Monthly Archives: June 2010

News black out as US and Israeli flotilla head for Iran

An Israeli source is reporting that US warships and an Israeli vessel have been allowed through the Suez canal by Egypt. Can’t be true, the world leaders are all in Canada talking economics with environment as an afterthought. Then there’s the World Cup, Wimbledon to keep us all happy – or not.
Looking at headlines, the Observer tells about Lib-Dem unhappiness with the Condem coalition which at least half the voters think is unfair. Danny Alexander disagrees. Both the Independent and Washington Post are tied up in Afghanistan, the one telling how McChrystal was warning dire things about the progress of the war, the other how it is stressing out the military leadership. BBC looks at the BA cabin crew action. Meanwhile the ships sail silently almost unnoticed for a showdown with Iran. Not news? Somewhere there is a well organised conspiracy going on.
This is not to say that it has been unnoticed entirely. Lots of rumours and the hope that the story isn’t true. I hope so too.

Lib-Dem opportunism comes home to roost after 20% VAT is announced

It’s only half of Lib Dem supporters saying that they won’t be there to vote for the party next time round following the opportunism of putting Tories into power nationally. In Birmingham and Wolverhampton we’ve had fair warning at their propensity for cutting essential services and amenities, so many held back from giving them support.
The Tories for their part hugely enjoy putting the Lib Dems forward as they savage the economy putting forward schemes that will implement their long cherished desires to emasculate the state. Thus when Osborne was telling us how this was to be done in gory detail it was Clegg and Alexander (the “bag carrier’s bag carrier”) who flanked him. Uncharacteristically for a politician of such rank as Cameron was out of sight. Not far away the other side of Clegg. And the Lib Dem leaders fall for it again and again. The faint scent of power proved too much and cost a fortune: the promised electoral reform to bring in a fair system of voting and the promise “never” to allow a rise in VAT. Since working people have found themselves betrayed by New Labour after ditching Clause 4 and intensifying anti-trade union legislation it was the Lib Dems who could have offered support. Now it’s clear they are substitute Tories the elite group who have found they can get away with manipulating the financial world know they can manipulate all three parties. We might have the vote but nowhere the power. That belongs to the lobbyists representing powerful, corrupt and unaccountable interests. You want peace, non-toxic and healthy environment and food, renewable sources of energy excellent education and health for all? Well don’t come here. They want more sophisticated weaponry, nuclear power, genetically modified crops and private firms to provide essential services. All of them are at it as New Labour showed. Out of desperation they weren’t supported. Except in Birmingham and Wolverhampton there was the realisation that things weren’t any better with public services and jobs cut and the most vulnerable having to pay the bill.

Expensive short cuts

Already evidence is emerging of risky short cuts to sink the oil well in the Gulf of Mexico which ended up killing 11 on the rig and spewing as yet uncalculated barrels of oil into the ocean. The cost to the environment both at sea and on land is also beyond estimate.
One lesson that won’t be learned is that Capitalism and the system it has spawned is not fit for purpose. As President Obama has found to his cost it is out of control. The mining disaster in the US was down to short cuts. Methane was trapped but the company took short cuts and didn’t allow venting so men died needlessly.
In the UK privatisation of the railways led to unnecessary risks with passengers’ lives. Those with many years experience of signaling and safety went and management was handed over to novices with little if any experience – or concern – in maintaining standards that were part and parcel of the existing organisation. In my experience when a business is taken over the management might go into the hands of an accountant. Knowledge of figures and profits is no substitute for the technical understanding from hands on experience which was carelessly tossed to the wind.
BP are determined to pay dividends to shareholders in spite of everything. The US government is doing what it can to ensure that compensation is paid out fully, if that’s possible in this case. It might have an effect on persuading others to take greater care, but we had the Exxon disaster before which didn’t prevent this bigger and better catastrophe taking place.

This is the ConDem Coalition at work in Birmingham. No wonder Labour did well here!

There was a large gathering today in the pleasant grounds of Hawthorn House in Handsworth Wood. The Business Transformation Scheme has it on its portfolio, so no messing Hawthorn House has to go. Business is business.
Consultation? I don’t know if that’s catered for in “Business Transformation”‘ ‘cos there hasn’t been any of that. However a few years back there were rumours circulating that Hawthorn House, where there is a local library, was due for the chop and a sizable petition was handed to the Council. Cllr Ray Hassell, then Cabinet Member for Leisure Services wrote indignantly, Who was it who dared to broadcast such a wicked and unfounded rumour? If he knew they would be told in no uncertain terms to wash their mouth out.
It’s a few years since local residents, including my wife, Vron, campaigned for this grade 2 listed building to be preserved since it, together with the grounds, could be put to good use as a community facility. Every time buildings closed down they were likely to be demolished and more homes would replace them. It happened at Island Dairies, where I was promised that this was industrial land and that it would be placed by light industry. The idea being that while people need homes they can also do with a job to pay for it. Land in Regent Road was ideal for play space for that area of the Ward but when I visited recently that is a housing scheme. Local residents campaigned for the former Handsworth Wood Girls’ School to be a community facility and funds were found to pay an architect who came up with a brilliant plan for multipurpose use for young and old, health, leisure, education. The site was sold and the building is now mothballed. Residents of Handsworth Wood Ward were once more empty handed. When my children were little they enjoyed the open space behind Elmwood Church, but when the church building was in need of modernisation that went for, guess what? Yes even more houses.

