Grisly Arithmetic: humanitarian crisis in Mali

Some of the 50,000 Malian refugees who have fled to neighbouring Niger - almost ten times as many have fled elsewhere
Some of the 50,000 Malian refugees who have fled to neighbouring Niger – almost ten times as many have fled elsewhere

Crisis-riddled post-colonial Africa once looked to Mali as a heartening example that the continent could have peace and social stability. Now, as various ethnic and religiously driven factions fight for independence, the country looks set to tear itself apart.

Last year, sectarian violence in northern Mali forced 450,000 people out of their homes and left 1.2 million struggling to feed themselves as fighting disrupted food supplies in what was already one of the world’s most impoverished countries.

The crisis began with Mali’s Tuareg ethnic minority, cattle-herding Saharan nomads mostly living in country’s northern Azawad region. The Tuareg have spent decades chafing for independence and, last January, Tuareg militia groups took a bold stride towards realising that aspiration by rising up and expelling central government troops from their home province. Continue reading “Grisly Arithmetic: humanitarian crisis in Mali”

Ooh ‘eck It’s Glastonbury Again (And It’s Probably Sold Out)

Michael Eavis at the Glastonbury Festival
Michael Eavis at the Glastonbury Festival

Practically everything that can be said about Glastonbury selling out, going to the dogs, being slowly but inexorably gentrified or infiltrated by well-heeled hipsters in luxury tepees already has been. The Bemolution isn’t especially qualified to add anything, having never got round to going. This is despite being based within twenty minutes’ drive of Worthy Farm for over twenty years. If the wind’s blowing in the right direction and the crowds are particularly euphoric you can just about hear them from the Bemolutionary hill-fort.

What we do know is that our favourite music shop proprietor and all-round gentlebloke Adrian had been going for thirty years before reluctantly deciding he couldn’t afford it any more. That’s as much down to the slow strangulation of niche independent retailers as any sort of hard-heartedness from Michael Eavis, but the fact that Adrian didn’t seem especially fussed when the time came was more telling. Continue reading “Ooh ‘eck It’s Glastonbury Again (And It’s Probably Sold Out)”

Nile Rodgers (Good Times/He’s The Greatest Dancer)

Happen upon one of that rarest of rarities, a piece of mainstream pop music from the 1980s that was any good, and it’s fairly likely Nile Rodgers had a hand in making it. He’s not 100% reliable in that respect – he sucked all the substance out of David Bowie and was half-responsible for the worst part of his career. But as far as danceable chart hits go, Rodgers is the king, initially as Chic’s frontman, then as the wannabe hit-maker’s producer of choice. Continue reading “Nile Rodgers (Good Times/He’s The Greatest Dancer)”

Neoliberalism Nutshelled

The City of London
The City of London

A shameless, propagandising character assassination on everyone’s favourite wrenchingly unjust set of socioeconomic arrangements.

There’s nothing remotely original left to say about capitalism – or, for that matter, the ecological catastrophe it’s causing in its current neoliberal, hyper-consumerist form. 

Our whole way of life, in the Westernised world at least, is geared around constantly increasing the production and consumption of goods and services that we don’t need. Prevailing economic logic holds that to be ‘healthy’, an economy has to grow about 3% each year. That can’t be achieved by just satisfying real human needs – so instead, society has to create new, artificial needs. Continue reading “Neoliberalism Nutshelled”