Saturday, March 31, 2012
PORCHES AND POVERTY
PROMISES AND PROFITS
Weir the people
Cochrane received a £625,000 salary and £975,000 bonus as part of a £1.62m package, up from £1.26m the previous year.
Finance director Jon Stanton will receive a 5 per cent rise to £420,000 from next month. For last year Stanton received a £392,500 salary and £400,000 bonus as part of an £806,957 package, up from £732,573.
Legal and commercial director Alan Mitchelson, who is standing down at the forthcoming AGM, received a £344,127 salary and £350,000 bonus as part of a £708,584 package, up from £665,887.
Friday, March 30, 2012
GOOD AND BAD NEWS
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Hibernian managing director Fife Hyland said the demands of broadcasters had been too easily allowed to outweigh the interests of supporters, particularly when it came to deciding kick-off times. “We know TV is important to Scottish football but it’s not the be all and end all,” he said.
For many of the Scottish football clubs , match-day receipts remain several times greater than income from broadcasting. For example, in their last published accounts, for the year to July 2010, Hearts revealed that their matchday revenues were more than two and a half times greater than their income from broadcasting. Their income from TV was £1.5million, while that from matches (gate receipts plus smaller associated items such as programme sales) was £3.9m. There is an even greater disparity across the city Hibs are understood to take in around four times more from match-days than they do from broadcasting.
The Old Firm, Rangers (presently insolvent) and Celtic dominate Scottish football. A new £80m TV contract with Sky and ESPN, is dependent on the provision of four Old Firm fixtures a season and shows the importance of Rangers and Celtic. The ten non-Old Firm clubs in the SPL want to change the league’s voting structure, which at present requires an 11-1 majority for substantial changes to be passed. Dunfermline chairman John Yorkston said that he would urge the ten to resign if Rangers and Celtic continued to block democratisation of the rules on voting. The Old Firm have historically shown their ability both to ignore the common good where there is a buck to be made, and so it was to prove again.
Managers and directors of the ten have begun to make it clear that a future without the Old Firm was not only an option, but might even be preferable. Fans will see their departure as a chance for real competition to be returned to an SPL championship
one law for the rich , another for the poor
Forestry Commission Scotland also objected, warning authorities that were the scheme to go ahead, it would ruin an area of ancient woodland and was in direct contravention of planning policies.
As part of the local authority’s decision to approve the plans for the new properties, Gloag will pay a £12,790 “education contribution” fee as a condition of the planning permission. The money will be used to fund improvements and increase pupil capacity at the nearby Kinnoull Primary School.
Socialist Courier wonders what does constitutes a bribe?
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
MONEY AND MORALITY
Pollution in several residential areas of Glasgow has reached potentially deadly levels. All the air quality monitors in the city are exceeding the maximum level for particulate pollution – one of the most dangerous forms with microscopic particles which can cause breathing and blood problems as well as increased risk of heart attacks.
Chris Connor, air quality specialist at the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, said "There is a particular concern about young children and toddlers in buggies as they're at a similar height to exhausts where the cocktail of pollutants is at its highest concentrations."
Broomhill Drive, Byres Road, Nithsdale Road and Battlefield Road are among the worst affected, with most of the pollution thought to be caused by buses, cars and taxis.
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
POLITICS AND PAYBACK
POLITICS AND PAPACY
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that the average American throws away 33 pounds of food each month — that’s nearly 400 pounds each year. Food waste makes up nearly 14% of American families’ trash. Americans toss more food in their garbage cans than plastic products. This waste includes both leftover cooked foods, and food that was purchased but allowed to spoil without being eaten. The foods most commonly discarded without ever being eaten include fresh produce, eggs and fish.
Farmers, packaged food producers and retailers all waste edible food, too. Farmers may throw away excess produce that cannot be sold; food process may discard edible byproducts; grocery stores often reject or discard produce with minor defects. And at any point along the food supply chain, failure to deliver food promptly or store food properly may lead to spoilage.
