Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Alright for some , ain't it ?

Royal Mail's chief executive, Adam Crozier, has been awarded £1.12 million in pay and bonuses as the strike-ridden UK postal service reported a 34.3 per cent fall in profits as a result of increasing pension costs.

Mr Crozier, who was criticised during the recent postal crisis for allegedly failing to attend talks with unions, was paid a basic £633,000 as well as a £469,000 performance-related bonus, some of which has been deferred into a long-term incentive scheme. With £18,000 in benefits, Mr Crozier was rewarded a total £1.12 million.

Labour - Party for Lawyers

In the last 10 years Labour has has created more than 3,000 new criminal offences, passed 115,000 pages of legislation and introduced more than 50 Bills, including 24 criminal justice measures.

The 60 years between 1925 and 1985 governments managed to get by with only six Criminal Justice Acts, an average of one every decade.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Indian Boom ?

An economic growth rate that has been above 9 percent for the past two years
India's benchmark stock market has crossed 19,000 points for the first time following four record-breaking sessions.
The emergence of more than 100,000 millionaires in India.


Nearly 40 percent of India's 1.2 billion people must get by on less than a dollar a day, according to the World Bank.
260 million people (26 percent of the population) living below the poverty line.
Almost half its children under 3 years of age are malnourished.
In the last 10 years, at least 40,000 farmer suicides in the country -- indicative of the growing gap between the poor and the rich.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Cost of Money

The US Mint says it is now costing as much as 1.7 cents to produce a "penny" (1 cent) and 10 cents to produce a "nickel" (5 cents).

The rising price of copper has prompted the US government to consider making coins with cheaper metals.

In April, the US government finally passed a law to make it illegal to melt down US coins, or export them in any quantity abroad. Anyone doing so now faces a fine of up to $10 000, in conjunction with five years in prison.

In India, the government has had to take action after rupee coins were illegally melted down in order to make razor blades. The Australian Royal Mint has warned its citizens it is illegal to melt down Australian dollars.

The British Royal Mint confirmed that the value of the copper in pre-1992 one penny and two penny coins is now greater than the face value [ before the change the composition in 1992 from bronze (97% copper) to copper-coated steel. ] However, anyone trying to melt them down could face a fine or two years in prison.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Che Guevara

Just when will the commercialisation of Che stop . We had the posters , the t-shirts , tea mugs... His iconic image is everywhere .

Now we have a lock of his hair being sold at auction for $119,000 (£58,000)

Edinburgh Wordpower radical bookfair

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The price of war

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could cost as much as $2.4 trillion through the next decade, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said .

According to analysis, the U.S. has already spent about $604 billion on the wars .

Nato has "lost in Afghanistan" and its failure to bring stability there could provoke a regional sectarian war "on a grand scale", according to Lord Ashdown . The former United Nations High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina delivered his dire prediction after being proposed as a new "super envoy" role in Afghanistan.

Lord Ashdown said: "We have lost, I think, and success is now unlikely."

God , not another one

Padre Pio, a humble Capuchin priest from San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, was blessed by God in many wonderful and mysterious ways. The most dramatic was the stigmata. Padre Pio bore the wounds of Christ for fifty years! - From the Padre Pio Foundation of America .

Padre Pio, the friar who was canonised before 200,000 ecstatic pilgrims five years ago, was a charlatan who deliberately mutilated himself with carbolic acid to give the appearance of bearing the stigmata of Christ, according to evidence . Unearthed documents that prove beyond reasonable doubt that the friar was a trickster.

Oh, well , another miracle bites the dust .

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Jewish Anarchist song

Many thanks to Anarcho-Sartorialist for finding the vid

The End is Nigh

It is not as if the CWU hasn't a history of compromise or reached deals that often favour management over its own members interests to protect the industry's viability . - From an earlier blog

It appears once again the CWU leadership has followed tradition and negotiated a deal [ details of which can be found here ] that stinks of sell out .


Another example of art fascists .

" Graffiti art by the acclaimed artist Banksy on streets in Tower Hamlets is to be painted over...Tower Hamlets is the first council to treat them as vandalism. "

"Whilst some graffiti is considered to be art, we know the many of our residents think that the graffiti in areas where they live, such as local housing estates, is an eyesore...We need to be clear here, graffiti is a crime.It spoils the environment, makes our neighbourhoods feel less safe, and costs thousands of pounds each year to clean - money that could instead be paying for valuable local services."

Tower Hamlets Council said it had not thought of selling the potentially valuable artwork to help raise money for council services .

Eleven of Banksy's stencilled artworks go on sale on Wednesday at Bonham's auction house in Knightsbridge. The actress Angelina Jolie reportedly bought one of his works for more than £200,000. A piece, commissioned by rock band Blur for their 2003 album Think Tank, recently sold in London for £300,000 .

A Banksy piece painted on a wall in Bristol recently went to public vote, with 97% of people saying it should be kept.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

rich getting rich

We have reported it before but the statistics and figures still keep coming in to confirm it . The rich are getting richer .

