Thursday, August 17, 2017

A free market?

 Foxconn agrees to invest $10 billion to construct, over six years, a facility in Wisconsin and create up to 13,000 jobs, with a reported average salary of $53,875 over a period of up to six years. The state's agreement among other things, is to provide up to $3 billion in an economic package which would include refundable tax credits and a construction sales tax exemption for Foxconn. The state of  Wisconsin would reimburse Foxconn for 15 percent of its capital expenditures for the Wisconsin plant. This credit would be capped at $1.35 billion. The second would pay for 17 percent of Foxconn’s payroll and be capped at $1.5 billion. Because the Manufacturing and Agriculture Tax Credit would leave Foxconn with little or no tax liability even before the new credits kicked in, these credits would result in cash payments to Foxconn, rather than a reduction in its tax liability. At the peak, between 2022 and 2026, about 2 percent of Wisconsin’s state revenue would go to Foxconn.

It is unclear how many jobs will actually be created by the Foxconn deal. It appears that the hiring of 3,000 workers is a firmer commitment from Foxconn. Foxconn’s president has been quoted as desiring to more fully automate his plants. It has been suggested that if Foxconn heavily automated its plant, the number of employees could be radically reduced. In this scenario, the payroll tax credits drop substantially but the capital expenditure credits continue.

Over a 15-year period Wisconsin would pay Foxconn a total of $218,516 per job created. If, instead, the number of jobs topped out at 3,000, the cost per job would rise to $546,958.

Canterbury Street Stall (19 Aug)


Saturday, 19 August  

In the Parade pedestrian precinct from 12 noon

 (Organised by Kent & Sussex Branch)

Can capitalism cope with success?

Population aging is certainly a significant human achievement, the result of smaller family sizes, lower mortality rates and increased longevity.

In the past century, for example, the percent elderly, those aged 65 years and older, averaged around five percent. In striking contrast, the proportion elderly will more than triple during the 21st century, reaching close to one-quarter of the world’s population.  Nearly all the G20 countries are expected to have no less than one-quarter of their populations aged 65 years and older by 2100. And eight of those countries, including China, Germany, Italy and Japan, are projected to have one-third or more of their population elderly by the close of the century.  

In countries such as Japan, Portugal, Singapore and South Korea, the proportion of the female population aged 65 years and older is expected to reach 40 percent during the 21st century. Given that women typically survive their partners, many elderly women will need care and assistance, especially the growing numbers living alone.

Another clear indicator of the unprecedented population aging underway worldwide is the Historic Reversal or the demographic turning point when children (0 to 14 years) in a population become fewer than its elderly (65 years and older). The Historic Reversal first occurred in 1995 in Italy. Today some 30 countries have experienced the Historic Reversal, including Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Japan, Spain and the United Kingdom.  In 2075, and for the first time in human history, the world’s population will go through the Historic Reversal with the elderly increasingly outnumbering children.
Lower mortality rates and living longer increase the numbers of elderly. But the primary driver of population aging is fertility. Low fertility results in age structures having relatively fewer children, a growing concern of many governments, and comparatively more elderly. In addition, the faster the decline from high to low fertility levels, such as has taken place in China, the more rapid the transition to older population age structures. Fertility rates below the replacement level of about two births per woman also mean declining populations for many countries, especially those with limited immigration. Today more than 80 countries, accounting for nearly half of the world’s population, have fertility levels below replacement, including China, United States, Brazil, Russia, Japan, Viet Nam, Germany, Iran, Thailand and the United Kingdom.
 Increased longevity and growing proportions of elderly are raising serious economic questions and fiscal concerns within many countries. In particular, population aging is resulting in growing financial stresses on government-sponsored retirement, pension and healthcare programs. Governments with extensive social programs for the elderly, such as income support, healthcare services and social benefits, are experiencing escalating costs as the numbers of elderly grow rapidly and the duration of support lengthens. Loathe to raising taxes, governmental attempts to address the escalating costs of those programs have by and large focused on adjustments in retirement ages, benefits, contribution rates and savings plans.

