Wednesday, December 31, 2008
“At the present time there is no malaria vaccine; there are only preventative drugs which have to be taken continuously to reduce the risk of infection. These are very effective for visitors from the more economically developed countries, but too expensive for most people who live in the affected regions.”
In other words, if you can’t afford it you may die, and this is a disease that infects 55 million people a year with between one and three million deaths, mostly young children.
Concerning radium, he writes, “ Radium is a million times more radioactive than uranium. The luminosity of radium led to its one time use in luminous paints for watches, clocks, aircraft switches and instrument dials. At least a hundred watch dial painters, who used their lips to shape their paintbrushes died as a result of the radiation.Radium was still used in this way until the late 1950s even though twenty years earlier it had been found that workers thus exposed to radium suffered serious health hazards such as sores,anemia, and bone cancer. Marie Curie’s (discoverer of radium) notes are still strongly radioactive one hundred years after she last handled them.
Capitalism only looks atthe profit potential of every new discovery.
In “A Brief History of Globalization”, Alex MacGillivray writes, re Third World debt,
“By 2005, African countries had already repaid $550 billion against original loans of $540 billion.But because of high interest rates, $245 billion was still outstanding.” (page 223) At this rateprofit would easily top 100%. That’s the kind of helping hand we can do without. On page 249 he quotes 19th.century American senator, John M. Thurston on the benefits of war,
“ War with Spain would increase the business and earnings of every American railroad, it would increase the output of every American factory, it would stimulate every branch ofIndustry and domestic commerce.” Obviously, a good deal for the profiteering class. Not so good for those who are expected to fight for this bonanza but derive no benefit from it. John Ayers
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
Of course Mr Rowlands still supports the system as his reference to tax cuts shows, but for such a supporter to say of capitalism "Thousands of homes should not be allowed to stand empty while people are homeless ..." illustrates the craziness of capitalism. He might use words like "should not be allowed" but that contradiction of “Ownership” and “Social Need” is the very basis of capitalism. RD
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
(Financial Times, 17 December) RD
“ It wasn’t too long ago that our language did not include terms like good jobs or bad jobs or the working poor. How could you work and be poor?"
Times have certainly changed. In the early 1970s about two- thirds of the city of Toronto’s neighbourhoods were middle income – within 20% of the average individual income. By 2006 that percentage had declined to just one third. The point is that in the 1970s most people thought that prosperity was here to stay, the fact being, within capitalism prosperity and security are all too fleeting. John Ayers
Flanked by tanks and under the cover of a smoke screen, Scottish guards charge
into action on the Egyptian front at El Alamein during the second world war.
Were the brightest at the front?
"Being dumb has its benefits. Scottish soldiers who survived the second world war were less intelligent than men who gave their lives defeating the Third Reich, a new study of British government records concludes. The 491 Scots who died and had taken IQ tests at age 11 achieved an average IQ score of 100.8. Several thousand survivors who had taken the same test - which was administered to all Scottish children born in 1921 – averaged 97.4. The unprecedented demands of the second world war – fought more with brains than with brawn compared with previous wars - might account for the skew, says Ian Deary, a psychologist at the University of Edinburgh, who led the study. Dozens of other studies have shown that smart people normally live longer than their less intelligent peers. "We wonder whether more skilled men were required at the front line, as warfare became more technical," Dear says." (New Scientist, 20 December)
As they ponder such questions we wonder if the learned psychologists ever considered the case of all the members of the Socialist Party who managed to survive two world wars because we figured they were wars that were not fought in the interest of the working class. They survived these bloodbaths because they knew that wars were fought for markets and trade routes not ideologies. Does that make them dumber or more intelligent? RD
Friday, December 26, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Bianca Jagger participating in a demonstration during the United Nations climate
change conference in Poznan, Poland
"The politicians just don't seem to get the seriousness of the global warming crisis. Scientists attending the recent UN climate conference in Poznan, Poland, complained that the gap between political rhetoric and scientific reality on climate change is growing."It doesn't matter what the politicians promise," said French climate scientist Phillipe Ciasis. "Even if we stop emissions growing today, the world will still warm by 2 °C - a lot more in some places. It is too late to prevent that." Ciais was at Poznan to present the latest findings of the Global Carbon Project, a network of scientists that monitors how humans are influencing the natural carbon cycle. While politicians boast of their progress in cutting CO2 emissions, in the real world the gas is actually accumulating at an accelerating rate. Emissions have risen 28% already this decade, compared with 9% for the whole of the 1990s, said Ciais." (New Scientist, 20 December)
This is another example of politicians making sympathetic noises about the environment but in practice to cut emmissions may put them at a disadvantage against their international competitors. If they put themselves at a disadvantage in the quest for profits you can be sure the environment will not be a factor they will consider. RD
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
(New York Times, 14 December) RD
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Socialist organising tenet.Needs will be 'self assessed' in a socialist society, in contrast with the rationed access in the capitalist wage-slavery system, where needs can never be met..
