Tuesday, September 25, 2007

bread and circuses

It is not often i find myself in agreeiment with a judge but in this court case his summary tends to reflect my own opinion .

Describing the Jeremy Kyle Show , the judge said the programme was aiming to "effect a morbid and depressing display of dysfunctional people".

"It is for no more and no less than titillating members of the public who have nothing better to do with their mornings than sit and watch this show - which is a human form of bear baiting which goes under the guise of entertainment," he said and went on to add .
"The people responsible for this, namely the producers, should, in my opinion, be in the dock with you, Mr Staniforth."

A TV critic of my own heart

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Doomsday bombs by the thousands

The UK has built up a stockpile of 100 tonnes of plutonium - enough to make 17,000 nuclear bombs, according to the country's national academy of science , the Royal Society .

Report working group chairman Professor Geoffrey Boulton said: "The stockpile has grown whilst international nuclear proliferation and terrorist threats have increased... We must take measures to ensure that this very dangerous material does not fall into the wrong hands."

Friday, September 21, 2007

No change

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has been ranked as the wealthiest person in America for the 14th year in a row. Reported here .

Forbes magazine put Gates' fortune at $59bn, with investment guru Warren Buffet in second place with a net worth of $52bn.

Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and software tycoon Larry Ellison remained at third and fourth place on Forbes' list of the 400 richest Americans.
Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, come in joint fifth place, with fortunes of $18.5bn apiece.
Investor Kirk Kerkorian his fortune rising by more than $9bn in the past year to $18bn, putting him in seventh place.

The collective net worth of the 400 billionaires totalled $1.54 trillion - more than Canada's GDP.

Why postal workers are striking

• Executive action on their pension proposals - Royal Mail will be communicating this to staff next week.

• Executive action through the imposition of later starts on the 8th October.

• Executive action through the imposition of network changes on the 23rd October.
• Executive action through
the cessation of Sunday Collections on the 28th October.
• Executive action against Engineers, the net effect of which will mean a reduction of 10% of posts.
• Executive action through the cessation of Employee Share of Savings Scheme (ESOS) on the 10th October.

These announcements are on top of the fact that Royal Mail will not settle a pay rise owed to members from the 1st April 07.

Instead, they now demand any pay deal must include total flexibility and be dependent on us agreeing outrageous pension’s proposals. This includes closing the Final Salary Scheme for existing employees, attacking past service benefits and increasing retirement age to 65.
The truth is central to the problems in this industry is the people running the company want our members to pay for their mistakes.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

what is a crime ?

From The Independent

Seven Tunisian fishermen go on trial in Sicily today for the crime of rescuing 44 migrants from certain death in the sea. They are accused of aiding and abetting illegal immigration. If convicted, they face between one and 15 years in jail. They were remanded in custody and remained in jail until 10 September, when five were released on bail and the two officers of the boat were put under house arrest.

On the morning of 7 August, Abdelkarim Bayoudh and his crew had dropped anchor on a shelf 30 miles south of the island of Lampedusa. They had just turned in for a few hours' sleep when they were woken by screams for help.
Coming out on deck they saw a rubber boat crammed with people wallowing in the rough sea, taking in water and on the point of sinking. Among them were two children and 11 women – two of them pregnant and one elderly and badly ill. In the crush to get aboard the fishing boat, two of the migrants went in the water. Two of the Tunisian crew dived in and rescued them.
Captain Bayoudh then headed for the nearest harbour. Their home port of Monastir was 90 miles away, Lampedusa only 30 miles. The best destination was obvious.

Yet on arrival in Lampedusa, the seven Tunisians were arrested and thrown in jail.

Laura Boldrini, of the UN High Commission for Refugees, contrasts the behaviour of the Tunisians with that of other, unnamed fishermen reported to her who recently beat migrants attempting to get into their boat with sticks, forcing them into the water where several drowned.

No action was taken against them.

Rescueing people from death at sea becomes a crime but forcing people to drown is no longer a crime . What a world we live in !!!

