Cowering Before Capital

If this were debt cancellation and stimulus it would be interesting and the details are not out but I somehow doubt this will be much more than doing what the markets want, the level of debt created by financialisation and neoliberal policies is socially unsustainable unless police states become standard. Nowhere in the article are people mentioned, just banks & governments. The quote ‘inability of the Greek government to live within its means‘ is such a poisonous falsehood, as if financial institutions did not for years bribe key people into endless debt restructuring not because it helped them but because it made money for the banks. This is a merry game played by elites with the costs passed onto those not allowed to participate, yet the besuited oligarchs have the chutzpah to project their irresponsibility onto their victims. This is a rescue package within the rules of the game, better than what could have happened but ultimately it prolongs the scam. Neoliberalism, does not work, financialisation in place of actual productivity does not work (excuse the pun), capitalism unregulated and unconstrained does not work, Adam Smith was actually very clear on that despite what Randroids and laissez faire fundamentalists prefer to read into his works (by current standards he’d be labeled a socialist by corporate media). What we are seeing is a rolling breakdown of  systems of human activity because we are serving the economy not making the economy serve us.

Oh and some spurious wonky shit about elections, is it just me or are you sick of the (very masculine) obsession with numbers and deals and very little mention of the consequences to people of the cuts no one seems to want to think about (is this I suspect because they are all convinced of the neoliberal arguments and wouldn’t know a socialised market if they fell over one). Or am I just stupid for hoping just a tiny bit a coalition and public appetite for reform might stymie the cuts agenda of a lib/lab coalition because they can see the tories waiting to profit off the market fetishised ‘austerity’ measures (nice euphemism for class war and shock doctrine beloved by all those who fully expect not to suffer one iota because of them, until maybe that crime spike means it’s their home invaded and they get beaten the shit out of to give up all their valuables, no really I’m trying to feel sympathy for the self absorbed privileged twats).

What? You didn’t order a rant, well you got one anyway. Try the veal, I’ll be here all week… then I’ll be at http://www.tenpercent.org.uk/

Peace out motherfunkers.

Vote Shock Doctrine

The Neoliberal consensus lack of democratic choice is in, all parties are rejecting social democracy and embracing an agenda of Neoliberal cuts, not really news but today they all made it clear, so that no voter can say oops, I really didn’t realise this was going to happen. So with no alternative -it is merely whose style of managerialism do you prefer- the election is a non event democratically speaking and for those facing unemployment or the assault on welfare the issue is one simple thing- Survival. The wags on twitter who have coined Labservative should know that is a misnomer, the correct term is Neoliberalism, because it is not a lack of change they face, there is great change, there is just no choice, it will be cuts, privatisation, deregulation and rising inequality. That is radical change, an apolitical ‘government is bad’ ‘there is no change’ reaction is in fact precisely what is wanted from you, as corporations will be handed greater unaccountable power to run our lives as apathy gives them the room for this slip into the authoritarian end stage. A radical lack of choice, an anti democratic movement is upon this country, a movement began by Thatcher in 1979 and continued by New Labour. Not recognising your enemy is a fatal mistake that leaves you open to the attacks to come. Rather than waste a minute watching television election coverage start your survival preparations with reading The Shock Doctrine, you’ll be surprised (or perhaps not) to find it predicts precisely what is now happening. And for your viewing pleasure I would throw in Adam Curtis’ trilogy- Century of the Self, The Power of Nightmares and The Trap, a dash of Manufacturing Consent would be good, as it is, as all of these are- A Primer In Intellectual Self-Defense.  The 10’s (will we call then that?) are going to be about self-defence to survive and perchance to make something better. At the moment we needed eco-socialism, social democracy and liberty our elites -of course- screwed us in their rush to serve themselves.

Press Corruption Club

So what sort of person should regulate commercial media? Would your answer include any of these-

*Enthusiastic & highly active member of the Conservative party who in her debut PCC speech makes clear her allegiances to Cameron’s tribe, so press regulation under a tory government, hmm do you suppose it might favour the ruling party while allowing attacks on opponents?

