Monday, January 28, 2008
"A Spanish driver who collided with a cyclist is suing the dead youth's family $29,300 for the damage the impact of his body did to his luxury car, a Spanish newspaper reported on Friday. Businessman Tomas Delgado says 17-year-old Enaitz Iriondo caused $20,500 of damage to his Audi A8 in the fatal 2004 crash in La Rioja region, El Pais newspaper reported. Delgado, who has faced no criminal charges for the incident, wants a further 6,000 euros to cover the cost of hiring another vehicle while his car was being repaired, El Pais said."
(Yahoo News, 25 January) RD
Sunday, January 27, 2008
It seems that even these so-called masters of the universe haven't a clue about the slumps and booms of capitalism. RD
"The scale of Britain's credit dependency is revealed today by a study that shows more than five million people are spending more than they earn every month. The research into the scale of the ''buy now pay later" culture has found spending on eating out, leisure and holidays has soared above inflation and income in the past decade. Millions of people are increasingly using credit to fund their lifestyle and loan repayments have risen at twice the level of income since 1997 as people try to emulate the profligate behaviour of high-spending celebrities." (Daily Telegraph, 22 January) RD
"Benefit fraud has fallen from £2 billion to £800 million a year since 2000, but the Government is spending more money identifying overpayments than the amount being tracked down, an official report has shown. More than £154 million was spent in the last financial year to identify £106 million worth of overpayments due to fraud, said the National Audit Office (NAO). An MP said the track record of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in recovering money lost to fraud was "frankly embarrassing".(Guardian, 23 January) RD
The Independent On Sunday carries an article on a report that global warming ranks far down the concerns of the world's biggest companies . Nearly nine in 10 of them do not rate it as a priority . The report's publishers believe that big business will concentrate even less on climate change as the world economy deteriorates.Nearly twice as many see climate change as imposing costs on their business as those who believe it presents an opportunity to make money.
The survey found that only 5 per cent of the companies questioned – and not one in China – regarded global warming as their top priority. And only 11 per cent put it in second or third place. Overall it ranked eighth in business leaders' concerns, below increasing sales, reducing costs, developing new products and services, competing for talented staff, securing growth in emerging markets, innovation and technology. Although most are taking limited action to reduce their own emissions, almost one in five had done nothing.
What we of the world socialist movement said was "We can only 'cure the planet' by establishing a society without private productive property or profit where humans will be freed from the uncontrollable economic laws of the pursuit of profit and the accumulation of capital."
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Friday, January 25, 2008
"A palatial home complete with a Turkish bath for 20 people has been sold for £50 million, breaking the record for the most expensive new-build house in Britain, which was recently set by a nearby property. Toprak Mansion in north London boasts seven bedrooms, four kitchens and an 80ft dining room containing a 40ft table. It also has a green copper roof, Grecian-style pillars, a grand double staircase, a glass lift, a swimming pool with a glass bridge and a two-acre garden. The new owner, who has not been identified, is reported to be planning to spend £30 million on a makeover by an Italian designer to create a beauty salon, spa, helipad, cinema and squash court. ...The mansion was built on The Bishops Avenue, a street full of palatial homes that was once known as Millionaires' Row, but is now referred to as Billionaires' Row. The price tag trumps that paid for Palladio, a mansion in a nearby street that was bought last year by Lev Leviev, the Israeli billionaire, for £35 million."
(Daily Telegraph, 21 January) RD
Originally ,the Scottish Medicines Consortium said it was not cost-effective because it could only prolong life, not cure him.
Preserving life for as long as possible should be the responsibility of the NHS , the patient is quoted as saying .
Maybe so , but under capitalism , there is always a price tag and a value placed upon a person's life . Not everyone is as fortunate as this patient was .
