Brazil reveals its secrets - time for Ireland to do the same.Presidential minister of Brazil Dilma Rousseff has announced the declassification of secret state papers which cover the period of military dictatorship between 1964 and 1985. Her announcement follows a lengthy campaign by hundreds of families whose relatives and loved ones were either assassinated or "disappeared” during this period. The secret files, which consist of thousands of documents, come from all sections of the Brazilian military and police in a period when left wing activists and politicians were held under continuing surveillance; a process which often led to the arrest, torture, murder and disappearance of those under suspicion. State agents of the dictatorship were also often acting on the basis of false or maliciously supplied information when targeting their victims.
Minister Roussef , who was herself a former activist and “guerrillera”, and was persecuted under the old regime stressed that the declassification process was an important step for the development of democracy. The minister also admitted to feelings of great emotion and pointed out that the papers were an integral part of the history of Brazil. "They will become an important focus for reflection in our society”, she added.
Of particular interest, are the papers from the archives of the Servicio Nacional de Inteligencia which detail the activities of spies and informers in all sections of Brazilian life during the dictatorship. Documents from the Consejo de Seguridad Nacional, meanwhile, contain investigations into the activities of parliamentary and political activists who subsequently fell into the hands of what amounted to a state apparatus for the abuse of human rights. Another important aspect covered by the papers is the profiteering and self aggrandizement which took place within sectors of Brazilian society where businessmen, politicians and members of the security forces took advantage of the dictatorship to line their own pockets.
There are critics of the government of "Lula" da Silva and his Workers Party (no relation to the tiny Irish party of the same name) who point out that the most sensitive of documents will not be made public and that therefore the declassification process is neither complete nor satisfactory. They also point out that the Brazil has been dragging its heels over declassification of secret state documents in comparison with other South American countries.
This blog correspondent has made the point previously that it is amazing that there is no campaign in Ireland for state papers (North and South) to be declassified and open to perusal by members of the public. In the North, there is every likelihood that state papers would reveal yet more corruption and abuse of power within the ranks of Unionism; whilst in the South, any thorough scrutiny of secret police files would almost certainly reveal an unofficial policy of collusion between the Garda Síochána and the RUC. Judge Henry Barron's recent report into the Dublin and Monaghan bombs of 1974, for example, revealed that senior Special Branch officer Det. Insp. Frank Murray of Portadown RUC was a frequent visitor to Garda HQ in the Phoenix Park, Dublin. The “legendary” Murray and his superior in RUC Special Branch Chief Superintendent Harry Breen have long been accused of collusion with loyalist paramilitaries; not just by this author and other writers, but also by some of their own former police colleagues including Sgnt. John Weir who was himself effectively both a police officer and loyalist paramilitant.
Update on Evo Morales's historic victory in Boliva - attacks US "blackmailers" The leader of the cocoa growers in Bolivia and the soon-to-be new president of Bolivia – Evo Morales has attacked the anti narcotics policy of Bush administration in his first press conference after being announced as the winner in last weekends presidential elections.
Morales who is of Aymara origin and the first indigenous Bolivian to hold the reins of power, has promised to legalise the cultivation of the cocoa plant but stressed that the difference between this and the culture of narcotics and cocaine (cocaine is a by-product of the cocoa plant).
“Neither drug trafficking nor cocaine is part of the Bolivian culture”, he said, “nor of the Quechuas or Aymaras”.
At the moment, Bolivian law permits the cultivation of 12,000 hectares of cocoa for traditional use. The North American authorities estimate that cocoa cultivation in Bolivia is double this figure. However, Morales strongly criticised the Bush administration saying that the drug trafficking problem was being used as an excuse by the US in order to install and maintain military bases in the country. He went further and accused the US's policy of cocoa plant certification as being a method of “chantaje” – blackmail – against Bolivia.
The victory of Morales in the presidential polls has been widely acclaimed in Latin and South America. One of Morales's first television interviews after his election was with the Cuban television service where he declared his election as not only a victory for Bolivia but "for the whole of Latin America. He then continued the interview by praising the Cuban revolution in words that are sure to offend the Bush administration still further.
Through the years I have followed Fidel’s (Castro) and the Cuban people’s anti imperialist struggle . Now I have the opportunity to stand with him in this struggle for peace and social justice.”
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has declared a watching brief on events in Bolivia whist speaking to CNN, saying that a clearer US position will emerge once Morales takes office in January next year. She stated that the most important thing for the US was that Morales was seen to govern in a "democratic manner" and that he was open to economic cooperation which would “help the people of Bolivia”. She went on to say that Bolivia could not cut itself off from the international economic community. A statement which has been seen by some commentators as an initial diplomatic shot across Morales’s bows with regards to how he chooses his international friends.
Morales, however, seems to be his own man in terms of his politics and, if so, the scene is set for a confrontation similar to that which pertains between the Chavez regime in Venezuela and the Bush administration. The wider political truth is that George W Bush is losing allies fast in Latin and Southern America and there is no doubt that he will want to take steps to address this issue given the rising pro Cuban power base in the region.
