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Archive for March, 2010

Interview with Subcomandante Marcos

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

Subcomandante Marcos is the spokesperson for the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), a Mexican rebel movement. In January 1994, he led an army of Mayan farmers into the eastern parts of the Mexican state of Chiapas in protest of the Mexican government’s treatment of indigenous peoples.

Marcos is an author, political poet, adroit humorist, and outspoken opponent of capitalism and neo-liberalism. Marcos has advocated having the Mexican constitution amended to recognize the rights of the country’s indigenous inhabitants. The internationally known guerrillero has been described as a “new” and “postmodern” Che Guevara.

Here is a two part interview 60 Minutes interview with Marcos from 1994:

1994 *-60 Minutes- SUBCOMANDANTE MARCOS* part#1of2
1994 *-60 Minutes- SUBCOMANDANTE MARCOS* part#2of2

Tears of Sichuan Province

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

This HBO documentary film was nominated for best documentary film in the 2010 Oscars.  It is the story of a tragic (70,000 dead) earthquake in Sichuan province in 2008 and the reactions of the Chinese citizens. The film is, among other things, a statement about Chinese political culture.

Here is the trailer

Video Interview of Shell’s Country Chair in Nigeria

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

Watch a video of Basil Omiyi, Shell’s Country Chair in Nigeria,  who was at the United Nations in New York  attending a pan-African investment round-table. He spoke to Paolo Black about some of the challenges facing Nigeria and Shell’s operations there.

Courtesy of Shell Worldwide Inc.  Thank you Shell. Ugh.

Devolution: Wales points the way

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

Pessimists about politics might consider the following facts. Thirty one years ago yesterday, St David’s Day 1979, Welsh voters humiliatingly rejected the Callaghan government’s Wales devolution act in a referendum by 79.8% to 20.2%. Nearly two decades on, however, Welsh voters narrowly supported the Blair government’s Wales devolution act in a new referendum by 50.3% to 49.7%. Today, according to a St Davids Day BBC Wales/ICM poll, only 13% of Welsh voters now want to see the Welsh assembly abolished, while only 18% are satisfied with the limited powers conferred on the assembly in 1998. Most Welsh people would like to see not less or no devolution – but more. By 56% to 35% they say they would vote for an assembly with full legislative powers in a referendum now scheduled for next year.

Read on at the Guardian

Explaining Gordon Brown’s enthusiasm for electoral reform

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

Mr Brown announced that the House of Commons would vote next week on legislation mandating a referendum, to be held by October 2011, on switching from the first-past-the-post system (FPTP) hitherto used in Westminster elections to the “alternative vote” method (AV) used in Australia.

Bagehot Explains

Beyond the Kremlin’s Reach: Tatarstan is stable, but the republics of the north Caucasus are aflame. Why?

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

In contrast, the transfer of power in Dagestan, a Muslim republic in the north Caucasus, has been accompanied by murder, explosions and civil strife. The region has seen a surge in home-grown Islamic fundamentalism, increasing lawlessness among the police and security services and feuding between local clans.

Mr Medvedev is expected to appoint a new president for Dagestan in February, but this is unlikely to turn the republic into a peace-loving and lawful place. One explanation for the differences between Tatarstan and Dagestan lies in their contrasting histories.

Read more on Tatarstan vs North Caucasus

Whatever: Snapshot of a jaded, liberal nation

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

BRITONS interested in politics (about a third of them, apparently) face a raucous punditocracy eager to assure them that their countrymen are becoming more liberal or more conservative, more cynical or more idealistic, usually according to the personal political views of the sage in question. Those looking for something more authoritative might be interested in the annual Social Attitudes Survey, which distils the responses of over 80,000 people to a variety of questions on politics, economics and society.

The most recent, based on interviews in 2008, was published on January 26th. It describes an increasingly jaded, increasingly liberal country, still attached to big government but dubious of official attempts to help the poor.

read on from the Economist