Agriculture and food production are highly energy-intensive industries. Industrialized farms use petrochemicals to fertilize soil, and fossil fuels to power farm equipment. Transporting food from field to plate consumes even more energy. According to the a report issued by the UN FAO in November 2011, the food sector accounts for nearly 30 percent of the world’s energy consumption. Wasted food, essentially, is wasted energy. And wasted water, too: the international Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reports that agriculture accounts for roughly 70 percent of human water consumption. Beyond the substantial environmental impact of the wasted energy and water represented by wasted food, food waste contributes significantly to global climate change when it decomposes in landfills. When left to decompose in natural conditions or in a compost pile, food waste naturally releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. But under unnatural landfill conditions, in the absence of air, most food waste undergoes anaerobic decomposition, which results in the production of large amounts of methane gas instead. Though both carbon dioxide and methane are greenhouse gases that can contribute to climate change, EPA scientists estimate that methane gas is 20 times more efficient at trapping the sun’s heat than carbon dioxide — making excess methane much more dangerous to the climate than excess CO2. Landfills are currently the third-largest source of methane in the United States, producing more of the dangerous greenhouse gas than coal mining or crude oil production. And much of the methane in landfills comes from decomposing food waste.
Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/while-children-starve-up-to-half-of-the-worlds-food-goes-to-waste.html#ixzz1qIF2NUnI
Monday, March 26, 2012
AN EXPENSIVE DINNER
Facts and fiction 2
One confusion is to talk about average and median wages. The red line is the average income, and the black bar (5th decile) shows where the 'middle earner' lies. Our middle earner earns £26,200, which gives us a good idea of what a typical worker might earn. The average pay is £32,800, however around 60 per cent of full time workers earn less than this. This is the effect of a skewed balance towards higher earners.
Another common factor for confusion is between talking about individuals and households. The average UK household earns £517 a week. However only around 40 per cent of households earn more than this. The middle (the median) household, earns £413.
The "average" wage-earner and are relatively high-earning compared to most of us. The picture of what is clearer when we look to the middle rather than the average.
Sunday, March 25, 2012
FACT AND FICTION
Socialist Courier wonders just how many countries national anthems fall under that classification. "But we can still rise now And be the nation again!" A call for rebellion in Flower of Scotland? And verse 6 of God Save the Queen? "Lord grant that Marshal Wade, May by thy mighty aid, Victory bring, May he sedition hush And like a torrent rush, Rebellious Scots to crush"
Hibs fans Andrew Whitson and Paul Swanbecame the first people to be convicted under the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act last week when they admitted singing songs that were “of a racially derogative nature” on a train between Ayr and Glasgow. They were fined a combined £380.
This offer of influence was made even though Cruddas knew the money would come from a fund in Liechtenstein that was not eligible to make donations under electoral law. Options said to have been discussed included creating a British subsidiary or using UK employees as conduits. The overseas clients were, in fact, reporters posing as wealth fund executives who had made clear they wished to develop contacts with the prime minister and other senior ministers to further their business. The Sunday Times claims to have hired Sarah Southern, a former Cameron aide now working as a lobbyist, who advised that making a "huge donation" was the best way to gain access to senior government figures.
Saturday, March 24, 2012
As far back as 2008, China agreed a deal to develop the Aynak copper mine in Logar province. This is said to be the world's second largest deposit of high-grade copper. The Afghan National Police has deployed 1,500 officers to guard the mine. As part of its agreement to develop a massive copper mine in Aynak, the China Metallurgical Group Corporation (MCC) is being asked to build a 575-mile railway from the mine, south-east of Kabul. One branch would head to the Pakistani border, another in the opposite direction through the capital and connecting with the new Hairatan line in the north. The deals are not confined to minerals. In late December, China's state-owned National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) won a contract for three oil fields in Zamarudsay, Kashkari, and Bazarkhami in the northern provinces of Sari Pul and Faryab, which will make it the first foreign company to exploit Afghan-istan's oil and natural gas reserves. The intention is that CNPC will build a refinery within three years, and this will be guarded by dedicated units of Afghan police and army.
