Even monkeys know what is fair and equitable, which is more than can be said for the vile ConDem government.
Archive for the ‘democracy’ Category
Saxmundham is a small market town in Suffolk. Its main name to fame is the town that said no to Tesco. The local council consulted with local people and said no to Tesco, enabling the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker, to thrive.
Contrast with the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor (as it is known locally), where half of Farnborough town centre was destroyed for an unwanted Sainsbury’s superstore and in neighbouring Aldershot, the edge-of-town centre Westgate (or Wastegate as local retailers call it) is laying waste to Aldershot town centre.
Kent appears to be acquiring a reputation as the County that says No to Tesco.
At long last, local councils are listening to what local people are saying, that they do not want Clone Towns, do not wish to see their town centres full of identikit shops, boarded-up shops, betting shops, same old corporate chain coffee shops serving rubbish coffee and factory cakes, nor do they want to see their pubs destroyed for Tesco supermarkets or turned into a tacky McDonald’s.
Guildford has said no to an Aldi superstore (though Aldi has threatened to appeal).
Totnes said no to Costa, the local council said yes, but local people had the last laugh and have driven Costa out of town with their corporate tail between their legs.
Even the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor is starting to heed local people and has put in measures to stop the derelict Tumbledown Dick being turned into a Drive-Thru McDonald’s.
When police carried out a routine stop-and-search of her boyfriend on the London Underground, Gemma Atkinson filmed the incident. She was detained, handcuffed and threatened with arrest. She launched a legal battle, which ended with the police settling the case in 2010. With the money from the settlement she funded the production of this animated film, which she says shows how her story and highlights police misuse of counterterrorism powers to restrict photography.
Photography is under attack. Across the country it that seems anyone with a camera is being targeted as a potential terrorist, whether amateur or professional, whether landscape, architectural or street photographer.
Not only is it corrosive of press freedom but creation of the collective visual history of our country is extinguished by anti-terrorist legislation designed to protect the heritage it prevents us recording.
This campaign is for everyone who values visual imagery, not just photographers.
We must work together now to stop this before photography becomes a part of history rather than a way of recording it.
Provided you are not a terrorist, provided you are not obstructing police carrying out their legitimate duties, you are free to take photos in public places.
An innovative political animation series that looks at how two young girls struggle to deal with the country’s economic, political, social, and moral crisis in their own very special way has been launched by the Eleftherotypia newspaper.
The cartoons feature a set cast of characters centred on Sara, a shy girl from a conservative home whose political views are largely informed by her military dad, and the boisterous Mara, whose father is a hacker and mother an anarchist and who gets all her news from Twitter.
The girls meet regularly on Syntagma Square outside parliament, where they come to observe and comment on political goings-on both in the chamber and on the square.
We are Sara and Mara. We are Greek and like to hang out in #Syntagma Square, Athens. Join us. Talk to us. #Greece.
According to bestselling author Naomi Klein, the systemic use of shock and fear by the power elites to undermine vulnerable communities is very much evident in post-bailout Greece. From the rise of racism to the sell-off of the country’s oil and natural gas resources – much of what will shape Greece’s immediate future are, she argues, predictable consequences of the politics of austerity.
Naomi Klein is the author of controversial New York Times bestseller The Shock Doctrine, which has been referred to as “the master narrative of our time”. The book argues that business interests and powerful nations exploit shocks in the form of natural disasters, economic problems, or political turmoil, as an opportunity to aggressively restructure vulnerable countries’ economies. She posits that because ultra-capitalistic policies are harmful to the majority of citizens, they cannot be implemented without a shock, ranging from media-hyped anxiety to police torture, that squashes popular resistance. In this exclusive interview, Klein explains how she believes the Shock Doctrine relates to Greece today.
How do events in Greece relate to your arguments in The Shock Doctrine?
To me it is a classic example of the things I wrote about. It’s heartbreaking to see the same tricks and the same tactics being used so brutally. And there’s been enormous resistance in Greece. It’s particularly distressing to see the violent repression of the social movements that were resisting austerity. And it’s just been going on for so long now. People get worn down.
What I’ve been following recently is the sell-off of natural resources for mining and drilling. That’s the next frontier of how this is going to play out – the scramble for oil and gas in the Aegean. And it’s going to affect Cyprus as well. This is a whole other level of using austerity and debt to force countries to sell off their mining and drilling rights for fire sale prices.
When you add the climate crisis on top of that it is particularly culpable that you have an economic crisis being used as leverage to extract more fossil fuels, especially because Greece itself very climate vulnerable. And I think its possible that, as the scramble for oil and gas heats up, there will be more resistance because it’s a huge threat to Greece’s economy.