Great news from Bolivia
At about 10 pm on Sunday (18th December), Evo Morales of the Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) was unofficially declared to be the winner of the presidential elections in Bolivia. The leader of the main conservative opposion party, Jorge Quiroga, has already graciously accepted Morales victory which for the first time ever sees an “indigenous” Bolivian achieving the highest seat of power. One of Morales’s first statements in unofficially accepting victory was to call on the business community, intellectuals, artists and professionals to rally behind the new presidency:
"Decir a aymaras, quechuas, chiquitaos y guaraníes: por primera vez vamos a ser presidentes. Y quiero decirles a empresarios, profesionales intelectuales, artistas, no nos abandonen".
A new historical phase is beginning in Bolivia he continued, where (we) “seek equality, justice, fairness and peace”
Exit poll estimates indicate that Morales received more than 50% of the vote. A vote which records a sea change in Bolivian politics as for the first time, the indigenous population has fully displayed its powerful potential at the ballot box. This power has already been dramatically revealed on the streets and in the mines and cocoa plantations when following a decision in March this year by the lower house of parliament that would keep gas royalties at 18%, well short of the 50% that the social movements had been demanding, peasants and workers organised mass mobilisations against the legislation . Although the bill’s legitimacy was successfully challenged in parliament by the New Republican Force and the MAS, Morales called on all the social movements to join protests on the streets and “blockade parliament” until a bill more favourable to Bolivia’s poor was passed. Peasants responded by forcing the shutdown of four oilfields in Bulo Bulo near Cochabamba; coca farmers (cocaleros) from the Chapare region blocked access into five key regions; and the country became engulfed in a series of strikes, marches and vigils. It is in this broader context of struggle that Morales victory has been sealed.
Morales has been at pains to stress that the indigenous movement is not an exclusive movement but a movement inclusive of all races, which rejects discrimination and xenophobia but also, crucially, rejects the neoliberal capitalist economic model. Morales has severe critics amongst groups both on the right and on the left. What is without doubt however is that, since the return of democracy to the country in 1982, no candidate has managed to achieve the level of voter support apparently obtained this week by Morales. What is also without doubt is that the neoliberalists in Washington and Texas will look on this development in "their" South American region as one other cause for major concern. All the better reason for indegenous peoples and their supporters all over the world to rally in support of this great victory.
Broad Translation to English of Denis Donaldson article below.(I am aware that the Denis Donaldson story possibly goes far deeper than the details we have at the moment. At the same time, I believe that the points below are still relevant with regards to the "Empire" which is still in control of things in this country.)
Like many people I was deeply shocked when I heard of the allegations being made against Denis Donaldson to the effect that he had been a spy (possibly the most important spy) working for the intelligence services in the Six Counties inside the republican movement.
I met Denis several times whilst working for the BBC in the North and he came across as a gentle and considered person. It’s a very sad story; the fact that he took the decision, in company with many other republicans, to begin working for the colonial enemy. In my journalistic experience, this desperate decision is very often taken after huge pressure being applied by the "security" forces and whilst this person is confined to a lonely prison cell, and very often under serious personal pressure for a variety of reasons.
Its my view that the reaction amongst the people to the story reveals an awful lot about the situation in our country and two things in particular which have not been properly addressed in the media. The first thing is the fact that the country is totally split between, on the one hand, people who have an anti colonial attitude and have an explanation for such events via this philosophy; and then on the other hand the people who are happy, or at least unconcerned, that this country is still under the Empire's sway. The second point comes in the form of a question, and again I have not heard this question being raised in all the hullabaloo about Denis Donaldson. And the question is what exactly are the reasons for the huge spy machine which the English have built and continue to maintain in this country?
I have an answer to that question. It’s a very simple answer. The English ruling class hates the Irish. I am not talking here about ordinary English people but rather that invisible but all powerful gang in our neighbouring country. They created an extensive spy network here hundreds of years ago because long experience has told them that this is the best way, not only to control a country, but also to leave a permanent mark there as well. Denis Donaldson is only the latest example of this policy and when you observe this little man and then think of his family and the permanent stain on their lives, I believe it is easy to see who is David and who is Goliath in this story. And what was it exactly we asked for to bring this apparatus of terror down upon our heads?
Again, it is very simple. We asked for equality and self rule over our own destinies. Denis Donaldson forms part of the answer to those demands from our colonial masters. It is them telling us yet again that, for as long as they are able, or allowed, to put a stop to it. And if small insignificant people can be used then abandoned as part of that process of Judge and Executioner - well So Be It.
Denis Donaldson – agus seo uilig cionn is gur iarr muid cothrom féinne.(Tá mé eolach faoi gur féidir scéal Denis Donaldson a bheith i bhfad níos doimhne ná go bhfuil fhios againn faoi láthair. Cibé ar bith, silim go bhfuil na pointí seo thíos go ginearálta oiriúnach maidir leis an “Impireacht” atá i gceannas sa tír seo go fóill…..)
Mar aon le go leor daoine, bhí iontas bocht orm nuair a mhothaigh an scéal faoi Denis Donaldson agus na líomhaintí a rá go raibh sé ina spiaire fadtréimhse ar son na fórsaí rúnda sna Sé Contae (seans an spiaire is mó) laistigh den ghluaiseacht phoblachtach. Is beag gur chreid mé é go dtí gur admháil Denis é féin é fríd preasráiteas ag an deireadh seachtaine seo (15/6ú na Nollag).
