Thursday, February 25, 2021

Socialist Sonnet No. 22

 Old Story Still Being Told

 

Firstly, burners cut and charcoaled the oak,

Then miners dug, broke and smelted the ore,

Puddlers puddled until ready to pour

Into sand-fashioned mould, stream of fire and smoke

To cool and shape and readied for smithing.

Heat ‘n’ hammer, heat ‘n’ hammer, driving

Out impurities before arriving

At the tempered blade. Next, grinders grinding

The keen edges, all measured by the hour,

Making manifest their muscle and mind,

All adding value, each of its own kind,

A realisation of labour power.

 

Yet, that sword was property of one alone,

Arthur, who claimed he drew it from the stone.

 

D. A.

Robbing the Poor

 Billions of people around the world are being trapped in poverty by systemic tax abuses, corruption and money laundering, according to the UN panel on financial integrity for sustainable development.

It said up to 10% of the world’s wealth could be hidden offshore. Illicit financial flows (IFFs) — from tax abuse, cross-border corruption, and transnational financial crime — drain resources from sustainable development. They worsen inequalities, fuel instability, undermine governance, and damage public trust. Ultimately, they contribute to States not being able to fulfil their human rights obligations.

The Facti report says recovering losses to tax avoidance and evasion could help countries such as Bangladesh expand its social safety net to 9 million more elderly, in Chad it could pay for 38,000 classrooms, and in Germany it could build 8,000 wind turbines.

The panel of world leaders, central bank governors and business and civil society representatives said criminals were laundering assets worth as much as 2.7% of global GDP each year.

The UK has steadily cut the rate of corporation tax to 19%, among the lowest in the advanced world. However, the government is thought to be considering raising the tax rate. Ireland’s corporate tax rate is 12.5%. Several UK overseas territories and crown dependencies, including the British Virgin Islands, Guernsey and Jersey, have a zero corporation tax rate.

602e91032a209d0601ed4a2c_FACTI_Panel_Report.pdf (webflow.com)

Tax abuse and money laundering is trapping billions in poverty, says UN | Banking reform | The Guardian

We Suffer, Billionaires Profit

 500,000 Americans have lost their lives.  Countless families across the U.S.  are suffering economic pain as joblessness, uninsurance, and hunger remain sky-high.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and SpaceX founder Elon Musk saw their wealth grow by $76.3 billion and $158 billion respectively between March 18, 2020 and February 19, 2021. Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, saw his net worth jump by $41 billion during that period.

2-19-21 Billionaires Data - Google Sheets



Class Struggle

 What the class struggle is and is not

Paradoxically, the militants and intellectuals who preach class struggle with the utmost vigour appear not to know what it is. Their position transferred to a military war would be careering round the battlefield, declaring strategies, uttering heroic cries and calling on all right-minded men to follow them — without knowing what the war is about, …

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The Class Struggle, Reforms & the Unions

The interminable nonsense talked about the nature of the class struggle by Trotskyists, Young Labourites and Communists does much to hold back class consciousness. According to these empty vessels, every possible aspect of working-class action, real or potential, is part of the class struggle: protests against the Government’s prices policy, squatting, and demands for higher …

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(151 years) 50 Years Ago: Class struggle industrial and political

The labour-power commodity is like all other commodities in that it is bought and sold upon the market, its value being determined by the cost of production, around which the higgling of the market allows its price to fluctuate. It is unlike all other commodities in that it is the commodity of a subject class …

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(116 years)50 Years Ago: Ethics and the Class Struggle

The victory of the Socialist working-class is the only possible ending of this great struggle. This, however, does not mean the subjection of the Capitalist class by the workers: it means the abolition of Capitalism and the end of classes, for the great unprivileged masses cannot secure equality of opportunity without abolishing class privilege, and privilege is based on private property. The triumph of the great working majority thus involves the emancipation of all from class oppression, for the interests of the toiling masses are fundamentally the interests of humanity.

Socialism, is then, the ethics of humanity, the necessary economic foundation of a national code of morality. The interests of the human race are bound up with the aspirations of the oppressed working-class in its struggle with Capitalist domination. As it has very truly been said: “Militant, the workers’ cause is identified with class; triumphant, with humanity.”

From the July 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard.


