Thursday, December 25, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Jonathon Porritt: "In every respect, this represents one of the worst examples of mis-governance that I’ve seen since 2000."
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
. . . because of this. And then Decentpedia revealed his Muscular Democratic tendencies. Weak.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Gary Younge is a bit if a legend for penning this. It really nails the ideology of free-market capitalism to the wall.
"As for Madoff, if the Securities and Exchange Commission, the financial services watchdog, had been doing its job, it could have prevented him from committing this crime. But if he had done it by the book, an analogous situation could have occurred that would have left his investors almost as broke. His fraud was exposed after some investors sought to withdraw more capital than he could produce. That is essentially the same as the bank runs we have seen over the last few months. But while Madoff is under house arrest, the bankers are about to reap huge bonuses."
Sunday, December 21, 2008
. . . in the very real sense that she's obviously been fucked but no-one's owning up to it."
Saturday, December 20, 2008
"Let the failed car companies go down. Yes, it will hurt, but not nearly as much as letting them survive."
Friday, December 19, 2008
In a stealth decision the government's state-owned nuclear body, BNFL, has sold its remaining shares in the ownership of UK Atomic Weapons Establishment- the private company responsible for developing and maintaining the UK's absurdly titled "independent" nuclear deterrent.
Let's just go over that one more time, in case anyone missed the implications there: We have some of the most advanced nuclear weapons on the planet, ostensibly under the direction of the MOD, in reality in the hands of a private corporation that is itself now owned and run by two foreign, private companies and one British one.
Some of us might wish that the lessons of privatisation had been learned by successive UK governments. Apparently in vain.
Well I hope you find your way
Through every heart wrenching day
With all those shitty decisions that you make
Hell I know the games, I know the games you play
So do you think you got enough time
To open all of your uranium mines
Before yes you go and you poison us all
You know your profit man it's gonna take its toll
And I don't know who you are
I don't know where you come from
I just know it is to hell you're going cos
You pollute everything with you big business
And i know it's all for your money
Hell yeah, all for your money
All for your money
Tell me man it's all for your money
So go now you go and you rape this Earth
You take her for what you think she'd worth
But you take and you take and you
take til there's nothing left
I don't call that business, I call that theft
So who do the Hell do you think you are
Why do you got to take things so far
You know you screw the Earth and then
you look towards the stars
Tell me man why do you got to take things so far
And I don't know who you are
I don't know where you come from
I just know it is to hell you're going cos
You ruin everything with you big business
And i know it's all for your money
All for your money
Sweeter than honey
All for your Money
Tell me man can you eat your money
Tell me man can you eat your money
Cos that's what's gonna be left,
that's what's gonna be left
So tell me man can you eat your money
Business man with your uranium mine,
will you gain a conscience
Politician man, there in your Government,
will you gain a conscience
Media man with all your newspapers,
Who lies must gain a conscience
Prime Minister with all our apathy,
will you GAIN A CONSCIENCE!
John Butler rules.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
The quote is from the the Tax Justice Network website. George explains.
Fire in the sky
out of the blue
and into the red depths,
Time for you and I
to try and fall asleep
in the bed they've made us,
All came crumbl'n down
tears in our eyes
as it rained confusion
the whole world has changed
I don’t understand
how one can kill a man
in the name peace,
They say eye for an eye
so they fire from the sky
and they come out of nowhere
Time for you and I
to turn on the big screen
see what’s happnen'
And as those children die,
pawns in the game of
The whole world goes mad
Standing here on quick sand,
the more we fight we sink
And vengeance gives us hope,
at least that what we think,
at least that what we think cause
As we make amends by
getting our revenge,
We sort nothing out,
just add to the doubt
and with God on both sides,
if death is justified,
whatever the name,
then we're all to blame
so as the spirits fly,
to honor those who've past,
we've got to get along,
while the time still last
Bury the hatchet deep
so we all can weep
and heal all this pain
so,so we can live again,
so,so we can live again 'cos
as we make amends by
getting our revenge,
We sort nothing out,
just add to the doubt
and God on both sides,
if death is justified,
whatever the name,
then we're all to blame
But I don’t understand
how one can kill a man
in the name peace,
But I understand
that I will defend
my family from
both sides of misery
Monday, December 15, 2008
"The government does not feel the need to hold contingency plans specifically for the eventuality of crude-oil supplies peaking between now and 2020."
They're going to have a nasty time revising all their policy plans that were based on that fantasy and that are now seen to be utterly inadequate and short sighted. So much for planning for the long term.
Lib Dem spokespserson: "The threat posed by environmental direct action is being systematically overblown by both the government and the police"
Merrick gave it the goods.
This is so awesome! Such a shame he missed both times. His words are poignant.
Muntadr's brother claims that he has sustained a broken arm and ribs in custody. If you watch the video of the attack you can't hear him screaming when he is restrained, as he would if the injuries were sustained at that point. This suggests they were sustained after his arrest. Clearly Iraqi justice is as perverse and brutal as it ever was under Hussein. Nice work, Blair et al.
