Corporate&Random life11 Sep 2006 09:54 am

The stickiest-floored pub in Soho is closing after 222 years.

I’m not personally inconvenienced, as it’s a vile old pit and I never set foot in it if I have a choice in the matter. But I feel duty-bound to make a fuss, because (a) turning old central London buildings into premium housing is an epidemic, (b) goths are an endangered species and destroying more of their natural habitat can only speed their extinction, and (c) the tenuous link of its foxy name.

Despite (a) above, if The Man decides to turn 10 Downing Street into a fun-o-matic edutainment theme park in due course, I shan’t object.

Activism&Corporate&South Asia29 Sep 2005 03:03 pm

India is on strike in protest at its government’s privatisation plans.

Good luck, people. You will need it.

“जीवन का अर्थ ही क्या रह जाएगा यदि हम में सतत प्रयत्न करने का साहस न रहे।”
– विन्सेंट वान गौह

American politics&Corporate&Human rights09 Sep 2005 10:58 am

I initially wrote this as a comment to the post below but, having finally realised (with help from Mr Swiss) that it is crazy to bury long rants in comments and later plead blogger’s block, I am posting it here instead.

Pat commented that the article quoted in the post below is very harsh.

Well yes, it is harsh. I agree. As I said, I doubt I would’ve put it quite like that.

Nonetheless, I share the sentiment behind it.

The idea that a shoot-to-kill policy was put in force in New Orleans to stop looting – to protect property over human life, in other words – is just staggering.

I know there are some fairly effective attempts by officials to excuse this, such as the “We’re just protecting law-abiding citizens from rapists and crack addicts” excuse, but the bottom line is exactly what that article says: “one item of our property is worth more than your life”. Initially, it was admitted in the international media that the shoot-to-kill approach was intended to protect property, presumably to reassure those who have some. That cry seems to have turned to a whisper, in the face of international disapproval, but it doesn’t change the motive.

This is capitalism at its rawest, without the usual sweeteners which make it palatable.

In modern life, money rules. You will be killed if you attempt to come between capital and the rich. That’s true for everyone, everywhere. The police protect those with property; those who have power, influence, things. The life of a poor person is worth less than a single dollar to the rich. You need only look at the local droughts around Coca-Cola’s bottling plants, or the sweatshop labour of Asia, to see that. It’s not news to any of us. We know what makes the world go round.

Again, it doesn’t really shock any of us that poor, disenfranchised people are not considered worthy of much official effort when it comes to saving lives. They do not constitute an important market, and they are not sufficiently shackled to the labour market, for various reasons, to affect the economy. So what use are they? (See also: most of Africa.)

So what’s most chilling of all about the New Orleans situation is that it is not an anomaly. It is merely the hideous face of modern capitalism without its make-up on.

American politics&Corporate&Human rights&Race08 Sep 2005 07:43 pm

I didn’t write this. I found it on this Indymedia post and thought it said all the things I’d been wanting to write in response to recent discussions, only more succinctly. And more aggressively than I would’ve said it, to be honest, but it still saves me a job. (Lazy, moi?) So here it is.

Priorities of Empire

The American ruling class couldn’t give a shit about the largely poor and black population of New Orleans. To these corporate oligarchs the poor are just so much expendable trash, to be confined in prisons or sent to die in colonial wars.

The truth is revealed: America is neither a nation nor a community – it’s a rich man’s racket, a con imposed on the majority of the population. As a political entity it has ceased to exist for the majority of the population who are left out of the social contract. The sadistic oratory of the governer says it all: if you are starving we will shoot you, we will shoot to kill… The czar of Russia couldn’t have put it more crudely. We are your rulers, you are scum, one item of our property is worth more than your life, and the life of your family. Challenge one iota of our wealth and power and we will destroy you like an insect.

America wake up…refuse to fight, refuse to kill, take your country back from the slime that claim to rule in your name.

‘Dr Strangelove’

American politics&Corporate&News media&The art of blog15 Mar 2005 12:08 am

Hello all. Apologies for the cursory nature of my entries lately. Finally, I have found a moment to pop in and wave blearily. This is in direct defiance of my clock’s disapproving face, which clearly implies “Time you weren’t sitting at a computer any more, Foxy ol’ thing”. Yes, it’s actually frowning at me. Well, kinda. OK, no it’s not.

Anyway, I’ve just got time to note that bloggers are officially not journalists in the eyes of the American establishment. Which presumably means we don’t need to adhere to the pesky libel laws either? Good-o.

The BBC (see link above), as ever, are reporting this news as though it defines world legislation rather than merely that of a foreign country, so expect the legal concept to drift across the Atlantic and into our statutes soon.

And the second “Duh, really?” news story of the day award goes to Army Life Conducive To Bullying And Violence. Well, knock me down with an AK47. Who’d have thought it?

British politics&Corporate&Human rights26 Jan 2005 11:18 pm

First loyalty cards, now spy chips. The leading British supermarket, Tesco, has taken another step forward in its mission to collect every possible item of data about its customers: it is trialling the insertion of RFID chips into its products.

What are RFID chips, the innocent shopper may ask? Well, RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. Essentially they’re spy devices. No bigger than a grain of sand, they enable the store to monitor exactly what and where the product is.

Tesco have already experimented with these chips. Eighteen months ago, they placed them inside Gillette razor packets. The chips triggered a hidden camera under the shelf to take a photo of the shopper picking up the product. This move was in violation of an internationally agreed moratorium on RFID experimentation.

The latest trials are taking place in Tesco’s Sandhurst and Leicester stores. The only notice the supermarket is giving its customers of the trial is worded thus:

Not quite the comprehensive warning consumer groups might have expected.