Chas mé ar Denis cúpla uair agus mé ag obair sa BBC sa Tuaisceart agus tháinig sé trasna mar dhuine séimh agus macánta. Scéal brónach ar fad atá ann gur ghlac sé, macasamhail go leor poblachtaigh eile, an cinneadh ag obair ar son an namhad. An cuid is mó den am bíonn an cinneadh seo glactha i ndiaidh brú millteanach a bheith curtha ar an duine aonair ó na fórsaí “slándála" agus an duine seo i gcillín uaigneach, agus go minic faoi bhrú go pearsanta.
Silim go nochtann an fhreagairt ar an scéal imeasc an phobail dhá rud airithe nach bhfuil mórán cainte air sa mheán cumarsáide. Sa chéad dul síos, tá an tír scartha go huile is go hiomlán idir taobh amháin, áit a bhfuil daoine le dearcadh frithchoilíneachta agus iad ábalta an scéal a mhíniú fríd an radharc sin; agus ar an taobh eile, daoine a bhfuil sásta, nó ar an laghad ar nós cuma leo, go bhfuil an tír faoi smacht na hImpireachta go fóill. Ceist atá ann an darna pointe, agus seo rud nach bhfaca mé luaite áit ar bith sa chaint uilig faoi Denis Donaldson. Agus is í an ceist ná, cad é na fáthanna go díreach don hollchóras spiaireachta a thóg agus chothaigh na Sasanaigh fríd na blianta i dtír s’againne?
Tá freagra agamsa ar an gceist seo. Freagra iontach simplí atá ann. Tá fuath ag an aicme cheannais i Sasana ar na hÉireannaigh. Nil mé ag caint faoi na gnáthdhaoine i Sasana ach an dream sin atá dofheicthe ach lán cumhachta thall. Cruthaigh siad córas spiaireachta anseo na céadta bliain ó shin cionn is go bhfuil taithí mhaith acu i go leor áiteanna gur seo an modh smachta is fearr agus dóigh do lorg a fhágáilt go buan sa tír. Níl Denis Donaldson ach an sampla is deireanaí den pholasaí seo agus nuair a amharcann tú ar an fhear beag seo, agus smaoiníonn tú ar a theaghlach agus an náire a bhfuil orthu anois go síoraí, feiceann tú, dar liomsa, cé atá ina Daithí agus cé atá ina Goliad sa scéal seo. Agus cad é go díreach atá ann gur iarr muid chun an chineál innill sceimhlitheoireachta stáit seo a tharraing anuas orainn féin?
Aríst, tá sé iontach simplí. D’iarr muid cothrom féinne agus féinsmacht ar ár gcinniúint féin. Tá Denis Donaldson mar roinnt den fhreagra ón ár “mhaistrí” a bhfuil a rá linn nach mbeidh neamhspleáchas againn a fhad is go bhfuil siadsan ábalta stop a chur air.
Never The Twain Shall Meet ? - North South Unity(Explanatory note)
Daily Ireland’s "Here’s The Thing" column has a brief to be satirical and take a sidelong view of things. On Dec 3rd 2005, the column raised important questions regarding North/South relations and ultimate reunification of the country. The author, Robin Livingstone whom I admire greatly, described his own growing reluctance to “dock” with mother ship Ireland. Robin gave a long list of reasons for people living in the Six Counties not to join up with the rest of the country. After reading this depressing list covering things like official corruption and hospital waiting lists, you can see his point. There is, however, another way of looking at things:
HERE’S ANOTHER THING
I always enjoy Robin ‘Squinter’ Livingstone’s articles, whenever and wherever they appear in the press, and this has nothing to do with the fact that we are close friends and contemporaries as journalists. Robin has always written well (often hilariously so) and is always brave, and forthright; the most important attributes for a journalist. A ‘stand up man’ to use Belfast parlance.
Robin gives a daunting list of reasons as to why Northern nationalists like himself might be less than enamoured with the idea of what in the body of the article becomes the “Dublin mother ship”. Mother ship Ireland becomes Dublin in other words, and this is the first problem I have in his analysis. When I lived in Belfast and worked for the BBC, it was not Dublin that was our refuge from an utterly sectarian state but Donegal, and this was true for most of our friends who had the money/inclination to get out during what the BBC used to describe as the ‘carnival atmosphere’ that is the 12th of July.
Dublin is not Ireland writ large (God forbid) anymore than Belfast is Ireland in totality. Moreover, the list of negative things about the South that Robin provides could, for the most part, be replicated for the Six Counties. There are three things, in particular, that worry me about developments in that great wee country up there:
1) The rise of reported attacks on old people.
2) The proliferation of binge drinking and binge violence amongst our young people, especially in places like Belfast and Derry.
3) The ongoing rise in the suicide rate amongst the young.
There is also an economic scandal in ‘Northern Ireland’ which has rarely been touched upon which throws Robin’s telling list of ‘Orish’ financial skulduggery in the South into relief. Large amounts of money have been dishonestly obtained by certain individuals and groups, primarily within the Unionist community, using the 20th Century’s ‘Troubles’ and further back as a cover for their activities. One retired English civil servant confided to me many troubled moons ago that senior figures within the Unionist upper classes, often also senior members of the Masonic lodge with first-rate connections in London, had only to snap their fingers to gain more financial resources for the ‘cause’. It is my journalistic hunch that were a proper audit to be carried out on things like property transactions, deployment of security force personnel and the purchase of ‘equipment’ for the Troubles, that we would find a culture every bit as rotten as that displayed in the South. The only difference being that the money transactions were effected over post prandial brandies and sectarian oaths rather than brown paper bags. Nor does Robin Livingstone need me, or anyone else, to tell him that RUC Special Branch is a byword for corruption.