Matt Culbert

Police Before Health

  10 of the U.S.’s largest cities will spend more on policing than public health during Fiscal Year 2021. Combined, these 10 cities’ policing budgets are 3.6 times greater than public health department budgets.  Public health departments are generally tasked with aiding vaccine distribution, combating foodborne illnesses, homelessness and environmental toxins, and supporting addiction treatment, among other health-promoting activities. In addition, nearly two-thirds of Americans live in counties that spend more than twice as much on policing as they spend on nonhospital healthcare, which includes public health.

Georgia’s COVID data task force was disassembled due to a lack of funds, and the state slashed its Fiscal Year 2022 public health budget by $7 million. Meanwhile, district and county health departments in Alabama were operating at 65 percent capacity in 2019 relative to 2010. Some county health departments in North Carolina offer such low salaries that they are unable to fill vacancies for public health nursing positions.

1,900 people have died from COVID-19 in Houston, Texas, the U.S.’s most diverse and fourth most populous city. Roughly 1.4 million people (19.7 percent of the city’s population) are without health insurance, and multiple hospitals’ ICUs have been at capacity for months. Yet, the city’s police department budget for 2021 is 10 times greater than the Houston Health Department’s budget, with the police allotted nearly $1 billion and the health department $100 million.

Arizona’s health budget is just two-thirds of Phoenix’s police department budget. Phoenix does not have its own health department. 

 Police budgets don’t always reflect the full extent of a department’s power or presence. For instance, the Los Angeles Public Library reimburses the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) for millions of dollars in services, which is not reflected in the LAPD’s $1.9 billion budget. 

Rather than cut the New York City Police Department’s (NYPD’s) budget following the Black liberation uprising of 2020, New York City transferred funds for school resource officers — school police — to the Department of Education budget, an act of subterfuge.

The Federal 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, co-authored by Joe Biden and signed by then-President Bill Clinton, allocated $12 billion in state subsidies for prison construction, prioritizing states with the harshest sentencing laws.

10 Largest US Cities Will Spend More on Police Than Public Health This Year (truthout.org)

Central America - Disaster Zone

 A year of extreme climate-driven events compounded by the coronavirus pandemic has left millions in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua struggling for basic needs.  Hunger has increased almost fourfold in the region in the past two years

Nearly eight million people in Central America are now chronically hungry, including nearly 2 million in an “emergency” level of food insecurity, the World Food Programme (WFP) reported.

15 per cent of people in the region, according to a WFP survey last month, said they had “concrete plans” to migrate due to losing livelihoods and lack of employment.

Miguel Barreto, WFP regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean, said: “Urban and rural communities in Central America have hit rock bottom”, adding that “the Covid-19-induced economic crisis had already put food on the market shelves out of reach for the most vulnerable people when the twin hurricanes Eta and Iota battered them further”.

Climate crisis and Covid have left 8m people in Central America chronically hungry | The Independent

The “same ol’, same ol’ ” - 2

 This week, the Biden administration did the unthinkable. It reopened a Trump-era detention site for migrant children. The detention center, a reconverted camp for oil field workers in Carrizo Springs, Texas, is expected to hold 700 children between the ages of 13 and 17, and dozens of kids have already arrived there.

Rather than seeking out new and better solutions, the Biden administration is instead trying to sell a public image of a kinder, gentler imprisonment. 

Mark Weber, spokesperson for Health and Human Services (HHS), the agency that oversees the welfare of unaccompanied migrant children told the Washington Post that “the Biden administration is moving away from the ‘law-enforcement focused’ approach of the Trump administration to one in which child welfare is more centric”. 

That may play well as a soundbite, but how welfare-centric is it to place children in jail in the first place? And if you don’t think it’s a jail, you should know that the “unaccompanied teens sent to the Carrizo Springs shelter will not be allowed to leave the facility”.

 The camp’s operation will be “based on a federal emergency management system”, where “trailers are labeled with names such as Alpha, Charlie and Echo”, names which are commonly used in military detention practices. (Camp Echo, for example, is a notorious site in Guantánamo Bay.

Staff members will not be in uniform  will “wear matching black-and-white T-shirts displaying their roles: disaster case manager, incident support, emergency management” and that the trailer is at the entrance, has flowers, butterflies and handmade posters.

  In 1997, a class-action lawsuit settlement established standards for the detention and release of unaccompanied minors taken into custody by the authorities. According to the Flores Settlement Agreement, the federal government must transfer these unaccompanied children to a non-secure and licensed facility within days of being in custody. In an emergency, the government can keep the children for up to 20 days while seeking to reunite them with family members or place them with a sponsor.

