Donnerstag, 28. Februar 2008

Obama, when will you spend a day in my shoes? ;-)

My very good friend Gabe, as regular readers will know, works for SEIU, probably the most progressive of America's trade unions. So, I notice SEIU-related things more than others, I admit. That's how I came across this cool video showing Barack Obama spending a day with a SEIU member, Pauline. It's advertisement, sure. But it's good!

"Goldfish have no memory ...

... so their lives are much like mine ..." I was thinking about that quote today, somehow. Over lunch. When I couldn't remember what I clearly remember I told myself earlier I needed to remember .... Anyway, it's a good line. So here is the full song that my brain lifted it from (at least I remembered that!).

Mittwoch, 27. Februar 2008

Poor Wikileaks?

Leaking can be fun. To reveal what really goes on behind the all too often closed doors of governments and businesses that affect our future is, in my mind, a vital service to democracy. For example, the White House keeps saying that they care about the climate. But if you want to know what the Bush administration really thinks about taking action (or not) on climate change, you need to look no further than their edits of last year's G8 summit agreement. Leaking is tricky, because it can be dangerous - or at the very least embarassing - for the source. At last year's World Social Forum I was thus excited to meet the people behind . They struck me as geeks with a conscience. They were techno-optimists and had some weird ideas about how spreading information via technology alone will end totalitarianism and make the world a better place. My theory of social change is more complicated, I confess. But I was still impressed at their spirit. And their service. Their website allows people to upload documents they want to leak anonymously. That does make it attractive for sources that do not want to leave a paper trail, or who may simply not know someone like me happy to provide the public service of leaking for them. - Yes, true, the anonymity of the source also means that anyone can upload anything - including rubbish. But, the Wikileakers argued, peer review - i.e. people looking for and at the stuff uploaded - will select the real stuff from the invented. This may not always be true. But, as they pointed out, leaking lies is always possible. You do not need wikileaks for that. The history of forged leaks makes that argument plausible. - That wikileaks had subversive potential is certainly suggested by all the trouble has had. Last week, a court ordered their internet provider to remove the wikileak address records from their servers after a subsidiary of a Swiss bank had taken issue with some documents on the site. The internet being the internet - and the wikileakers being smart geeks - the site can still be accessed here .... In fact, the whole story may have increased interest in wikileaks. If so, I think it's for the better. I wish wikileaks well. Even though they will not save the world. And even though I personally will always prefer leaking the traditional style. - "Hey you, seen this?" ... ;-)

Montag, 25. Februar 2008

Protest back at Heathrow - great!

I haven't flown since Bali. Which has been nice: Nice to the body, nice to the body clock, nice to the climate. But this year, as always, flying will be the achilles heel of my personal attempts at not living a genocidal 'lifestyle'. Whatever the reason I will board planes for, my flying habit will remain deeply unjust. Put simply: Even the CO2 emitted on the way to climate negotiations, like the upcoming ones in Bangkok, kills. - But though I fully accept that flying is hypocritical, I do not agree that because I am a hypocrite, I have to accept that nothing can be done about aviation growth. To the contrary. That there are 32 flights between Heathrow and Manchester every day, for example, is such lunacy, that even those who will never accept that flying is evil might be persuaded that this must stop in an age of dangerous climate change. That the most frequent destination from Heathrow is Paris is simply flabbergasting. Have none of these people ever tried Eurostar and experienced the joy of arriving, stress-free, in the city centre? - All of which is to say, that I salute my colleagues at Heathrow. They climbed a plane today. But from the outside. Sitting on the wing, they reminded us all, that we are not facing a small little crisis. We are facing a climate emergency! Nothing less.

Moorburg hat keine Mehrheit

Die deutsche Politik wird unuebersichtlich. Aber egal wer in Hamburg regieren wird - eins muss klar sein: Vattenfall hat keine Mehrheit fuer das Kohlekraftwerk Moorburg. Das Werk, dass aller klimapolitischen Vernunft widerspricht, darf nicht gebaut werden. Basta. P.S. OH JE!!!!

Freitag, 22. Februar 2008

Dienstag, 12. Februar 2008

Follow the (oil) money

Money is a necessary but not sufficient condition for becoming President of the United States. John Edwards, who is sadly still dithering about who to support, also lost because he lacked money. Mitt Romney, on the other hand, went nowhere even though he had money. Lots of it. He spent some $35 million of his own cash - about 110,000 for each delegate he secured. But now he is history. - Talking of history: Whoever gets elected, will have a key role to play in fighting climate change. So one monetary fact of particular interest to my mind is how much money the fossil fuel giants are paying to whom. At least as far as Big Oil is concerned, you can now find out. Check out this excellent database. Let's hope that Obama, when elected, will not follow the oil money. In fact, I wish he would return the $ 15,000 he received from Exxon. May be you can ask him to do that, John Edwards, as a precondition for finally endorsing Obama ;-). Yes, you can!

Montag, 11. Februar 2008

A tribute to Tribu!