In light of the suffering Muntadar has been subjected to for his heroism, punkscience would like to upgrade his status from "Hero of The Day" to "Hero of The Year".
Addition 16-12-08, 12:08:
As I insinuated above, it is now clear that Muntadar has suffered brutality at the hands of the Iraqi security services.
A judge has confirmed that Muntadar was beaten either during his arrest or during his detention. There are no reports that Muntadar is looking to press charges- or even whether he can.
‘I work in “Welfare to Work.” Work is only a way out of poverty when there’s work and it pays a living wage. The best way out of poverty in the long term is training so you can get better work. I see people day in, day out who are claiming incapacity benefit or income support. Out of the 50 odd people on my caseload 2 are “playing the system,” the rest are people who are either unquestionably far far too ill to work or people who have been disenfranchised by their illness and by the consequences of the UK’s changing labour market. And the government expects me to get 6 of those people into work each month. In a recession. It’s crazy.
We don’t need more blame for the working class. We need proper education for everyone and a society that actually values people’s work with a living wage for everyone.’
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Donald Tusk is a pig's arsehole and Silvio Berlusconi is a just a cunt.
George will explain why.
Oh- and Brown's a cockweasel.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Jack Ely, a famous musician himself, vilifies the music industry for its assault upon free content. Jack rules. The music industry is full of cunts.
Monday, December 08, 2008
The Guardian now has an article up on this and adds to the story by stating that the Internet Watch Foundation- the bunch of twats who initiated this debacle by declaring the album cover to be "child pornography"- are now considering blacklisting Amazon US as well as Wikipedia for hosting an image of the album art! Its all just so pathetically reactionary and desperately overprotective that I can't help but hope they do. Amazon will undoubtedly sue their nuts off for such an extreme overreaction to a piece of art that has been in the public domain for decades. Amazon stand to lose a heap of business from lost access to their site and when the case makes it to court the actions of the IWF and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection agency that advise them will be microscopically scrutinised and heavily criticised.
The insanity of this move has been acknowledged. The IWF has realised that its move brought the image in question to a far wider audience than if it had just ignored it and it has consequently reversed the ban and liberated Wikipedia and Amazon. Furthermore, the IWF has opened up its previous rulings to reinterpretation in light of their "context". Something that should obviously be taken into account in light of the propensity of art to focus upon the female form, whatever its age.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
OK, read this (don't look at the comments).
Now read the post before.
You can read the comments on the first one now.
Seriously, what the fuck was he thinking?
Bankers. Its all their fault. But I can't revel in the latest news of massive redundancies across the sector because the people who are losing their jobs will absolutely not be the ones who are responsible for the economic crisis. They will be the lowest ranks and junior managers. The disposable elements, if you like. Yes, maybe they are still cunts who wanted to profit from other people's industry but that doesn't make them any more responsible than an Inland Revenue employee or a Parking Warden. Its the scum at the top that need to have their bonuses rescinded, be removed from their positions and banned from holding directorships or senior positions in business ever again. Failure should not be ignored and it certainly shouldn't be rewarded.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
"Wiring up the microphones in the Houses of Parliament and of the various television news channels to such lie detectors could probably save the country billions. Asking Tony Blair a few simple questions about Iraq’s weapons programmes after reminding him that he was being subjected to ‘voice risk analysis technology’ would have saved the nation a pretty penny."
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
"A Ministry of Defence think tank has made a remarkable forecast about political militancy. The Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre published a report in April 2007 in which it speculated that in coming years “the world’s middle classes might unite, using access to knowledge, resources and skills to shape transnational processes in their own class interest”. “The middle classes could become a revolutionary class taking the role envisaged for the proletariat by Marx . . . the growing gap between themselves and a small number of highly visible super-rich might fuel disillusion,” the report said." (p81 of the pdf)Face it. The generation this article is talking about (my own) have been robbed blind.
From Google News.
"(Yet) here, you've got agencies, you've got organisations that are not only responsible for their own failure but the failure of the entire economic system, and they get cheques worth 2.7 trillion dollars. I find this amazing... What can you say, what can you do?"
Rajendra Pachauri shared the Nobel Peace Prize along with the rest of the IPCC.
"The London opera houses have had more taxpayer money than the British marine power industry over the past few years."
There's also a new offering from George to peruse, in which our golden boy slates the government's latest climate change report in his usual well-evidenced fashion.
"[Lord] Turner’s suggested cuts are more likely to produce four degrees of warming than two degrees."
Plus there's a great piece from Majikthise on Obama's choice for National Security Advisor: A retired Marine General who actively fought the US's own climate change bill. Nice.
A wonderful piece of candour.
The Guardian editorialised on this.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
- Torture, embezzlement and collusion with totalitarian regimes who happen to offer excellent profit-making opportunities, that is.