Thursday, January 24, 2008
"One in six British households is living in fuel poverty, the highest for almost a decade, according to new figures that threaten the government's target to eradicate the problem in England by the end of the decade. Fuel poverty is defined as when a household spends more than a tenth of its income on utility bills. The consumer group Energywatch said yesterday there are now about 4.4 million of these in the UK, with just over 3 million in England alone." (Observer, 20 January)
Needless to say this "progress" only hurts the poor, the old and the incapacitated; yes only the working class suffer. RD
Many American apologists for the violence of capitalism have claimed that it is innate in human beings but this is the first time we have heard it blamed on mice. There has been a lot of lynching historically in Tennessee but we have never heard of white mice hanging black mice. The so-called science of "special education and paediatrics" as practiced at Vanderbilt University is to say the least suspect. RD
We imagine that neither the working class of Paris or Dublin will be making a bid! RD
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Somewhat belatedly some members of the police force may now recognise that they are members of the working class, just like the miners. RD
But why all the panic? After all we have a caring, sharing Labour government and they will immediately raise the pensions for the elderly and the dole for the unemployed by 15% wont they? What do you mean capitalism doesn't work that way? RD
"The very rich have grown richer at double the pace of most Britons under Labour and their incomes may have accelerated further in recent years on the back of a rising stock market, research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows. Using the most detailed analysis of tax return records to date, the think-tank showed that, in every 1,000 adults, the income of the very richest person rose on average by 4 per cent above inflation every year between 1996-97 and 2004-05. That compared with growth of about 2 per cent for those on middle incomes." (Financial Times, 17 January) RD
It is difficult to quarrel with Amnesty's indignation, but the "grotesque and horrific" practice of starving people in a society capable of producing an abundance and millions of children dying for lack of clean water also seems "grotesque and horrific" to socialists. RD
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
(Yahoo News, 15 January) Capitalism buggers up everything, even our fortnight "away from it all". RD
Monday, January 21, 2008
"He said trade was not "one way" - while Britain would import more goods, it would export its financial services. He and Chinese premier Wen Jiabao have agreed to boost trade by 50% by 2010 and he predicted "tens of thousands" of British jobs would be created. ... Speaking to reporters after talks in Beijing, the two leaders confirmed they had agreed a joint target of increasing two-way trade to $60bn (£30bn) over the next two years." (BBC News, 18 January) And not a word about democracy or free speech we imagine. RD
So while United and City football fans might argue in the pub about the merits or demerits of this or that striker's abilities, the real business of football is raking in the loot from sponsorship deals. Capitalism sees everything from a profit angle RD
Sunday, January 20, 2008
There will be no frowning in this office, Smith. Smile, damn you. Smile". RD
Overlooking the term "earned", we are talking about someone whose income is over 2 million times that of another. Doesn't capitalism make you sick? RD
Saturday, January 19, 2008
"The price for burning down a home: 500 shillings, or about $8. Double that to have someone hacked to death. The price list comes from a leading Kenyan human rights group that says some of the worst violence in the country's deadly disputed presidential election is the work of militias paid and directed by politicians. The government of President Mwai Kibaki and the opposition have traded blame for the killing and arson that followed Kibaki's victory in the Dec. 27 election that international observers say was followed by a rigged count. Some of the attacks took on an ugly ethnic twist, with other tribes turning on Kibaki's Kikuyu people. But the respected and independent Kenyan Human Rights Commission says there is more to it, and that it appears to involve politicians from both sides." (Yahoo News, 12 January) RD
"The United States has agreed in principle to provide Israel with better "smart bombs" than those it plans to sell Saudi Arabia under a regional defence package, senior Israeli security sources said on Sunday. Keen to bolster Middle East allies against an ascendant Iran, the Bush administration last year proposed supplying Gulf Arab states with some $20 billion in new weapons, including Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) bomb kits for the Saudis. The plan has angered Israel's backers in Washington, who say the JDAMs, which give satellite guidance for bombs, may one day be used against the Jewish state or at least blunt its power to deter potential foes. Israel has had JDAMs since 1990 and has used them extensively in a 2006 offensive in Lebanon. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government dropped its objections to the proposed Saudi deal in July after securing U.S. military aid grants worth $30 billion over the next decade." (Yahoo News, 13 January)
The bombs may indeed be "smart" but those supporting such a system are very foolish indeed! RD
Friday, January 18, 2008
Every advance that capitalism makes it does so out of the exploitation of workers like Danuza. RD
"Ale Nodye, the son and grandson of fishermen in this northern Senegalese village, said that for the past six years he netted barely enough fish to buy fuel for his boat. So he jumped at the chance for a new beginning. He volunteered to captain a wooden canoe full of 87 Africans to the Canary Islands in the hopes of making their way illegally to Europe. The 2006 voyage ended badly. He and his passengers were arrested and deported. His cousin died on a similar mission not long afterward. Nonetheless, Mr. Nodye, 27, said he intended to try again. “I could be a fisherman there,” he said. “Life is better there. There are no fish in the sea here anymore.” Many scientists agree. A vast flotilla of industrial trawlers from the European Union, China, Russia and elsewhere, together with an abundance of local boats, have so thoroughly scoured northwest Africa’s ocean floor that major fish populations are collapsing. That has crippled coastal economies and added to the surge of illegal migrants who brave the high seas in wooden pirogues hoping to reach Europe. While reasons for immigration are as varied as fish species, Europe’s lure has clearly intensified as northwest Africa’s fish population has dwindled." (New York Times, 14 January) RD
According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), an independent think tank, the incomes of the top 10% have risen faster than those of the population as a whole since Labour came to power in 1997. And that increase has been particularly concentrated at the very top of the income distribution - among the half million individuals in the top 1% of the income scale.