I understand that Robin’s article, whilst sincerely expressed, was also meant to provoke, but for the reasons stated above and many more, it is my belief that the myth of Northern rectitude, particularly when it is counterposed to a ‘dissolute’ South, is a dangerous argument because our country and culture is debilitated for every day that we lack our independence. The fact is that the two halves of the country are inextricably linked for good or ill. As one graphic example, the outrageous phenomenon of child abuse perpetrated by Catholic priests and the subsequent attitude of an arrogant Church hierarchy has beggared the beliefs and trust of Catholics in all four corners of the country.
The wider arguments for unity are too large in scale to be discussed here but, to echo Robin’s point in a way, we need a country which once again stands in the vanguard for social and economic advancement for all of our people. Instead of paying lip service to ‘ár dteanga náisiúnta’ and using hip slogans like ‘Making Poverty History’, we urgently need our thinkers, writers, artists and politicians, probably in that order, to once again begin a discourse about these vital issues rather than discussing the fluff in their distended navels. We will really make poverty history when we stop rewarding companies and speculators who amass property and wealth through unearned means and on credit and rental terms that the poor could only dream of. If we are serious about ending poverty then patronage and privilege has to end. Full stop. Here I am referring to serious, needless and pointless privilege and not the fact that you might have a Honda Civic outside your front door.
All too briefly, and to finish, what also must end is the myriad of multimedia images that our young people receive at the moment which are not just overwhelmingly based on self aggrandizement, but also seek to deify youth, make the old invisible, and are also anti community. What we need to do is to regenerate the vision and passion for social change that was so evident in former times in the struggle for national independence. Things like our language, the GAA, perhaps rugby and writers groups on the Shankill, our own films and drama are great antidotes to the prevailing global message that greed is good and that its cool to rip people off. We can only properly begin to do that when our economic and cultural infrastructures are united once again. The phrase in Irish – ‘Is maith liom Béarla ach labhraím Gaeilge’ shows that we can both be aconfident and united people, safe in our own space, and citizens of the world at one and the same time.
I send warm and fraternal greetings to you all in the righteous Black North from the fetid financial cesspool that is Dublin.
Scéal Frank Connolly agus “Saighdiúirí na gCinniúna.”Léiríonn an scéal náireach maidir leis na líomhaintí a chur Mícheál Mac Dubhghaill TD ar an iriseoir Frank Connolly níos mó faoi bhFianna Fáil ná an Páirtí Daonlathach. An fhírinne a rá, níl iontas ar bith a tháinig an leithéid de ghangaid amuigh as béal an Aire Dlí agus Cirt, nó gur seo an stíl a bhí aige ón tús. Is baol mór d’Fhianna Fáil áfach , an “Páirtí Poblachtach” mar a chuireann siad orthu féin , tacaíocht láidir a thabhairt don “Rottweiler” ina chuid ráitis scannalacha. Tá bonn tacaíochta measartha phoblachtach ag Fianna Fail go fóill, faoin tuath ach go háirithe, agus thiocfadh leis an affaire Connolly ag tiontú isteach go brachán ceart do Bertie Ahern, má éiríonn Sinn Féin buntáiste a bhaint as an scéal. Mar, sa chead dul síos, taispeánann sé go bhfuil Fianna Fail níos buartha faoin dul chun cinn Shinn Féin, seo an cúlra níos doimhne agus polaitiúil den ráiteas an Aire Dlí, agus an comhrialtas ag iarraidh ard a dhíriú ar an gColóim arist.
Ach tá ábhar buairimh eile do dhaoine ar an talamh a mbíonn de ghnáth ag vótáil ar son Fhianna Fáil agus sé sin an íomhá den rialtas ag déanamh ionsaí ar iriseoir aonarach a raibh chun cinn ag nochtadh an bréagadóireacht a bhí, agus tá, ag dul ar aghaidh sa tír seo. Seo i dtréimhse chomh maith nuair atá trealamh cogaidh de chuid George W Bush ag úsáid Éirinn mar aerstráice a haon ar an bhealach go dtí An Iaráic - na eitleáin atá i gceist, gan dabht, lán rudaí eile macasamhail baill den CIA agus MI6.
Bíonn an turas na bhaile i dtólamh níos faide ná cuimhneamh na bpolaiteoirí is glóraí sa tír seo agus feicim "feinchúl" ollmhór thart a choirnéil do “Saighdiúirí na gCinniúna.”
The battlefield for the control of knowledge will be won or lost in -
The battlefield for the control of knowledge will be won or lost in -
An important aspect of this weblog is to disseminate stories and ideas which are abroad in the world but which very often do not appear in our Anglo-centric media. If George Bush sneezes in Texas, we get the first exclusive strain of the virus here in Ireland courtesy of a news industry obsessed with trivia and, like the motor car, designed to fill up all available space.