 The 66-acre Carrizo Springs site is a secure site (the kids can’t leave), is unlicensed by the state of Texas (it’s operated by a government contractor for the Office of Refugee Resettlement), and is expected to hold children for 30 days.  This internment camp is geographically remote and difficult to access.

The Biden administration seeks to deflect the criticism by assuring us their version of childhood detention is thoughtful and humane. The standard of values is now a very low bar, judged by whether something is simply “better” or “worse” than under Trump. Reforms have to go a lot further than merely reversing those of the previous president? The use the term “noncitizen” in place of “alien” when referring to immigrants is paying lip-service to cosmetic changes. Biden’s proposals contain admirable rhetoric about the need to address “root causes” of migration – but recent history shows us how, under xenophobic pressure,  noble-minded language can be used to adorn schemes whose ultimate effect is to keep people out, at considerable human cost.

Trump’s anti-immigrant policies were built upon foundations laid down by previous presidents. From the 1990s onwards, there was an increasing effort to criminalise unwanted migration and accelerate border security measures. In 2014, under Obama’s presidency – in which Biden served as vice president – about half of all federal arrests were immigration-related. 

Biden is locking up migrant children. Will the world still care with Trump gone? | US immigration | The Guardian

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

The “same ol’, same ol’ ” - 1

 Black farmers peaked in number in 1920 when there were 949,889; today there are only 48,697; they account for only 1.4% of the country’s 3.4 million farmers (95% of US farmers are white) and own 0.52% of America’s farmland. The acreage they have managed to hold on to is a quarter the size of white farmers’ acreage, on average. From 2006 to 2016, Black farmers were six times as likely to be foreclosed on as white farmers.

Biden nominated Tom Vilsack to head the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), and it was confirmed by the Senate. Vilsack served two terms in the same role in the Obama administration and in between he held a high-paying job in Big Ag, paid a $1 million by Dairy Management. If Ohio congresswoman Marcia Fudge, a senior member of the House agriculture committee, was selected, as had been anticipated – she would have been the first Black woman to serve as agriculture secretary. 

 George Roberts farms 500 acres with his two brothers. A third-generation farmer, he was hoping for Fudge. “She could have understood what we were up against, she’s walked in our shoes. Pretty sure Vilsack never has,” he said.

Vilsack’s nomination was met with confusion, disappointment and anger. During Vilsack’s eight-year tenure under Obama, fewer loans were given to Black farmers than during the Bush administration, and the USDA foreclosed on Black farmers who had discrimination complaints outstanding, despite a 2008 farm bill moratorium on this practice.

In 2010 Vilsack fired Shirley Sherrod, a longtime Black farmer advocate and civil rights activist who was serving as the Georgia state director of rural development for the USDA, when a deceptively edited clip that made her appear racist towards a white farmer was circulated by the rightwing propagandist Andrew Breitbart. Vilsack later apologized and offered her a different high-level USDA role, which she declined.

At the Senate agriculture committee, Vilsack said in his opening remarks: “It’s a different time, and I’m a different person.” 

George Roberts is familiar with why many Black farmers call the USDA the “last plantation”.

 “Because we are still answering to ‘boss’. Can we do this, can we do that? They still have their hand over us, saying: no, you can’t.”

'Tired of getting slapped in the face': older Black farmers see little hope in Biden's agriculture pick | US politics | The Guardian

Fact of the Day

84% of all shares held by American households are owned by the wealthiest 10%.


The Wealthy


 London has overtaken New York as home to the highest concentration of dollar millionaires in the world.

Nearly 875,000 Londoners are dollar millionaires (denoting assets worth more than £720,000).

It means one in 10 people living in London are dollar millionaires, with the data highlighting the yawning inequality gap in the capital. More than 2.5 million (or 28%) of those living in London are classed as “living in poverty”. 800,000 – or 39% – of the capital’s children are living in poverty. 

The high cost of housing in London is the main driver for categorising so many households as being wealthy.  London had the most so-called “prime” homes of any city in the world, with more than 68,000 units valued at more than £2m each. 

