Sunday, November 30, 2008
Cluster bomblets are destroyed at a farm in Xiengkhuang
"Imagine growing up in a country where the equivalent of a B52 planeload of cluster bombs was dropped every eight minutes for nine years. Then imagine seeing your children and grandchildren being killed and maimed by the same bombs, three decades after the war is over. Welcome to Laos, a country with the unwanted claim of being the most bombed nation per capita in the world. Between 1964 and 1973, the U.S. military dropped more than 2 million tons of explosive ordnance, including an estimated 260 million cluster munitions -- also known as bombie in Laos. To put this into perspective, this is more bombs than fell on Europe during World War Two. The U.S. bombing was largely aimed at destroying enemy supply lines during the Vietnam war that passed through Laos. The war ended 35 years ago, yet the civilian casualties continue. According to aid agency Handicap International, as many as 12,000 civilians have been killed or maimed since, and there are hundreds of new casualties every year." (Yahoo News, 26 November) RD
Saturday, November 29, 2008
(New York Times, 28 November) RD
(Daily Telegraph, 27 November) RD
Friday, November 28, 2008
(BBC News, 27 November) RD
Thursday, November 27, 2008
(Wall Street Journal, 26 November) RD
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
(Observer, 23 November) RD
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
(Yahoo News, 16 November) RD
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
Insurance companies try to wriggle out of compensation claims.
A ruling is expected later that could have profound implications for asbestos-related cancer victims and their families.
The High Court is due to give a verdict in a case between victims' families, employers and insurance firms.
The hearing has hinged on when an insurance firm was liable - at time of exposure or when a worker becomes ill.
This is in keeping with many claims against employers,.despite reforms over a century for negligence, neglect and just plain poor safety standards,employers attempt to wriggle out of paying high insurance premiums and insurers out of paying compensation claims.
By the time some settlement is made in a lot of cases the worker is dead and buried,their families exhausted with the care of them and the employers have taken off to pastures new, their profits intact.
It can't even deliver compensation.
(As if we can compensate for a life ruined)
Capitalism is bad for our health ,the environment,the planet.
Lets get rid of it,its wage-slavery and its monstrous legal and financial spin-offs, such as insurance and courts, deciding on the very relief of its victims and establish a sane system of society with' free access' to all we need and require to live a fulfilling and useful life.
From a BBC News item
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Almost 700,000 U.S. children lived in households that struggled to put food on the table at some point in 2007, according to a federal report.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's annual report on food security showed that those 691,000 children lived in homes where families had to eat non-balanced meals and low-cost food, or even skip meals because of a lack of money. The number of children struggling to feed themselves adequately rose 50 percent from 430,000 children in 2006.
Nearly 36.2 million children and adults struggled to put proper food on the table in 2007, according to the report. Of the 36.2 million, nearly a third were not able to eat what was deemed a proper meal.
The other two-thirds -- 11.9 million people -- changed their eating habits by eating low-cost foods, participated in federal food and nutrition assistance programs, ate less varied diets or obtained emergency food from pantries or emergency kitchens, according to the report. That number is up more than 40 percent since 2000.
Families headed by single mothers, Hispanic families, African-American families and households with incomes below the poverty line struggled the most, according to the report.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Palladio, the house on Bishops Avenue bought by Lev Leviev for £35 million
"Three enormous houses in Hampstead with billionaire price-tags are being launched in London's depleted and depressed property market with as much chutzpah as if there had been no recession at all. Jersey House in The Bishops Avenue at £40 million, The Mansion and The Villa, both in Courtenay Avenue, at £35 million and £25 million, are looking for mega-rich buyers." (Daily Telegraph, 12 November) RD
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
"The energy companies are making the most money out of those on pre-payment meters and often those are the people on the very lowest incomes." said CF spokesperson
Energy awareness group National Energy Action said pre-payment metered customers paid on average £359 more a year than those with normal meters. This contrasts with the extra annual cost of between £85 and £100 to maintain the pre-payment boxes - a sum estimated by energy industry regulator Ofgem.
An NEA spokeswoman also added: "Once you are in debt you are effectively blocked from switching to cheaper deals."