The article below appeared in the Danish daily newspaper Politiken in October of this year and concerns a power struggle where the good guys need all the help they can get. Research scientists in all disciplines use a system of peer review to ensure that their initial findings are cross checked and, via a process of scientific discourse, any flaws in their work eliminated before a final account of their particular study is published. After this sometimes lengthy process a patent, or license, is applied for so that the product of the research can be placed on the market.
The article in Politiken concerns the ownership of these scientific journals and which parts of them are made available to a wider audience, particularly university libraries, where a student should, in theory, be able to go to his/her library and find the latest research in the chosen field. What has happened instead, however, is that a small and select group of publishers have created monopoly ownership of these important documents. Very often, they will ask that the research author gives up the rights to the document before publication. Once the rights are obtained by the publishers the researcher's initial monograph will be the only thing that will be made available to a wider audience – which is a bit like telling the story of 1916 but leaving out the GPO.
Only those libraries which can afford the subscription fees will be supplied with the full research documentation. These journals are also published on the internet but can only be accessed via subscription. In this way and ironically, the Internet can be seen to have become a restriction on the diffusion of knowledge and therein lies a tale.
Knowledge is power - far too much power
The journal which covers medicines for 'exotic pets' costs 284 dollars for a yearly subscription. For around 1,800 kroner, one receives four issues of the journal which in every number offers a « fresh overview of a particular subject dealing with medicines for birds or exotic pets«. This is a must for the, in all, 775 subscribers world wide and is a price, furthermore, which ensures that the journal’s publishers, the Elsevier-group, can do some business on it. Nuclear Physics B is another one of the group’s products. It is one of the absolute best journals for nuclear physicists, and the price reflects this. A year’s subscription costs 14,452 euro, or around 100.000 kroner for those research institutes that wish to have this journal stocked in their library.
In return for this investment, on the other hand, you obtain from two to four hundred pages each week, packed with new top drawer research findings. Meat and drink for any self respecting physics institute. But unfortunately so astronomically dear, that universities and research institutes, amongst others, are beginning to struggle when it comes to paying the bill.
These two publications represent opposing polarities within the world of scientific journals. However, they have two things in common. The are published by the same business concern. And they are dear. Far too dear, according to a growing number of universities and research institutes.
»Scientific journals have in recent years, via buy outs and amalgamations, become concentrated in the hands of a small number of substantial publishers, which are nearing monopoly control in the dissemination of research finding at the same time, prices have gone through the roof. We can see a situation arising where we are no longer, able to buy access to those journals which are necessary in order that researchers can carry out their work« , says Erland Kolding Jørgensen. He is director at The Royal Library, which also functions as a university library for Copenhagen University. He is also the chairman of “Liber”, the association of European research libraries.
Kolding Jørgensen has, furthermore, just recently signed up - on behalf of both Liber and The Royal Library – to the so called Berlin Declaration.The declaration was drawn up in 2003 and forms a part of the resistance to hefty price rises in scientific literature.
The signatories also pledge themselves to target those publishers which put pressure on researchers to hand over the rights to their research articles to those same publishers.
»Of course researchers want to get their findings into the most recognised journals. This gives you prestige. But the publishers are pressurising researchers into giving up the rights to those articles before publication. This means that if a researcher from Copenhagen University needs to scrutinise the work of a colleague carried out at the university, the public must pay again via subscription for that journal in which he or she has published the findings« , says Erland Kolding Jørgensen.
It is primarily for this reason that libraries, universities and a number of large scientific companies have launched a counter offensive.The Berlin Declaration calls upon all its signatories - and these have increased considerably in number – to work in furthering the academic world’s most important weapon in the fight against publisher dominance: free magazines and journals and electronic archives which make research findings accessible for free to anyone having a connection to the internet.
«A section of the publishing world has reacted to this with total panic«, explains Mary Waltham. was previously USA director and publisher of the most esteemed scientific journal of them all - “Nature”. Prior to that, she was the director and publisher of an equally prestigious medicinal journal – “Lancet”. Nowadays, she is an independent consultant for that part of the publishing sector which deals with scientific journals.
She predicts that the next few years will bring in large-scale changes with regards to the dissemination of scientific findings.
»It is obvious that costs cannot continue to rise in the way we have seen in recent years. The training and education sector, which is the publishers core market, is unable to pay that kind of money. In the USA, several of the large regional universities – which actually have very high standards – have begun to deselect certain titles which they would like to have in the library but simply cannot afford«, she says.
There is no doubt that it has become more expensive to keep researchers ajour with their areas of research. Last year, the large British research fund Wellcome Trust carried out an analysis of the scientific publications market. The analysis studied, amongst other things, the Blackwell group which, with around 750 different scientific journals, is one of the larger publishers in the market. During the 1990's, the average price of its journals and magazines had almost tripled. Since then, the price rises have fallen slightly in terms of tempo, but price rises of 7 to 8 percent per year are still the norm for this sector.
To some extent, this can be explained by the fact that journals and magazines have got bigger. Partly because more research findings are being produced that can be written about, and partly because the researchers themselves are writing more articles based on the same research projects because more articles looks good on your CV , Mary Waltham explains. And that development, she predicts, is set to continue:
»The most significant factor affecting the price rises is that we are seeing a boom in the number of new research articles. And this is only the start. When the Chinese seriously begin to move with regards to publishing their own research; well, just watch« , she says.