*A Baroness, oh what a democratic meritocracy we have…

*A former Chief Executive of the Advertising Association of who fought to make the media more useful to advertisers (and more hostile to those without a profit motive, y’know, health & welfare of human beings and the planet kinda thing) working with another tory who also worked for News International-

Vigorous campaigns by highly organised pressure groups such as Sustain have questioned the way young people are targeted by advertisers. Then there are Ofcom’s new TV advertising rules on promoting HFSS (high in fat, salt and sugar) foods to children. These already apply to under-nines. Next year this will extend to under-16s.

The advertising of toys to children is widely believed to be the next target for campaigners and the rise of the environmental lobby means car ads are coming under scrutiny too.

So the £16bn industry is hitting back, and the AA is leading the charge. In addition to Buscombe, the AA has brought in Jonathan Collett, a veteran of both the Tory party and News International, to fill a newly created comms and strategy adviser role.

Buscombe says: ‘Political correctness makes us a diminished people: we shy away from what needs to be said. There’s a “PC creep” that has come in. We’re frightened of being misunderstood. This means private prejudices could be entrenched – the classic one is immigration.’ A pause. ‘But we’re getting off advertising.’

Ooh, she’ll be oh so effective when the tabloids stir up race hatred with migrant bashing, won’t she? Collett is being brought in by Buscombe to the PCC-

Jonathan Collett takes up his position -Director of Communications- on 23 November, having worked as head of comms at the Advertising Association for two years.Collett was formerly public affairs manager at News International. He has also been press spokesman for Michael Howard, when he was leader of the Conservative Party.

So that’s pretty well much a takeover of the PCC by advertising, Conservatives… & Murdoch? (also makes the theory that Cameron has agreed a shopping list of Murdoch wants to implement when in power in return for support from Murdoch’s media seem not so far fetched) But really, conflict of interest much? She was a partisan for -right wing- business interests and now sits in judgement on the media.

*Wealthy, this ones sort of goes without comment most of the time, in a country with a Royal Family going on about class or money is such bad manners, but status subtly informs its own biases, wealthy people by and large do not empathise with poor, sick or unemployed people. So the press coverage that attacks them will similarly continue to go unchallenged in any official capacity, added to that she has an ideological enmity for marginalised groups, it’s a perfect storm of corporate business as usual.

So the largely ineffectual PCC will be even more ineffectual under Baroness Peta Jane Buscombe, giving us less redress against bad reporting and corporate bias while at the same protecting the Conservative party, probably as it gives Murdoch most of what he wants. In fact she’s so unsuitable there are already calls for her to resign-

A lawyer who gave evidence to the parliamentary committee investigating press behaviour, today called on Baroness Buscombe, the chair of the Press Complaints Commission, to resign. He claimed she had published what were termed “extremely serious” false allegations against him.

Solicitor Mark Lewis earlier this year, in testimony to the House of Commons culture, media and sport select committee, gave an account of a conversation he had with police, alleging that “thousands” of people were targeted by phone hacking.

Buscombe claimed at the weekend that police had been misquoted in oral evidence to the committee. She said: “Any suggestion that a parliamentary inquiry has been misled is of course an extremely serious matter.”

In a letter to Buscombe and to the chairman of the parliamentary committee, Lewis said today: “You have betrayed any semblance of impartiality and regrettably ought to find yourself in a position where the honourable action would be for you to resign.”

He said the discussion he had with Det Sgt Mark Maberley, from the team investigating the tabloid’s behaviour, had been witnessed by two others, including a barrister who was acting for his client at the time, one of the paper’s victims. Maberley told him there were 6,000 instances of phone hacking, although only one case had been prosecuted, involving the royal reporter Clive Goodman, who subsequently went to jail.

“I am deeply concerned that you have thought it proper to criticise my evidence to the select committee without either having the courtesy or the propriety to put the allegations to me first,” said Lewis. “I regret that your failure to act properly has compromised any veneer of impartiality that you sought to create.”

