Saturday, December 31, 2011
Some 1,364 deaths were recorded in 2010 in an Office of National Statistics as due to “unintentional injuries” , “Unintentional injury” is the NHS classification used where the victim has not deliberately inflicted injury on him or herself, but is admitted to hospital or dies as a result, such as road accidents, poisoning, and violent crimes like stabbings and shootings. However, the vast majority were from falls. Of these deaths, the bottom fifth of the population in terms of deprivation was listed as having a Standard Mortality Ratio for children of 119.3, compared with just 54.7 in the top fifth. Figures for adults were similar with an SMR of 125.2 for the bottom 20 per cent and 65.1 for the top 20 per cent.
It is thought that sub-standard housing, poor health and more crime in deprived areas (as well as greater "middle class" awareness about child safety) were relevant. The highest recorded number of accidents was in the west of Scotland – Glasgow City local authority is home to 31 per cent of the most deprived areas in Scotland.
Elizabeth Lumsden, community safety manager at the Royal Scoiety for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) Scotland, said:“Those who are more income-deprived suffer poorer health and we know this is a major factor in falls which is one of the biggest causes of death and injury – especially in older people.”
Friday, December 30, 2011
Chinese state-owned companies have already invested tens of billions of dollars in Canada's northern tar sands. Three years ago, the Chinese government lent a Russian company $25bn so that it could build an oil pipeline from Siberia to China, which now carries 300,000 barrels per day. Russian oil, natural gas and minerals are also moving eastwards to China via the Northern Sea Route along Siberia's increasingly ice-free Arctic coastline. And soon, natural gas will be shipped to China from two new liquefaction terminals on Canada's northwest coast.
Most of China's oil imports pass through the Strait of Malacca between Malaysia and Indonesia. In Beijing, this strategic weakness is referred to as the "Malacca dilemma". In addition, some ships loop around Africa to avoid the pirate-infested approaches to the Suez Canal, while others loop around the bottom of South America because they cannot fit into the Panama Canal. Either way, the extra distance adds additional costs - in fuel, salaries and foregone business. In late summer, the Northern Sea Route already enables a 10,000-km shortcut to Europe, while the Northwest Passage through Canada's Arctic islands offers a 7,000-km shortcut to the Atlantic seaboard of the US. With time, a third route may well become available "over the top" across the central Arctic Ocean. These developments are celebrated in China, where the media refer to the Northern Sea Route as the "Arctic Golden Waterway". Professor Bin Yang of Shanghai Maritime University estimates that the Northern Sea Route alone could save China a staggering $60bn to $120bn annually. China already has the world's largest non-nuclear powered icebreaker and is now building a second, smaller vessel. Chinese companies are also building or commissioning dozens of ice-strengthened cargo ships and tankers, some of them with dual-directional technology that enables them to sail normally on open seas, then turn round and use their propellers to chew their way through sea-ice.
Under the law of the sea, the Arctic countries have jurisdiction over that oil and gas because coastal countries have exclusive rights to any natural resource within 200 nautical miles of their coasts. They may also have jurisdiction over seabed resources even further out - if they can demonstrate scientifically that the shape and geology of the ocean floor constitute a "natural prolongation" of the continental shelf. China does not contest these rights, because it relies on the exact same rules to support its extensive claims in the South and East China Seas. Nor is there any need for China to challenge the claims of the Arctic countries. Offshore oil and gas is expensive to find, extract and transport - especially in an extremely remote and often inhospitable region. To access these riches, Arctic countries will need strong markets and vast amounts of capital, both of which China is well positioned to provide.
But beyond the extensive rights of the coastal states, near the centre of the Arctic Ocean, lies an area where the deep seabed constitutes the "common heritage of mankind" and the water column constitutes "high seas". If the central Arctic Ocean becomes the site of economic activity, China will most certainly be a player. At some point, China might wish to explore the deep Arctic Ocean for magnesium nodules or frozen gas hydrates. China is also the world's largest fishing nation, and the Arctic Ocean is closer than some of the places currently frequented by its distant-waters fleet. Coastal states can regulate fishing within 200 nautical miles of their shores, but beyond that distance, regulation only takes place through regional fisheries organisations.
The Chinese government has so far chosen not to take sides in legal disputes between the US on the one hand, and Russia and Canada on the other, over the status of the Northern Sea Route and Northwest Passage. The US claims they are "international straits", Russia and Canada claim they are "internal waters", and China, it seems, just wants to make money.