The yearly accounts for the Elsevier group indicate, however, that despite rising costs, the publishing of research findings still makes particularly good business sense. The group publishes some 2.000 different scientific journals which combined amounts to a print run of ca. 25 percent of all scientific articles written across the world.
Elsevier saw a turn over last year of just under 15 billion kroner from its scientific journals department. This gave an operating return of over 5 billion kroner. The previous years results were just as good. The profit margins, and executive salary levels amongst the publishers of more than one million dollars, has put wind in the sails of the movement against these publishers. A movement, which has formed itself around the concept of 'open access'.
The Internet is shutting knowledge in.
The Open Access movement was officially started in the beginning of 2001 at a meeting in Budapest organised by the financier and philanthropist George Soros's 'Open Society Institute’. The background to the meeting was a rising concern that research findings might no longer be freely circulated amongst researchers but would, instead, become ensnared in a web of copyright and accounting issues which would restrict research, especially in poor countries, where the cost of certain journals hits research budgets especially hard.
Strangely enough the rise of the internet is one of the reasons for concern. Publishers cannot control the consumption of journals and magazines which are issued on paper. Once they are sold, anybody can read them. But when publishers, in the run of the 1990's, gradually moved over to publishing electronic editions of their magazines, they achieved far stricter control over who received access to them, because it then become necessary to log on to the publisher’s website in order to read the article.
»The internet is the cheapest and most democratic medium, we know of but there is also a trend in the direction of its being used to shut knowledge in. Especially within the area of research« , says Erland Kolding Jørgensen.
The Open Access movement works to promote two things in particular: so called open access journals where it is not the readers but the authors who pay for publication, and electronic archives for all research institutes, where researchers and other interest groups can get « immediate, permanent and free online access to the full text of all articles which have been shown in a journal under conditions of quality assessment«, as it is expressed in the Berlin Declaration. This was drawn up at a meeting in Berlin in 2003 which was sponsored the Max Planck company, a German non-profit organisation which runs a number of elite research institutions in Germany.
The Declaration has since been signed by 132 institutions, including all the larger German research companies, the French CNRS (the organisation which operates a number of the best research institutes in France), and the CERN centre for nuclear physics research in Switzerland.
Open Access journals have made headway in the last few years with a small number of very prominent advocates. The British Medical Journal, one of the world’s leading medicinal journals, has become an open access publication and the American online publisher Biomed Central publishes over 100 journals on the basis of open access. Many of them have great influence within their respective research areas.
Typically, open access journals earn their money via the fact that the author’s pay for quality assessments and publishing, instead of the readers paying for reading them. This means that more people get access to the findings, and more private and public research funds have declared themselves willing to retain a part of the money they provide for research for this type of publishing.
Despite this, Mary Waltham believes that open access journals will never represent anything other than a niche corner in the market.
»That kind of thing will only be able to survive within those research areas where the market is big enough. Open Access journals are an attempt to relieve the price pressure on universities. But it will never be a complete solution. And if one looks at it from the top down for a moment, it is, of course, actually irrelevant whether it is the tax payers that are paying so that the library can buy the journals, or whether the tax payers, via the research funds, pay a bit more to the researchers so that they can pay the journals to print their research« , says Mary Waltham, but then adds:
«All this may, however, end up pushing down the prices of journals because they will sharpen competition within the market.«Reliable archives?
Strategic director at the Elsevir group, Nick Fowler feels in no way threatened by the concept of free access to journals.
»A study carried out by independent analysts has shown that 40 percent of open access journals are running at a loss. Only around one percent of all articles are published in this way at the moment. And that figure has remained constant for many years« says Fowler.
He is not of the opinion that publishers are paying themselves too much in earning 33 kroner out of every journal sold for 100.
»Much of that money is ploughed straight back. We incur costs as we increase our digital content which is of great benefit to researchers. And we are digitising previous issues of our journals. Above and beyond that, the key factor in our work, that is that we protect our content, has been maintained at all times« .
It is precisely this task: the ability to preserve research findings for posterity which is, in a way, one of the main challenges for publishers as Nick Fowler sees things.
And it is a challenge which he believes the Open Access movement will find difficult to guarantee. According to Fowler, the open electronic archives at research institutes such as the ones the Berlin Declaration refers would prove themselves to be unreliable.
»They do not protect the data in the way that we do.A study amongst 5.000 researchers showed that only 35 pct. would place their trust on things they found in those archives. And where science is concerned, you cannot afford an uncertainty percentage of 65« , he says.
Critics of publishers reply in turn that restrictions are placed on electronic archives by those same publishers. Elsevier allows the authors of those articles they place in their journals to publish one copy of their own manuscript in the electronic archive of their research institute. But the publisher does not allow free publication of the final version, which has been through that quality control and development process of the article which is called peer-review.
And Nick Fowler admits that this does not have great value for researchers.
»Researchers do not gain any great benefit by working on other versions of research findings than the final peer-reviewed version. We will not give open access to that. There are very few publishing houses that would. The reason being that, if we were to give free access, we would lose control of how it was used.And then we could not stand as guarantors for the reliability of each individual article« , says Fowler.
