Month: October 2013

EU parliament votes to suspend US from financial databank to avoid spying

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AFP Photo / Frederick Florin

The European Parliament voted Wednesday for US access to the global financial database held by a Belgian company to be suspended because of concerns that the US is snooping on the database for financial gain rather than just to combat terrorism.

The Strasbourg based parliament voted 280 in favor, with 254 against, with 30 abstentions, and called for a suspension of US access until a full enquiry clarifies the situation.

“We need full transparency, especially with all the NSA revelations. Europe cannot accept that the data of private citizens is being accessed without anyone knowing about it”, Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of the Liberals in the European Parliament, told Reuters.

EU lawmakers are concerned that the US is covertly using information from the SWIFT database following leaked US documents aired by Brazil’s biggest television network Globo, which indicated that the US has secretly tapped into SWIFT.

Under current agreements the US has limited access to the SWIFT database. The deal is part of transatlantic cooperation following the September 2001 attacks, and allows certain data from SWIFT to be shared with the US treasury.

The idea was that by sharing on a limited basis the millions of financial messages that take place across the world every day, it would help combat terrorism.

However, the parliament’s vote is symbolic, not binding, and rather reflects EU wide public anger at the NSA spying allegations. The European Commission and the various EU governments will still need to approve a suspension of US access to SWIFT.

A few hundred people take part in a protest outside a US National Security Agency (NSA) listening station in Griesheim near Darmstadt, Germany (AFP Photo)

The European Commission has said in a statement that it had no immediate plans to propose a suspension of SWIFT to its member states and that it was “still waiting for additional written assurances” that the US was respecting its prior written agreement with the EU.

For its part the US has denied it is doing anything wrong. According to the EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, the US Treasury undersecretary for terrorism, David Cohen, has told her that the US government has respected the 2010 agreement on SWIFT.

But there is undoubtedly a firm belief within certain sections of the EU parliament that the EU should be more careful about what it shares with the US.

“The EU cannot continue to remain silent in the face of these ongoing revelations: It gives the impression we are little more than a lapdog of the United States,” said Jan Albrecht, a German Green in the EU parliament.

The vote comes on the back of allegations by the Le Monde newspaper that the NSA has spied on the agency records of millions of phone calls of top French politicians and business people.

The claims were taken seriously by the French government and on Monday morning the US ambassador to France Charles Rivkin was summoned to the French Foreign Ministry to give an explanation.

It was also reported earlier this week that years of spying on Mexico by the NSA had helped Americans get the upper hand in business talks and get investment opportunities that were more favorable to them.


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SACP condemns theft of its Red October Campaign

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14 October 2013, Johannesburg

The South African Communist Party (SACP) has noted with disgust the right-wing theft of its Red October Campaign by an essentially racist grouping that has marched to the Union Buildings on Thursday, 10 October 2013. Organised, among others, by the controversial Steve Hofmeyr and Sunette Bridges under our revolutionary banner of the Red October Campaign, the march comprised unpatriotic activities such as the waving of the old South African flag. Amongst the demands of these racist right wingers was an end to “white genocide”, something that does not exist, except in a figment of their racist imagination.

Our Red October Campaign stands as a monument and tribute to the Great October Socialist Revolution of 1917 in Russia, which was the first successful working class revolution to overthrow capitalism and tyranny and established a socialist order. This October revolution paved the way for socialist revolutions in other parts of Europe and the rest of the world. The 1917 Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia also provided an inspiration to many national liberation movements, like our own in South Africa, to get rid of the racist colonial apartheid system that these racists are now hankering back to.

The march in Tshwane at the Union Buildings stands in direct contrast to the noble objectives of freedom, equality, non-racialism and non-sexism, as the objectives that all those inspired by the1917 revolution have sought to achieve. We call upon these racists to desist from attempts to steal our highly successful Red October campaign that has been waged by the SACP over the past fourteen years. Theirs has no place in a democratic South Africa.

Claims that whites are facing genocide in South Africa must be dismissed with the contempt it deserves. We call upon the working class, including the white working class, to identify with the SACP`s Red October Campaign, and not be misled by racists who do not have their interests at heart.

The Red October Campaign is not an imitation inspired by playing with red balloons on the green grass of the Union Buildings. Since its inauguration by the SACP in South Africa the campaign has resulted in important achievements for the working class and the poor. This includes advances and a shift in policy in land redistribution and agrarian transformation, health care transformation particularly through the adoption of a move towards the National Health Insurance, rural development, progress towards the transformation of the financial sector, to mention but a few.