"From Each According to their Ability.. To Each According to their Needs"
And so say all of us.
Workers on a production line at the Kangnai shoe factory
It just goes to confirm that under capitalism there is no security.
From the same source,
Turmoil in Japan”. Japan has been held up as a shining example of how capitalism can work, but it is still affected by the global economy, “Japan has the second largest economy in the world, the second largest foreign exchange reserves, and the second largest stock exchange, but these are turbulent times fraught with uncertainty. On the Docks at Longbeach, California…offloaded cars are piling up as car makers look for lots to park them. The market has suddenly stalled…
Poverty – The Ontario Association of Food Banks (yes, in Canada) released a report showing poverty’s total costs to the Ontario economy amount to $38 billion, “The simple truth is that the poor are a drag on the economy, and by giving them crumbs instead of lifting them out of poverty, we ensure they will continue to live miserable, yet expensive lives.” Just how they are going to be lifted out of poverty is never Stated.
Once again, Captain McGuinty rides to the rescue of the poor. His Government has raised welfare rates, for example, a single person would receive $572 per month, up from $560. This increase brings them up to the recommended level, FOR 1988! As the average rental in Toronto is around $1 000, you can see the difficulties. This is from a government committed to fighting poverty! Increasing numbers are lining up at food banks and debt-burdened post secondary students figure prominently. A report on poverty by the Ontario Association of Food Banks suggests the obvious – that poverty affects more than the homeless and for the ten thousandth time states that investing in childhood development, early education programs, literacy, job training etc would be a good investment. The plain fact is that governments have been trying to eradicate poverty for decades without success. Socialists know that capitalism itself is the problem and investment is needed to establish socialism to solve the problem. John Ayers
Monday, December 22, 2008
Traditional dancing has been part of Pakistan's culture since the Mughal empire
(BBC News, 18 December) RD
England has nearly 1.7 million people on social housing waiting lists, the Local Government Association says. About 72,000 are either homeless or in temporary accommodation.
Policy officer James Rowlands of RICS said:
"Thousands of homes should not be allowed to stand empty while people are homeless or suffering from poor living conditions."
Sunday, December 21, 2008
(Yahoo News, 15 December) RD
“ This is not a Hutu-Tutsi conflict per se. This is a political and economic conflict in group identity, manipulated by opportunistic politicians and military leaders for political/military/economic ends.”.
It goes on to say, “Lust for resources has caused misery on a breathtaking scale since King Leopoldof Belgium enslaved the Congo Free State in the late 19th. Century, bringing about the deaths of some ten million people.”
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Finally, the Orwellian named act of the Harris government, The Farmworkers’ Protection andSafety Act, that took away workers’ rights to associate, unionize, and bargain collectively, (and therefore to put safe practices in place) has been struck down. (radio)
Pharmaceutical giant, Glaxo-Smith Kline reacted as expected when a doctor noticed its diabetes drug was linked to increased risk of cardio- vascular problems. It listened, then wrote a letter to the doctor’s employer to get him muzzled. Turns out other doctors who were saying the same thing got the same treatment.
