Friday, 31 July 2009

The oppressor of the young free thinker!

Utah boy goes for spin to avoid church

7-year-old leads officers on a chase; dad told to keep keys safe

PLAIN CITY, Utah - Police in Utah say a 7-year-old boy led officers on a car chase in an effort to avoid going to church.
Dispatchers received reports of a child driving recklessly on Sunday morning. Weber County Sheriff's Capt. Klint Anderson says one witness said the boy drove through a stop sign.
Anderson says two deputies caught up with the boy and tried unsuccessfully to stop the Dodge Intrepid in an area about 45 miles north of Salt Lake City. The car reached 40 mph before the boy stopped in a driveway and ran inside a home.

Story: Associated Press

Santander it's the only bank in town!

Santander, the banking giant which owns Abbey and Alliance & Leicester, reported this week a pre-tax profits up more than 30 per cent to a whopping £790m. Spanish owned Santander will rebrand British high-street brands familiar and well known to many under it’s own name, these are the above mentioned and another that came to be symbolised by two city gents in TV adverts in the 1970s Bradford & Bingley. Santander is now the UK’s second-biggest mortgage lender and third-largest savings bank.

Antonio Horta-Osorio, Santander’s UK chief executive, said: “We have delivered an excellent increase in revenue and profit despite tough market conditions.”

Oh that’s good news for their shareholders’ then, money, money and more money, profit, profit, and more profit! But with the blink of an eye, the push of a pen the market conditions will include turning out families that are unable to keep up with mortgage payments? Yes I can see the profit in that!

Less than a year after the eruption of a financial crisis that has devastated economies across the globe and wiped out an estimated 40 percent of the world’s wealth, a number of major banks and investment houses are posting record profits and setting aside sharply higher—in some cases, record—sums for salaries and bonuses to their employees.

A recent article in Der Spiegel magazine entitled The Return of Greed—Banks Reopen Global Casino provides some insight. The article cites a former leading financier, who declares, “A few years ago, the investment banks got rich on their customers’ money. When that resource became too small, they fell back on their shareholders’ money. Now they've got hold of the biggest pool the world can offer: taxpayers’ money.”

three for the weekend

* More than 333,000 London children are living in overcrowded housing, a report has revealed. This is a rise of 28,000 in the past two years, according to Shelter.

* Thousands of climate campers will return to London to protest against global warming. The week-long protest will take place at a secret location in the capital from 27 August.

* There are no hamburgers on sale in North Korea – as the secret communist state avoids the use of Western words – but “minced beef and bread is available at a new fast-food restaurant that opened for business last weekend.

Have a nice weekend!

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

'unique transparent and universal'

On Sunday Socialist Party London members held there second summer propagation and discussion event which I attended. The subject this time: “What is real democracy; how do we get it?

A well meaning comrade gave the gathering a rather long narrative, be-speckled with interesting information that ensued a heated debate throughout the meeting.I must admit that I do enjoy attending these events and find them very stimulating and thought provoking.
Not every meeting is the same and this one on democracy wasn’t exactly what I expected and to be perfectly frank, I found it a bit boring and dry at first, struggling to take it in at times. What it reminded me of was meetings of the LPYS that once-in-a-lifetime I did attend; with someone leading off on some topic or other, usually about the need to take into public ownership 250 banks - Oh such happy days!

To be fair the speaker was capable, I suspect he was a bit rusty having not been asked to be the opener’ for some time, so I do think he did very well considering this handicap and can only improve with time. The good thing about the Campaigns Department who organise the meetings on behalf of the party is that they are encouraging others who would not normally be asked to have a go. This can only be good for party development as it invites comrades who have been otherwise overlooked to come out of the shadows and give their take on the many aspects of the world and socialism. This a refreshing approach that not only builds confidence and activates members, which of course is important for socialist ideas to start to gain a stronger footing in the broader sense. Even in a large city such as London when socialists’ organise and come together with others, we should not underestimate its value. I find that sharing with others, participating in debate helps to focus ones approach in regard to propagating the socialist case to others; wherever and whoever they are. The new technologies such as the Internet that we have at the disposal of our fingertips’ are all very well; but it will never be a substitution for the personal outwould going path. Many workers are preoccupied with everyday mundane subjugation, to just fall upon ‘our case’ over the Internet. That’s why it’s important for us in the Socialist Party, wherever possible, to take the personal route and not just be diverted in any specified direction; and by all means we must use all the tools in the box, at our disposal.

For over a year now, I been trying to put more good energy into making it my own priority to ask others at the very least to ask themselves; why not question and scrutinise what goes on in the world. I spend a lot of time with friends who are homeless, rough sleepers, or venerably housed along with others who not unlike myself; grin and bear all that is thrown at them, unemployment, poverty and sometimes as it seems even the kitchen sink. But we are unshaken and resolute that somehow we will get buy, and we do from week to week. In my case I’m fortunate to belong to a party that whilst it has its internal defences remains stead fast in its goal – to get rid of the profit system and establish real socialism!
The Socialist Party is an organisation of equals without leaders and there are no followers’, unique transparent and universal.


Kilmarnock protestations !

Around 20,000 people demonstrated in Kilmarnock July 26 against the planned closure of the Johnnie Walker’s whisky bottling plant by the major drinks trans-national Diageo. The huge turnout, almost half Kilmarnock’s 44,000 residents, reflects deep concerns over the loss of some 700 jobs. The bottling plant is one of the largest employers in East and North Ayrshire, areas that are beginning to suffer seriously from the deepening recession, where decently paid work has been difficult to find for decades.

Diageo also intends to close a distillery at Port Dundas, Glasgow, where 140 jobs are threatened. Distribution workers at Hurlford—a small town just outside Kilmarnock—face being transferred to Linwood, 30 miles away, with potential loss of earnings and pension rights. The moves are part of Diageo’s plan to consolidate the bottling of several spirits—whisky, vodka, gin—into two plants in Scotland, at Shieldhall in Glasgow and Leven in Fife, closing the Kilmarnock plant, which only bottles Johnnie Walker’s whisky. A further 30 jobs are under threat at Shieldhall, which currently employs 500 workers.

The moves are in addition to a £200 million “restructuring” programme outlined by the company in February, which includes slashing 1,000 jobs from its global workforce of 23,000. Some 107 jobs are under threat in Ireland, while Diageo’s HQ in London is also undergoing re-organisation. The firm made £2 billion profit last year.

What on the Pavement

Here's a letter I found in this months 'Pavement' the free monthly magazine produced for London's homeless. I thought it appropriate to reproduce it here following my own post on the documentary "Famous, Rich and Homeless".

Dear Editor,

I found it quite ironic that "Famous, Rich and Homeless" was shown on the BBC. I spent seven months living rough on London's streets, often at All Souls' Church in Portland Place.
Having crashed there for several months, rough sleeping with the full knowledge and permission of the church authorities, I was woken one night and "moved on" by a couple of Westminster police officers. When I enquired about the incident at the church reception the following morning, I was informed by a staffer that the alleged complaint had not been lodged by the church authorities but by BBC security staff at Broadcasting House, directly across the road, no doubt because they were irritated by having to constantly step over cardboard boxes whilst filing fearless, hard-hitting documentaries about the plight of London's homeless.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Housing or profit?

I've found myself thinking about housing recently and have taken part in a cross blog discussion, if I can call it that with Lansbury's lido blog which you can visit by clicking on the title of this offering which is a reply that I posted this morning and have reproduced here as I think it's important to understand whats going on with housing today.

I think that I can see where Steve is coming from or a least I think I do. However the problem is that the Banks have a nasty habit of taking over the building societies: take my own as a case example. Abbey, officially Abbey National plc, is a United Kingdom-based bank and former building society that is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Grupo Santander of Spain and since 2004. Abbey will be rebranded as Santander by the end of 2010 in line with the group's other UK subsidiaries, and former building society's Alliance & Leicester and Bradford & Bingley. I became a customer of Abbey National about ten years ago when it was well on its way to being transformed from being what millions knew and perceive as a building society to that of a bank. In my case, I became a customer because without a bank account its almost imposable to get a job even in these days, this has to be another example of how the system has a hold on our lives and forces compliance, this never use to be the case I still remember the time when I was given an envelope or pay packet.