Chinese state firms have also been involved with seven infrastructure projects, including roads in Kondoz and Jalalabad. They have also won contracts for telecommunications systems in Kandahar and Kabul. And last year, the Asian Development Bank announced it had allocated more than $200m for the development of the gas wells of Sheberghan, and an attendant pipeline.
Italy, Turkey and Germany are also actively pursuing deals. PricewaterhouseCoopers is advising the Ministry of Mines in Kabul, and the US bank JP Morgan is active, having put together a consortium that won rights to the Qara Zaghan gold deposits. An Indian consortium has secured the rights to two blocks in the huge Hajigak iron ore field, the other block going to a Canadian firm. The Afghan government is also negotiating with the Indian-led consortium that won the contract for the equally huge iron deposits at Tajigak in central Afghanistan for the companies to fund a 560-mile railroad – likely through Iran – to bring out the heavy ore. India will also contribute to the establishment of an Institute of Mines in Kabul, and last October signed a strategic partnership with Afghanistan.
China, Iran, Pakistan and India all have government or corporate plans for separate rail projects across Afghanistan. Turkmenistan is completing its own plans for another line, and it was Uzbekistan that built the first major rail link, a 47-mile line from the border town of Hairatan to Mazar-i-Sharif in the north of Afghanistan. "We would be able to import and export to Russia, Turkey, and even European countries," says Noor Gul Mangal, Afghanistan's deputy public works minister. Opening new transport gateways would also reduce Afghanistan's dependence on neighbouring Pakistan as its only link to sea ports.
Brazil, along with India, has long led the way in the lucrative global market in human hair. In the past few years, demand from UK businesses for human hair extensions has increased significantly, according to industry reports. The UK is now the third-largest buyer of human hair worldwide, behind the US and mainland China.
"As the demand outweighs supply, the price for the hair has increased. Which is one reason more people consider selling their hair as it is now considered a valuable commodity." says Emma Furlong, spokesperson for the UK's biggest supplier of wigs to the NHS, Trendco
Quality is an important factor. What is known as "virgin hair" - hair that has not has any treatments or colouring - is the most sought-after. A lot of Indian hair - known as remy hair - falls into that category, and has long been popular in the US, China, the UK and other parts of Europe. Ninety-five per cent of human hair is imported. In terms of Europe, a lot of it is sourced in Poland and Italy. Recently, however, there has been an increase in the appetite for "European hair". Trendco, says there is a shortage of the "softer" European kind. "European hair is finer in density and texture than Asian hair and so is very popular for human hair wigs and extensions, especially in EU countries where this integrates better with a client's own hair," says Emma Furlong. It is difficult to get natural, adult hair that is blonde. About 90% of the world's population has dark brown hair and the rarity of the hair colour will dictate the price. Blonde hair can cost up to three times as much as dark hair. The price for 100g of blonde, European hair is about £1,000. Graham Wake, owner of Bloomsbury Wigs in central London, says he has noticed a two-fold increase in the number of people from the UK selling their hair for money.
Human hair can be used to make an additive that is found in foods such as the dough for pizza crusts and bagels. It is a rich source of L-cysteine, an amino acid that can be extracted from hair and used as a flavour enhancer or flour improver. It is sometimes listed as E920 on food packaging. As well as being found in dough it can be used to give food a meat-like flavour, especially in dog food. Ten to 15 years ago human hair was a main source of L-cysteine, mainly produced in China. As more people found out where L-cysteine came from they thought 'yuck, human hair, don't fancy that'. More Chinese people also started perming their hair, which made extracting the amino acid more difficult. Now L-cysteine comes mainly from chicken and duck feathers, which can be collected in larger quantities than hair. In recent years it has also started to be manufactured synthetically.