Meanwhilean estimated 40 000 people died from the effects of the drug. John Ayers
Hope they all figure this out and come to our conclusion! John Ayers
"Music as product placement is certainly a dismal vision (The sullying of our songs, 16 December). But the old business model for music inside capitalism is nothing to feel nostalgic about. John Harris suggests that downloading makes music worthless. No, just priceless! If everything (not just downloads) was free it all might actually be valued that bit better. I suggest we should embrace the concept of production for use, by raising our horizons beyond just the digital world to - in the words of John Lennon - imagine no possessions. "
Brian Gardner Glasgow.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Won’t happen anytime soon. John Ayers
Bad Times Draw Bigger Crowds to Churches
"The sudden crush of worshipers packing the small evangelical Shelter Rock Church in Manhasset, N.Y. — a Long Island hamlet of yacht clubs and hedge fund managers — forced the pastor to set up an overflow room with closed-circuit TV and 100 folding chairs, which have been filled for six Sundays straight. In Seattle, the Mars Hill Church, one of the fastest-growing evangelical churches in the country, grew to 7,000 members this fall, up 1,000 in a year. At the Life Christian Church in West Orange, N.J., prayer requests have doubled — almost all of them aimed at getting or keeping jobs. Like evangelical churches around the country, the three churches have enjoyed steady growth over the last decade. But since September, pastors nationwide say they have seen such a burst of new interest that they find themselves contending with powerful conflicting emotions — deep empathy and quiet excitement — as they re-encounter an old piece of religious lore: Bad times are good for evangelical churches."
(New York Times, 14 December) RD
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Ontario Premier, Mcguinty, has found the answer to our Economic woes. On Friday he said, “ But, if we are not careful, if we don’t Christmas shop for example, we can actually, unwittinglycontribute to our economic challenges. If you don’t buy that car, even though you can actually afford it, if you don’t buy that fridge, if you don’t shop at Christmastime, it can actually put us in a bit of a downward spiral.”
(Yes he actually said that!) On the same day, Black Friday, in the US a Walmart Employee was trampled to death by a crazed bunch of shoppers looking for bargains. Now that’s the type of shopper McGuinty is talking about! John Ayers
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Marian Schamp takes a break from moving her possessions as a tent city for the
homeless is consolidated
William A. "Bill" White, the self-proclaimed Commander of the neo-Nazi group
So all those wise capitalists who know all about markets and investments haven't a clue about capitalism after all. Maybe socialists have a point then?
By analysing a long-term study of 14,000 young people in England, it found that youngsters in certain neighbourhoods were less likely to stay on in full time education after the age of 16.
The areas with the lowest educational aspirations, termed "low horizons" by the researchers, were characterised as deprived, close-knit cohesive communities with high levels of social housing and a history of economic decline.
The areas pinpointed by researchers were mainly those formerly dominated by heavy industry, often in the north of England. However there were also clusters of neighbourhoods in isolated rural areas of East Anglia and the west country.
An analysis of the 2008 GCSE results showed that only one in six white boys who are entitled to free school meals obtained the government's benchmark of five good GCSEs.
Monday, December 15, 2008
A woman begs for money near a kiosk selling lottery tickets, in Rome
Star gazers look at the crescent moon below Jupiter
(Bloomberg.com, 11 December) RD
Sunday, December 14, 2008
A malnourished boy at a feeding center in southern Ethiopia.
Paul Nawracki, jobless since February, stands on New York corners with a sign
announcing his job search.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
The credit system reproduces a new financial aristocracy, a new kind of parasite in the guise of company promoters,
speculators and merely nominal directors; an entire system of swindling and cheating with respect to the promotion of
companies, issues of shares and share dealings.
The credit system...accelerates the material development of the productive forces and the creation of the world
market, which it is the historical task of the capitalist mode of production to bring to a certain level of development, as
material foundations for the new form of production. At the same time, credit accelerates the violent outbreaks of this
contradiction, crises, and with these the elements of dissolution of the old mode of production.
The credit system has a dual character immanent in it: on the one hand it develops the motive of capitalist production,
enrichment by the exploitation of other’s labour, into the purest and most colossal form of gambling and swindling, and
restricts ever more the already small number of exploiters of social wealth; on the other hand however it constitutes
the form of transition towards a new mode of production.