How much does climate change affect your argument?
Because I am working on a book and a film on climate change, that’s why I’ve been following the extractive side of the shock doctrine in Greece, which has gotten a lot less attention. Understandably, people are focused on having their pensions cut, and the layoffs – and those definitely are more immediate. Although in the case of the [Skouries] goldmine, there is an immediate threat to safety, to livelihood, and to economy, and so people are extremely vocal about that.
But the part of this that I find so culpable, and so deeply immoral, is that the rise of fascism in this context is entirely predictable. We know that this is what happens. And this is supposedly the lesson of the Second World War: If you impose punishing and humiliating sanctions on a country, it creates the right breeding grounds for fascism. That’s what Keynes warned about when he wrote The Economic Consequences of the Peace, regarding the Treaty of Versailles. To me it’s so incredible that we continue to allow history to repeat in this way.
Greeks have this particular fear that’s being exploited, around the fear of becoming a developing country, becoming a third world country. And I think in Greece there’s always been this sense of hanging on to Europe by a thread. And the threat is having that thread cut. That fear plays out in two ways: One that you can’t leave the eurozone because that will be the end of your status as a developed country. And then on attacks on migrants and in the anti-immigrant backlash.
Just because something bad is happening doesn’t mean you’re going to go into shock. Shock is what happens when you lose your narrative, when you no longer understand where you are in time and space. You don’t know what your story is anymore.
In The Shock Doctrine you talk about how countries the IMF lent money to were said to have sick economies, and specifically, to have ‘cancer.’ But with Greece we talk about ‘contagion.’ What are the implications of this change in metaphor?
‘Cancer’ is already a violent discourse. When you diagnose a country with cancer whatever treatment you go with is justified, it’s necessarily lifesaving. That’s the whole point of the cancer metaphor. Once you have that diagnosis, you, as the doctor, are not culpable for the negative affects of the treatment.
But calling it a contagion of course means that this is about keeping it contained, and preventing whatever rebelliousness is being incubated from spreading, particularly to Cyprus, Portugal and Spain.
When you have these fears of a contagion, when investors are afraid of a whole region, it means that that region has power to come together as a block with a much stronger hand. This is what I wrote about in the book about Latin America in the 1980s, with the so-called debt-shock. Where it would have been next to impossible for individual countries to stand up to the power of the IMF. But if Latin America as a block had organised themselves and stood up to the IMF together, then they actually would have had the power to break them. And then you would have had a much more even negotiation. I’ve always thought that this is one of the answers to the idea of contagion. If that’s what your opponents are afraid of, organise into a negotiating block.
So the countries of southern Europe should come together negotiations with the troika?
I would think so, yes. It’s called a debtors’ cartel. But it never happens. As far as I know it hasn’t been tried.
There is a concerted attempt to create the false equivalency between an individual who went into a little bit of consumer debt, and a bank who leveraged themselves 33-1. It’s an outrageous comparison.
Former deputy prime minister Theodoros Pangalos said, “We all gorged together” – as in every Greek was complicit to causing the crisis. In contrast, Alexis Tsipras, the head of main opposition party Syriza, has pointed the finger at Angela Merkel and her followers. How should the way that the crisis came about affect the way we try to solve it?
If you accept the premise that everybody created this crisis equally, then you have created the context where collective punishment is acceptable. That is the whole point of this false equivalency.
There is a concerted attempt to create the false equivalency between an individual who went into a little bit of consumer debt, and a bank who leveraged themselves 33-1. It’s an outrageous comparison. But unfortunately this is the way economics is discussed in our culture where you always have these equivalencies. Between family debt and the debt of a nation. ‘Would you run your house this way?’ It’s a ridiculous comparison because the way you run your house is not the way you run your country. We all gorged together … that means everyone has to starve. But of course we know everybody won’t starve.
The journalist who published the identity of the names on the Lagarde list, Kostas Vaxevanis, said in an interview with the Guardian that Greeks have to go to the foreign press to get news on their own country. What is the role of the press in either assisting or resisting the shock doctrine?
Information is shock resistance. The state of shock that is so easy to exploit is a state of confusion. It’s a loss of story, it’s that panic that sets in, this window that opens up, when things are changing very, very quickly. And those are the moments when we need our media more than ever. This is the collective way that we ‘renarrativise’ ourselves. We tell ourselves a story, we keep ourselves oriented – if we have a good media.
Information is shock resistance.
Just because something bad is happening doesn’t mean you’re going to go into shock. Shock is what happens when you lose your narrative, when you no longer understand where you are in time and space. You don’t know what your story is anymore. That’s when you are very vulnerable to somebody coming along and telling you, ‘This is the story.’