The growth was particularly strong in the Labour's first term, where the income of the super-rich grew by 8% per year. The IFS suggests that the rising stock market between 2005 and 2007 may have further boosted the income of the rich - a view confirmed by the 20% increase in the wealth of those in the Sunday Times rich list in 2007.
To get into the top 1%, an individual needed an income of £100,000, and to get into the top 0.1%, £350,000. The average income of £155,000, while the top 0.1% of taxpayers had an average income of £780,000.
Live in London/SE: 70%
Work in finance, property, accountancy, law: 60%
Average income: £785,000
Source: IFS, top 0.1% of GB taxpayers, 2004/5
This according to The Independent
Despite plunging $8.6 billion into the red , and writing off a further $14.1bn of its investments in mortgage-backed debts, taking the total write-downs to $22bn and making it Wall Street's biggest loser since the mortgage market collapsed in the summer Merrill Lynch could still pay its executives an average pay of $353,089 per employee and an average bonus of $211,849, just down only very modestly from the previous year when the figures were $364,940 and $218,957, respectively despite the sub-prime mortgage meltdown .
Stan O'Neal , the ex - chief executive of Merrill Lynch received a retirement package estimated at $160 million .
Thursday, January 17, 2008
"Kicking a football around a dusty lot, Judin Quicano looks like any other boy of four. But stand him against a standard growth chart and he is almost a head shorter than he should be at his age. ...Health officials say he is among nearly 30% of Peruvian children in his age group who suffer from chronic malnutrition. The figure rises to 90% in such places as Lliupapuquio, a village in Apurimac department in Peru's heavily Indian southern Andes where Judin lives. The picture is similar in neighbouring Bolivia and Ecuador. What makes the stunting of children's lives and bodies more shocking in Peru's case is that the country is enjoying a boom. The GDP expanded by 8.3% last year alone, and is some 45% bigger today than it was in 2001 ... Although governments have increased spending on social programmes, they have done little to improve their effectiveness. In Apurimac, majors complain of duplication, corruption and lack of local control. But the bigghest problem is that economic growth is not reaching many parts of the Andes. Official figures put poverty in Apurimac at 74.8 in 2006, having increased slightly since 2004." (Economist, 10 January) RD
"In early December, Beijing's in-crowd converged on the central business district for the opening of the Kunlun gallery. Sipping Veuve Clicquot and Mumm champagne, the real estate tycoons, stock market warriors, and Prada-clad celebrities gawked at Ming Dynasty Buddhist statuary and 15th century scroll paintings. Four Tibetan art works eventually fetched $3.4 million and, at a follow-up auction eight days later, 87 pieces of Buddhist art netted $10.4 million." (Yahoo News, 11 January) RD
(New Statesman, 10 January) RD
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
"Last year roughly 31,000 Africans tried to reach the Canary Islands, a prime transit point to Europe, in more than 900 boats. About 6,000 died or disappeared, according to one estimate cited by the United Nations." (New York Times, 14 January)
Men and women of the working class are dying to be exploited. Let us get rid of this mad society. 6.000 died last year, how many this year? RD
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
"More than half of all UK employees - 52 per cent - are now subject to computer surveillance at work, according to research from the Economic and Social Research Council's "Future of Work" programme. That's a remarkable figure, and it has lead to a sharp increase in strain among those being monitored - particularly white-collar administrative staff. ... Substantial pay rises for most managers contrast with static or even declining wages for low-end computer-monitored workers, who are working harder, and longer hours, into the bargain." (Observer, 13 January) RD
"The World Bank has emerged as one of the key backers behind an explosion of cattle ranching in the Amazon, which new research has identified as the greatest threat to the survival of the rainforest. Ranching has grown by half in the last three years, driven by new industrial slaughterhouses which are being constructed in the Amazon basin with the help of the World Bank. The revelation flies in the face of claims from the bank that it is funding efforts to halt deforestation and reduce the massive greenhouse gas emissions it causes. Roberto Smeraldi, head of Friends of the Earth Brazil and lead author of the new report, obtained exclusively by The Independent on Sunday, said the bank's contradictory policy on forests was now clear: "On the one hand you try and save the forest; on the other you give incentives for its conversion." (Independent on Sunday, 13 January) RD
Monday, January 14, 2008
Thousands of pupils from leading state and independent schools across Scotland were apparently given artificially inflated exam qualifications through a controversial computerised appeal system. Under the scheme, which was scrapped last year, Standard Grade and Higher exam results at certain schools were automatically upgraded without being separately checked by officials at the Scottish Qualifications Authority. New SQA figures reveal that in 2007, when these exam appeals were manually checked for the first time in 15 years, a large proportion were rejected demonstrating that a sizeable number of previous upgrades were questionable. Schools with small class sizes or those where only a handful of pupils were predicted A passes were not eligible. Therefore, bright pupils who just fail to meet their predicted grades from these schools would not be automatically uplifted. Five out of the 10 schools with the most derived grades were private, with George Watson's College in Edinburgh topping the list and Hutchesons' Grammar in Glasgow coming second. Two comprehensive schools from East Renfrewshire, Williamwood High School in Clarkston and St Ninian's in Giffnock, also had a high number of derived grades.