Anyhow, Wikipedia has good information about building society's and their origins and beginnings as financial institution, owned by its members, that offered banking and other financial services, but especially mortgage lending. Building society first arose in the 19th century, in the United Kingdom, from co-operative savings groups. In the UK today building societies actively compete with banks for most personal banking services, especially mortgage lending and deposit accounts. In their heyday, like the co-operative food store there were hundreds of building societies: just about every town in the country had a building society named after that town. Over succeeding decades the number of societies has decreased, as various societies merged to form larger ones, often renaming in the process, and other societies opted for demutualisation followed by - in the great majority of cases - eventual takeover by a listed bank. Most of the existing larger building societies are the end result of the mergers of many smaller societies.

My own bank Abbey started its life as the Abbey Road & St John's Wood Permanent Benefit Building Society founded in 1874, based in a Baptist church on Abbey Road in Kilburn. The society became the Abbey National Building Society following the merger of the Abbey Road Building Society with the National Building Society in 1944. So we can clearly see the good intentions that lay behind the emergence of Building Society's then, to help and assist people into securing there own homes and cheaply.

The problem as I see it, is when working people resolve and find a way to (a) put a roof over their own heads and (b) feed and provide relatively cheap provisions, capitalism works overtime to undermine this well intended conception because their profits are put at risk and that will not do! This has resulted in the failure in time of both the building society and co-operative movement as a vehicle for change. May I apologise at this point for the length of my post, and having done that say in conclusion it's worthwhile reminding ourselves that the cost of a home even with the recent drop in prices remains expensive and simply out of the reach of many working people for now and in the foreseeable future - given that adequate housing like good wholesome food is a basic requirement to sustain life, then it follows that a system that denies millions the necessity's of life; is repugnant and only a movement for socialism will end the wasteful, fearsome, insecure world we know today.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Night Riders

Apparently in Scunthorpe a town that seems to have more than it's fair share of revellers at weekends; the police, pubs, bars and the council have heaped praise on to a petrol of ‘pastors’ that have taken to the streets, offering salvation to the drunk, ill, lost and lonely. This story caught my eye when visiting the website of local paper the Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph today. I must admit that I did find the story amusing when I first read it, but it also raises and amplifies for me in any case, the use made of religion to control and mould the sheep into the capitalist penitentiary!

So working people go out on a Saturday night, well lets face it, maybe to escape and forget about the week they've just had at work, even for just a few hours, to try and obliterate the thought and prospect that another week of toil and possibly years of the same lie ahead; but to inculpate that they are somehow criminals and wrongdoers is simply absurd and ludicrous. Well to use the word criminal, in the context of my argument, may seem as if I'm putting the words into the mouths of the pastors, who may not have used such language in their vocabulary. But words do come out of their oral cavity, it may not be criminal but it could be transgress, stray from the path and sin, which in my book, they mean the same thing. What sanctimonious dribble these people peddle and hawk about at any given opportunity, and that's putting it nicely!

What I remember of the centre of Scunthorpe is that at night-time it’s transformed particularly at weekends, into a haven of clubs and pubs that serve the areas legends of young, who come out to have a good time in there own recreation time, a diversion from work. In fact one disused church having been converted into what they call a fun pub competes with others to sponge up the little wealth that workers have. I would hazard a guess and say that more and more young people will spend more of their money on this form of entertainment and leisure, especially as cheep travel comes shuttering to a halt over the next couple of years, restricting once again the travel options of working people to wonder and explore the world, albeit on the package holiday. Statistics confirm that in June, package holidays were on average £66 more expensive at £483, up from £417 in June last year, according to the Leisure Travel Monitor compiled by market intelligence service Ascent MI. The result will be fewer budget holidays for under £400.

I'm all for people having a good time, there should be more leisure and less work time. When I say leisure I don't mean going to the pub and getting stupefied and pie-eyed drunk. Having worked in factory environments over the years, I think that I understand why many go off the rails, it’s the pressure of work and the stress, the mental nervous strain that has to find a release; free from the confinement of work. When you really do think about it, we're living with all this technology, even this very blog is a testament to the way technology can be leveraged to improve our lives. Yet we still live in a social system that consists of a set of social relationships which are patterned by the form of wealth ownership, which in turn is patterned by the established method of producing wealth. In and under this system of society the great majority of people in the modern world get their living by going out to work for a wage or salary, because no other method is open to them. They try to get the highest wages and the best working conditions they can; but the employers are opposed - their object is to exploit workers as intensely as they can, for as little as they can give. This is the problem that we face, this is the source of difficulty in life and that entire religion clouds the muddy waters of capitalism and at best in its interests.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Last Post

Last week I commented on the the passing of world War 1 solder the late Henry Allingham. It was sadly announced today that Harry Patch, known as the last Tommy passed away at his care home age 111.

The death of both veteran soldiers within a week of each other; brings to a close the lives of the last two British survivors of the conflict known as the Great War.

And as expected the Queen, her offspring son Charles the Prime Minister and countless others have scrambled all, to make some sort of statement to mark an old man's passing.

The Queen said: “We will never forget the bravery and enormous sacrifice of his generation, which will continue to serve as an example to us all.”

The Prime Minister said: “The noblest of all the generations has left us, but they will never be forgotten.”

But I prefer to take notice of what Harry Patch said a few years ago about the sheer powerlessness of the common man caught up in war!

"Why should the British government call me up and take me out to a battlefield to shoot a man I never knew, whose language I couldn’t speak? All those lives lost for a war finished over a table. Now what is the sense in that, but still we send our lads to war. In Iraq, our young men are being killed and told to kill."

Friday, 24 July 2009

Close your eyes and it will all disappear!

I don’t think it’s me, but I keep seeing and reading reports that thing’s are on the mend, as far as the economy is concerned.
Is it propaganda? Is it information being fed us in order to keep the lid on top of the kettle?

Yesterday it was reported in the news on radio and TV that retail sales rose more than expected in June, this was apparently due to the heat wave we had two weeks ago. As if by magic people went out and made purchases’ of clothing and footwear.

Is it persistent and aggressive discounting particularly on food, as William Morrison’s Supermarket upgraded its earnings forecasts as the grocer lured customers from bigger rivals with its low-priced food.

75,000 homes worth at least £40,000 or more were sold in June - a rise of 15% compared with May.
This gem of information was revealed by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), a government outfit. However, the organisation points out that the June rise is attributed to a seasonal increase and the gross lending figure is still 48% lower when compared with June last year.
However, while all positive news that being put out points to a recovery, housebuilders Bovis, Redrow, Barratt and Persimmon have all highlighted that the lack of mortgage finance continues to hinder a recovery in the housing market.

Almost one in ten home sales falls through because buyers cannot obtain finance, a survey of members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) carried out for The Times has found.
The conclusion calls into question the effectiveness of the Government’s strategy to revitalise the housing market. Estate agents and surveyors said that 9 per cent of agreed deals were collapsing — a picture that had not changed over the past three months. This confirmation of the continuing mortgage drought comes as interest in property purchase increases.

What I read into this is that people are still spending on plastic, as old habits are hard to give up. After a decade of readily available finance that many have become ensnared, like the fly trapped in the spiders’ web. It’s understandable that some of us will close our eyes in what is a really depressing time, and just go out and spend, whilst we still have some purchasing power, even though the moneys not ours.
As for housing, we need to remember that house prices are in some cases 7 times more than salaries; and those future generations could be paying up to 10 times more unless the number of homes being built increases.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Big Issue's not for the Rich and Famous

John Bird the Big Issue's Founder & Editor in Chief as he likes to be known appeared and co- hosted along with Craig Last, a former youth worker for the charity Centrepoint; what has been described as a compelling and thought-provoking TV documentary. Famous, Rich & Homeless was screened on 24 and 25 June. Its aim allegedly was to bring home the realities of homelessness into the homes of millions of viewers. Its promotional selling point was that ‘recession and repossession’ which may mean that homelessness is a frightening possibility for almost everyone.

No one today will argue against that. However as someone with vast and extensive first hand experience of the realities of being homeless; and more than once, I was horrified by the set piece plot of this reality programme aired on prime time Television.

