Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I see that the Prince of Wales' elder son (the Princeling of Wales?)has spent three hours in Afghanistan at great expense to his granny's long suffering subjects. I bet he gets a medal for that tour of duty on active service. He'll soon have as many decorations as his warrior dad.
Shame on those cynics who claim it is just a PR stunt, and that it's to counter all the bad publicity he earned for "showing his chopper to his girlfriend", as one disrespectful newsreader put it.
STS Bulletin no.11
"Coordination", a euphemism for price-fixing when discussing the supermarketeers' misdemeanours.

Monday, April 28, 2008

(Click on to enlarge)

It took 24 hours to recover the bodies of Shaughan Walsh, 43, Tony Laughton, 38, and Dave Jowett, 44, from beneath tons of rubble in Hull. Shaughan and Laughton had been on their first day of work. Shaughan's brother Kevin Walsh said: 'People call it an incident, or an accident, but it is not like that for me. As long as I live it will be the day somebody murdered my brother, his best mate and another close friend.'

Today is Workers' Memorial Day, when we remember our people killed by callous profiteers.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Goodbye to Humphrey Lyttleton - musician, author, broadcaster, wit, socialist. Reassuring to learn that he turned down a knighthood.
"Humph's intransigence, his determination to 'play as I please' was admirable; he was, like Ronnie Scott, the perfect ambassador for jazz." (George Melly)
"Bad Penny Blues", his only hit record; we all enjoyed it, Humph didn't.
Adieu Maestro.
prisonlawinsideout: So this is a cushy life#links

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Everthorpe prison staff are complaining about their charges living la dolce vita. They aren't exactly giving it 100% when drug dealers can enter and leave at will a place that they are supposed to be guarding.
The Grangemouth refinery workers are so essential to this nation's wellbeing that their stopping work for two days will bring it to the verge of economic and logistical meltdown. That's the impression I get from reading and viewing our balanced media (Would they lie to me?).
You would think that such key figures in our nation's welfare would be treated with respect by their employers.
One problem, it appears that the workers have a nice little nest egg tucked away in the form of a pension fund, and the bosses want it. Not satisfied with having black-holed* £40million the gaffers want more.
It's time our education system spelt out this lesson for the future battalions of the exploited; capitalism means taking from the poor and redistributing to the rich. LIVE WITH IT!

*Employers never loot their employees' pension funds, according to the media. It just disappears down a "black hole".

Monday, April 21, 2008

The BBC is to broadcast a documentary series called "The Age of Terror", covering 40 years of terrorism. So that could include -
The Dublin bombings, 1974
The car bomb assassination of Orlando Letelier, Washington 1976
The bombing of Cubana Flight 455, 1976
The assassination of General Omar Torrijos of Panama, 1981
The sinking of the Rainbow Warrior, 1985

I'm sure that the bombing of the Moneda Palace, Santiago Chile, and the murder of Chile's elected president won't count as terrorism. The BBC would probably call that "an uncooperative relinquishing of the reins of government".

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Memo to Lord Prescott of Corned Beef Island -
Stuffing your guts till you make yourself sick is not the same as Bulimia.
"The world has gone mad today,
And good's bad today,"
And the Conservatives care about low paid workers today,
And the Daily Mail cares about low paid workers today,
En ik ben vandaag een Nederlander.

With apologies to the shade of Cole Porter.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Dog Bites Man 11


Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Office of Fair Trading has named 112 construction firms involved in a price-fixing conspiracy. What a surprise! Let's all raise our hands to the heavens and gasp in disbelief. The fraudsters, IF prosecuted, will be fined, or their companies will.
This sort of skullduggery has been going on since time immemorial, and everybody knows it. I remember "Construction News" exposing price-fixing among the big contractors back in the late sixties or early seventies. Nothing was done about it. The problem is that if the authorities started to diligently prosecute every corporate criminal the economy would collapse. Public confidence would be shaken; by which I mean the apathy that is the normal response to such revelations might be replaced by public outrage and a demand for a cleansing of the Augean Stables. Imagine it - all those MPs, councillors and public servants having to hand back all the bribes. Imagine them having to pay for their own holidays, dinners, booze and whores.
Among this band of thieves the name of Balfour Beatty stands out. I wonder, are their executives still fugitives from justice in the United States? I never learned the outcome of that little contretemps.
Being old enough to remember the Ferranti Scandal I'm well versed in the way these difficulties are handled. We'll soon be reading stories in the press about how the DFT has over-reacted, and how much these people have done for the British economy. Don't they deserve a little tolerance? Usually "a few bad apples" are identified and dumped. Should any of the malefactors end up in court doctor's notes will be produced and incurable diseases will strike the defendants down (temporarily).
Later some of these lovable rogues will feature on the various honours lists. The rich and powerful can always find it in their hearts to forgive the rich and powerful.

"Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running the country." (Howard Zinn). Howard underestimated. The grand thieves are the masters of the universe.

Monday, April 14, 2008

It's possible that Berlusconi will win the election in Italy. BERLUSCONI! The discredited crook who passed laws ensuring he wouldn't have to answer for his crimes. He whose last government was described as '... a bunch of mafiosi, corporate managers, lawyers of the Mob, racists, neo-fascists, old-time fascists, "post-fascists" and every other brand of right-wingers and nutters.'
Why? The simple answer is that people don't vote to elect a government, they vote against the incumbent government to punish it. They vote out the clique which has broken its electoral promises and vote in a clique which will in turn break ITS electoral promises. That is the full extent of electoral power in a parliamentary democracy under free-wheeling capitalism.

In Zimbabwe, we are told by the British media, Mugabe was defeated but clings on to power. This is a disgrace. The people have spoken, Mugabe must go. In other words the British media want Mugabe to go. Once he's out and Tsvangirai is in, everything will go on as it did under Mugabe, with one small difference. If Tsvangirai wants to line his and his cronies' pockets with western "aid" he'd better stop the seizures of white planters' latifundia. Forget human rights, democracy and the rest, THAT'S where Mugabe and ZANU got it wrong. After all, that was the only difference between Mugabe's régime and that of Arap Moi when he was running the Kenyan economy into the ground and opponents into prison.

The British media are also worked up about Tibet. Now this is a tricky one. The Olympics are a big money-spinner. China is a capitalist's paradise: the workers' have no rights, pollution at levels unacceptable in the west is just fine by China's political bosses. And it's all somebody else's fault. That's communism for you. Aren't you glad you live in a democracy?
So let's not get too worried about China, criticise them all you like, but don't expect anyone with any authority or influence to pressure them to improve workers' wages or conditions.
As for Tibet, we support the pro-democracy movement, which means we support the Dalai Lama. Well you can take democracy too far. He may be an autocrat and the head of a theocratic régime (in waiting), but that can be a good thing. Real elections can produce the wrong results. Think of Hamas in Gaza, Chavez in Venezuela. If the CIA doesn't run things properly anything can happen.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

For sale: the video archive Wal-Mart should have erased

The archive also includes footage of Hillary Clinton, who served on Wal-Mart's board from 1986 to 1992, praising the company to the skies – a position she has since sought to mute.
"I'm so proud of this company and everything it represents," Mrs Clinton said at a store opening in Arkansas in 1991. "It makes me feel real good about what we've been able to do."

Friday, April 11, 2008

My decision to include the Hull Green Party in my links list has caused me to suffer a crise de conscience. I have never belonged to a political party and I've never openly supported one. It was not my intention to do so now. I just liked the website and agreed with much that is on there. However, I've decided to remove the link for fear it might be mistaken for an endorsement of the party, or of the pseudo-democracy that people tolerate as the devil they know.
Humberside Fire Authority has postponed its decision on fire station closures for three months. They also criticised the firefighters and their representatives, accusing them scaremongering. My interpretation; they intend to close the stations and sack firefighters but can't say so in this hostile climate. Protests often fizzle out when little is seen to be happening one way or another. Keep delaying the decision till a hard core of opponents remain, then label them as luddites. It often works.
prisonlawinsideout: The McCanns should stop running long enough to answer police questions#links

“what they should be doing is campaigning on the theme of ‘Do not leave your children unattended in unlocked apartments whilst you enjoy alcohol-fuelled dinners at a distance where you cannot observe them, as we did'”.

Monday, April 07, 2008

I've just learned that clicking on the individual entries in my profile takes me to a list of bloggers sharing an individual "favorite". Clicking on each entry in the "favorite books" paragraph I found to my surprise that nobody else has listed any of my choices - not quite true, but more on that later.
On "favorite movies" (i.e., favourite films)I find that I share a predilection for "The Big Lebowski" with 15,299 others, but "I Soliti Ignoti" garners only 179 fellow enthusiasts. Anglophony rules, che peccato!
However looking at the figures for all films I notice that all are in multiples of five, so they may not be precise -
The Big Lebowski 15,300
Seven Samurai 3,900
Sunset Boulevard 1,700
The Battle of Algiers 285
I Soliti Ignoti 180
Out of curiosity I did a quick survey of Solitignotisti, and found that all but 24 were based in Italy. Of the rest most appeared to be Italian. I also noticed that there were only 179 altogether, which suggests that a rounding up may occur.
Interestingly I found that one Soliti fan, UK-based, listed "The Good Soldier Švejk" among his book choices, so I'm not the only blogger to list that book. Perhaps the next acceptable figure after none is five, two doesn't make the cut.
With the music preferences it seems I've set my parameters too narrowly, or been too exclusive in listing. Only Bach and Blues are shared. "Jazz" would bring hundreds, perhaps thousands of fellow fans, but "Jazz 1945 to 1965", or whatever I've put down, brings no fellows.
I now intend to add a couple more choices, perhaps temporarily, to see what results they elicit. On films I'll try to think of a film hardly anyone will have seen.