Christina McKelvie, SNP MSP and a member of the Scottish Parliament's education committee, said: "This change in the appeal rate shows the SNP was right to demand the end of the derived grades system which was seen to clearly favour pupils in better-off areas or in private education..."
John Milligan, a science teacher from Sutherland who was responsible for starting a campaign to end derived grades, said the figures vindicated his position. "It was was already hard enough for pupils from poorer areas to overcome hurdles in their path and this system supported that..."
Sunday, January 13, 2008
"If the economy is about to hit a rough patch, there was scant evidence of it at the opening day of the Collins Stewart London Boat Show at the Excel exhibition centre in Docklands. Sunseeker, a company based in Poole, Dorset, has the most expensive boat on sale, an £11.5m super yacht (anything over 24 metres is a super yacht) moored outside the hall. The Sunseeker 37 has three decks and four guest berths. It has a professional galley, room for a dozen people to sit around a walnut dining table, two lounge areas and a huge sundeck. Robert Braithwaite, who runs the company, said the firm has sold 10 and that anyone wanting to buy one would now have to wait until 2011." (Guardian, 12 January) RD
The bank has sanctioned millions of pounds in confidential "retention bonuses" to managers and management board directors deemed "essential to its continuing excellent operational performance". Some 173 staff out of a workforce of more than 6,000 have been paid the bonuses. An outlay of more than £2 million a month on bonuses to this select band of employees.
As the saying goes "The Devil protects his own"
Saturday, January 12, 2008
There is an old bible notion that it will be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. We imagine some of these holy-rollers will be kicking the camels out of the way come judgement day! RD
The army and the report may be in disagreement, but what cannot be disputed is the statement that recruitment is aimed at those living in poor communities. Poverty was always the most efficient recruiting sergeant! RD
Friday, January 11, 2008
"Many Americans and Iraqis feel that 2007 was the year the war in Iraq turned around: the “surge” strategy has pacified large sections of the country; previously hostile factions like those of the cleric Moktada al-Sadr and the sheiks in Anbar Province have dropped their opposition or even sided with American and government forces; and the number of insurgent attacks has dropped steadily. Still, numbers don’t lie: for those in uniform, 2007 was the deadliest year since the invasion. The chart below — compiled from data provided by the American and Iraqi governments and news media organizations (the independent Coalition Casualty Count in particular) — gives information on the type and location of each attack responsible for the 2,592 recorded deaths among American and other coalition troops, Iraqi security forces and members of the peshmerga militias controlled by the Kurdish government. Since the data on Iraqi security forces killed are not reported systematically by the Baghdad government, these numbers have been accrued through news reports; the actual number of Iraqi deaths is likely to be much higher. And, sadly, civilian fatalities in Iraq last year were simply too numerous to represent on a single newspaper page." (New York Times, 6 January) RD
"The spending choices for China's rich are multiplying as quickly as the world's fastest-growing major economy can mint new tycoons. In the latest sign of China's rising upper crust and its growing appeal to international marketers, Robb Report, a self-declared catalogue of the best of the best for the richest of the rich, is making its pitch here with a Chinese-language edition. The 200-plus-page Chinese monthly, published under the name Robb Report Lifestyle, is packed with news, product placements and advertising that promotes elite brands such as Volkswagen AG's Bugatti sports cars and Lürssen yachts to an audience." (Wall Street Journal, 9 January) RD
Thursday, January 10, 2008
How typical of capitalism, we have an awful disease but it is not lucrative enough to provide a cure and anyway the victims are all poor! RD
"Drug rationing is essential in the NHS, and ministers should back the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) which plays the key role in deciding which ones are worthwhile, MPs will say today in a hard-hitting report. The health select committee will call for more appraisals, not less, by Nice, which has been castigated by patient groups and drug companies whenever it has banned a new drug from the NHS. In a report following an inquiry into the workings of Nice and the fierce opposition it provokes, MPs recommend that all drugs should be given a rapid appraisal by Nice at the time of launch. Those that clearly work well enough and are cheap enough - probably no more than £20,000 a patient a year, which is lower than the current threshold - would be provided by the NHS straight away. More expensive medicines would have to go through a full appraisal which could take more than a year. Kevin Barron, the committee's chairman, said that might have the beneficial effect of encouraging some drug companies to pitch their drugs at lower prices. The drug industry was not pleased. "British patients already have worse access to new medicines than others in Europe," said Richard Barker, the director general of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry." (Guardian, 10 January) RD
"I have always been interested in commerce and the impact of globalisation. Nowadays, the intersection between politics and the economy in different parts of the world, including the emerging markets, is very strong."
