Punks Against Tsunamis!

I’ve been asked to give a shout out to a benefit gig organised to raise some much-needed cash for Save The Children Japan. There are some cracking acts on the line-up running the whole gamut of punk rock, from ranting poetry to pounding crust. So make a date in your diary and get along if you can.

Tsunami benefit

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The ever-indefatigable Mike Park of long-running and staunchly DIY label Asian Man, and founder of the Plea For Peace Foundation, has also put together a deal with every penny going to a charity aiding in the tsunami aftermath (voted for by the punks themselves). For $40 (plus $6 for post if you’re in the US and $18 if you’re in the UK) you get 8 CDs and an AM t-shirt that together would normally cost you $76. He’s also selling a chunk of test presses for $100 a piece, so now’s your chance to get your hands on some ultra-rare chunks of plastic from the likes of Bomb The Music Industry!, Kevin Seconds and The Queers.

Even if you can’t support either of these efforts directly, I’m sure you’ll find your own way to show the Japanese people that they’re not alone. It’s what we punks are good at.

Prisoner Of War Benefit CD

Prisoner Of War coverJJ, the guitarist from Active Slaughter, is currently doing a 3-year stretch for his part in the campaign against Huntingdon Life Sciences. His friends in Trauma Unit have put together a benefit CD to get some cash together for him when he gets out. This is a ‘Pay What You Can’ release with 23 tracks from the likes of Extinction Of Mankind, Oi Polloi, Anthrax, Andy T, Doom (doing a Discharge cover) and loads of other noisemongers, with many of the tracks previously unreleased. It’s an absolute corker in every respect – the punk-as-fuck cover tells you everything you need to know about what’s gonna follow. It’s well worth at least a fiver, even if you have to raid your penny jar. You can find out more and order the CD here.

Please buy it if you can and help spread the word. Mutual solidarity ‘n’ all that…

OP’s opinion: Five

Rebel Fest In Your Own Home

Rebel Fest comp coverThis weekend sees the inaugural Rebel Fest event in Canada, put together by my mates Randy and Phil of Rebel Time Records and a plethora of assorted noise merchants. Along the way, they hope to raise a good chunk of cash for G20 political prisoners. Seeing as getting to the land of mooses involves a bit more than hopping on the number 43 bus, I’m very happy that Randy, Phil and the crew have put together a free download for those of us who can’t make the trip. Musically it covers all bases, from ’77 old school via no-nonsense Oi! to modern melodic hardcore. Lyrically, all the bands say a big ‘Fuck You’ in their own unique ways to the rulers and parasites who fuck with us on a daily basis. Rebel Fest is a way to redress the balance, to get together, drink, dance and celebrate the fact that, no matter what ‘they’ do, we are ungovernable.

You can grab the compilation here. You may also like to consider making a donation to the defence funds too, either the G20 Legal Defence Fund (for longer-term support) or the Guelph Anarchist Black Cross G20 Fund (for more immediate short-term needs).

OP’s opinion: Five

Mobs v. Mobiles

Under the slogan ‘If They Won’t Chase Them, We Will’, UK Uncut has called a day of action this Saturday to target Vodaphone and Philip Green (owner of British Home Stores, TopShop etc.). Just between these two, they have cheated the nation out of billions of pounds through blatant tax evasion and cronyism.

UK Uncut want to hammer home the point that

At the same time as making massive cuts to public services, this government is letting rich individuals and corporations avoid billions of pounds of tax. Join UK Uncut’s Big Society Revenue & Customs (BSRC) and become part of an army of citizen volunteers determined to make wealthy tax avoiders pay.

The first action in October shut down 10% of Vodaphone’s stores and disrupted many more. That’s a great starting point 🙂

Nuts To The Cuts!

