Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Unfortunate Incident Involving Duck

Last night, while watching Baddiel and Skinner, I was reminded of an unfortunate encounter with a duck a few months ago. David Baddiel was recounting an incident in which he tried to stop, as he put it, 'the effective gang-rape of a female duck' by several drakes (don't worry, my unfortunate encounter did not involve rape - just want to point that out right away). Baddiel explained that although he tried to intervene to save the victim, he found it extraordinarily difficult to scare away or separate the creatures. They're extremely stubborn animals, he said. 'Baddiel,' I thought, 'you're absolutely right there'. They don't look it, but ducks are exceptionally bloody minded, brutal and tough creatures who do not appear to be aware of humankind's 'natural dominion' over the animal kingdom. Ducks bow to no human.

York campus is chock full of ducks. In fact, you can't move for bloody ducks. Or, at least, you certainly can't move for duck shit. There must be at least a couple of hundred of them in residence on the banks of the campus lake. In addition, there are a great many geese, moor-hens (which produce the most incredibly cute offspring - tiny fluffy black things with extremely long legs and with feet twice as big as the rest of their body) and several other types of water-fowl things that I don't know the name for. You may think that a large concentration of water-fowl, students and student bars in the same general location would make for disastrous consequences. Surprisingly, however, students and ducks seem to get on with their studenty or ducky business relatively incident free. The worst that happens, with any frequency, is the occasional tense standoff between a timid fresher wanting to go one way along a narrow path and a gang of ducks wanting to go the other (sometimes these stand-offs last for several minutes - I like to watch them).

On rare occasions, however, the paths of duck and human cross in much more traumatic ways. I know - I experienced the horror of a serious duck confrontation first-hand.

It was early spring this year, and I was in a seminar room (not quite sure what I was doing - in all likelihood I was waiting for a seminar I suppose) with a few other people. The seminar room overlooks a section of the lake which is particularly popular with ducks. I remember hearing a strange commotion going on outside the room and someone went over to the window and reported that a duck appeared to be in the process of attempting to murder another duck. I went to the window, looked out, and saw a male duck holding another drake in what can only be described as a headlock, griping its adversary's neck with its beak and furiously pushing its victim's head into the ground. It looked very much as if the assailant was attempting to snap its enemy's neck in half.

By this stage my friend had already gone outside and was attempting to shoo the aggressor duck away from the fight. Being a terrible sentimentalist when it comes to animals and suffering I, too, went straight outside and attempted to break up the fight. It was clear after a few minutes of trying to remonstrate with the ducks*, clapping hands and waving arms to scare the assailant away that non-physical measures were hopeless. That duck brute was not going to stop - it seemed completely unimpressed and unintimidated by the presence of two disapproving, tut-tutting humans looming over it.

I needed to get tough with the duck.

So I carefully placed one foot underneath the belly of the aggressor and applied some pressure - with the intention of gently prising the two creatures apart and allowing the victim duck to make a getaway. Unfortunately I must have badly misjudged the amount of pressure needed and underestimated the weight of an adult duck. They are, I discovered, incredibly light creatures. Instead of some gentle prising away of the attacking duck from the other, the pressure from my foot caused the animal to be lifted about 7 feet in the air. I had effectively lobbed the duck with the type of nudging kick any footballer would be pleased with. As the duck arched up through the air and above my head I seem to remember a distinct look of surprise on the face of the unfortunate creature**. Luckily, as the startled duck hurtled back down towards the earth it flapped its wings a bit and managed to make a controlled landing. No-one hurt.

Now this place-kicking of the duck, in all truth, probably startled me more than it did the duck. I seriously had no intention of lobbing it. In fact lobbing a duck is very likely a serious offence - there are all sorts of rules about what you can't do to ducks in the university's ordinance and regulations. After a few seconds of incomprehension I turned around towards the politics department buildings (only a few feet away) and to my horror, I saw that (in addition to the people who'd been in the seminar room with me) the department secretary and an eminent professor of labour history were staring out of a window at me with a curious expression on their faces. For a few days afterwards I was more than a little worried of being disciplined for animal cruelty - luckily, however, the secretary and professor saw the funny side (although I have never quite lived the incident down. I am notorious as the postgrad who 'drop-kicked' a duck - which is not quite true of course - but chinese whispers and all that).