In 2009, China applied for permanent observer status at the Arctic Council, a regional organisation composed of Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the US but then, in 2011, the Arctic Council adopted new criteria for permanent observers, including the condition that they recognise "the Arctic States' right to administer the Arctic Ocean under the Convention of the Law of the Sea". China will likely never accept this condition, which as currently worded, implies that Arctic states have the right to administer the entire Arctic Ocean. In actual fact, China and other non-Arctic countries are fully entitled to navigate freely beyond 12 miles from shore, to fish beyond 200 miles from shore, and to exploit seabed resources that lie beyond the continental shelf.
China is an integral part of the globalised economy and that now includes the North Pole
Thursday, December 29, 2011
The average price of a property was estimated at just over £1.5m. A total of 13 of the 20 most expensive streets named were located in Edinburgh. Some of the other most expensive addresses in the capital were Ann Street, with an average property price of £1,188,000, and Kinellan Road (£992,000).
The next most expensive streets were in the west of Aberdeen - Rubislaw Den South (£1,430,000) and Rubislaw Den North (£1,190,000).
The Glasgow area's most expensive streets were Burnside Road (£974,000) in the Whitecraigs area of East Renfrewshire and Bowmore Crescent (£908,000) in Thorntonhall, South Lanarkshire.
Outside Scotland's three major cities, the most expensive homes were on Queens Crescent in Auchterarder, Perthshire, with an average sale price of nearly £1.2m.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Analysis of Scottish Air Quality data from 2011 showed levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in parts of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth were in breach of European Union targets of 40 micrograms per cubic metre of air designed to protect health. The average life expectancy in the most polluted cities in Europe is reduced by more than two years, EU chiefs have estimated.
“As a result of a complacent approach, thousands of people are exposed to dangerous levels of air pollution in Scotland’s major cities..." Dr Dan Barlow, WWF Scotland head of policy said
Monday, December 26, 2011
One Lloyds insider said: “It’s always the people on the ground who suffer. You could earn more working in Asda..."
Cashiers at the high street lender earn commission by referring clients to sales staff, who talk them through the options for mortgages, savings accounts and other products. But the bank has not only cut the commission from £2 to 60 pence as part of a clampdown on costs, and it has increased the target for each cashier from 72 referrals every three months to 77.
Sunday, December 25, 2011
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on Earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me."
Friday, December 23, 2011
On surplus-value coming free to the capitalist,
"The circulation mechanism, however, has shown if the capitalist class casts money into circulation to be spent as revenue, it withdraws this same money again from circulation, and so the same process can always begin anew; considered as a capitalist class, therefore, it remains now as before in possession of this sum of money needed for the realization of its surplus-value. If the capitalist not only withdraws surplus-value from the commodity market in the form of commodities for his consumption fund, but at the same time the money with which he buys these commodities flows back to him, he has evidently withdrawn the commodities from circulation without an equivalent. They cost him nothing, even though he pays for them with money. If I buy commodities for one pound sterling, and the seller of these commodities gives me back my one pound in exchange for a surplus product that costs me nothing, then I have obviously received the commodities for nothing. The constant repetition of this operation, in no way alters the fact that I constantly withdraw commodities and constantly remain in possession of the one pound, even though I part with it temporarily in order to obtain these commodities. The capitalist constantly receives this money back as the realization of surplus-value that cost him nothing."(Capital, Volume II, pp550/551, Penguin Classics edition).
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Kristen Hubert, from Shelter Scotland, said: "The 100,000 figure used by the Bank of Scotland includes property that is only empty for a brief period, between tenants or owners. What is really important is those which are empty for longer, and that problem is really in the private sector."
Shelter Scotland claimed there were 23,000 privately-owned empty homes.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Monday, December 19, 2011
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Sunday, December 11, 2011
In Canada, we have failed to live up to the 1980s promise to eliminate poverty by 2000, just as the provincial governments much trumpeted 25% reduction in poverty in 5 years has failed. The recession was cited as an excuse, of course. Now, 10% of children live in poverty and they make up 40% of the nearly one million food bank clients, Canada's main growth industry.
Canadian business likes to point out that, although not recession proof, we are better positioned to cope and our banks are better regulated .Last month, though, Canada lost 54 000 jobs, most in manufacturing and construction, the unionized and better paying jobs. Socialists know that no one can escape the world economy.
Meanwhile, mobile infrastructure company Nokia Siemens has announced that it will be cutting 17 000 jobs over the next few years. In a burst of loyalty to his employees, the CEO said, "As we look toward the prospect of an independent future, we need to take action now to improve our profitability and cash generation."
The futility of reform -- the auto industry agreed to a two-tier wage system with new hires paid as low as $14 per hour. Chrysler chairman, Sergio Marchionne disagrees with the two tier system and wants every worker on the same scale -- the lower one!