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Basically, the ID database is being set up with these as the trojan horse for this scheme. Download the report and check out the links. Do a bit of research and you'll see what's going on here.
Whether you are for or against the rise of national databases / ID cards and the like,you should give some thought to this as well - the NHS national database (which may be going EU wide).
This'll enable many thousands of people in NHS and elsewhere to access all your health records - even sensitive stuff like abortions or mental health problems. Crazy stuff.
Check out the Big Opt Out.
These links show how the NHS care record and Citizens Account (ID file more like) will be linked:
for the paper 7, this part says it all:
4. The issuing of entitlement cards.. was in effect a pilot for the whole CA system.
Some criticism of the seemingly backdoor ID Card here by Sunday Herald reporter:
Good article in the Guardian:
This is not just paranoia, don't you agree?
This below is a spoof but could it be the plan, long term?
"The trials and tribulations of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, have been many in recent times. The bad times, the arguments and the fire and brimstone all began when the college principal, the Rev Richard Turnbull, gave Britain a startling warning to the effect that 95 per cent of the population was bound for hell and damnation "unless the message of the Gospel is brought to them". Embarrassing newspaper headlines followed that address to religious conservatives, and soon there were blazing rows in cloisters which were more used to the tranquil silent study of theological texts. For months hard-line evangelicals, sticking to biblical chapter and verse, battled with liberals over issues such as hell and homosexuality. Then Elaine Storkey, 64, a female theologian at Wycliffe and contributor to BBC's religious slots, had an incendiary "thought for the day". Dr Storkey, who had been forced to leave the college after crossing swords in the religious wars with Mr Turnbull, decided to demand compensation and sue the Bishop of Liverpool, James Jones, the college president. ...And on it goes. Dr Storkey has accepted around £20,000 from the trustees of the college after it was acknowledged that she had been unfairly dismissed. But she clearly does not intend to leave it there. Instead she has accused Bishop Jones, in his formal capacity as college president, of religious discrimination. But the real target of her ire is the now notorious Mr Turnbull. (Independent, 9 January)
It speaks volumes for the intellectual capabilities of these learned scholars that in a society threatened with world hunger, threats of war and environmental disaster they should choose to debate "hell and homosexuality"! RD
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Disabled people are more likely to live in hardship now than a decade ago. The poverty trap is largely due to higher day-to-day living costs for basics needs such as mobility aids, care and transport for people with disabilities which can be up to 25 per cent more than for able-bodied people .
The report, 'Disability Poverty in the UK' finds that disabled people are twice as likely to live in hardship than others. The report says that more than one-third of children living in poverty in the UK live in low-income disabled households.
Mr Parckar warns that while deprivation faced by children and elderly people has received much government attention, the hardship of people with disabilities has not been recognised.
Yet another group of people who suffer poverty . But there should not be league table of "i am more poverty-stricken than thou" and for those who suffer such impoverishment and for those who campaign to eliminate it , be prepared for all those worthy practical proposals by politicians and charity professionals to fall on stoney barren ground .
Monday, January 07, 2008
Triggers for Blue Monday include the weather and the arrival of the Christmas credit card bill. The formula was calculated from research carried out by Dr Cliff Arnall from the University of Cardiff.
Jeni McCabe from HR consultancy Simple Corporate Resource Solutions said : "Problems can arise with the festivities being over, 'real life' resuming, foul weather, first credit card bills of the year coming through our doors and so on. But in reality these symptoms cause year-round headaches for employers. Our event will help delegates prevent and treat these common workplace ailments. There's no doubt that a happy workforce is a productive workforce."
Every day is a Blue Monday for the world's working class and everyday the capitalist class wants us to be more productive .
James Keir Hardie in 1889 said said :-
"Dr. Johnson said God made Scotland for Scotchmen, and I would keep it so" .
Speaking of the Poles at Glengarnock, he said "their habits are very filthy, six or seven males occupying a one-roomed house, and having women to cook for them"
He suggested that the employment of foreigners by British employers should be prohibited, unless they were political exiles or had fled from religious persecution or if they came from countries where the wage rates were the same as in Britain.
