Monday, October 30, 2006

The Russian Millionaires Fair

Millionaires, billionaires and those with just 1,000 rubles to their name were some of the tens of thousands of visitors to the second Millionaire Fair at Crocus City. The fair, which reeled in more than half a billion euros (about $600 million) last year, is expected to sell more this year . The singer Sarah Brightman, following in the footsteps of last year's Bryan Ferry, provided entertainment Friday for the opening night, which drew 9,500 attendees.

A Bugatti Veyron was sold for $1.4 million, the most expensive -- and probably the most ecologically unfriendly -- car on the planet.

The world's priciest mobile phone, the Swiss-made Goldvish, which is made of yellow gold and features 1,700 diamonds, was being hawked for $1 million .
"They have beautiful hair, beautiful clothes -- why should they have a shitty plastic phone in their bag?" said Ephraim Goldstoff, the company's diamond consultant. "The Russian market is very important, They have lots of money, and they don't know what to do with it," Goldstoff explained.

Also on sale were 19th-century horse carts, Hummers and helicopters.

Properties up for grabs at the fair were in Miami, Spain, Cyprus, Bulgaria and an island off the coast of Dubai.

A retreat off the Thai coast that runs for 2.5 million euros ($3.16 million) .

There there was the isle off the coast of Panama once owned by John Wayne.

Luxury Homes managed to attract a stream of visitors curious to learn more about their mock Normandy mansions, fake Austrian baroque country houses, and brand new ancient Greek temples that double as dachas.

The City's Bonus Jamboree

According to the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), the value of bonuses paid to London's financial elite will rise 18% to £8.8bn.

More than 4,000 City workers will take home £1m bonuses this year .

The bonus culture is seen as one factor pushing up London house prices.

According to research carried out by the Abbey it is suggested that an estimated 6.9 million people were unable to buy their own home because they could not afford the deposit.

An estimated 3.4 million people are also waiting for house prices to fall before buying a property.

Based on its findings, more than 17 million adults in the UK were unable to get onto the property ladder for a variety of reasons.

Have Gun , Will Travel

According to War on Want , the numbers of mercenaries (or as they are more prosaically described , PMSCs , private military and security companies ) engaged in Iraq stands at 48,000 .

"The government has failed to enact laws to punish their human rights abuses, including firing on Iraqi civilians," said campaigns director John Hilary.
"How can Tony Blair hope to restore peace and security in Iraq while allowing mercenary armies to operate completely outside the law?"

Nuff said .

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Winter Is Coming

More than 23,000 elderly people died as a result of being too cold last winter in England and Wales.

The year before the toll was 29,000, which is nearly 10 people aged 65 or older every hour.

Figures for Scotland show the nation's winter death toll totalled 1,790.

Studies show elderly people, and particularly those on low incomes, are at the greatest risk. Those on small pensions might struggle to keep their houses warmer and might have to rely on public transport or walk rather than use a car, for example.

Grim reading

John Lennon's Imagine 2

Once again Darren of Inveresk St Ingrate fame who does such a excellent job promoting current and archive articles from the Socialist Standard at My Space has produced a nugget of gold by re-printing Dan Vogel's excellent article about John Lennon's music , particularly , the song Imagine which can be listened to below .
However , I have to confess that my favourite John Lennon song is not Imagine but the much more grittier and angrier Working Class Hero to be heard at the link .

The article begins thus :-

" Many members of the World Socialist Movement have considered John Lennon's song 'Imagine' an anthem of universal hope. In few other songs, and perhaps in no song that reached as wide an audience as that one, is the socialist vision so accurately and movingly conveyed. It was originally featured on the 1971 album " Imagine " and made the top of the charts in England no less than 3 times (its first release as a single, 1975; in 1981 following Lennon's death in 1980 (when it shot up to number 1 for several weeks); and again during the Christmas season in 1999, after it had been voted the nation's favorite song lyric and second favorite all-time song in a large best-music-of-the-millennium poll.

Imagine is a humanistic song par excellence, denying humans the place they often accord themselves in the spiritual universe, and instead relegating them to their material and exquisitely beautiful home of Earth. This Lennon does to urge his fellow men and women to unite in creating a world fit to live upon, one without countries, war, religion, or private property. Sharing this world together as a true "brotherhood of man," some in the World Socialist Movement have wondered if he wrote this song after reading a copy of the Socialist Standard , which is not impossible considering his extensive reading of radical journals following the demise of the Beatles, although it is not known if he actually read the Standard, a journal that has also been advocating a nationless, classless, moneyless society of common ownership since 1904..."