A website called Fortress Europe, which monitors deaths and disappearances at Europe's borders, says that 491 people vanished in the Canale de Sicilia this year, up to 1 September. Of those, 103 are definitely dead; the other 388 are the ones that nobody saw disappear. The figure is the highest since Fortress Europe began counting in 1994, and already nearly 200 more than all of last year.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The cost of war

What does the cost to America look like in hard cash :-

Go to link

when is bomb not a bomb

The UK is the world's third largest user of lethal cluster bombs over the last ten years .
In February 2007 the UK joined 46 other nations in calling for a worldwide ban on cluster bombs. This initiative, called the Oslo process, is expected to lead to a treaty banning cluster bombs next year. Cluster bomblets are notoriously unreliable and many fail to explode on impact, remaining a lethal hazard to civilians months after the initial attack. Even in test conditions, around 6% of these bombs malfunction , cluster bomb reliability rates are consistently found to be higher in combat conditions than in tests. In December last year Hillary Benn, the then Secretary of State for International Development, said that cluster munitions 'represent a threat to aid-workers, peace-keepers, medical services, internally-displaced persons' after the cessation of hostilities.

As recently as 23 November 2006, the government listed the CRV-7 as a cluster munition.
But on 16 July this year, just months after it said it would back a worldwide cluster bomb ban, the Government said the CRV-7 was no longer a cluster bomb.
The move would mean that the Hydra CRV-7 rocket system, which can deliver 171 'M73' bomblets from a helicopter-mounted rocket pod, would remain part of British arsenals. Britain also insists on keeping its artillery delivered M85 cluster bomblets because they are supposed to self-destruct if they do not explode on impact. Last year in Lebanon, these same weapons failed in large numbers, killing and injuring civilians. A recent Foreign Affairs Select Committee report estimated a failure rate of up to 10%, a figure far in excess of government claims.

Anna MacDonald, Head of Arms Control for Oxfam said:
'Current UK policy on cluster bombs makes no sense. They say they want an international treaty - but they also want to keep using cluster bombs well known to kill and injure civilians.'

Sunday, September 16, 2007

As if we didn't know

"Whatever their publicized angst over Saddam Hussein's 'weapons of mass destruction,' American and British authorities were also concerned about violence in an area that harbors a resource indispensable for the functioning of the world economy," Greenspan wrote. "I'm saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: The Iraq war is largely about oil,"

Greenspan , 18 years as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank , the nation's central bank, in his new book, "The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World,"

Friday, September 07, 2007

Rupert Murdoch Public Enemy Number One

Vanity Fair released its top 100 of the world's most powerful members of the elite .

Prime Minister maker and breaker , Rupert Murdoch sits on top place . As if we aren't surprised .

Hierarchy of Power and Long Life

Life expectancy in the richest countries of the world now exceeds the poorest by more than 30 years, figures show .

Average life expectancy in Britain and similar countries of the OECD was 78.8 in 2000-05, an increase of more than seven years since 1970-75 and almost 30 years over the past century.

In sub-Saharan Africa, life expectancy has increased by just four months since 1970, to 46.1 years.

Narrowing this "health gap" will involve going beyond the immediate causes of disease – poverty, poor sanitation and infection – to tackle the "causes of the causes" – the social hierarchies in which people live, the Global Commission on the Social Determinants of Health says in a report.

Even in the UK the privileged live longer . In the 1980s, in a series of ground-breaking studies among Whitehall civil servants showed that the risk of death among those on the lower rungs of the career ladder was four times higher than those at the top, and that the difference was linked with the degree of control the individuals had over their lives.

Professor Sir Michael Marmot, chairman of the Global Commission on the Social Determinants of Health stated that if people increased their status and gained more control over their lives they improved their health because they were less vulnerable to the economic and environmental threats.

The result is that even within rich countries such as Britain there are striking inequalities in life expectancy. The poorest men in Glasgow have a life expectancy of 54, lower than the average in India. Infant mortality is still twice as high among the poor in Britain, 7 per 1,000 among the poor and 3.5 among the rich .

The answer, the report says, is empowerment, of individuals, communities and whole countries.

"Technical and medical solutions such as medical care are without doubt necessary. But they are insufficient." Professor Marmot said: "We talk about three kinds of empowerment. If people don't have the material necessities – food to eat, clothes for their children – they cannot be empowered. The second kind is psycho-social empowerment: more control over their lives. The third is political empowerment: having a voice."

The simple fact of the matter is that solutions will not be found inside the capitalism whatever may be claimed by the welfare reformers . The present system relies on a small minority maintaining control and authority over the majority and artificially rationing the means of life .