Despite the economic destruction wrought by the pandemic on millions of people with modest incomes, those who were already very rich have been able to increase their fortunes. More than 6,000 people joined the ranks of the ultra-wealthy last year as those in the top 0.1% were able to increase their already-vast fortunes despite the coronavirus pandemic. The number of ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNWIs) – those with assets of more than $30m (£21.3m) – rose by 2.4% last year to 520,000. The UHNWI population is expected to swell by a further 27% to 663,483 by 2025, the report estimates, as huge fortunes are being made in China, Indonesia and India. The number of dollar millionaires is expected to soar by 41% in the same period.

 A person living in the UK would need a $1.8m (£1.3m) fortune to join the so-called 1% club of the richest people in the country.

In Monaco, where many of the world’s richest people live to avoid income taxes, a fortune of $7.9m is needed to join the top 1%. In Switzerland it is $5.1m. While in the US it is $4.4m, in Kenya the figure is $20,000.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Share the Vaccine

 Vaccines have brought hope amid the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 2.4 million people and brought world economies to a halt. Vaccines have been presented as a remedy that would put an end to the immense suffering – physical, emotional, and economic – caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

If deployment of the vaccine continues at the present rate, only a few of the world’s richest countries are expected to achieve herd immunity before the end of the summer.

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO),  Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, thanked the G7 countries for their pledges to provide $7.5 billion to support “affordable and equitable access to vaccines” and treatments for COVID-19.

But he said that “even if you have the money, if you cannot use the money to buy vaccines … having the money doesn’t mean anything”. He said some rich countries’ approaches to manufacturers to secure more vaccines are “affecting the deals with COVAX, and even the amount that was allocated for COVAX was reduced because of this”. 

Tedros underlined the importance of using every opportunity to step up vaccine production “because, with increased production, the pie is increased, then there is a better volume to share. Otherwise, with shortages, sharing is difficult,” he said. “And that’s exactly what’s happening now.”

 German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier conceded that money alone was not the solution, adding that vaccines were still a “scarce commodity”.

The Lancet concludes, “new vaccines will mean little to individuals around the world if they are unable to get vaccinated in a timely manner”.

Some have put the blame for the vaccine debacle on the cumbersome bureaucracy of governments and on anti-vaxxer sentiments. But the root of the problem lies elsewhere. It has to do with a dysfunctional  economic system propped up by three ideological myths: that the private sector is best at innovation; that markets are best at managing supply and demand; and that the outcome of globalisation is fair for all.

One myth of capitalism is that entrepreneurship is the only effective source of innovation and progress. But Big Pharma has long demonstrated this is not necessarily so. For decades, vaccines have been de-prioritised by the industry as insufficiently profitable. 

Another capitalist myth is that competitive markets are the best regulators of supply and demand and the best at achieving the optimal distribution of goods. In early 2020, we witnessed countries started to outbid each other for vital medical equipment, such as PPE and ventilators. Demand was high across the board, but supply only went to the wealthy few, at the price of many human lives. This is now happening again, as, amid severe undersupply of vaccines.

The third  myth of capitalism portrays globalisation as equally beneficial for all. But a  look at the global distribution of vaccines shows that this is far not the case. Western countries are able to acquire vaccines while poorer nations are struggling to access supply.

WHO chief urges rich nations not to undermine COVAX scheme | Coronavirus pandemic News | Al Jazeera

Monday, February 22, 2021

Solidarity

 


Saturday February 20 was a National Day of Solidarity with Amazon workers in Alabama.

Between February 8 and March 29, about 6,000 Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Alabama are voting by mail on whether to be represented by the Retail, Wholesale Department Store Workers Union (RWDSU). The harsh working conditions at Amazon warehouses, along with Amazon’s refusal to adopt measures that protect workers from COVID 19, have pushed Amazon and Whole Foods workers everywhere to step up organizing efforts.

These mostly Black workers, who have in recent months formed the BAmazon Workers Union, face one of the biggest and most powerful transnational corporations in the world, and its super rich union-busting owner, Jeff Bezos. They are also defying the racist anti-union laws that suppress labor across the South.

Solidarity from every corner of the labor and progressive movements is needed now to show the workers in Bessemer that they are not alone. This is especially needed as Amazon ramps up its union-busting tactics.

The Southern Workers Assembly has issued a call for a National Day of Solidarity with Amazon workers in Alabama on Saturday, February 20. Actions are planned across the country at Amazon facilities (warehouses, distribution centers, Whole Foods, etc.) — pickets, rallies, marches, leafleting, car caravans, bike brigades. Social distancing will be observed.  

For details of the actions planned, please follow this link.


