Christiansen, De Uralde, Schmutz and Thijssen may not be household names like the contestants in lame TV show The X Factor but history may view them as the heroes of a much greater contest, the fight to stop governments and big business killing off our planet. While slimy corporate lobbyists and spineless politicians were toying with the earth’s future at the Copenhagen UN Climate Conference, these four – and several colleagues - carried out a daring piece of non-violent direct action. Here's why we think they’re heroes and the Danish authorities aren't.
Some of us gullible liberals had the audacity to hope that the election of Barack Obama might signal a new start for democracy in South America. That slim hope is fading rapidly. While US authorities continue to snipe against democratically elected leaders like Hugo Chávez in Venezuela and Evo Morales in Bolivia, they seem to be a bit more reluctant to speak out or take decisive action against the leader of a military coup which ousted the Honduran President Manuel Zelaya. We think we might know why.....
Although the US has a new President and the UK has a Labour government, little seems to have changed in our attitudes to Latin America. Our views, as articulated in the mainstream media, seem to depend less on whether a particular nation is democratic and peaceful than whether the leader in question can be manipulated to do our bidding. Recent developments in Colombia would appear to support the view that it’s business as usual for the US in Latin America.
There’s been plenty of coverage of the events unfolding in Iran. Meanwhile, as the eyes of the world – and its media - have been on Tehran, there have been equally disturbing, but much less publicised developments in Peru. The attempted implementation of yet another dodgy US free trade agreement has resulted in protests, heavy-handed suppression and over fifty deaths. Here’s your chance to find out what your newspaper and Sky News may not have told you.
It’s the year 2055 and our world lies devastated. One man sits alone in a remote structure high above the Arctic Ocean. He’s watching archive footage from 2007 and keeps asking himself the question, ‘why didn’t we do something about climate change when we had the chance?’ The Age of Stupid is a powerful film about climate change, oil, war, politics, consumerism and human stupidity. It’s part drama, part documentary but 100% sobering. Here we review the film and provide some ideas for action we can all take to prove we’re not stupid......
There are some situations about which we feel very angry but equally powerless. One of these is the plight of the Palestinians, hugely exacerbated by the recent Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip and the subsequent ground invasion. Much has been written about the recent conflict and the resulting humanitarian tragedy, but we got involved in some of the protests and would like to have our say on the ongoing issue of justice in the Middle East. And the football connection? Well that would be giving the game (of two halves) away......
Take the Red Pill has always believed that charity alone will not solve the problems associated with global poverty. In fact, it can sometimes make things worse. Yes, we need direct aid, sometimes urgently, for those who are desperately poor but we also need to challenge the systems which cause poverty. Brazilian Bishop Helder Camara said, “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. And when I ask why they have no food, they call me a Communist.” Here we look at one aid organisation working in the spirit of Helder Camara.
I must admit that when I woke up on Saturday morning, I was tempted to pull the duvet back over my head and spend the rest of the day in bed. I swear that my warm pillow started whispering to me. “Who’s going to know if you don’t go on the march?”, “What difference will one person make?” and “Blimey, what did you eat last night, you stink?” Somehow I managed to get my butt out of that bed and down to Northampton station for the trip to the Smoke. It was obviously my day – it was a Virgin train AND it left on time.......
Euphoria seems to be the order of the day. People all around the world are walking with a spring in their step and a smile on their face because Senator Barack Obama has won the 2008 US Presidential Election. Yet we have a sneaking suspicion that if they were asked the reason for their happiness about the result, many would be unable to give a clear answer, possibly resorting to mumbling something about ‘hope’ or ‘change’ or, worse still, uttering the McSlogan ‘Yes we can!’
Considering their claim to love democracy, the US, Australia and the 27 member states of the EU - including the UK - have been very quiet about the overwhelming success of Bolivia’s President Evo Morales in the country’s recent recall referendum. Despite the support of over 67% of voters, Morales’ government doesn’t fit the western model because it’s genuinely concerned with social justice rather than an economic system based on more profits for those with more than enough already. Here’s to Morales, another hero of South America’s socialist revolution.
...but it may help! Hey, my apologies if I’ve caused any offence but in the last couple of days I received an email which left my jaw scraping the carpet and my heart very, very heavy. I mean a lot of rubbish is delivered to my inbox but this one wins some sort of prize for stupidity, bigotry and double standards......
Here it is at last – the imaginatively-titled follow up to War & Peace 1 – The Just War Tradition! TTRP takes a look at the subject of alternatives to war, using as our base Mark Kurlansky’s excellent book Non-Violence (The History of a Dangerous Idea). I’m naturally drawn to the idea of non-violence but have always had nagging doubts about whether it could work effectively in all situations. Would the ideas of people like Jesus, Gandhi or Martin Luther King have worked against an evil regime like Nazi Germany?
On Sunday 2 December, Hugo Chávez suffered his first electoral setback since being elected as President of Venezuela in 1998. By the narrowest of margins – 50.7% to 49.3% - the opposition won the referendum and defeated the proposed changes to the Venezuelan constitution. Despite this disappointing result for Chávez’s democratic socialist revolution, Take the Red Pill can still look on the positive side. The President remains in a strong position and the revolution could grow stronger if it learns a few lessons from the defeat.
Growing up, I was taught – or perhaps more accurately, I assumed my parents’ view – that war was evil but, that at certain times, it was a necessary evil reluctantly used for the greater good. Nazi Germany epitomised the sort of enemy which could only be suppressed by military force and World War 2 was held up as the ultimate just war. Over the years my thinking has changed.....