A new role for publishers
The big question now is whether the large scientific companies and libraries behind the Berlin Declaration can get the universities to join the bandwagon. For if the universities accept a situation where their researchers may only publish in journals which - in opposition to Elsevier and the big players – guarantee that the final peer reviewed article my be published for free, this will hit the large publishers where it hurts most.
Their journals are only as valuable as the research on which they are reporting. And if the best researchers in these universities are forced to go somewhere else with their articles, no one will be prepared to pay up to 100.000 kroner per year, for an article which can be got for free somewhere else.It is, for this reason, precisely here that Erland Kolding Jørgensen sees the bigger picture coming into play.
»With the signing up of Libers to the Berlin Declaration, we have a large group of research libraries on board. They are now going to start putting pressure on the universities to which they belong, so that they also adopt the principles of open access «, he says.
Mary Waltham also believes that the universities own archives could bring about a substantial change in the publishing sector.
»It will not mean the death of scientific publishing. But it will cause major change«,says Waltham.
»I believe that it will lead to a situation where journals change roles from being a place where one can read the research findings themselves to a place where one has a guide to source the enormous amount of new findings now available. These journals will become the place where researchers can obtain commentaries, analysis and contributions into particular areas of research. Because researchers will still need help in deciding what the best thing is to read« .
Background information: An industry worth billions
The publishing market for scientific findings is enormous and incalculable. A report by the OECD in 2004 estimates that there is a turnover of between 7 and 11 billion dollars in the scientific section of the publishing sector, or about one and half percent of the research grants given by OECD-countries. This money comes predominantly from universities and other training institutes. This represents around one and a half percent of combined grants given for research.
In Denmark, the (DEFF) Det Elektroniske Fag og Forskningsbibliotek, negotiates agreements with publishers on behalf of a large number of research institutes and libraries. DEFF's agreement amounts to:
2003: 45 mio. kr.
2004: 75 mio. kr.
2005: 85 mio. kr.
DEFF stresses however, that these figures do not just reflect price rises but also the fact that several institutions are included in the same agreement and that access has been negotiated to several journals, as well as amendments in methods of payment. The Berlin Declaration
Background information: The Berlin Declaration
The Berlin Declaration forms part of a campaign to expand free access to research findings.In all, 132 institutions has signed up to the declaration. Read more at: www.zim.mpg.de/openaccess-berlin/berlindeclaration.html
Thought For The DayNach bhfuair
Fear a haon déag
Pá an lae
Mar fhear a trí?
Is minic go mbíonn
Cú mall sona
Tá féile is trócaire
I mo Rí
Get the same
Pay as the third?
The slow dog
Is often the happiest
There is joy and mercy
In my God
Sliocht as gearrscéal - Portráid den Avant-Garde ón Danmhairgis. Peter Høeg a scríobh an cnuasach.Lá amháin i mí Dheireadh Fómhair 1939, sheol an dathadóir Simon Bering agus a ghirseach Nina amach go Christiansø. Sheol siad amach ón gcaladh Svaneke ar a 28ú breithlá , agus an séú bliain a bhí ann i ndiaidh a chuid dathadóireachta a bheith ar thaispeántais ollmhór den chéad uair agus sin ag tarraingt annála an lucht féachana a bhí dála slua atá caite amach go tobann san fhuacht agus a deoraí ag síleadh i mbéal na gaoithe, agus ón am sin amach ag díol ar son an phribhléid a bheith páirteach ina chuid tiomanta don todhchaí.
Brait ollmhóra a bhí i gceist ag dathadóireacht Simon, áit a bhog an 20ú haois thar orthu macasamhail slua inneall agus capall agus buíonta cogaidh agus coillte faoi thine go síoraí agus d’ardaigh siad anfa nach raibh socrú aige ó shin, agus fiú shéid sé é féin isteach go dtí an Reichkammer der bildenden Künste, áit a raibh fíorbheagán eachtrannach, le cine fíorghlan, ceaptha mar saoithe ealaíne .
Oíche amháin i mí an Mhárta deich mbliain roimhe seo, dhathaigh Simon, mar go raibh fiabhras air, an chéad ceann de na pictiúir nár dhruid siad féin dála tlachta, ach gur oscail siad féin dála gheata chuig an todhchaí, agus mhothaigh sé an lá seo i mí Dheireadh Fómhair go raibh na heachtraí a bhí roimhe anois mar thoradh díreach den oíche deich mbliana ó shin; go raibh sé mar a dhéarfá ar phlána úr agus níos airde arís, réidh leis an chéad briseadh tríd seo chuig a phearsa féin a athdhéanamh arís.
Do dhuine ar bith níos laige ná é féin, bheadh an clú agus cáil seo in ann é a greadadh, ach chan Simon, a chreid é féin go raibh sé mar pháirt den ghlúin agus cine a bhí níos folláine ná daoine ar bith roimhe seo. Leis an saibhreas a tháinig isteach i scuaine chuige ar bhuille boise, cheap sé gníomhaire diongbháilte idir é féin agus an lucht féachana agus cheannaigh sé áitreabh i lár København; sean teach buí a bhí ann le garraí, agus ballaí arda thart air.
Istigh anseo, fuair sé an tsíocháin choibhneasta sin in lár an anfa, thig leis a bheith ag obair anseo, agus anseo shroicheadh chuige an ghaoth fheanntach, a bhí ina seasamh timpeall a chuid dathadóireachta agus a phearsa féin, amháin mar chóir ghaoithe galánta de bheannachtaí agus fearthainn cineálta d’ór.
