Tuesday, March 31, 2009


In primitive times people worshipped volcanoes, river gods and thunder gods; but with the advance in human knowledge of the elements the old witch doctors were discredited. Now religion having failed with the weather retreated to birth and death as the great unknowable for business. With Christian churches emptying they now have to look for a new dodge. Here is what one bright spark has come up with. "Information Age Prayer is a site that charges you a monthly fee to say prayers for you. A typical charge is $4.95 per month to say three prayers specified by you each day. "We use state of the art text to speech synthesizers to voice each prayer at a volume and speed equivalent to typical person praying," the company states. "Each prayer is voiced individually, with the name of the subscriber displayed on screen." Prices, however, are dictated by the length of the prayer. As noted in the Information Age Prayer FAQ, "A discounted prayer will cost less than other prayers of similar length." (Yahoo News, 26 March)
The writer of that article stated, "I'm fascinated by the intersection between religion and technology, as are some well-known science fiction writers. For example, if a machine can say a prayer for you, why not have a fully robotic pope and clergy?" The choir boys would certainly be safer! RD

Monday, March 30, 2009


Everything inside capitalist society is secondary to the profit motive. So it comes as no great surprise to hear that the popular-music industry is a victim of the rapacious demands of the commodity-producing society. Here is the highly successful pop song-writer and singer, formerly of the Eurithymics, Annie Lennox on the dog-eat-dog nature of the business.
"The music industry is a bloody nightmare. The egos, the slightly criminal elements, the betrayers, the ones who want to screw you." (Observer, 29 March) RD


"Up until last year, for most bankers in the City and on Wall Street, the word "depression" had a specific, economic meaning. But since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September, it has come to have a much more personal and devastating resonance for an increasing number of financiers. Rehabilitation clinics on both sides of the Atlantic are experiencing a boom in the number of financial sector workers seeking help for anxiety, depression, stress and addicted-related issues amid colossal redundancy programmes on Wall Street and in the City and severe losses across world capital markets." (Times, 25 March) RD

Sunday, March 29, 2009


"More than 10,000 people have died since President Calderon of Mexico committed troops to tackle the six main cartels in December 2006. Beheadings have become a common way of enforcing discipline within the cartels. Earlier this year Santiago Meza, Aka "the Stew Maker", confessed to having dissolved more than 300 gangland execution victims in acid."
(Times, 25 March) RD

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Recession - it is a death sentence

The World Bank is issuing even bleaker warnings about rising poverty and hunger in the developing world. Initially, it estimated that 46 million people in developing countries could be pushed into poverty. Now, that level is up another 7 million.
“We estimate that about 130 million people were pushed into poverty from the food crisis and if you add the financial crisis on top of that we are estimating that about 53 million more people could be pushed into poverty as a result of the financial crisis,” World Bank Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said

The World Bank estimated that the current financial downturn may add between 200,000 and 400,000 additional infant deaths per year on average in the 2009 to 2015 period. That means a total of 1.4 million to 2.8 million more infant deaths, if the financial strain continues.

"...When you talk about the financial crisis becoming an unemployment crisis in the developed world, in the developing world for many poor people it’s not an issue of unemployment, it’s an issue of life and death.


Capitalism perverts every human relationship it touches, but this is surely one of the most awful examples of the cash nexus inside this dreadful society.
"A couple from Detroit pleaded guilty to killing their two-year-old son and trying to cremate him on a barbecue grill so that they could collect his welfare benefit. Sentences are due to be passed next month." (Times, 25 March) RD


"HARTFORD, Conn. – Former United Technologies Corp. chief executive George David and his wife are doing battle in Hartford in a divorce trial that shines light on the couple's extravagant lifestyle. David and Swedish countess Marie Douglas-David married in 2002. They signed a post-nuptial agreement in 2005 that would give the 36-year-old Douglas-David $43 million when the couple divorces. The 67-year-old businessman wants the court to uphold the agreement. His wife says the money isn't enough to maintain her $53,000-per-week living expenses. Their divorce trial started Wednesday because they were unable to reach an out-of-court settlement. David stepped down as chief executive of United Technologies last year, but remains chairman of the board. He has an estimated net worth of $329 million."
(Yahoo News, 18 March) RD

Friday, March 27, 2009

Who owns the North Pole - Part 14

And you thought that the continuing saga for political and economical and military domination of the mineral-rich arctic regions had been forgotten about but we now read of further developments .

Russia has announced plans to set up a military force to protect its interests in the Arctic. In a document published on its national security council's website, Moscow says it expects the Arctic to become its main resource base by 2020.
The document foresees the Arctic becoming Russia's main source of oil and gas within the next decade. In order to protect its assets, Moscow says one of its main goals will be the establishment of troops "capable of ensuring military security" in the region.

With an estimated 90 billion untapped barrels of oil, Russia's strategy is likely to cause concern among other countries with claims to the Arctic.


