Friday! Waiting For The Great Leap Forwards

Billy Bragg- Waiting For The Great Leap Forwards, anticipation? Or if you need some cynicism try Futurama remixed by a Cynthia McKinney supporter, clone politics-

Or let Chomsky clear your head: Vote Obama in swing states but without illusions-

…and if McPalin is announced the ‘winner‘, time for that velvet revolution.

PS. Super Bonus grooves: Via kwiebusch this flash mixer- lets you remix Dark+Long (Dark Train) by Underworld to your hearts content, you see you don’t just get music to listen to here, you can make it too! If you are unfamiliar with the track (for shame!) check it below. Then get mixing!
Underworld Dark+Long (Dark Train) live-

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Not The Brightest

Police officers put vehicles out of action 26 times in the space of a year by filling them with petrol instead of diesel, a force has admitted. North Wales Police say officers made the mistake even though the majority of its new vehicles have bright yellow filler caps marked “diesel”.

Repairing the vehicles cost the tax payer more than £2,700. The figures, released under the Freedom of Information Act, cover the period from April 2007 to March 2008.

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Barclays Bankers

Obviously you are not going to find a paragon of ethical socially minded banking in any of the banks, but one corporation du moolah has consistently delighted in pursuing profit at the expense of basic morality, apartheid South Africa? Yep. Arms sales with added depleted uranium? You betcha. Mugabe? kerching! War profiteering & looting in the Congo? Why certainly. Now once again Barclays have proved themselves far and away the bestest ever at being total bankers. Rather than take government bailouts they eschew what little control that process entailed and instead royalty from Abu Dahbi and Qatar have filled their coffers in a deal giving them preferential treatment over any government package. They prefer rich princes who won’t baulk at their shenanigans to govt with a nod to regulation and some social/ethical aspect to their operations. After all royalty understand it’s important keeping ones subjects…er..subjugated in order to enrich oneself (as they do in Bush favourite ‘Teh Emirates’) and Barclays certainly hate their average high street customer, branch closures, ridiculously excessive account charges and penalties. Also I just love to hear ‘Royal family’ (sorry sovereign wealth funds, gosh nope even with that newspeak it’s still ridiculous) it’s like being a wee child again and reading fairy tales, after all who but a child would accept people having great wealth and power due to an accident of birth (has anyone studied how fairy tales impact adult attitudes to Royalty/class? or for that matter bridge related trolls).

Really we should be sort of pleased Barclays remains the biggest bankers on the block, at least they have the courage of their convictions- greed is good, evil is fun, total class war- even if that’s as near to any ‘convictions’ they will get. They clearly are not about to change how they do things-

Barclays has said it should gain a competitive advantage by not having government as an investor, and will also avoid the scrutiny that its rivals may face, analysts said.

Should though we be happy they are not getting public capital? Which I think is the wrong question, while regulation should of come without a price tag it is better to have some oversight than none at all, as this crisis of capitalism demonstrates. What’s noticeable is Barclays prefer worse deals from ideological allies than regulation, which gives the lie to business being only about the bottom line, it is about irrational greed now-

A large chunk of the £5.8bn investment will buy “reserve capital instruments”, similar to the preference shares which the UK government is taking in RBS and Lloyds TSB-HBOS. They will pay a dividend of 14% a year, compared with the UK government’s 12% a year. The new shareholders will also own warrants allowing them to buy shares in Barclays at 197.775p any time in the next five years.

“We have to ask why Barclays it is willing to offer a better deal to foreign investors than the British taxpayer,” Cable said. “The answer is simple: they don’t want the British government stopping them from paying massive bonuses to their executives.

“More than the other banks, Barclays operate a high-risk casino operation which makes the bank particularly unstable but which gives very rich pickings to the top executives. The British government must not simply let this pass.”

Marcus Agius, Barclays chairman, insisted the ability to keep paying bonuses “had nothing to do with this at all”.

“It’s to do with self-determination,” he said.

As their record clearly shows they are all about supporting democracy…no wait the other thing, being rich and fuck everyone else. And for all the talk of self-determination, which I’m sure is getting libertarians engorged (bless their simple little socks) even as I write, they are in fact being subsidised by the tax payer-

What’s more Barclays is paying a whacking coupon, loads of income, to Abu Dhabi and Qatar. They get 9.75% on the convertible notes, and 14% (oh so loverly, a time of falling interest rates) on the reserve capital instruments. And the 14% coupon is tax deductible (and, before you ask, the coupon on the prefs being sold by HBOS, Lloyds TSB and RBS to the Treasury is not tax deductible). That means we as British taxpayers are subsidising the payment to these oil-rich states to the tune of £120m per annum…

I’ve already been rung this morning by sore investors and bankers who allege that Barclays has tapped Abu Dhabi and Qatar because it doesn’t want Gordon Brown and Darling putting a ceiling on what it can pay its top execs.