Thursday, September 06, 2007

poverty in Ireland and Canada

We brought you the poverty figures for the USA and for Australia and now here we have the statistics for our Celtic Tiger neighbour , Ireland .
For a nation that is one of the most productive ( see here ) , we have nearly 290,000 people living in "consistent poverty" in Ireland , including one child in every 10 . Ireland is ranked by the agency as 19th worst among 22 EU nations for consistent child poverty.

"In a wealthy society like Ireland, access to high quality services should not be dependent on income," said Mr O'Kelly , acting director of the Combat Poverty Agency .

The worst affected were those not in a position to take up a job -- older people, carers, lone parents, children, the long-term unemployed and people who are sick or disabled.

A more recent EU Survey on Income and Living Conditions, from last year found that "almost one in five people" in Ireland remained "at risk of poverty"

[thanks to Michelle for drawing my attention to the Irish report]

And is it any better across the ocean in Canada ?

We have stats that show , according to the Toronto Star , the percentage of children in Canada and in Ontario living in poverty is higher than it was back in 1989. As well, the percentage of all Canadians in poverty is as high as ever.

In a country and a province so rich, so many Canadians are living in poverty – estimates run up to 5.3 million people. In Ontario, the child poverty rate is 17 per cent, or one in every six children. Food banks served 330,500 Ontarians in 2006.

Same all the world around -poverty and misery amidst abundance .

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

sex research

As it has been said , a thick wallet is the best aphrodisiac for a woman and now it appears to have been confirmed .

An Indiana University team looked at the behaviour of 46 people taking part in a speed-dating session. They found women opted for those who could give the best financial security. The report said men sought the more attractive women and the women were drawn to material wealth and security.

"While humans may pride themselves on being highly evolved, most still behave like the stereotypical Neanderthals when it comes to choosing a mate. Evolutionary theories in psychology suggest that men and women should trade off different traits in each other and when we look at the actual choices people make, this is what we find evidence for." - Lead researcher Peter Todd said

We aren't such a selfish lot , after all

More than half of people have both volunteered and given to charity in the last 12 months.

Contrary to what many may think, are willing to help out, and nearly 60% have done so by formally volunteering in the past year , 39% had done so at least monthly , 69% had volunteered in the last five years.

81% of those questioned had donated to charity in the last four weeks. The average total amount donated in the last four weeks was £25 per adult .

Monday, September 03, 2007

The ILO Report

In 2006 each US worker produced $63,885 (£31,651) of wealth . In May 2005 the average wage was $37,870

The International Labour Organisation report shows that the productivity gap between the US and most other developed economies continued to widen. The acceleration of productivity growth in the US has outpaced that of many other developed economies. However, Americans work more hours per year than workers in most other developed economies. This is why, measured as value added per hour worked, Norway has the highest labour productivity level (US$ 37.99), followed by the United States (US$ 35.63) and France (US$ 35.08).

The report also highlights that throughout the rest of world ;-

“Hundreds of millions of women and men are working hard and long but without the conditions they need to lift themselves and their families out of poverty; they risk falling deeper into poverty..."

Whereas the unemployed want to work but lack the opportunity to do so, the working poor are working but do not earn enough to escape poverty. 1.3 billion working poor who live with their families on less than US$ 2 per day per family member. Half of all women and men employed are considered vulnerable to poverty and carry a higher risk of being unprotected, without social security and without a voice at work. Over 70 per cent of the workers in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia are in such vulnerable employment.


Saturday, September 01, 2007

Aussie Poverty

We have commented on the poverty of the United States of America , so how do the other promised lands compare .

Using an international measure that defines the poverty line as 50 per cent of median income, the report found the number of Australians living in poverty rose from 7.6 per cent to 9.9 per cent of the population between 1994 and 2004.

That is two million Australians are living in poverty .

Sound of Silence

Hows this for twisted logic .

Pope Benedict said on Saturday that even the late Mother Teresa of Calcutta "suffered from the silence of God" despite her immense charity and faith. this stems fromthe release of some of the blessed saint -to- be letters which said :-

"Jesus has a very special love for you ... but as for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great, that I look and do not see, — Listen and do not hear — the tongue moves in prayer]but does not speak ..."

All believers know about the silence of God," The Pope said in unprepared remarks. "Even Mother Teresa, with all her charity and force of faith, suffered from the silence of God," he said.

He said believers sometimes had to withstand the silence of God in order to understand the situation of people who do not believe.

Just can't beat thinking like that