A crop of genetically modified canola grows in a field in Lake Bolac, in
the Western District of Victoria, Australia, Sept 29 2009
Saturday, October 31, 2009
(New York Times, 23 October) RD
Friday, October 30, 2009
Women spreading wet rice to dry in Bangladesh after record rains in July
Thursday, October 29, 2009
"Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Corvette, Lotus -- you can name all the ultra high-end sports vehicles in the auto industry and none of these cars hail from Japan, home of the Camry, Corolla, Civic and other family-oriented models. But the Lexus LF-A is finally ready for production after nine years in development. Just 500 units of the most powerful and most expensive car Toyota has ever produced will be available worldwide. The car offers 560 horsepower, a top speed of 202 miles per hour (325 kilometers per hour), your choice of 12 shades of leather and a price tag of over €255,000." (Independent, 22 October) RD
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Chris Kelsey, right, director of the C.R. England truck driving school in Burns
Harbor, Ind., received several hundred applications for an administrative
assistant position that was eventually filled by Tiffany Block, 28.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
It often takes over three years following the death of a construction worker before a company is brought to trial and convicted.
Another young Scottish construction worker killed
UCATT Regional Secretary Harry Frew was shocked and saddened to hear of a young worker killed on a construction site in Troon, Ayrshire
" We will await the results of the HSE investigation but it is clear from the recent fatality figures that the construction industry is just as dangerous as at the time of the major health and safety summits called by the government in 2001 and 2004, we hope the upcoming summit will bring about a cultural change in the industry to health and safety. This only adds to the figures of workplace fatalities spiralling out of control this year. This year construction deaths leapt by 31%.”Last year 79 people were killed on construction sites and the HSE acknowledge that at least 70 per cent of those deaths are caused by management failures to take adequate health and safety measures.Yet Another construction fatality hits Scotland
UCATT Regional Secretary Harry Frew was shocked and saddened to hear of a young worker killed on a major construction site at the Earlsburn windfarm near Stirling. A 19 year old man died after falling 100ft while working inside a turbine.
He stressed: " This only adds to the figures of workplace fatalities which is spiralling out of control this year. Last year construction deaths leapt by 25%."Last year 79 people were killed on construction sites and the HSE acknowledge that at least 70 per cent of those deaths are caused by management failures to take adequate health and safety measures.
"The continued scale of fatalities reinforces our demand for Corporate Killing legislation, " said Mr Frew.A UCATT commissioned report has revealed that convictions of companies responsible for the death of construction workers have fallen by nearly three-quarters. The reports findings come at a time when construction deaths are rising.The report Levels of Convictions and Sentencing Following Prosecutions Arising from Deaths of Workers and Members of the Public in the Construction Sector undertaken by the Centre for Corporate Accountability on behalf of construction union UCATT, has been published to coincide with Workers Memorial Day (April 28). It reveals that in a six-year period from 1998 to 2004 Health and Safety Executive prosecutions in construction deaths plummeted from 42 per cent to just 11 per cent. The study covered the deaths of 504 construction workers. It often takes over three years following the death of a construction worker before a company is brought to trial and convicted.
Friday, October 23, 2009
L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, said yesterday that Marx’s early critiques of capitalism had highlighted the “social alienation” felt by the “large part of humanity” that remained excluded, even now, from economic and political decision-making.
(Times 22nd October 09)
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Sheri West operated a shelter for homeless people, but last year she lost her
home in Cleveland and had to sleep in her car.
“No one could have told me that in a million years: I’d wake up in a homeless shelter,” she said. “I had a house for homeless people. Now, I’m homeless.” Growing numbers of Americans who have lost houses to foreclosure are landing in homeless shelters, according to social service groups and a recent report by a coalition of housing advocates." (New York Times, 19 October)
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Reuters – BYD (Build Your Dreams) president Wang Chuanfu sits inside
the BYD E6 Electric Car
Saturday, October 17, 2009
"Competition is the complete expression of the battle of all against all which rules in modern society. This battle, a battle for life, for existence, for everything, in case of need a battle of life and death, is fought not between the different classes of society only, but also between individual members of these classes.
Each is in the way of the other, and each seeks to crowd out all who are in his way, and to put himself in their place. The workers are in constant competition among themselves. The power-loom weaver is in competition with the hand-loom weaver, the unemployed or ill-paid hand-loom weaver with him who has work or is better paid, each trying to supplant the other. But this competition of the workers among themselves is the worst side of the present state of things in its effect upon the worker, the sharpest weapon against the proletariat in the hands of the bourgoisie.
Hence the effort of the workers to nullify this competition by associations, hence the hatred of the bourgoisie towards these associations, and its triumph in every defeat which befalls them".