"We're all just people."

The museum's special exhibit, entitled "Two Million Years of Migration," shows that ultimately we're all migrants. It also reveals that today's migration routes are uncannily similar to those from thousands of years ago. One route that seems to always have played a central role leads from the Middle East via present-day Turkey to eastern Europe. 

 "Our objective is to show that migration is an intrinsically human phenomenon going back millions of years," said Gerd-Christian Weniger, the director of the Neanderthal Museum.

 The reasons for migrating have changed. Whereas the early hunters followed their prized herds, people nowadays flee the wars and poverty of their home countries. Still, "The development and the evolution of man are closely intertwined with migratory movements," Weniger added. "The mobility of man and changes in his environment are part of the picture. Considering these facts, simply closing off borders cannot be a solution to the present refugee crisis, Weniger claimed.

Norway is not as green as it claims

Norway trumpets its low carbon footprint, but a new report says plans to ramp up oil and gas production in the Arctic will increase its emissions by half again - making a mockery of its Paris Agreement promises.  The report from the research organisation Oil Change International is challenging Norway's reputation as a climate champion. The report represents the first calculation of Norway's planned oil and gas extraction expansion, compared with the goals of the Paris climate agreement. The research says 12 gigatonnes of carbon could be added by exploration sites in the Barents Sea and other parts of the Arctic over the next 50 years and concludes that the plans are incompatible with the Paris goals to limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

Though it may be adopting laudable emissions reduction efforts domestically, it is exporting 10 times the amount of its domestic emissions to other countries through the extraction and export of North Sea oil and gas. It is the 6th largest gas producer in the world and the 15th largest oil producer. The main thing worrying environmentalists, which sponsored the report, is that these exports are set to grow. The report asserts that Norway's continued extraction efforts are hurting the global effort to wean the world off of oil and gas. It raises a particular alarm about the country's plans for oil development in the Arctic. "Much of this proposed development pushes further into the fragile and remote Arctic ... where a spill would be catastrophic," the report warns.

"Norway wants to be a climate leader - but every lease sale, every piece of new fossil fuel infrastructure, and every expansion into new carbon to be burned elsewhere says otherwise," Friends of the Earth's Silja Ask Lundberg told DW. 

Last year, Oslo issued 56 new licenses to allow 36 companies to explore near the Lofoten Islands - home of some of the world's richest cod stocks. Statoil, the national oil company, also plans to spend $6 billion developing the Castberg field, a stretch of Arctic ocean to the north of the country that could hold as much as 650 million barrels of oil equivalent.The report calls on the new government to freeze further leases or permits for new oil and gas extraction projects, or for transportation infrastructure that would incentivize further exploration.  Prime Minister Erna Solberg has remained unconvinced by the argument that Norway should stop the extraction. However much of this exploration is on hold pending the election on September 11 - particularly any extractive activity at the Lofoten Islands but green groups are hoping that a successor government might be more open to their message.

