Sunday, February 24, 2019

"Slavery 2.0" -- Exploitation in the tech industry to be uncovered in Barcelona this week

 "The Mobile Social Congress (not to be confused with the anti-Mobile World Congress or the socialist side of congress) is coming to Barcelona next week hell bent on promoting citizen awareness

This is to be the fourth ever Mobile Social Congress and is to focus on the working conditions and environmental impact of the electronics industry.

“We want to denounce labour exploitation and the exploitation of natural resources stemming from this predatory model of production and technological consumption,” said Laia Fargas, member of the NGO Setem Catalonia which is organizing the event. 
The title of the event Esclavatge 2.0. De la mina a l’abocador (Slavery 2.0: from the mine to the dump) sends a clear message about the objectives of the event, which include: adopting a global perspective on the production and consumption chain through round table talks, workshops and the projection of a documentary at the Pati Manning in Barcelona on March 26 and 27 in the afternoons.
These events will explore how working conditions reminiscent of slave labour appear in factories in European countries like Hungary and the Czech Republic as well as in China. There will also be presentations on repairing and recycling electronic products and data protection."

Friday, February 22, 2019

V-Day Women's March performances in Barcelona, Feb 22-24

As a part of worldwide activities for V-Day, starting tonight, there will be three performances of selected pieces from A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant, and a Prayer - WRITINGS TO STOP VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS by Eve Ensler. 

In Barcelona these are to be presented in Spanish, Catalan and English and the money collected from tickets sales will go to two associations that support women who have been victims of domestic violence: Tamaia Viure Sense Violència and Mujeres Palante.  

Venue: Teatre del Centre Cultural Francesca Bonnemaison. Carrer de Sant Pere Més Baix, 7, 08003 Barcelona.

Dates: Feb 22 at 20:00h, Feb 23 at 20:00h and Feb 24 at 12:00h

More info here.

Friday, February 15, 2019

"Bread" -- My latest article for Catalonia Today magazine

I have never met a baker that I didn't like. Some have even become friends.

That's not surprising considering what they do: getting up early every morning in the sackcloth black of heavy dark and plunging their hands again and again into pliable dough. 

Have you ever actually looked at a baker's forearms? Muscle on muscle on sinew on bone. Sadly though, years spent working with flour 'dust' regularly causes bakers asthma and even lung cancer.

What they proudly produce in the form of bread, the Egyptians call 'aish,' meaning life. There it was also once a form of payment, echoing the modern English slang as bread meaning money.

The Egyptian word reminds me of that old English expression 'the staff of life' with its idea that bread keeps us upright, like a walking stick. (Like plenty of people, I used to think the phrase was the 'stuff´of life. That it is too, of course.)

But I can only think for a few minutes about different languages words for bread (pa, pan, brot, bara, chleb, ekmek, mkate, taro...) before my mind instinctively turns to its joys that first fill the nostrils before reaching the mouth. (Is it unsurprising that some real estate agents suggest that the scent of freshly baked bread inside a house will increase the chance of selling it?)

Ultimately, I am a simple man. I don’t need fancy food to be happy. I require nothing on good fresh bread. Just hand me a slice of quality seeded loaf, a steaming round of pita, a soft and pappy bap, a torn-off chunk of wholemeal rye, a firm circle of bagel, a still-warm bit of authentic sourdough, some yielding Turkish sesame bread, a shiny little ball of French ‘pain au lait,’ a flat disc of chewy garlic naan, a newly-made corn tortilla, a crunchy sliver of ‘pa de vidre’, a crust of wood-fired ‘redondo’ or the nostalgic raisin bread of my childhood. Give me any of these creations and I will thank you from deep within.

Some of my relationship with bread is not quite so straightforward though. Before living here in Europe, we spent two years in Milton Keynes, a new British city of almost a quarter of a million people. 

But our existence there was deprived. At that time there was not one single specialist bakery inside the limits of the urban area.

If you wanted real bread made by an independent baker, you had to drive just outside the city to one of the small, older towns where you could ask a living, breathing person for the good stuff, rather than pick up a product in a plastic bag down a supermarket aisle.

This is a great contrast to the little town in the Penedes where we have lived for a long time now. Less than two minutes’ walk from our house, there's a tiny bakery and if I am lucky and it is not yet sold out, they will have their excellent ‘pa de coca’ or Vienna rolls.

The great challenge I face is limiting my eating of bread to once a day. This is something I very reluctantly try to do to keep weight off but I do often fail. 

Years ago I even bought a bread-maker machine but after a couple of attempts which produced edible bread, I gave up and went back to the stuff that the professionals simply do much better.

[This piece was first published in Catalonia Today magazine, February 2019.]

Saturday, February 9, 2019

What's needed to combat ring-wing lies in the media? Paul Mason tells us...

I generally don't listen to podcasts but I did with this one because it is compelling. 

Broadcaster and journalist Paul Mason, talking to Joana Ramiro tells us exactly (at 35.00) what's needed for the Left to have a fighting chance against bullshit news.

From source at  Politics Theory Other

Sunday, February 3, 2019

"Illegal workers in Andalusia: unwanted yet indispensable"

An undocumented migrant poses in ‘Almericien’ shantytown in El Ejido, Almeria province, on 14 January 2019. (Jorge Guerrero / AFP)

"In southern Spain, the far-right party Vox has drawn farmers’ votes with a pledge to deport illegal workers.

‘But I don’t know what they would do without us,’ an African man remarked as he left a greenhouse in El Ejido.
In this part of the sprawling region of Andalusia dubbed the ‘sea of plastic’, shimmering greenhouses lie side by side for miles on end.
This is where Vox got its best results in recent local elections that have led to it sitting in a regional parliament for the first time in modern Spanish history.
One of the mainstays of the far-right party’s programme is a call for illegal immigrants to be denounced and deported.

Riding his bicycle along roads lined with greenhouses, Issa Guebre, 24, says he is paid 36 euros per day to grow melons.But in this area of southeastern Spain, dubbed ‘Europe’s vegetable garden’, foreign workers are an integral part of the ultra-intensive farming that the regional economy depends on.
He arrived last year from Burkina Faso after climbing the tall fence that separates the Spanish overseas territory of Melilla from Morocco.
Guebre says his boss ‘has never asked’ him for any identity documents and that he has never seen a work inspector.
50 degrees
Asked about Vox’s call to deport all illegal workers, he says: ‘I don’t know how they would cope here without us Africans.’
‘In the summer it’s so hot in the greenhouses at 50 degrees (120 degrees F) that even the owner doesn’t come in.’
A Senegalese man who lives in Andalusia, Serigne Mamadou Keinde Diassaka, recently drew attention when he published on Facebook a video seen more than 600,000 times.
Responding to Vox at six in the morning in a vineyard in Albacete, he said: ‘Here’s what we immigrants do: work.’
In El Ejido, population 89,000, Vox got 29.51% of the votes, ahead of the conservative People’s Party (PP) that has governed the town for 28 years.
Vox could even win municipal elections in May, polls show."