So Iceland goes from ally to terrorist state in a roll of the dice.

Icelandic people have been protesting at least weekly outside the Althingi parliament building and recently the protests have become more violent. The police have used pepper spray and clubs and reportedly arrested an 11-year-old boy. I hope the Government fell today because of the protests and not because they want out before the currency is next floated.

It will be interesting to see what kind of coalition there is, or whether it will be a National Government. I suppose whoever ends up in power will be tied into the undoubtedly punishing International Monetary Fund loan conditions that the outgoing Government signed up to?

If the Government can no longer govern, it seems wrong that people in Iceland should have to wait until May to go to the polls. They should be allowed to vote for a new Government as soon as possible. It will be interesting to see how the left-greens fare in any coalition or election. Will we see a Western democracy reject capitalism and embrace socialism?

This blog provides translations of news reports in Iceland: http://newsfrettir.com/alive/

The blogger does not seem to be particularly socialist or feminist, but nevertheless she gives a poignant account of the fear and confusion and the completely unneccessary destruction of the security, living standards and hopes and dreams of ordinary people caused by this latest crisis of capitalism.

We have a world with the resources to meet the needs of every living person, but because of the crazy capitalist system we do not have an efficient way to match the resources to peoples' needs. People in Iceland are worrying themselves to the point of illness in order to make rising astronomical payments on loans and mortgages. Yet they are having to call in sick for work as they cannot afford transport to get there. Homes stand empty while people sleep in a Salvation Army Hostel. The number of people requiring food aid has doubled and food prices are rising.

What kind of a system gives people the third highest per capita income in the world, then a couple of years later has them on food aid? The useless capitalist system.

Here are a few other blogs regarding Iceland:




And here is an article from the Times which gives some of the history of Iceland:


And lastly, here is a picture that makes the timeless point that under the capitalist system, ordinary people are always forced to pay for the greed of the wealthy.

Thursday, 22 January 2009


This story concerns the case of nine Glasgow fire-fighters who refused to attend a gay pride march in Glasgow in 2006 in uniform and hand out fire safety leaflets. They were disciplined and had to attend diversity training. One man was demoted and had his wages cut by £5000. The fireman who has received an out of court settlement took his case to an employment tribunal on the grounds that attending the gay pride march was against his Catholic religious views.

On a Radio Scotland phone-in today I was not surprised to hear some of the callers indulge in homophobia, describing the lifestyle of homosexuals as “disgusting”. The Catholic Church has also been prominent in the media today, ensuring that the voice of religious conservatives is heard.

The fire-fighters’ main concerns seem to be that attending the gay pride march was against their moral beliefs, or that they were scared to attend the march in uniform in case they were embarrassed or sexually harassed. There also seems to be a view amongst the public that fire-fighters are there to fight fires and fire prevention is not part of their core duties. Obviously I have not seen their job descriptions, but I would think that preventing fires and giving safety advice should be a core part of their role.

LGBT people may be somewhat excluded from fire safety campaigns, because they may be afraid to contact home safety initiatives or let advisers into their homes, as they may be fearful of drawing attention to their sexual orientation. The Pride Scotia rally presented an excellent opportunity to engage with people who might otherwise miss out on home safety advice.

I do think management were heavy-handed in how they dealt with this. They had options like asking for volunteers to attend the gay pride event initially, while sending all staff on diversity training. They could then discipline people if necessary if, after receiving diversity training, they refused to give fire prevention advice at the gay pride rally the following year. They could have allowed the fire-fighters to give out the leaflets wearing civilian clothes.

It raises a controversial aspect of trade union work. Should the FBU defend and represent the fire-fighters, as every worker is entitled to representation? What about the rights of LGBT fire-fighters who are also trade union members? How do they feel about paying subs to defend the rights of workers who refused to engage with gay people?

When I heard about the Catholic fire-fighter receiving damages I perhaps fleetingly thought about taking my employer to a tribunal. For 20 years as a female nurse, I have actually been subjected to all manner of sexual harassment and abuse from patients and relatives, as I imparted health and safety information wearing my nurse’s uniform. I also thought about all the people whose lifestyles offend my morality – the gangsters, murderers, rapists, paedophiles, religious fundamentalists, the far-right, racists…….I could go on an on. Maybe I can refuse to give health promotion to these people because being associated with them is embarrassing, or offends my morality? Or maybe I can refuse to give any health promotion in a situation where a man “might” sexually harass me? And who do I claim damages against when I feel demeaned walking past Ann Summers shops on every High Street in the nation, with the naughty nurse outfits in the window?