1939: POLAND. The government of Poland takes legal action against the Upper Silesian Coal and Steel Company, the gigantic complex at Oswieczim. Upper Silesian is owned by three of the major American figures behind the Hitler Project, Averell Harriman and George Herbert Walker and Prescott Bush, great-grandfather and grandfather respectively of George "I'm A Lyin' Guy" Bush, in cahoots with German Hitler Project leaders Frederick Flick and Fritz Thyssen.read the rest from MTWSFH
The bulk of the steel being produced at Oswieczim is being used to make weapons for the Nazis' planned conquest of Europe and the Soviet Union. . . . .
. . . as Jonathon Porritt observes, they are doing little to nothing to address the fundamental flaws of the economic system that has led to the current collapse and the looming climate/ecological disaster.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Or not, as the case may be.
"Research on environmental direct action taken in the name of Earth First! in the past 16 years shows that activists are overwhelmingly committed to nonviolence, and are not using terrorism, violence, or any other direct action to seek to reduce the Earth's human population."Rossinsibird laid it down too (word!). As he points out, the offending article was quickly removed from the Guardian website.
Media Lens had a conversation with Kevin Smith, one of the organisers of the Climate Camps, which are slandered in the article as hotbeds of violence and malign intent. He had this to say:
“I appreciate the efforts of Stephen Pritchard in going through the process of holding the journalists in question accountable and making the decision to retract the piece, but I don't want to get into the mentality of being grateful when it’s just horrendous that the article got printed in the first place. These 'green backlash' pieces were common at the height of the anti-roads protests in the Daily Mail and such papers, but I didn't expect that sort of thing from the Observer.It has been observed by the Media Lens chaps that this deliberate culturing of fears relating to so-called "eco-terrorism" is a deliberate tactic by the media. This "manufacturing of consent" is fully intended to generate a backlash against legitimate and progressive policy for the good of the corporate sponsors and ideological masters of the media houses, who will benefit from the continuation of "business-as-usual". That last paragraph about violent policing is particularly poignant when you consider this other paragraph from the letter to The Observer mentioned above:
“I'm also incredulous that such odious, shoddy journalism was able to make its way through all the various layers, people who should have checked it out and spotted it for what it was.
“It's difficult when we spend so much time having to talk about the heavy-handedness of the police and repudiate these sorts of insidious aspersions, when what we are trying to do is have a serious conversation with the mainstream media about the real issues - the unsustainability of the model of constant economic growth in the face of the enormous ecological catastrophe we are facing.” (Email to Media Lens, November 25, 2008)
"When, in the late 1990s, some American politicians and media started to call activists 'eco-terrorists', it was the start of a concerted campaign which prepared the way for repressive policing and new laws curtailing fundamental civil liberties. Is the same thing about to happen here?"Similar concerns were voiced in the SchNEWS article:
"Another possible explanation is that the growing movement against climate change has got the state more worried than we realise, and the idea is to spread fear amongst activists that they are being heavily watched. At the moment campaigners are generally regarded in a positive light and public support is absolutely crucial for successful defiance of the state. Just look at how lightly anti-GM activists and peace protestors are treated by the authorities compared to their animal rights counterparts. Perhaps the time has come to drive a wedge between environmental activists and the general public, and of course the best way to do this is with the emotive issue of ‘violence’. Are we observing the beginning of a smear campaign?"
In light of the fact that this scandalously fear-mongering tripe made it into a national paper it is an understatement to point out that editorial oversight was slightly lacking here. The other conclusion is that someone wanted that story out there. If you read this you will surely see that such material is subjected to multiple levels of editorial review before being released. That this happened suggests either incompetence or collusion between them, neither of which bode well. Even though its been retracted it was still up there long enough for it to be picked up by all the usual frothing suspects around the globe so despite the retraction the impact of this crap remains.
Bizarrely, Nick Denning appears to be an officer in the Royal Anglian Regiment! Just what his role in this debacle is remains to be elucidated. Credit to Ian Bone, who has been trying to work it out. At this point, the Observer's response to his enquiries as to Denning's employment status with Guardian News Media comprises the sole phrase "god, Bone, you're a cunt!", via its Propaganda Dispersal Expert David Rose. I should add that Bone's assertion that Denning is an "Intelligence Officer" seems doubtful. I tried googling the man's name and found a few mentions of a Lieutenant or 2nd Lieutenant "from Colchester" with that name in action in Afghanistan and he is clearly a mechanised infantry officer.
Clearly, Mark Townsend himself is a lying little cunt and Nick Denning is a pig-ignorant fuckstick. As for David Rose, he is obviously a cockweasel.
in the economic crisis we face, replacing Trident is even more of a Fucking Stupid Idea than it was before
Lets say the true cost of the program would be half of the top-end estimate of ~£70 billion. Canceling it would still take a healthy chunk out of the national debt, which is going to hit £1 trillion by ~2012. An interesting figure is that of the annual interest the government pays on its national debt- some £30.8 bn this year. Seems like there would be a whole lot more money for services if we could reduce that a little bit, yesno?