Learning the Law

In the case of Jaisha Aikins, in 2005. Jaisha, a five-year-old black girl, was handcuffed and arrested at her St Petersburg, Florida, school for essentially throwing a temper tantrum – as every five-year-old has done at some point. 
The school’s administrators and some media commentators justified putting a five-year-old in handcuffs on the grounds that she “punched” the school’s vice-principal, as if the little girl had hauled back and clocked her, rather than flailing at her with tiny hands while in the throes of a tantrum, with the force of a child.
It was clear from video taken of the incident that the vice-principal was not hurt and that Jaisha eventually calmed down. In fact, Jaisha was sitting calmly in a chair when police arrived in response to the vice-principal’s call to arrest an unruly student.
Even after discovering the student was a kindergartener, three white armed officers nevertheless proceeded to pull the little girl’s hands behind her back to put them in handcuffs as she cried and begged them not to. Jaisha was taken to the police station in a patrol car, but released to her mother’s custody when prosecutors refused to file charges against her.
In her  book Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools, Monique Morris tells the stories of several other black girls as young as six and seven arrested in school in similar incidents over subsequent years, some as recently as 2013. In some cases, the little girls were held in police cars and stations for extended periods of time after arrest. Alarmingly, among the violent policing tactics that have migrated from the streets to schools is indiscriminate use of stun guns, or Tasers, which are used to subdue people by firing barbs into them that deliver a jolt of electricity.
While researching a 2006 report on the US government’s failure to comply with the UN Convention Against Torture,  a 2004 case described a Miami-Dade police officer used a Taser against a 12-year-old girl, shocking her with 50,000 volts of electricity – for skipping school.
Policing of girls extends beyond instances where officers are summoned by school administrators. Police are increasingly stationed inside schools, leading to increased police contact with girls, and increased police violence as officers enforce school rules.
For instance, the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) reported several cases where young women of color were slammed against the wall, thrown to the floor and arrested by officers stationed in their schools for leaving class a few minutes late (“roaming the hallways”), asking for return of a confiscated cell phone (“threatening an officer”), or cursing in the hallway (“disorderly conduct”).
The presence of law enforcement officers in schools has driven increased student referrals to police and arrests in schools, often “for actions that would not otherwise be viewed as criminal ... such as refusing to present identification, using profanity with a school administrator, or ‘misbehaving’”.
One study found that the rate at which students are referred for lower-level offenses more than doubles when a school has regular contact with a “school resource officer”.
The result is a “net-widening” effect expanding surveillance of youth of color and infusing policing and prison culture into schools across the country, with predictable effects.  “Routine” frisks and scans can quickly escalate to strip searches. Girls whose underwire bras set off metal detectors have been forced to lift up their shirts or unbuckle or unzip their pants to prove that they are not concealing weapons, or cell phones. The searches these girls were subjected to appear to have been motivated at least in part by controlling narratives framing Asian women as knife-wielding assassins, Latinas and black girls as drug “mules”, and Muslim women as potential terrorists. They also often produce racially gendered humiliation, as officers rifling through young women’s belongings find tampons, birth control pills and condoms.
Kathleen Nolan, a former New York public school teacher, describes “considerable subjectivity in determining whether a behavior was actually a violation of the law”, and notes that everyday items – box cutters used for after-school jobs, razors used to style hair, Mace or pepper spray carried by young women for protection – were met with “zero tolerance” in a school populated by youth of color.
a 2005 report issued by the Advancement Project concluded: “Across the board, the data shows that black and Latino students are more likely than their white peers to be arrested in school . . . despite the lack of evidence that black and Latino students misbehave more than their white peers.” Black students are “punished more severely for less seriously and more subjectively defined infractions” such as “disturbing school” or “disorderly conduct”.  Race remained a reliable predictor of discipline for subjective violations like disruption. In South Carolina, black students are nearly four times as likely to be charged with “disturbing school” as white students. Today, black girls make up approximately 33% of girls referred to law enforcement or arrested on school grounds but only 16% of the female student population. 
Between late 2003 and early 2005, at least 24 Central Florida students, some as young as 12, were shocked with Tasers by police officers in public schools. A typical scenario involved officers wading in through a crowd to break up a fight and using Tasers to “get them to move”. As of 2005, 32% of police departments interviewed by the weapon’s manufacturer, Taser International, had used Tasers in schools. An August 2016 Huffington Post investigation uncovered at least 84 incidents of Taser use against students since 2011.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Fact of the Day

Bill Gates gives away $4.6bn to charity. 

To put this in its context, the UK spent £3bn on a single new battleship!

What George Learnt (1905, short story)


 A Short Story from the June 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard

George — “You class-conscious Socialists want too much. You ought to be more reasonable.”