Five famous volunteers were recruited and asked to experience the life of a homeless person on the streets of London for a few days (ten) during the winter of 2008. When I say famous, what I mean by that is household names drawn from the entertainment and media industry. The Marquess of Blandford, the One Show’s Hardeep Singh Kholi, journalist Rosie Boycott, former Coronation Street actor Bruce Jones and tennis commentator Annabel Croft all swapped their lavish privileged lifestyles, their fame and fortune for a world of soup runs and hostels. Manoeuvred throughout by a modern-day equivalent of Fagin (the villainous Jew in the novel by Charles Dickens) in the father-superior figure of –“I’ve been in prison, I’ve been homeless,” John Bird.

The five begin their ten day excursions being dropped off in different parts of London, where they spent their days and nights trying to survive on the streets. The physical and emotional toll supposedly, challenging their preconceptions and prejudices about homelessness and its causes. A far cry from what they are use too, the participants are said to have 10 homes and a palace between them. Famous, Rich & Homeless claimed that the minds of these well healed volunteers, would be focused on surviving their ordeal whilst at the same time contemplating the life of a homeless person.. The Times newspaper described this programme in such away:

‘If someone had set out to remake Cathy Come Home in this age of celebrity, this would be it.’

I have until now refrained from writing anything about this programme, instead I’ve opted to kept my powder dry pondering over this monodrama and stage presentation; trying to get my head around what if any-good, or more to the point, what harm this type of programme will do to those who may find themselves for one reason or another homeless, and there are many contributory components, as many as there are day's in a single year. I was frankly appalled that the situation of homelessness could be exploited by TV as the latest offering of reality entertainment to hit the small screen.

I’ve been, as I said, homeless in one form or another over a number of years, thirty in fact, when I stop to think about it. Oh, I do tell a lie, more than that if you include the experience that my parents had to go through, when they were young struggling to bring up a family, and had on one occasion to deal with the eviction from a home that was attached to employment, and also I will not forget the time that my brother and myself borrowed a ten shilling note from our mothers purse when she wasn’t looking, we got slung out for a couple of day’s. So the experience and threat of homelessness has somehow hung over me like a black cloud.

It may be somewhat strange to many that come on to my blog and read this, when I say that being homeless has never given me course to worry, and I will tell you why in a moment, but first let me just say that I’ve been a squatter, lived in some of the most rundown dilapidated, Dickensian hostels you could ever imagined, ever existed. I was a rough sleeper for over ten years, and I agree, this is nothing that should be bragged about or worn on ones sleeve like the boy scouts badge gained for bob-a-job week. But I never had a worry about being homeless when ever it happened in my life; maybe it was that I simply knew that the circumstance of being homeless was not entirely the fault of failure or imperfection of any individual, and because I’ve met some fascinating people who I’d never of otherwise had the pleasure of meeting, drinkers, dropouts, students, men and women from all different and varied walks of life, from all over the world.

That’s not to say that the picture that I’m painting here is a beautiful water colour of dispossessed humanity, far from it. Many struggle with more than just the absence of a bed or roof over there heads, mental illness, family relationships broken down, job’s lost or addictions and so on.

It’s not just one reason it’s many, it could be the young person who’s been living in care, no longer as a young adult has or enjoys the support of anyone who dose care. Young people leaving care are right to fear homelessness – 30% of all homeless people have been in the care system.

There’s no such thing as a road map to homelessness it happens, and it always happens. Frederick Engels wrote in 1872 in the Housing Question:

“The so-called housing shortage, which plays such a great role in the press nowadays, dose not consist in the fact that the working class generally lives in bad, overcrowded and unhealthy dwellings. This shortage is not something peculiar to the present; it is not even one of the sufferings peculiar to modern proletariat in contradistinction to all earlier oppressed classes. On the contrary, all oppressed classes in all periods suffered more or less uniformly from it. In order to make an end of this housing shortage there is only one means: to abolish altogether the exploitation and oppression of the working class by the ruling class.”

When you join all the dots together, it comes down to one thing and one thing only, it is part and parcel of the society that we all live under. A society where housing like any other product or commodity is only provided at a cost and price to those able to pay, negating basic human need. Housing is probably the one basic need which is transferable into good emotional and mental health. It is, certainly pleasant and reassuring to be able to loosen up and relax among pleasant and agreeable surroundings. The fact remains that this felicitous life only applies to a small minority of the population such as the celebrity volunteers’ who have the means to buy or acquire beautiful homes. The rest, the vast majority of us suffer a housing problem of one sort or another, whether it be living on a sink council estate, in private rented accommodation or experiencing the fears and insecurities caused by trying to pay off the mortgage.

It follows that a society which not only fails but refuses to make available to its citizens the materials, know-how and labour power to adequately deal with the problems of providing decent housing for all, is a system of society that is rotten to it’s very magnetic core. No amount of campaigning or spotlighting, a position taken by reformists’ well-meaning or otherwise will change a thing. Forty years and more after the film Cathy Come Home, which gave birth to organisations and charities such as Shelter - has made very little if any difference, if the truth was told!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Same old....Same Old....

Obama wasn’t ever going to change the shocks of Capitalism; it was always delusional to think otherwise!

So no surprise then that a USA Today/Gallup survey suggested that six months into his presidency, his popularity was lower than George W Bush's at the same stage of his tenure.

Amid rising unemployment and falling confidence in his economic plans, Mr. Obama's job approval rating has dropped by nine points since January to 55 per cent, a point below his predecessor in mid-2001.

Well I never……………

Monday, 20 July 2009

The Iranian ruling class - fall out!

Basij militiamen on bikes with sticks!

The Iranian security forces on Friday, fired tear gas to repel tens of thousands of protesters near Tehran University, as one of the regime's top ecclesiastics castigated the government for its handling of post-election unrest.
Crowds drawn to a university campus for Friday prayers presided over by former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, heard this fierce critic of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, call the post-election period a "crisis" bluntly criticizing the election and its aftermath.

Following the events as they have unfolded in Iran and with some intensive interest, ever since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared winner four weeks ago, has left me in no doubt that this amounts to nothing more than a squabble that has broken-out amongst the Iranian ruling class. The run-up to the elections had proved to be one of the liveliest and deadliest campaigns in Iran's recent history. Streets full of young people clamouring for reform, emboldened by the olive branch extended by Bareck Obama in his inauguration speech.

The regimes approved the idea to hold US style televised presidential debates with the candidates arguing their cases head to head, must have seemed a good idea at the time. In-house critics would be seen to show the world, that Iran had no fear of transparent debate, whilst President Mahmoud Adindinejad, the favoured hard-line incumbent would have a good chance to poor cold water over his rivals. Alas, they should have known better than to trust the import from the land of the Great Satan. The nightly debates descended into unpprecedented in-house criticism of acrimony and name calling, the dishing of the dirt not just on each other but on numerous other senior politicians. Iran's entire political class has undergone an overnight image crash. It was Adindinejad, who started the mud-slinging, claiming that the wife of Mir-Hossein Mousavi, his nearest opponent had faked her degree certificate. The gloves came off and ordinary Iranians became transfixed by the debates.

While the contending candidates were divided into reformist and hard-line camps, they are all long-time stalwarts of Iran's religious establishment to a man. Nobody can even stand for office if they oppose the authority of Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatallah Ali Khameini. In effect, then, the contest opened up cracks in a once-unified political class. This may have dameged the cohesiveness of the general Islamic family tree that runs Iran.

Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani comments on fridayr are said to directly challenge Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who had previously endorsed the announced re-election of Mr. Ahmadinejad in June 12 polls. Mr. Rafsanjani also called for the release of detainees rounded up in weeks of post-election protests.

Anticipating big crowds, the authorities deployed security in force, in and around the university. Rows of plain-clothes Basij militiamen, riot police and camouflaged security officers kept watch over attendees. Helicopters buzzed overhead, according to witnesses, and police erected roadblocks and forced some pedestrians on their way to the prayers to turn back.

"It looked like a human chain of police," said one witness.

On top of all this,Iranian authorities have clamped down hard on local and international media in Iran, and the seriousness of a number of reported clashes and scuffles were unclear late on Friday. Reuters reported 15 arrests early in the day.

Several witnesses have said in reports coming out of Iran, that the militiamen and police fired large amounts of tear gas into crowds, which chanted opposition slogans, including "death to the dictator," a now-familiar refrain amid weeks of post-election protests.

