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Showing posts from June, 2011

feather-bedded and gold-plated

Ian Bell, the Herald's columnist has written a useful article about the attcks on state workers pensions. He points out that public sector pensions account for 1.5% of GDP. By 2027-28, the percentage is projected to rise all the way to an “unsustainable” 2%. It also takes no account of the effect of shedding half a million jobs thanks to George Osborne’s 2010 spending review.

"A reformer was invariably someone who wanted to make a bad situation better. Not any more. In the mouths of politicians these days, reform is a word meant to give credibility to changes that are liable to be unpleasant, unpopular, or both...When you are told you will have to work longer, pay more and receive less in old age for your pains, it’s little comfort to hear that your lot has been “reformed”..."

Negotiations are at an end even as the talking continues is the position, it seems, of Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury, who will defend his “fair and reasonable” proposals, of the p…

who owns the north pole - part 32

Efforts are being made to sign a common treaty on the Arctic citing the kind of treaty on the Antarctic. But experts invariably pointed out that the situation in the Arctic is altogether different. The Antarctic is no man’s land, and there is no economic activity under way there. Meanwhile in the Arctic, some countries border on the ocean, and there are two-way treaties, and international law provisions regulating the situation. The European Union can access the Arctic Ocean via Greenland only. The five countries that border on the Arctic Ocean are the United States, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Russia. Denmark is an EU member-nation that owns Greenland, - the world’s biggest island. Even the countries with no immediate access to the Arctic Ocean, such countries as Japan and South Korea, technologies are being developed full steam to produce oil and gas from under ice cover.

The Arctic shelf is the area that contains the greatest oil and gas deposits in the world. Oil and gas giants are…

LAW AND DISORDER

We are used to reading of gallant and dedicated police officers rounding up criminals and packing them of to prison, but what are we to make of this news item? "Members of Orlando Food Not Bombs were arrested Wednesday when police said they violated a city ordinance by feeding the homeless in Lake Eola Park. Jessica Cross, 24, Benjamin Markeson, 49, and Jonathan "Keith" McHenry, 54, were arrested at 6:10 p.m. on a charge of violating the ordinance restricting group feedings in public parks. McHenry is a co-founder of the international Food Not Bombs movement, which began in the early 1980s." (Orlando Sentinel, 2 June) Feeding the homeless? What a despicable crime. Truly capitalism is a crazy society. RD

A DOG'S LIFE

From time to time newspapers run obituaries of famous men and women but we had one recently for a dog! It was a rather special mutt though. You see it was a millionaire. The Maltese dog called Trouble had been left $12 million by the New York hotel mogul Leona Helmsley. "Legal battles ensued and a judge cut Trouble's inheritance to $2 million. She was placed with Carl Lekic, the general manager of the Helmsley Sandcastle Hotel, in Florida, who had played with her many times. He was paid $5,000 a month for the privilege. He told the trustees that Trouble required $100,000 a year for a security guard (the dog had received many death and kidnapping threats). $18,000 for vet costs, $1,200 for food and $8,000 for grooming." (Times, 10 June) All this insanity is happening in a world where millions are trying to survive on $1.25 a day.RD

Fear and loathing in Glasgow

Taken from here

In Glasgow a stabbing occurs every six hours - and many more go unreported. Survey after survey, from the World Health Organisation to the United Nations, identifies Glasgow as one of the most violent cities in western Europe. Among young males aged between 10 and 29, the rate of homicide is similar to Argentina, Costa Rica and Lithuania. Alcohol-related death rates are three times the British average while Scots have one of the lowest life expectancies in Europe. Three-quarters of all weapons crimes in Scotland occur in the Strathclyde policing district in and around Glasgow. Between 5000 and 6000 are recorded each year and more than 2200 hospital beds are taken up with the victims.

The nightmare is constant, a cycle of violence that each weekend sees the alcoholic and drug addicted, chronically unemployed and angry, the young and the old, take to the streets armed with knives, machetes and even samurai swords to battle the demons of disillusionment - and each other.

