Monthly Archives: October 2009

World Health Organisation looks at Cuba

The Director General of the World Health Organisation recently visited Cuba meeting Fidel Castro and noting the extensive developments being carried out across the region. The emphasis on promoting healthy citizens means that a lot less expenditure is necessary to treat sickness.
Health care based on the Cuban model can also be seen in Venezuela and was recently visited by a group from Washington in the USA promoting health care before profit in a neighbourhood in the USA. This part of the world, unlike Obama in the US, does not have to battle with the multinational pharmaceutical giants or the health insurance companies that dog progress for universal health care in the US and European countries.

A frog on my shoulder

I made this for a bit of fun with my granddaughters Lael and Niamh in mind. However while the princes in particular don’t see anything funny about it I didn’t notice any comments on the commercial aspects where huge swathes of rain forest are felled for profit. In the Congo local leaders were tricked into allowing vast areas to be used by furniture manufacturers, so take care when purchasing to make sure that any timber used is from sustainable sources.

Zelaya to return?

As Fidel Castro predicted a while back resistance was proving an effective tool in the restoration of the rightfully elected President of Honduras. Reports suggest that a deal is likely and cites “international pressure”.
What is going on in Honduras is being watched with deep interest by many in countries in the region. In Venzuela for example it is personal to the people.
It has been reported that a nephew of the interim leader Roberto Micheletti has been killed although there is no established link to the coup. The article states that Honduras has the highest drugs-related murder rate in the region.
Micheletti is to request a vote from congress whether to allow Zelaya to return.

Operate Cast Lead – the questions Israelis want answered

The Israeli government embarked on the Gaza operation but clearly didn’t carry all Israeli citizens with it. Some are now asking questions as the Israeli newspaper Haaretz shows.
Norman Finkelstein is amazed at the way Israel continues to play the “victim” card when answering international criticism of Operation Cast Lead. Lone Jewish voices? Not from the survey carried out by J Street which suggests 7 out of 10 US Jews share some degree of opposition to the Israeli action, something they point out that AIPAC likes to ignore.

Water equality

That Israel can get away with murder has long been a fact as far as Palestinians are concerned. If Liebermann had his way we hear that Gaza would have “been nuked”. Already Israeli government members travel in fear of being arrested on war crimes.
Scarce water supplies are withheld from Palestinians so that Israeli settlers can water their gardens, fill their swimming pools while running water is not available to many people. Not that this is the only place on earth where water is used as a weapon. In a way it is the world in microcosm where there are winners and losers in a commodity essential for life and health.
The use of water by multi-nationals for their products is also a major issue particularly in countries like India where land is parched. The biggest of these, Coca-Cola, is also a leading figure on the “World Water Forum”! The water is laced with huge amounts of sugar quite unnecessarily and sold converting a natural resource to a huge health hazard in the process. Although CO2 emissions constantly grab headlines in sustainability issues, water is right up there with big business trying to put respectability back into their profit-driven enterprises.

The Cuban Five on Russia Today

There were high hopes that the five Cubans imprisoned in the United States would be released when Obama became President. Their cases are being reviewed and one of them had his sentence reduced from life to 22 years. They have additionally been deprived of family visits. This has been highlighted on Russia Today, a programme which provides news and information overlooked by our own press.
The five Cubans far from conducting terrorism themselves uncovered a group who did have a range of equipment that fitted the bill. They were trying to prevent right wing groups mounting attacks on Cuba. So their incarceration is a highly political act. Instead of the US being grateful for uncovering terrorist plots they arrested the Cubans – a terrorist is only a terrorist if (s)he’s coming for you!

Copenhagen isn’t the only climate change summit

The Copenhagen Climate Change Summit was described by Gordon Brown as a last chance saloon, although hopes for something significant in terms of what’s necessary are admittedly low. However “the World” itself appears to mean what people in the western hemisphere what they want it to – that part of it dominated by free markets and a very peculiar form called “democracy”. This is another word defined to suit a purpose in this case the freedom to acquire wealth, however dubious the method, and to cut and run with impunity. You can them have a comfortable lifestyle while the rest do your bidding.
In Southern America the climate is also top of the agenda and not a few countries in the region are taking part. They are even negotiating a common currency divorced from the US dollar.
Fidel Castro’s Reflections on ALBA and Copenhagen.

