frontline 7


In our regular look at the web Alister Black calls for solidarity with Indymedia and looks at some of the most interesting new sites out there in the ether.

Indymedia under fire.

The Independent Media Centre, a network of websites worldwide which report on struggles going on around the globe, has been increasingly under fire in recent weeks. In Italy the government of Silvio Berlusconi has once again attacked Italia Indymedia His government notoriously attacked their offices in Genoa during the protests last year, smashing up equipment and beating volunteers. This time scores of police raided social centres and offices of the independent union COBAS. They were supposedly looking for information on events in Genoa. Italia Indymedia maintain that they have no secrets, all material submitted to the website, or on its chatrooms is freely available for all to look at on their website.

The real aim of the operation was to suppress free reporting in the face of Italy's growing movement against the Berlusconi government and its plans. This movement recently saw two million take to the streets in Rome and the entire country shut down in a general strike against Berlusconi's proposed attack on workers rights. Meanwhile the police chiefs who were in charge of the brutal violence in Genoa, which resulted in the death of protestor Carlo Giuliani and the hospitalisation of scores more, are still in office. Some of them have even been promoted.

Indymedia is also under attack in the middle east. The Palestine Independent Media Centre has given outstanding coverage of the intifada and the brutal Isreali invasion. Its eyewitness accounts and instant updates have given one of the most complete pictures of events, a picture you would not see in the 'mainstream' media. As a response to this its websites have been attacked using a variety of techniques to bring down its servers or just spread disinformation. This meant posting "hate messages" to discredit the newswire and flooding the site to bring it down. The 'dns' (denial of service) attacks coincided almost exactly with the latest offensive by Isreali forces.

In response the 'open publishing' initiative that Indymedia represents has undergone some changes, decentralising and democratising its structures.

The repression that is beginning to be aimed at radical activists on the web shows how effective their work has been. Read Indymedia, post to Indymedia, Support Indymedia.

This issues recommended websites: is the latest idea from SSP drugs spokesperson Kevin Williamson, and is part of an important new initiative. The Leftist Parties of the World website is an independent site which is now hosted by the Marxist Internet archive. It aims to list every left wing party in the world. Warning: you may end up surfing for several days.

No Sweat?

Ethical threads are a non-profit company set up by Wandsworth TUC and GMB London Region. Most band t-shirts and even political t-shirts are produced by sweatshops. This company promises that their clothing is produced ethically in factories and co-operatives that meet ILO standards and allow workers to organise. Their suppliers include coops in Nicaragua and Bangladesh. Among the backers of this scheme are Glastonbury head-honcho Michael Evis and Billy Bragg.

But disabled activists have pointed out that the Glastonbury t-shirts are to be made by Remploy, the UK's biggest employer of disabled people who have been criticised by unions and disabled organisations for their treatment of workers.

Binning Bill

Our friends in Scandinavia are a little more advanced that us when it comes to the web and technology generally. In Norway the Red Electoral Alliance (a class struggle party uniting the left, like the SSP) has put a radical proposal to local authorities. RV leader Aslak Sira Myhre is calling on local authorities to drop Microsoft and other licensed software and switch to free equivalents of programs like Word and operating systems like Windows. The RV argue that not only is this a more democratic alternative to the greedy Microsoft monopoly but that it could also save millions every year.