&qu…

THE CLASS DIVIDE

When socialist speak of class division we are often accused of being outdated, but here are recent figures that prove our point. "Last year was another good year for millionaires - though their pace of growth is slowing. According to a new report by Boston Consulting Group out today, the number of millionaire households in the world grew by 12.2% in 2010, to 12.5 million. (BCG defines millionaires as those with $1 million or more in investible assets, excluding homes, luxury goods and ownership in one's own company). The U.S. continues to lead the world in millionaires, with 5.2 million millionaire households, followed by Japan with 1.5 million millionaire households, China with 1.1 million and the U.K. with 570,000. ...The most important trend, however, is the global wealth distribution. According to the report, the world's millionaires represent 0.9% of the world's population but control 39% of the world's wealth, up from 37% in 2009." (Wall Str…

Who owns the North Pole - Part 31

No country owns the geographic North Pole or the region of the Arctic Ocean surrounding it. The surrounding Arctic states that border the Arctic Ocean — Russia, Norway, the United States, Canada and Denmark (via Greenland) — are limited to a 200 nautical miles economic zone around their coasts. Nations will and can fight.

Canada is investing $100 million over five years (2008-2013) in its new Geo-mapping for Energy and Minerals (GEM) program to provide the geoscience knowledge necessary for private sector exploration companies to guide investment decisions.

Norway’s foreign minister has been quoted as saying regular military flights by the Russians up and down Norway's coast had helped to justify the purchase of four new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter combat aircraft to the Norwegian public.

http://thenelsondaily.com/news/issues/next-battle-ground-oil-rich-arctic-region-11940

The poor die younger in Glasgow

Average life expectancy for both sexes in greater Glasgow is lower than in Albania and nearer to that of the Palestinian territories than to the wealthier London boroughs. Residents of Kensington and Chelsea will live more than a decade longer than those from Glasgow.

Age Concern UK expressed regret at the continuing variations. Director Michelle Mitchell said:"As the state pension rises to 66 by 2020, it is people living in poorer areas with lower life expectancies who will see their retirements cut short."

“In just four years the difference between the life expectancy of women in Notting Hill and those in Glasgow has increased by two whole years,”said TUC chief, Brenden Barber in response to the growing inequality. “Women living in the poorest areas will lose significantly more of their retirement years than those living in wealthy Britain.”

Dr Simon Szreter, professor of history and public policy at Cambridge University, said: "Life expectancy has a longstandin…

A plague upon both houses

With a referendum looming in the future, once again Socialist Courier declares its policy:-
The world-wide working class has a common interest, to end its exploitation and solve its problems, to join together to establish a world without frontiers in which the resources of the planet will have become the heritage of all, so that there can be production to meet needs and not for profit. One world, one people, where cultural differences will still be celebrated, but where we’ll all be citizens of the world. It is clear, then, why socialists don’t take sides in the debate about whether it is better for workers there to be ruled from Edinburgh or from London.

The SNP argues that the problems facing workers in Scotland are due to “Westminster rule”. If only there was an independent Scotland, they say, separate from the rest of Britain, then there would be full employment, higher wages, job security, better state benefits, a healthy health service and all the other things politicians promi…

THE UNCARING SOCIETY

There are many examples of how heartless capitalist society is. Millions starving while food is destroyed to keep up prices, people being denied the basics of human survival while billionaires exult in their obscene wealth. However even by capitalism's heartless treatment of the poor and vulnerable the following must rank as amongst the most bestial."The Government has ordered an urgent review into the "inhumane" abuse of people with learning disabilities at a residential hospital filmed by BBC Panorama. Police arrested four people after secret filming showed vulnerable adults at Winterbourne View, in Bristol, being punched, slapped and taunted by carers." (Daily Telegraph, 1 June) Needless to say all these victims came from families who could not afford the lavish treatment enjoyed by the owning class.RD

poverty porn

Last year Socialist Courierposted about The Scheme now the Onthank housing scheme in Kilmarnock, featured in the BBC Scotland's documentary series The Scheme has become a tourist destination.

At one point residents erected a sign charging "all scheme tourists £1 entry" - with a view to erecting a children's playground with the proceeds (only for East Ayrshire Council to haul it down within hours as illegal "fly-tipping" and as one resident said the fastest response to dumping "rubbish" ever recorded in the scheme.)

"The reason we put up the first sign is you will pay to go into a zoo or safari park, and they are coming here likes it's a safari park but with human beings on show. That's why we put up the sign, as a joke,"saidKaren McLean

Author and social commentator Peter York said it was understandable that the television programme would draw in spectators: "...the white working class has become the one group that can be baite…