Monday, August 31, 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009

I watched the programme "Benefit Busters" last night, mainly for a little local colour as it was set in Hull, but also on the lookout for a dollop of middle class piss-taking. There was some of the former, but little if any of the latter. Still I always feel uncomfortable watching the poor being patronised and exploited for the entertainment of a voyeuristic section of the population.
This was a little better than the usual reality crap. Nobody cried for a start, though there was plenty of despair about. What we got was a useful insight into the racket that is "Back to Work", or whatever it's called. Clearly what we were shown was a means of syphoning off and pocketing large amounts of public money with little accountability on display.
The programme concentrated on three jobseekers. One had no intention of taking the agency jobs he was being offered because he'd been stung before. He preferred to stay on a guaranteed pittance, rather than accept a slightly larger here-today-gone-tomorrow pittance. By the end of the show he was seen to have the correct attitude necessary to survive the system. A second jobseeker, ex-army, took a job he thought was right and was dumped back out on the street a month later, and waited three weeks to have his benefits restored. The third, a young girl full of enthusiasm, willingness and optimism, obtained a job that lasted three weeks. For both of these last two the service provider, A4e would have received a big bonus, with a guarantee that they'd be back to go through the wringer in the near future.
The whole thing stank to high heaven.

Hull's Liberal Democrat council has recently withdrawn financial support from the local Citizen's Advice Bureau forcing it to cease operating. It is to be replaced by this same A4e, so expert at milking the system. This decision will have been justified, no doubt, by the need to cut costs. It will end up, as all these privatisation fiascos end up, by costing us at damned sight more.

'On the 28th June 2009, The Guardian disclosed information regarding to a fraud investigation into A4E which was instigated after the Department for Work & Pensions uncovered discrepencies in its "confirmation of employment" forms - discrepencies which centred upon the falsifaction of employer's signatures by a number of recruiters. Further to this, as the largest New Deal scheme provider, A4E has a turnover of over £145 million and yet has only helped 19,725 people back to work (a figure which is almost impossible to qualify as the success of the applicant in actually keeping the job is not disclosed). Alongside the widespread corruption which has recently been uncovered in various recruitment companies, these statistics have called into question the actual necessity of spending tax payer's money on these schemes as their vast and lucrative turnovers as private businesses are in direct opposition to their limited public service. Regardless of the evident fraud of A4E the DWP currently have no plans of stopping Flexible New Deal contracts being awarded to the company in 2009.'

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"Jack Straw today became the first British minister to raise questions about the handling of the release of the Lockerbie bomber." (Today's Guardian)
The coward who freed the wanted mass murderer Pinochet should be the last person in Britain to question the decision of Kenny MacAskill, a decision that no Labour minister would have had the courage to make.
"... young Palestinian men started to disappear from villages in the West Bank and Gaza. After five days Israeli soldiers would bring them back dead, with their bodies ripped open.
Talk of the bodies terrified the population of the occupied territories. There were rumors of a dramatic increase of young men disappearing, with ensuing nightly funerals of autopsied bodies.
I was in the area at the time, working on a book. On several occasions I was approached by UN staff concerned about the developments. The persons contacting me said that organ theft definitely occurred but that they were prevented from doing anything about it."
(Donald Boström)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

At the athletics world championships Ukrainian competitors wore the national name in English but with the letter N reversed, thus - Ukraiиe. Incredible! This is the cultural cringe made official. Not only in a foreign language, but with that comic spelling beloved of anglophone media types. They didn't quite get it right though; it should have been Ukяaiиe. Maybe for the London Olympics the Ukrainian male athletes will wear cossack hats and fake handlebar moustaches.
I have this nightmare that in the near future every human being will be communicating in English. It will have to be a debased sort of pidgin English with a limited vocabulary - something like we used to hear in North Africa: "You buy Johnny?" "Jig-jig Johnny?". Though there there was a trade-off, as we incorporated some of the host nation's language into our speech; "Mafeesh floos, mucker." "Shoofti bint!"
It is estimated that by the end of this century between half and three-quarters of the world's 6,000 or so languages will have disappeared. And what will replace them? From our present standpoint it looks like English, bad English. Not only will many of the world's peoples lose their mother tongues, but we will lose ours, insofar as it will become some bastardised lingua franca, or perhaps that should be lingua hollywoodiana.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

"Show me a rich person and I'll show you an arse I want to lick clean" Says Tom Harris MP (Labour). "I want to take money from poor people and give it to rich people" He continues.
Not exactly in those words, you understand, he is a politician after all, and a piece of shit to boot.
Megrahi is going home to die and the Yanks are doing their pieces. Let's hope that wiser heads prevail and the drones are not heading for Edinburgh. All praise to the Scottish executive for not caving in to the bullies. Gordon Brownpants has distanced himself from the decision - of course.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

STS Bulletin, no.20

"He died doing the job he loved."
"Don't blame us, we didn't force him to sign on."
Right, time for a clear-out.
The British Army in Afghanistan is not defending the British people.
It is not even defending or advancing British interests overseas.
It is acting as an instrument of United States foreign policy.
British servicemen (I'm not aware of any female casualties) are dying for no good reason.
All British media eyes are on the coming Afghan elections, trying to reinforce the idea that the British presence is about the promotion of democracy. Unfortunately the reporters in situ, faced with a rat's nest, are failing to support this interpretation, hard as they try.
Public opinion in the UK, never convinced of the necessity of the Afghan adventure, is begin to turn against it more vocally. The attempt to rally support for "our boys" by making a public spectacle of the returning dead (but not the crippled and the maimed)will backfire as the body count rises. This was the lesson of the Vietnam war, and the reason why flag-draped coffins have been banished from US television screens.