What happened to the ducks? Had I at least saved a duck's life? Well, possibly, but to my immense chagrin, the victimised duck at the receiving end of an attempt on its life did not seize the chance to fly away and out of trouble, but almost immediately as soon as the lobbed duck touched down, rushed at its enemy and proceeded to get its recent assailant in exactly the same headlock that it had previously suffered itself and, with impressive vigour, attempted to break its neck. Bastards.

* On reflection, I see now that attempting to reason with a duck - 'hey guys, like violence is never the way' - was not a particularly good idea.
** Ok, ok, this is probably a false memory and has more to do with what I want to remember than with what actually happened. Ducks probably have a fairly limited range of facial expressions and don't really look surprised even if unexpectedly lobbed skywards.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Racist Morons

I saw two instances of hostility towards muslims today - one much much worse than the other. Both instances came within 2 minutes of each other, although the hostility emanated from different people and was directed at different people. I'm quite shocked because I've never seen direct racist abuse in York before. Of course, I'm not saying that York is a bastion of anti-racism and I'm sure there are far too many racist cretins in the city (actually I seem to remember that the BNP got over 700 votes in York in the Euro elections). In fact, I saw and heard a stupid drunken young woman call a (white) man (who'd been leering at her from across the road) a 'fooking nigger' a few days ago - but I've never seen such behaviour actually directed at non-whites before.

I wouldn't call the first incident I describe below, racist, but I think it at least implied a certain hostility towards, or fear of, muslims. I probably only remember it because it was followed, very soon after, by something much nastier. The second incident was clearly a direct (verbal) racist attack. Here's what happened.

I was walking along the river on my way to campus at about 12.30 this afternoon. There's a wide path along the side of the river which is popular with tourists and people out for a stroll, especially in summer. Anyway, I was walking along this path behind an elderly couple. I was close enough, and the pathway was quiet enough, for me to overhear their conversation. The couple were passing a bench upon which was sitting a muslim woman (it was clear she was muslim from her clothing) and her child. I heard the old man say 'Is that a muslim?' to his companion and his companion said back to him 'Shhh, there's someone about to pass us' (I was about to overtake them at this point). Now, of course I've no idea what the man was about to say, but it seems fairly likely that it wasn't going to be complimentary - why else would his partner have advised him to be quiet? I suppose that he might have been about to remark how nice it was to see a muslim or something, but somehow I doubt it. I'm sure that no harm was meant and that the man was not about to start spouting a load of racist abuse - but I just wondered why it was that he should point out a muslim to his partner - why he should be so interested? It's not too difficult to imagine that the man (and perhaps his partner) feel a certain amount of hostility and fear towards muslims- seeing one in the street is something that they take particular notice of. This was a relatively harmless incident of course - but I was left wondering whether the muslim lady and her child had overheard the man's question just as I had. How often are muslims pointed at or whispered about in the street I wonder? How does it make them feel to have people eyeing them up - to hear people quietly saying something about 'muslims' as they pass.

Anyway, I walked on and came to a part of the river where there's a concrete slip-way which is popular with anglers. There were two middle aged anglers who, I must say looked a bit thuggish (can I call them 'lumpens'?) sitting on the concrete. They seemed to be taking a particular interest in something they could see over their shoulders and so I turned to look in the direction that they were looking. There was a large group of asian people coming down the road towards the pathway - they looked like a couple of families of tourists. By coincidence, like before, I was able to hear their conversation as I passed. One was saying to the other 'Look it's a bunch of terrorists, ha ha.' I thought 'Oh yeah, that's really funny you fucking arseholes' and carried on walking. However, they then started to shout racist abuse at the passing people - 'Why don't you fuck off, fucking muslim terrorists!'. I stopped, turned and watched them - unsure of what to do. The morons were clearly enjoying it. It was also clear that they were pig-ignorant - there was nothing to suggest that the families they were insulting were muslim at all (not that this would have made the abuse any better, of course) - they were not wearing any obviously religious clothing. The thing is, that I don't suppose it actually mattered one jot to these Nazi fucks whether or not the targets of their taunts were muslims - what mattered to them was that they had dark skin.