Lewis added: “My evidence was clear. DS Maberly had told me the 6,000 figure.”

Buscombe said she received a letter from Metropolitan police lawyers, which she did not publish or quote directly. She claimed that it said Maberley, who has not testified either to the PCC or to the parliamentary inquiry, was “wrongly quoted”.

She delivered her allegations while seeking to defend the Press Complaints Commission, which she chairs, at a weekend speech to the Society of Editors. The allegations were held back from a previously circulated text of her speech, and then issued as a public statement at short notice last night.

The PCC has been facing accusations of a whitewash, since it refused to accept new evidence supplied to the parliamentary committee by the Guardian and others, which alleged the News of the World was involved in more instances of phone hacking than merely the Goodman case. In a recent statement, the PCC denied that it had been “materially misled” by accepting previous assurances from the News of the World that Goodman had “acted alone”.

Begins to get a bit more sinister when you factor in she covers up for massive spying by corporations that has yet to be properly investigated (of course surveillance creates its own insurance, when you get the dirt on powerful people they are less likely to have you exposed and banged up). Murdoch, Cameron, Buscombe. The lies about Iraq will seem like the golden days of press truth at this rate.

Update: Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger resigns from PCC code committee I think like the government’s Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs the PCC is now a very lame duck. It’s a good sign, that some are not quite at the point where we give up all semblance of an informed democracy in order to venerate power and demagoguery.

Royal Mail’s Management Strategy- Scabbing

Wankers!

Royal Mail will recruit up to 30,000 temporary staff to deal with upcoming strikes by postal workers and the Christmas rush, the service has said. The Communication Workers Union has called two nationwide strikes next week over pay, conditions and reform. The firm said it would hire twice the usual number of extra pre-Christmas staff to cut the impact of “unjustified and irresponsible” industrial action. But the CWU said managers should be talking, not “planning for failure”. The 24-hour strikes will begin on 22 October. On the first day, mail centre staff and drivers will strike. The next day it will be delivery and collection staff.

And guess what, because of the ‘crisis’ (the creators of which are currently paying themselves multimillion pound bonuses) there are lots of unemployed people and because of welfare privatisation and ‘reform’ they cannot survive for long or take work of their choice, see how that works?

The Hollowing Out Proceeds

Oddly I was just talking about the Shock Therapy applied to Russia in the 90’s and also hearing how a debt collector was doing so well they were eyeing up a shiny new car…

Gordon Brown is to announce the sale of £16bn-worth of assets by the government in a bid to shore up public finances. The prime minister will give details of initial sales that could raise £3bn – including the Tote, the Dartford crossing and the student loan book.

Or y’know, cancel Trident, close secrecy jurisdictions and institute both minimum living income and a maximum income, if it’s an emergency and everything… But hey I’m sure the concept of billionaires is like totally sane and everything.

PS. After all We’re All In This Together,  right?

IMF & That Whole ‘Democracy’ Sham

Neoliberal enforcers mutter how it would be shame if there was a fire round ‘ere, course if you reform like we say, that fire, might never ‘appen eh? And er, y’know we can all be sitting pretty, just stop getting in the way of profit, gives the others silly ideas like. And we wouldn’t want that now would we, healthcare like, well it’s a constant & growing demand innit, ergo kerching if you get my meaning? But if some la-di-da socialised types get their ‘ands on it like you lot after that nice litttle war, well it all goes to pot, start thinking about taxing us big boys. So mind how you go and get that privatising speeded up, and er, capital might forget where it put its matches, alright?

Cut NHS costs to pay off debt, IMF warns Britain
Britain was served notice by the International Monetary Fund todaythat reforms to healthcare and pensions will be needed to repair the long-term damage to public finances caused by the global recession.

At the end of a bruising week for the prime minister, Gordon Brown, the fund rekindled memories of the spending cuts imposed on Jim Callaghan’s Labour government in the 1970s when it said the new fiscal rules promised by the chancellor, Alistair Darling, earlier this week, were not enough on their own.