Instead of directing his wrath at the capitalist class which exploits and takes advantage of the lack of working class unity , Hardie simply parrots the commonly held mis-conception that it is the poor unfortunate immigrant who is responsible for wage cuts .
Members of the capitalist class don't stay put. They travel freely round the world, from London to Paris, from grouse moor to ski slope, from Caribbean island to Mediterranean cruise, from the chateau in Switzerland to the ranch in Arizona. And no-one dreams of telling them that they can't. Like many laws enacted by the ruling class, restrictions on the crossing of borders really only hit at members of the working class. The apologists for capitalism who try to foment ill-feeling towards "foreigners" landing here, whether they come to escape persecution, or to obtain slightly higher wages, never attack those many members of the upper class who swan about the world as if there were no such thing as state boundaries.
Saturday, January 05, 2008
"Any talk of a downturn in UK manufacturing seems very distant to Ian Robertson, chairman of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, the upmarket UK vehicle maker owned by BMW of Germany. In 2007, Rolls-Royce’s plant in Goodwood, West Sussex, is likely to make just under 1,000 cars, a quarter up on 2006, while in 2008 Mr Robertson is pencilling in further growth of at least 10 per cent." (Financial Times, 27 December) RD
Friday, January 04, 2008
"One of the most famously flawed stamps in U.S. history sold for $825,000 to a New York man who bought it slightly cheaper than the record price another "Inverted Jenny" copy fetched at auction last month. The rare 1918 24-cent stamp, depicting an upside-down Curtis JN-4 biplane known as "Jenny," was sold privately this week to a Wall Street executive who did not want to be identified. Heritage Auction Gallerie’s president Greg Rohan, who brokered the sale, said the buyer is the same collector who lost an auction last month in which another "Inverted Jenny" sold for $977,500. Rohan said his client, whom he described as not being a rare stamp collector, was glad to get another chance at the prized misprint. "I suspect he's going to enjoy owning it and showing it to a few close friends," Rohan said." (Yahoo News, 27 December) RD
"There are 1.4 million children living below the poverty line in Britain, even though at least one of their parents has a job. Despite the changes to taxes and benefits, and the introduction of the national minimum wage, the number of poor children in working households is no lower than in 1997, a report by the Institute for Public Policy Research says. (Times, 3 January) RD
10. 2 OSWALD ROAD EDINBURGH
Some buyers are looking for a house they can make their mark on, others are looking for a home that has already been renovated to the highest standard. This traditional Victorian stone villa in the perennially popular Grange area is in the latter category. From the outside, it has a traditional appearance, but the inside has been made over with a light, contemporary feel and state-of-the-art fixtures and fittings. It has a cinema room and substantial Victorian conservatory, and a guest flat was recently added above the triple garage.SOLD FOR £3,500,000 (April 07)
9. 37 DRUMSHEUGH GARDENS, EDINBURGH
A former architect's office over seven floors, this property was converted by its former owners into a family home. The house is now one of the biggest in the West End of Edinburgh and includes a fully-equipped gym with stunning panoramic views over the city. The garden looks out on to Dean Village and the Water of Leith, while the front of the house has views of the castle. Converting former offices into top end residential homes is one of the big trends at the top end of the market.Blair Stewart, who is head of residential sales for Strutt and Parker, said: "The beauty of the West End is the easy access to the financial district and to the airport."SOLD FOR £3,500,000 (Jan 07)
8. 22 HERMITAGE DRIVE, EDINBURGH
Buyers are sometimes willing to pay a premium for homes that have not been modernised and renovated to someone else's taste – which is one of the reasons this Edwardian property raised more than a million over the asking price.Properties in Hermitage Drive come on the market rarely and before it went up for sale, Allanton, built in 1904, had been in the same family for 40 years. A fine redstone property, it still retained a lot of the original features but was ripe to be renovated. It also features a ground-floor annexe.SOLD FOR £3,729,500, Oct 2007
7. GREEN GABLES, CALEDONIAN CRESCENT, GLENEAGLES
The fashion here is for huge American-style modern mansions, but there are a few older homes from the 1920s when the street was originally built.Green Gables, a large traditional family home, which dates from that period, is on one of the biggest plots on this private road, which enjoys a peaceful wooded setting.Recently sold, it is likely to be extensively remodelled or perhaps even demolished if the buyers want a home to compete with the vast marble mansions of their nearest neighbours.SOLD FOR £3,750,000 (Sept 07)
6. STRATHEARN LODGE, CALEDONIAN CRES, GLENEAGLES