Friday, March 23, 2012
Docs Get Ready to Fight
Dr Dean Marshall, outgoing chairman of the BMA's Scottish General Practitioners Committee, said doctors north of the Border had been let down by Holyrood's inaction and the Scottish Government's "complicity" with Westminster on the issue.
Dr Marshall said: "Is it fair for NHS staff to be taxed for the Government's failures to properly regulate the banking sector? And while the Scottish Government argues it does not agree with these plans it appears to be going along with the UK Government and is therefore complicit in taxing public-sector workers for the failures of the private sector. Scottish ministers could seek to do something different and I urge them again to find that solution – not just invite us to new talks"
Dr Marshall said doctors were unhappy that pension reforms were being "foisted" on them just four years after they agreed substantial changes to their package.
He added: "We agreed to tiered contributions where higher earners contributed more than lower paid workers. We agreed to the increased retirement age of 65 and we agreed to a cap on employer contributions so that the taxpayer would not pay for any future shortfall in the scheme. These changes worked and the NHS Pension Scheme is in surplus to the Treasury to the tune of £2 billion, and this is projected to continue into the future."
Taken for a ride
The Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers union (RMT) said franchise holder ScotRail paid dividends of £18 million in 2010, £18m in 2009, £17m in 2008 and £21m in 2007.
"In two of these years, ScotRail actually paid more in dividends than it made in profit, leading to the obvious conclusion that because it does not contribute anything towards investment in the railway or rail infrastructure, and with the level of Government subsidy even covering its track access charges, it is simply milking Scotland's railway."
Thursday, March 22, 2012
HEALTH AND HYPOCRISY
ART AND AUSTERITY
THE PRICE OF PLATINUM
Music to their ears
work til you drop
John Lawson, head of pension policy at Standard Life, said a child born this year may have to work through their seventies.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
WINNERS AND LOSERS
THIS IS CAPITALISM
HUNGRY FOR PROFITS
Countries like Germany and Poland outlaw the “gavage” method of feeding, while California prohibits the sale of foie gras. the European Union has planned to stop, from 2019 onward, the production of this traditional cuisine. Currently, Hungary, which used to be the second-biggest producer, has gradually decreased its output. Israel, another major producer in the past, has also discontinued its production. Last year, some French foie gras producers were shut out at the Cologne International Food Fair.
So it is not altogether surprising that production is shifting eastward to China. The world’s biggest goose farm and foie gras factory will soon be established on the banks of Poyang Lake, Jiangxi Province, China. The American investment company Creek Project is said to be putting $100 million into the venture. The planned Poyang Lake project will raise around two million geese and eight million ducks annually. China already produces an estimated 1,000 tons of foie gras per year, double its output in 2006. France still remains No. 1 with about 20,000 tons a year.
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Bruce - the invader
Bruce, like all his family, had a complete belief in his right to the throne. However his actions of supporting alternately the English and Scottish armies had led to a great deal of distrust towards Bruce among the “Community of the Realm of Scotland”. His ambition was further thwarted by John Comyn, known simply as the Red Comyn and another lord of Norman origin. English records still in existence today state that the Comyn murder was planned in an attempt to gain the throne of Scotland. For this reason King Edward of England wrote to the Pope and asked for his excommunication of Robert Bruce. Barely seven weeks after Comyn was killed in Dumfries, Bruce was crowned King of Scots
Bruce's struggle for the Scottish crown wasn't an enterprise born of patriotism. Bruce's motives appear to be slightly more self-serving than that. The ascension of his family to royalty seemed more central to his long-term plans than Scottish liberation from English rule.
The facts speak for themselves. Both Bruce and his father supported Edward I's invasion of Scotland in 1296, hoping to gain the crown after Balliol's fall. They were understandably disappointed when Edward proceeded to install himself as king. In 1297, Bruce, encouraged by Bishop Wishart, raised the standard of revolt at Irvine (the reason why he was absent at the Battle of Stirling Bridge). However, the rising failed and Bruce, rather than join Wallace after the Scots victory at Stirling Bridge, kept a low profile until he could determine what the English reaction would be. Bruce was also absent at the Battle of Falkirk, in which Wallace's army was devastated, but seems to have made an effort to help by burning the town of Ayr in order to deny it to the English as they returned south.