Do you think people would phone up radio shows defending me, saying I had every right to make moral choices about who I, as a public service worker engage with? Would they say I had every right to refuse to give health promotion to men because they “might” sexually harass or humiliate me? Would people call in claiming saving lives is my core job and I can just ditch the other stuff in my job description when I feel like it?

No, I thought not. I’m a woman doing women’s work so it’s different, eh?

You know I never seriously thought of claiming damages for being sexually harassed by patients and relatives, or of refusing to promote health in groups I am morally opposed to. Why? Because even when people oppress or offend me, I strongly believe they have a right to equal treatment. Equality - that’s what public service is all about.

Here are two links about this story from the BBC.



Wednesday, 21 January 2009

I Can't Be Bothered with Obamamania and the Economy. Let's Play Bingo!

I really can't talk about Obamamania or the economic woes. It's all too big and too wrong and too depressing.

I really wish I could believe in Obama, but his reluctance to speak out over Gaza and his choice of aides confirmed my fears. He hasn't got a hope of making capitalism slightly nicer in this economic climate. We face the real prospect of countries going bankrupt. That will be something to behold, if the UK gets the same treatment from the IMF that poorer countries have previously been forced to endure.

Ordinary people need to find their voices and use their power or we are going to be stomped on, as those who have lost their jobs and their homes are already discovering. We see more and more bailouts for the rich without any democratic oversight or guarantees for the rest of us. There is no reason whatsoever to continue to believe the discredited theory of trickle down wealth, that these bailouts will somehow trickle down to us ordinary mortals.

Governments lie all the time and the UK government is especially good at it, as the military personel who were involved in the A and H Bomb tests in the 1950s have discovered. First governments told them to wait until there was a body of scientific evidence that being present at the tests harmed their health. Now that they have waited for the evidence to become available the Ministry of Defence is argueing that they left it too long to make their claims and the issue is time-barred. In all things Governments can only get away with their repulsive cynicism because they are sure we will be angry and disgusted, but not angry and disgusted enough to act.

I'm so glad I found the following blog: Hoyden About Town (http://viv.id.au/blog/) which makes serious points, yet is amusing. I particularly enjoyed feminist bingo. My goodness I can think of lots of opportunities to play this!

And here's more:

You may have to left click on the second image to see it clearly. My absolute favourite is: "I have a friend who is a woman and she thinks you are wrong." Oh well then, I'll just shut up!

Monday, 12 January 2009

No we didn't misunderestimate you.....

.....we just lost count of the bodies, the bailout swindles and the callous acts.

We will never forget you reading "my little donkey" before you destabilised the world by attacking Afghanistan. The horror you unleashed in Iraq, Abu Ghraib, Fallujah - we can't forget. We will always remember you for legitimising torture and illegal wars. Now the Israeli Government is out of control in Gaza, following your example.
And thanks so much for making us all complicit, by using our airports for your ghastly torture flights to your illegal prisons.
We remember all the graft and the dodgy contracts, selling off the belongings of the Iraqi people to your corrupt buddies.
We will never forget New Orleans and the missed opportunities to prevent the disaster. The stink will never leave you, for the way you privatised or demolished every public thing, while you exiled and abandoned the surviving residents to far-flung trailer camps.
Your attacks on women's rights are such an affront. Who could fail to be moved by your compassion for unborn foetuses? It's a shame your compassion never extended to the babies whose deaths you caused from illegal war or grinding poverty.
The wrecked world economy is testament to the greed of men like you.

I will say this for you. You were a true class-fighter. Pinochet, Thatcher, Friedman etc would all be so proud of you.
I hope people decide it's time for real change, not just a fresh face. We need a huge army of our own class-fighters to take your class on!

Sunday, 11 January 2009

There is nothing I can say.....

There is nothing I could ever say to express my horror at events in Gaza, that has not already been said much better by courageous people who have my respect.