To their credit, the asian families simply ignored the men and carried on in the direction that they were going. I considered shouting something back at the men but, for whatever reason, I didn't. As soon as the families had passed, and the idiots had gone back to their fishing, I carried on walking. Of course, if the cavemen had actually threatened, or assaulted the people they shouted at I would have gone to help (as I'm sure other people at the scene would have, too).

We are living in frightening times. It must be doubly so, if you are muslim. What must it be like, getting ready to leave the house every morning, to wonder how many times that day people will mumble something about you, whisper about you, point you out in the street, perhaps even insult you directly, or worse? In fact, it seems that it's not just muslims who have to worry about Islamophobia in the street from the evidence I saw today. Anyone with dark skin is in danger of attack in this poisonous atmosphere.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

I Like Moose

I am very interested in moose. Always have been. Always will be. In fact, I think the moose is probably my favourite living animal. I have never seen an actual moose, but I have seen several photos.

Whenever I want information on moose I usually go to Mooseworld - which is the home of 'authoritative moose facts'. There are several other pretty good moose sites about too, such as Go Moose! and Moose Moose Moosey Moose.

Here are some interesting facts about moose:

There are some pretty good moose safety tips here. The best pieces of advice, I think, are these:

Monday, July 11, 2005


It's General Synod time again and York campus is full of nice men in beards and nice women in floral frocks. I'm informed that today they are voting on whether or not to allow women to become bishops.

Amongst the highly convincing and logical arguments against the consecration of women bishops, is this one from the Bishop of Ebbsfleet:

"A woman bishop wouldn't be a bishop because a bishop is someone whose ministry is acceptable through the ages to all other bishops".

Errr.... yes, good point that*. It is evidently absurd to imagine that women could be consecrated as bishops when this might not be acceptable to long dead bishops from the 3rd Century or to hypothetical future bishops in the 31st Century - all of whom, presumably, exist in some kind of mystical bishop-continuum beyond space and time (to which the Bishop of Ebbsfleet clearly has access).

Bishops without testicles are just not on. No sir-ee. What a ludicrous proposition - one cannot possibly perform a bishop's tasks unless one has a miniature bishop of one's own between one's legs. We all know what flighty, irresponsible and intellectually inferior creatures women are. There is absolutely no way that one of those vain, giggling beings could ever take on such a challenging job - they'd only spend their time doing their hair in front of the mirror or gossiping about Eastenders or something instead of getting on with the important business of... well, whatever it is that bishops do.

Anyway, all of these high-falutin' intellectual-theological discussions going on right now in the Central Hall about what may or may not be acceptable to hypothetical bishops are far beyond the likes of you or me. We should leave it to the experts. Clearly one has to be an intellectual heavyweight, like the bishop of Ebbsfleet, to engage in meaningful discussion about whether or not the possession of a vagina somehow supernaturally disqualifies one from bishopy duties.

My mind works on a much lower level than those great men. In fact my interest in the activities of bishops is decidedly low-brow. I am only really interested in celebrity bishops, you see. Every year, during the General Synod week, I like to stand outside the meeting hall, with a pencil and notepad, bishop-spotting. I've seen the Archbishop of Canterbury (he always reminds me of Mr Tumnus from the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe - there's something decidedly goaty about him. He looks very much like a faun or a satyr - though without the animal legs, obviously, and without, I suppose, the priapic, bestial lusts), the new Archbishop of York and that bishop who had a TV series recently (the Bishop of Liverpool I think). I have, of course, seen numerous other not-so-famous bishops as well. If I may be so bold, I would go so far as to say that I have probably seen more bishops in the last 2 years than any other non-bishop would see in a lifetime! I've certainly seen far more bishops than any of you. HA!

I'm thinking about setting up a small business next year. What I'll do is I'll construct a hide on the banks of the campus lake and hire it out to people for say a tenner an hour, plus hire out binoculars, cameras and a handy bishop spotters' guide, complete with illustrations. It's a hobby waiting to happen. I could make an absolute mint.

* Incidentally, the Bishop of Ebbsfleet's phrase here may well be a contender for the world record on the number of times the word 'bishop' can be inserted into a (vaguely) coherent sentence.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


Fausto Bertinotti has made what, I think, is the best statement from the Left on today's terrorist atrocity in London.