Taken from the WSPUS website

Solidarity with Alabama Amazon Workers | World Socialist Party of the US (wspus.org)

The Eyes of Texas is Upon You

 Texas has the third-highest number of billionaires in America.  The mayor of Colorado City,  accused his constituents – trapped in near sub-zero temperatures and complaining about lack of heat, electricity and drinkable water – of being the “lazy” products of a “socialist government”, adding “I’m sick and tired of people looking for a damn handout!” and predicting “only the strong will survive and the weak will perish”.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages the flow of electric power, exempted affluent downtowns from outages, leaving thriving parts of Austin, Dallas and Houston brightly lit while pushing less affluent precincts into the dark and cold.

In Texas, for-profit energy companies have no incentive to prepare for extreme weather or maintain spare capacity. Even if they’re able to handle surges in demand, prices go through the roof and poorer households are hit hard. If they can’t pay, they’re cut off.

Rich Texans take spikes in energy prices in their stride. If the electric grid goes down, private generators kick in. In a pinch – as last week – they check into hotels or leave town. On Wednesday night, as millions of his constituents remained without power and heat, Senator Ted Cruz flew to Cancún, Mexico for a family vacation.

Like the poor across America and much of the world, poor Texans are getting hammered by climate change. Many inhabit substandard homes, lacking proper insulation. The very poor occupy trailers or tents, or camp out in their cars. Lower-income communities are located close to refineries and other industrial sites that release added pollutants when they shut or restart. Shutdowns led to the refineries flaring, or burning and releasing gases, to prevent damage to processing units. That flaring darkened the skies in eastern Texas, with smoke visible for miles.

Climate change, Covid-19 and jobs are together splitting Americans by class more profoundly than Americans are split by politics. The white working class is taking as much of a beating as most Black and Latino people.

White working class has been seduced by conservative Republicans and Trump cultists, of which Texas has an abundance, into believing that what’s good for Black and Latino people is bad for them. White grievance helps keep Republicans in power, protecting their rich patrons from a majority that might otherwise join to demand what they need – such as heat, electricity, water and reliable sources of power.

Lower-income Texans, white as well as Black and Latino, are taking it on the chin in many other ways. Texas is one of the few states that hasn’t expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, leaving the share of Texans without health insurance twice the national average, the largest uninsured population of any state. Texas has double the national average of children in poverty and a higher rate of unemployment than the nation’s average. Although Texans have suffered multiple natural disasters stemming from climate change, Texas Republicans are dead set against a Green New Deal that would help reduce the horrific impacts.

Texas’s governor, Greg Abbott, went on Fox News to proclaim, absurdly, that what happened to his state “shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States”. Abbott blamed the power failure on the fact that “wind and solar got shut down”. The loss of power from frozen coal-fired and natural gas plants was six times larger than the dent caused by frozen wind turbines. Texans froze because deregulation and a profit-driven free market created an electric grid utterly unprepared for climate change.

In Texas, oil tycoons are the only winners from climate change. Everyone else is losing badly. With huge gaps in the state and local response to the winter crisis, volunteers are stepping up to provide vital services

Texas freeze shows a chilling truth – how the rich use climate change to divide us | Texas | The Guardian


UK Profits from Death

 


Oxfam has accused the British government of prolonging the war in Yemen by allowing the export of air-to-air refuelling equipment that could be used to help the Saudi air force conduct indiscriminate bombing in the country.

The technology was licensed to Riyadh last summer when arms restrictions were lifted, alongside £1.4bn of other sales, and can be used to help war planes fly longer missions at a time when the conflict is intensifying.

Sam Nadel, head of policy and advocacy at Oxfam, said: “As the US has called for an end to the conflict in Yemen, the UK is heading in the opposite direction, ramping up its support for the brutal Saudi-led war by increasing arms sales and refuelling equipment that facilitate airstrikes.  The UK claims to support peace in Yemen. It can start by immediately ending the sale of all arms that risk being used against civilians and exacerbating the humanitarian crisis,” Nadel added.

British arms sales prolonging Saudi war in Yemen, says Oxfam | Saudi Arabia | The Guardian

Our Police State

 Between 2015 and 2019 there were 44,225 raids on private homes resulting in  7,578 people deported. 

There were also 190 raids carried out on care homes resulting in 37 care workers removed from the UK.

