All entries for October 2004
October 26, 2004
Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/tv_and_radio/3955289.stm
According to the Beeb, John Peel has died of a heart attack on holiday in Peru.
Home Truths will never be the same again…
October 25, 2004
Writing about web page http://www.guardian.co.uk/fairtrade/0,12458,794377,00.htmlAs a slightly early regular update to this media diary, here is a link to a Guardian special report on Fair Trade with links to many recent news items on Fair Trade and Trade Justice (which are distinct issues). It includes articles on why the WTO is Satan incarnate, what's wrong with agricultural subsidies in Europe and the US both under WTO rules and in terms of Trade Justice, plans to develop Fair Trade brands, and case studies and analysis of global trade. Happy reading.
October 24, 2004
October 22, 2004
Yep, you read the title right. Apparently, the season of mellow fruitfulness has already given way to the season of pseudo-religious rampant commericalism – at least if the stock in shops is anything to go by. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but Christmas is on December 25th (by the western Christian tradition anyway) and currently, this is over two months, yes TWO MONTHS in the future. And Christmas tat has been in the shops for nearly two months already. You seriously have to ask yourself what kind of person buys their wrapping paper and Christmas cards in September; I know the Royal Mail is bad, but it isn't that bad. And every single shop seems to be in on the act – you go into Costcutters and get bombarded with displays of festive-sized packets of sweets, the Co-op try to flog you gaudy plastic decorations, Smith's is full to the brim of the sort of 'festive' board games you play once and lose half the pieces of, and every bookshop from here to Penzance is piled high with the sort of novelty books which sell millions of copies but which no one ever actually gets around to reading.
I'm generally in favour of Christmas on the grounds that you have to celebate something and it is as convenient a time as any; however, I think that trying to start it in September (or even earlier in some cases) is taking the piss. Basically, anyone who tries to flog Christmas stuff before the start of advent is jumping the gun in my book. I mean, there isn't any real need; it's not like most shops aren't open every day from Easter Sunday until Christmas Eve anyway – what's the rush?
Anyway, all together now: 'O come, all ye faithful…'
October 20, 2004
This film has proved contraversial in the months since its release (and even before that). However, as a symbol of one of the most important political and moral debates of our times, it is very hard to ignore.
Micharl Moore, the writer/director of this film has become famous (and in some circles infamous) for his scathing attacks on the small coterie of right-wingers who seem to regard it as their god-given right to rule the US and the world. In this film, he elaborates on the detailed attack he makes on the electoral process in Florida in his book Stupid White Men in which he catalogues a series of moves to disenfranchise thousands of black voters in the Sunshine state. Having thus established the premise that the legitimacy of the Bush administration is of an exceptionally dubious nature, he then goes on to attack the actions of the administration – specifically concerning 9/11, the lax attitude to the risk of terror before it, the historic links between the Bush and Bin Laden families, as well as those between the Bushes and the Ambassador from Saudi Arabia. However, the major theme of this film is the invasion of Iraq and the thousands of people who have died in the war since it started last year.
As a film, this is probably better than Bowling for Columbine, and as a polemic, it is hard to find the equal of Fahrenheit 9/11. However, whether you like this film or not will mostly be down to whether you like the message or not; fans of George Bush or the war will loath this film, detractors will love it. Moore perhaps makes a little more of the links between Bush and the Bin Ladens than the evidence strictly merits, however, this can be forgiven on the grounds that it is something which it is important for the public to know, and it is something they have not been told. However, Moore also shows his own courage and sheer gall by driving an Ice Cream van around near the Capitol reading the US PATRIOT Act through a tannoy, and hanging around outside the Capitol with a military recruiter trying to persuade members of Congress to have their children enlist in the army as a gesture to show that most of the soldiers in Iraq are young, poor, and often black, whilst those who stand to gain are middle-aged, rich, and white. He also, movingly, shows the mother of a US soldier lost in Iraq and her turmoil as she comes to deal with the fact that a war she initially supported has claimed the life of her son for little discernable benefit to anyone worth benefiting.
Overall, this is a film which it is well worth seeing as a compilation of the arguments of one side of the debate; however, unfortuntely it will not change anyone's mind, because the people who see it will by and large be sympathetic to its politics anyway, and people who may benefit from a dose of the reality it offers will not see it. As a film it is good, as a polemic, it is unsurpassed.
Writing about web page http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761557562_7/India.html
As we are covering colonial development at the moment, I thought that for my entry on the historical antecedents of Fair Trade and the creation of the conditions in which Fair Trade became necessary or desireable, I would look at the example of the British presence in India in the 1600s-1947.
A brief précis of the Encarta article linked above is as follows: the British East India Company and other European nations and corporations were originally attracted to India by the possibility of new markets in which they could buy raw materials and sell manufactured goods. By the time the British East India Company was established as the overall ruler of India in the mid-18th Century, and thereafter until independence, the British bought raw materials such as cotton, shipped them home for processing, and then sold the manufactured goods back in India, thereby ruining native cottage idustries. That is why a plank of Indian nationalism in the early 20th Century was the spinning of one's own cloth and the making of one's own clothes, and also why the symbol at the centre of the flag of the independent India is the spinning wheel.
This relates to Fair Trade in that it amply demonstrates the attitudes of the First world (as it was later named) towards the third; an attitude which is still exemplified not only by exploitative trade practices such as the refusal to pay a fair price for goods, but also by the existence of structures such as the EU's Common Agricultural Policy which acts as a very effective barrier against foreign goods by allowing Europen farmers to sell their produce at a lower price.
October 19, 2004
As you have probably heard elsewhere by now, the General Meeting of the Union tonight was quorate (for the first time since March 2000). No more are the days of quorate general meetings the stuff of half-whispered folklore; finally, a General Meeting attracted enough students to make policy rather than leaving it to the small group of us who are members of Council. Until now, people had generally worked on the assumption that no Referenda or General Meetings would ever be quorate; now, hopefully, people will participate in sufficient numbers that quoracy will be routine in both bodies.
For those who weren't there, the two motions were about Union policy on disciplinary regulations in halls of residence and 'Union independence' (copies of both motions are available on the Union website under 'Democracy') – both passed.
Anyway, well done to everyone involved in getting people to come, and thanks to everyone who turned up.