What did they pay themselves last time?

Bob Diamond, head of investment banking at Barclays received pay and shares worth over 21 million pounds last year, just down on 2006 but putting him among Europe’s highest-paid bankers.

Chief Executive John Varley, whose 2007 pay and shares could reach 4.2 million pounds

Investment banker Marcus Agius [chariman] will be paid a salary of £750,000


A fraudster posing as the chairman of Barclays stole £10,000 from the bank after tricking a member of staff into sending him a credit card, it emerged today. The conman duped call centre staff into issuing a credit card in the name of banking boss Marcus Agius and then used it to withdraw funds at a high street branch.

It is believed that the thief, working alone or as part of a gang, used the internet to find out details concerning Agius, such as his date of birth and address. He then contacted a Barclaycard employee and requested that a new card be sent out. Armed with the information and the card, the conman entered a branch of the bank and walked away with £10,000 of Agius’s cash.

Although their excessive charges meant the customers paid to replace moneybags stolen 10 grand I suppose. Agius is the lowest paid, £10,000 was a loss of one and a third percent of his salary, how did he ever survive the poor lamb?

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Chris Morris Gets Funding

Via email:

We’ve had some good funding news which means we won’t be asking you to back your generous offer with hard cash.

The huge surge in online support may even have helped cause this shift in fortune. Either way your encouragement has been a spur to action and hugely inspiring.

And of course you will still have a chance to be in the film.

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Jacqui Smith Shocked To Find Gambling In The Casino

Call me cynical but this looks like CYA now the torture cat is exiting the bag, especially with a Bush regime in its dotage and as Mohamed’s lawyer says it’s really an obligation under the convention against torture now. And Baroness Scotland… well former Home office minister who has performed odious work for Smith previously.

Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, has asked the attorney general to investigate possible “criminal wrongdoing” by the MI5 and the CIA over its treatment of a British resident held in Guantanamo Bay, it was revealed tonight.

The dramatic development over allegations of collusion in torture and inhuman treatment follows a high court judgment which found that an MI5 officer participated in the unlawful interrogation of Binyam Mohamed. The MI5 officer interrogated Mohamed while he was being held in Pakistan in 2002.

It emerged tonight that lawyers acting for Smith have sent the attorney general, Baroness Scotland, evidence about MI5 and CIA involvement in the case, which was heard behind closed doors in high court hearings. In a letter seen by the Guardian, they have asked Scotland – as an independent law officer – to investigate “possible criminal wrongdoing”. The move could lead to a criminal prosecution.

The evidence was suppressed following gagging orders demanded by David Miliband, the foreign secretary, and the US authorities. The action by Smith, the minister responsible for MI5 activities, is believed to be unprecedented.

A Home Office spokesman confirmed tonight that the letter and closed evidence had been sent to the attorney. It had no further comment.

Tonight Clive Stafford Smith, director of the legal charity Reprieve, which represents Guantanamo detainees, welcomed the move. He said: “This is a welcome recognition that the CIA cannot just go rendering British residents to secret torture chambers without any consequences, and British agents cannot take part in American crimes without facing the music”.

He added: “Reprieve will be making submissions to the attorney general to ensure that those involved in these crimes – from the US, Pakistan, Morocco, Britain, and elsewhere – are held responsible.”

Richard Stein of Leigh Day, which is acting for Mohamed in the British courts, said: “Ultimately the British government had little choice in the matter, once they conceded that a case had been made out that Binyam Mohamed was tortured.”

“The Convention Against Torture rightly imposes an obligation on signatory states to investigate cases of torture, and we look forward to a full and open airing of the crimes committed against Mr Mohamed and a thorough investigation by the Police and Crown Prosecution Service into this case.”

Reprieve has argued that the case against Mohamed should be dropped by the US government, and that he should be returned to the UK, as the British Government requested in August 2007. It says Mohamed is a victim of “extraordinary rendition” and torture.

De Menezes: Non Police Witnesses Are Finally Heard

The PDF at the coroner’s inquest site is here. Interesting reading, at this point those who believe the police warned Jean Charles and that he made a move towards them can pretty well much twin themselves with the flat Earth society. The Independent has a good summation of two witnesses-

Ralph Livock said he had no idea that it was anything more serious until one of the armed men fired at Mr de Menezes at point blank range.