The IMF is in favour of higher government spending to support activity through the most serious downturn since the second world war, but believes governments will have to take stringent steps to deal with their debt. Olivier Blanchard, the IMF’s economic counsellor, said the UK and other countries running big deficits had to take measures which improved the medium-term sustainability of the debt.

Asked specifically about the UK’s financial health, Blanchard warned that action would be needed once the crisis was over. “That means reforms of the retirement system; that means reforms of the healthcare system.

Crisis is Over!

Because the rich got our money and they are now driving down labour costs, subsidised by government, ie. your money again. Oh it’s almost funny. Mission Accomplished

The number of working Americans turning to free government food stamps has surged as their hours and wages erode, in a stark sign that the recession is inflicting pain on the employed as well as the newly jobless.

“I’m sort of stunned, it seems like a dire warning . . . that even the jobs people are retaining in this recession aren’t at the wage level and hours level that they need to provide for their families,” said Heidi Shierholz, economist at the Economic Policy Institute.

Shock Doctrine: The Motive

Money.

(CBS) Several financial giants that received federal bailout money in the last year paid out bonuses to employees in 2008 that greatly exceeded the amount of profit generated by the banks, according to a study on executive compensation released by New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo Thursday. Despite claims by bank executives that bonuses are tied to the company’s performance, the report states that “there is no clear rhyme or reason to how the banks compensate or reward their employees.” Cuomo’s investigation “suggests a disconnect between compensation and bank performance that resulted in a ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ bonus system.”

According to the report:

  • Goldman Sachs, which earned $2.3 billion last year and received $10 billion in TARP funding, paid out $4.8 billion in bonuses in 2008 – more than double their net income.
  • Morgan Stanley, which earned $1.7 billion last year and received $10 billion in bailout funds, handed out $4.475 billion in bonuses, nearly three times their net income.
  • JPMorgan Chase, which earned $5.6 billion in 2008 and received $25 billion from the government, paid out $8.69 billion in bonus money.
  • Citigroup and Merrill Lynch lost a combined $54 billion last year. They received a total of $55 billion in bailouts and paid out $9 billion in combined bonuses. ($5.33 billion for Citigroup; $3.6 billion for Merrill Lynch, which was subsequently acquired by Bank of America.)

If you haven’t read Matt Taibi’s exposé of Goldman Sachs, what’s stopping you!?!?!?!

IMF Makes $2.6B Loan To Sri Lankan Govt

Apparently concentration camps are pricier to run than you think.

Britain made clear its discontent over Sri Lanka’s treatment of Tamil refugees last night by abstaining from a vote at the International Monetary Fund to give $2.4bn (£1.46 bn) to the country.

The abstention, the first by the UK since 2004, signals the degree of unease in London over the handling of the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka following the government’s recent victory in its civil war against the Tamil Tigers. The US, Germany and France also abstained.

The British abstention was more symbolic than practical in that the IMF loan will go ahead in any case. It was approved by the IMF executive board in Washington last night, with $322 million to be made available to the Sri Lanka immediately and the rest flowing subject to quarterly reviews by the fund.

Speaking for Tamils Against Genocide (TAG), the US-based activist group that filed law suit seeking an injunction against a US IMF vote, British representative of TAG, Jan Jananayagam said: “Our law suit is vindicated by the U.S abstention. Tamil people are also grateful to the UK and France for showing their opposition to the IMF loan to Sri Lanka.

“The IMF Board’s decision to reward Sri Lanka for racism and genocide despite the opposition of the United Kingdom and others is appalling. In the guise of “development” the IMF is helping to fund ethnic cleansing and militarisation via “High security zones” of the Tamil areas. While the entire Tamil population of the region are imprisoned in concentration camps, the government has announced its intention to change the ethnic composition by financing Sinhala settlers to immigrate to the formerly Tamil areas.