Addendum: Having added "Los Golfos" to favourite films I find that one other blogger has listed it. So that's one theory shot down in flames.

Addendum 2: I listed "The Killing Floor" among my favourite films. Five other bloggers have that title listed. Looking at their other interests I was puzzled. Something didn't add up. When I did a search for the film I found that there are two films of that name. I have a feeling that only I referred to the earlier one about unions and racism in a Chicago slaughterhouse.
Can you imagine the uproar if this happened in a country that is not an ally of the US? "Egyptian authorities on Sunday arrested 40 people, including politicians and bloggers, for inciting unrest by calling for a nationwide general strike, a security official told AFP. "Forty people have been arrested around the country, including in Cairo and Alexandria, for inciting unrest," the official said, adding that workers had failed to heed the call to strike. Among those detained are opposition leaders including Islamist journalist Mohammed Abdel Qudoos, and Magdi Hussein who heads the Labour party, which has been suspended since 2000 after its mouthpiece published articles critical of the government. Bloggers and members of other opposition parties, including the Nasserist and liberal Ghad parties, as well as from the protest movement Kefaya, have also been detained."
(Angry Arab)

Keep your eyes on Zimbabwe, Defenders of human rights and democracy.

Friday, April 04, 2008

The Orwellian-sounding Violent Radicalisation and Home-Grown Terrorism Prevention Act, passed by an overwhelming 400-6 vote last month, will soon be considered by the Senate. Rather than seeking to criminalise "extremist" acts, it targets beliefs, or what many people are calling "thoughtcrimes".

"It proposes initiatives to intercede before radicalised individuals turn violent. It could herald far more intrusive surveillance techniques, without warrants, and has the potential to criminalise ideas and not actions. It could mean penalties for a stance rather than a criminal act," the American Civil Liberties Union and the Centre for Constitutional Rights have jointly said.
John Vidal (see link)

That is the USA, but are things any better here? Recently a young British woman was put on trial for possession of books our secret police didn't approve of. Fortunately others didn't accept that this was a crime, and she went free. Meanwhile Gordon Brown continues to push for an extension of the time suspects can be held without charge; retains the banning of free assembly within a mile of Westminster Palace; blunders on with the ID card farce.
At the same time Bush, Brown and their cronies get into a lather about human rights abuses in Tibet, China, Zimbabwe.
Pan - kettle - "grimy arse".
As for everyone's concern about democracy and fair elections in Zimbabwe, that's about Zimbabwe, not democracy. Local elections are soon to be held in Egypt, fiefdom of Bush puppet Mubarak. Over 100 opposition candidates have been rounded up and thrown in jail. Who cares? Not those guardians of democracy in the British media.
A portmanteau word I haven't seen before appears in Marina Hyde's "Lost in Showbiz" column (Guardian, G2) today - "celebocracy". What a dreadful thought! Maybe if I read more about these individuals I'd be familiar with the term. I always read Ms. Hyde's column so I am au fait with some of the antics of these creatures, the Misses Hilton, Spears, Lohan ("good Irish name", as my old mother would say). Also it's a rare news programme that doesn't feature one or more of these "world famous nonentities" (Mad Magazine, c. 1960). Today we hear more of the thuggish behaviour of a "supermodel"/novelist-by-proxy.
I remember a coinage of the old reactionary Tom Wolfe, "lumpenbourgeoisie", identifying a different sub-culture, but the term seems appropriate here.

Still with "Lost in Showbiz", a recent description of the ITV1 schedules as resembling "a grotesque Hieronymus Bosch painting" bears repetition.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The killers of Simon Murden used justifiable force when they lawfully killed him, according to a Humberside jury. What this means is that Mr. Murden was killed by the police and all their killings are lawful.
Mr. Murden was sitting on the ground when "at least" six shots were fired into his body. He was sitting on the ground, probably as a result of being hit by baton rounds and probably incapacitated by those rounds. He was nursing three "ornamental swords" (I'm not sure what ornamental means here). The swords were in scabbards and cradled in his arms. According to the cops he was rising to his feet as they approached and lunged at them with a sword. According to all other witnesses he did no such thing.
This is the same force members of which stood around laughing while Christopher Alder was dying at their feet. Be warned! The Humberside Police give no quarter.
One thing I've noticed about killings by the police, the killers are usually promoted within the year. I wonder why.
The killers' lawyer has complained to the press about the inordinately long time it took to bring this case to court. It sounds like the killers are going to claim compensation for the stress they've been under. If they do I predict they'll win that one too.