In 1298, after the Scots defeat at Falkirk, Bruce and John Comyn replaced Wallace as Guardians of Scotland. They soon quarrelled however, Comyn being a supporter of Balliol's claim to the throne, and Bruce was 'replaced' a year later. He continued to fight on until it seemed Balliol was about to return, then, once again, he submitted to the English king, hoping for recognition of his claim to the throne. So Bruce wasn't adverse to switching sides in pursuit of his goal, and this wasn't irregular practice amongst noblemen in pursuit of power at the time. The rhetoric of the Declaration of Arbroath, 22 years later – "For as long as a hundred of us remain alive, we shall never on any conditions be subjected to the lordship of the English" – was never Bruce's rhetoric, for he had appealed to English lordship on more than one occasion.
In the early 14th century, Ireland was divided between Irish dynasties and Anglo-Irish lords who ruled parts of Ireland. The Dark Age Kings of Alba had been intensely proud of their Gaelic-Irish origin and Bruce wrote as king asking them to free "our nation" (meaning both Scots and Irish) from English rule. Edward Bruce may also have had a reasonable claim to the Irish high kingship. He was supported by Ireland's most powerful king, Domnall Ua Neill, a kinsman of Robert and Edward through their maternal grandfather. Robert appealed to the native Irish to rise against Edward II's rule, and some have seen this as a cynical manipulation of Gaelic sentimentalism. Bruce popularised an ideological vision of a "Pan-Gaelic Greater Scotia" with his lineage ruling over both Ireland and Scotland. This propaganda campaign was aided by two factors. The first was his marriage alliance from 1302 with the de Burgh family of the Earldom of Ulster in Ireland; second, Bruce himself on his mother's side of Carrick, was descended from Gaelic royalty in Scotland as well as Ireland. Bruce's Irish ancestors included Eva of Leinster (d.1188), whose ancestors included Brian Boru of Munster and the kings of Leinster. Thus, lineally and geopolitically, Bruce attempted to support his anticipated notion of a pan-Gaelic alliance between Scottish-Irish Gaelic populations, under his kingship. This is revealed by a letter he sent to the Irish chiefs, where he calls the Scots and Irish collectively nostra nacio (our nation), stressing the common language, customs and heritage of the two peoples:
"Whereas we and you and our people and your people, free since ancient times, share the same national ancestry and are urged to come together more eagerly and joyfully in friendship by a common language and by common custom, we have sent you our beloved kinsman, the bearers of this letter, to negotiate with you in our name about permanently strengthening and maintaining inviolate the special friendship between us and you, so that with God's will our nation (nostra nacio) may be able to recover her ancient liberty."
The diplomacy worked to a certain extent, at least in Ulster, where the Scots had some support. The Irish chief, Donal O'Neil, for instance, later justified his support for the Scots to Pope John XXII by saying "the Kings of Lesser Scotia all trace their blood to our Greater Scotia and retain to some degree our language and customs."
However, the Scots failed to win over the non-Ulster chiefs, or to make any other significant gains in the south of the island, where people couldn't see the difference between English and Scottish occupation. The Irish Annals of the period described the defeat of the Bruces by the English as one of the greatest things ever done for the Irish nation due to the fact it brought an end to the famine and pillaging brought on the Irish by both the Scots and the English. Edward Bruce's bid for the high kingship ended when he was slain in 1318 at the Battle of Faughart .
The whole expedition does show, however, just how ambitious the Bruce family were. The attack on English-ruled Ireland could be perceived as ploy to split English forces and, hence, better defend Scotland, but Edward Bruce did have a serious ambition to rule Ireland as the King. Would the Bruces have stopped at Ireland and Scotland? Or would Wales have been their next target, in a sort of United Celtic Kingdom?