Our Prime Minister was reported as saying that Afghanistan was the source of all British terror attacks and that's why we must "stay the course". A few months ago Pakistan was getting the blame for our home-grown terrorists*. I'm reminded of the bombing of Tripoli, carried out because the Reagan government had conclusive proof that Libya was behind the LaBelle disco bombing. Then a year later they had conclusive proof that Syria was behind the same bombing. Still, never mind.
So, are the spooks who have traced all our troubles back to Afghanistan the same people who gave us the weapons of mass destruction, the forty-five minute warning, the Walthamstow** terrorist cell, the ricin plot - or should that be the non-ricin non-plot?

*Neo-nazi bombers are not recognised as terrorists, they're just incompetent nutters. In some cases (cf. the Soho bomber) they're not even nazis, just loners with no connection to any organisation.

** I meant to write Forest Gate terrorist cell - but I don't think I'll bother to change it.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Or maybe he'll die in prison. Everyone who doesn't automatically believe government spin knows that Megrahi and his fellow patsy were not involved in the Lockerbie bombing. Qadhafi was the "enemy of the month" (per Gore Vidal) at the time, and the CIA had the task of fitting Libya in the frame. Faked evidence and perjured testimony were duly produced, and the Valetta 2 were weighed off.
Fhimah was later released, it being concluded that he may have suffered a miscarriage of justice. (No kidding?)

A few pertinent phrases:
Iran Air Flight 655; trigger-happy Yanks; 290 dead Iranians; Ayatollah Khomeini; revenge; PFLP-GC for hire; Khaled Jafar, DEA asset; Ronald Reagan (There he goes again!).
From an interview with Lauren Laverne in yesterday's Guardian -
"... we're not allowed to talk about politics at the BBC."
Interviewer: "Are you a feminist?"
"Yes, of course."
I see, the politics of gender pass. Ms. Laverne must mean the politics of class.

From today's Guardian -
"Michael Crick, the political editor of Newsnight, has attacked the BBC for being 'barmy' and having 'utter contempt' for its viewers in its pursuit of younger audiences."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The sadistic paedophile who tortured and murdered a two-year old boy was a collector of nazi memorabilia. His equally evil and equally guilty brother was a member of the National Front.
It all makes sense. It is a basic tenet of nazism that the strong have every right to exploit the weak, which is bound to attract adults who wish to exploit and abuse vulnerable children. The NF was also an attraction for those who enjoyed being part of a pack that would attack and harm vulnerable individuals. Any target would do, but ethnic minorities can expect less sympathy and a weaker reaction, which is a bonus.
The BNP in its quest for respectability has tried to purge itself of such elements but it can never succeed completely. The stormtrooper element will keep surfacing and spoiling the image. A party that labels minorities the enemy, a threat, should not be surprised when its adherents go on the offensive against the perceived enemy. Nor should the dupes who vote for the hate party be allowed to forget the encouragement they gave it.
Not Very Serious About Fraud
The Serious Fraud Office will not prosecute the Phoenix Four looters. Now there's a turn up. What does 'Private Eye' call the SFO - Serious Farce Office?
I've referred before to a feature on my local BBC radio station called something like 'Mad World'. This involves in the main the undermining of health and safety legislation by ridicule. 'Political correctness gone mad' is another target.
This morning we were informed that royal protocol no longer requires people to leave the monarch's presence walking backwards, "for health and safety reasons". Someone might stumble and injure themselves, leading to a claim for compensation against the palace.
The mad world for the programme presenter is one in which health and safety considerations outweigh protocol. A world in which people are made to walk backwards for fear of offending an individual is quite sane.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Some favourite film quotes,
Starting with one that has featured on these pages before -

"Sitting Bull says history is nothing more than disrespect for the dead."
(Will Sampson in "Buffalo Bill and the Indians")

"Married? Of course I'm married. Am I not a man? Am I not a fool like all men?"
(Tony Quinn in "Zorba the Greek")

"It's a funny old world. A man's lucky if he gets out of it alive."
(W.C.Fields in "I'll Say She Does")

"I'm 56 years old, I can't blame anybody for anything I do."
(Robert Forster in "Jackie Brown")

"Your revolution's over Mr. Lebowski. Commiserations, the bums lost."
(David Huddleston in, and as, "The Big Lebowski".
In truth the whole screenplay of The Big L. is quotable, in spite of a ludicrous amount of foul language. It is shakespearian in its quotability.)