Capital Volume III - Chapter 27 - The Role of Credit in Capitalist Production
A woman tried to sell incense to a passenger on Saturday in Mumbai, where the
wealthy have a new sense of their vulnerability
On the Ivory Coast, one of the world's largest producers of palm oil, a man
empties a bag of palm grains on a palm oil plantation
"We're predicting next year that we're going to see more organisations making more and more redundancies." said the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development
Friday, December 12, 2008
That only comes to 66%, so hopefully the other 34% told Theos to piss off! RD
The sad truth is that despite the desperate prayers of Detroit workers capitalism is a system based on slumps and booms and no amount of hymn singing is going to save their jobs. RD
Thursday, December 11, 2008
This is particularly relevant in festive shopping when personal finances are being stretched.
At Christmas, people are challenged with what can be considered to be a moral form of cognitive dissonance, when people are torn between balancing their finances and the wish to make others and themselves happier - which is the societal expectation of what Christmas is really all about.
Knowing they may well not be able to afford what they are buying, people enter into transactions encouraged by heavy marketing influences. And they will try to reduce their internal psychological conflict in order to justify their actions.
They will explain that their happiness and that of others is more important than their debt, that others cannot do without when people around them are receiving and being happy and that, above all, Christmas is a time for giving and sharing and the spirit of Christmas should be encouraged in a time of nationwide gloom. Such actions are typical responses when people are experiencing dissonance. Dissonance is often strong when we believe something about ourselves and then do something against that belief. If I believe I am good - managing my finances to reduce debt - but do something bad - spend freely at Christmas - then the discomfort I feel as a result is cognitive dissonance. The resultant effect can be extremely negative in the long term when the reality of the dissonance is exposed.
The Solicitors' Disciplinary Tribunal heard the men acted "unacceptably" by charging clients even though the government was paying their fees.
Beresford, 58, said last year to be Britain's highest-earning solicitor, and Smith, 52, made millions of pounds from personal injury claims for miners under the government's coal health compensation scheme. Tribunal chairman David Leverton said: "If ever there was a group of persons who needed the full care and attention from solicitors, it was these miners. Mr Beresford described himself as an entrepreneur. Unfortunately, his attitude allowed himself and Mr Smith to put commercial goals before his clients' best interests."
The lawyers were also accused of not giving adequate advice and entering into contingency fee deals against their clients' best interests.The tribunal heard that up to 30% of a miner's damages could be deducted by Beresfords. In one case, the firm deducted a "success fee" from the widow of a miner, leaving her with a total payout of just £217.73, the tribunal heard.
Beresford and Smith's joint earnings went from more than £182,000 in 2000 to £23,273,256 in 2006.
Perhaps , Socialist Courier wouldn't go as far as Shakespeare's "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers" but we are sorely tempted .
(Observer Magazine, 7 December) RD
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
(Time, 4 December) RD
(Guardian, 5 December) RD
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Monday, December 08, 2008
A campaign to legalise assisted suicide in Scotland has been launched by Independent MSP Margo MacDonald.
The Lothian MSP, who has Parkinson's Disease, hopes to bring legislation before the parliament next year.
She is sending out a consultation paper and needs the support of at least 18 MSPs to bring forward a Holyrood bill.Mrs MacDonald, 65, said people should have the right to choose the time and place of their death and she called for a debate on the issue.
Unfortunately for 40 thousand kids a day who die, in the so- called third world this is not the case as they don't reach their first birthday as a consequence of capitalist induced poverty..
Malaria claims the lives of three children every minute. In Africa, it accounts for a quarter of infant mortality.
Anti-malarial drugs like chloroquine and larium, which were once 95% effective, are now almost useless in parts of the Third World.
Because of global warming, the disease is returning to areas where it had been successfully eradicated.
In the Calton ward of Glasgow East, male life expectancy stands at 53.9 years. Iraqi life expectancy is 69 years.
The leader of the Roman Catholic church in Scotland, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, said it was not up to us to decide when we die.
He said: "Life is a gift from Almighty God, given us through Almighty God through the cooperation of our parents."If God gives us that gift, He can take that from us but we're not taking it from Him and as it were saying, 'well God, I'm finished with life because I can't cope with cancer or Parkinson's or whatever it has to be'. We just wait on God calling us to himself.
Did you ever read such miserable,superstitious, sanctimonious ,nonsense from a grown man ?