Issued by the SACP Headquarters

Contact:

Alex Mashilo – Spokesperson
Cell: 082 9200 308
Tel: 011 339 3621
Email: alexmashilo.sacp@gmail.com

SACP Western Cape rejects neo-liberal university admission policy

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15 October 2013, Johannesburg

The South African Communist Party (SACP) in the Western Cape recognises the proposed changes to the University of Cape Town`s (UCT) admission policies as a neo-liberal and anti-majoritarian offensive that parallels the policies of the DA (“democratic alliance”). These policies are being pursued by the provincial government that the DA leads in the Western Cape.

The UCT proposal is to remove race as an indicator from its admission policy and replace it with a range of “socio-economic factors”. Substantively this will replace the imperative of historic redress, amounting to opting out from our national constitutional order.

The current proposal will have a negative impact on the number of black youth qualifying for admission, while further skewing the demographics in favour of white students who already monopolise a disproportionate share of the available space. The outcome will directly compromise the interests of the South African working class, comprising of blacks in general and Africans in particular as its majority.

The SACP views the proposed changes by UCT as a confirmation that the university has always prioritised the reproduction of neo-liberal ideas and in promoting them it has been willing to perpetrate the right-wing and anti-majoritarian onslaught based on old order racial disparities.

Behind this policy change is a concerted effort, by those who have never accepted real and fundamental change in this country, to arrest progressive developments not just at UCT, but also in the Western Cape Province and eventually in Higher Education as a whole if they can. In place of redress for the past, these reactionaries advocate for what amounts to a regression to the past.

Since the democratic dispensation from 1994, transformation at UCT has been uneven and limited, with only conservative changes in the demographics of the student body and insignificant achievements in transforming the profile of the academic and technical staff.

To change horses mid-stream and retreat to the racist policies which have been consistently overturned since the democratic breakthrough in 1994 just because the current makes progress difficult, is no indication of strength and resolve, but a cowardly retreat to mediocrity and complacency albeit in the name of maintaining UCT rankings in to top 200 universities.

The SACP recognises in the proposed change of policy a reaction against the ANC-led National Democratic Revolution, and against national policies, founded on the principles of redress.

The dangers of neo-liberalism is not that it posits as an alternative ideology to that which inspired the liberation movement, but that it proposes a retreat from the worthy ideals of a more egalitarian and ultimately non-racial society enshrined in the Freedom Charter.

The new proposals forces UCT to face a choice whether it joins the mainstream of South African society in pursuit of a future genuinely democratic and non-racial South Africa, or it retreats into privileged complacency because it prioritises an inappropriate ideology over genuine engagement with the real world.

UCT`s proposals seek to undermine policies that are meant to address the imbalances of the past in favour of a status quo based on mediocrity and complacency. The direction proposed by the university`s management will not only be a victory for a conservative, unrepresentative, historically privileged minority, but will tragically defeat the aspirations of at least the present generation of South Africa`s young people as well as future generations. On that history will judge UCT and find it to be, not a world-class university in Africa, but an increasingly irrelevant legacy that the continent`s colonisers failed to experiment with racial engineering.

The SACP in the Western Cape is calling on the Department of Higher Education and Training to speedily introduce the Central Application System in order to reduce the barriers of access to institutions of higher learning. We also call on the department to ensure that universities, as institutions funded by public money, should report annually to Parliament`s Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training.

As the SACP we will join UCT students led by the Progressive Youth Alliance – SASCO, YCLSA and the ANCYL – on their protest march scheduled to take place on Friday, 18 October 2013, starting 9:00AM from Liesbeek gardens Students Residence in Mowbray. We call on the people of the Western Cape to support this demonstration which aims to prevent an attempt to replace redress with a regressive policy designed to defend the privileged few.

Issued by SACP Western Cape

Contact:

Khaya Magaxa
Western Cape Provincial Secretary
083 721 0221

Masonwabe Sokoyi

Western Cape Media Liaison
0765243242

Life without music would be a mistake [Poems from Goya]

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So it is necessary,

to achieve Bliss?

The sound of Bliss?

Is Bliss

life without mistakes?

or life led

believing in God

and the Song?

The Poem Shrike [after Sylvia Plath and Jeremy Cronin]

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When the night is dark

When she took it off

Ivory, textiles

a women battered through concussion

The single air of a jealous partner

I – can

I – can not

with my wide brown eyes

and empty hunger

Writing my curses

on clawed, confused paper

Escaping in exotic dishes

to a rejected friends mouth,

waiting hungry in anger

Opened eyes are closed for eating

Her red lips

Peak and suck

Floating,

drain the last drop of blood from you

Leaving you

driving in the middle of the road

Seeing half-naked things

I saw you[r] (mother) [After Jeremy Cronin]

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I

That is you – my – I

The pronoun

Is the source of their warning

and the root of

What Do You “Mean”?

The last day I saw you

Denied

I – my – screaming

Where Death Itself,

Where women becomes a crime noun