The Best Cut

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It’s simple. The ongoing and proposed cuts in public services, including education, are nothing but class war. The Tories want everything in private hands, so that they and their capitalist string-pullers can bleed as much as they possibly can from us. The LibDems are happy to collaborate with their dirty work, such is their desperation for a sniff of power. And if they were back in government the Labour Party would screw us the same way they always have, slightly less violently and with a bit more lube. It should come as no surprise to anyone – when you’ve all been to the same schools, sit in the same boardrooms, have shares in the same major businesses and inhabit the same luxurious neighbourhoods, then your political ‘differences’ really are only superficial.

Other people are making the anti-cuts arguments far more eloquently than me (some with a half-brick, some with a sense of humour). But to really help put things into concrete terms, the place to check out is False Economy. Here, you can witness first-hand the very real effects of this vicious assault on individuals, families and communities. You can also add you own information and experiences to the database.

While at first glance it might seem depressing, False Economy sends out a powerful positive message – we are all under attack and we are not alone. Start to build links with others in your workplace and community who are (or soon will be) at the sharp end of the cuts. Learn from what’s happened in the past (Poll Tax anyone?) then plan and organise in whatever way you can. There is space for a whole range of tactics, from the peaceful to the confrontational. The more we vary our responses then the more people we can get involved, and the more difficult it will be for the forces of the state to deal with us.

Putting the wind up Camilla and Charlie was just the start.

Collectivise The Interwebs!

OPND is recruiting now!

I could do with more old punks (or even some younger ones with a bit of suss) joining up with the OPND Soviet – it seems a shame that my postings here are so intermittent when there’s all this space available.

You don’t have to rip anything (although I’m certainly not going to object, as long as you follow my own guidelines) – reviews, articles, opinion pieces, recipes, artwork etc. that fit in with the general ethos of OPND are very welcome indeed. How often you feel like contributing is entirely up to you, and you’re free to leave / take a break at any time if other priorities come up.

You don’t even need to worry about being tech savvy – if you can use email, that’s all the know-how you need (although I can guide you through using WordPress, the software I use to run the site, if that’s preferable).

Get in touch if you fancy giving it a go.

UPDATE: Ernest Embryo and Alex Distroy have now signed up, but there’s still room for plenty more!

Beardies And Baldies Against Bombs

Beardy Rob and Ratty ready for action!A couple of mates of mine, Beardy Rob (aka Robert) and Ratty (aka Richard) are doing a great (and knackering just to think about) thing – they’re cycling from Land’s End to John O’ Groats (about 1000 miles) to raise money for the Mines Advisory Group. For those who don’t know, MAG works to clear land mines and other weapons from areas of conflict so that people don’t get blown to bits, as well as working closely with communities in the affected areas:

MAG moves into current and former conflict zones to clear the remnants of those conflicts, enabling recovery and assisting the development of affected populations. MAG consults with local communities and works to lessen the threat of death and injury, while releasing reclaimed and safe land and other vital resources back to the local population, helping countries to rebuild and develop their social and economic potential.

Beardy Rob is a Turbojugend fiend, responsible for all manner of camp leather-and-denim madness, and Ratty is the semi-retired guitarist from legendary-in-their-own-lunchtimes Bristol hardcore loons The Herb Garden. They’re funding the trip themselves and all the sponsorship money they raise will go straight to MAG to help them continue their invaluable campaigns.

I’ve given away a lot of free music here and it’s rare that I ask for something in return but, on this occasion, I’m asking anyone who reads this to give up a couple of pints and throw a few quid into the bucket for this worthy cause. If you can’t make an online donation, drop me an email and I’ll sort something out with you. You’ve only got to give up a beer to do your bit, others literally put their lives on the line to carry out this vital work.

Innocent people shouldn’t have stumps where their arms and legs should be just because others decide to go to war.

Image © Sean Sutton/MAG

Safe European Home

Not so long ago, it seemed that you couldn’t turn on the news without seeing some story or another about the Zapatista rebellion in Chiapas, Mexico. The media darlings couldn’t get enough of the enigmatic Subcommandante Marcos and his stylishly sexy balaclava-and-pipe combo. But, as is the way with the corporate press, they soon became bored with their latest ‘discovery’ and moved on, quickly forgetting the people and the story.