Frank — "Well. Socialism being justice, isn’t it reasonable to want it?”

George — “Oh, yes! But you demand the lot. I reckon that half a loaf is better than no bread.”

Frank — “Granted, my boy; but a whole loaf is better still. Besides, why ask for half when you want the whole?”

George — "Because I think you are more likely to get it. In a bargain both sides must make concessions.”

Frank — "Must they? Well, in a bargain according to your curious plan, though the article you have for sale is worth 20/- and you want that amount, yet you would make it known that you would be jolly glad to get half for it. Do you think you would stand the ghost of a chance of getting what yon want? ”

George — “Maybe not; but we would get something.”

Frank — "Would you? In any bargain with the ruling-class the workers’ claims would obviously only be respected when the workers are in a position to take what they ask for. Therefore a bargain would be unnecessary except to enable the capitalists to stave off the workers’ victory.”

George — “But wouldn’t you bargain with them? ”

Frank — “Of course I would not. Look here: the country round a certain small town in Italy was infested by a band of brigands who waylaid and robbed those who came to and from that town. The town folk were too lazy to undertake the extermination of this band, so they bargained with the brigand chief that on payment of a yearly sum his band would cease to molest them. The brigand agreed, but feeling his power, he increased year by year his demands for money, and his insolence became unbearable. The town folk, driven to desperation, organised an attack on the brigands and finally succeeded in breaking up the band. The townsmen lamented bitterly, but too late, that they had not made war on the brigands sooner, but had instead supplied them with the means of becoming more powerful.”

George — "Very pretty, and the lesson is, I suppose, that the longer we bargain with the brigand capitalist-class, the longer they will be on our backs and the harder it will be to dislodge them? ”

Frank — "Not only that. Remember that it takes two to make a bargain, and if the master class are not going to gain by it, a bargain won’t come off. In fact, the ruling class will only bargain when they know that if they don't concede a little, the people will take the lot. The people lose at that game all the time.”

George — “I didn’t think of that.”

Frank — “Besides, the capitalist-class has in its pay, and can buy, the most cunning brains in the nation, whilst the workers have, in comparison, but homely common-sense. Who are likely to get the best of bargains under such conditions? ”

George — “The capitalist politicians of course.”

Frank — “You’ve guessed right. In a game of cunning or hoodwinking, the master-class, having in its pay the lawyers and commanding by its wealth the smartest wits, will always win. The workers can't play successfully at that game. But in an open political battle, the workers have the advantage of mass and numbers, which the capitalists have not.”

George —  “I see."

Frank — “Glad you do. The workers’ advantage lies on the side of an open struggle with the forces of capitalism, for in strategy and cunning the owning-class is first every time. To urge the workers not to adopt the class struggle basis of action is to play the capitalists’ game, and to deliver the workers, ready scalped, into the hands of the enemy. Now that you understand the position you will, of course, apply for membership in The Socialist Party of Great Britain.”

F. C. Watts

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Caring for the old

The amount of time spent needing daily care at the end of life has doubled in England over the past two decades, a study suggests.
The Newcastle University study found men spent 2.4 years on average needing regular care and women three years. This includes everything from help with washing and dressing each day to round-the-clock care.
Researchers said it suggested there needed to be a sharp increase in the number of care home places to cope. The number of places would need to rise by a third to cope. An extra 71,000 care home spaces are needed in the next eight years to cope with Britain’s soaring demand as people living longer face more health problems
Between 1991 and 2011, life expectancy increased by more than four years for both men and women to 82.6 and 85.6 respectively. But the number of those years spent with substantial care needs rose much more rapidly, from 1.1 to 2.4 for men and 1.6 to three for women. Looking ahead to 2025, it means there will be another 350,000 people with high care needs, the researchers predicted.

Why protect the poor

Capitalism exists to make profits. This is the underlying mechanism of the system, for a business must be successful at not only making, but maximizing profits, or it will lose out to competitors. 