“What occurred in London is the atrocity of a barbarism. Peaceful people should mobilise”

Once again violence is upsetting the world. Any place, any city, any country may become a stage for devastation and death. Women and men of any ethnic group, any age, any social condition are seeing their innocent lives destroyed. This is the atrocity of a barbarism. Today terrorism is upsetting London and the world. The spiral of war and terrorism is the terrifying background — both are the enemies of humanity. Last Saturday in Edinburgh a big white-clad march addressed poverty and war in peaceful and nonviolent language. Now the anti-war movement should become a key player in a worldwide mobilisation against terrorism and war. Only the people can stop this horrible violence.

Press Statement by Fausto Bertinotti, Chair of the European Left Party


'James O' drew my attention to this statement from Preston Respect, which I think is very good, too. What's especially impressive about it, is that it's signed by representatives of several faith groups and other social organisations.

Like all people across Britain we are shocked and horrified by the explosions in London today. Our thoughts are with the families of those who died and those who were injured.

There can be no justification for deaths and injuries to civilians – whether those deaths are in London or Baghdad, Kabul or New York, Falluja or Madrid.

London is a great multi-cultural city and the bombs have affected people from all communities.

It is important that we stand together and do not let people use today’s horrors to divide us and foster suspicion at the normal daily activities of some within the minority communities in this country.

We would like to pass on our praise and thanks to those in the emergency services who have worked so hard to deal with those who have been hurt and injured or trapped on trains and buses – they provide an invaluable service for our community."

Cllr Michael Lavalette
Vijayanti Chauhan (Chair, Preston Faith Forum)
Mo. Saeed Ahmed (Jamea Masjid)
Rev. James Watterson (Carey Baptist Church)
Mo. Elyas Desai (Jamea Mosque)
Rev Ken Walton (Central Methodist Church)
Father Michael Murphy (St Augustine’s, Preston)
Steve Harman, (Brigade Sec. Lancs FBU)
Andy Tatchell (Branch Sec. Lancs and Cumbria CWU)
Estelle Cooch (Lancashire Youth Council)
Mukhtar Master (Lancashire Branch Unison [pc])

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

More on Edinburgh

I recommend this report on the Edinburgh demonstration from the Socialist Unity Network. It has a number of minor criticisms about how the radical left approached the demonstration - as well as some criticism of the MPH campaign more broadly. One thing this report brings out, which I didn't really refer to in mine (below), is the large presence of Christian groups on the march and the stand-offish separation between them and the more radical bloc. As the report says, the Left is really bad at making their ideas seem relevant to this more cautious and politically moderate/naive(?) wing of the MPH movement.

Oh, and if you scroll down the report, the second photograph shows the front of the STWC march (the banner I talk about below) and the man in the brown leather jacket at the left of the picture is my thesis supervisor.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Edinburgh March

Four coach-loads of demonstrators left the centre of York at 6am on Saturday (with more from the university - 2, I think) bound for the Edinburgh 'Make Poverty History' march. We got to Edinburgh at about 11 O'clockish and as our coach made its way into the centre of the city, it was clear that the demonstration was going to be big. The main route into Edinburgh city centre was packed with coaches and we could see swarms of white clad people making their way along the streets towards the Meadows.

When the coach dropped us off, my friend and I made our way to the Stop the War Coalition stage where we heard announcements that STWC supporters should rally by the stage at 11.30 so that we could join the march as an organised group. The STWC stage was situated at the back end of the Meadows separated by a row of trees (and some 10 minutes walking distance) from the main MPH stage. The MPH organisers were obviously a little embarrassed by the presence of radicals, and so had shoved us away towards the back, out of sight. We had a few minutes to wander round the Meadows before the march started. There were various party, charity and campaign group stalls selling t-shirts, wristbands, papers, flags and so on. There was a strange, large inflatable thing where the Friends of the Earth were gathering - an odd cross between a bouncy castle and sculpture depicting environmental damage. Some anarchists (I think) had built a Heath-Robinson-like vehicle-contraption out of buggies, cycles and bits of scrap - all hammered together to form a weird and wonderful armoured vehicle decorated with flags and painted with a flower pattern. The thing was crewed by 4 or 5 dreadlocked young women. God knows whether they were allowed to pedal it along the route of the march.