While we're saving, why not plump the budget with a few more billion by clamping down on the FSIB's other eructations: The government could simply refuse to handle any planning applications for coal-fired power stations, new roads, runways and other outright insanities. Lets also not bail any more banks out, lets just nationalise them with only token remuneration to the shareholders who sat by wanking over their dividends while the directors ran the banks up the proverbial creek. Lets invest the money instead in some nice, renewable generation capacity, some new, high-speed train lines and some nice, ultra-efficient social housing projects. I could go on but I've got to stop fantasising- the longer you do it for, the more painful it is to return to the real world.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
A misanthropic aside: I had a funny thought when writing that last sentence, as I searched my mind of who else might be swayed by receiving a copy of this report. I couldn't imagine anyone who wouldn't be either indifferent (MPs) or outright hostile to it (most corporations). Then I thought of one person who might be very interested: Documentary producers. This report contains the perfect subject material for an Adam Curtis film. Maybe someone should suggest that to the Corporate Watch massive . . . ?
This is so well laid out that I'm in awe. Plus, check out this statistic:
"just three spoonfuls of oil provides the equivalent amount of energy as 8 hours of human labour"
As Jonathon observes, Greenpeace's refusal to publish this article is:
"gutless and less than honest in addressing population issues."
"The evidence is conclusive: Climate Change, with it’s escalating greenhouse gases, is a symptom of our greedy consumption of planet Earth. It threatens the very life of all remaining species, plant forms, oceans and waterways as well as human life."
The fact is that life is virtually ineradicable on this planet. Even if the entire atmosphere and aquasphere were to be summarily sucked out into space and a kilometre-thick slab of bedrock shaved from the surface and sent screaming into the sun, these little fellows would still persist. So why? Why make such sweeping statements when they are patently implausible to any but the most screamingly ignorant post-modernist luddites and ignorant peasants? Its not as if anyone needs to exaggerate the impact of climate change and biodiversity loss upon our way of life. The hard facts are quite scary enough for anyone with the smallest sliver of imagination. Can you imagine never seeing another bird again? Those flitting silhouettes with their piping voices whose beady eyes betray their saurian ancestry. Anyone who has looked into the eye of an enormous herring gull cannot help but let the words "Jurassic Park" skim across their consciousness. Well, if we continue to prophylactically administer pesticides, destroy rural habitat and rape the seas of their bounty then most birds will be lost to our little island nation. Notice that I have deployed the qualifying term "most" because there are certain members of this taxonomic class that you cannot imagine being extinguished. And so it is for much of life on this planet. The diversity, the wealth, will be lost, leaving behind those who are adaptable or opportunistic enough to persist- such as the humble pigeon- or those who are robust enough to survive amidst the more inhospitable habitats that offer nothing for humans to exploit.
Whether this exaggerative phenomenon is just puffed-up and inappropriate hyperbole or plain ignorance of reality is irrelevant. It goes against everything that environmentalism stands for. The environmental movement is an evidence-based one. It is the antithesis of the unevidenced, soothing assertions of the politicians and corporations. It is a long, hard look at the likely consequences of all that is wrong with our society and culture. It is the search for ways of avoiding the megadeaths of innocents that will inevitably result from our apathy to those same ills. Its solutions are derived from informed debate and stand up to critical analysis. It is the truth.
So why do otherwise-respectable and conscientious campaigners engage in such dishonesty? The poorly-researched assertions against which I rail are profoundly counter-productive to the dissemination of that truth. Anyone who has watched the failure of our government to tackle climate change or biodiversity loss in any meaningful way knows that the battle is far from won. We have achieved few major victories in the decades since the publication of Silent Spring. The limitation of damage to the ozone layer from CFCs, the Water Framework Directive, the IUCN and more. These are piecemeal victories. All these are irrelevant if we fail to make further progress. They will become anomalies. Fading shrines to a utopian vision. The fact is that most of the work is left to do and the bewildered herd who stand in the way of progress have little grasp of the interconnected nature of the social, political, economic and natural challenges facing us. However, the fragments they absorb from episodes of CSI, BBC documentaries and the occasional glimpse of a current affairs program they see before switching back to Strictly Cum Dancing quite possibly leaves them with enough knowledge to see through the emotive declarations of imminent extinction. And so the seeds of doubt are sown. The already uphill battle for progress on the political field steepens further by having to work against the implanted doubt. Meaningful change becomes even less likely because of incautious and overly emotive statements.
So please, for the sake of us all, for the sake of the unborn children, STOP EXAGGERATING THE THREAT OF ENVIRONMENTAL DESTRUCTION AND STICK TO THE FACTS ! ! ! !
Friday, November 21, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
New Zealand just had a general election. Their Green Party polled 6.43% of the vote, winning them 8 seats in parliament - 6.56% of the 122 seats.
In the UK general election in 2005, the Green Party of England and Wales polled 1% of the vote and won none of the 646 parliamentary seats. Proportional allocation of seats to the GP vote would be 6 seats. Not zero.
Like the Electoral Reform Society, punkscience advocates the Single Transferable Vote. We also advocate Direct Democracy and Compulsory Voting. Citizens have responsibilities as well as rights (although I'm a cosmopolitan [Article 15] and I'm opposed to the freedom to wantonly reproduce [Article 16:1]).