The cost of labour, that is, wages, depends on the costs of maintaining the worker in working condition, providing training, and replacing workers lost to disability or retirement. Thus a low-skilled worker in a time of high unemployment, when he or she can be easily replaced, is much less valuable and is paid less than a highly trained one with scarce skills.

Within capitalist nations, where industrialized production requires the well-being of a large number of workers and the availability of healthy young workers for the military, the level of health and health care must be ample to maintain this productive force. Services that are necessary to maintain workers in general, such as public schools, sanitation, and health care, are general expenses to the capitalist system.

In the 19th century, as factory production flourished, workers lived in filthy crowded hovels, ate very poor diets, worked 15-hour days, suffered exposure to filthy air and toxins, and had frequent crippling accidents.  The economist CEA Winslow wrote in 1908 that improved factory ventilation would pay for itself by decreasing absences and preventing workers from being stupefied by late afternoon. Another economist, Irving Fisher, wrote a report using a cost-benefit analysis of disease pointing out the loss of work years by early death. Stacy May, a WWII era Rockefeller-linked economist, summed up the capitalist view of health: “Where mass diseases are brought under control, productivity tends to increase – through increasing the percentage of adult workers as a proportion of the total population, and through augmenting their strength and ambition to work….”

It is clear that the health and survival of the poorest people of the world, away from capitalist centers of production, is not of enough concern to the wealthy and powerful to mitigate the plagues of cholera and the many other infectious diseases that plague only the destitute poor of the less developed world or those whose well-being is less important. A century ago, W.E.B. Dubois said “The Negro death rate and sickness are largely matters of [social and economic] condition and not due to racial traits and tendencies”  This year, Harvard sociologist David R. Williams noted that every 7 minutes, a black American dies prematurely, over 200 people each day who would not die if their health were the same as their white counterparts. He presented evidence that these racial differences cannot simply be accounted for by unequal economics and education because even within groups of equal income and education, racial gaps persist. Only racism can be the answer. Even among college graduates, there is a 4.2 year black/white gap in life expectancy, and it rises for each lower rung of achievement.  High blood pressure, obesity, cancer, heart disease and premature death have all been shown to correlate with the experience of everyday racism.  Another factor is different access to medical care, which reflects housing and employment discrimination. In addition to these institutional factors, implicit bias, or unconscious racism, occurs amongst many health care providers, even well-intentioned ones.

 In Israel/Palestine, there is a ten-year gap in life expectancy between Jews and Palestinians, and a five fold difference in infant mortality. In South Africa, based on data from 2012, black men had an 18 year shorter life expectancy than white men, 17 years after the end of apartheid.

In sum, some health services for workers, from the unskilled to the professional, are necessary under capitalism to provide a dependable workforce, in order to maximize profits. Care for the unemployed, unemployable or less skilled and easily replaceable workers is not a priority. To admit this is in no way seen as a dark matter to be couched in euphemisms but is proudly touted with all sorts of cost-benefit analyses. For example, during medical student and resident training, the introduction to every lecture on a condition starts with a statement that cost in loss of time from work is XXX million/year and the expenditure in medical cost is XXX million or billion/year. Thus young doctors are inculcated with the ethic of measuring treatment or prevention benefits on the basis of profitability to capitalism, as opposed to the well-being of patients.  Thus it is unlikely – indeed, economically unfeasible — that any political administration will usher in a health care system that provides excellent preventive, chronic or acute care to all segments of the population. Only a mass movement which includes millions, employed and unemployed, old and young, and of all ethnicities can realistically fight for that.

Taken from

"The U.S. and the U.K. are complicit in the suffering of millions"

Once more the SOYMB blog feels it necessary to draw attention to that ignored and neglected civil war in Yemen. Waging war by destroying civilian populations seems to have become the norm these days.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday announced that the number of cholera cases in Yemen had reached 500,000. The WHO also noted that around 5,000 people are being infected with cholera daily.