PROFITS AND POLLUTION
EDUCATION AND NUTRITION
EDUCATION AND EXPLOITATION
who owns the sea-side?
“The point is to conserve these assets and maximise the benefits to the island and coastal communities most closely involved with them.The only way this can be done is by devolving as much of the responsibility – and benefit – down to those local communities as possible.”
Socialist Courier previously but briefly touched upon this subject when it highlighted the continued existence of the Viking-derived Udal law found in Shetland. Scottish Courts have acknowledged the supremacy of Udal law in property cases and in particular about shore ownership rights, where it declared that the Shetland community owns the sea and seabed around its isles. The Crown Estate had to admit the supremacy of Udal Law.
The old neglected again
The RCN warned there was a danger that “care becomes compromised” and said that many nurses say “they are too busy to provide the standard of care they would like”. The report said: “Older people in Scotland are being let down by a lack of professionally qualified nurses in hospitals, despite nationally agreed planning for the nursing workforce. Despite older people often having the most complex needs, the evidence suggests that they regularly suffer from a severe shortage of nurses and healthcare support workers (HCSWs), coupled with an inappropriate skill mix of HCSWs to nurses."
The RCN called for a “patient guarantee” to set out the number of nurses needed on older people’s wards.
It emerged the number of nurses in Scotland’s hospitals plummeted by thousands in just over two years, with further nursing posts lost during the last few months of 2011. The RCN said the number of nursing and midwifery staff employed in Scotland had fallen by 2,190 between September 2009 and the end of 2011.
According to the RCN Scotland director, Theresa Fyffe, the number of nurses employed was at a six-year low. She said: “As health boards come under increasing financial pressure to deliver the same services to more and more people, they are saving money when nurses leave by not replacing them or by replacing them with nurses and healthcare support workers at lower-paid bands."
The charity Age Scotland demanded dramatic improvements to care services in the community, to keep older people “safe and out of hospital”.
Sunday, March 18, 2012
Last week the Environment Agency warned parts of England were facing a drought this year. Seven water companies have announced hosepipe bans in the southeast from next month. It is not just the southeast of England that is short of water. According to the latest United Nations (UN) water report, published last week, there are a billion people across the world who do not have access to safe drinking water, and the number is rising.
Droughts and water shortages are common across large parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Two-thirds of the Arab region's available surface water originates from outside of the region, leading to many conflicts with upstream countries. Experts have often predicted that "water wars" will break out in the Middle East as nations struggle to feed their people and water becomes scarcer. At the UN World Water Forum in France, the former Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev, warned there was no substitute for water. "The deficit of fresh water is becoming increasingly severe and large scale," he said. "Continuation of water consumption at 20th-century rates is no longer possible."
In his book, Peak Water, Scottish writer and a political adviser to the Scottish Government, Alexander Bell imagines the decimation of Dubai, leaving hundreds of thousands dead. "The great monument to 21st-century civilization lies in ruins, shattered into the sand like so many before," he wrote. "Not long before the world had fought over oil, but now water is the prize."
In another scenario, he has both Chicago and Toronto smashed into "twisted steel and broken concrete" after a war between the US and Canada over access to water. Canada is one of the wettest countries in the world, but the US is growing short of water, partly because it consumes two and half times more per person than Europe. Debates have raged for decades over whether Canada should sell water to its southern neighbours. The US problem is illustrated by Las Vegas. To sustain the city's two million people, water is brought 1400 miles from the Rockies by the Colorado River via a vast artificial lake created by the Hoover Dam. "This may be a sure case of ecocide," observed Bell. "Las Vegas can only die, and within our lifetimes, because the water supply is running out."