Thiocfadh leis an saol agus an obair siar ón phobail a roghnú. Thiocfadh leis cead a thabhairt do na pictiúir mhóra s’aige a bheith iompartha amach ó gheata an tí bhuí, é ag amharc orthu i bhfad sábháilte uaidh agus iad ag pléascadh macasamhail srapnal laistigh de cheannchathracha na hEorpa, ach cha’ dhéan sé sin, cionn is gur óráidí a bhí ann Simon. Mhothaigh sé olltharraing an fhírinne ina chuid dathadóireachta a lainseáil isteach sa saol mór le focail, mar is scuab phéinte é chomh maith an focal, agus le seo bhí sé ag iarraidh teaspach an tslua a mhothú agus é ina sheasamh os a gcomhair, ag brath na n-ainmneacha saorschaoilte mar bhrat bán roimhe, an teagmháil leictreach a bhunú agus aird, chun ansin é féin a chromadh chun tosaigh agus a chuid dathanna spadhardhearg a chur ar na haghaidheanna bána sin a bhí tiontaithe aníos ina threo macasamhail canbháis folmhaithe Sa tslí seo thiomain na hinnill ghluaiste ollmhóra, a bhí ag casúireacht chomh maith fite fuaite trína chuid pictiúr, é féin timpeall na hEorpa dála fháidh óg ar son ré úr agus fírinne úr. I dtús báire, láithrigh sé i measc an lucht saineolaithe ealaíne, ach de réir a chéile ag cruinnithe polaitiúla fosta, agus i mBeirlín an 2ú lá de mhí Lúnasa 1934 dheimhnigh sé gur thug ealaín úr na hEorpa tacaíocht don Fuehrer agus Reichkansler úr agus dúirt sé nach raibh ach Dia amháin agus sé sin an todhchaí. Éisteadh leis mar gheall ar an gcáil a bhí air agus, toisc go raibh sé chomh óg leis, tugadh cead dó níos mó a rá ná daoine eile, agus sa dóigh seo d’éirigh le Simon leagan cainte soiléir agus comhchruinnithe a thabhairt ar smaointigh a raibh go fóill doiléir agus scaipthe ag an am sin, agus labhair sé i dtolamh leis an láidreacht fhíréanta chéanna, úr ar nós drúcht na maidine, a bhí aige i mBeirlín – ag comhoscailt na nOilimpeacha agus taispeántas ealaíne i 1936 – nuair a d’ardaigh sé a aghaidh gheall bhán láidir os comhair an tslua phoiblí agus é ag amharc thar ar na farraige daonna seo, agus go bhrúidiúil díreach isteach sa mhicreafón mhaígh sé go raibh orainn, agus muid ag fanacht leis an ollchogadh a bhfuil dúil dóite inár gcroí againn ar a shon, ár dtrealamh a dhéanamh réidh leis an gcineál ealaíne a théann go smior ionann, agus is í an ealaín sin ná an dathadóireacht. Tá leabhair agus an ceol le fáil do dhaoine atá bréan le hamhras, molann an cogadh muid a bheith ag máirseáil agus ag amharc chun tosaigh agus gan a bheith ag titim le lobhadh laistigh de na hamharclainne agus na seomra léitheoireachta .
Tháinig Nina chuige ar an dóigh simplí ceannann ceanna agus a chuid cháil nó smaoineamh faoi phictiúr éigin.
NOT ANTI-YANKEEE - JUST ANTI BUSHThe president of oil rich Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, put his radical politics where his mouth is today by delivering the first consignment of low cost heating oil to some of New York's poorest residents. The delivery was made by the petroleum company Citgo (a subsidiary of PDVSA - Petróleos de Venezuela) which will deliver around 30.200 cubic metres of fuel to the Bronx area of New York, at a discount of 40%, between now and the beginning of April 2006. These deliveries will be coordinated by three non profit making charitable organisations which have earmarked 75 buildings as being in particular need of help. Some 8000 people either live in, or use, these buildings. A similar amount of fuel will also be shipped from Venezuela to Boston where the original deal for the deliveries of low cost oil was initially agreed in November. It is estimated that the people, or families, benefiting from the oil shipments stand to save a combined total of 14 million dollars.
All this makes good a promise made by the Chavez regime to offer the hand of friendship to ordinary citizens of North America, despite the fact that Chavez and George W Bush are sworn enemies . Enemies of Chavez and his regime will describe the whole operation as a cynical ploy by Chavez. And there is no doubt that he has ‘singed George Bush’s beard’ by using Venezuela’s monopoly position as a supplier of heating oil to North America to make a gesture of which Robin Hood would be proud. On the cold winter ground in Boston and New York, however, some of the recipients of the low cost oil were not slow in praising the gesture, and public representatives like William Delahunt in Boston described the low cost oil arrangement as ‘the best kind of humanitarian gesture’. The Venezuelan ambassador in Washington, Bernardo Álvarez, has indicated that the cheap oil programme will be extended to other cities in North America.
(Duine ar bith a bhfuil Spáinnis acu, thig leofa dul go dtí an nasc seo thíos chun níos mo a fháil amach fa dtaobh de)