 WHO noted in a statement. "Millions of people are cut off from clean water, and waste collection has ceased in major cities."

WHO director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus observed that "Yemen's health workers are operating in impossible conditions. Thousands of people are sick, but there are not enough hospitals, not enough medicines, not enough clean water. These doctors and nurses are the backbone of the health response—without them we can do nothing in Yemen...The people of Yemen cannot bear it much longer—they need peace to rebuild their lives and their country."

 Katy Wright, head of advocacy for Oxfam, called the cholera epidemic a "man-made disaster driven by national and international politics." Wright went on to single out two world superpowers—the United States and the United Kingdom—that have fueled conflict in Yemen by providing weaponry and intelligence to Saudi Arabia, which has for years been waging a relentless bombing campaign against its neighbor.

She explained, "All those fighting and backing this war need to stop fueling the madness and instead come to the peace table for the sake of civilian families in Yemen. Too many people have died, too many have lost everything they owned, too many have seen their futures put on hold, Wright concluded. "In backing this war with billions of dollars of arms sales and military support, the U.S. and the U.K. are complicit in the suffering of millions of people in Yemen."

Fact of the Day

Of those who do find work today, more than two-fifths will be in what the ILO calls “vulnerable employment” with non-existent or precarious contracts and limited access to any form of social protection.

In developing countries that proportion rises to four-fifths. 

Equally telling is that two-thirds of those employed in developing countries still live in extreme or moderate poverty with an income of less than $3.10 a day.

ORGAN-ISED CHAOS (A Fantasy-Part 2) - weekly poem

ORGAN-ISED CHAOS (A Fantasy-Part 2)

A non-pc response to the Government's proposals
to allow people to self-determine their gender.

I'm Richard also known as 'Jade',
A 'Dirty Dick' am I;
The Government should have me 'spayed',
Cos as a 'woman' I'm 'self-maid',
And joined the WI.

I've sneaked inside their ladies loo,
And it's a trifle weird;
My 'gender change' seems quite taboo,
They see me and the air turns blue--
They've set light to my beard!

I'm puzzled by their swearing fits,
Or why each loo door shuts;
They view my drag-show booby bits,
And Cheongsam dress with slinky slits,
Then kick me in the nuts!

It's great since women's rights began,
That we have come this far;
Although I'm sad, as born a man, (1)
I would have liked to be a Gran,
But couldn't burn my bra.

Germaine Greer, therefore, should withdraw,
And not sound like a prick;
Because she is a sexist bore,
For saying women are much more,
Than just a cut-off dick. (2)

And if such 'ops' make most men wince,
Because such surgery hurts;
The Government's scheme could convince,
Usain Bolt to run women's sprints, (3)
And Scotsman to wear skirts!  

(1) Paris Green (born Peter Laing)  a pre-op transgender murderer, was
transferred to a man's prison after having sex with the female inmates.

(2) Germaine Greer said: “Just because you lop off your dick
and then wear a dress doesn’t make you a f***ing woman”.

(3) Martial arts fighter, Fallon Fox, a former man, gave her
female opponent such a beating that Fox lost her licence.

© Richard Layton

Monday, August 14, 2017

Wages Still Stagnant

Pressure on incomes looks set to continue, with pay rises forecast at 1% over the next year, a survey predicts, says the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
Despite falling unemployment, wage growth is weak because the supply of labour has also gone up, says the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
The CIPD said for every low-skilled job, there were 24 applicants. There were also 19 candidates for every medium-skilled job and eight for every high-skilled vacancy. The workforce had been boosted by more workers from other EU countries, as well as by older workers and former welfare claimants.
Gerwyn Davies, who is senior labour market adviser at the CIPD, said, "The facts remain that productivity levels are stagnant [and] public sector pay increases remain modest, while wage costs and uncertainty over access to the EU market have increased for some employers."
Not all recent surveys back up the CIPD's view. Last week, a survey of employment agencies found that the UK labour market was tightening, with employers finding it harder to recruit staff.
That survey said that pay rates for both permanent and temporary staff were rising quickly because of a continuing fall in the number of job applicants.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Stealing the land in India