The crowd had chosen, mostly, to dress in white (although there were quite a few red and yellow Scottish Socialist Party t-shirts about) and this made the sight of the crowd all the more impressive. At about 11.30 the Meadows was absolutely packed with people - a sea of white across the wide expanse of the park. As the various groups started to gather in their various parts of the field, colourful flags, banners and placards were raised across the Meadows. The sight was oddly reminiscent of a Medieval army mustering for battle. There were a great many flags amongst the crowd and the same flags tended to be clustered in the same parts of the field, where the groups were gathering - red SSP and SWP ones, green 'Friends of the Earth' ones, black white and red 'War on Want' flags and, of course, hundreds of white MPH ones. Here and there, great Trade Union banners were hoisted up amongst the crowd.

There must have been several hundred people who gathered at the STWC stage. Amongst them were some comrades from Rifondazione who treated us to some Italian socialist songs while we waited for the march to begin. Eventually, someone gave the signal to move off and the group filed into a thick line behind the main STWC banner. There was a deafening sound as loud hailers whooped, bullhorns blared and hundreds of people blew whistles (including me) as we started to move. We didn't get far however, before we ground to a halt. There seemed to be some kind of bottle neck as the various groups tried to make their way out through the narrow exits to the Meadows. We thought it would only take a few minutes, before we started to walk again - little did we know. In fact we were stuck in the Meadows for about 3 hours before we managed to get out. No-one really knew what was happening. There were various rumours (after the first hour or so of waiting) that the police had blocked off the demonstration after running battles with anarchists - after checking the news it seems that there was some very minor trouble with a few black clad idiots, but that this wasn't the reason for the hold up. Other people suggested that the MPH organisers hadn't planned for so many demonstators and that the streets of Edinburgh were too narrow to let us all through at once. It was incredibly irritating to be stuck there without any official announcements about what was going on (although as we slowly shuffled towards the exit we could hear a loud speaker saying something about being held back for our own safety - but for the first 2 and a half hours or so we heard nothing). Some comrades with loud hailers did try to communicate with each other across the crowds to work out what was going on and then relayed this information to those around them. It was extremely hot and I'm surprised that people didn't collapse out of sun-stroke - thankfully, the part of the crowd I was in happened to be stuck for much of those three hours under the shade of small copse of trees. It must have been hell in the full glare of the sun. The boredom was alleviated somewhat by the presence of a great number of samba bands dotted amongst the crowd. There was particularly good one - a genuine Brazilian one, with dancers and everything - which we passed after about an hour and a half.

The STWC group tried to keep together - I was very impressed with the spontaneous discipline of the crowd - it would have been so easy for people to break away and try to thread their way through the crowd to the front in the hope of pushing through, out of the Meadows. However, it's very difficult to hold a group together in those kind of circumstances for 3 hours, with the continuous unpredictable movements of a large crowd - by the time my friend and I got to the front, we'd lost all but a small group of our section and the main figurehead banner was some way off in front of us. When we got to the front we found that there were several lines of crash barriers, small sections of which the police would open up, periodically, to let a small trickle of people through (to the next line of barriers). It was like finding that you were in 'One Man and His Dog' and that you were one of the sheep. We were told that this was being done to prevent a crush. I can accept that. However, there should have been a better explanation about what was going on - the crowd should have been told what was happening, rather than simply being herded through various barriers like demo fodder.

Eventually we made it through the last barrier and out onto the streets. As we passed through into the march there was another great roar of whistles, bull horns and cheers and everyone hoisted up their placards and flags. The march itself was great fun. At various points, where there was a long straight stretch of road, you could if you stood on tiptoe or climbed up onto a railing, see an enormous white snaking line of demonstrators. Near the castle, where the road winds down towards Princes street, there was a huge 'Make Capitalism History' banner which had been draped over the railings at the side of the road, and which dominated the scenery as you made your way down the hill. The castle itself displayed a massive 'Make Poverty History' banner, which hung from the outer walls. The mood of the crowd on the march was extremely happy and friendly - there was a lot of singing, chanting and dancing. People chatted excitedly to complete strangers at their side or asked them to take their picture. Every now and again a roar would sweep across the crowds - like a sonic mexican wave. You could hear a commotion of whistles and shouts someway off in the distance (prompted by goodness knows what) and listen to it running rapidly down the street towards you, getting louder and louder until everyone around you was whistling and cheering, and then it would run away from you, getting quieter, as it passed along the line. It was a strangely exhilarating.

