Monthly Archives: October 2008

More light on Guantanamo Bay

In the dying embers of the Bush administration as the world’s media is tied up with economic meltdown laced with countless trivia the Independent finds time to report on how, after 6 long years, 6 Bosnians held without trial have had all charges dropped. No evidence has been brought forward.
So once again the civilised world has demonstrated how very superior it is to the rest that can be bombed, raped pillaged and incarcerated at the will of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.
In a just world all will be tried for war crimes, but even with the prospect of a change of government, party and president crying change the prospect is beyond remote.

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Blair’s not around. Not in Gaza he isn’t

Tony Blair’s unpaid role as Middle East envoy appears not to be working. Why? Because he’s too busy becoming the highest paid speaker in the world eclipsing Bill Clinton’s earnings when he left office by a fair margin.
Gaza in particular has failed to move forward. While Blair’s sister-in-law joined a mission of mercy and then got stuck in Gaza when she let a family in need escape, he prefers to think about where the next ¬£ million will come from.
But no one ever thought that Blair had a commitment to the peace process. He has muttered that he didn’t think the carnage in Iraq would have reached such proportions, but even there he doesn’t appear to have lost much sleep.

To merge or not to merge

Looks as if Lloyds TSB and HBOS are going ahead with their merger. Looks like there are precious few HBOS executives to remain. Their former chief already walked off amidst a storm of controversy over remarks he made and an apparent refusal to give any sign of regret let alone an apology. If this lot go it could cost £7 million. Who pays for that. Us again I suppose. One has already waived a pay off (under pressure I think) but the system continues to favour the others. The rules were written by those so win or lose they could never lose out, or so it seems.
Meanwhile Barclays has found another option to being bailed out by this government. Middle Eastern royal families in Abu Dhabi and Qatar will own about a third of their shares. Is this what we need in the world driven by individual whims of a few who show little interest in human rights at home or abroad. The solution deepens the hole. More of the same ad infinitum.

The Congo. Once again war, once again the resources

The Independent reports on the terrible conflict once again consuming the Central African country. Tribal wars in the area called the “Heart of Darkness” by outsiders. Nothing of the kind says the writer. It is all about the Congo’s tremendous wealth of untapped resources. The search for riches untold continues against the backdrop of a failed financial system.
The United Nations investigation found it was a war led by “armies of business” to seize the metals that make our 21st-century society zing and bling. The war in Congo is a war about you.” Source “The Independent” 30/10/2008

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Menezes. The witnesses

From the first the shooting of the innocent Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes raised questions. To have been a passenger that day when the train stopped at the Stockwell underground station remains unimaginable. Now those present are talking about what they witnessed. One speaks of the police appearing to be a group of young lads larking about. This is at odds with the accounts of the police being involved in a deadly serious operation. The first time the witness realised something was wrong was when the first shot was fired. No one identified themselves as police. More questions raised, it seems, than answered.
The evidence from two witnesses so far contradicts claims that police called out warnings of who they were and that they were armed. We were told that they were acting in the belief that their suspect was about to detonate a bomb, yet to the witnesses their demeanor was even casual. “Lads having a lark” it seemed.

When is a bank a bank?

Santandar might have saved B & B but who will save it? But is a bank a bank. Here we learn that they are getting rid of a business leasing railway carriages to train companies. For goodness sake. No wonder we can’t afford to travel on public transport because everyone’s got their hand in the till.
Anyway it’s not gloomy everywhere as BP notches up record profits of 148% on everyone else’s misfortune.