Vertu's Frank Nuovo holds his latest baby, the Boucheron 150, which has been
sculpted from a single slab of gold to resemble a jewel
(BBC News, 4 December)
This will be hailed by all supporters of capitalism as an excellent wheeze to foil impoverished claimants, but what will happen when the Queen phones up for an increase on her benefits in the civil list? Presumably the lie detector will be switched off for non-impoverished claimants. RD
Sunday, December 07, 2008
Saturday, December 06, 2008
Normal nine and 10-year-olds from rich and poor backgrounds had differing electrical activity in a part of the brain linked to problem solving. The brains of children from low-income families process information differently to those of their wealthier counterparts.
Since the children were, in health terms, normal in every way, the researchers suspected that "stressful environments" created by low socioeconomic status might be to blame.
Dr Mark Kishiyama, one of the researchers, said: "The low socioeconomic kids were not detecting or processing the visual stimuli as well - they were not getting that extra boost from the prefrontal cortex."
Previous studies have suggested that children in low-income families are spoken to far less - on average hearing 30 million fewer words by the age of four.
Professor Robert Knight, added: "This is a wake-up call - it's not just that these kids are poor and more likely to have health problems, but they might actually not be getting full brain development from the stressful and relatively impoverished environment associated with low socioeconomic status."
The Savile Row Richard James garments store
"A leading Savile Row tailor, Richard James, sold "Made in England" suits produced by cheap labour in Africa, The Independent can disclose today. For two years workers on the island of Mauritius – paid a fraction of the wage of a British craftsman – cut the fabric and stitched the suits which sold for between £500 and £2,000. When the suits arrived in the UK, workers in Norwich "finished" the garments by sewing on sleeves and buttons and pressing them. The suits then carried labels stating "Made in England" even though, according to Mr James's company, no more than 25 per cent of the work was done in the UK." (Independent, 29 November) RD
(Washington Post, 3 December) RD
The bank and its agents telephoned the couple 762 times over seven months in what they say is aggressive pursuit of the debt . Their daughter, Stefanie Moore, 29, received 60 to 100 phone calls and two text messages .
The couple feel dehumanised .
Yes that what capitalism does to people . Socialist Courier wonders if the banks now in debt , begging for government bail-outs will ever be treated in such a shameles and heartless manner to demand repayment
Friday, December 05, 2008
The National Audit Office found that there was "no systematic evidence on the extent to which CDC investment adds to overall investment in poor countries". DFID was "not well-equipped to consider the benefits of its investment" compared to other aid approaches. It also noted that CDC this year had £1.4 billion deposited in cash in the UK, compared to £1.2 billion invested in businesses overseas.
The chairman of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, Edward Leigh, said: "It is ridiculous that the chief executive of a Government-owned body aimed at reducing poverty can earn £970,000 in a single year."
Ever wondered why buying new often worked out cheaper than buying at charity shops ?
Foreign workers making clothes for high street fashion chain Primark are existing on as little as 7p an hour . The report also claims workers making clothes for Asda and Tesco are paid similar amounts. The anti-poverty charity War on Want also said Primark was ignoring the rise in basic living costs in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, leaving workers worse off than they were two years ago.
Workers claimed they needed the equivalent of £44.82 a month to feed their families and pay for clean water, shelter, clothes, education , health care and transport. War on Want said the average worker earned £19.16 a month, with the majority living in small, crowded shacks, many lacking plumbing and adequate washing facilities.
War on Want campaigns and policy director Ruth Tanner said: "Primark, Asda and Tesco promise a living wage for their garment makers. But workers are actually worse off than when we exposed their exploitation two years ago."
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
A man or a woman struggle all their live to raise a family on a pittance of a wage but a millionaire can get £1 million just by making two telephone calls. Capitalism is truly an insane society RD
Monday, December 01, 2008
Edinburgh's Holyrood district is among the loneliest places to live, the study
The study ranks places using a formula based on the proportion of people in an area who are single, those who live alone, the numbers in private rented accommodation and those who have lived there for less than a year.
The higher the proportion of people in those categories, the less rooted the community, according to social scientists. They refer to it as the level of "anomie" or the "feeling of not belonging".
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
Y ou have read that socialism w ill result in the loss of individual liberty; that all power would be surrendered to the state or the go...
"Where are the leaders and what are their demands?" will be the question puzzled professional politicians and media pundits...
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