Noam Chomsky Interview Plymouth Institute for Peace Research

In October 2014, the Plymouth Institute for Peace Research (www.pipr.co.uk) asked Noam Chomsky to comment on some important world developments, including the threat of nuclear war, the recent escalation of violence in Gaza, and the growth of ISIS in Iraq.

This year commemorates the centenary of the 1914-18 First World War. What are your reflections?

THERE IS much debate about assignment of responsibility/blame for the outbreak of this horrendous conflict, along with general agreement about one point: There was a high level of accident and contingency; decisions could easily have been different, avoiding catastrophe. There are ominous parallels to nuclear catastrophe.

An investigation of the history of near-confrontations with nuclear weapons reveals how close the world has come to virtual self-annihilation, numerous times, so much so that escape has been a near miracle, one unlikely to be perpetuated for too long.  The record underscores the warning of Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein in 1955 that we face a choice that is “stark and dreadful and inescapable: Shall we put an end to the human race; or shall mankind renounce war?”

A second no less chilling observation is the alacrity of the rush to war on all sides, in particular the instant dedication of intellectuals to the cause of their own states, with a small fringe of notable exceptions, almost all of whom were punished for their sanity and integrity – a microcosm of the history of the cultivated and educated sectors of society, and the mass hysteria that they often articulate.

The commemorations began around the same time as Operation Protective Edge. It is a tragic irony that Gaza is home to WWI memorial graves. What were the real—as opposed to rhetorical reasons—for Israel’s latest assault on Gaza?

It is critically important to recognize that a pattern was established almost a decade ago and has been followed regularly since: A ceasefire agreement is reached, Israel makes it clear that it will not observe it and continues its assault on Gaza (and illegal takeover of what it wants elsewhere in the occupied territories), while Hamas observes the ceasefire, as Israel concedes, until some Israeli escalation elicits a Hamas response, offering Israel a pretext for another episode of “mowing the lawn” (in Israel’s elegant parlance).

I have reviewed the record elsewhere; it is unusually clear for historical events.  The same pattern holds for Operation Protective Edge.  Another of the series of ceasefires had been reached in November 2012. Israel ignored it as usual, Hamas observed it nevertheless.  

In April 2014, Gaza-based Hamas and the Palestine Authority in the West Bank established a unity government, which at once adopted all of the demands of the Quartet (the US, EU, UN, Russia) and included no Hamas members.  Israel was infuriated, and launched a brutal operation in the West Bank, extending to Gaza, targeting mainly Hamas.  As always there was a pretext, but it quickly dissolves on inspection.  Finally killings in Gaza elicited a Hamas response, followed by Protective Edge.

The reasons for Israel’s fury are not obscure.  For 20 years, Israel has sought to separate Gaza from the West Bank, with full US support and in strict violation of the Oslo Accords that both had signed, which declare the two to be a single indivisible territorial entity.   Read the rest of this entry »


ASSOCIATION OF GREEK RESEARCHERS

ASSOCIATION OF GREEK RESEARCHERS (www.eee-researchers.gr)

HELLENIC CONFEDERATION OF EMPLOYEES IN RESEARCH CENTRES-INSTITUTIONS (HCERC-I)

HELLENIC CONFEDERATION OF EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATIONS OF PRIVATE LEGAL ENTITIES RESEARCH CENTERS (HCERC-PLE)

YOU CAN READ THE PETITION IN ENGLISH, FRENCH, PORTUGUESE AND GREEK

TO THE GREEK AND INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH COMMUNITY

PETITION

Greek Scientific Research “under attack” by the new Governmental Policy for Research, Technology and Innovation.

According to the Lisbon Strategy (Barcelona European Council Resolutions), all EU Member States should increase public funding for research to 3% of GDP by 2020. In Greece, however, public funding for research has continuously eroded (only 0.69% of GDP in 2012). As an immediate result, Greek public Research Centres are facing an ongoing and brutal future while struggling to maintain proper operational cohesion and make ends meet. In particular, the 10 public Research Centres of the Greek Secretariat for Research and Technology (GSRT) have been the most affected, as their budgets have fallen by 68% since 2008. They are now having great difficulties covering their operational costs, let alone finance actions to meet obligations to EU Directives and Regulations.