A couple of weeks ago, I had thought, that the hands upon the levers of power within Iran had managed to stamp out the green revolt, and I say revolt as it would not be appropriate to call it a green revolution, given that all the main players are or have been prominent within the higher élite of Iranian society following the establishment of the Islamic Republic.

Rafsanjani is one of the founders of the Islamic Republic one of the few politicians who enjoys an independent power base inside Iran, occupying two of the highest clerical positions in the country. As a bitter rival to Mr. Ahmadinejad, he has been widely seen as a voice of moderation in the post-election crackdown. Friday's sermon was his first public statements about the polls, and clearly put him in the camp of the reformers!

While supporters of Messrs. Ahmadinejad and Mousavi clashed in the streets, the election has also split Iran's clerical leadership. Several top clerics have criticized the election and the crackdown, appearing to break from Mr. Khamenei, the Supreme Leader. Whilst not being in the business of making predictions this seems on the surface to be quite a serious split amongst the rulers, reinforced today by the reported arrest of 36 army officers who planned to attend last week's Friday prayer sermon in their military uniforms as an act of political defiance, according to Farsi-language websites.

The officers intended the gesture to show solidarity with the demonstrations against last month's presidential election result.

The mass uprising against the results of the June 12 election by supporters of Mr. Ahmadinejad's challengers has for the time being largely died down. Demonstrations now though still heated, drew thousands rather than hundreds of thousands. Iranian officials have said between 17 and 20 people have died in the monthlong protests. Independent organizations tracking human-rights violations in Iran put the death toll closer to several dozen while hundreds languish in jails. This falling out of the Iranian ruling class may prove to hard to shake off. Whilst writing this blog entry, it is being reported around the world that Mr Mousavi, the presidential candidate, said it was "insulting" to suggest that foreigners had organised mass demonstrations against the outcome of last month's election and demanded the release of all political prisoners.

His words showed that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose bitterly controversial re-election sparked the crisis, has failed to suppress the popular challenge to his rule. Mr Mousavi's latest intervention also amounts to open defiance of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader, and shows yet again the deep divisions within the regime.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

"Imprecatory Prayer"

The great thing about having friends, is being able to lean new things from them, and about almost everything and anything, that's going on in the world today. I suppose I'm very fortunate in that respect, particularly to have the kind of friends, who go out of there way to make it there business to be informed. During a very intresting debate about religion this morning over breakfast in an east London church that I often attend on Saturdays, only for the early morning meal you understand! I leaned about a new form of prayer - yes I said prayer, it's called "Imprecatory Prayer". I've never heard of this before now or even the word 'Imprecatory', it's a bit of a mouthful.

Well as I say, it was during a debate and discussion around religion, that this mode of prayer was referred too, apparently and not surprisingly the phrase was used by a paster in America, in Southern California, the 3rd largest state in the US; known for earthquakes. Wiley Drake a paster of the first Southern Baptist Church, hit the headlines or rather the airwaves of the broader media, when Drake's on the the 2 June this year called the death of abortion provider George Tiller an answer to prayer, on his own daily radio talk show Crusade Radio. "I am glad George Tiller is dead." He called Tiller “a brutal, murdering monster" and said he is "grateful to God" that the physician was killed. He also said, "This man, George Tiller, was far greater in his atrocities than Adolf Hitler."

Well as you can image, this was picked up by the media, and Drake's was interviewed on Fox News Radio, on which he said that he didn't understand why people were upset with his comments. He went on to say that: "Impercatory prayer is agreeing with God, and if people don't like that, they need to talk to god."

Drake's told talk-show host Alan Colmes.

"God said it, I didn't. I was just agreeing with god."

Asked if there are others for whom Drake is praying "imprecatory prayer," Drake hesitated before answering that there are others severed. "The usurper that is in the White House in one, B Hussein Obama."

Colmes returned to Drake's answer to make sure he heard him right. "are you praying for his death?" Colmes asked.

"yes," Drake replied.

"So your'e praying for the death of the President of the United States?"


Drake's ended his interview, conversation with the following statement:

"I believe the whole Bible, Alan, he explained. "I don't just preach part of it. I don't just preach the soft, fizzy, warm stuff where we're supposed to be nice to everybody. I preach the whole Bible."

Wiley Drake ran for the US Vice Presidency for the American Independent Party. So I was just wondering what he would be able to do with a doll and 'voodoo' pins?

The police have amoiist!

China has more internet users than the entire population of the United States, according to new research by the government-sanctioned China Internet Network Information Center.

The study says that at the end of June there were 338m internet users in China, a 13.4% jump since the end of 2008, and well ahead of the official US population, put at 307m by the US Census Bureau.

Rapid economic growth, and allied expansion in internet access in more areas, has fuelled the rapid rise in use of the web around China.

The down side of the web

For hundreds like myself, who have been following the Blogger amoiist on Twitter, we became accustomed to his steady stream of messages. But they ended abruptly with two updates early yesterday morning.

“i have been arrested by Mawei police, SOS” he wrote. Then shortly afterwards: “Pls help me, I grasp the phone during police sleep.”

Followers have quickly passed on his plea to other Twitterers. But since then there has been silence from amoiist.

The escalation of the Chinese government's effort to neutralize critical online opinion comes after a series of large anti-Japanese, anti-pollution and anti-corruption protests, many of which were organized or publicized using instant messaging services, chat rooms, and text messages or Twitter. The size of the Internet police is estimated at more than 30,000. Critical comments appearing on Internet forums, blogs, and major portals such as Sohu and Sina usually are erased within minutes.

An estimated 60 "cyber dissidents" are behind bars in China, it could be more we have know way of knowing. They are often locked-up for no greater crime than expressing views in Internet chat rooms uncomplimentary to the Government.

China opened the country to the internet in 1995, but since President Jiang Zemin complained in 2001 about the volume of "pernicious information" filtering through to the Chinese population, China has embarked on an extensive program of technical and legislative measures designed to restrict access to large parts of the internet.

Amnesty International notes that China “has the largest recorded number of imprisoned journalists and cyber-dissidents in the world.”

one of the lucky one's!

I've just read the sad news that Henry Allingham, the oldest surviving British serviceman from the First World War, has died at the age of 113, at his care home.

Mr Allingham served with the Royal Naval Air Service during the Great War, later transferring to the Royal Air Force and serving at Ypres.

Henry who was born in Clapton, east London on 6 June 1896, and if one war was not enough he fought in two. In Max Arthur's book 'Last Post' he said:

"There's a lot that I've tried hard to forget - but I've got a lot to be thankful for. I've had a unique sort of life. I've scraped the barrel and 'I've had the cream."

In life's lottery and as far as war is concerned, out of the million's that never came back, Harry Allingham's number never came up - he was one of the lucky one's!

Friday, 17 July 2009

The way to do it!

Officials in China have reportedly been told to puff their way through five and a half million cigarettes a year.

Staff at local government offices in Hubei province were given the order in a move intended to set an example for the rest of the nation, according to state media.

And if they fail to smoke their way through 330,000 packs of locally-produced cigarettes, the officials could face fines.

Brands such as Huanghelou have been earmarked as part of the official quota.

"The regulation will boost the local economy via the cigarette tax," local official Chen Nianzu told the Global Times.

The measure may also be a ploy to boost sales of local cigarette brands, under pressure from competitors in neighbouring Hunan province.

Some 450 million Chinese — including more than half of all male doctors — currently smoke.

'This Morning'

Fern Britton says goodbye to 'This Morning' and I go off to the jobcentre for my interview which surprisingly wasn't that bad after all, except for some of the suggestions that the adviser was giving me, that she insisted would help my job search - what job search!

She told me that because I had been claiming Jobseeker's Allowance for six months, I was apparently worth £1000 to a new employer, and said it would help if I mention this when I apply for a job, and that it was a good idea to mention it in any covering letter or application. At this point of the interview I could not help myself very much, but felt that I had to tell her what I thought of this conception, of some boss or another being paid to give me a job. I detected a certain degree of shared disapproval, and I felt good until it was suggested that I consider working for an employer for a trial period of up to 15 days. My adviser said that she thought this was worth while and recommended it to all her clients, by this time she was beginning to piss me off, but I couldn't show that to her. I said that I couldn't possibly work for someone for nothing, "it might help boost his profits, but it wasn't going to pay my bills", she then said that it would give me the opportunity to prove myself to a perspective employer, in return I made it clear, I had nothing to prove, I had total confidence in myself and my abilities!