India's coastline is more than 7,500 km (4,660 miles) long, and about 3.5 million people make a living from fishing and related activities. There are more than 3,000 fishing villages along the coast, from remote rural hamlets to bustling urban settlements in cities such as Mumbai and Chennai. 
Changes to India's Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules this year have lifted the ban on land reclamation for commercial purposes. The federal government has earmarked more than 12 billion rupees ($188 million) for developing tourism at India's beaches.

Fishermen - known as kolis - say the changes will lead to environmental damage, displace coastal communities and hurt the livelihoods of millions who depend on the sea for their survival. The kolis are among the city's earliest inhabitants, with settlements dating back more than 400 years. Most kolis do not have titles to their homes or the land on which they spread their nets and dry their catch.
"The coastal lands are ours by tradition. The state plans to take them away with this law," said Rajhans Tapke, general secretary of the Koli Mahasangh association. "Our land will be lost, our access to the sea will be affected, our catch will be affected. How will we live?" said Tapke, who lives in Versova koliwada, or fishing village, home to his family for generations. "Mumbai began as a fishing village - this is its culture, its history, its tradition," said Tapke. "We protect the sea, the coast, the marine life; now our lives, our livelihoods are threatened because they want to give our land to movie stars and wealthy people who want sea views and beach sports."
"The CRZ was meant for our protection, but now they have diluted it so much we have lost all protection," said T. Peter, general secretary of the National Fisherworkers' Forum "They want to smash the fishing villages and build hotels and flats; where will we keep our boats and nets?"
City officials have long clashed with the kolis' right of use of coastal land. The kolis, whose song and dance are part of Mumbai tradition and who have featured in Bollywood movies, have lost swathes of land over the years to railway stations, schools and parks. They have resisted attempts by city officials to classify their settlements as slums, so they can be redeveloped with some land taken for commercial developments.
"Use of coastal land has always been tenuous, with the state pushing against people who have traditional land-use rights," said Manju Menon, a senior fellow at the Centre for Policy Research, a think tank in Delhi. "In an urban area like Mumbai, with competing interests of the tourism and real estate industries, it is particularly contentious," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Fishermen are already battling industrial effluents and solid waste that drains into the sea, pollutes the mangroves and washes up on the beach.
 Fishermen have also long demanded that the koliwadas be mapped and given protection in the CRZ III category which will preserve the settlements while allowing for redevelopment. The kolis also want to be recognised as indigenous people, so their land and rights are better protected.
To make the land and all resources the common ownership of all people contact:To combat climate change, contact:
257 Baghajatin ‘E’ Block (East), Kolkata – 700086
Tel: 2425-0208 / 7378 (ISD: 091, STD: 033)

Yemen's Other Tragedy

This blog has frequently described the horror of the current Yemeni civil war so readers may well be surprised that there is a busy people smuggling business transporting African migrants into Yemen. Surely even the most cynical anti-immigration proponent must realise how desperate many people become to escape poverty and destitution that they are prepared to travel through a war-ravaged country, risking their lives in the hope of reaching a better life. Since January of this year, IOM estimates that around 55,000 migrants left the Horn of Africa to come to Yemen, most with the aim of trying to find better opportunities in the Gulf countries. More than 30,000 of those migrants are under the age of 18 from Somalia and Ethiopia, while a third are estimated to be female.

But even worse is happening. This migrant route has become even deadlier because of the tactics of the people smugglers.