Making the situation even grimmer for Greek scientists, the -already approved- budgets of ongoing research programmes have been cut up to 28%, undermining their execution and completion, as well as damaging both the credibility of Greek Researchers and the reliability of the Greek government.

The most recent blow to Greek Scientific Research was given last week on the 13th of October 2014, when the Draft Law for Research, Technology and Innovation was presented to the Greek Parliament. Should such a law be voted in and applied, the already rough reality of Greek scientists will not just worsen, but it is more than certain that the Greek public research system (despite its successful operation, built on the proven excellence and sacrifices of the country’s scientific personnel) will be seriously impaired, if not utterly disbanded. If applied, the new law will lead to the closure of the public Research Centres currently employing 1800 permanent staff members and around 3000 staff members on contracts under national and international research programmes. This will occur because the proposed law:

- abolishes the legal framework safeguarding and regulating the operation of the existing Research Centres and personnel, and does not define the status of the Centres in the new research landscape,

- does not tether the State to cover even partially the operational costs of public Research Centres (it is worth mentioning that the Greek state is providing only 27M€ for all 10 public research centres in 2015),

- indirectly forces the Research Centres to become “enterprises” and the researchers to evolve into “entrepreneurs”, to survive “on their own”,

- contains numerous arbitrary articles, open to interpretation, that will not ameliorate the existing research framework and will not contribute to a sustainable public research system, but instead will slowly contribute to its disintegration.

Under this storm cloud, independent scientific research is seriously undermined and cannot contribute to science, society and above all the much needed development of the country. At the same time, the basic pillar for strengthening the much needed innovation in the Greek developmental model, will be jeopardised.

The Greek Research Community strongly protests against this new research policy that fails to modernise the Greek Research landscape, but instead denigrates it. We therefore contest the Draft Law and demand its withdrawal. We ask the government to secure unimpeded operation and funding to support the existing research system of the country.

The Association of Greek Researchers and the Confederations of Employees’ in Greek Research Centres invite you to sign this petition so as to immediately withdraw the Draft Law for R.T.I. and block:

  • The abolition of the national research infrastructure of the country;
  • The destruction of the accumulated national scientific capital of the experienced research personnel;
  • The transformation of the national research field into an arena favouring opportunistic plans and private interests;
  • The protection of the basic requirements and work conditions for research, so that new, bright scientists can continue unhindered to contribute to the production of research-based knowledge serving the interests of science, society and development.

Pétition

La recherche scientifique en Grèce est gravement menacée par la politique du gouvernement en matière de Recherche, de Développement Technologique et d’Innovation.

Malgré l’objectif de l’Union Européenne de favoriser une économie fondée sur la connaissance (stratégie de Lisbonne, mars 2000), objectif pour lequel les pays de l’U.E. sont tenus depuis mars 2002 d’investir 3% de leur P.I.B. dans la Recherche et le Développement (Conseil européen de Barcelone) et l’Innovation (Stratégie U.E. 2020, CE 2010), le financement public grec en la matière n’a cessé ces dernières années d’être en continuelle diminution atteignant à peine 0.69% du P.I.B. en 2012.

Les dix centres de recherche publics en Grèce relevant du Secrétariat Général pour la Recherche et la Technologie (SGRT) sous la tutelle du Ministère de l’Education ont subi de telles baisses successives de budget (réduction globale de 68% depuis 2008) qu’ils sont arrivés aujourd’hui à un point de non fonctionnement.

De plus, les récentes compressions budgétaires (jusqu’à 28%) imposées aux projets de recherche en cours de réalisation du Ministère de l’Education, bouleversent non seulement leur mise en œuvre mais affectent aussi sérieusement la crédibilité des chercheurs et la notoriété du gouvernement grec.