Thursday, 16 July 2009

It's a "world" rising tide of social misery

Chinese Unemployed job seekers standing in line looking for job's

Tomorrow being Friday, I have an interview at the Canning Town Jobcentre, for which I will need to spend some time in preparation; as they like to sling people off the dole if they can getaway with it. This being no fault of the workers at the Jobcentre, just the way the system has been fixed these days. I make no apology for saying fixed because that's what it is, designed in better economic circumstances to foster a pool of cheap labour by the use of sanctions. The latest method's of persuasion embodied in the recent government welfare reform bill, will mean that unemployed people will be forced to work for their benefits. Introduced by the then Work's and Pensions Secretary James Purnell this year, with willing help of the then government welfare adviser David Freud who has since joined the Tories.

Claimants will have to carry out four weeks' community work once they have been unemployed for more than a year. After two years, they will be ordered to work full-time in the community.

So this gives an indication of what's in store for the unemployed, how it will pan out is any one's guess, it may even lead to unrest in this present climate of job losses, but one thing is clear, that's no "surprise" that the government are only too willing to be "punishing people for being poor" - and on behalf of capitalism.

The rate of unemployment in London is 7.6%. This is almost 1 percentage point higher than the North East of England which has a rate of 6.7% for the same period. London's total of 301,000 unemployed is more than the totals for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland combined, more than the entire English Midlands and more than the North West and North East of England combined.
There are enormous variations between the different boroughs in London, however. A letter some time ago from a National Statistician, given as a response to a Parliamentary question. Listed the numbers of claimants for Jobseekers allowance who had been out of work for two years or more in the London Boroughs. They ranged from 5 in the City of London, 60 in Kingston-upon-Thames, 65 in Hounslow and 80 in Richmond to 710 in Brent, 740 in Haringey, 805 in Tower Hamlets and a whopping 1,160 in Southwark.

Unemployment is a world wide plague set upon workers by a master class of capitalists, who own the whole means of production on a world scale. What we see and are told is that we are living in a recession, that in certain industries production has outstripped demand; the markets are glutted and the warehouses full to bursting. Orders for new cars and steel, even hospitals and houses have fallen off to such an extent that products have become unsaleable. Workers are discharged, laid off, sent to the dole office with the loss of their wages and salaries. This affects other industries, and so the depression spreads. Before you know it, there's a crisis and the unemployed are many millions and world wide as they are today. The New York Times pointed out on Wednesday that in California and a number of other states, “one out of every five people who would like to be working full time is not now doing so.”
If these unemployed and underemployed were included, the real jobless rate in the country’s most populous state, California, for example, would be 20.3 percent, according to the Times. In Oregon it would be 23.5 percent, in Michigan and Rhode Island, 21.5 percent, and in South Carolina, 20.5 percent. The figure would be just below 20 percent in Tennessee, Nevada and a number of “states that have relied heavily on manufacturing and housing.”

Scenes of distressed workers who have just lost their jobs are becoming an everyday occurrence across Australia under the impact of global recession, and after 30 years as a giant cheap labour platform for the world’s major corporations, China cannot avoid being dragged into the greatest financial crisis since the 1930s. With the economy showing rapid stagnation and rising unemployment.

My point being that the crisis of capitalism or whatever we decide to call it, is world wide.

The existence of unemployment, as regards it's constant aspect, never going away, is seen to arise from the development of the means of production under private ownership, and with regard to it's aspect of periodic severity, from unrestrained output in the wild scramble of capitalists for the surplus which results from the exploitation of the wage-workers. (1)

Unemployment is griping the world driving millions more into poverty or reliance on handouts, this will only change when workers of the world; together understand that the deep-seated ill-will of capitalism can be abolished by the emancipation of the working class from the domination of a small master class, by the conversion into the common property of society of the means of production and distribution, and under the democratic control of the whole people.

To find out more, you can click on the Queen above and go to the website of the Socialist Party part of the World Socialist Movement.

(1)From the third edition, Socialism 1941. A publication of the Socialist Party.

Unemployment Up!

The Office for National Statistics yesterday reported that the jobless claimant count rose 23,800 in June, compared with May's downwardly revised increase of 30,800. June's increase was almost half the 40,500 rise forecast by economists and the lowest monthly gain since May 2008.

But unemployment, according to the broader UN International Labor Organization measure, rose by 281,000 to 2.38 million in the three months to May, the highest quarterly increase since records began in 1971. That pushed the unemployment rate in Britain to 7.6%, up 0.9 percentage point from the previous three months. Economists (capitalist) have said the data contained some positive news, but cautioned that unemployment will continue to rise well into next year.

A breakdown of the claimant count data showed that the level moved higher for the 16th consecutive month, pushing the overall figure to 1.56 million, its highest reading since July 1997. The claimant count jobless rate rose to 4.8% in June from a downwardly revised 4.7% in May. It was last higher in October 1997.

Economists said the increasing divergence between the two key measures could indicate that newly jobless workers aren't claiming benefits as they hunt for vacancies, which remain at a record low.

"The growing divergence of the figures paint a mixed picture and concluding that a slowing claimant count is good news for the U.K. economy would be an unwarrantedly optimistic comment to make," said Philip Shaw, an economist at Investec.

The U.K. economy is facing its worst recession for 50 years, according to official statistics, although recent indicators have suggested that prospects are improving, with retail sales, business confidence and the housing market all edging up in June.
But then on the other hand fast-falling earnings information indicated that a growing number of workers are taking pay cuts, accepting pay freezes or going part-time to hold onto their jobs, which economists have said would constrain consumer spending and could hamper an economic recovery.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

liquorice all sorts

Today I found three subjects of interest in the news, obviously the moving scenes of the thousands paying their respects to the retuning bodies of the young solders who lost their lives in Afghanistan takes some disbelieving. The youngest of these solders was barely out of his teens. In the years to come; will his sacrifice be remembered I wonder? I think that it’s probably not that unpopular to say; that the ultimate sacrifice given by our young servicemen and women is nothing more than a total waste of life, and that’s my view and I’m sticking to it!

We would do well to remember that the services or our armed forces are doing what they are told, and told lets face it, by middle aged politicians, and look at them. Trust in politicians is at an all time low in the wake of the expenses scandal!

I had to laugh when I read that a report commissioned by the House of Commons which concluded that public confidence would not be restored if the Commons was refilled after the next general election with "more of the same" white, middle aged, middle-class, able-bodied men, whatever that means!

The Speaker's Conference, the first to be convened for 30 years, was tasked with finding ways to boost the numbers of women, disabled people, gays and lesbians and members of the ethnic minorities elected to Parliament.

The interim report, said the unusually-high exodus of MPs at the next election presented an ideal opportunity to ensure politicians better reflected the population as a whole.
So far 89 MPs, a fifth of them women, have announced they are to quit the Commons at the next election, which must take place by June 3 next year, some are going as a direct result of controversial expenses claims. Potential replacements have yet to be named in about 40 of those seats.

The Report says: "We believe that the House of Commons needs to change. Increasing the diversity of MPs would make it a more just, legitimate and effective legislature. We believe that in the public's eyes this would make it a more credible legislature,"

So there we have it a broken toy trying to fix itself, you couldn't’t make it up if you tried.
The Conference was also of the opinion that democracy would be best served if more women were in the next intake – well only if it included my mother and two sisters!

Joking aside think of Margret Thatcher, well some on the so-called Socialist Unity Blog have been theorizing about her final demise ‘death’ and the real possibility that she will be given a state send off. They have even launched a petition on the Downing Street website for those so injected with outrage to sign up too. So far last time I looked over 13.000 had. So if you hate Maggie, you consider yourself to be some sort of liquorice all sorts, then don’t let me tell what to do …..Maggie…..Maggie….Out. Out. Out!

Where Have all the Soldiers Gone?

The grief-stricken Girlfriend of Rifleman Daniel Hume, Sasha Buckley, watches the procession pass through Wootton Bassett.

With its cricket field, pubs and a centuries-old church. Wootton Bassett seems to be a picturesque village, typical of an old English town in all respects but one: Every corpse that returns from Britain's wars abroad passes through it.