A total of 300 migrants have reportedly been forced from boats over the past two days by smugglers off the coast of Yemen – many feared dead or missing, the United Nations migration agency,  the International Organization for Migration (IOM), has reported.
“The survivors told our colleagues on the beach that the smuggler pushed them into the sea when he saw some ‘authority types’ near the coast,” said Laurent de Boeck, the Yemen Chief of Mission of the IOM.
“They also told us that the smuggler has already returned to Somalia to continue his business and pick up more migrants to bring to Yemen on the same route. This is shocking and inhumane. The suffering of migrants on this migration route is enormous. Too many young people pay smugglers with the false hope of a better future,” de Boeck added.
According to IOM, up to 180 migrants were reportedly thrown into the sea from a boat today by the smugglers. Five bodies have been recovered so far, and around 50 are reported missing. This latest incident comes barely 24 hours after smugglers forced more than 120 Somali and Ethiopian migrants into the sea as they approached the coast of Shabwa, a Yemeni Governorate along the Arabian Sea, resulting in the drowning of around 50 migrants.
Shortly after 11 August’s tragedy, IOM staff found the shallow graves of 29 migrants on a beach in Shabwa, during a routine patrol. The dead had been quickly buried by those who survived the smuggler’s deadly actions. The approximate average age of the passengers on the boat was 16.
“The UN Secretary-General is heart-broken by this continuing tragedy,” his Spokesman Stéphane Dujarric told reporters at the daily briefing in New York. “This is why he continues to stress that the international community must give priority to preventing and resolving a variety of situations which both generate mass movement and expose those already on the move to significant danger,” he added, underscoring the need to increase legal pathways for regular migration and offer credible alternatives to these dangerous crossings for people in need of international protection"
Survivors from both incidents described their journey with the smugglers to IOM:
“Throughout the journey, migrants had been brutally treated by the smugglers. They were forced to squat down for the entirety of the trip from Ambah Shore in Somalia, which sometimes takes between 24-36 hours, so that the smugglers could increase the number of people in the boat…
“… The migrants were not allowed to move inside the boat. They were not allowed a private or separate space to use the bathroom and had to urinate on themselves…
“… In some cases, the smugglers tied their hands so if something did happen, they would not be able to run or swim or save their lives. If one of the migrants accidentally moved, he would be beaten or even killed…
“…The migrants were not allowed to take enough food or water on the journey to fulfil their basic needs. They were only allowed to take one to two litres of water and one small meal. They also faced many dangerous during the journey in the windy season.”
 William Lacy Swing, IOM Director General, said“The utter disregard for human life by these smugglers, and all human smugglers worldwide, is nothing less than immoral. What is a teenager’s life worth? On this route to the Gulf countries, it can be as little as 100 USD." He continued,  “There is something fundamentally wrong with this world if countless numbers of children can be deliberately and ruthlessly drowned in the ocean, when they are no longer an easy source of income, and nothing is done to stop it from ever happening again.” It should never have happened in the first place, he added. “We should not have to wait for tragedies like these to show us that international cooperation must be enhanced to fight human smuggling – not just through policy but through real action along these smuggling routes.”

No Mercy

Doctors Without Borders says "hostility" from Libya has forced it to suspend offshore rescues of boat migrants by its ship, Prudence. Libya recently told non-governmental groups to stay away.

  Doctors Without Borders more commonly called by its French name, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF),  accused the European Union and Libya of creating a "blockade" in Libyan coastal waters that would result in more Mediterranean deaths and more migrants stuck in Libyan detention.

MSF's Director of Operations, Brice de le Vingne, accused European states and Libyan authorities of "jointly implementing a blockade on the ability of people to seek safety" and assaulting their dignity. The recent developments represent another worrying element of an increasingly hostile environment for life-saving operations," he said.
Loris De Filippi, president of MSF's Italian arm said, "We are suspending our activities because now we feel that the threatening behavior by the Libyan coastguard is very serious ... we cannot put our colleagues in danger."
Another aid group active in the Mediterranean, Proactiva Open Arms, also criticized the EU, with its founder Oscar Camps tweeting: "the first NGO out, this is just what the EU wants."