Recession does not to hit some very hard though. The Globe and Mail Reported (Nov 2, 2011) that Prince Charles had to scrape by with just 133 staff to look after him and Camilla, more than 60 of them domestics such as chefs, cooks, footmen, housemaids, gardeners, chauffeurs, cleaners, and his three personal valets, who look after his wardrobe plus the important task of ironing the laces when Charles takes off his shoes. John Ayers
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Meanwhile, Tunisians interviewed by The Toronto Star (Tunisia: The Jobless Revolution, 26/Nov/2011) are mainly saying that nothing has changed for them. Unemployment remains high, life remains a struggle, and they have put their trust in new untried and largely unknown
leaders. The future looks very uncertain. Taking a page from the Occupy Movement (see below) would be a large step forward.
The Toronto Occupy Movement has now been evicted by court order and by the actions of the police and the city, but, as we like to say, you can't evict a conversation or an idea. So I expect the movement to carry on in some yet to be determined form. Some of the more important aspects are tenets such as anyone affected by decisions should be at the table making them, no one gets left behind, and the organization of the camp, i.e. no leaders, everyone speaks and listens, democratic decisions, volunteer labour. Hopefully this will be carried on in the future. Also remarkable was the speed and cohesion of the movement in setting up camp and the rapid spread throughout the world. If this movement can shed its reformism and adopt the socialist case, it could be a major step forward. The press mainly continues its establishment stance -- The Washington Post wrote, "For those of us who don't live near one of the protest sites, Occupy Wall Street supplied some comic relief, but they were never meant to survive the onset of inclement weather. Good riddance." However, David Olive of The Toronto Star points out that it was mainly the courts, the city, and the police that did the evicting.
He also notes that 1.3 million Canadians and 26 million Americans are unemployed or have given up looking for a job. Also, since 1959, wages, as a percentage of the GDP have fallen from 51% to 44%, worth one trillion dollars that have been diverted into profit. The Star editorial also comments that the occupation is a 40 day wake-up call to put right the ills that afflict our system. Let's hope the movement comes back to bite the establishment! John Ayers
Friday, December 09, 2011
Thursday, December 08, 2011
Wednesday, December 07, 2011
Tuesday, December 06, 2011
The Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act was passed – in the teeth of furious opposition led by the Scottish Countryside Alliance – on 13 February, 2002. The legislation outlawed the hunting of wild mammals with dogs, but made some exceptions. It is legal to use dogs to flush a fox from cover in order for it to then be shot, so long as this is done as a form of pest-control. The act further states that no offence is committed if the dog kills the fox during the course of this activity, in other words if it was not the intention of the huntsman that the dogs should do so.
These loopholes have allowed fox hunting to continue in Scotland. Hunts now present themselves as pest-control operations offering a service to farmers. The packs of hounds, followed by riders, chase the fox towards waiting gunmen who attempt to shoot it. If the fox is killed by the hounds before it runs towards the guns then that is regarded as an accident and therefore within the law. Hounds are also used to kill foxes that have been wounded by the gunmen or are otherwise seriously injured or diseased.
Trevor Adams, huntsman with the Duke of Buccleuch’s Hunt for the last 23 years, suggests that of all the foxes killed by his hunt, one third are dispatched by hounds. However, as a result of the introduction of guns, many more are now killed than before the change in law; in the case of the Buccleuch, it is thought that up to three times as many foxes now die in a season. This means that roughly the same number of foxes are being killed by hounds as before the ‘ban’, and there is no reason to believe that the Buccleuch is unrepresentative. Indeed, the protocol on how to hunt foxes within the new law was developed by the Buccleuch and endorsed by the Master of Fox Hounds Association, the governing body for fox hunting in the UK. The new approach was then tested in court when – in 2004 – Trevor Adams became the first person to be prosecuted and the first to be acquitted under the new law.
The Duke of Buccleuch’s hunt is the largest in Scotland, covering a huge area from west of Hawick to east of Kelso, from the foothills of the Cheviots to the bottom of the Lammermuirs. The hunt essentially belongs to the Duke of Buccleuch, the UK’s biggest landowner, and it is no surprise to see the Duchess of Roxburgh go trotting by on a white horse, or to notice one of the foot followers tip his cap to her. The Buccleuch Hunt has a membership of around 150, the majority of whom are mounted; the remainder follow the hunt on foot. Riders pay subscriptions ranging from £300 to £1,000 per season, depending on how many days they intend to hunt. One might pay £5,000 for a horse, £150 each week for stabling, plus additional costs for equipment, clothes, transport, and for the farrier. It isn’t cheap.