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Fiddler’s ferry

It’s not enough to be a human being. In order to live on the planet you need to be loaded if you live in the so-called democratic Western World. In USA there is a battle to provide health care for more than the rich and the UK as usual is moving towards the “great American ideal”. Justice? Can you afford it? Not when the multinationals, supported by government (doesn’t matter whether Tory, Lib-Dem or New Labour) get together. The following came from the Socialist Labour Party:
Steve Acheson has now found out where his court hearing is – it is at the High Court, Chancery Division, in London on Wed 21st October.
According to Wikipedia Chancery should only deal with high value cases or cases of high legal importance. By going to this court SSE (Fiddlers Ferry power station owners) are clearly hoping to win their case by out-spending Steve. Chancery normally deals with mega commercial cases, for instance they heard the case of The Beatles versus Apple (i-pod). Another case the High Court has just dealt with is the release of records of torture in Guantanamo Bay.
One of the court officials said that you will be lucky to get a case into Chancery for less than £20,000 – quite understandable if you are dealing with a £20 million pound case, but totally over the top for a case where a company is irritated by a sacked trade unionist sticking some banners on their fence.
They were hoping to get their injunction ‘without notice’ – that is without Steve knowing about it, and that is why they make allegations about a threat to the generation of electicity and of bringing down the National Grid, but the court obliges them to give at least informal notice of the injunction hearing, which is why Steve was handed a sketchy outline of the case by the security.
There is a clear implication for other workers here. The construction strikes and mass protests earlier this year at Lindsey, Stanlow, Sellafield and Fiddlers Ferry itself could all find themselves banned by High Court injunctions in an expensive court if this goes unchallenged. All those sites could be argued to be of national strategic importance.
Unite has now agreed to send someone with Steve on Wednesday thanks to certain members of the NEC who have worked hard to secure this help. He is hoping to get the case adjourned in the interests of justice so he can put his case against the misinformation in the injunction application about threats, intimidation and a possibility of invading the power station to disrupt generation.
I attach a draft press release (below) from the Trades Council for circulation and will circulate information after the hearing on Wednesday.
Warrington Trades Council

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Health or wealth

Interesting to note those countries with the most wealth are struggling when it comes to their nation’s health. It is not those with the most resources that have succeeded in providing health on the basis of equality. Of course an unhealthy nation is exceedingly costly as people fall sick. It not only can cost them but the aggregate cost to the economy is massive. Yet the free market economy priorities don’t heed this even though it is well understood.
President Obama’s attempted health reforms are showing the fault lines between interest groups battling for supremacy in health care for the nation. Drug and insurance companies hold sway not just in the USA but everywhere the free market rules.
In the UK it has been apparent for several years now that the involvement of private companies and the free market has accelerated under New Labour. Margaret Thatcher could hardly have dreamt of the success of the reforms under her leadership taken on lock, stock and barrel by the party supposed to have toppled her. It may have thrown her out but her policies didn’t go with her.
The reforms of the health service are characterised by complex, inefficient and very expensive management (unamanagable?) systems. The money has gone into bureaucracy rather than health care. Now the market is syphoning yet more money out as profit for those very interests threatening the U.S. reforms. One simple solution suggested was to look at Cuba. How had a country with such limited resources managed not only to fund its much admired health-care but to export doctors and nurses widely across the world? One lesson is that prevention is a high priority. If the nation is healthy then the cost lowers dramatically. Britain is unhealthy and unequal in spite of the original intentions of the once visionary NHS.

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Campaign for Public Ownership Press Release

I received the following from the SLP which I fully endorse:
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Campaign for Public Ownership
Press Release on the Government’s Fire-Sale of state assets
The Campaign For Public Ownership strongly opposes the government’s plan for a fire-sale of state assets in order to cut the public deficit.
It beggars belief that after Britain’s disastrous experience of privatisation, anyone still believes that selling off the family silver can improve the public finances in the long-term.
The Tote, the Dartford crossing, the channel tunnel rail link, and the Student Loan book and other assets earmarked for sale by Gordon Brown should be kept in public ownership.
If the government does want to save money, then why doesn’t it listen to the majority of the British public and bring our troops back from an unwinnable war in Afghanistan, which currently costs the taxpayer £2.6bn a year?
It’s time to call an end to the Great Privatisation Rip-Off and for all concerned citizens to fight to stop any further sale of publicly owned assets.