"when the US and some other countries gave a trillion-dollars-and-still-counting in low-interest loans and other subsidies to their own banks, it constituted just the kind of unfair competition and non-tariff barriers to trade that they were busy condemning at the G-20 meeting"
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
"Goldsmith added that Tony Blair had told him it was his "unequivocal view" that Iraq was in breach of its UN obligations to give up weapons of mass destruction."
So that's alright then, because Tony is George and Jesus's best buddy and he wouldn't tell you something like that unless he had utterly incontrovertible evidence that it was the case. Would he?
"However controversial the view that military action was justified in international law it was our attorney general's view that it was lawful and that view was widely shared across the world."
So widely shared that the global forum for diplomacy rejected it out of hand and a grand total of five countries, including the primary aggressor, out of a total of 196 contributed material support. Yeah, Jack. Rally widely shared.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
This site rules.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
This is . . . . just . . . . awesome.
"An entire profession now appears to have suffered a collapse. Last week the Bank of England decided, overnight, that the ideal way to grapple with the financial crisis was not with a high interest rate policy but with a low one.
This week a political community adamantly opposed to cutting taxes, indeed having begged and borrowed from Asia rather than do so, suddenly thought tax cuts an excellent thing. This was not Keynes finding a new opinion when the facts no longer supported the old one. It was a colossal U-turn."
This creeping devolution represents a potent route to a velvet revolution against the centralised, old-school-corporate-whores of Westminster.
Splendid follow-up to Tatchell's article with some level-headed criticism of Peter's attempt and some insight in the comments. The long and the short of which is that the people of Kernow want their own regional assembly. The Lib-Dems currently rule the region politically on a platform of delivering such but have failed to produce anything. Politicians failing . . . . hmmmmmm, how odd!
Monday, November 10, 2008
"The word 'eco-terrorism' is an insult to the human victims of real terrorism"
They then go and plaster that headline across their website.
See? Fucking ridiculous.
Merrick picked this up and wrote two good posts on it. One at Bristling Badger and the other at UK Watch. Checkit!
Friday, November 07, 2008
"No British nuclear power station has ever been built to budget. The last one, Sizewell B, cost more than twice the estimate. The first of the new generation stations, Olkiluoto in Finland, found itself more than a billion pounds over budget and two years behind schedule at only two and a half years into construction.
Even with the taxpayer coughing up for a load of British Energy's debts, it couldn't stay afloat on its own. In 2002, just six years after privatisation, the government bailed it out with over £5bn of taxpayer's money.
These days, our government assures us that the owners will pay for all the decommissioning. They are lying. In order to get the industry and investors to sign up, the government agrees a set maximum price for waste disposal and decommissioning when it gives approval for the station. Any over-runs in cost (and when has the nuclear industry not delivered those?) will be paid for by the taxpayer."
"If your life is such that you're placing all your hopes in a politician, then may I humbly suggest you get yourself a crate of superlager and a cardboard box and stop wasting everyone's time."
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Friday, October 31, 2008
Bibi's summary is bleak and depressing to an advocate of the technology. Her subtitle was:
"Renewables are not the simple solution, according to the House of Lords. In fact, they are expensive, difficult and unreliable."
So, why are the Lord's conclusions so negative? Or- why is Bibi's spin of their results so negative? A skeptic might point out that the above documents were produced by organisations inherently favourable of renewable generation, whereas the government's position on the issue- as revealed by their actions over the last decade- are actively hostile to it. So where does the middle ground lie?
Fred Pearce. Great writer. Love his work on greenwash.
" . . . the most authoritative study, The Future of Coal, published last year by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), concluded that the first commercial carbon capture and storage (CCS) plant wouldn't come on stream until 2030 at the earliest.
Last year too, the Edison Electric Institute, which represents most US power generators, admitted to a House Select Committee in Washington DC that commercial deployment will require 25 years research costing at least $20bn.
And that was before the US administration last December canned the biggest R&D project on the technology anywhere in the world. It said it was too costly and hinted that, for all their green talk, industry wasn't prepared to back it.
Oh, and if the technology did one day work – and could demonstrate that it could keep liquefied carbon dioxide buried for the thousands of years necessary – it would take decades to build the vast infrastructure needed to deploy on a large scale. Infrastructure that could only be paid for by maintaining a vast dirty coal-burning industry for the duration."
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
The most damning reports refer to the supportive activities of UK intelligence services:
According to the UN there is “suspicious coincidence between the names of the persons who appear in the intelligence reports prepared by the [Colombian] intelligence services and the victims of extrajudicial executions, threats and disappearances” and “clear parallels between the information collected by [Colombian] military intelligence regarding human rights defenders and the information that appears in public threats issued by paramilitary forces”
A 2003 investigation by The Guardian uncovered that there had been a surge in the supply of British military hardware and intelligence equipment to the Colombian military and that HMG was providing assistance in establishing a national intelligence centre in Colombia. More recently, Colombian press reports have frequently referred to military intelligence assistance provided by the UK with one report alleging that the UK intelligence services are the second most active in Colombia after US agencies.Do you support the provision of intelligence to paramilitary organisations who will inevitably use it to identify, threaten and possibly murder people working to improve human rights and employment conditions? Maybe not, but your elected government does.