Eventually, the RFID industry hopes that the technology will replace barcodes. The chips will be embedded in anything from clothing to magazines to household products. It means anyone with the correct reader device will be able to tell exactly what you’re wearing and carrying the moment you walk into a room. And anyone living in the “developed” world will be able to imagine the implications RFID technology could have for increased corporate control of people’s lives.

This isn’t science fiction; it’s happening now. What are your thoughts?

(Key points and photo taken from Indymedia and, which provide a much more detailed examination of the issue. There is also a general overview of RFID technology here.)

American politics&British politics&Corporate&Global politics&Middle East05 Dec 2004 04:14 pm

Last April, human rights journalists and protesters Ewa Jasiewicz and Pennie Quinton forced their way into the Iraq Procurement 2004 conference.

The official conference website announced it would “bring to life the enormous trade and investment potential of Iraq making it the event for any forward thinking business looking to secure contracts, establish trade partnerships and explore the numerous investment opportunities available within the region”.

Jasiewicz and Quinton took disruptive action because they claim the government-approved pillage and privatisation of post-war Iraq by Western big business is illegal. They are not alone in believing such activity is theft.

This protest successfully led to the evacuation and suspension of the conference. Jasiewicz and Quinton were arrested for aggravated trespass.

But recently, the Crown Prosecution Service made the surprising decision to drop charges against them. This decision was seen as politically-motivated. So Jasiewicz and Quinton are opting to take the government and the organisers of the conference to court anyway. Under Section 23 of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985, they are entitled to do so.

As if any more proof were needed that “war is a racket” (as Major General Smedley Butler puts it), take a look at this:

Bet On Iraq

I’ve read this page several times and my jaw drops further each time. See what you think.

The site’s tagline is “Because liberty breeds prosperity.” It sets out the case that Americans should buy the Iraqi dinar now, while it is devalued by the destruction of the country, in order to profit later when it is rebuilt to the pattern of American democracy.

The people who set up the site call themselves “freedom loving Americans that believe a liberated, resource rich Iraq can become a force in the world economy”. Read the site and you’ll see just what kind of “freedom” they love.

It says “After years of trade sanctions, and rampant counterfeiting, the Iraqi Dinar has plummeted from its pre-Gulf War value of over USD$3, to mere fractions of one US cent.” No moral position is taken on this. Americans are not asked to reflect on the devastation their country’s actions have wreaked on Iraq, just to keep in mind the possibility of profiting from it.

Or, in their words, ” We simply trust that the seed of freedom, implanted more than a year ago with the fall of Saddam’s regime, has germinated in the hearts of the majority of the Iraqi people. We see this as a wondrous thing, with tremendous possibilities.”

Possibilities for whom? Americans, of course.

The “freedom” the site talks about is the freedom of Western corporations and Western currency speculators to colonise Iraq’s economy. It makes no allowances for the “freedom” of Iraqis to decide how they want their post-Saddam country to work. According to this site, economic prosperity for Iraq equals market capture by Western corporations, offering only a Western-style lifestyle, in a Western-style capitalist democracy. Iraqis apparently have access to no “possibilities” beyond these.

Here is their chilling guide to future markers of prosperity:

“You see people drinking locally bottled, genuine Pepsi Cola; not the ersatz they’d been consuming for years. They are buying their cars from Baghdad Mitsubishi.

Their highly educated engineers, no longer waiting tables or driving cabs, are engineering. The world’s 2nd largest oil reserve is producing more efficiently. Higher quality crops are being harvested, in larger numbers.”

According to this, prosperity will come as a result of Iraq’s own Muslim culture being subdued and Western consumerist culture being imported. Its oil production will presumably be subjected to the sort of “effiency” measures which allow America first rights of access, and price each barrel in dollars, not (Saddam’s preferred) euros. And Iraq’s pre-sanction level of prosperity is edited out of history. The site admits UN sanctions destroyed the economy, hence the devalued dinar, but somehow still fails to join the dots. Saddam’s dictatorship is apparently responsible for all Iraq’s problems, even the problems the international community created.

And where did the “engineers… waiting tables or driving cabs” story come from? Iraq had a thriving professional class before the war, and hopefully some of them will survive it. Are the people behind the Bet On Iraq site assuming nobody in America really knows what Iraqi life was like before US-led wars?

Well, yes they are.

But even if you buy into this myopic, xenophobic “there is no way but our way” belief system, there’s another problem. Aren’t Iraqis fighting to the death to rid their country of the pirates who seek to plunder their resources and crush their society into a mirror image of the West? Isn’t that what the “insurgents” are doing right now?

No, don’t be silly. They’re just trying to clear room for the Fallujah branch of Starbucks. See:

” This is no pipe dream. This is a genuine possibility, with remarkable ramifications. Organizations like Operation Iraqi Children working with the US military, are helping to shape a new generation of freedom loving Iraqis. It won’t be long before these kids take their place in society. They will recall their childhood as the time when powerful Americans released them from the grip of a bloodthirsty madman, and gave them the tools and support to build a peaceful, prosperous society to call their own. Evidence suggests they will run with it.”

May I draw your attention to the use of the phrase “to call their own”? Orwellian doublespeak doesn’t come much purer than that.

In case you were in any doubt, the site also shows a cute picture of an Iraqi girl in a headscarf smiling while holding an American flag aloft. That proves the Iraqi people really don’t mind America and Britain bombing and looting their homeland. Phew, what a relief!

You can order your Iraqi dinars directly through the Bet On Iraq site. Good luck with the whole sleeping at night thing.

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