If you read the mainstream press, you could be excused for thinking that the most exciting recent development in Latin America was an unelected monarch insulting a president who suffers from occasional verbal diarrhoea. With respect, however, you would be wrong. Significant events are occurring in that region and the majority of our media is not telling us the full story. So here’s a brief summary gleaned from some more alternative and independent sources.
Today is the fortieth anniversary of the execution of Che Guevara and, around the world, millions of words will be spoken and written about the Argentinian-born revolutionary. Tacky souvenirs will be sold to people with little or no knowledge of who he was. Even so, Take the Red Pill couldn’t let the occasion pass without adding a few words of its own. Icon of the left and scourge of the right, we provide a potted history and a brief opinion of his relevance in 2007 and beyond.
Here at TTRP, we’re a little bit obsessed about water. Whether it’s our desire to see clean water and good sanitation kept in public hands and defined as a basic human right (see Water – Commercial Product or Human Right?) or our disquiet about the bottled water industry (see Lose Your Bottle and Get Running!), we are passionate about H2O. In this brief article, we’ve set out some of the facts about the world’s water and some links to organisations which are campaigning to make things better. Don’t click away! Read on, find out a few facts and then do something.
In the spirit of Black and White Flight, we’re reproducing a great story doing the rounds on the internet and, consequently, no doubt being closely monitored by the CIA. Almost certainly not a true story but it’s asking all the right questions and reminding us that those who promote democracy with violence might not be on the side of the good. We hope you enjoy......
Since getting back from Venezuela in January, we’ve heard disturbing news of what President Hugo Chavez is doing in Venezuela. This is no surprise as most of this news came via the BBC and the mainstream UK media, the sort of people who call the UK and US administrations governments but reserve the heavily-loaded word regime to describe the democratically elected government in Venezuela. So what has been happening since Chavez’s landslide re-election? A frank look at the good, the bad and the ugly side of the continuing revolution.
Philip Pritchard is a carpenter and Toby Olditch is a builder. On 18 March 2003, they were arrested inside RAF Fairford's perimeter fence. Their aim was to sabotage B52 bombers which played a major role in the bombing of Iraq, which started two days later. The bombing involved cluster bombs which spread unexploded bomblets that kill and maim civilians, and 'bunker busting' bombs tipped with depleted uranium. The two were charged with conspiring to cause criminal damage but, last Tuesday, a jury at Bristol Crown Court returned a unanimous verdict of not guilty.
If you’ve read I Predict A Riot, you’ll know that the French do like to slap the odd Citroen or Renault on the barbecue next to the saucissons when they’re not very happy about something. Whereas the average Englishman might summon up a shrug of the shoulders or a cry of “jolly bad show”, our neighbours across the Channel put a bit more va va voom into their expressions of disgust. The French were revolting again after the election of Nicholas Sarkozy as President last Sunday.
There’s a shifty looking geezer hanging around in a murkier part of Westminster. As you try to walk past him, he blocks your way and opens his coat to show you his wares. He looks around furtively before leaning in closer. “Weapons of Mass Destruction, madam? Bargain at just £20 billion plus creative accounting. Guaranteed to obliterate your enemies and a few others. Extended parts warranty and collateral damage insurance available. Ready to fire in 45 minutes.” Unsurprisingly, you hurry on. His last desperate pitch – “Buy one, get one free?”
It’s true that President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela speaks and acts sometimes in ways which seem unnecessarily confrontational but, as far as I’m aware, he has never claimed to be perfect. One thing is certain though. He’s having an impact on many people worldwide, ranging from the poor in the barrios around Caracas to low income residents in Massachusetts to purple-faced British journalists. So is Chavez an evil and dangerous demagogue or a South American version of Robin Hood?
I guess that few people remain unmoved on seeing pictures or hearing stories about young kids who live on the street – hungry, homeless, vulnerable and, in a very literal sense, hopeless. Many may have given to charities or projects working with street kids in countries like Brazil. Some of you, like me, may have questioned throwing money at a problem caused by the very systems we may endorse in our everyday lives. I've just met some people who are helping street kids in practical ways and working to challenge the root causes of poverty and oppression.
Mainstream news too often revolves around the bad news stories like wars, disasters, crime, corruption and child abuse. Sometimes this is justified, but there needs to be a better balance. A picture of a starving child may sell more papers than one of a well-nourished child, but shouldn’t we see and hear about both? In South America, good things are happening but few people are reporting them. Well here’s some news about the poor being housed, given their own land and fighting environmental damage.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted and proclaimed by the United Nations on 10 December 1948, failed to define water explicitly as a basic human right. Clearly it is implied in the right to life (article 3), but this omission has been, and is continuing to be, exploited by huge multinational corporations to control the delivery of clean water and the provision of sanitation to millions of people worldwide.
“Though rich in mineral and energy resources, Bolivia is one of the poorest countries on the continent.” Thus says BBC News’ online country profile. It’s taken much too long but finally the country has a democratically elected leader who is asking the obvious question – “why?” – and seems genuinely prepared to do something about it. On May Day, he took the first big step towards turning his country in a new direction, one which will hopefully see the ordinary people of Bolivia enjoy some of the profits from the country’s rich resources.
France may have thrashed England 31-6 in the Six Nations rugby union tournament but there is another activity in which the French have been ahead of all the British for some considerable time – and that is protesting. Huge numbers often rise up as one to protest, sometimes escalating to civil disorder and riots, and once to national revolution.
Lula, Bachelet, Chavez, Morales. If I were to read this list to a representative group of British citizens, it is disheartening to think that only a small proportion might recognise the names, even less know their significance. How different if I were to read out another list of South Americans. Maradona, Pele, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Gilberto.