I’m Don’t Think Alleviate Poverty Means What They Think It Means

As the boss of the publicly owned company which invests billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to alleviate global poverty, Richard Laing is one of many dedicated to improving the finances of the poorest of the poor. But few engaged in the battle to relieve the suffering of the developing world can count on a pay package of nearly £1m as their reward.

 

The “extraordinary” remuneration received by Mr Laing as chief executive of CDC Group Plc, a little-known investment body that is wholly owned by the Department for International Development (DfID) and controls assets worth £2.7bn, is revealed today in a stinging report by the Westminster spending watchdog.

Between 2003 and 2007, Mr Laing, a 55-year-old Cambridge engineering graduate, saw his income rise from £383,000 to £970,000 as investments in projects from a Nigerian shopping mall to a Chinese egg producer reaped handsome returns. But MPs said the 250 per cent increase in Mr Laing’s pay deal had been given without CDC producing sufficient evidence that its portfolio of investments, from a mattress manufacturer to Kenyan fruit farmers, were reducing global poverty.

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Eye Pea See Sea

Harpymarx recounts her experience of going to the IPCC to give evidence, a great read (and better than a shed load of the tat on CiF) as she reflects on how she feels when dealing with powerful institutions that can’t necessarily be trusted to be doing the right thing- Art of powerlessness

Welsh Fucking Water! (Well United Utilities)

And now… some light ranty relief:-

Here in sunny, ok rainy at present North Wales you get used to the fact that Welsh Water, the privatised water providing monopoly is incapable of providing clean fucking drinking water on a reliable basis! And here we go again-

About 70,000 households and businesses in two north Wales counties are being advised to boil their drinking water after bacteria were found in supplies. Customers in areas of Flintshire and Denbighshire supplied by the Alwen treatment works are affected.

Now this doesn’t affect me…yet, but for all those tired of this bullshit year in year out I ask- Is drinking water somehow beyond our scientific abilities? I’m sure I’ve heard of other places where amazingly you can drink the water and not get ill, ooh it must be like some futuristic dreamscape! Has the concept of potable water become an impossible riddle to even the greatest of minds?

No, it is just an impossibility to the neoliberal mind. Now enjoy the hilarious farce that is Welsh Water’s post privatisation history (thanks Conservatives!)-

Welsh Water Authority was privatised by stock market flotation in 1989, along with the other nine regional water authorities, which provided the company with a substantial cash surplus for some years, which it used to diversify in a wide range of sectors including leisure (Hotels, Fishing etc.).

Yeah that’s what I want from a water provider, a good range of hotels and a keen interest in angling. Oh no, what I meant was the other thing, what I like in a water provider is clean fucking drinking water! (I may have already mentioned that -clean fucking drinking water- but y’know repetition might make it sink in, in between the suits looking at new car brochures and second home buying).

It renamed itself Hyder in 1996 after taking over a local electricity company (SWALEC) and becoming a water and electricity multi-utility.

What could possibly go wrong, water and electricity mix so well!

However, in 1999/2000, following the windfall tax on utility profits and the 1999 Ofwat price review, Hyder got into financial difficulties which led to its breakup following a takeover battle.

Who could of foreseen their huge profits might get taxed and their business practices were so criminal Ofwat would force a change? They’re not mind readers…Oh these things took some years to happen and there were months of warning, erm…maybe they were otherwise engaged on what colour the hotels should be painted or which celebrity to advertise their fishing business, was Noel Edmonds busy, did Roger Daltrey turn them down?

Western Power Distribution purchased Hyder on 15 September 2000 with a view to acquiring its electricity distribution business, and rapidly sold off Hyder’s other assets. Welsh Water was sold by WPD to Glas Cymru for £1,

A pound? That explains it, they found a babbling tramp in a Cardiff street and swapped the company for a half can of special brew. Wait they didn’t? So what can explain it? Neoliberal MBA managerialism that couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery? Financiers who make money with every transaction regardless of the consequences to those who actually use the service? Like that could ever go wrong, CDO’s all round!

along with £1.85 billion of Hyder debt. Under the terms of its licence Glas Cymru may not operate in sectors other than water.

Imagine, a water providing monopoly actually dedicated to providing water and not using its monopoly (which makes it an industry manifestly unsuitable for privatisation even free market theoreticians could figure that out… or not apparently). But as it’s a monopoly, how about we own it (y’know, like we did), so it runs at cost and no one exploits the need for the most essential substance for life on planet Earth- water.

Dŵr Cymru / Welsh Water (Dŵr Cymru means Welsh Water in Welsh) is owned by Glas Cymru, a company limited by guarantee. Most of Welsh Water’s activities are outsourced to other companies.

So really Welsh Water is a contracting body which passes on the work and …the responsibility?

KWS Wales operate waste water in the south and United Utilities operate clean water for the whole of Wales and waste water in the north.

Hey here’s an idea, keep the two separate! There you can have that for free, you see maybe your consultants haven’t told you this but sewage and drinking water…not the same thing, m’kay? But what was that again?

clean water for the whole of Wales.

Whoa there- United Utilities operate clean water for the whole of Walesthey do? Can we have some of this clean water? Where can you get it? Because it certainly doesn’t come out of the fucking taps!

That British Empire

Evidence about a 1948 massacre of unarmed Malaysian villagers by British troops is to be reviewed by the UK government, the BBC understands.

Official accounts describe villagers being killed as they escaped into the jungle, having been warned they would be shot if they tried to flee. However, survivors recall victims being led out of their homes and shot in the back.

The massacre remained largely forgotten until the People newspaper in 1970 ran an account of the killings, featuring sworn affidavits by several soldiers who admitted the villagers were shot in cold blood.