Although fox hunting is presented as a form of pest control, few if any of the riders with the Buccleuch – or, surely, with the other hunts – pay their annual subscriptions because they want to help farmers protect their hens. Trevor Adams is quite open about it. “We are very definitely in the entertainment business,” he says.
The landed rich cannot conceive that their will cannot run untrammelled. The attempts of the rich and the powerful to maintain their power over making the rules and laws of society is an affront that serves to illustrate how shallow democracy under capitalism really is.
Hospital chiefs are discouraging “whistleblowing” nurses from reporting their concerns about patient safety and staffing levels, nursing leaders have warned. More than one-third of nurses in Scotland (37%) said they had been discouraged, or told directly, not to report their concerns to their NHS health board or employer.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) revealed more than 80% of nurses in Scotland said they had highlighted problems. But, in more than half of cases, no action was ever taken. The overwhelming majority (84%) of nurses in Scotland fear they will be victimised if they speak out about the problems.
Theresa Fyffe, RCN Scotland director, said: “It is extremely worrying that nurses are being explicitly told not to raise concerns, particularly after all we have learned about the consequences of ignoring issues around patient safety. The survey clearly shows nurses are committed to improving care for patients, but more than half, 55%, say no action was ever taken when they raised their concerns...We are very concerned that nurses are not being listened to particularly as we know more than 2000 nurses have been cut from the NHS workforce in Scotland since September 2009, and staff are feeling over-stretched and under pressure. In these circumstances it is more important than ever they are listened to when they raise their concerns about patient safety and about staffing levels.”
Monday, December 05, 2011
Meanwhile, scientists say that the Arctic sea ice has declined more in the last half century than it has in the last 1 450 years. However, The New York Times points out that the environment is no where to be seen in the US and has disappeared from the political
agenda, " ...now that nearly every other nation accepts climate change as a pressing problem, America has turned agnostic on the issue." John Ayers
Nationalism has served to divide workers into different nation states not only literally but ideologically. It is probably fair to say that a majority of workers—to some degree or another—align themselves to their domestic ruling class. The ideology of nationalism means that workers and capitalists living in a particular geographical area must have a common interest. However, socialists argue that society can he broken into two classes, capitalists and workers.
Despite differences of language or cultural barriers this does not alter the fact that those of us who are working class are all part of one globalised exploited mass with more in common with each other than with our "native" bosses. Capitalists and workers do not share a common identity nor do they share any interests in common. Scotland, like every other country or state in the world, is class-divided: a minority of rich owners and the rest of us. We have no interests in common with them and anything which encourages the illusion that all the people of Scotland form a community with a common interest can only serve their interests. They need us to believe this because their rule and privileges depend on our acceptance.
Socialism groups men, poor against rich, class against class, without taking into account the differences of race and language, and over and above the artificial frontiers traced by history. The appeal to workers to a fake “cultural” identity and fake "national" unity are utterly poisonous to the real interests of the working class. The bonds which bind worker with worker, irrespective of nationality, are those of class solidarity. For as long as workers are deceived into viewing the world from a "national" perspective, they will fail to understand their condition in capitalism. The working class is deluded by nationalism. Such beliefs actively encourage people to co-operate with their "national" exploiters operating within borders determined purely by historical accident. Nationalism conceals the real nature of capitalism, turns worker against worker and serves to impede working-class solidarity.
The problem of nationalism cannot be wished away. To do away with it will mean to eliminate the present the system that fosters it. This system ensures that a minority owns and controls the means with which wealth is produced and distributed whilst the vast majority who actually does the production owns nothing. The resources and wealth of the world must be owned and controlled by all humanity.Under such an arrangement, no-one will care who goes where or who belongs where. We will recognise ourselves, not as Scottish British, French, or any of the other labels our rulers impose on us, but as members of the human race, citizens of the world, Earth-people. Then nationalism will have been well and truly buried.
Saturday, December 03, 2011
Thursday, December 01, 2011
Arctic sea traffic and a more northward military focus would absolutely be a priority for an independent Scotland, Robertson says. Citing opportunities such as oil-and-gas development, mineral extraction, shipping and the emergence of new fisheries, Robertson said SNP leaders are thinking about the challenges ahead of the independence referendum and predicted the massive changes impacting on the High North and Arctic will become a significant feature of the years and decades ahead in Scottish politics
More men and women die before retirement age in Scotland than in any other part of the UK.,The premature death rate – where people die before 65 – is 50 per cent higher north of the Border than in the east and south-east of England, where it is lowest, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation reported.
Experts warn the high numbers of early deaths are driven by violence, drug and alcohol problems, and unhealthy lifestyles, particularly in deprived areas. The report the UK government was failing to tackle poverty and warned cuts to social security could see inequalities rise rather than fall in future.