This news item sums up the madness that is capitalism, occurring as it does in a world where millions are forced to eke out a pitiful existence on less than $1 a day.
"New York – A rare copy of the first comic book featuring Superman has sold for $317,200 in an Internet auction. The previous owner had bought it for less than a buck. It's one of the highest prices ever paid for a comic book, a likely testament to the volume's rarity and its excellent condition, said Stephen Fishler, co-owner of the auction site ComicConnect.com and its sister dealership, Metropolis Collectibles." (Yahoo News, 14 March) RD

forgotten victims

Charities estimate that more than 8,000 buy-to-let properties could be repossessed in the coming year, with at least 10,000 people being made unexpectedly homeless. In some cases families are given no warning at all, sometimes returning home to find locks had been changed and their possessions out on the street.In one instance a family had to spend the night sleeping in their car, before being moved into emergency hostel accommodation.

Shelter chief executive Adam Sampson said "Tenants who have kept their side of the bargain by paying their rent are being thrown out on to the street because their landlords have defaulted on the mortgage."
Leslie Morphy, of Crisis, said "We risk forgetting that tenants of private landlords are extremely vulnerable to the recession,"

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Politicians love to pretend that they can control capitalism so it comes as no great surprise to hear the US President talking about an economic recovery.
"Barack Obama has told Americans he sees signs of economic recovery, but urged them to be patient and look beyond their "short-term interests" The US president said his draft budget would build a stronger economy which would mean America did not face a repeat crisis in 10 or 20 years." (BBC News, 25 March)
This of course contradicts another "expert" on the economic scene."The world economy is set to shrink by between 0.5% and 1.0% in 2009, the first global contraction in 60 years. In its gloomiest forecast yet, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) says that developed countries will suffer a "deep recession". The global economic body says "the prolonged financial crisis has battered global economic activity beyond what was previously anticipated". (BBC News, 19 March)
To illustrate than none of the experts have a clue this is the same IMF that was predicting just two months earlier that world output would increase by 0.5%! In fact capitalism is an economic system that is based on slumps and booms and no amount of political "spin" can govern its unpredictability. RD

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Lev Leviev London, England Net Worth: $1.5 billionRank: 468
The growing economic crisis with its mounting unemployment and re-possessions poses dreadful conditions on the world's working class, but none of this matter to the capitalist class who continue to live in ease and luxury on the exploitation of these workers
"Computer mogul Michael Dell claims to live simply yet built a 33,000-square-foot manse in Austin, Texas, in 1997. Called "the castle" by locals for its high walls and tight security, the home sits on a 20-acre spread a mere stone's throw from Dell headquarters. It's not so simple for other members of the billionaires club. Oracle Chief Executive Larry Ellison, a hard-core Japanophile, blew an estimated $100 million building a 23-acre, 10-building, Japanese-inspired imperial villa in Woodside, Calif. But it doesn't stop there. In recent years, he has spent an estimated $200 million snapping up a dozen commercial and residential properties in the ritzy beachside enclave of Malibu, Calif. In January 2008, Russian-Israeli diamond magnate Lev Leviev bought the Palladio, an extravagant 17,000-square-foot manor outside London, for $65 million. (That works out to $3,823 per square foot, roughly twice the average in Greater London.) The home includes a bullet-proof front door, gold-plated pool, indoor cinema and hair salon. (Yahoo News, 13 March) RD

one rule for them , another rule for us 2

We read
Scottish Water's chief executive, Richard Ackroyd earns a basic salary of £263,000 plus a 40 per cent bonus.
Junior employees at Scottish Water have bonuses limited to around 5 per cent of their salary.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Recession? Wot Recession?

According to The Independent , the billionaire founder of Phones 4U, John Cauldwell, hired Leona Lewis to perform at his daughter Libby's 21st birthday party last week. The cost? £1,000,000.
Lewis winner of The X Factor in 2006, is meant to be concentrating on producing her second album, but took time out to perform seven songs – astonishingly, her longest-ever concert. And, at £140,000 a track, her most lucrative.

Meanwhile, the South African entrepreneur Sol Kerzner shelled out for his (fourth) wife Heather's 40th birthday celebrations at the Dorchester last week – serenading the fourth Mrs K were Donna Summer and Natalie Cole.

If anyone interested , Rod Stewart can be hired for £750,000.

Monday, March 23, 2009


"The Holy See is struggling to contain international anger over the Pope's claim on his first official visit to Africa that Aids "cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the problems". The Pope's remarks about condoms, and a recent furore over his lifting of the 20-year excommunication of a British bishop who has questioned the Holocaust, has left him looking isolated and out of touch, prompting calls for a radical shake-up of the way the Holy See delivers its message." (Daily Telegraph, 19 March)
Having recently forgiven Galileo for his view that the Sun and not the Earth was the centre of the solar system (it took over 350 years) we imagine it might take the infallible one a few years before changing his position about condoms aggravating the spread of Aids. Infallibility is a difficult position to defend, as the millions of Roman Catholics who practice birth control by the use of condoms might one day convince the infallible one. RD

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Homelessness and hopelessness

Sixty children become homeless in Scotland every day, according to housing campaigners Shelter. A study by the charity suggested 22,000 young people a year were affected by homelessness and poor housing - enough to fill every secondary school in Fife. The number of homeless families with children rose by 18% over five years. The report also found a 27% increase in the number of families with children in temporary accommodation over three years.