Mr Livock and his girlfriend Rachel Wilson were sitting in a Tube carriage opposite the 27-year-old Brazilian on the morning of 22 July 2005, the inquest heard.

The passenger recalled that their train was held up for longer than usual at Stockwell station in south London – and then four casually-dressed men armed with guns got on board.

Nicholas Hilliard QC, counsel to the inquest, asked him: “Did you have any idea who they were?”

Mr Livock said: “Absolutely not.”

He went on: “One of my initial thoughts was it was all a game and they were a group of lads who were just having a laugh – a very bad taste laugh but just having a game on the Tube, because they were just dressed in jeans and t-shirts but with firearms.”

Mr Hilliard went on to ask: “Had you heard anything said about police?”

Mr Livock replied: “No, certainly not.

“And I remember that specifically because one of the conversations that Rachel and I had afterwards was that we had no idea whether these were police, whether they were terrorists, whether they were somebody else. We just had no idea.”

He added: “The thing that made me realise it wasn’t a group of lads playing around or something else happening was when the first shot was fired.”

Mr de Menezes was shot seven times in the head at point-blank range after being mistaken for failed suicide bomber Hussain Osman.

That morning, Mr Livock got on to a northbound Northern Line train at Clapham North station with Ms Wilson, the inquest heard.

While they were waiting at Stockwell station, he heard shouts from outside the train saying something like, “he’s here”.

A few seconds later a man holding a pistol entered their carriage and levelled it at Mr de Menezes, who was sitting opposite Ms Wilson, the hearing was told.

Mr Hilliard asked the witness: “Did you hear him saying anything to Mr de Menezes?”

Mr Livock said: “Absolutely not.”

Mr Hilliard continued: “Did you hear Mr de Menezes say anything to him?”

The passenger replied: “No, absolutely not at all.

“If anything, Mr de Menezes looked as if he was – I hesitate to say confused, confused isn’t really the right adjective.

“He looked as if he was expecting somebody to say something but he didn’t look frightened.

“He looked as if he was waiting for somebody to tell him what was going on.”

None of the passengers in the Tube train were called to give evidence at the Metropolitan Police’s Health and Safety trial over the shooting last year.

This is the first time they have spoken in public about what they saw.

Firearms officers involved in the operation have told the inquest they shouted “armed police” at Mr de Menezes before shooting him.

But giving evidence today, Ms Wilson also insisted she did not hear this and had no idea who the men who killed the Brazilian were.

Mr Hilliard asked her: “Was anything said at any time during the incident to give you a clue as to who they were?”

She replied: “No, and I know this because similar to Ralph’s statement, first I thought they were messing around.

“Then I thought they were terrorists and it was only when I left the carriage and somebody moved me gently out of the way that I figured they must be good guys.

“Apart from that, I just didn’t know who they were.”

Mr Hilliard went on: “Specifically, did you ever hear anybody shout ‘armed police’?”

Ms Wilson answered: “If I had heard that, I would have thought they were police, so no.”

She said it was only after the shooting, when she saw she had blood on her hands, that she realised how serious the incident was.

From reading the transcript though you also find the police were described as not panicked, but ‘authoritative’ that witness statements were tampered with by the police (dates wrong, language changed ‘policified’ Rachel Wilson described it, the usual bureaucratic cock ups or something else, we don’t know) and the representatives for the police constantly -slyly- prefacing questions with reference to ‘perceptual distortion’ by saying ‘your brain selected to remember’. It being 3 years ago as well helps cloud the issue, see how handy it is to fight an inquest to clock up some years until the accounting? 2 witnesses recall he was not held down, one thinks he was, but all agree- no warning. Nothing Jean Charles could have done would have prevented them shooting, that is the core horror story that must be denied, because once understood people will ask what protects me from the same fate? This inquest is part of the answer to that.

Spot The Odd One Out

  • Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell today joined the profits bonanza from record prices with a 71 per cent jump in third-quarter earnings. The firm made a mammoth 10.9 billion US dollars (£6.6 billion) between July and September – a period when oil prices hit a peak above 147 dollars a barrel.
  • U.S. banks getting more than $163 billion from the Treasury Department for new lending are on pace to pay more than half of that sum to their shareholders, with government permission, over the next three years. The government said it was giving banks more money so they could make more loans. Dollars paid to shareholders don’t serve that purpose, but Treasury officials say that suspending quarterly dividend payments would have deterred banks from participating in the voluntary program.
  • Economy shrinks as consumers cut back on spending…the Labor Department reported Thursday that applications for unemployment benefits remained at an elevated level last week, another sign of the economy’s struggles.

We’re being strip-mined.