This link to an article by the campaigning left-wing journalist John Pilger gives an excellent uncensored summary to the history of the conflict: http://tinyurl.com/8q5sa3

I would just add that the original idea of Jews having their own nation was not dependant on the Nazi holocaust. The campaign for a Zionist state started several decades earlier and it depended on the imperialist concept of "Terra Nullis" - literally "uninhabited territory", for its legitimacy. This idea that there was nobody there before the settlers arrived, or that they weren't using the land (in the way white settlers would consider useful), has been used to steal land and oppress native inhabitants in the USA, Canada and Australia.

Here is one graphic picture of the horror Palestinians are being subjected to in Gaza, so we never forget:

And here is a pictures of people demonstrating in Edinburgh against the slaughter in Gaza. Some of the demonstrators are my friends in the Scottish Socialist Party.

And lastly, here is a woman resisting the Israeli military. Her humanity is a beacon of hope. I salute the courage of people resisting imperialist oppression in Gaza and elsewhere in the world:

Friday, 9 January 2009

Dr Maleficence Wants His Kidney Back

A New York doctor who donated a kidney to his wife is demanding the return of the kidney, or its' monetary value, as part of a divorce settlement.

Dr Richard Batista still recalls the day after the surgery took place:

"There is no greater feeling on this planet. As God is my witness, I felt as if I could put my arm around Jesus Christ. It was an unbelievable; I was walking on a cloud. To this day I would still do it again." (from http://tinyurl.com/7yznvw)

He may be an angry and controlling man and is displaying classic signs of being an abuser. His sense of entitlement is evident in his quotes on the internet :(http://tinyurl.com/8axo9t or http://tinyurl.com/9wtsjr or http://tinyurl.com/9nwjys). His kidney, his wife whose love he is entitled to forever or else, his children he has a right to see, no matter what the circumstances.

He has accused his estranged wife Dawnell of infidelity, but false allegations of infidelity are common in abuse. He has also criticised her for refusing marriage guidance counselling. Interestingly, this form of counselling is totally contraindicated in abuse, as the abuser often uses it as an opportunity to perpetuate the abuse.

As an MD, he of all people will understand medical ethics and the principle of nonmaleficence (http://tinyurl.com/a59w8g), to do no harm. So he will be acutely aware that his legal manouevre is a nonsense and no doctor practising legally could remove the kidney from his estranged wife. (Not that this has stopped internet misogynists from calling for "the bitch to wake up in a bath of ice without his kidney"). He will also understand that legally, no monetary value can be exchanged for a donated organ, not even in the domain of privatised medicine in the USA. He even admits that he does not seriously expect to succeed, thereby admitting that the purpose of his case is just to harass, humiliate and bully his ex. It was not part of his initial legal response to the divorce citation, so if he is a controlling man, it could represent an escalation in his attempts to control his former partner. That could make him an extremely dangerous man and I sincerely hope that his estranged wife and those around her understand this.

What an ultimate power trip, that she owes him the gift of life and is beholden to him forever. I wonder if he has used that, to control her? How could anyone believe a wonderful man who donated a kidney to his wife, could be an abuser?

I wonder why his estranged wife took up karate? I wonder if, as he says, and if so why she is restricting his access to the children?

He will have undergone extensive counselling and been given opportunities to change his mind, before he was allowed to donate the kidney. He knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that once the operation took place, the kidney was legally and ethically his wife's. In the initial post-op period, the person who donates is at increased risk of kidney failure and other post-op complications and they are counselled extensively about this, prior to consenting to surgery. After that, the risk of kidney failure in the person who donates is only marginally higher than for anyone with two kidneys. That is why living people are allowed to donate kidneys.

This case has hit the media because the Batistas are wealthy and the doctor can afford lawyers to pursue his ridiculous litigation. But many ordinary women whose cases don't reach the media, are cynically pursued by abusive ex partners who choose to "tie the bitch up in legislation" as a way to extract revenge after separation.

Leaving is a dangerous time for a woman whose partner is abusive. Two women in the UK are murdered every week by partners or ex partners. This is the only time that the cases of ordinary abused women are likely to reach the media. Even then the point is missed, with media claiming that the man lost control, when in fact the problem was that he was too controlling.

I really wish the legal profession and the media would get with it, and stop allowing themselves to be used as tools by abusers.