“There is evidence that many of the 300 000 inmates of the camps are being used as slave labour. Under these circumstances the IMF cannot credibly assert that “free market” market conditions that are “blind to race” exist in Sri Lanka.

“While the IMF may stave off default in Sri Lanka, unconscionable actions such as this may risk further disillusionment and radicalisation of Tamil populations globally,” Ms Jananayagam added.

A spokesperson for the US-based rights group, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said: “The government continues to hold displaced persons in detention camps in violation of their rights to liberty and freedom of movement, limiting their ability to communicate and talk to others about what happened in the final stages of the war.

“It prohibits aid agencies from speaking out about poor conditions in the camps and expels critics. Persons suspected of having LTTE ties have been detained incommunicado, contrary to international law, and credible reports indicate that at least some have been mistreated,” the Times reported.

Posted in Capitalism, Genocide, Human Rights. Tags: , , . Comments Off on IMF Makes $2.6B Loan To Sri Lankan Govt

Shock Doctrine

Nice they admit they are just trouble-shooters for the financiers though…

David Cameron may be forced to stage a rapid post-election budget to calm the markets and prevent a drop in Britain’s credit rating in the first days of a Tory government, Philip Hammond, the shadow Treasury chief secretary, warns in a Guardian interview today.

Anticipating an era of deep short-term cuts in public spending, Hammond urges voters to give the Conservatives a big majority so a new government can act boldly to cut the public debt, warning that the public finances are in such a state “the worst outcome for Britain would be an unclear political result at the election”.

Hammond, destined to be the man to rein in public spending if the Tories gain power, also concedes he is “likely to become a great figure to pin up on the dartboard, and throw darts at. I am sure there will be short-term pain and brickbats.”

But he argues: “It is absolutely not the case that people in the public services are dreading this, or saying ‘oh my God, what is going to happen?’ ” He claims civil servants are preparing to make cuts without waiting for instructions from on high. “There is a sense of liberation that we are going to empower public sector professionals to undertake the reform.”

Setting out Tory ideas, Hammond discloses there will have to be a budget either soon after a spring election, or in the autumn, so the Conservatives can start to rein in public spending next year.

He warns that Britain’s credit-worthiness could be downgraded, pushing the economy into crisis. Such a move, which has been threatened by the international credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s, would make it much more expensive to pay back the national debt, which this week reached a record £799bn.

Canada’s Neocons Privatise Nuclear Industry

The federal government will announce today a plan to seek buyers for Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.’s nuclear reactor business, and bring in private-sector management for AECL’s problem-plagued Chalk River facility. After a two-year review of Ottawa’s flagship nuclear company, Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt will launch a sale process with the aim of finding a major international partner for AECL to help boost global sales of its Candu reactors.

This as the federal government looks to raise money from asset sales to reduce its soaring deficit. The effort is hampered by depressed real estate prices.

It is worth pointing out the review was undertaken by the National Bank of Canada which looked for buyers. Thus we see some standard Shock Doctrine, facts being fixed around a policy by complimentary ideologues leading to a privatisation in time of crisis-

 The government’s decision to restructure AECL is its response to a report it commissioned from the National Bank of Canada last year to advise it on what, if anything, it ought to do with the Crown corporation. The bank advised that it should sell at least 51 per cent of AECL and encourage it to strike new deals with international players to help it make new sales in international markets. Government officials said National Bank found significant interest in buying a chunk of AECL although the bank’s discussions with potential buyers concluded in the first half of 2008. Government officials conceded that market interest may have withered because of the onset of the global recession.

Or put another way- the price will be low for the buyers they are lining up- expect some revolving door consultancies and directorships. As for the Tory Minister Lisa Raitt, she sued public groups to stifle their free speech when head of the Toronto Port Authority and celebrated how climate change would be good for Canada. The NRU unit at Chalk river that provides medical isotopes (one third of world supplies) will remain in government hands, it is currently shut down, leaks and is 51 years old. Thus liabilities remain on public hands even as they look to install a private sector manager for the plant, US style. A Canadian blogger writes

Lisa Raitt’s Nuclear Yard Sale- My husband studied physics engineering at McMaster University, and worked at the accelerator lab there as a nuclear safety technician. So he knows his nukes.