Government lawyers have written to survivors asking for evidence and testimony about the killing of 24 villagers in Batang Kali. The Scots Guards raid, near the capital Kuala Lumpur, was meant to target communist insurgents. In January, the UK rejected activists’ call for an inquiry into the massacre. Most of the evidence to be examined is testimony from villagers and soldiers who witnessed the killings.

A handful of survivors are seeking a judicial review, and also pursuing a court bid for compensation and an apology. In January, the Foreign Office rejected demands for an inquiry put forward in a petition, citing a lack of new evidence.

At the time, a spokesman said: “The matters have been considered previously by investigations into the Batang Kali massacre in 1949 and 1970 and those investigations found insufficient evidence to pursue prosecution.”

There has never been a full inquiry into the massacre.

Ross Begins His ‘Diplomacy’

The U.S. State Department said Monday it will send its special Persian Gulf envoy to the region as part of continued diplomatic efforts to steer Iran away from its suspected quest for nuclear weapons. It will be the first trip to the region for Dennis Ross since he was named to the position in late February.

The State Department said Ross will begin his trip Tuesday and will visit Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar. He will be accompanied by the deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, Lt. Gen. John R. Allen, and National Security Council official Puneet Talwar.

Old Rossy, that paragon of independent balanced diplomacy…

Ross got his start in high-level policy-making working under Paul Wolfowitz in the Pentagon during the Carter administration. Wolfowitz — who is better known for his role pushing the Iraq War after the 11 September attacks and for his controversial tenure as World Bank head — tasked Ross with helping draft a study assessing threats to US interests in the Persian Gulf. The 1979 study, titled the “Limited Contingency Study,” concluded that aside from the Soviet Union, a key threat to the region’s oil fields was Iraq.

Ross also helped produce the 2008 report “Meeting the Challenge: US Policy Toward Iranian Nuclear Development,” which was published by a study group convened by the Bipartisan Policy Centre, a group led by several former legislators.

The lead drafter of the report was AEI’s Michael Rubin, an outspoken proponent of US military intervention in the Middle East. Other participants included hawkish arms control analyst Henry Sokolski; Michael Makovsky, a former aide to Douglas Feith; Stephen Rademaker, who worked under former UN Ambassador John Bolton in the State Department; and the neoconservative Hudson Institute director, Kenneth Weinstein.

Calling the report a “roadmap to war,” Inter Press Service’s Jim Lobe writes, “In other words, if Tehran is not eventually prepared to permanently abandon its enrichment of uranium on its own soil — a position that is certain to be rejected by Iran ab initio — war becomes inevitable, and all intermediate steps, even including direct talks if the new president chooses to pursue them, will amount to going through the motions … What is a top Obama adviser [Dennis Ross] doing signing on to it?”

Philip Weiss: -Back in 1991 Ross was the main Middle East negotiator for George Bush when Bush tried to serve the American interest in the Middle East by putting a stop to the illegal settlements in the West Bank by placing conditions on loan guarantees the Israelis had sought from the U.S. to build housing for Russian immigrants. The Israelis assured Bush through Ross that they would accept the restrictions. Ross vouched for Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir to George Bush. Then Shamir continued building settlements, making Bush look like a fool. Ross was in the middle. He indicates in his book on the “peace process,” The Missing Peace, that George Bush felt that Ross had misled him. You might think that a president who feels misled by an aide would fire the aide. You’d be wrong.

Bush needed Ross more than Ross needed Bush. In fact, the following year, 1992, Ross was out there campaigning for Bush in the Jewish community, telling them that it was Bush’s “achievement” that the settlements had continued (Clayton Swisher reports in The Truth About Camp David). Bill Clinton also assured the Jewish community about the settlements in that election. Where is the American interest???

Also more at Rightweb

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Recidivist

Oops, Bush’s secret executive order connects him directly to Abu Ghraib and he kept torture provisions in place after Abu Ghraib went public, rotten apples in his head forcing his hand to sign things maybe? (ht2 Otto)

Senior FBI agents stationed in Iraq in 2004 alleged in an e-mail that President George W. Bush signed an executive order approving the use of dogs, sleep  deprivation and other tactics to intimidate Iraqi detainees.

The FBI e-mail — dated May 22, 2004 — followed disclosures about abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison and sought guidance on whether FBI agents in Iraq were obligated to report the U.S. military’s harsh interrogation of inmates when that treatment violated FBI standards but fit within the guidelines of a presidential executive order.

According to the e-mail, Bush’s executive order authorized interrogators to use military dogs, “stress positions,” sleep “management,” loud music and “sensory deprivation through the use of hoods, etc.” to extract information from detainees in Iraq, which would is considered a violation of the Geneva Conventions. Bush has never before been directly linked to authorizing specific interrogation techniques at Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib.

The May 2004 FBI e-mail stated that the FBI interrogation team in Iraq understood that despite revisions in the executive order that occurred after the furor over the Abu Ghraib abuses, the presidential sanctioning of harsh interrogation tactics had not been rescinded.

“I have been told that all interrogation techniques previously authorized by the executive order are still on the table but that certain techniques can only be used if very high-level authority is granted,” the author of the FBI e-mail said.

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Craig Murray’s Evidence on YouTube!

Update 15/05/09: There is now a transcript hosted at Craig Murray’s Website here.

Hurray for the interwebularnethighwaytubes! The entire appearance by Craig Murray before the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights is available on youtube in 7 parts here, or below the fold, also going up on that youtube channel is Philippe Sands testimony (ht2 Davide @ Blairwatch & intrepid youtuber tonyopmoc).

Craig Murray’s evidence to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights 28/4/09

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