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Born in prison

Maybe if you’re born is a prison you might end up being saviour of the world. Maybe you won’t. A report says that now, under New Labour, around 4 children are born each week to women in our prisons. Recommendations were that this should only happen in “exceptional circumstances”.
I visited a young woman on remand in a young offenders’ institution. It was most certainly a prison. Sure they tried to ensure she developed her education and parenting skills, but the environment was extremely harsh. As a visitor you had to surrender the complete contents of your pockets before you were allowed in. And you were securely locked in. This young women had got in with the wrong crowd, but the reason for making her give birth in such a setting was certainly not “exceptional.” She did very well, except she refused to listen to those who insisted she should not take the child into her bed. This is something much frowned upon, but as far as I know is not uncommon. Anyway I knew the reason why she did this. She had a child before that was taken into care. The child died while in “care”. She found this out when she overheard someone speaking about it while in court. She quickly arranged to see the child’s body and noticed serious burn marks on the legs.
When she left prison she went to a hostel for mothers and children. Many of those there were people with learning difficulties and had difficulties just coping with their children. The young woman did not fit in. She stayed out continually, the placement was ended and the child was taken into care. Like her mother she was in care and now the third generation. When, I asked continually when representing her at meetings with professionals, would this cycle end? And where did she go to when she was out without permission? She was visiting the grave of her first born.

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Greenspan questions his own ideology

Alan Greenspan is a free-marketeer – or was. He now sees a flaw in his views, although he has been acting on the flawed model that led to the current crisi in capitalist free-market thinking. The “S” word, however, is still unmentionable and Gov. Palin has been trying to make it stick to Barack Obama, whereas it’s George W. who is experimenting with it, albeit preserving the elite structure.
“Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity (myself especially) are in a state of shocked disbelief.”
We can shed a tear for poor Alan, never mind those who have lost all as whole blocks of homes are repossessed. Paulson has similarly stated that trust in the banks has been misplaced, but it hasn’t yet sunk in that the whole free-market philosophy is bound to end up this way. The medicine – more of the same – is to protect the wealthy. Obama has been roundly condemned by one of his own supporters for going with the bail out that favours the rich and leaves the poor to struggle on alone. Still he’s already being accused of “socialism”. Chance would be a fine thing.

Pauline to be remembered at rally

Pauline to be remembered at rally
NO MORE DEATHS IN CUSTODY
Press Release
10th ANNUAL DEATH IN CUSTODY FAMILES IN MARCH ON DOWNING STREET
The United Families & Friends Campaign, the national coalition of families whose loved ones have died in police, prison and psychiatric custody will march to Downing Street to challenge the Prime Minister to intervene in the lack of justice for families following a death in custody.
Families attending include those of Jean Charles De Menezes, Roger Sylvester, Brian Douglas, Mikey Powell, Christopher Alder, Paul Coker, Jason Mcpherson and many others.
Important notes:
1. Since 1969 we have had 2,533 deaths for which the names of the individuals are known. Hundreds of others are unknown. Between 27 October 2007 – 17 October 2008 we have had 182 deaths where the identity of the individual is known. Details: www.inquest.org.uk
2 This is the 10th such march and coincides with an online petition on Downing Street to which the Prime Minister must respond. Details: visit 4WardEver page
3. Since last years march there has been the tragic death of Pauline Campbell who was in the midst of a campaign for justice for her daughter Sarah. Her passing will be marked during the day.
Details: www.rememberpauline.wordpress.com
Procession details: Saturday 25th October 2008
Assemble at 1.00pm at Nelsons Column, Trafalgar Square, London
Procession along Whitehall followed by protest at Downing Street
Press information: UFFC 07770 432 439
FBU 07764927729
Pauline had been a tireless campaigner against the deaths of women in prison and psychiatric custody ever since the tragic death of her own daughter, Sarah, in 2003.

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Thanks for the bail out, it will pay for our bonuses nicely

The news that neitherWall Street nor the City have not changed one iota and is using handouts from taxpayers to continue to pay huge bonuses once again demonstrates that the unregulated free market has the power to make its own rules irrespective.
If it’s the case that the bonus culture has contributed significantly to the current economic crisis it is abundantly clear, if not before, that the injection of pubic money is not the answer. I thought it was understood that payment was on condition that bonuses were not awarded and that this should continue until repayments had been made. Future bonuses would be linked to success and only success in improving business.

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