Friday, November 14, 2008
(Reuters, 12 November) RD
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
(from Harrowsmith Country Life Magazine, October 2007 – and, believe it or not, the article came with the ‘how to cook your turkey’ tips!) John Ayers
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
- Still on health, cigarette manufacturers, virtually chased out of the shrinking tobacco market in North America, have found new ones in the Third World (will it ever get to Second place?). China is the land of cheap cigarettes with ads such as, “This special product was created…as an appreciation to all women in style. Because you deserve the best” (message on packs of ‘low side stream lady’ rose flavoured cigarettes, Toronto Star, 25/10/08). Apparently it’s going well as smoking kills over a million in China every year!
- Still in China – Toronto Star headline, “Crisis Slows China’s March to Capitalism”. Ignoring the fact that they have always been capitalist, the story tells how a business couple saw the writing on the wall for their company so they took the money and ran, throwing 6 000 employees out of work. This is portrayed as ‘raw capitalism’, China style. Is it any different from the Canadian manufacturing companies who, over the last five years, have run from Canada to greener (as in green money) pastures, throwing 300 000 workers out of a job.
- And in the irony section - Mao’s personal airliner, a national relic, is on the auction block as it’s taking up too much space on a mall parking lot, needed for more shoppers!
- Canada’s election is over, thankfully quite a bit shorter than our neighbors to the South. Nevertheless it cost $300 million to stage the election not counting what the parties spent, to get an almost identical parliament to the last one – a Conservative minority with a few more Conservatives and NDP and a few less Liberals and a million voters for the Green Party with not one seat for them. The largest block of votes actually went to the No Voters – 41%, plus the estimated 8% who don’t bother to register, giving 49%. The Conservatives ‘won’ with less than 40%. Four out of five adults did not want Harper as PM! Some democracy!
Monday, November 10, 2008
The Financial Times reports a landmark High Court ruling under a 1925 law has paved the way for mortgage lenders to sell the homes of borrowers in arrears without seeking a court order after just TWO mortgage payments have failed .
The judgment dismissed the human rights defence of the homeowners in arrears and backed the right of GMAC-RFC, a specialist subprime and buy-to-let lender that is part-owned by General Motors, to appoint receivers and auction the property. The former homeowners were then evicted for trespassing by the new owner, Horsham Properties. The sale circumvented the court process through which judges can give struggling borrowers more time to arrange repayments .
John Gallagher, principal solicitor with Shelter, the housing charity, said the case “gives the green light” for lenders to sidestep courts with legal remedies “rooted in the 19th century and repugnant to most people’s sense of justice”.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Saturday, November 08, 2008
“The effort to ensure a plentiful supply caused bloody conflict as one European country after another sought to establish monopolies over the produce of India’s Malabar coast (pepper, ginger), Sri Lanka (cinnamon)…”i.e. economic causes for war.-
“The meat-packing industry made beef an everyday luxury, but there was nothing benevolent about these butchers. Chicago became the world’s largest concentration of industrial capital, mass production, and human misery.” (see also Upton Sinclair’s ‘The Jungle”).-
“Every tonne of sugar consumed in Europe came at the cost of one slave’s life.”-
“In Mexico, the pre-conquest population of five to ten million was just 1.6 million in 1618. In the future United States, the native population shrank from two million in 1500 to 750 000 in 1700 and just 325 000 in 1830.” No wonder the Indian T-shirt says, “Fighting Terrorism Since 1492”. All the above come from “A Brief History of Globalization”, by AlexMacGillivray.
Friday, November 07, 2008
Finance experts PKF said in the third quarter of 2008, 5,998 people had been made bankrupt or entered a voluntary repayment agreement with creditors.
The firm said this was an increase of 26.7% on the previous quarter and a 70% rise on the same quarter of 2007.
A total of 14,008 Scots have been made bankrupt so far this year, while the total figure for 2007 was 13,814.
PKF said around 20,000 Scots could be declared bankrupt by the end of 2008.
He estimated that about 10% of all cancers were work related.While the issue is usually associated with older industries involving asbestos, Prof Watterson said carcinogens were present in diesel, pesticides, silica, wood dust and solvents. He added that Scotland gives a higher priority to road deaths and murders, which claimed about 1,250 lives in 2003/04, than it does to tackling work-related cancers.
Across the country, there are "health inequalities" related to income and social deprivation, which generally reflect differences in lifestyle, diet, and, to some extent, access to medical care.
This means that in general, people living in poorer areas are more likely to be unhealthy, and die earlier.
However, the researchers found that living near parks, woodland or other open spaces helped reduce these inequalities.