"I talked to a couple of yes-men at Paramount. To me they said no."
(William Holden in "Sunset Boulevard"; the authentic voice of Billy Wilder.)

"Monsieur le Professeur, je vous dis MERDE!"
(One of the kids in "Zéro de Conduite")
Earlier in the year Chiquita Brands International Inc. (formerly United Fruit) and Dole Food Co had severely criticized Zelaya for advocating an increase of 60% in Honduras’s minimum wage, claiming that the policy would cut into corporate profits. They were joined by a coalition of textile manufacturers and exporters, companies that rely on cheap labor to work in their sweatshops.

Memories are short in the US, but not in Central America. I kept hearing people who claimed that it was a matter of record that Chiquita (United Fruit) and the CIA had toppled Guatemala’s democratically-elected president Jacobo Arbenz in 1954 and that International Telephone & Telegraph (ITT), Henry Kissinger, and the CIA had brought down Chile’s Salvador Allende in 1973. These people were certain that Haiti’s president Jean-Bertrand Aristide had been ousted by the CIA in 2004 because he proposed a minimum wage increase, like Zelaya’s.

I was told by a Panamanian bank vice president, “Every multinational knows that if Honduras raises its hourly rate, the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean will have to follow. Haiti and Honduras have always set the bottom line for minimum wages.


President Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder had been a Covington partner and a defender of Chiquita when the company was accused of hiring “assassination squads” in Colombia (Chiquita was found guilty, admitting that it had paid organizations listed by the US government as terrorist groups “for protection” and agreeing in 2004 to a $25 million fine).

(via Angry Arab's Comments Section

The Fruit Company, Inc.
reserved for itself the most succulent,
the central coast of my own land,
the delicate waist of America.
It rechristened its territories
as the 'Banana Republics'
and over the sleeping dead,
over the restless heroes
who brought about the greatness,
the liberty and the flags,
it established the comic opera
(Pablo Neruda)

Thursday, August 06, 2009

There's a photograph of David Bailey in today's Guardian. Same age as me, he looks at least ten years older. That picture made me feel quite cheerful about my appearance.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

"Police learn Tomlinson officer could face manslaughter charge" (Guardian headline)
Could Mr. Lewis - but do you honestly think he will?
"I still feel genuinely angry about what the rich did to this country under Thatcher and I'm disgusted by the attempt to rehabilitate the old bag. I was aghast when Tony Blair said he admired her and Brown invited her to tea."

Thus spake Robb Johnson in an interview in a FREE magazine I picked up in my local library. The magazine is called 'Properganda', and it's really a big advertisement for something called 'Proper Music'. Well perhaps a bit more than that, certainly this issue contained some interesting stuff. Robb Johnson, a folkie type singer with a sense of humour, is, in fact, plugging a CD box set of his stuff. Still, fair play; Robb J. once did a benefit gig for the IWW's London branch, so he's OK with me.
I looked at his website, noting the presence of a rake of free MP3 downloads -

Also in the magazine was an article about Topic Records which is 70 years old - Many Happy Returns, Topic. I first patronised the label in the early 1960s, Dominic Behan and Stan Kelly were my artists of choice. I didn't realise that the label had such a long and radical history. A name I recognised from the article was that of Bill Leader, who recorded one of my favourite albums, 'Bert and John' in his front room. Did that record come out on Topic? I can't remember. I've still got my old vinyl copy stowed away, but I'm not going to do myself a mischief trying to drag it and a load of other old LPs out of their resting place. I listen to Jansch and Renbourn, together and separate, on CD and on media player these days. I've never understood the vinyl fetish.
'Properganda' has a website -
worth a look.

Unlike Robb J. I was not surprised by Blair and Brown's cosying up to Lady Gaga, just nauseated.

Corrigenda, 5th August: the 'Bert and John' album was recorded by Bill Leader at Bert Jansch's flat, not Bill L's gaff. The album was released on the Transatlantic label.
The other night, listening to a radio programme about new film releases, I heard the presenter call the French actress (or actor) Audrey Tautou, "Audrey Tattoo". I have yet to hear a speaker on British radio or TV pronounce this lady's name correctly; it's always "Tattoo". Why? Are they too lazy to pronounce it correctly, or do they think it funny to mispronounce it?
On the other hand, calling the late Serge Gainsbourg "Surge Gainsborough" doesn't bother me at all. I could think up a lot of worse names to call that sleazy article. I assume I'm in a minority here, considering the reverence with which the old degenerate is treated by our cultural arbiters.

Sunday, August 02, 2009


Seen today in a local supermarket; a middle-class shopper running a tape over packets of naan bread to make sure he scored the biggest.
This was in a formerly down-market store that is infested with greedy middle-class bargain hunters at the weekend. A few months ago most of them would have sneered at the mention of its name.