It is of note to observe that the US policy of tying assistance to independent, public certification of improvements in human rights is far superior to the UK's throwing of money at any death squad that wants it. It should also be observed that the US itself is not a signatory of the Ottawa Treaty.
"some political observers are claiming the crisis could be Mr Brown's 'Winston Churchill moment'.
Bill McKay, professor of politics at Reading University, said: "Yes, it would be a 'Winston Churchill moment' if Churchill had spent 10 years giving hand relief to Hitler and Goering before telling them exactly where, when and how to invade Britain.""
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
"Figures released yesterday, however, from financial data provider Moneyfacts showed banks were failing to pass on interest rate cuts to mortgage borrowers despite making severe cuts in savings rates. It said most institutions had already passed on the last half-point base rate cut to savers while holding back on cuts in home loan interest rates.
"Some providers are using the base rate cut as a way of increasing their margin for risk, by not passing on the full cut to mortgage customers but passing the cut on in full to savings customers," it said."
Alistair Darling gets the idea:
"So basically, you privatise something that ends up making £1200 a second and you nationalise something that loses £1200 a second.
"Swings and bastarding roundabouts."
George rules. Only someone of supreme awesomeness could come up with such cutting soundbites:
"religion - in particular fundamentalist religion - makes you stupid"
I am particularly in awe of his damning indictment of social Darwinism.
"During the first few decades after the publication of The Origin of Species, for instance, Americans had good reason to reject the theory of natural selection and to treat public intellectuals with suspicion. From the beginning, Darwin's theory was mixed up in the US with the brutal philosophy - now known as social Darwinism - of the British writer Herbert Spencer. Spencer's doctrine, promoted in the popular press with the help of funding from Andrew Carnegie, John D Rockefeller and Thomas Edison, suggested that millionaires stood at the top of a scala natura established by evolution. By preventing unfit people being weeded out, government intervention weakened the nation. Gross economic inequalities were both justifiable and necessary.
Darwinism, in other words, became indistinguishable from the most bestial form of laissez-faire economics. Many Christians responded with revulsion. It is profoundly ironic that the doctrine rejected a century ago by such prominent fundamentalists as William Jennings Bryan is now central to the economic thinking of the Christian right. Modern fundamentalists reject the science of Darwinian evolution and accept the pseudoscience of social Darwinism."
See - manifest awesomeness!
George may be manifestly awesome but Johann is supremely radical.
"If you literally follow an ancient Holy Text – whether it’s the Koran, the Bible or the Torah – you will hold disgusting views about women, and you should expect to have them criticised and mocked."
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Everyone's bored of hearing this by now but the public still aren't listening so I'm going to keep stating the obvious: The UK government's economic policy is sociopathic.
Article from Socialist Worker, via UK Watch with some neat fag-packet calculations about how pathetic the government's policies on fighting the social impact of the economic crisis. Eg:
"On housing, the first phase of Beckett’s plan will release £13 million in London – enough to buy up just 335 unsold homes.
There are 9,000 people on the council house waiting list in the London borough of Barking & Dagenham alone.
Subsequent phases will release a further £200 million around the country. But according to town hall leaders, by then the numbers waiting for a home will have reached around 2 million.
That means the plan, if it were divided equally between all on the waiting list, will be worth just £100 each."
Just to remind you, the UK government has currently used ~$50 billion of taxpayers money to shore up the banking industry. The difference between this sum and the pathetic amounts they are directing toward projects to support real people and small businesses reveals their disdain for the majority of the electorate. Small businesses employ 15 million people in the UK- that' s half the working population. Yet they are set to receive £750 million in support- 1.5% of the financial support of the 1.1 million people employed in the financial sector. That's 0.11% of the funding per person.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Brown is a corporate slut. Mandelson is a sociopathic cockweasel. Don't get me started on Osborne et al.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
"The benefits, the freedom that we have now is because of popular struggle. Popular struggle in the 1930s compelled the government to create New Deal measures. In the 1960s it lead to civil rights, medicare, welfare state measures, womens rights and so on. Every single one of them was, if you look, the result of people simply not accepting the doctrine of elite rule. And its true today, just take a look at polls. A spectacular 95% of the [US] population, which is amazing for a poll, object that the government doesn't pay attention to popular [issues]."
"Markets have inherent and well-known inefficiencies. One factor is failure to calculate the costs to those who do not participate in transactions. These "externalities" can be huge. That is particularly true for financial institutions.Word.
Their task is to take risks, calculating potential costs for themselves. But they do not take into account the consequences of their losses for the economy as a whole.