Greeks have this particular fear that’s being exploited, around the fear of becoming a developing country, becoming a third world country. And I think in Greece there’s always been this sense of hanging on to Europe by a thread. And the threat is having that thread cut.
None of this can happen without a complicit media, a media willing to work with the elites, and spread the fear. It’s the fear that’s fuelling this, the fear of falling, falling out of Europe, falling into the developing world. Politicians don’t have the ability to spread that fear on their own. They need the commentaries. They need the hysteria on the talk shows.
Journalists have to understand that none of this can happen without us. We are not just observers. In these moments when it’s all about fear and orientation and loss of story, we are actors in this and we have choice. Are we going to help people stay oriented, or are we going to be tools of the elites?
Whether it’s fear of immigrants, or this supposed calamity in the future that prevents people from looking at the calamity in the present. The calamity has come. This is a depression. But by constantly focusing people on the worst thing that could happen down the road that is always being put in front of you, then you are not focusing on the outrageous, masochistic attack that has been inflicted on this country.
The roots of this are the financial crisis in 2008. And it was the journalists who didn’t ask the questions in the first place, and fed all of this hype about a market boom that was going to last forever and didn’t ask those questions.
We are deep in this. Both in creating the context for the economic crash in the first place, and now being tools of the elites and how we respond to it.
Original article by Lynn Edmonds published by ENetEnglish.
The evil ConDem government in UK is using Shock Doctrine. A debt crisis is being used as an excuse for slash and burn of public services, to savagely cut benefits for the poor and disabled, with the mantra, we are all in it together. Coupled with a weak and spineless parliamentary opposition that competes to see who can hit the poor and disadvantaged the hardest.
To take a life when a life has been lost is revenge, not justice. – Desmond Tutu
London’s pubs are a step closer to being protected from demolition or conversion into homes, shops or office blocks after Boris Johnson agreed to list them as “community assets” in his planning guidance for councils.
The Mayor told Tory Assembly members he would include a specific protection for community pubs to stop them being taken over by developers.
This would mean that the onus to protect a local pub would lie with borough planning departments rather than with the local community, as is currently the case.
More than two pubs are closing every day across the country and London has lost 1,300 in the past decade. Assembly member Steve O’Connell, a Conservative, said: “Good pubs are an asset to London’s communities. They deserve to be mentioned specifically in the Mayor’s forthcoming planning guidance to borough councils — at the moment they are covered as a broad generalisation.
“Unfortunately, a high number of these pubs are demolished or converted to other uses such as residential and retail services which radically alter community spaces and change the tone of the high street.”
A recent report by the Tories recommended that London’s boroughs should step in with stricter planning policies that favour protecting pubs as community hubs.
It also called for strict criteria when it comes to planning applications for changing the use of a pub or demolishing it. These might include the need to demonstrate that the pub has been vacant for at least two years, making sure the character of the street scene is not detrimentally affected, and retaining significant features of historic value.
It comes after a high-profile Chelsea pub was saved from redevelopment into a £20 million home after a huge campaign against its closure.
Residents including actor Hugh Grant and former footballer Sol Campbell were among more than 1,000 people who signed a petition against a planning application to turn the Phene Arms into a residence complete with steam room, swimming pool and gym complex.
Rodger Molyneux, director of The Hope in Carshalton, says that if a pub is lost part of the community dies.
“Listing a pub as a community asset helps to see off the property developers who are the main reason pubs go down. There’s plenty of help now but when we were doing it three and a half years ago, it was very different. A number of us stood around in the bar one night and thought we should get together and buy it. They pointed to me and said ‘you organise it’. It took months of legal ups and downs but we got it eventually. We’ve grown the business and made the place nicer. We made it how beer drinkers like a pub to be.
“I would hope that every local authority in the land will use their new powers to stop unwanted and unwarranted attacks on a great British institution.”
Originally published in the Evening Standard.
Lord Freud is happy to bring in the Bedroom Tax and make the poor homeless, finally has a word with Channel 4 News on the subject of Bedroom Tax.
Disabled children are just one group who will be heavily impacted by the obscene Bedroom Tax.
Consultants write reports, a lot of time, money and effort is expended to get specially adapted bedroom for children with disabilities. All for nought when the vile ConDem government tells them to downsize to a smaller house, because they call it as a spare bedroom, subject to a Bedroom Tax.
Adults with disabilities, have sufficient stress in their lives, without the additional stress of having their disability benefits taken away.
Its says it all when David Cameron chooses The Sun to write in to say the cuts are fair.