Even in Europe, as many as 120 million people lack access to safe drinking water. "Water resources are under pressure in many parts of Europe, and it is getting worse," warned Jacqueline McGlade, the executive director of the European Environment Agency, based in Copenhagen. "With climate change making water supply less predictable, it is extremely important that Europe uses water more efficiently for the benefit of all its users. Water resources should be managed as effectively as any other natural asset owned by countries." Farmers, who use about a quarter of Europe's water, need to adopt less wasteful ways of watering their crops like "drip irrigation" , she said
Large parts of Spain, France, Ireland and the southeast of England are shown to have "extreme water stress". The whole of Italy and other parts of France, Spain and England are said to be enduring "water stress", while Scotland has "no stress".
First Minister Alex Salmond views Scotland's water is a natural resource with the potential to swell the national coffers by selling it to England. Salmond suggested that Scotland could help alleviate the long-term shortages. "..you would sell it on...as an ongoing commercial transaction." The Scottish Government said Scottish Water could make a profit out of selling water to England. But the idea of selling water to England has run into criticism from other experts, who warn that it would be impractical, polluting and expensive. "It is not simple," said Dr Jon Hargreaves, chief of Scottish Water for six years until 2007 and now chair of the British Waterways Scotland Group. "Ultimately, it depends on the market.
Chris Spray, a professor at Dundee University's water centre and a former director of environmental science at the Scottish Environment Protection Agency explained that it raised a series of difficult questions about ecological damage, costs and ownership. Dr Sarah Hendry, another Dundee University specialist said exporting water would also mean that you would have to turn it into a commercial commodity, which would open up the difficult political issue of who should own and benefit from Scotland's water. Scotland's water has no legal owner.
Saturday, March 17, 2012
PUBLIC MEETING ADMISSION FREE
We don't micro-credit it
Mohamed Yunus, the Nobel Peace Prize winning economist, hopes to raise £1m ($1.56m) in coming months to open the first European branch of his Grameen Bank in Glasgow by the end of the summer. Under its business plan for Glasgow, which will be overseen by experienced managers from Bangladesh, Grameen expects to raise £3m over three years and lend an average of £1,000 to 1,500 borrowers at an interest rate of 19.8% a year.
Rushanara Ali, the Labour Party’s spokeswoman for international development, welcomed the symbolism of experts coming from a developing country to share their knowledge “If they’ve got solutions that work somewhere else, it doesn’t do us any harm to look at how we adapt them,”
Unfortunately Yunis mico-credit schemes are NOT the panacea for poverty. Thomas Dichter of the Cato Institute - “In Bangladesh, 30 years after Yunus’s invention, poverty statistics are worse than they’ve ever been, so something else is the source of the problem and micro-credit is not helping.”
And Socialist Courier asserts that the source of the problem is property, not the lack of riches. Private property and poverty are twins born of the division of society into classes. To end poverty you have to end private property and wage-slavery.
See our companion blogs related posts.
http://socialismoryourmoneyback.blogspot.com/2010/11/yunis-and-micro-credit-myths.html http://socialismoryourmoneyback.blogspot.com/2011/08/microfinance-fails-poor.html http://socialismoryourmoneyback.blogspot.com/2011/05/poverty-of-micro-finance.html http://socialismoryourmoneyback.blogspot.com/2012/03/micro-credit-bubble.html
Andy Wightman, an authority on land-ownership in Scotland, is calling for answers from ministers and the local council. "This land is crown land. It is Scottish public land. It should be administered by Scottish ministers, as nearly all other historic castles, palaces and royal parks are. No public money should be needed to acquire control of this land, least of all the bulk of Stirling's common good fund. Why...is the Scottish Government sitting idly by while a common good fund is raided to pay for public land that already belongs to us, to be given away to a private golf club for 175 years? It is time to stop this madness."
King's Park Community Council wrote to the council: "In our opinion this is a serious mistake given that the recommendations about to be published in the Scotland Bill give every indication that Crown Estate management in Scotland will be returned to Scottish ministers."
Friday, March 16, 2012
$250 MILLION? CHICKENFEED!