Frederick Engels, "The Condition of the Working Class in England" (p108)
(Times, 15 October) RD
Friday, October 16, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Almost one in three households in Glasgow have no wages coming in, official statistics have revealed.
Figures released by the Scottish Government show 62,000 households in the city - 28.9% of all homes - had no working-age adult in employment last year. That puts Glasgow behind the national average of 24%. The stats also reveal a shocking 22,900 children in Glasgow live in a workless home.
The director of the Glasgow-based Poverty Alliance, branded the figures a "scandal".
"There is little doubt that unemployment means that people will struggle to afford the basics in life. For these families heating their home and putting food on the table is the challenge. In the 21st century that is quite clearly a scandal. We know that children in workless households, living in poverty, will have less chance in life than children from better-off backgrounds.We know that their education will be adversely affected and they are more likely to suffer health problems. The danger is that we perpetuate a cycle of worklessness and limited opportunity."
Capitalism cannot be reformed for the benefit of the working class and sooner the well meaning realise this fact , the sooner , we can begin the dismantling of the capitalist system .
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has been sparring with President
Obama over whether Iran is developing the technology nuclear weapons.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Church and the City: bankers are said to have lost their way, with the financial
crisis being partly blamed on a culture of greed
“We haven’t heard people saying, ‘Well, actually, no, we got it wrong and the whole fundamental principle on which we worked was unreal, empty’,” Mr Williams told bankers in September. Such rhetoric echoes that of Lord Turner over the summer, when the chairman of the Financial Services Authority spoke in moralistic terms about the need for banking to become "socially useful" again. Hector Sants, his chief executive, has even explained his move to a regulatory job in terms of a sense of Christian “duty” to give something back to society after a 30-year career in money-making." (Financial Times, 7 October)
We expect Archbishops to utter hypocritical nonsense, after all it is their stock in trade, but when financiers rant on about "Christian duty" and banking becoming "socially useful" it is a bit hard to bear. Here’s to the day when banks and other financial institutes are part of our unlamented history along with all its apologists, both religious and secular. RD
Monday, October 12, 2009
If they had switched on their super duper plasma TV screens (or do they view on ipod now?) on Friday 9 October they would have seen a Channel 4 programme entitled Unreported World, Peru: Blood and Oil. It depicted the bloodshed and military violence that has accompanied the Peruvian government’s decision to auction off large parts of the Amazon countryside that has been used for thousands of years by the indigenous people.
"For the first time isolated indigenous groups are uniting to fight the government's plans to auction off 75% of the Amazon - which accounts for nearly two thirds of the country's territory - to oil, gas and mining companies. ... These would allow companies to bypass indigenous communities to obtain permits for exploration and extraction of natural resources, logging and the building of hydroelectric dams." (Times, 9 October)
What we have here is the modern enactment of what Marx described in Capital in 1867 as the "so-called primitive accumulation" in Europe from the 16th century onwards. As he so aptly put it when commenting on the Enclosure Acts and the Highland Clearances - "The expropriation of the agricultural producer, of the peasant, from the soil, is the basis of the whole process." Far from being out of date Marxism is bang up to date with the current developments of the capitalist system. RD
Sunday, October 11, 2009
"Later this month United Nations inspectors will visit Iran's secret nuclear facility near Qom to find out if the Islamic republic is about to become the world's tenth nuclear power. Whatever they find, the world already has enough nuclear weapons to destroy every single nation on the planet. With approximately 23,000 warheads, there is enough deadly material for 2.3 million blasts the size of Hiroshima. ... The world is committed to nuclear disarmament in principle, in practice it will never happen." (Times, 6 October) RD
(Yahoo News, 2 October) RD
Friday, October 09, 2009
Thursday, October 08, 2009
Canada's Access to Medicines Regime is now five years old but only one country, Rwanda, has benefited. Progress at a glacial pace is one way to prevent change.
2 – Apparently Osama Bin Laden's ex body guard told The Toronto Star that he, Laden, didn't target civilians. He hit targets and civilians happened to be around! But wait! Isn't that exactly what "collateral damage" is that our `leaders' use to excuse murder? Seems they're all the same, surprise.
3 - More obfuscation – The news is that US taxpayers are now profiting from the bailouts of the financial system( New York Times). They are touting $4 billion in profits but ignore that trillions were spent in the first place. Sounds good anyway.