Hence the financial market "underprices risk" and is "systematically inefficient," as John Eatwell and Lance Taylor wrote a decade ago, warning of the extreme dangers of financial liberalization and reviewing the substantial costs already incurred - and also proposing solutions, which have been ignored.
The threat became more severe when the Clinton administration repealed the Glass-Steagall act of 1933, thus freeing financial institutions "to innovate in the new economy," in Clinton's words -- and also "to self-destruct, taking down with them the general economy and international confidence in the US banking system," financial analyst Nomi Prins adds.
The unprecedented intervention of the Fed may be justified or not in narrow terms, but it reveals, once again, the profoundly undemocratic character of state capitalist institutions, designed in large measure to socialise cost and risk and privatize profit, without a public voice.
That is, of course, not limited to financial markets. The advanced economy as a whole relies heavily on the dynamic state sector, with much the same consequences with regard to risk, cost, profit, and decisions, crucial features of the economy and political system."
"If you think about it, the first restriction was not to pay bonuses. Well Lloyds TSB is in fact going to pay bonuses. I think our staff have done a terrific job this year. There is no reason why we shouldn't,"
This week we see that UK banks appear to be forcing the government into a U-turn on its policy of prohibiting dividend pay-outs in favour of paying the government back the money it had to invest to keep the banks from collapsing. So much for the return of regulation to the financial sector. The big guns seem to have engaged in a couple of month's false contrition to lull the stampede impulse of the bewildered herd before returning to business-as-usual arm twisting of the government. They really must believe that they are untouchable. And while people continue to vote for the grey parties they will be.
"The western model of neoliberal financialisation was driven by clear self-interest, argues the Cambridge economist Ha-Joon Chang. The west couldn't compete in manufacturing (its labour costs are too high), so it turned to financial markets and used the cheapest way to make money: it offered loans, not for productive investment (factories, businesses) but to consumers, using their homes as collateral. Credit cards and small loans are particularly lucrative. So the west leaned heavily on countries through the World Trade Organisation and the IMF to open up their financial sectors. The western banks and the advertising companies piled in, and the result is a credit consumer boom. This may make a few people rich, but it is not, by any definition, development."
At its most stark, the analysis is that the west has had a vested interest in keeping wage levels down in developing countries while making money from offering cheap credit. All it had to do was enlist a collaborating elite in each country to implement the deal, which was clearly not in the interests of the bulk of the population. Neoliberal globalisation was a system that ensured the rich got richer and the poor got poorer.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
I totally missed this. Weak.
Massive respect to Rossinisbird for carrying the torch for the impoverished around the world.
Really interesting stuff from RB about Credit Unions too. If I had a penny to my name instead of ~£20,000 of student debt I would be even more interested!
Monday, October 20, 2008
Such a sweet-sounding slogan for an arms fair. And Her Majusteez guv'ment is balls-deep in the human rights fuck-pile.
"Clearly, the arms industry has lost much of its privileged access but the business remains the same: promoting arms exports. [The UK Trade and Investment Defence and Security Organisation (the DESO's replacement)] is offering to take UK arms companies ‘under its wing’ this November at IDEAS Pakistan, an arms fair operating under the slogan ‘arms for peace’, which has previously hosted delegations from North Korea, Myanmar (Burma), Zimbabwe, Iran, Sudan, China and Indonesia."
Sarah Waldron rules.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
My problem is that, even though I would clearly advocate a democrat government over a republican one, its like asking me whether I would prefer a Labour or Tory government here. Clearly, I would say "Labour" but then if you asked me whether I'd like to have my arm ripped off or my balls smashed between two bricks I'd have an answer for that as well. It doesn't mean that I actually want either of those events to occur. Politics in the US, as in the UK, is so devoid of substance that I haven't heard climate change discussed once in the last 12 months of news coverage of the race for the presidency. I posted several times more than a year ago , explaining which of the presidential candidates I supported. Things haven't changed- if they had I would have said so. For all you people who see Obama as the new messiah of peace and social justice, here's a quote from nearly two years ago:
"Obama is being packaged as a peace candidate, even though he has voted for every increase in spending for the Iraq War."
Saturday, October 18, 2008
What a fucking surprise. The government suck goat cocks.
There is always a better way:
Friday, October 17, 2008
You really couldn't make this shit up:
"In the first nine months of the year Citigroup, which employs thousands of staff in the UK, accrued $25.9bn for salaries and bonuses, an increase on the previous year of 4%. Earlier this week the bank accepted a $25bn investment by the US government as part of its bail-out plan."Behind the scenes, one source said: "For a normal person the salaries are very high and the bonuses seem even higher. But in this world you get a top bonus for top performance, a medium bonus for mediocre performance and a much smaller bonus if you don't do so well."
Many critics of the investment banking model have questioned why firms continues to siphon off billions of dollars of bank earnings into annual bonus pools rather than using the funds to shore up the capital position of the crisis-stricken institutions. One banking source said: "That's a fair enough question - and it may well be that by the end of the year the banks start review the situation.""
Same story from The Indy.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
. . . and you will rapidly see how fucked our "civilisation" is.