While the health specialists and enviromentalists place their faith in capitalism re-designing cities , the SPGB once more argues only socialism will create the conditions for the separation of town and countryside to wither away.
in the pamphlet, “How We Live and How We Might Live” (page 21),
A good analysis of how economic crises come about and relevant given our situation today.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
Changing the ruling party doesn't change the exploitation system that is capitalism. RD
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Gina Catana and her grandchildren, Emily, 2, and Christopher, 3, at the administration building for a Bronx shelter. The number of families entering homeless shelters has been increasing
"In what some see as a sign of the economic downturn’s impact on the city’s poorest, more families entered the homeless shelter system in September than in any other month since data has been collected. Some 1,446 families entered shelter in September, city officials said. That was the highest number in one month since the city began keeping track 25 years ago. In each of the past three months, the city has seen record numbers of families admitted to shelter. With the increase, roughly 9,300 families are now in shelter, or more than 28,000 people. In 2003, when the previous record was set, the average daily census of families in shelter was 9,200." (New York Times, 29 October) RD
(BBC News, 3 November)
Capitalism is a social system that needs concepts like "performance-related pay", but we wonder how it will operate in the Vatican. One miracle equals how many euros? Two visions equal more or less than one miracle? We foresee some difficulties when disputes go to arbitration! RD
The press made head-lines of this report :
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Growing Unequal? report published on 21st October 2008 found that “since 2000, income inequality and poverty have fallen faster in the UK than in any other OECD country”
However , not much was reported on this report Poverty and inequality in the UK: 2008 by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) published in June this year, which found that in the UK “income inequality has risen for its second successive year and is now equal to its highest-ever level (at least since comparable records began in 1961)”.
The OECD report covers the period from 2000 to 2005, whereas the IFS report covers data up until 2007. The IFS report notes an increase in poverty in the last two years which includes an extra 300,000 children living in poverty between 2005 and 2007, and nearly a half a million pensioners entering poverty in the same period. Overall relative poverty increased by 400,000 in 2006/07 alone. Therefore it could be that 2000 to 2005 was the halcyon period of UK poverty reduction (OECD), but this has been reversed in the subsequent two years (IFS).
even so , the positive spin placed on the OECD report couldn't disguise its other findings , that the “the gap between rich and poor is still greater in the UK than in three quarters of OECD countries”. It also states that “the wage gap has widened by 20% since 1985”, and that “child poverty rates are still above the levels recorded in the mid-1980s”
Neither report studied actual wealth distribution which shows that wealth inequality has expanded most aggressively in the years between 1996 to 2003 – the period of Labour in government.
Not considered was that personal debt ballooned in the UK from 102% of personal income in 1997 to 160% of personal income by the end of 2005 and now with the credit crunch unraveling insolvency and re-possessions loom ahead .
PCP Capital Partners, which Ms Staveley founded in 2005, acted for Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nah-yan, a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family, to deliver his £3.5bn personal investment into Barclays in return for a 16 per cent shareholding of the bank.
As part of the overall £7.3bn investment Barclays unveiled on Friday, the bank is also raising up to £2bn from Qatar's sovereign wealth fund and £300m from a member of Qatar's royal family.
PCP's total commission will be £110m, but after other advisers are paid Ms Staveley's firm will earn a £40m profit. While PCP also has a handful of other partners including David Mellor, the former Tory MP, Ms Staveley is expected to pocket the majority of the £40m.
Ms Staveley also previously brokered the takeover of Manchester City football club in August by the same sheikh, Mr Mansour, who is investing in Barclays.
Ms Staveley first started to make her mark with the sheikhs and the Arabian Gulf's kingpins when she set up a restaurant in Cambridge-shire after persuading her bank manager to lend her £180,000. Crucially, she set up her Stocks eatery close to the British horseracing hub of Newmarket.The patrons of the restaurant, where Ms Staveley would work while also dabbling in her alternative career of dealing in shares worth thousands of pounds, included senior staff from the Godolphin stables owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai and the most powerful racehorse owner on the planet.
This is where the seeds of her association with the Middle East's wealthiest figures were sown.
Not what you know but who you know , it appears
Monday, November 03, 2008
Sunday, November 02, 2008
(Associated Press, 25 October) RD
(Yahoo News, 23 October) RD
Saturday, November 01, 2008
(Yahoo News, 30 October) RD