4 – Despite the well-earned reputation of the dirtiest site on earth for the Alberta tar sands oil project, the Canadian government is expected to formulate its climate change plan so that Alberta and Saskatchewan could carry on as usual, while the rest of the country, with much smaller problems vis-à-vis pollution would be restricted. You can bet that they will be screaming, not about beating climate change, but about the advantage given to the Western Provinces. John Ayers
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
"After crossing half of Africa and surviving a perilous boat trip from Libya in search of a better life in Italy, Boubacar Bailo is now contemplating suicide. One of an army of illegal immigrants hired to harvest tomatoes in the Puglia region, Bailo squats in a fetid cardboard shack restlessly waiting for a call to the fields. Every year thousands of immigrants, many from Africa, flock to the fields and orchards of southern Italy to scrape a living as seasonal workers picking grapes, olives, tomatoes and oranges. Broadly tolerated by authorities because of their role in the economy, they endure long hours of backbreaking work for as little as 15-20 euros ($22-$29) a day and live in squalid makeshift camps without running water or electricity."
"We claim it to be part of our internal waters, which gives us a lot more authority and control over it," he told CBC News
The United States and Europe have claimed that the Northwest Passage is an international waterway, while Canada has held its position that it's an internal passage.
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
Monday, October 05, 2009
Oct. 5: For decades, Simmons Bedding Company, an iconic American business, was a
prized holding for top private equity firms. But the mattress maker has fallen
into bankruptcy for the first time in 133 years.
Presidents have slumbered on its mattresses aboard Air Force One. Dignitaries have slept on them in the Lincoln Bedroom. Its advertisements have featured Henry Ford and H. G. Wells. Eleanor Roosevelt extolled the virtues of the Simmons Beautyrest mattress, and the brand was immortalized on Broadway in Cole Porter’s song “Anything Goes.”
Its recent history has been notable, too, but for a different reason.
Simmons says it will soon file for bankruptcy protection, as part of an agreement by its current owners to sell the company — the seventh time it has been sold in a little more than two decades — all after being owned for short periods by a parade of different investment groups, known as private equity firms, which try to buy undervalued companies, mostly with borrowed money.
For many of the company’s investors, the sale will be a disaster. Its bondholders alone stand to lose more than $575 million. The company’s downfall has also devastated employees like Noble Rogers, who worked for 22 years at Simmons, most of that time at a factory outside Atlanta. He is one of 1,000 employees — more than one-quarter of the work force — laid off last year.
But Thomas H. Lee Partners of Boston has not only escaped unscathed, it has made a profit. The investment firm, which bought Simmons in 2003, has pocketed around $77 million in profit, even as the company’s fortunes have declined. THL collected hundreds of millions of dollars from the company in the form of special dividends. It also paid itself millions more in fees, first for buying the company, then for helping run it. Last year, the firm even gave itself a small raise.
Wall Street investment banks also cashed in. They collected millions for helping to arrange the takeovers and for selling the bonds that made those deals possible. All told, the various private equity owners have made around $750 million in profits from Simmons over the years.
How so many people could make so much money on a company that has been driven into bankruptcy is a tale of these financial times and an example of a growing phenomenon in corporate America.
Every step along the way, the buyers put Simmons deeper into debt. The financiers borrowed more and more money to pay ever higher prices for the company, enabling each previous owner to cash out profitably. New York Times 5th October
- Other places can't make that claim. Canada, as a whole, saw poverty reduced in 2007, but the expectation is that 2008 figures will climb back to where they were previously, or worse. Women, as usual, lead the way, especially women living on their own.
- The summer job picture was so bad that many students will have to take on increased debt to continue their studies. U of Toronto has seen a 12% increase in financial aid applications.
- Labour Day 2009 dawned with 500 000 more jobless Canadians than last year, and job losses are expected to continue.
- And that's the way it goes under capitalism. Gains in one area are sure to be lost in another, and so it will continue until private ownership is defeated. John Ayers
Sunday, October 04, 2009
"Brno, Czech Republic – Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday that all of Europe — and not only this ex-communist country — must acknowledge its Christian heritage as it copes with rising immigration from other cultures and religions. The second day of Benedict's pilgrimage to this highly secular country was marked by a joyous open-air Mass that drew tens of thousands of pilgrims and a sober message for the entire continent. "History has demonstrated the absurdities to which man descends when he excludes God from the horizon of his choices and actions," Benedict said." (Associated Press, 27 September)
Ah, the good old days of Christian supremacy. The burning of so-called witches, the torture of heretics and the mass slaughter of the church-sponsored crusades. Not to mention the support of dictatorships and the suppression of science when it did not accord with Christian "truths". RD
His assessment comes after warnings from Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Nato Secretary-General, who said this week that climate change had “potentially huge security implications” for Nato. The thinning ice cap is opening up a new Northwest Passage trade route, while it is estimatedthat previously inaccessible oil worth $90 billion (£56 billion) lies beneath ice in the Arctic Circle.
Friday, October 02, 2009
Thursday, October 01, 2009
This overview shows the district of Mongkok in Hong Kong.