In what has become a public show of respect. Wootton Bassett is near Royal Air Force Lyneham, the base to which the country's war dead are returned. Starting about two years ago, townspeople began gathering for the processions of each soldier as the body, in a flag-draped casket, was moved from Lyneham to a coroner's office in Oxford.The first processions were attended by just a dozen saluting war veterans. Crowds recently have swelled to the thousands. Now, the repetition of these sad processions is testing the U.K. public's patience for the war -- and throwing up another potential obstacle to continued support for U.S.-led efforts in Afghanistan.
In recent weeks the convoy of coffins through Wootton Bassett has turned from a trickle to a stream, as U.K. troops join the U.S.-led surge in southern Afghanistan. The recent rise in casualties -- 15 soldiers died in 10 days -- is now raising new questions about Britain's continued role.

Yesterday Tuesday, an estimated 7,000 people gathered in the beautiful sunshine on the town's High Street to pay their respects to the bodies of eight soldiers who were killed in one 24-hour period late last week. A solitary church bell tolls, the road is closed off, and an undertaker steps out of a hearse to lead the procession. As the eight bodies passed, relatives and friends hold each other in tight embraces, tears fall, and a round of applause follows the coffins down the road.

Where have all the soldiers gone, long time passing?
Where have all the soldiers gone, long time ago?
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards, everyone.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Bring on the Squatters

In the London Borough of Westminster, where Mayfair is located, homes can cost up to £50 million. Yet Westminster is fifth among London's 33 boroughs in the number of unoccupied properties. In 2008, 1,737 homes had been vacant six months or more, the third highest number among all London boroughs, according to the Empty Homes Agency, a nonprofit group that seeks to put empty homes back into use.
Mayfair's homeowners aren't down on their luck, far from it. Rather, there properties serve as investments for owners who pay the bills to keep them empty -- something the neighbors and city object to when the homes fall into disrepair. Many owners decline to rent the homes due to local council tax rules, which tax properties at a lower rate if they are empty and unfurnished. A loophole that helps the filthy rich.

The high concentration of rundown, empty homes is striking for a posh neighborhood like Mayfair, with its ornately gated manses. The hub of aristocratic society before World War II, Mayfair's modern-day image is demonstrated by its prominent place on the British Monopoly board.

The problems surrounding the abandonment of posh homes was exposed last winter when a group of young squatters occupied two £20 million homes on Park Lane overlooking Hyde Park. Before the squatters settled in, the homes had been empty for seven years. During that time, the Council had tried three times to contact their British Virgin Islands-based property owners: Red Line Ltd. and Perfectil Ltd. Following two years of silence, the property owners surfaced once multiple British newspaper accounts outed the squatters.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Workers will have to work longer!

I often hear it said in the news on the radio or television, that we are living longer, that we have more 65 year old people alive today than those under the age of 18. The retirement age for workers will rise to nearly 70 and is being phased in over the next ten years, or to be more specific, normal retirement age in the UK is 65 for a man and 60 for a woman. The state retirement age is set to increase to 65 for men and women by 2020. It will then rise to 66 between 2024 and 2026, to 67 between 2034 and 2036 and to 68 between 2044 and 2046. A review of the default retirement age, which allows employers to compel staff to retire at 65, is to be brought forward by a year, the government has announced. The majority of people retire before 65, but 1.3 million people work beyond state pension age. Many more say they would if their employer permitted it - they need their heads examined. But of course this very much depends on what sort of work you are doing, for instance I had a friend (Peat) who worked in the Rod and Barr Mill on Scunthorpe Steel Works for many years. Peat decided in the 90s to except early retirement when a redundancy package was offered him. He was just under 60 at the time, I would say that the years of working in a dirty, dangerous environment along with the steelworker’s lifestyle of pubs, beer, fag's, fish Chips with real mushy peas (a traditional northern accompaniment) had all impacted on his health, and within five years of retirement Peat had sadly died. I've always put Peat’s death, especially down to the lifetime spent slaving on the works, constantly breathing in the dust and particles that had deposited themselves on his chest, during his last years he struggled with asthma and had become dependent on a nebuliser and spray. I'm going off the beaten track a bit here, but not only was Peat a very good friend even though' a member of the SWP, not hard core, just someone who hated the whole capitalist system. But above all else he was a casualty; one of the millions whose life was and is still cut short by systematic exploitation. I have many good memory's of Peat and the times we worked together on some campaign or other, but that's as they say another story.

In our society a big thing is made of retirement and the retreat from work, understandably workers have made plans to pursue a more leisurely existence after a lifetimes employment, with many workers having pined there hope's on workplace pension schemes of one form or another. However the financial health of workplace pensions has been eroded by higher taxes and stock market underperformance. Personal pensions have fallen out of favour with many because of poor performance and miss-selling scandals. Remember the Maxwell affair - where Mirror Group workers had their pensions stolen. More recently, confidence has been further undermined by the collapse of a large number of company final salary pension schemes. Final salary schemes, which pay workers a pension depending on length of service and salary, have long been considered the gold standard of pension provision. But 85.000 workers have lost these pensions. Even those who have not lost their retirement savings are feeling the pinch of the pension’s crisis. Up to two thirds of all final salary pensions schemes are now closed to new members. This means that longstanding members still enjoy final salary rights while new joiners are often shunted into inferior pension schemes with no guarantees. And then the other scenario is the government and employers have become increasingly aware of what has become known as the "demographic time bomb". Put simply, in future there will be fewer people of working age to pay the pensions of the retired. This impacts on all types of pension saving and according to the government's Pensions Commission means people will either have to work longer, save more or pay higher taxes. "Looking at the position of people today in their 20s and 30s, ultimately it is being suggested that they are going to have to work longer. That’s if there are enough jobs to go around?

"Here come the Robots?

The Socialist Party hosted a very interesting meeting at it's party Head Office on Sunday evening. Bill Martin led off on "Here come the Robots? I think that these meeting's have the potential of becoming something quite exciting, as the meeting was very stimulating covering science, technology and it's application in the money making process of the capitalist system of society. I came away from the meeting with a great deal to think about, particularity why is it that almost all the new ideas and inventions that improve our lives, come at a cost, and for those that do not have the necessary wealth they are then denied science and technology's benefits. For instance take the case example of hunger, the number of people suffering from hunger is projected to reach a historic high this year, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations. This is not the consequence of a poor global harvest but caused by the world economic crisis that has resulted in lower incomes and increased unemployment.

"A dangerous mix of the global economic slowdown combined with stubbornly high food prices in many countries has pushed some 100 million more people than last year into chronic hunger and poverty," reported FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf.

According to estimates, there are around 642 million suffering from chronic hunger in Asia and the Pacific, 265 million in Sub-Saharan Africa, 53 million in Latin America and the Caribbean, 42 million in the Near East and North Africa; and 15 million in developed countries such as Britain.

We all need to seriously ask, why is this? When we have the science and technology to send a man to the moon or an email to the other side of the world in the blink of an eye, and yet we are unable to arrest and conquer preventable poverty, illness and disease that kill's millions around the world.

Remember the 'Six Million Dollar Man' or the Terminator films well l found this amusing story on the net and thought about sharing it with you: That's socialism!

A man found naked at a casino claimed he was a Terminator sent from the future.
19-year-old Sean Stanley Smith was arrested on the Nevada border after he was spotted by a motorist wondering around the highway nude. He was ordered by police to stop but proceeded into a nearby casino - where he was then tasered in front of a group of children.

Smith claims he was a Terminator sent back in time from the future - a reference to the film character made popular by Arnold Schwarznegger in the sci-fi franchise. The films usually start with a naked man being transported to the past.
However, it turned out that Smith was not a time-travelling Terminator but was in fact suffering from the side effects of LSD and marijuana. He was charged with indecent exposure and resisting a police officer.