He’s yelling at the TV right now.

Not surprising when-

Ottawa will continue to fund research to support AECL’s commercial business, and could be left with legacy costs from the firm’s need to deal with nuclear waste.

It’s a corporate neoliberal wet dream!

Every Car Journey Logged By Police

The BBC have a new series Who’s Watching You, a filleted excerpt (sans establishment friendly ‘balance’) from the story they are leading with to promote it-

A national network of cameras and computers automatically logging car number plates will be in place within months, the BBC has learned.

A number of local councils are signing up their Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) systems to the ANPR network. As long as the cameras are technically good enough, they can be adapted to take the software.

John Dean, who is co-ordinating the ANPR network for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said: “It’s the finest intelligence-led policing tool we’ve got.

John Catt found himself on the wrong side of the ANPR system. He regularly attends anti-war demonstrations outside a factory in Brighton, his home town.

It was at one of these protests that Sussex police put a “marker” on his car. That meant he was added to a “hotlist”.

This is a system meant for criminals but John Catt has not been convicted of anything and on a trip to London, the pensioner found himself pulled over by an anti-terror unit.

“I was threatened under the Terrorist Act. I had to answer every question they put to me, and if there were any questions I would refuse to answer, I would be arrested. I thought to myself, what kind of world are we living in?”

Sussex police would not talk about the case.

The police say they do not know how many cameras there are in total, and they say that for operational reasons they will not say where the fixed cameras are positioned.

Information Commissioner Richard Thomas, whose job it is to protect personal data, has concerns about the lack of regulation. He said: “There’s very little monitoring. I mean, my office has very limited powers. We have very limited resources. We are not actively monitoring that area. You’re right to ask the question. No one’s checking it at the moment”

Note the repeating themes -the private corporation the Association of Chief Police Officers working with government, surveillance industry friendly surveys & implementation and the misuse of terror laws to harass dissenters. End stage neoliberal authoritarianism is shaping up nicely (even with the odd hiccup). Worth reading again- China is building the prototype for a high-tech police state. It is ready for export. We have this myth put about that capitalism = democracy/freedom (not least by Edward Bernays) it is PR concocted by corporations, China is a capitalist as they come these days. We are converging towards endemic surveillance, it’s funny London will host the next Olympics. It’s all going to be a shiny happy corporate world and anyone who says different, might need to be watched, closely.

Dear IMF

Would you kindly Fuck Off, you neoliberal shills. I know you enjoy presenting your demonstrably failed ideology as an objective law of nature, but it really gets on one’s tits after a while. Thank you.

Iraq Plunder

Iraq’s entire cabinet lands in London on Thursday on an investment drive to help build a country whose future seems increasingly linked to foreign money instead of its own dwindling oil wealth.

The fall in the price of oil and the knock-on effects of the global financial crisis have thrown the brittle nation’s budget projections into chaos, with the government admitting it faces a serious revenue crisis in 2010 that could derail almost all of its blue-sky projects.

And guess who’s coming to dinner, the neoliberals are licking their chops-

“They are still in a stage of building up private sector awareness,” said Britain’s ambassador to Iraq, Christopher Prentice. “Iraq needs a wide education campaign to re-programme 30 years of thinking.

“Public-private sector partnerships are still at an early phase. Successful joint ventures and public-private enterprises will be the agents for change.”

Al-Zubeidi said a change in thinking had been forced on the government. “I think we have to open more to the international private sector,” he said.

Mission Accomplished.

Nice Try Neoliberal Scum

The Institute for Fiscal Studies founded by a banker, an investment trust manager, a stockbroker and a tax consultant can Fuck Off. Take their piece of shit report and stuff if up their biased right wing financier arses. You feel me?