Caledonian Crescent, overlooking the famous golf course, is the new must-have address for Scotland's multimillionaires.Built in 2004, Strathearn Lodge is, by our reckoning, the most expensive modern home in Scotland. With marble floors and a bright airy feel, it has everything the modern tycoon needs, with four huge bedroom suites, a games room, cinema and built-in three-car garage. Homes in this private crescent benefit from high security, with houses hidden behind huge hedges and electronic gates. SOLD FOR £3,750,000 (Dec 07)
4. WOODCROFT, BARNTON AVENUE, EDINBURGH
There were people who said David Murray had paid over the odds for Woodcroft when he bought it at the end of 2006. But he proved them wrong by selling ten months later at a big profit. The official sale of Barnton Avenue came on the same day as The Scotsman concluded its series of Scotland's most expensive homes in 2006 – so it was too late to make our list. But at the time, it broke all records as Scotland's first £4 million home.The new buyer was rumoured to be an Edinburgh businessman.SOLD FOR £4,500,000 (Oct 06)
5. FORDELL CASTLE, NEAR DUNFERMLINE, FIFE
A Fife property record was set at the end of last year with the sale of 16th- century Fordell Castle, which has been renovated to become a luxurious family home –owning it also traditionally confers the title of Baron and Baroness of Fordell. Set in 210 acres of woodland and formal gardens, it has an imposing great hall and oak-panelled bedrooms. Set in the gardens is St Theriot's private chapel, an aviary and an icehouse. Although both the castle and the chapel are A listed the building has been remodelled and modernised. SOLD FOR £3,850,000 (Nov 07)
3. 1 EASTER BELMONT ROAD, EDINBURGH
Secluded, private and with views across to the Pentland Hills, Easter Belmont Road is one of Edinburgh's most sought after addresses. In the words of Simon Rettie, of Rettie and Co: "This is the most exclusive residential street in Edinburgh."This property, which came on to the market a few months ago, is a large arts and crafts period family home, set in extensive grounds. The property needed renovation but attracted so much interest from buyers that it was able to attract a record price.SOLD FOR £4,875,000 (Sept 07)
2. WOODCROFT, 39 BARNTON AVE, EDINBURGH
The arts and crafts mansion on Edinburgh's "Millionaire's Row" was the first property in Scotland to break the £4 million barrier, when it was bought by Rangers chairman Sir David Murray at the end of 2006. But he never lived in the six-bedroom house, and it was sold ten months later for a £450,000 profit. Barnton Avenue is a secluded, tree-lined street with views over the Royal Burgess golf course. Popular with bankers and industrialists because of its proximity to the airport, it includes many huge family homes.SOLD FOR £4,950,000 (Aug 07)
1. SETON CASTLE, LONGNIDDRY
Built by classical architect Robert Adam using the stones of the ruined Seton Palace, this grand Georgian, 14-bedroom house, formerly owned by the Wemyss family, was extensively refurbished by an Edinburgh entrepreneur, who put it on the market for £15 million, hoping to attract an overseas buyer. After two years, the price was reduced to £7 million and more recently to £5 million, when it was snapped up by Stephen Leach and Heather Luscombe, founders of internet marketing company Bigmouthmedia.The four-storey house has a gallery, library, billiards room, nursery and staff quarters, which include a laundry room and butler's pantry. It is set in 13 acres of wooded parkland, overlooking the Firth of Forth and includes stabling for six horses, a coachman's cottage and the ruins of a medieval mill.SOLD FOR £5,000,000 (February 2007)
The criteria for what constitutes prime property is gradually changing, from homes above £1 million to those costing more than £2 million.
The number of employees in Scotland working unpaid increased by 20,000 in 2007, bringing the total to 436,000. The average amount of unpaid overtime is six hours and 54 minutes a week.
The STUC has calculated that if everyone in the UK who works unpaid overtime did all their unpaid work at the start of the year, the first day they would get paid would be February 22.
The number of employees working unpaid overtime across the UK increased by 103,000 to nearly five million; about one in five of the working population. The average annual value of unpaid overtime in the UK is £4955 per employee.
"..today's figures suggest many people are not even being paid for putting in these extra hours.Workers in Scotland are giving away over £4500 a year in unpaid overtime. That's too much time and money that could be better spent with friends and family..." Grahame Smith, general secretary of the STUC said
Thursday, January 03, 2008
Government efforts to tackle child poverty have "forgotten" to help poor parents who work.
Kate Stanley, head of social policy at the IPPR, said the challenge now was "to ensure that work really is a route out of poverty...Tax credits and the minimum wage have 'made work pay' relative to being on benefits, but these don't yet go far enough to ensure more children are lifted out of poverty. More action is needed to combine financial support and measures to boost parental employment with action to deliver fairness on pay and opportunities for progression at work."
Socialist Courier has news for this highly prestigious research institute - the slogan 'a fair days work for a fair days pay' is as old as the hills and for the working class it is a demand that is never fulfilled .