Dans cette situation à tout le moins difficile vient s’ajouter le projet de loi pour la Recherche, le Développement Technologique et l’Innovation, récemment déposé au Parlement. Ce projet de loi va conduire à l’abrogation de la loi cadre actuelle (N. 1514/1985) qui a constitué un tournant historique pour le développement de la recherche publique en Grèce. L’adoption de ce projet de loi et son application vont entrainer la dissolution du système de recherche publique du pays dont la qualité, l’originalité et l’impact des résultats, fruits du travail et sacrifices du personnel de recherche, font l’objet d’une indéniable reconnaissance internationale.

Les Centres de recherche publics du SGRT, avec un personnel composé de 1800 permanents et 3000 contractuels (principalement des jeunes scientifiques) sont menacés de fermeture par l’adoption de ce projet de loi, qui :
• prévoit la suppression des organismes de fonctionnement des Centres, sans aucune mesure relative au sort du personnel de recherche,
• n’engage aucune contribution fixe de l’Etat en matière de financement public national des Centres (en 2015 le budget de l’Etat réservé aux 10 Centres du SGRT est de moins de 27 MEuros),
• incite les Centres à se transformer en «entreprises» et les chercheurs en «chefs d’entreprise» afin de pouvoir survivre sur la base de leurs « propres ressources »,
• rase le paysage de la recherche existante, ne prévoit aucun règlement clair du système de recherche qu’il promeut et rend l’espace de la recherche vulnérable à toutes les formes d’arbitraire.

Dans ces conditions, la recherche libre et indépendante au service de la science, de la société et du développement est fortement compromise et sera dans l’impossibilité de fournir les fruits nécessaires à l’amélioration du contexte socioéconomique actuel.
La communauté des chercheurs proteste contre cette politique d’affaiblissement, pour ne pas dire d’effondrement, de la recherche qui conduit le pays à la régression. Elle lutte pour le retrait immédiat du projet de loi en phase d’adoption au Parlement et la garantie d’un fonctionnement fiable et durable du système de recherche existant qui nécessite avant tout un financement national adéquat.

L’Association des Chercheurs Grecs vous invite à signer cette pétition visant au retrait dudit projet de loi afin de contrer une politique intolérable :
• d’effondrement des structures nationales de recherche en Grèce,
• de destruction irrémédiable du capital scientifique national accumulé par le personnel de recherche,
• d’abandon de la recherche aux aspirations opportunistes et aux intérêts privés,

  • de renoncement à la protection des conditions de travail qui garantissent à l’espace de la recherche de continuer d’être une pépinière de nouveaux talents scientifiques contribuant à la production de nouvelles connaissances au bénéfice de la science, de la société et du développement de notre pays.

Medical Aid for Greece

You are invited to a fundraising dinner
Tuesday October 21 October 7.30 pm
Elysee Restaurant, 13 Percy Street, London W1T 1DP

Great food, music, raffle

Latest news from delegation just back from Athens

Tickets £30.00 each from greecesolidarity@mail.com
Book a Table! Forward this to your friends!

Cheques payable to ‘Medical Aid for Greece’ to GSC, Housman’s Bookshop, 5 Caledonian Road, London N1 9DX. Or pay direct to Medical Aid for Greece A/C 20307259 Sort Code 08-60-01

Greece Solidarity Campaign (Medical Aid for Greece”, UNITY TRUST Bank, Sort Code: 086001, Account Number: 20307259.

greek-health-emergency-300x256

Austerity measures have inflicted “shocking” harm on the health of the Greek population
Posted on February 21, 2014 by C
In a damngreek health emergencying article published in The Lancet (pdf), academics from the universities of Oxford and Cambridge and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have reported evidence of rising infant mortality rates, soaring levels of HIV infection among drug users, the return of malaria, and a surge in the suicides from 2009 and 2011.

The authors accuse the government and the troika of being “in denial” about the scale of the hardship inflicted on the people of Greece by the unprecedented cuts in health spending. “The people of Greece deserve better.”