Mary Atkinson, campaigns officer at the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said: “These figures show just how out of control the hostile environment has become. Carers are being arrested in the middle of their shifts, often as they look after elderly and vulnerable people – it is difficult to see who could possibly benefit from that. Ours is a government relentlessly pursuing an anti-immigration agenda, regardless of the harm it causes – in this case, to some of the very same carers whose hard work and sacrifice has been rightly applauded throughout this pandemic..."

Susan Cueva, trustee at Kanlungan Filipino Consortium, which works with migrants including those working in care homes said: “We know that care homes lack staff. The Home Office should stop raiding care homes. It is counter-productive. The solution is to regularise the immigration status of these workers who are carers. That’s the most practical way to deal with this situation.”

Fewer than one in six ‘hostile environment’ raids led to deportations | Immigration and asylum | The Guardian

The Fatality of Homelessness

 



Deaths among homeless people have risen by more than a third in a year, according to an analysis by a social justice group that found that almost 1,000 unhoused people had died across the UK in 2020.  Among cases where a cause of death was confirmed, 36% were related to drug and alcohol use and 15% were suicide. Separate figures by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published in December 2020 found that the number of people dying while homeless in England and Wales rose for the fifth year in a row in 2019.

Jess Tuttle, the organisation’s co-founder, said the findings demonstrated how the pandemic had hit a system “already cut to the bone from 10 years of austerity”. She called on the government to “stop repackaging old funding commitments as new support”, urging authorities to “do more to stop this terrible loss of life”.

The steep rise in fatalities comes despite the government’s Everybody In scheme, which was launched at the beginning of the coronavirus crisis to provide safe shelter for thousands of rough sleepers. During the first lockdown, approximately 29,000 people were helped into settled accommodation, with thousands initially housed in budget hotels.

Less than 3% of recorded causes of death were directly due to Covid-19, the MoH found, which it said was one of the programme’s “significant achievements”. However, Tuttle said the scheme failed to prevent “a staggering increase in the number of people dying while homeless”.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said that despite the hard work to get people off the streets at the start of the pandemic, people continue to become homeless daily because of a lack of affordable housing. “Pre-pandemic, there were over a million households on the social housing waiting list. As we look towards recovery, ending the housing crisis must be a priority,” she said.

More than 70,000 households across the UK have been made homeless since the start of the pandemic, the Observer found in January, while tens of thousands more were threatened with homelessness despite a government ban on evictions for most of 2020. The tenants’ union, Acorn, blamed the rise on a combination of factors including illegal evictions, landlords pressuring tenants to leave before eviction, and a lack of protections for lodgers.

The number of people sleeping rough on the streets of London surged by a staggering 170% between 2010 and March 2020.

UK homeless deaths rise by more than a third in a year, study finds | Homelessness | The Guardian

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Indian Capitalists Look After Their Interests

A report by Rani Singh on BBC Radio 5 Live was delivered on The Dotun Adebayo Show - 16/2/21 stating that Rihanna and Greta Thunberg voiced support for the protesting farmers in India.

Dishi Ravi, who works for Fridays For Future with Greta Thunberg, retweeted a Tweet from her colleague which caused her to be imprisoned for sedition, conspiracy and a call to wage economic, social, cultural and regional war against India.

The Indian government is at loggerheads with Twitter because activism has been  spread through Tweets. It is using Koo, which uses five Indian languages, to try and combat this.

India is a market which interests many countries. The U. S. government has stated: 'It's good to have private investment in India.'

The reporter continued by saying: Myanmar borders Bangladesh and India and Myanmar is India's biggest arms buyer. For India a stronger Myanmar military means more arms sales.

Rani Singh also said: China has encircled India with its sphere of influence by making big investments in the countries in infrastructure that surround India, particularly Bangladesh and Pakistan.

As we have seen in the past governments continue to look for new markets, raw materials and spheres of influence which will benefit the Capitalist class.

Only in a worldwide Socialist system will we see production and distribution which is of benefit to everyone in the world.

There will be no class system and there will be no military.  




 

US Mercenaries in Libya

 Mercenary chief, Erik Prince, a Trump supporter and brother of former education secretary Betty DeVos, violated a United Nations arms embargo on Libya, UN investigators have found.

Prince deployed a force of foreign mercenaries and weapons to military commander Khalifa Haftar. The $80m operation included plans to form a hit squad to track and kill Libyan commanders opposed to Haftar – including some who were also European Union citizens, The New York Times said.