And the article ends thus :-

'Imagine,' the song, was unquestionably Lennon's finest moment. Its lyrical and conceptual clarity shone sunlight of vision upon our dark and violent world. It urged us to imagine a world without property, without religion, without nations, living in peace. It postulated an economic order in which both greed and hunger would be impossible. Socialists also share this vision. They support the cause that approaches humanity towards the goal of a classless economic order in which wage labor, money and buying and selling have been replaced by free people working together to meet their needs without the constraints imposed by the market system, in short a world of peace, equality, abundance and ecological sustainability. You may think that we are dreamers, but we are not the only ones. I hope some day you'll join us. And the world will live as one...

John Lennon's Imagine

Thursday, October 26, 2006

A Middle East History Lesson -The Modernity of the Nation State

We Are Everywhere - David Rovics

Who would you believe

Hans Blix - "Iraq is a pure failure . If the Americans pull out, there is a risk that they will leave a country in civil war. At the same time it doesn't seem that the United States can help to stabilize the situation by staying there." Reported here

Blix said the situation would have been better if the war had not taken place.
"Saddam would still have been sitting in office," Blix said. "O.K., that is negative and it would not have been joyful for the Iraqi people. But what we have gotten is undoubtedly worse."

Or do you believe this man

"We're winning and we will win..." . Quoted here

I think i know who i would tend to believe .

Meantime this Beach Boy spoof video may sum up the the Iraqi debacle .

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Wasted Youth

Reuters report that in America there is more violence from racist skinheads due to a split in their allegiences and the need to prove themselves .
The Hammerskin Nation gang has long dominated the skinhead scene, but in the last two years other gangs like the Outlaw Hammerskins and the Vinlander Social Club have rebelled against them

"The remarkable thing of this rebellion is that it is a rebellion of the ultraviolent against the extremely violent" said Mark Potok , director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project, which is based in Montgomery, Alabama, and has tracked far-right groups for decades.

And from all accounts in Eastern Europe and the ex - republics of Russia , the same phenomenon of dis-affected fascist youth is also on the rise .

And , of course , in Germany neo-nazi's are re-surfacing

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Child Poverty in Eastern Europe

It does get a little repetitive forever casting up the fact that we live in a world of abundance that can provide for all yet fails to provide even the necessities of a decent life for many . But i have no intention of desisting or forgetting . Read and weep .

To-day UNICEF released a report appealing to Eastern European and Central Asian governments to pay more attention to child poverty. Across South-East Europe and the former Soviet Union it found millions of children were living in extreme poverty .

In some countries 5% of children lived in extreme poverty, but in the poorest parts of Central Asia it nears 80%.

The number of children in poverty in the region - 18 Million .

One in four children in the region lives in a household with a daily income of less than $2.15

In Bulgaria, where children comprise just 20 per cent of the population, the child poverty rate is 8 per cent. But in parts of Central Asia and the Caucasus, more than half the children are living in poverty.

Children in institutional care:
Russia: 1.4%
Serbia & Montenegro: 0.2%
( One of the main reasons for children being put in institutions is household poverty e.g. For many of the over 5,400 children living in Georgia’s residential institutions, being orphaned may have been preventable. Most of them still have living parents. But with approximately 50 per cent of families in this post-Soviet country living below the poverty line, it is understandable that parents often see institutionalization as the only solution. )

At least 500,000 of Moldova’s 3.6 million people have left the country in search of work. Left behind are an estimated 150,000 to 270,000 children without either a mother or a father, and around 40,000 who are separated from both parents.
Some of these children live with relatives or neighbours, while others are left in the care of institutions.

“I see my mother in my dreams a lot,” says Maria “I see her coming home and staying with me. I always dream about her coming home”.

A sad world , ain't it

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Words of Wisdom

Words of wisdom - i don't think .

Ravi Gehlot made his first million pounds by the time he was 18, as a night club promoter at the party resort of Ayia Napa on Cyprus , who at 23 years of age is one of the UK's youngest self-made millionaires.

"It's not difficult to make a million pounds out of a business," he said. "As long as you're dedicated and persistent, it's very achievable."

So all it takes is some hard work - and just how many times have we heard that one .

And his view on money ?...

"It becomes meaningless," he said. "It just becomes a by-product. Money always means much more to those who don't have it than to those that do."