The top rate of tax, paid by the 1% highest earners who earn over £150,000/year, will fall from 50% to 45%.
Meanwhile at the other end of the scale, the people with the lowest income – those on unemployment and disability benefits in Birmingham – face paying 20% of their council tax bill.
18 pubs a week are being destroyed, not because of failings by pub landlords or because beer is too expensive, they are closing because greedy zombie pubcos are screwing the pub landlords, driving them out off business, then selling the pub off for redevelopment.
- How zombie pubco Punch is destroying pubs
- McDonald’s criticised by MPs for targeting pubs in the search for new sites
- Greedy pubcos are destroying our pubs
- Residents fear Gwernymynydd pub could be demolished for housing
It would be a tragedy if The Queen Hotel is demolished or even if it was gutted for housing.
It should be listed by the local council as a building of local historic importance, as it meets the criteria. But is it? If it is, it affords a degree of protection as it cannot be demolished, but then why are two pubs in nearby Farnborough, The Ship Inn and The Tumbledown Dick not listed.
The local council lacks a pub protection policy, even though required to have one by national planning policy. A pub protection policy would require the pub to be put on the market as a pub. Though I note there was a For Sale board on the pub which has recently been removed. But for sale as what, a pub or a site with redevelopment potential?
The All Party Parliamentary pub group has written to the local council to ask what is their pub protection policy. It will be interesting to see what is their response, in the light they lack one and the council were told they are not required to have one.
- Save the Pub group writes to councils urging greater protection for community pubs under planning rules
The good news: Wetherspoon may have pulled out of trashing The Arcade. Wetherspoon may be the buyer of The Queen Hotel. But this needs to be confirmed.
A lot of rubbish mainly smear tactics by the EU, has talked of Russian dirty money. If you want to talk of Russian dirty money, look to London, the cesspit of criminal and casino banking.
The problems in Cyprus is the RBS story all over again.
A reputable bank, that makes its money, as all banks should do, by lending money and making money on interest on loans, goes for massive expansion, casino banking. Massive investment in Greek government bonds, which went pear shaped. There was also massive dodgy loans in Greece.
The employees of the bank were let us say encouraged to take out massive loans to buy shares in the bank’s shares that are now worthless. They were also discouraged to sell their shares only to learn once the bank had collapsed and their shares worthless, the very same people who had pressurised them into buying worthless shares, had sold their shares.
And who are the people with deposits over 100,000 euros? These were Cypriot businesses. One law firms estimates they have lost over 20 million euros. Many Cypriot businesses are now facing bankruptcy. Many, even if they have not lost money directly in the theft of money from accounts, have problems as there is now no means to processes credit card payments. Suppliers are demanding payment in cash, staff want payment in cash.
Laiki Bank was a reputable bank until Greeks bought a minority share, then a controlling share. That was when its troubles started, massive expansion, especially in Greece, billions in bad loans in Greece.
And what of the Russians? Many got wind of what was about to happen, and moved their money before the crash.
The real woes of Cyprus date from joining the EU and being forced to join the euro (all new entrants had no choice other than to adopt the euro). Overnight Cyprus lost control over its own economy.
Cyprus then went on a massive house building spree. In the area of Paralimni, Protaras and Ayia Napa there are rows and rows of near identical housing as far as the eye can see. Everyone jumped on the bandwagon, farmers found they were rich beyond belief if only they sold their land. The net result was Cyprus, in an act of crass stupidity, sold off its best farmland. Even before the crash many of these houses stood empty.
RBS was bailed out by the British taxpayer (though should have been allowed to go bust). In Iceland the banks were allowed to go bust. Cyprus should have followed the Icelandic example and let the broken banks go bust. Instead, Cyprus is going through a lot of pain, not to help Cyprus but to prop up the euro.
Banks that are too big to fail. And if they are allowed to fail they cause massive economic damage as we are now seeing in Cyprus.
In London there has been a failure to break up the banks. They have to be broken into smaller banks, they have to be split retail banking from casino banking.
The Greek takeover of Laiki, with corrupt politicians and regulators turning a blind eye, was nothing less than yet another Ponzi scheme. The ones left paying the bill, Cypriots, and especially bank employees (who not only have lost their jobs but invested on borrowed money in worthless bank shares), business people whose business now hang on a thread.
Cyprus still has a tourist industry, but even it has been going into meltdown. Here too, mistakes have been made. Cyprus once a quality holiday destination has gone down market into the gutter, attracting the bottom end of the tourist market, the drunks, quality hotels turning themselves into little more than wedding factories.
CyprusAid 2013, a free concert that took place in Nicosia. Those who attended were asked to bring free food for those worse off than themselves.