“ …I will describe the formation of life’s diversity as it is understood- with traversals- by most biologists. I will give evidence that humanity has initiated the sixth great extinction spasm, rushing to eternity a large fraction of our fellow species in a single generation. And finally I will argue that every scrap of biological diversity is priceless, to be learned and cherished and never to be surrendered without a struggle.”
“ There is as yet no answer as to what proportion of the land of a region can be developed as open farmland or forest without significantly perturbing either the local or global environment. It is like asking what proportion of the skin can be burnt without causing death.”
“So far the only way in which we humans prove our dominance is by expansion. We remain brazen, crass and recent, even as we become more numerous. Our toughness is a delusion. Have we the intelligence and discipline to resist our tendency to grow without limit? The planet will not permit our populations to continue to expand.”
The Fourteenth Book of Bokonon
[ A short book with a long title. [ 110 ] ]
Title: What Can a Thoughtful Man Hope for Mankind on Earth, Given the Experience of the Past Million Years?
Only verse: Nothing.
"The Maya of Central America . . . were among the most advanced and successful people of their time. But a combination of population growth, extravagant construction projects and poor land management wiped out between 90% and 99% of the population. The Mayan collapse was accelerated by "the competition among kings and nobles that led to a chronic emphasis on war and erecting monuments rather than on solving underlying problems". (Does any of this sound familiar?)"
"Our thesis is that the idea of the self-regulating market implied a stark utopia. Such an institution could not exist for any length of time without annihilating the human and natural substance of society; it would have physically destroyed man and transformed his surroundings into a wilderness."
"The verb "to grow" has become so overladen with positive value connotations that we have forgotten its first literal dictionary denotation, namely, "to spring up and develop to maturity." Thus the very notion of growth includes some concept of maturity or sufficiency, beyond which point physical accumulation gives way to physical maintenance; that is, growth gives way to a steady state."
This is easily the best explanation of the causes behind the credit crunch I have come across. It also contains staggering facts regarding the financial bomb that the government has put in its pocket by nationalising certain banks and buying large numbers of shares in others. Iain Macwhirter seems to rock with pleasing consistency. Why is he not occupying 11 Downing Street?
"The shadow banking system is an imponderable black hole of financial loss. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the liabilities from RBS alone could add £1.8trn on to the public debt, taking it to £2.5trn. Britain's GDP is only £1.4trn. These are terrifying numbers. Be in no doubt: if all the liabilities of the UK banks fell on the state, Britain could find itself in the same predicament as Iceland. Our economy is actually very similar, only on a much larger scale."
Of particular interest are the comments that reveal that the two main architects of Gordon Brown's bank bail-out work for Standard Chartered Bank: Peter Sands, the chief executive and Richard Meddings, the finance director. The story is laid bare int his Torygraph article. Clearly, with the extensive dithering that Brown et al were doing prior to the announcement of this plan they hadn't the faintest idea how to tackle the crisis themselves. Forgive the lapse into trite cliches but it seems that the lunatics really are in charge of the asylum.
I just managed to track down this comment from a recent CiF article:
I really, really like this because it highlights the disparity between government and industry that I feel has been the driving force behind the erosion of much of our social values over the last fifty years. When disparity between commercial and civil salaries reaches the orders it currently has there exists no incentive- nor even any potential whatsoever- for civil service to compete in a war of ideas with the resources and talent the commercial sector can bring to bear. This is essentially why the CBI runs the Labour government: Whitehall has simply been infiltrated by "sleepers" who no longer even bother to hide their joy at flitting through the revolving door to spend a handful of sleepy years prowling the corridors of power and 'leveraging their clients' before spinning back through it again to land comfortably on the directorship gravy train with a pleasantly plump list of contacts in their diaries and the inside scoop on how to squeeze ever fatter contracts out of future governments through the Old Whitehall Boys' network.
"PFI and an ocean of money wasted on management consultants are the symptoms, and the cause is specifically the fact that the Cabinet, the Government and the Labour Back Benches are stuffed with [Peter] Hains - people with no skills, no qualifications, no management experience, nothing of any value except a finely-honed talent for greasy-pole climbing. People who have never had a proper job in their lives, and who are entirely unfit to take charge of a complex government department.
Look at Patricia Hewitt. Prior to being feather-bedded into the House of Commons, the highlight of her career was seven years' loyal service as Neil Kinnock's lickspittle (she did spend two years working for a Charity, but I'm willing to bet a year's earnings she wasn't doing anything worthwhile like running a shop). On the basis of this towering achievement, she duly found herself in charge of the third biggest organisation in the world.
They are all basically the same, and they're all basically spivs - fourth-rate spivs at that. I can just see them all sitting blinking like stupid owls while some hapless middle-manager tries to explain something about Supply Chain Management or Finance.
No wonder they're an easy touch for the first-rate spivs from the management and IT consultancies, who've spent decades honing their sales and presentational skills on tough clients in the private sector. The guys who get their hooks into the public sector must be wearing grins like water melons."