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When will Britain get that Obama moment?

They say she’s a token. They say she won’t win, but hey she’s got a nomination for leadership of the Labour Party. Diane Abbott has got where she is against the odds. For all their women-only short lists – black only short lists were pushed aside sometime back against Many Labour Party members’ wishes – it now looks extremely depressing as a group of 40 something white males, all tainted by New Labour in some way, show themselves to be the face of modern Labour. As I said before, why not bring back Blair. While New Labour can’t get rid of his ghost, once again there’s a division between those who represent a discredited elite and those who want a fresh start. Diane is the only alternative.
Diane herself I believe has articulated her candidature well with a clear analysis of reasons for standing now. She is showing courage and determination in the face of an entirely cynical and discouraging general belief that we are stuck in a rut. We have returned to an apparent dominant position where everyone running the country is white, male, privileged. If the ConDem coalition looks that way – one honorary woman in cabinet (like Thatcher’s Cabinet – Reagan thought she “was the best man” there!) then Labour looks alike. That’s been the problem that New Labour copied Thatcherism right down to privatisation, wrecking the country’s real wealth by substituting jobs in manufacturing with jobs in the finance sector. This acts more as a leech on resources but contributes nothing of substance.
We should be grateful to Diane for coming forward right now. The depressing thing is that if (to most when) she is knocked out of the competition then we revert to the norm. We know that in spite of decades attempting to bring in equality we have not progressed one iota in our ruling sector. As she made clear herself Diane will force some crucial debates. Unfortunately because it’s the Labour Party it will not challenge the underlying problem that it is Capitalism’s inherent features which have led to crisis. When and if there is a recovery that will just recycle itself. We, the public need to gain control of banks, the economy, not let it be cut because the elite group says we must to save their skin. They created the problem and should pay for it as the people of Greece above all have recognised. Diane won’t or can’t change all that, but at least it’s a good start.

Italian fascist founder of the Israeli commando group that attacked the Gaza flotilla

The Israeli commando brigade that attacked the Gaza-bound flotilla was founded by an Italian fascist. Israelis justify their actions on grounds of security. It’s strange because I thought that the idea of a homeland for Jewish people was to protect them from the racists who had stirred up hatred against them. Now it would be hard to find a more entrenched right wing group than in the state of Israel.

Has Liam Byrne got a brain?

Just seen Liam Byrne’s website and noticed he was backing David Miliband for leader. He who left a joke memo saying “we have run out of money” and putting a nail in the coffin of the Midland Metro. He who demanded his cup of coffee and snacks to a deadline. He who defined Britishness as “a cup of tea” and “fish and chips” in the immigration debate. As for the leadership, why not bring back Tony Blair? Miliband is pro-Zionist and will go along with any of Israel’s appalling strategies.
Thankfully others have noticed that the main rivalry for leadership of Labour is among 40+ white males who have all be tainted by the former leadership which led Labour to defeat. John McDonnell on the other hand has fallen out to support Diana Abbott so she will get a chance of getting nominated. David Miliband is one of her nominees, so don’t know if that is a plus or minus for her!
Andy Burnham is saying the New Labour leadership “was elitist” as if that was a minor blip. The whole party, along with the political machine favours an elite so what does Andy propose? It’s not a superficial shuffling of personnel that will make the difference. Get Miliband and Byrne might stand a chance of getting back. A number have said that Mandelson won’t be there. You bet?

The extent of Israel’s inhumanity

The full picture of the Israeli government’s inhumanity is being laid bare. Autopsies on those shot during the boarding of the Gaza bound aid flotilla show the Israeli commandos to be trigger happy in the extreme. Multiple bullet wounds at close range to heads and bodies indicate a callous disregard for life. These were as much murders as those inflicted on innocent people in Cumbria this week.
The situation in Gaza itself remains bleak. A report speaks of a brain damaged child who could be helped if he were allowed out of this prison. The Israelis refuse. The leaders of Israel appear to have lost the last vestiges of humanity yet still retain support from governments, principally the USA post Bush. (It is a fact that the Obama administration is on the trail of “Islamic terrorists” in more countries than ever before – which is not unrelated to its unremittingly close, if not unproblematic, relationship with the Israeli government).
As the second attempt to deliver aid to Gaza continues with the MV Rachel Corrie entering territorial waters reports speak of her being tailed by Israeli naval vessels. They have warned that the ship will be boarded once more and escorted to an Israeli port. This is just as waves of protest are mounted across the world showing massive revulsion to state bullying and terrorism.

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