Vote No

Picture credit: Ronnie Kasrils, Former Minister of Intelligence Services in South Africa

Richard Pithouse - In recent days Ronnie Kasrils has been referred to as 'a rebel, a Judas, a scoundrel', as 'Satan', and as a 'disruptive, reckless and counter-revolutionary' figure spitting on 'the long struggles and the sacrifices of our people'. Alistair Sparks, who is routinely introduced as 'Respected journalist Alistair Sparks' despite the fact that he's often little more than an unthinking hack for conservative orthodoxies of various sorts, has opined that the campaign led by Kasrils and Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge will not make an "iota of difference" and that the "ANC will not be shaken at all." He's right in so far as the campaign is unlikely to make an iota of difference to who wins the election and by how much. But the often cartoonish vitriol directed at Kasrils in particular, as well as the 'Vote No' campaign in general, shows that Sparks is entirely wrong about the ANC being left unshaken by the campaign.


Misrepresenting the Causes of Unemployment

Picture credit: Betakit John Treat and Enver Motala - While finding solutions to South Africa's high rate of unemployment continues to occupy a leading place in national debate, on-going strikes over wages and working conditions are still met with threats of job cuts from employers. At the same time, mainstream discussions of unemployment are dominated by voices allied to the corporate sector that unfortunately also fail to recognise the structural nature of unemployment under the prevailing economic system. This has profound implications for the interventions that are considered when addressing the problem of joblessness. It is time to alter the discourse. We need a more honest engagement with the structural causes of unemployment in our public debates.

Labour-Community Alliances Must Be Strengthened

Picture credit: Dale T. McKinley - Messy alliance politics are clouding issues in the run up to the 2014 general election, but community organisations and civil society groups across the country have welcomed moves by NUMSA to forge an independent and anti-capitalist united front of the broad working class. For the first time in democratic South Africa, a COSATU-aligned union has openly declared that it no longer wants to be in a political alliance with the ANC. NUMSA's moves are embryonic and it remains to be seen if stated intent can be translated into practice, but the door is officially opened to new possibilities for South Africa.

Tutu: Climate Crisis Demands 'Anti-Apartheid-Style Boycott' of Fossil Fuel Industry

Picture credit: Archbishop emeritus of Cape Town and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu courtesy Welsh Government/Llywodraeth Cymru/flickr Jon Queally - Archbishop emeritus of Cape Town and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu is saying there is no longer any excuse for not doing everything humanly possible to fight climate change and called on Thursday for an international "anti-apartheid-style boycott" against the fossil fuel industry. In a striking essay and call to action in The Guardian newspaper, Tutu writes: "People of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change." As examples, Tutu said people can and should boycott events, sports teams and media outlets sponsored by oil and gas companies.

Nkandla: Is It Just Zuma's Greed?

Picture credit: President Jacob Zuma courtesy GovernmentZA/flickr Shawn Hattingh - When it comes to analysing how the Nkandlagate scandal could happen and what it represents, most of the analysis has been shallow. In fact, the analysis has often taken on racist undertones or merely been put down to the personal greed of President Jacob Zuma. People are rightfully angry about Nkandla and the president's personal flaws, but Nkandlagate represents far more than this. It demonstrates how the ruling elite uses the state as a site of accumulation for their personal wealth within an economic system that is designed to encourage collusion between elites in government and in business, leading to corrupt outcomes.

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The Flower-shaped Starshade that Might Help Us Detect Earth-like Planets in a Decade

Picture credit: TED Video Watch - The Universe is teeming with planets. Astronomers now believe that every star in the galaxy has a planet and they speculate that up to one fifth of them might be able to harbour life. Only we haven't seen any of them - yet. At Princeton's High Contrast Imaging Laboratory, Jeremy Kasdin and his team are looking to change that with the design and engineering of an extraordinary piece of equipment: a flower petal-shaped "starshade" that allows a telescope to photograph planets from 50,000 kilometers away. It is, he says, the "coolest possible science" and it could help us find another Earth-like planet in a decade.

Chavez's Legacy: The Successes and Failures of the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela

Picture credit: Left Foot Forward Video Watch - Prof. Edgardo Lander Of Universidad Central De Venezuela argues that a major success of President Hugo Chavez's Bolivarian Revolution was that social policies led to a very significant reduction of poverty and inequality making Venezuela the least unequal country in Latin America. More importantly there was a significant transformation of popular political culture. For many Venezuelans, the political system wasn't responding to their needs. But that changed dramatically under Chavez. People now feel that they can organise to bring about change. On the negative side however the entire Venezuelan economy has become exceedingly dependent on the production of oil. Efforts to diversify the economy have been weak.

'Fuck the Poor' vs 'Help the Poor'

Picture credit: Pillion Trust Video Watch - UK charity, the Pilion Trust, an organisation that helps some of the poorest and most vulnerable, has conducted a social experiment on the people of London to see if they really do care about those who are less fortunate. A man wearing a sign saying, "Fuck the poor" was sent out to the streets of the capitol as part of a campaign for the charity. People were genuinely offended by the sign and took the man to task for the offensive statement. What do you think happened when he swapped the sign for a "Help the poor" message?

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