Jim Libiran is an impressive and very funny guy. He nearly gave the - very proper, humourless and German - Berlinale presenter a heart attack last night by arriving late to the after screening talk of Tribu. And then, he easily stole the show! - The movie itself is not the best you will ever see (it is his first full length feature film). But Tribu, filmed with real guns and real 'gangstas' from many rival groups, is more than a good movie. It is a social transformation project and a poetry workshop. Jim says he fell in love with Tondo's gangsta rap while trying to get riot footage for his journalist job. And he is right about the rap. The stuff is great. Really expressive, really creative, really poetic. My favourite line - which of course rhymes in Tagalog - was "I am like osteoporosis - bad to the bone." - That cinema like Jim Libiran's can exist is marvellous. That it has such a hard time as, for example, practically all cinemas in the Philippines are owned by one - shall we say, not very sympathetic - owner is the tragedy of our monopoly capitalist age. So, if Tribu comes your way: Watch it. And if anyone knows how to donate to independent film making collectives in the Philippines or elsewhere - let me know! We need this voice. We need this rap. We need this humour in the search for social change.

Freitag, 8. Februar 2008

Schweinespiesser raus - Rettet den Chamissoplatz

Es gibt wenige Orte, die ich so liebe, wie den Chamissoplatz in Kreuzberg. Vor dem 'Matto' sitzen, auf den Platz schauen, Bier trinken. Das ist das gute Leben. Als der Platz mal wieder durchsaniert wurde dachte ich noch: Hier wird nichts schief gehen. Es gibt genug genossenschaftliche Wohnungen - der Platz wird nicht totsaniert werden. Aber ich habe mich (wohl) getaeuscht. Es wohnen jetzt offenschtlich soviele spiessige Idioten am Chamissoplatz, dass der lokale Bolzplatz (auf dem ich immer mal wieder gerne mitgekickt habe) wegen "Laermbelaestigung" nicht mehr staendig offen sein kein. Kein wirklich oeffentlicher Ort mehr ist. Laerm? Kinder? Pah. Zu diesem Unfug haben einige anstaendige Anwohner das passende Plakat (siehe Bild) verfasst. Ich moechte ihnen dafuer danken. Und komme gerne mal zum Krach machen vorbei. Diese neuen Nachbarn mit zu viel Geld und zu wenig Herz sollen ruhig wieder gehen. Wer Kinderlaerm nicht aushaelt ist unmenschlich. Basta. P.S. OH NEIN!!!! Das Matto ist nicht mehr! Lest die letzten Worte des unverwechselbaren Johann Georg Scharbach hier. Es mag uebertrieben sein. Aber mir treibt das Traenen in die Augen. Ein weiteres Stueck Berlin, das ich liebte, ist nicht mehr. "Vielleicht weil ich merke, dass der Kiez sich verändert, ein Kiez in dem Bolzplätze geschlossen, Jugendliche kriminalisiert werden, in dem immer mehr Leute sich aus ihren Löchern trauen, weil sie Bestätigung erfahren von Leuten, die hier her ziehen, sich hier einkaufen und einem die Luft zum atmen nehmen und den lebendigen Kiez langsam abwürgen?"

Donnerstag, 7. Februar 2008

Naumann goes social ...

In 2003 I wrote an article for the European Social Forum dispelling the myth that Germany was all green and progressive. A Red-Green government I had personally elected - and re-elected - was doing well for renewables and on Iraq. But, sadly, it was also the most neoliberal government the country had ever seen. The government enforced reforms that hurt pensioners and the poor. The government actively intervened in the labour market and sped up the spread of insecure, low wage jobs (they have been on the rise ever since and reached a new peak in 2007). Corporate power over government was clear for all to see. The government did, for example, intervene heavily in Brussels for BASF to fight against progressive regulations on harmful chemicals. They also were the political wing of VW and other German car makers when it came to regulating cars. These issues persist today. Under a Merkel government, there is much talk of fighting climate change. But at the same time, the government viciously opposes stringent car emission standards for Europe. They do this for one simple reason: German car makers are out of touch. Their cars, however pretty, are too heavy and too big to be at all acceptable in a time of rapid, dangerous climate change. - What has changed though is the tune of a certain Mr. Naumann. Back in 2003, he was editing DIE ZEIT after serving the Schroeder government. Somehow he found the time to ridicule my analysis on He was incensed enough to imply that I was a deluded communist and sounded like Engels (whose intellectual powers, I am forced to point out, I certainly do not match). - In my view, he misunderstood many of my arguments. But so be it. More interesting is the fact, that Mr. Naumann - currently running to be Mayor of Hamburg for the Social Democrats - is today echoing many of my sentiments. In a recent Tagesspiegel interview, he bemoans the fact that some 80,000 people in Hamburg are working for poverty wages; that hotels are paying 3,50 an hour and get away with it; that 11,000 people have so called "1 EURO jobs" (which his Schroeder government created) but lack a future and decent work. He is also calling for a minimum wage now. This can only be an acknowledgement that Germans - though they are working just as hard (and harder) as in 2003 - no longer have "access to decent wages" - in part due to Schroeder's neoliberal reforms (the very ones Naumann used to defend). But let bygones be bygones. The truth is: I welcome Naumann's conversion. I want a minimum wage and I want him to be the next Mayor of Hamburg (given the awful alternative of four more years of Ole von Beust). I expect him to stop the coal plant at Moorburg to prove that he is not Vattenfall's poodle. I hope that he will get a chance to create the more social and inclusive Hamburg he now talks about. I do have to wonder though: Would Engels back Naumann too? ;-)