The march itself took about 45 minutes to complete. By the time we got back to the Meadows, the mini-concert had started on the main stage. As I passed the stage, that talentless arsehole Daniel Beddingfield was in full flow (and singing badly out of tune). I got out of there very quickly.

At 4.30 a series of speakers took to the STWC stage. A large crowd had gathered to listen to them (although, it has to be said, a much larger crowd - the nicer people who'd come to the march in sensible shoes and with a thermos at the ready - were listening to Beddingfield). There were a good ten or so people who spoke, including Carolyn Leckie from the SSP (passionate), the SNP's Alex Salmond (rather dull), Sami Ramidani and a man from Fulluja (not sure whether he was there during the seiges), George Monbiot (missed it unfortunately) and Fausto Bertinotti (oddly subdued). I thought that the best speeches came from Jeremy Corbyn (a real stonker) and Walden Bello. I had to leave before the speeches ended, however, because our coach was due to leave at 6.

Then it was 5 hours back down to York. When I got back in, I must say, I was more than a little annoyed to see that all the TV coverage was taken up by that great spectacle (in Debord's sense of the word) and luvvie fest that was Live8 - come on, let's solve world poverty by gawping at a selection of the most dull, middle of the road musicians we could get hold of - oh, and less of the politics please, it'll ruin the whole big concert atmosphere.

I got a copy of 'The Times' yesterday (Observer and Indie sold out) - there were 10 pages of pictures of pop stars, interspersed with simpering reviews of the various Live8 performances and one small article on page 11 about the march. So 225,000 protesters are relegated to the back pages, while the brain-dead tossers who turned up to watch a feel-good, de-politicised, celebriddy backslapping fest are feted. The media's heroes are those who stood meekly and star-struck in a stadium, obediently waving their lighters en masse to the sickly Robbie Williams ballads - or better yet, who sat on their arses at home watching it.

This is 'politics' in the age of Heat Magazine. This is 'protest' in the most commodified, spectacular, vapid, alienated, meaningless, tacky, plasticky and goddam fucking lazy form ever yet devised. I feel sick.

We may have been penned in like sheep in the Meadows, but I'll tell you one thing - the real sheep weren't those who marched in Edinburgh.

Just been trawling through some articles online. Came across this info in an article from the Independent on Sunday.

At the front of the audience of Live8 in Hyde Park was:

"the golden circle", where a £1,000 each had bought 5,000 corporate clients champagne and canapés and the best view. The fans who had camped out, travelled far and run across the field when the gates opened had found themselves about a quarter of a mile away from the stage....

Meanwhile the VIPs visited Portaloos or snoozed on their picnic rugs in front of them occasionally dipping a hand into a hamper. Some missed large parts of the concert as they sat drinking at the bar behind the stage where a bottle of Dom Perignon cost £99, a large Pimm's, £6.50.

Victoria Gould, 19, a student from Cardiff, said: "It's a class system. They are the first class and we are the standard class. It feels like they are mocking us. I arrived at nine last night. It's completely hypocritical, we are trying to save people from poverty and they are here having bought the privilege..."

Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, rich rock stars and their celeb hangers-on were given a corporate "goodie bag loaded with high-fashion trinkets worth as much as $12,000 (£6,800). "

Friday, July 01, 2005

See You in Edinburgh

Ok, my bag is packed, my mobile is fully charged, there's a new film in my camera, I've set aside a clean pair of underpants and I've even been out and bought some factor 25 sun lotion - that's how ruthlessly efficient and organised I am. I'm actually getting quite excited now. The coach leaves at 6 am tomorrow morning, which is rather uncivilised if you ask me, but then we all have to make sacrifices.

The only thing I have yet to do is to decide what I'm going to wear. Just what should a stylish, young(ish) socialist man-about-town wear to a demonstration these days? Perhaps Trinny and Susannah have website with a message board - I'll go and ask them.

I'm only going to the Saturday demonstration (the big MPH march and then the Fight Poverty Not War rally at 4.30) - and I'm fast regretting it. It would be nice to stick around for the other events, but I'm rather short on dosh and I don't have a tent. There's a Respect meeting on Sunday with quite a few European speakers I'd really like to see - Fausto Bertinotti, a couple of speakers from the Portuguese Left Bloc and a bloke from Rifundazione.

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