Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from April, 2011

SPIRITUAL VALUES?

Religious leaders are fond of stressing the importance of spiritual values as opposed to sordid material concerns. One such leader died recently. He was Sathya Sai Baba one of India's most popular and controversial figures. He was revered as a living god and miracle worker. It was claimed he could make the lame walk and turn water into oil. "Although dogged by allegations of trickery and sexual abuse of some devotees, he amassed a fortune estimated at more than £5.5 billion. A power struggle over the trust has already begun among aides and family members." (Times, 25 April) £5.5 billion should certainly provide some "spiritual" solace for his grieving aides and family.RD

George Galloway and life expectancy

"The life expectancy of people in parts of this city is 10 years worse than in Kabul,"George Gallowayis quoted as saying in The Guardian.

However, once more we find Galloway's flowery rhetoric is somewhat at odds with the known and available facts. The website Full Fact Org explains:-

Direct comparisons of life expectancy that tell a story of lives in some UK communities being shorter than those in war torn and poverty stricken areas of the world clearly have the power to shock. But attempts to make such comparisons have also seen the media and politicians misrepresent statistics in search of the hard hitting headline. So are the comparisons between Scotland's largest city and the Afghan capital valid? The claim seems to be based on the alarmingly low life expectancy in the Calton area of Glasgow. Taking the Calton figure of 54.9 years for men from the 1998 to 2002 figures and comparing these to the most recent Afghanistan figure of between 44 and 45 shows that a diff…

BIG BUCKS AND BIG BANGS

The Sunday Times publishes a science magazine called Eureka which featured a debate on the issue of "Does military funding compromise science?" Arguing the case for the affirmative was Harry Kroto, winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, 1996, who revealed some devastating facts about the extent of the stockpiling of nuclear weapons. "In my Science and Society lectures, I implore future physicists not to make "better" atomic bombs. There are already more than 20,000, enough to destroy the human race many times over. I implore future chemists not to make "better" napalm, and show them the iconic image of the burning Vietnamese girl that shames chemistry. I implore future engineers not to make "better" landmines, and show pictures of African children playing football on crutches because they have lost a leg in a blast." (Sunday Times, 19 April) Mr Kroto we agree with you very much. but unfortunately it is not up to scientist…

Their Scotland or Our World?

Their Scotland or Our World?


That's the issue in this election, says THE SOCIALIST PARTY


On 5 May, you will have your occasional ration of democracy with the opportunity to vote for the glorified regional council known as the Scottish Parliament.


It's all very well having a vote—but are you normally given any real choice? Let's face it, if it wasn't for the politician's head on the front of the election leaflet, could you tell which party was which?


It's tempting—in the absence of any real alternative—to get drawn into the phoney war that is political debate today. Whether Labour or SNP, Lib Dem, Tory, SSP,,Respect, they all spout the same promises. And it all amounts to the same thing—they offer no alternative to the present way of running society.


Do you really think who wins an election makes any difference to how you live?And do politicians (whether leftwing, nationalist or rightwing) actually have much real power anyway? OK, they get to open supermarkets and fa…

THE CLASS DIVISION

It was the sort of news item that would have appealed to "Disgusted, Tunbridge Wells" or some such Daily Mail reader. "Too fat, too drunk, or just too lazy to work - but not to claim benefit. More than 80,000 people are too fat or too dependent on alcohol or drugs to work, according to official figures released today. The first breakdown of medical assessment for more than two million people on long-term sickness benefit shows that 42,360 of claimants are alcoholics while more than 37,000 are drug abusers. A further 1,830 are too obese to hold down a job." (Times, 21 April) No mention is made of the rest of the 2 million that are on long-term sickness benefit, but even more strikingly no mention is made of the capitalist class. Here is a class that has never worked, has no intention of ever working - in some cases for several generations - and whose benefits are somewhat greater than the £94 a week doled out to the working class as sickness benefit. Som…

THE LOGIC OF CAPITALISM

Capitalism is a very competitive society and the logical outcome of the struggle between competing groups of capitalists over markets, trade routes and natural resources is war. The group with the most advanced weaponry has an enormous advantage, hence the attraction of nuclear weapons. A piece of elementary logic that seems to have escaped this group. "Scotland's Catholic figurehead has urged the UK government to give up its "shameful" nuclear weapon programme. Cardinal Keith O'Brien was addressing a rally against nuclear weapons outside the Faslane naval base on Gare Loch. The head of Scotland's Roman Catholic Church was joined by representatives from churches across Scotland in an Easter witness for peace. Quoting the words of Pope Benedict XVI, he said: "In a nuclear war there would be no victors, only victims." (BBC News, 17 April) There were certainly plenty of victims in Hiroshima and Nagasaki but surely the USA was a victor. RD