However, for the indigenous people of Chiapas, the story is very much far from over and their struggle for dignity and autonomy against the Mexican state continues. For them, this is not a cheap thrill story that can be instantly discarded once the excitement wears off. It is one of necessity and, sometimes, it carries a very heavy price indeed.

But, despite the forces that they face, the Zapatista communities have not surrendered. Far from it in fact – their efforts to reach out and engage with oppressed people the world over demonstrate just how much liberty means to them. They recognise that strength lies in unity and solidarity, and that victory in Chiapas is just the start not the end.

Since the uprising began, links have been formed between the Zapatista communities and their supporters from around the world. One of the UK support groups, KIPTIK, has been working with the communities since 2000. Volunteers provide practical support in four main areas – water, health, media and arts. The water projects are their primary focus – mortality rates and poor health are greatly reduced when a community has access to clean fresh water and so it tends to be what they ask for first. KIPTIK try to use the most appropriate technology for the construction, and leave local people with the skills needed to maintain it once they have gone.

So what’s my point?

It’s actually a really simple one. It costs about £4000 to provide something that we take for granted to 300 people. To help raise money that literally saves lives, KIPTIK have produced a calendar for the year ahead. It’s a high-quality piece of work and, as well as info about the communities and KIPTIK’s work, there are 12 striking images from the communities included.

The calendar only costs £7 including postage* from the Edinburgh Chiapas Solidarity Group, and you can order online from their website. Not only will you get a year’s worth of calendar but you’ll also have the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve helped kick another brick out of the wall of power.

And all from the comfort of your armchair, a luxury that some others don’t have.

*UK only – if you want one and you’re from elsewhere, let me know and I’ll get back to you.

Occupy!

This is a bit late notice but I think it’s a worthwhile story…

Workers at the Bike Systems GmbH bike factory in Thuringian Nordhausen, Germany, have followed the lead of their Argentinian comrades and occupied their factory (unfortunately, there are no reports of them having shot the bosses first). The occupation was in response to a long-term running down of the factory by the owner followed by a swift filing for bankruptcy, with allegations of underhand dealings to cash in on the whole affair. Knowing that there was a demand for the bikes they made and aware of the boss class’ connivance, the workers responded in time-honoured fashion.
Strike Bikes for both sexes
In order to take things to the next level, the workers are planning to produce the Strike-Bike, a gloriously red n’ black-coloured machine for getting around town. They need to get around 1800 paid orders for the bike by the 2nd October (tomorrow!) to make the operation financially viable. Costs for individual customers in Germany are €275 inclusive of all charges. Wholesale prices are also available. If you’re outside of Germany and want one, they’ll happily negotiate international shipping with you.

If they don’t hit their target, all orders will be refunded in full. So if you need a bike in the next 24 hours or so, you know where to go!

UPDATE: 2nd October – a press conference at the factory today revealed that over 1300 orders have been placed with the rest expected imminently, and production will recommence at the end of October. All hail the workers soviets!

Never Mind The Burqas

Dead Police Story Music is a DIY anarcho label based in Ottawa, Canada, another malevolently-governed part of North America. To highlight the dirty pies that Canuckian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has his fingers in, DPS have released a benefit CD to raise awareness and funds for the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan and the Canada – Haiti Action Network.

30 bands from across the land of the loon have contributed a track each to the project. There’s also a 60-page booklet covering a wide spectrum of political discourse accompanying the disc. At only $8 (that’s Canadian not Yankee) including postage if you live in the country, and only a couple of dollars more if you don’t, it won’t break the bank balance. But it will give you a great collection of music and an education all in one handy package and the satisfaction of knowing that you’re helping undermine everything that you hate.

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