Judging by the photographs of those who lined up to face President Obama, President Lula of Brazil was right when he said he didn’t know any black bankers. No women either in the line up of grey men (with or without blue eyes).
The problem is Obama is depending on them to sort out the mess they created. At the same time the poorest financially are being asked to pay – again. Already scarce savings have been put at risk by the white men in grey suits who have speculated with it. And some have Madoff with it just like Bernie. He and his mates are still not in prison but there again that is a place for the poor who once there can’t offer to buy themselves out.
Obama pointed out the anger felt by ordinary people with the banking system. He pointed to the furniture and carpets in the White House to the assembled smart suits, showing the stains accumulated by George W. to illustrate his point about excesses by example. Whether they will be chastened and listen is another matter. Bonus payments seem to have continued regardless of whose money is being used supposedly to save the economic system. As I have said the foxes are in the hen house.
Brown stopped off in Brazil on his globe trot in advance of the G20 summit in London next week. The President, known as Lula, while not dismissing Brown’s mission asked pointedly why the poor had to pay for the mistakes of the bankers. They by and large were not representative of many oppressed people, largely black or Indian and impoverished, they were white Europeans who claimed to know all about economics. Now it was clear they knew nothing about economics.
The sentiment is now widespread in the Latin American world where country after country has elected socialist leaders with Cuba a prominent voice in the region. So much of the moves to improve health and education have been inspired by the Cuban example, and probably teachers and doctors from Cuba have been working inm those countries.
With Bush and Blair gone (well I haven’t heard a murmur from Bush but Blair keeps cropping up like a jack-in-the box and I suspect has a considerable malign influence on all of this) I hope from what people have said that the “war on terror” had matured. Now the British government has revived it with a vengeance and a price tag to boot.
Hazel Blears (an arch-Blairite) is mixing it with Muslim communities deciding who or who not to talk to. If she doesn’t like the answer she moves on to someone else who might say what she wants to hear. When Brown first met Bush he seemed to be going out of his way to change things with the recognition that vilifying the whole Muslim community was likely to be counterproductive. But here we are again.
There’s a proposal to track everyone and everything on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. No doubt someone will be reading this blog. I was born the same year as Winston Smith, 1941, but it’s taken a little longer than Orwell envisaged as 1984 to reach this state.
The determination to throw aside U.S. imperialism in Latin America is demonstrated by the strengthening of relations between Argentina and Cuba. This follows the recent visit of the Argentine President to Cuba:
“The presence of Cristina Fernández in Cuba was more than a protocol and friendly visit; it was an occasion to re-instigate – on new foundations and within a framework of Latin America integration and cooperation – the close ties of mutual benefit and respect that should characterize the sister countries of the Americas, bonds that imperial greed have tried to break throughout history with the aim of imposing its interests of exploitation and plunder.”Source Granma 24/3/2009.
Any settlement of a peace process in Israel and Palestine has to take into account the question of Palestinian refugees. The Guardian report has thrown light onto a group displaced from Iraq who are now camped on the Syrian border. No one wants them so they are further displaced. Meanwhile well-heeled Zionists from U.S. and elsewhere have no problem in moving onto land seized from Palestinians and pressing for security by building a wall around the Palestinians creating prison camps for them.
I suppose we have moved on from the situation in World War 1 when troops traumatised by their experience were shot for cowardice. Today we know about all that, at least I thought so. However its seems that the MoD has no idea of the effects. We send people to war not as individuals but they are, as ever, regarded as “cannon fodder”. Now the MoD says it has no idea how many of its troops are affected by trauma as a result of their experience of conflict.
There was an outcry when military hospitals were closed and the severely wounded were transferred to Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham. While it seems conditions have improved following an outcry it is unclear what continuing support people who have sacrificed (for what clear purpose?) and their families will be able to get.
A meeting took place on 12th March at Conway Hall addressed by veterans of the action led by Arthur Scargill, but with the notable omission of Margaret Thatcher and Neil Kinnock. Kinnock had been involved in his own celebrations in order to mount a scathing attack on Scargill. Arthur took the opportunity to make a counterpoint branding Kinnock as treacherous by meeting with the Coal Board bosses in South Wales to ensure coal was delivered to the steel works. The following is a report from the SLP:
When I visited Palestine and Israel in 2004 the idea of two states was being questioned even by Yasser Arafat’s lieutenant. “I don’t care what you call it” he said “but we need peace based on equality”. Now a CIA report questions whether Israel will exist in 20 years time. There are signs that its citizens are moving to the United States or to Russia.
It’s difficult to see any project in history which sought to maintain stability through oppression succeeded in the long term. While the measures taken against Palestinians and discrimination against Israeli Arabs have existed for far too long the Gaza incursion may proved to have been a step too far. It has at last drawn attention to the character of the Israeli state and public opinion world wide has been vociferous in protest. Unfortunately this has not been matched by government action in the main with only countries like Venezuela and Bolivia expelling the Israeli ambassador.
The source of the report means it has to be taken seriously. It draws on trends in the israeli population which shows numbers of people with U.S. and other foreign passports together with those applying for them. Clear Israel’s government has not persuaded them that a long term peaceful settlement and two state solution is possible. There has been little sign that they have any intention of doing anything than isolate and harass Palestinian citizens. As apartheid South Africa collapsed very quickly so will the state of Israel.
What looks like the long promised changes sought by Barack Obama don’t seem to turn out that way. Afghanistan, Palestine even Iraq. Now signals are being made to Cuba with the supposed intention of improving U.S. image in Latin America.
“Latin America, once considered Washington’s “backyard”, has become newly assertive and ended the Castro government’s pariah status. The presidents of Brazil, Chile, Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Guatemala have recently visited Havana to deepen economic and political ties. Brazil’s president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, is expected to tell Obama on a White House visit this week that the region views the US embargo as anachronistic and vindictive. Easing it would help mend Washington’s strained relations with the “pink tide” of leftist governments.” Source Observer 8/3/2009.