BEHIND THE FINE WORDS

The bombing of Gadaffi's forces by the UN has been depicted as a humanitarian action to protect the citizens of that country. In a recent interview the British Foreign Secretary William Hague gave the real reason for the intervention. "Hague insists these actions were humanitarian after the blanket-toting dictator began bombing his own people. But he also concedes a second reason: Libya is a pivotal state for Britain and Europe. Further unrest in north Africa would create a wave of unwanted immigration, new breeding grounds for terrorism and, more importantly, have "terrible economic consequences for the price of oil", he says. "We can't stand aside." (Sunday Times,10 April) The intervention has more to do with the capitalist class's economic interests than for humanitarian reasons. RD

FAMILY VALUES

At every election politicians put on their best suit and their most sincere smile and gush on about "family values". If they still have a wife they haven't divorced or been caught with their pants down with someone else's wife they will wax eloquent on the subject. After the election though what will be the result of all that rhetoric? "British families are facing the biggest peacetime squeeze on their finances since 1921, according to a leading economic consultancy. Soaring inflation and weak earning growth will leave the average family £910 worse off than two years ago, according to analysis by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR)." (Sunday Times, 10 April) Politicians will shrug off criticism, blame someone else, pay off their mistresses and lawyers and prepare for the next election's defense of family values. After all it is only members of working class families who have suffered a decline in real income. RD

THOSE LAZY WORKERS AGAIN

Readers of the Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph and other slimy media apologists for capitalism will be aware that the biggest danger to Britain today is lazy overpaid workers, exulting in their pampered useless existence while an over-indulgent welfare state caters for their every indulgence. The following news item may strike such people as a little strange though. "Almost every NHS nurse works more than their contracted hours and one in five does so every shift, a new poll shows. Some 95% of nurses say they work longer hours than they are paid for, according to ICM research for the Royal  College of Nursing. ..Many nurses say they have to skip meals and rarely or never get the breaks at work to which they are entitled..." (Observer, 10 April) RD

ANOTHER REASON TO BE A SOCIALIST

If you have tears to shed then shed then now. "A 14-year-old Bangladeshi girl, Hena, allegedly was ambushed when she went to an outdoor toilet, gagged, beaten and raped by an older man in her village (who was actually her cousin). They were caught by wife of the alleged rapist, and the wife then beat Hena up. An imam at a local mosque issued a fatwa saying that Hena was guilty of adultery and must be punished, and a village makeshift court sentenced Hena to 100 lashes in a public whipping." (New York Times, 30 March)  After 70 lashes she was in such agony that she was taken to hospital where she died. The authorities claimed that she committed suicide because that is what someone who commits adultery must do. Bangladesh is a long way from here but we are all guilty of Hena's death if we don't do something about it. That is why we are socialists.

Who owns the North Pole part 28

Yet another in this seemingly endless Arctic saga to control and dominate the North Pole.

Russia is going to deploy a special motorized infantry brigade in its Arctic sector in 2011, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

The brigade will be deployed in the Kola Peninsula in the western part of Arctic but would be responsible for operations in the whole Arctic region. The new Arctic brigade will be created on the grounds of an existing motorized infantry brigade and will be based in the town of Pechenga near Russia-Norway border.

Earlier, Russia's Security Council approved the fundamental principles of the national Arctic policy until 2020. This document envisioned deployment of the armed forces in the region, capable to maintain security in various military-political conditions.

feeding the world

Lord Rees, the astronomer royal and controversial winner of last week’s equally controversial Templeton Prize, has a much more benign and optimistic vision for 2050.

“A population of nine billion can be supported and fed on the Earth,” he said.“They can’t all live like modern-day Americans, but they can be supported. By applying the best techniques, better transport and refrigeration, it shouldn’t be too difficult to feed nine billion. So one shouldn’t be too alarmist. If there are problems, it will be about mismanagement. Like poverty, it’s more about lack of will than ability to sort it out.”

The caring unpaid over-worked angels

Nurses are "propping up" the health service by consistently working over their contracted hours and providing last-minute shift cover.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotlandfound just one in 10 nurses feel they have good staffing levels where they work. 96% of nurses reported working in excess of their contracted hours, with a quarter saying they did so every shift. One in six said they rarely or never took the breaks to which they were entitled. 29% said they missed their meal time at work at least three times a week. One in five nurses said that in the last six months they had spent a week or more at work despite feeling too ill to be there. Another 29% said they provided last-minute cover for absentee staff at least on a fortnightly basis.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland said there were "serious concerns" for patient care in the NHS

DOOMED OR SAVED?