Please tell us if you want the vegetarian option when you book
Austerity measures have inflicted “shocking” harm on the health of the Greek population | Greece Solidarity Campaign


Greece convicted for the inhumane conditions in Nafplio prison

25 September 2014 / 15:09:11 GRReporter
– See more at: http://www.grreporter.info/en/greece_convicted_inhumane_conditions_nafplio_prison/11752#sthash.1K0X1QnO.dpuf

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg issued another conviction against Greece in relation to the conditions in the prisons in the country.

The trial started when 16 prisoners from Nafplio prison (Greeks, Romanians, Ukrainians, Turks and Americans) turned to the Court in Strasbourg, complaining of prison conditions and the lack of space due to overcrowding in the cells in particular.

“This violates Article 3 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights, according to which no human being should be subjected to inhuman, degrading treatment, nor tortured”, explains for the electronic edition kathimerini.gr Konstantinos Tsitselikis, one of the lawyers in the case and Associate Professor at the University of Macedonia in Thessaloniki.

This sentence is part of a series of similar decisions, as over the past five years the European Court has established similar violations in other Greek prisons, such as Korydallos, Komotini, Ioannina, Thessaloniki and Tripoli, reminds the Professor.

“The violations are related not only to the lack of space due to overcrowding, but also to the insufficient medical care provided to prisoners”, adds the lawyer who took on the case along with Antonis Spatis.

According to the decision of the European Court of Justice, each prisoner who filed a complaint will be paid compensation amounting to 5,000-15,000 euro for having suffered damages due to the violation of Article 3 of the European Convention. The exact amount of the compensation will be determined according to the sentence that each of the prisoners is serving.

Simultaneously, the state is obliged to take care to avoid the future creation of conditions in favour of the violation of prisoners’ rights.

“There is a bad precedent related to the prison in Ioannina, where the European Court has established violations three times and fiercely criticized Greece, noting that it thus violates Article 3,” concludes Associate Professor Tsitselikis.

- See more at: http://www.grreporter.info/en/greece_convicted_inhumane_conditions_nafplio_prison/11752#sthash.1K0X1QnO.dpuf


Athens 1st anniversary of Pavlos Fyssas murder in Syntagma square

Athens 1st anniversary of Pavlos Fyssas murder in Syntagma 012

A big anti-fascism concert was held on Friday afternoon at Syntagma Square in Athens to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the murder of singer Pavlos Fyssas by a member of the far-right party Golden Dawn.

The concert was opened by hip-hop bands, whereas more than 30 musicians performed. Over 3000 people attended the concert, whereas Fyssas’ parents were also there.

The event is one of several held on Thursday in Keratsini, the district of Piraeus where Pavlos Fyssas was stabbed to death, and in various cities throughout Greece.


Crisis-scapes suspended Introduction by Antonis Vradis

Publisher: Routledge. Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

City: analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action

Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/ccit20

Crisis-scapes suspended: Introduction

Antonis Vradis
Published online: 24 Sep 2014.

To cite this article: Antonis Vradis (2014) Crisis-scapes suspended: Introduction, City: analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action, 18:4-5, 498-501, DOI: 10.1080/13604813.2014.949095

To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13604813.2014.949095

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CITY, 2014
VOL. 18, NOS. 4–5, 498–501, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13604813.2014.949095

Crisis-scapes suspended Introduction

Antonis Vradis

What may a major global financial crisis actually look like? How may it feel, what kind of form and shape may it take in the mundane and in the common, in the spaces of our everyday coex- istence? These questions had been tormenting the crisis-scape project from the outset, ques- tions that we in turn posed to our guests at our concluding conference that took place in Athens in May this year. Rather than trying to reflect upon the conference as a whole (which would have been a near- impossible task, with its twenty-two contri- butions in total), this Special Feature has chosen to focus on highlighting a relationship between it and the previous outcome of the crisis-scape.net team: the documentary Future Suspended1. An experimental play, in a sense, between the main structure that we ourselves had set for our documentary—and by extension, the structure of our research project as a whole—and the contributions presented in Athens during those early May days. The conversation is intriguing, even if not entirely pre-planned; could it be so for that exact reason?