Shelter Scotland's director Graeme Brown said: "A decent, warm, safe home is crucial to all aspects of children's well being. Yet the facts show thousands of Scotland's children have to wake up every day in cold, damp, overcrowded homes, uncertain about their future."

In a separate study, researchers from Glasgow University suggested homeless people were four times more likely to die prematurely. More than 6,000 homeless adults in Glasgow were tracked over a five-year period and their mortality compared with 13,500 non-homeless residents. By the end of the study, 7% of the homeless group had died compared to 2% of the non-homeless group. The most common causes of death among the homeless subjects were drugs, alcohol, circulatory diseases and suicide.
Dr David Morrison, from the research group, said: "This study has shown we have a large population of young, vulnerable homeless people who are in terrible health."

The study indicated Glasgow residents living in the most deprived areas were three times more likely to die than their affluent counterparts. Being homeless increased the risk of death another threefold.

One rule for you , another rule for us

Got a lot of commuter travelling time between home and work ? Don't worry , House of Parliament will pick up the bill . Or they do for the Labour Party Minister of Employment , Tony McNulty , who has been claiming second-home expenses on a London house where just as it happens his parents live.

The MP lived in the house in Harrow with his parents before then moved into her home about eight miles away in Hammersmith, west London. Under parliamentary rules Mr McNulty can claim an allowance for a second home in his constituency even though it is only 11 miles from Westminster. The MPs' Additional Costs Allowance of up to £24,000 a year goes to MPs from outside inner London to cover the cost of staying away from their main home when carrying out parliamentary duties.

McNulty and his wife, Christine Gilbert, the chief schools inspector, have a combined annual income of more than £300,000 and between them own two London homes worth £1.2m.

he compared the defence of his actions to the excuses given by Nazi war criminals, who said they were “only obeying orders”.
“It is not against the rules – though I suppose you might say that is the Nuremberg defence,” he is reported to have said. He said he had decided to stop claiming the second-home allowance in January after he had “reflected” on the issue.

Another Labour Party mnister , Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, is under investigation for claiming £20,000 a year in expenses, arguing that a home she shares with her sister in London was her “principal residence”.

And what the hell , lets keep it all in the family . One third of government ministers employ a member of their family at taxpayers' expense, an official document revealed today. Jacqui Smith employs her husband Richard Timney as a Commons researcher based in her Redditch constituency.

The Labour Party - the party where all the members have their sticky fingers in the pie .

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Organic Capitalism at Work

The profit motive is the dominating influence in a capitalist society; if you believe organic food is most important for your family’s well being then you will pay the extra money, however, if your wages are reduced by rising prices or you lose employment, you may be forced to buy food you really don’t want for your family, that is what a number of working class families are doing as this recent BBC report shows, of course rising prices won’t affect the family’s of the capitalist class, they can always provide whatever food they believe is best for them.

Call to relax standards to help farmers
Sales of organic food have dropped by ten percent in the last three months, according to figures from the consumer researchers TNS. In response, the two main bodies which certify organic food have asked the government for farmers to be allowed a break from the usual strict standards. The idea is to help them survive the downturn.


One of the pieces of nonsense that exists inside this buying and selling society is that the BBC remains aloof from crass commercialism, popularism and salesmenship. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Want to test it? Use your computer or your old man's computer. Get in to the BBC News and you will see matters of social importance, but if you are alarmed or interested in what you see you had better be swift. In 15 seconds time you will see this sort of bullocks appearing on your screen
"Liverpool draw Chelsea in Europe again. Gerrad assault charge is dropped. Man City faces Hamburg in Uefa cup." (BBC News, 20 March)
Please wait more than 15 seconds and go back to items about children dying and millionaires. We need you. Please test my 15 seconds experience; it may vary from town to town. RD

Thursday, March 19, 2009


It is well known that journalists defending capitalism often make a fool of themselves. It is even better known that Daily Mail journalists are particularly foolish in that regard. Here is one - Andrew Alexander proving that point.
"We are witnessing the death of capitalism, according to various excitable commentators, some alarmed and some drooling at the prospect. Neither need get worked up Capitalism will survive. And it will do so because it is natural - not, as some claim, an alien system imposed on gullible people." (Daily Mail, 11 March)
Mr Alexander then goes on to use the hoary, old fairy tale about a shipwrecked crew on a tropical island exchanging coconuts for fish and claims this would lead to the invention of money. It is a view that completely ignores the real history of humankind. The first period of human history had no concept of private property and the invention of money is a very late development in that history. There is plenty of evidence that society has developed through various stages of primitive communism, chattel slavery, feudalism and then capitalism. Far from being "natural" capitalism is just another stage in private property society. Mr Alexander is correct in one respect though. People who imagine that the latest slump in capitalism means its termination are completely wrong. Capitalism by its very nature has slumps and booms. Its abolition will only come about with the conscious political action of the working class. RD