Away back in 1904 a group of men and women organised to bring about a new society based on common ownership. They were members of the working class they worked for a living. Their only income was a wage or a salary. Needless to say their activities and ideas were never reported in the press. They still are not But what about this group of fruitcases? "The end of the world is nigh; 21 May, to be precise. That's the date when Harold Camping, a preacher from Oakland, California, is confidently predicting the Second Coming of the Lord. At about 6pm, he reckons 2 per cent of the world's population will be immediately "raptured" to Heaven; the rest of us will get sent straight to the Other Place." (Independent, 27 March)  This nonsense gets across to people unlike the rational view of those workers because it suits the owning class's interests. It should be noted that the crazy religious mob we refer to have assets of $120 million, we are skint. R…

Don't bet on the GGs

With the endorsement of the Socialist Party Scotland (Committee for a Workers’ International), the Socialist Workers Party and Sheridans's Solidarity, George Galloway will head the Glasgow list under the humbly named ‘George Galloway (Respect) - Coalition Against Cuts’ in the upcoming Scottish parliament elections. Once mor we witness the personality of the cult developing. Charismatic politicians have a propensity to capture public worship either through making articulate speeches or wearing fine suits. Galloway has a gift of making fine speeches and a flair for fashion. This emphasis upon the individual has been an increasing symptom of the emptiness of capitalist politics. The emptier the politics, the bigger the personalities.

The leaders we are asked to support, and sometimes choose between, are a myth, created and maintained by--leaders. They are poor examples of honesty, integrity, even of humanity. They are not interested in truth, justice, or any of the grand notions they …

MONEY AND MADNESS

It is  said that power and money can turn people mad and their seems to be a couple of recent examples of that notion. First of all we have the Lybian dictator Gaddafi declaring "My people love me" as the the country explodes in a civil war and the following crazy declaration of the balding, ageing and the far from handsome but immensely rich prime minister of Italy Silvio Berlusconi. "When asked if they would like to have sex with me, 30% of women said "Yes", while the other 70% replied, "What, again?" (Sunday Times, 3 April) RD

A THATCHER NIGHTMARE

Margaret Thatcher like all previous, present and future prime ministers of Britain was an enthusiastic supporter of capitalism. She depicted capitalism as a "property owning democracy" as her government rushed to sell off council homes. Today such a boast about capitalism must seem somewhat empty to thousands of workers who find themselves the victims of this "property owning democracy". According to the Centre for Economic and Business Research the statistics would seem to suggest that this particular Thatcher dream about capitalism has turned into a nightmare. "650,000 households are struggling to pay the mortgage. 117,000 people are in arrears." (Sunday Times, 3 April) RD

Food for Thought

In the Obscene and Heard category – as Yemen struggles to get rid of its President/dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was about to hand absolute power to his son, as a king would, The Toronto Star reported (26/March/2011) his speech, " We in leadership, we don't want power, but we need to hand it over to trustful hands, not to sick, hateful, corrupt collaborator hands." Astounding nerve, even for his clique of rogues, thieves, and murderers.
In the UK, angry demonstrators occupied dozens of bank branches in protest of government cuts to people services such as cuts to laundry service for the elderly, to daycares, to libraries, while banks, as in Canada, make incredible profits and pay miniscule taxes. For example, Barclays paid $177CA million against an astonishing year's profit of $18.2 billion. Unfortunately, the group says it is not against taxes, they just want the banks to pay their fair share. They will have to come up with a much better alternative …

Food for Thought

Poverty is endemic in the 'Third World", as everyone knows. It is just as evident in the rich First World. According to http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/02/21-5, in the US, the richest nation, six million lost their jobs in the recent recession, 25 million are underemployed, $8 trillion was lost in the housing/mortgage crisis, one quarter of all mortgages are underwater (owe more than the value of the house), 50 million live in poverty, one eighth of the population are on food stamps, one half of all children will be in food stamps sometime in their lifetime.
In Canada, three million live in poverty and the latest blueprint to reduce the problem produced by the House of Commons, was dismissed outright by Tory minister of Human Resources, Diane Finlay, as the party's strategy of growing the economy will take care of it. A rising tide lifts all boats, trickle down effect etc. etc. etc. and on forever.
In China, that land of endless booming economy, have the …