The first section of the Special Feature, ‘Future Privatised’, tries to shed some light on the vast privatisation schemes that have been taking place in the Greek terri- tory—and beyond—during the current crisis, and their tremendous implications: Costis Hadjimichalis offers us a concise overview of this process of outright land- grabbing and land dispossession—and he explains how this leads, surely enough, to domestic devaluation and to the reproduc- tion of recession.

Throughout this time of crisis in the Greek territory, during this relentless drive for priva- tisations, for a devaluation of labour and infra- structures, for redrawing of the rules of capitalist reproduction, one term has repeat- edly sprang up in public discourse: ‘Chinifica- tion’ supposedly reflects the idea that this vast privatisation project would be matched by a relentless dive of wages and the value of infra- structure to the bottom. Such a conceptualis- ation, of course, is not only simplistic and bordering on the xenophobic/racist; most cru- cially, it seems to ignore the complex reality that China’s astounding development consists of, and the ways by which its growth engine, i.e. its speculative urbanisation, has been exe- cuted at the level of the state and contested at the field of the everyday. In his contribution, Hyun Bang Shin wonderfully articulates this very contesting.

In a perfect ‘bridge’ over the first and second section of the SF, Tom Slater uses his vast knowledge and experience from gentrification processes elsewhere to offer a suggestion for residents of the central Athe- nian neighbourhood of Exarcheia who are faced, it would seem, with early hints of the process soon-to-commence in their area, too. Athens is already heralded in inter- national media (even supposedly ‘progress- ive’ ones for that matter) as a city that is about to be reborn from its ashes, the ‘invest- ment opportunities’ posed by the city, and so on. Slater acutely warns about placing disin- vestment in a moral conundrum vis-a-vis reinvestment, what he terms a ‘false choice urbanism’: a tool used by its purveyors to conceal gentrification’s high political stakes.

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Archaeology and Assemblage

Call for papers:
TAG 2014, Manchester, 15-17 December.
Session: Archaeology and Assemblage
Organiser(s):
Yannis Hamilakis and Andrew Meirion Jones (University of Southampton)
Email:
y.hamilakis@soton.ac.uk
amj@soton.ac.uk
The concept of assemblage has long been part of the archaeological lexicon, implying groups of associated or related artefacts. Recent uses of the term have relied on the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze, who related it to the play of contingency or structure, organization and change, and emphasized the internal heterogeneity of the assemblage and its dynamic character. Developing this idea, the cultural theorist Jane Bennett (2010) describes assemblages as ad hoc groupings of diverse elements. ‘Assemblage’ relates to processes of arrangement, organizing and fitting together, and through these processes of arrangement and re-arrangement new material configurations are brought into being. For Bennett, this process is emergent, in that it makes things happen.
A number of recent writers in archaeology have adopted this definition of assemblage using the concept to describe the relationship between the archaeologist and the archaeological ‘record’, and its changing nature (Fowler 2013; Hamilakis 2013; Lucas 2012; Jones and Alberti 2013), while others have contrasted the notion of context and assemblage (Jones and Alberti 2013), and stressed the role of sensoriality in the activation of assemblages, proposing the term, “sensorial assemblages” (Hamilakis 2013). In addition, North American archaeologists have reworked the notion of assemblage in order to understand the Native American concept of ‘bundling’ (Pauketat 2013; Zedeño 2013). How useful is Bennett and Deleuze’s notion of assemblage to archaeology? How does it relate to the notion of assemblage as typically understood by archaeologists? What are the limits of the notion of assemblage; can everything be described as a form of assemblage? Is ‘bundling’ a useful cross-cultural concept or should its use be restricted to North American context? This session is intended to continue the debates begun in the TAG 2013 session ‘Towards an archaeology of becoming’.


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