Trump ally Erik Prince violated Libya arms embargo: UN report | Conflict News | Al Jazeera

Council-Tax Rises Loom

 Millions of council tax payers are in line for increases of up to 5% in their annual bills from April, with those on low and middle incomes hit hardest by a sixth year of increases in England above the rate of inflation. Hundreds of councils must decide soon whether to raise the tax by the maximum allowed by government of 4.99%, or to make big cuts in services.

Manchester city council has told residents that without a 5% increase in bills it must make savings of £8.5m in addition to the £50m it is seeking to cut from current spending.

David Phillips, associate director at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said council tax was a regressive tax that favoured wealthier people. “Council tax bills represent a larger share of income for low-to-middle income households than high-income households,” he said.

“This means increases in council tax will typically take up a larger share of their income too ..." 

Figures show that a band D council payer in the lowest 20% of income earners last year paid £1,000 after extra government subsidies out of a disposable income of £16,776. A council tax payer in the top 20% of earners paid £1,823 out of a disposable income of £91,472.

 Tony Travers, a local government expert at the London School of Economics, said: “It is the ‘not quite poor’ who suffer the most. Those who have enough income that means they don’t qualify for benefits. They get hammered by council tax increases as a proportion of their income.”

Middle-income households to be hit by ‘£2bn council tax bombshell’ | Council tax | The Guardian

C of E Landowner

  8 million people in England live in overcrowded, unaffordable or unsuitable homes.

The Church of England owns about 81,000 hectares (200,000 acres) of land. Assets include land suitable for the delivery of 28,500 new homes across England. However, fewer than a quarter of the 3,820 new homes that the church commissioners have secured planning permission for since 2015 were affordable.

A proposal to convert a former C of E school in Arkengarthdale in the Yorkshire Dales into affordable housing was blocked last year when the diocese of Leeds and the local parish said they were legally obliged to accept the highest offer for the property.

Church of England land should be used to help tackle housing crisis, says report | Housing | The Guardian

Saturday, February 20, 2021

The Richness of Diversity

 


Belgium’s statistical agency, Statbel, released the first official study on the diversity of the Belgian population. The picture that emerged is one of an increasingly diverse and heterogeneous society. The study revealed that while Belgian citizens of Belgian ancestry make up just more than two-thirds of the country’s population (67.9 percent), the rest is comprised of Belgian citizens of foreign ancestry (19.7 percent) and foreign nationals (12.4 percent).

 The Belgian far right used the results of Statbel’s study to spread misinformation, distort reality, demonise immigrants and stir up racism,  expressing consternation, fear and outrage.

Tom Van Grieken, the head of the anti-immigrant Flemish nationalist political party, Vlaams Belang, tweeted a the comment “Omvolking. It is going fast”.

The Dutch word “omvolking” has its origins in the German word “umvolkung”, which was originally used by the Nazis to describe the perceived dilution of the superior Germanic race through assimilation with other, inferior races.

 Vlaams Belang doubled down on their claims that the Belgian population is currently subject to a so-called “ethnic conversion”. Vlaams Belang MEP Tom Vandendriessche described “omvolking” as a strategy utilised by so-called “cultural Marxists” in a supposed “cultural war”. “This is a deliberate policy,” he claimed, “if we continue with mass migration, we will become a minority in our own country.”

 Vlaams Belangallude to conspiracy theories, including the “great replacement” and its more extreme variations “white genocide” and “Eurabia” which are becoming increasingly popular, a belief that multiculturalism is a smokescreen for a global plot to dilute, weaken, replace or wipe out the white race. They  combine elements of classic anti-Semitism and anti-leftism with more recent elements of Islamophobia. According to the far right and neo-Nazis, a global cabal of either “cultural Marxists (Jews and leftists)” or “globalists (rich Jewish capitalists)” are conspiring to destroy white civilisation by “importing” millions of brown and Black people, especially Muslims, to the West, reflecting anxiety and a sense of inferiority at the heart of contemporary white supremacy.

That these “theories” enjoy currency and are given credence reflects the credulity of those who believe in them, as well as their ignorance of science, genetics and demographics among other things. The growing preponderance of these theories is also testimony to the far right’s skilful manipulation of social media to spread misinformation.

There is no “great replacement”, let alone a “white genocide” in progress anywhere in the world, including Belgium. The very idea is preposterous. So-called “white people”, ie people with pale skin, are in absolutely no danger of dying out – neither through immigration, nor interracial mixing.