Poverty will end when the wages system itself ends .
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
The Scottish Government said it would allow so-called "Ninas" - people with no income and no assets - to declare themselves bankrupt for a fee of just £100.
The new "cheapie" bankruptcy will be available only to people who earn less than £220 a week, the equivalent of 40 hours on the minimum wage, and have less than £1000 in assets.
A capital(ist) solution to the problem of poverty !!
Meanwhile the Independent reports the accountancy firm Grant Thornton predicts the total number of personal insolvencies nationally will jump to at least 120,000 this year, almost triple the equivalent figure in 2004. As many as one third of bankruptcies in the first three months of the year will be caused by "excessive Christmas spending".
Steady increases in the cost of living are expected to tighten the screw. In only 12 months, the cost of filling up a vehicle with unleaded petrol had increased by 16 per cent, which meant the public was having to find an extra £155 a year to fill up the car.
Mr Gerrard , head of Grant Thornton's personal insolvency practice , said: "Coupled with rapidly increasing gas and electricity prices, which are forecast to jump by more than 10 per cent early this year, it's easy to see how those already struggling to pay off credit, particularly those servicing mortgages, are caving in to the pressure." He warned: "I believe personal insolvency numbers will move forward at a much faster pace than anticipated."
Howard Archer, the chief UK economist at Global Insight, suggested that in general people would have to be more frugal this year. "Household purchasing power is likely to be dented by higher energy and food prices over the coming months, while many home owners face having to re-fix their mortgages at significantly higher rates."
But there is always a silver lining inside capitalism since also according to the Independent , the debt collection industry grew sharply last year .There are now estimated to be 5,200 enforcement agents in England and Wales, including 600 county court bailiffs and more than 1,000 unregistered debt collection companies. Since 2003 the size of the industry has almost trebled, growing from £8.6bn of debt sold on to professional collection agencies to £22.7bn by the end of last year. It is forecast to grow to £24.1bn by the end of this year.
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
Holy rolling,bankrolling.Big upsurge in pious patronising patter disguised as hopes over New Year in Scotland
Loan sharks condemned by cardinal
Presumably less extortionate rates are better.
Speaking at St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh, Cardinal Keith O'Brien urged those crippled by debt to seek help.
Is he going to dig in deep and make interest free loans to help them out of the Vaticans swelling coffers,not a chance.
The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland spoke of her wishes for a world "transformed" by love and hope.
The Right Reverend Sheilagh Kesting wants "selfish ambition" cast aside.
Cardinal O'Brien, the Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, will say the holiday season sees many families trapped in an ever increasing spiral of debt.
He points out that many families find themselves in the grip of loan companies and loan sharks, who demand an extortionate rate of interest, ensuring they remain trapped.
He will condemn such practices and applaude the work done by many in the churches and wider society to help people out of debt, through credit unions and advice clinics.
But, he doesnt condemn the very system which will keep those workers trapped in poverty and wage slavery.Debt or no debt.
His call comes in a sermon to mark a world day of prayer for peace, in which he also speaks out against nuclear weapons, arguing that the pressure to keep the issue in the forefront of civil and church life must remain in the coming year.
Peace will not come on a wing or a prayer.Peace will only come when the cause of war, the capitalist system and its intense competition, for markets, raw goods and materials,with powerful global rivalry is ended.War is an inevitable concommitant of capitalism.
So let's get rid of capitalism then, root, branch and all .
It is capitalism which is the cause of poverty, not high or low interest rates.
Capitalism depends on us selling our mental and physical energies for a wage,or salary in order that we might live.
With the exception of the capitalist class or social parasites such as religious orders, the vast majority are born poor and die poor, in order for us to service the capitalist system,to the end of making profits for a minority.
As verily ,verily, we say unto youse, the poor shall always be with youse, for the pious claptrappists to mouth meaningless platitudes, ad infinitum. Amen.
Sharp increase in prison suicides
The Ministry of Justice has confirmed there were 92 apparent self-inflicted deaths in England and Wales in the same year as a record prison population.
The deaths do not represent a record - but are almost 40% higher than 2006, reversing two years of falls.
According to the Ministry of Justice figures, the number of apparent suicides in jail rose from a low of 67 in 2006 and 78 in 2005. The record number in recent years has been 95 deaths in both 2004 and 2002.
Four people on indeterminate sentences for public protection and 19 on life sentence were among the deaths.
The figures show that, while 92 people killed themselves, more than 100 others were resuscitated after self-harm incidents that would have led to death.
"A spokeswoman for the Royal British Legion said there were around 2,500 former servicemen and women living on the streets, and that the legion had received 1,485 calls from homeless ex-service personnel in the past year." (Times, 26 December) RD
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