As does food and clothing and shelter mean much more to those who don't have that money to buy them .

Monday, October 16, 2006

Hunger - World Food Day

More than 850 million people go to bed hungry every night, and this number is growing by 5 million a year .

In Haiti, clay moulded into 'mud-pies' and laid out to bake in the sun, is eaten for its calcium.

Somewhere in the world, a child dies of hunger every . According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, more than five million children a year die of hunger.

The number of severely undernourished people in the world is equivalent to the combined population of the United States, Canada and the European Union . The total number of undernourished people worldwide is 852 million: 815 million in developing countries, 28 million in countries in transition and nine million in industrialised countries.

There is enough excess food in the UK to feed all the hungry people in Ethiopia . Once the UK’s 60 million people have met their daily nutritional requirements, there is sufficient food left over to feed 33 million people. There are an estimated 31 million undernourished people in Ethiopia.

Each year, hunger claims as many lives as AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined . One in nearly seven people do not get enough food to be healthy and lead an active life, making hunger and malnutrition the number one risk to health worldwide.

The average number of kilocalories available for consumption in some of Africa’s poorest countries is 1,660 kilocalories per person per day. This is the same as someone in a developed country eating a cheese burger, chips, large fizzy drink and ice cream .

What is the biggest single cause of hunger? Living in poverty .
In quantitative terms, there is sufficient food available to feed the global population of 6.4 billion people but most of the world’s hungry simply do not have the money to buy or produce it.

Stats found here

Shall it always be a Red Nose Day response to hunger or the Red Flag ?

Thursday, October 12, 2006


To-day i read that France has made it illegal to deny that Turkey attempted genocide against the Armenians , in line with its existing laws criminalising the Jewish Holocaust deniers . At the same time in Lebanon , the impending arrival of Turkish troops to serve in the United Nations forces there has brought demonstrations from Lebanon's sizable Armenian population .

In Germany the Nazi symbol , the Swastika , is banned , which has led to a court in Stuttgart fining a man more than 7,000 euros for selling anti-Nazi badges that showed a swastika with a red diagonal line through it, as in a traffic sign.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Tommy so..L..I..d..A..R..ity Sheridan

Tommy 'Liar' Sheridan

I wasn't going to comment on the latest Sheridan revelation . Who am i to say whether he is being set up by the forces of repression or not . I do know from the history that such things do take place . From Roger Casement supposed forged sex diaries and the Zinoviev letter to more recent examples of the Scargill smears by MI5 over alleged misappropriation of the miners funds and the George Galloway's fake documents about connections with Saddam Hussein . But nor would i be at all surprised if the accusations again Sheridan were all true when i recall Jonathan Aiken's Sword of Truth or Jeffrey Archer or Labour Party's Ron Davies .
However , it was fellow comrade and blogger Darren that decided for me to post something when he blogged this video of Sheridan which brought me to the Tommy "Liar" Sheridan video , which was too good not to add to this blog .

Songs For Change

A few weeks ago i attended a David Rovics concert ( who turned up late and i only caught one actual song ) and while there i learned that the folk club he was playing at was promoting a political protest song contest . The songs are all here and can be downloaded . Quite a number and quite a selection .
I was pleasantly surprised to come across a couple by an old friend from the 70s and an ex-SPGBer , Bob Leslie . His entered songs can be got here , Gates of the Promised Land , and also here , Beans 'N' Beer.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Maoris Reclaim Tribal Home

Further to this story of the Australian Aborigines , in New Zealand the government formally apologized to one of the country's biggest indigenous Maori tribes , the Te Arawa iwi (tribe) and hapu (sub-tribe) , for land grabs by early European settlers and returned large tracts of state forest in a multi-million-dollar grievance settlement. The biggest compensation package for long-standing Maori grievances agreed for nine years, was worth 36 million New Zealand dollars (about 23.4 million US dollars).
It includes 50,000 hectares of the country's largest man-made pine forest and 14 lakes .

The Last Conflict

Just finished reading The Last Conflict by fellow comrade Pieter Lawrence and can happily recommend it as a rip-roaring read .
Naturally, of course , from the pen of a SPGBer , there is a strong Socialist moral in this tale of power politics , economics and Earth-colliding comets but it's no dry and dusty, turgid theoretical read .
I eagerly await the film of the book , or a TV series , at least . And why shouldn't there be one ? It is worthy of it .