One other thing that I found interesting and raised it with the meeting during discussion was Cyberwarfare, also known as cyberwar, it's the use of computers and the Internet in conducting warfare in cyberspace, but just before I get into that I want to tell you about a visit that this blog had today. As you can see I have a site-meter and traffic tracker, which I use to analyse my work. Whilst studying today's hits I noticed a particular hit from the US, on further investergation it turns out that the hit emanates from New Mexico, the hit information is as follows:

Domain Name: (military)
IP Address: 49th fighter wing
City: Alamogodo
Time on site: 1 minute 1 second

Who ever it was, they had been attracted by the post of a few day's ago about the the space chimps, "The Final Fronter". This was the story about Nasas's Mercury Programme, so I'm hoping that I've nothing to worry about, still I'm taking no chance's and will be on the lookout for low flying aircraft for the next couple of day's.

The history of the 49th Fighter Wing is said to be one of distinction. Organized as the 49th Pursuit Group (Interceptor) in 1940, the unit was among the first to deploy from the United States to the Pacific Theater of Operations during World War II. Redesignated the 49th Fighter Group, the unit played an important role in halting Japanese advances in the Southwest Pacific. During four years of World War II combat, the group was successful in providing air defense from Australia to the Philippines. Today The 49th Operations Group supports national security objectives, as directed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, by utilizing the Air Force's F-22A Stealth Fighter aircraft and in training U.S. Air Force and allied aircrews in F-22A and T-38 transition, instructor and fighter weapons instructor courses. The Fighter Wings Motto: 'I Protect and Avenge'....Help....Help!!

But no,seriously and sincerely we send 'best wishes' to all fellow workers, serving in the USAF, who come on to read this blog or the website of the Socialist Party, which you can get too by clicking on to the Queen above.

So coming back to Cyberwarfare, little is said or mentioned about it in the media or the news. However the Internet security company McAfee stated in their 2007 annual report that approximately 120 countries have been developing ways to use the Internet as a weapon and target financial markets, government computer systems and utilities. In activities reminiscent of the Cold War, which caused countries to engage in clandestine activities, intelligence agencies are routinely testing networks looking for weaknesses. These techniques for probing weaknesses in the internet and global networks are growing more sophisticated every year.China is at the forefront of the cyberwar. China has been accused of cyber-attacks on India and Germany and the United States. China denies knowledge of these attacks. Arguments have been expressed regarding China’s involvement indicating, in the methods of computer Hackers who use zombie computers, it only indicates that China has the highest number of computers that are vulnerable to be controlled. In April of this year, reports surfaced that China and Russia had infiltrated the U.S. electrical grid and left behind software programs that could be used to disrupt the system, according to current and former national security officials. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) has issued a public notice that warns that the electrical grid is not adequately protected from cyber attack.China denies intruding into the U.S. electrical grid. One counter measure would be to disconnect the power grid from the Internet to decrease the likelihood of attack. Massive power outages caused by a cyber attack, could disrupt the economy, distract from a simultaneous military attack, or create a national trauma. Nato officials told the BBC their computers are under constant attack from organisations and individuals bent on trying to hack into their secrets.

The attacks keep coming despite the establishment of a co-ordinated cyber defence policy with a quick-reaction cyber team on permanent standby.

The cyber defence policy was set up after a wave of cyber attacks on Nato member Estonia in 2007, and the more recent attacks on Georgia. Nato says cyber attack will be a factor within any future conflict.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Welcome to Scunthorpe

The socialist way is watching developments in regard to Corus plans to axe 866 jobs at it's plant in Scunthorope, the post underneath is from tonights local paper.

THE three main steel unions Communuty, GMB and Unite meet later today in Scunthorpe to discuss their response to the decision by Corus to axe a total of 866 jobs from the town's steelworks.
The National Steel Committee is expected at the meeting at the town's Redbourn Social Club to reaffirm its opposition to any compulsory redundancies.
Corus chiefs in Scunthorpe have already started seeking volunteers for redundancy to help the company save £72-million by next March.
But skilled and key workers have been told they will not be considered for voluntary redundancies.
The unions are also due to discuss possible plans for a Save Our Steel rally in Scunthorpe and a mass meeting of the town's 3,500 trade unionists.
This Saturday, a delegation of steelworkers will join their colleagues on Teesside for a similar march in Redcar.
Last week Scunthorpe steel boss Sean Lyons said he could give 'no guarantees' there would be no more job losses on the town works.
Speaking to the Telegraph, My Lyons said he was still optimistic about steel-making in the town.
Mr Lyons, a former apprentice who was appointed as site director in June last year, said: "All we are doing is trying to resize the cost base of the organisation to match the order load that we see going forward.
"So therefore I can't guarantee things but I would love to think it was the end of it."
Mr Lyons said Corus originally expected the downturn in business would last for six months back in November but said that has not happened.
He said: "Our latest forecasters are suggesting it will take us years to come back to the level of 2008, so it is not possible for me to guarantee things."
When asked when he thought the industry would get back to back to profit making he stated: "When we get the right volumes and the right prices.
"The disappointing thing is the prices we have had, have really dropped we are getting half the amount that we were a year ago and of course it is very difficult to sustain that," said Mr Lyons.
"What we need is a bigger stimulus to demand capacity in works' steel, who knows what that might bring.
"Here in the UK a lot of our products do end up in the UK. It would be great to see some government based demand stimulus but I don't know whether they can do that or not."

From: The Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph

women wailed

The New York Times yesterday, carried the following report, which I've cut and pasted below, as I think it's interesting reading for a number of reasons. First it clearly demonstrates Obama who voted against war when he was member of the US senate, is now a President stepping up to the fight with the 21,000 additional forces he sent to Afghanistan this spring, of which the Marines moving through Helmand province are the vanguard, assisted of course by British forces. This military actively comes ahead of the 2009 Presidential elections, the polls open for the Afghan Presidential and Provincial Council elections on August 20. The Taliban is boycotting the elections.

Reassess and think about the the statements made by both the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister over the last few day's.

David Miliband warned that Britain would not be safe until it had built sufficient security in Afghanistan.

"It was essential to prevent Afghanistan from again becoming an "incubator for terrorism" and a launch pad for attacks on the UK and the West".

(David Miliband, Britain's Foreign Secretary)

The Prime Minister said the campaign in Afghanistan was a "patriotic duty" to keep the streets of Britain safe from the threat of terrorist attack.

"I know that this has been a difficult summer - it is going to be a difficult summer," he said. "These sacrifices that have hurt so many families in our country are ones that the whole of Britain will want to acknowledge".

(Gordon Brown, Britain's Prime Minister)

Make of these statements what you will, but the green light that has been given to step-up military engagements, may become the coffin lid that buries Brown and New Labour at the general election, which has to be called within a year.
But things wouldn't be any different if it was Cameron and his clowns running the show, that's to say, they would be pursuing slimier if not the same foreign polices, and be sure that they will be articulating the same dietary slabber, the saliva that comes from the mouths of all party leaders who say they can run capitalism best, including it's wars! The Tories latest is to accuse the government of the "ultimate dereliction of duty" in under-equipping the armed forces.

They (all politician's) will have us believe, somehow, that this is about terrorism, that a bearded guy and his mates brandishing a rocket like weapon, hiding in the hills and mountain surroundings of the Pakistan and Afghanistan border is a threat to us all. They never say, that what they are really protecting and grabbing is the oil, gas, pipe lines, trade routes and so on, do they? Their word for it is 'containment', which means supporting the government of Hamid Karzai; who was first installed into power with the help of the US military in 2002. Karzai is a past supporter of the Taliban but broke with them following the 2001 attack in the US, after seeing an opportunity to gain power he worked for the overthrow of the Taliban and mustered support for a new government of which he became head. It's worthwhile noting that his brothers, had close personal contact with CIA Director William Casey and George H. W. Bush, the father of the other Bush, who at the time was Vice President of the United States when their relationship developed, many years before 9/11.

Politics in Afghanistan has historically consisted of power struggles, bloody coups and unstable transfers of power. With the exception of a military junta, the country has been governed by nearly every system of government over the past century, including a monarchy, republic, theocracy and communist state. The constitution ratified by the 2003 Loya jirga restructured the government as an Islamic republic, and the West has given Karzai it's support, because he dances willingly with the interests of Western Capitalism, in return he relies on the West through it physical military presence to stay in power.

The New York Times

Just as President Obama’s plan to sharply increase American troop strength in Afghanistan gets into high gear, Britain’s involvement in the war has come under the fiercest criticism yet at home as a result of a steep increase in British casualties, including the deaths of 15 soldiers in the past 10 days.