Despite decades of large-scale movement, native Belgians still make up the overwhelming majority of the population, and whites are the overwhelming majority everywhere in Europe. The immigrants and people with immigrant backgrounds living in Belgium are not the dark-skinned non-Europeans that the far right claim are “invading Europe”. They are actually white Europeans from neighbouring countries who have taken advantage of the European Union’s freedom of movement.

 The most radical changes that have swept Belgian society, like elsewhere in the world, have little to do with immigration. Scientific and technological progress, as well as autochthonous social and cultural developments, are responsible for the lion’s share of change.

This will come as a shock to those who have been told for decades by the right that immigrants are nothing but spongers but not only do immigrants provide essential manpower in the medical and care sectors, among others, they also play a pivotal role in keeping Belgium’s healthcare and pensions system afloat. Without the taxes and social security payments coming from immigrants, Belgium’s welfare system may well have collapsed by now. In light of falling birthrates, demographers have long been warning that Belgium’s population would decline, with dire consequences for the ageing population. Luckily, immigration has made up the difference.  Judging by the large numbers of children with a mixed or foreign background currently making their way up through the school system, Belgium will become even more reliant on immigrants and their taxes in the near future.

Beyond the economic imperative, diversity is a beautiful thing in and of itself. Contrary to what anti-migration activists and politicians claim, a multicultural society is no more prone to conflict than a monocultural one. But it offers the additional advantages of dynamism and cultural richness. That the next generation is even more diverse than ours fills us not with fear but wonder and hope for the future. 

Humanity provides us with such a delicious range of cultural choice to feast on that it is a pity to stick to the same set menu. Rather than trying to stamp out multiculturalism, bigots should give themselves the chance to savour its delicious diversity.

The fictional menace of multiculturalism | Islamophobia News | Al Jazeera

Blame the Greens

 In Texas a propaganda war has broken out over the cause of its electrical power collapses.

“This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott told Fox News. Abbott faulted renewable energy sources for Texas’s “situation where it was lacking power on a statewide basis”. 

His lieutenant governor, fellow Republican Dan Patrick, however, told Fox News  that the problems were not attributable to green energy. “We had a breakdown everywhere,” Patrick said,

“The Green New Deal has nothing to do with our problems in Texas,” said Daniel Cohan, associate professor of engineering at Rice University.  “...Natural gas systems failed to provide those plants with a reliable supply of fuel.” 

“There is no Green New Deal in Texas, nor has there ever been,” said Joshua Rhodes, an energy research associate at the University of Texas at Austin. “Any investment in renewables has been because private companies have seen the opportunity to make money, which is core to the Texas ethos.” He said that gas supply issues and freezing water pipes appear to be the main issue when it comes to loss of capacity at power plants, and that the recent blackouts are no excuse to question the durability of alternative energy.

Cuomo's Cover-Up

 New York governor, Andrew Cuomo , has fallen from grace. Last year he was the media's darling, the Democratic Party's caring public face to Donald Trump's detachment with his hands-on approach to the Covid-19 pandemic in his state. This blog, however, was not impressed and back in May 2020 posted a critique about his callous policies towards the elderly in care-homes. Well, the chickens have truly come home to roost and Cuomo's political reputation has withered away. Cuomo now faces calls for his resignation, an investigation by the FBI and federal prosecutors, and angry state legislators from his own Democratic party who want to strip him of the emergency powers they granted him during the pandemic.

Covid deaths in New York nursing homes which accounted for almost a third of the total death toll of about 46,000Cuomo directed nursing homes to accept patients back from hospital who were infected or might be infected with coronavirus. The homes had to admit anyone who was “medically stable” – no resident was to be denied readmission “solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of Covid-19”. The motivation behind the notice was clear – there was an “urgent need” to expand hospital capacity in order to meet the surge in Covid cases. In other words, free up hospital beds by getting older patients back to their nursing homes.

Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, had admitted to Democratic leaders in a conference call that the administration had withheld the true nursing home death toll from state lawmakers and the state revised its official tally from 8,500 to more than 15,000 deaths – making a mockery of Cuomo’s longstanding boast that his state had among the best records in the country with regard to nursing homes Covid fatalities.

‘Meet the governor we’ve known all along’: how Cuomo fell from grace | Andrew Cuomo | The Guardian