Apartheid Continues In Access to Clean Air

Picture credit: Surrey Travel

Anna Majavu - The ANC government, heavily backed by the DA, has no intention of taking a strong stand against big corporations that pollute the atmosphere. These corporations are confident that they can continue to maintain Black communities in the heavily polluted style to which residents of London were accustomed almost two hundred years ago. Despite a new parliamentary fact finding mission, government simply does not seem to have any interest in finding a way to make sure that Black, working class communities have clean air to breathe.

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Shadow Dancing with Debt: The Credit Ratings Agencies Must Be Reformed

Picture credit: Consilium Glenn Ashton - South African economic prospects have recently been downgraded, yet again, by major credit ratings agencies (CRA's). Over the years, many institutions have reviewed the role of CRA's and there remains profound ambivalence about their lack of independence. There was a degree of schadenfreude when various EU institutions howled about the downgrading of Greece, Ireland and Portugal to junk status by the CRA's after the 2009 financial meltdown, while equally speculative calls by the agencies on developing nations like Argentina, Ukraine and now South Africa are ignored. It appears that the erosion of southern institutions stands to benefit first world capital markets by reducing the value of essential commodities like land, metals, energy and labour.

What 'Free Trade' Has Done to Central America

Picture credit: The Canadian Manuel Perez-Rocha & Julia Paley - A decade ago hundreds of thousands of protesters filled Central America's streets warning of unemployment, poverty, hunger, pollution and diminished national sovereignty that could result if a free trade agreement were approved. Ten years after the approval of the agreement many of the effects they warned about can be seen. Overall economic indicators in the region have been poor, with some governments unable to provide basic services to the population. Farmers have been displaced and amid significant levels of unemployment, labour abuses continue. Workers in export assembly plants suffer poor working conditions and low wages, and natural resource extraction has proceeded with few protections for the environment.

Is the NDR Really a Formula for Radical Change?

Picture credit: COSATU Secretary General Zwelizima Vavi, President Jacob Zuma and COSATU President Sdumo Dlamini courtesy GovernmentZA/flickr Steven Friedman - Why is an idea, which featured in Marxist debates decades ago now thrown about by all sides in mainstream public debates? Why is it used by both sides in the dispute wracking Cosatu? The idea - or slogan - is 'national democratic revolution' (NDR). Both those who supported Numsa's removal from Cosatu and Numsa itself say they support the NDR. But, as we watch the rift in Cosatu develop, the key question is whether it will initiate an attempt to break with apartheid-era patterns, which supporters of the NDR say they want or remain a slogan designed to score points, not a recipe for change.

Numsa's United Front: Forward to the Past?

Picture credit: Numsa Jane Duncan - Numsa has been exploring political alternatives for the past year. In pursuing a United Front, the union claims to uphold socialist ideas in the Marxist-Leninist tradition, although it also recognises the importance of a diversity of political thought. But, it also invokes received ideas from a particular tradition in liberation politics. Numsa has called for the country to return to the National Democratic Revolution (NDR), guided by a very familiar and much revered document from South Africa's history, the Freedom Charter, as a path towards a socialist society. The question is: do the NDR and Freedom Charter really offer the basis for an alternative socialist politics in South Africa?

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Swedish Court of Appeals Rules to Continue the Detention of Julian Assange

Picture credit: David G Silvers. CancillerĂ­a del Ecuador Video Watch - The Swedish Court of Appeals upheld the continued detention of Julian Assange on Thursday, 20 November 2014. Assange has been held for four years without being charged with a crime, two of which he has spent in asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Michael Ratner, U.S. lawyer for Assange and president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights provides some insights into the implications of this latest development. While the prosecutor in the Assange case was reprimanded by the Swedish court for failing to move the case forward. This latest ruling still does not provide Assange with any immediate remedy, contends Ratner.

Ann Bernstein and Trudi Makhaya on the Economic Freedom Fighters

Picture credit: Ann Bernstien and Trudi Makhaya Video Watch - At a recent event hosted by SACSIS and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in which we explored "left, right and centre" views on South Africa's economic development, a journalist snuck in a question about the panel's views on the Economic Freedom Fighters. It was interesting to hear what Ann Bernstein of the Centre for Development and Enterprise and Trudi Makhaya, economic analyst at eNCA Africa, had to say about the new political party. Bernstein said that she was puzzled by the party. Makhaya said that she was intrigued by black middle class professionals who voted for the EFF. She referred to the EFF's manifesto as "plain vanilla".

Russell Brand on Revolution, Fighting Inequality, Addiction, Militarized Policing & Noam Chomsky

Picture credit: Wikimedia Commons Video Watch - For years Russell Brand has been one of Britain's most popular comedians, but over the past 12 months he has also emerged as a leading voice of Britain's political left. He has taken part in anti-austerity protests, spoken at Occupy Wall Street protests and marched with the hacker collective Anonymous. A recovering addict himself, Brand has also become a leading critic of Britain's drug laws. He has just come out with a new book expanding on his critique of the political system. It is simply titled "Revolution". Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! interviews him.

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