Richard Pithouse - The ANC has effectively abandoned the idea of liberation as a national project and sought, instead, to constitute itself as an authoritarian and predatory excrescence on society. By raising Jacob Zuma above the law, the ANC have broken the social contract on which a parliamentary system depends. The opposition now have a right to rebel. In fact, if they are genuinely committed to the idea of parliament as the primary seat of popular sovereignty, they now have an obligation to rebel and to sustain their rebellion until the ANC is willing to subordinate itself and its leader to the law.
Steven Friedman - Why is an idea, which featured in Marxist debates decades ago now thrown about by all sides in mainstream public debates? Why is it used by both sides in the dispute wracking Cosatu? The idea - or slogan - is 'national democratic revolution' (NDR). Both those who supported Numsa's removal from Cosatu and Numsa itself say they support the NDR. But, as we watch the rift in Cosatu develop, the key question is whether it will initiate an attempt to break with apartheid-era patterns, which supporters of the NDR say they want or remain a slogan designed to score points, not a recipe for change.
Jane Duncan - Numsa has been exploring political alternatives for the past year. In pursuing a United Front, the union claims to uphold socialist ideas in the Marxist-Leninist tradition, although it also recognises the importance of a diversity of political thought. But, it also invokes received ideas from a particular tradition in liberation politics. Numsa has called for the country to return to the National Democratic Revolution (NDR), guided by a very familiar and much revered document from South Africa's history, the Freedom Charter, as a path towards a socialist society. The question is: do the NDR and Freedom Charter really offer the basis for an alternative socialist politics in South Africa?
Tim Radford - American researchers confirm that a shift to vegetarian, Mediterranean or fish-based diets would cut greenhouse gases, conserve forests and savannah, and have a big impact on obesity-linked health problems. Since agriculture already accounts for 25% of all emissions, two US scientists argue in Nature journal that a shift away from the trend towards steak, sausage, fried potatoes and rich cream puddings offers tomorrow's world three palpable rewards. Greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced. There would be less pressure to clear forests and savannah for farmland, so biodiversity would be conserved. There would also be lower rates of disease linked with obesity and cardiovascular hazard.
Chris Hedges - My attitude toward becoming a vegan was similar to Augustine’s attitude toward becoming celibate - "God grant me abstinence, but not yet." But with animal agriculture as the leading cause of species extinction, water pollution, ocean dead zones and habitat destruction, and with the death spiral of the ecosystem ever more pronounced, becoming vegan is the most important and direct change we can immediately make to save the planet and its species. It is one that my wife - who was the engine behind our family's shift - and I have made.
Watch - For years Russell Brand has been one of Britain's most popular comedians, but over the past 12 months he has also emerged as a leading voice of Britain's political left. He has taken part in anti-austerity protests, spoken at Occupy Wall Street protests and marched with the hacker collective Anonymous. A recovering addict himself, Brand has also become a leading critic of Britain's drug laws. He has just come out with a new book expanding on his critique of the political system. It is simply titled "Revolution". Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! interviews him.
Watch - Is the War on Drugs doing more harm than good? In a bold talk, drug policy reformist Ethan Nadelmann makes an impassioned plea to end the "backward, heartless, and disastrous" war on drugs. He highlights many reasons to end the global obsession with stamping out drug use, amongst them, raising the important point that current drug laws are driven by racism. According to Nadelmann, "If the principle smokers of cocaine were affluent older white men and the principle consumers of Viagra were poor young black men, then smokable cocaine would be easier to get with a prescription from your doctor and selling Viagra would get you 5-10 years behind bars."
Watch - Wouldn't you want to know if your doctor was a paid spokesman for a drug company? Or held personal beliefs incompatible with the treatment you want? Right now, in many parts of the world, your doctor simply doesn't have to tell you about that. And when physician Leana Wen asked her fellow doctors to open up, the reaction she got was unsettling. There's a code of silence amongst doctors whose attitudes and behaviour challenge conventional notions of transparency and accountability. It's time for the public to demand change from this exceptionalism.
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