The latest losses are the heaviest British forces have suffered in any comparable period since the 1982 Falklands war. With the Defense Ministry’s announcement of eight soldiers’ deaths on Friday, Britain’s toll in Afghanistan is now 184 killed, five more than its total losses in Iraq, where Britain’s combat commitment ended this spring.

The deaths have generated grim images that have led the nightly television news, of slate-gray transport aircraft carrying coffins landing at a military air base in Wiltshire and being driven slowly in hearses past crowds lining the high street in Wootton Bassett, a nearby town. When five coffins passed down the street on Friday, on their way to a mortuary in Oxford, women wailed.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

A Work Of Art?

The above picture is of Carole Vincent who was you may remember a 53 year-old unemployed health worker from East London when she entered Big Brother a few years back.

Carole came close to eviction on Day 80 of Big Brother, she had received the most public votes to be evicted but the house mates chose to evict Gerry, she received far more votes from the public than him 49% to 24% and so he whent.

Carole has worked as a foster carer and as a young people's sexual health and HIV worker.
When she became a Big Brother housemate, Carole Vincent was a divorced bisexual, who stood for Respect at the local elections and had been on a number of demonstrations throughout her life, for example, Stop the War, save local hospitals, anti-apartheid, and Greenham Common.
As the Respect candidate, Carole came ninth in Markhouse ward in Waltham Forest with 471 votes (15.4% of voters).

Carole got cautioned for breach of the peace when demonstrating against John Reid.

For some time now, I've been looking for an excuse to display Carole's portrait and this composition, and for no other reason than for 'art' - I jest not, as a famous artist once said:

"There is no such thing as inaccuracy in a photograph. All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth."

Well just to put my love of the human art form to one side. I must confess that my appreciation of Carole's artistic quantity and quality is alas, not the real subject that I wish to explore and comment upon in this post, although indirectly I suppose you could say that Carole is connected. In my last post I attempted to highlight today's sad news about the loss of eight servicemen, which brings the total for the last 2 weeks alone to 15 which is such a high number of war casualties, and that which has not been sustained for some time. Whilst working at home last night, the news on the radio kept quoting politicians as saying that further sacrifices were needed in Afghanistan, whatever that meant. I suppose more casualties in the coming weeks. Today Gordon Brown defended the government's Afghanistan strategy, saying it is the right one despite a "dangerous battle" ahead.
The prime minister said the military operation was aimed at preventing terrorism coming to the UK. I was thinking, where have I heard that one before, and yet concern is mounting about the current offensive, with as already mentioned 15 soldiers dying in last ten days.

Anti-war campaigners have claimed the conflict is "unwinnable".

They say (the government) that the current major assault against the Taliban in Helmand aims to improve security ahead of next month's Afghan elections. Many UK troops are fighting in the south under the auspices of Operation Panchai Palang or Panther's Claw.

The Stop the War coalition has announced an emergency protest in London for Monday, at Downing Street, 5-7pm. They will be calling for British troops to be withdrawn from Afghanistan in light of the heavy losses. In a statement on their website they say and ask the following:

"They are fighting a war we cannot win." "What are we fighting for?" "It's not our war. They shouldn't be out there." "MPs should ask the public: do we want them there?" "Bring them home now."

Well one place I shan't be going to on Monday evening, and that's Downing Street, or should I say the opposite side of Downing Street, along Whitehall amongst the 100 or so (if that) SWP members who are quite happy to be told to stand behind a cordoned off part of the pavement for a couple of hours, not that I'm opposed to the demonstration, but this type of activity, and lead by the SWP is old hat, just a mere cosmetic jaunt to try and attract more sheep, oh, I mean followers like Carole who is a member of the SWP. I've seen her on many a demonstration, last time it was on the TUC 'Put People First' march in April. I was with a fellow comrade at the time, so I asked her if she was the Carole Vincent of Big Brother, she said she was, in fact her face lit up she seemed to enjoy the celebrity recognition. Well I suppose that Carole means no real harm and what I've observed is that the SWP have used her because she was on Big Brother. They put her up for council elections, and ran her on their slate for the GLA London elections when they got hammered.

Too Much!

The hearses containing the bodies of Lance Corporal David Dennis, Private Robert Laws, Lance Corporal Dane Elson, Captain Ben Babington-Browne and Trooper Christopher Whiteside make their way through the streets of Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire.

This morning was very much as I expected, newspaper full front page's given over to the death in one single day of eight young solders in Afghanistan - What a waste, my thoughts really do go out to all their families and friends.

The latest killings have brought Britain’s death toll in Afghanistan to 184 since 2001, passing the 179 killed during its five year participation in the Iraq War. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has cautioned Britons to prepare for a “very hard summer,” but says his government’s determination to continue the war has not been shaken.

Yet opposition MPs have taken the latest deaths as an opportunity to lambaste the government over the seemingly endless war. So far the British don’t seem to be suffering from the same war exhaustion as some of the other European contributors to the ongoing occupation, but as the number of slain soldiers rises, this may soon change.

Stopped laughing

Don't you just love a good old giggle; well I do, and I had a good one the other day, mind you, it has been suggested before now, that I have a strange sense of humour, some don't appreciate it, but I believe you can't survive in the world without one. So the other day I came across this hilarious article in the Financial Times (July 6), headline "CBI urges job cuts alternative". Well maybe not that hilarious after all, once you read that the 'boss union' is urging the government to adopt, wait for it - an alternative to redundancy scheme for this coming autumn, that they suggest could stem job losses as unemployment heads towards three million.

The employers' organisation's plan, if one can call it a plan is aimed mainly at companies that have hung on but are running out of cash for wages. Workers placed on the scheme by their employer would not work for up to six months and would be paid a weekly allowance of double the jobseeker's allowance - £64.30 for those over 24 co-funded by government and employers.

If you follow current domestic affairs at home, as I do, you may have noticed the conflicting reports that are put out about the capitalist economy, and yet lay off's and new redundancy's are announced almost daily. I've been keeping my eye on the situation in regard to steelworkers, particularly those employed by Corous at Scunthorpe. Last week the firm said 500 jobs would have to go at the Towns steelworks in order to make "significant savings" to secure the plant's future, and this week a further additional 366 were added bringing a total of just under 1000 out of a work force of 2500 directly employed by Corous who are owned by Indian company The Tata Steel Group which is one of the world's top ten steel producers. With a combined presence in nearly 50 countries, the Group, which includes Corus, Tata Steel, Tata Steel Thailand and NatSteel Asia, has approximately 82,700 employees across five continents with a crude steel production capability of 28 million tonnes. Tata Group, is a family run business group and multinational company, which has it capitalist tentacles in capital, communications, IT, power supply, with Tata Power, India's largest private sector electricity generating company, they (Tata) are the worlds sixth largest watch manufacturer in addition they own Hotels, produce chemicals, but the cream of the family business has to be Tata Motors, formerly known as TELCO (TATA Engineering and Locomotive Company), now the owners of the brands Jaguar, Land Rover and Daimler.

So you may start to get the picture, a flipping big world business that's run by a single family who have roots in India and bedded in at the very begging of India's own Industrial Revolution, Jamsedji Nusserwanji Tata (March 3, 1839 - May 19, 1904),is known as the father of Indian industry. The Tata family has to be considered as a world leading capitalist player and exploiter of workers on a global scale, that's why workers, need to understand and get their heads around the fact that the owners of the 'means of production' operate on the global basis of exploitation, and have always done so. However modern intercommunication and transport means that business's can relocate anywhere in the world in a relatively sort period of time were the costs of production guarantee and furnish a higher return of profit, this is the law of attraction to capitalism that acts like a magnet, whether it's British owned BT or Tata, and no mater what is said by Union Leaders such as Michael Leahy: "The cuts added "insult to injury" for the work force."

I feel for the steelworkers of Scunthorpe who face a very uncertain future, just like us all, who's only means of living is the sale of our labour, thinking of the Towns motto "The Heavens Reflect Our Labour". The insult to injury has been the misfortune of a Labour Parliamentarian, who for twenty years whilst propping up the whole rotten capitalist system, has loaded and filled his own pockets with expenses and the many perks that come with the job of selling workers a complete pack of lies. The more that I think about the Labour Party and it's leadership of North Lincolnshire Council, the more I realise, I've stopped laughing.

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