GROWING OLD DISGRACEFULLY
Thursday, March 15, 2012
THE OLYMPIAN SPIRIT?
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in Scotland, with 2700 cases diagnosed every year. It kills two men every day. There are 19,000 Scottish men currently living with the disease.
Last October, Alex Salmond, the First Minister, signed up to a charter calling for better treatment for patients.
The Scottish Medicines Consortium has denied Scottish men a drug that prolongs life. It said the cost of abiraterone at £3000 a month did not justify the health benefits – even though it can extend lives by more that three months .
In a letter to the Scottish government, sufferer John Thomson writes "It is a disgraceful decision, cruel and unjust, that abiraterone is not available simply because of cost. How do you evaluate the cost of drugs against someone’s life?...This drug not only gives men an extra few months but also some quality to those last few months...It is unfair for some people to access the drug and not others. Money should not be an issue."
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
AN EXPENSIVE ROUND
HUNGER IN THE USA
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Monday, March 12, 2012
CAPITALISM IS INTERNATIONAL
Sunday, March 11, 2012
REGRETTABLE FOR SOME
glasgow public meeting
Saturday, March 10, 2012
In the red, Whyte and blue
In a statement, joint administrator Paul Clark said: “The agreement on very substantial wage reductions and voluntary departures from the club represents a major sacrifice by the Rangers players."
Socialist Courier takes this opportunity to clarify why footballers earn so much.
Footballers at least start from the same position as the rest of us: not owning any wealth from which to obtain an unearned income, to obtain what they need to live they have to go out on to the labour market and offer their mental and physical energies for sale. Most professional footballers, working for clubs in the lower divisions or for non-league clubs, never earn anything more than the average worker.
But some, those who play for the top clubs, are paid fabulous amounts of money, by working class standards. What is their income? Is it wages? Not really. It’s more like rent. Rent is paid whenever there is a natural monopoly in something that cannot be increased, normally land, mineral deposits and other natural features that can be employed in production. The rent of land and natural resources is essentially fixed by the paying demand for it. The higher the demand, the higher the rent.
As Arsène Wenger pointed out, “you normally need special qualities to be a strong footballer”. It is these “special qualities – which are a sort of natural resource that cannot be increased – that enable the best footballers to command so high an income, but as rent rather than as the price for the mere sale of their labour power. Their income is so high because the demand for their talents is so high.
Friday, March 09, 2012
MORE BANGS FOR YOUR BUCKS
Thursday, March 08, 2012
Asked if Rangers was in a state to be sold, an administrators source admitted: "There's an awful lot still to be resolved. It is all about who owns what. It doesn't matter whether you are selling a house, or a football club, or a company, you have to know what you're buying."
Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan has described the prospect of Rangers going into liquidation as "a disaster...[and] the news that the club is running out of cash and may be unable to fulfil their fixtures is the final piece of news that will send Rangers fans into despair."
The popularity of football inside capitalism made it an activity much adored by workers often too unfit to play it themselves, but keen to follow the efforts of their local sporting heroes. With the development of capitalism football has just become another business opportunity. Its development more likely to be followed by financial journalists rather than football ones. Football used to be about watching the match, buying a greasy pie and a cup of bovril. But now stadiums are like shopping malls. It is a truism - if not a cliché - that football today is big business.
Every activity that capitalism touches it turns into commodities.
As Rangers football club ails, vultures circle. In a society where common and shared identity count for little when there is a quick buck to be made, it can be no surprise that football has become infested by the sort of parasites whose idea of of a pastime is making money, especially at other people's expense. The market economy creates the conditions in which they can prosper and seize control of assets that communities often mistakenly think are theirs already.
It is time to take the money out of football altogether. And that means abolishing money in all other areas of life.
We live in a world of inequality. That is a natural consequence of the workings of capitalism. Socialists want a world of equality where everybody would have an equal say in the way things are run including our local sporting associations and where there would still be football, but no bankers or stockbrokers dealing in a football club's future, that being determined solely by the players skills on the field.
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