The income gap between the wealthiest and poorest Americans grew to its widest level since the 1920s. The wealthiest 1 percent of all Americans earned 21.2 percent of all the nation's income in 2005, up from the previous high of 20.8 percent in 2000.

While the bottom half of working Americans earned just 12.8 percent of all the nation's income, down from 13.4 percent in 2004 and slightly lower than 13 percent in 2000.

A Piece of the Action

Third-party ownership of football players - whereby private investors own part of a player's rights.
Lawyer Jose Carlos Meirelles of firm Pinheiro Neto Advogados in Brazil, which represents soccer investors, says: "Production of new players for transfer is the major source of income for clubs in South America...clubs are selling their rights in the player to investors ..."

Investor holds part of commercial rights to a player
Rights can be owned by individual, firm, bank or fund
Investor can help a cash-strapped club buy player
Deal allows investor to make return if player sold on
Investor not allowed to dictate transfer policy
Investor cannot hold the player's registration
Investor can also buy other interests, such as image rights

Stephen Joelson, partner at Clintons Solicitors "Football is becoming increasingly a business..."

Friday, October 12, 2007

Maelstrom in Royal Mail

Have you noticed how Royal Mail keep changing the goal posts in the mail strike ?

What originally started about a pay rise and impending redundancy plans , then involved the fight over pension entitlements and the right to retire at 60 yrs of age and now has become for the Royal Mail mandarins , a campaign to end what they describe as "Spanish practices" [a racist epithet that is insulting to the many hundreds of Spanish who work in Royal Mail ] and now a demand for total flexibility at work .

What just is the "employers agenda" to use a term from the last big postal dispute and eventual agreement of the mid-90s which was supposedly the "way forward" for the business . Is there a hidden motive behind what many see now as a determined attempt by Leighton and Crozier to ensure that no settlement can be reached by negotiation ? It is not as if the CWU hasn't a history of compromise or reached deals that often favour management over its own members interests to protect the industry's viability . We have always got to try and look at the bigger picture which only the Bosses and Government have the blueprint of and that we only see fragmentary glimpses of their real objectives through the fog of battle.

For the worker , it is the money he takes home and the amount of work that he must do to earn it that is foremost in his mind , and lets not hide from the reality - it is to get the most for doing the least . However , for management , it is the entire opposite . They endeavour to extract the most work out of its workforce at the most minimum of cost . The inevitable class struggle , in other words .

This is the postal dispute , the conflict between worker and boss and it is management who are the aggressor in this dispute .

Executive action on their pension proposal cuts
Executive action through the imposition of later starting times
Executive action through the imposition of network changes
Executive action through the ending of Sunday Collections
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).

Note that the pay rise , management's offer , that is , which was due in April has not been imposed by executive action .

Postal workers that have withdrawn their labour have OFFERED to return to work for an increase in pay and more talks over working procedures but the managers have REFUSED this offer and are holding out and DEMANDING that they accept their imposed changes unconditionally .

The Union want the issue of pensions removed from pay deal as it is a Group-wide issue not just the postal grades
New technology - Royal Mail want union support to roll out new tech program. Union will agree on basis that there is a share of any savings made!
Network 2007 and later starts - union will accept principle but state that each office should be able to maintain earlier starts if arrival patterns justify it - Isn't that flexibility ?
Full Review of MDECs should take place
Working groups to look at flexibility / D2D [ junk mail]

Certainly not the Luddite response against modernisation that Royal Mail's PR message endeavour to convey to the general public .

Touched upon above was the question of whether Royal Mail and/or the Government possess a secret plan . With a union that is keen to broker a deal as they have always done before but yet with a management that keeps switching the issues it may not be too paranoid of postal workers to believe that such a plan exists . Nor are they the only ones .

"...the DTI, the department responsible for this huge national asset[Royal Mail] , has officials deployed full-time looking at alternative forms of ownership. Regular talks have been held with investment bankers, Royal Mail executives and Richard Gillingwater, head of the Shareholder Executive, which looks after the state's business interests... officials from the DTI have also held deeply hush-hush meetings with Royal Mail executives that have reached the point of discussing the detail of potential changes in ownership, not just the theory..." Mail on Sunday 22 August 2004

A partial flotation of Royal Mail would raise anything between £4 billion and £6 billion if a buyer could be found - a buyer who would like to inherit a low cost and compliant work force with a new more limited pension fund liability - a business with a defeated trade union and demoralised membership .

As socialists , we shed no tears that this nationalised company may become privatised . Only those like Lenin who believed Socialism, as he said , means to "To organize the whole economy on the lines of the postal service." [State and Revolution] , after the example of Bismarck's Germany , remain under the misconception that it matters .

Regardless of ownership , the necessity for postal workers to organise within their industry and resist the attacks of their employers will continue and to which socialists will offer their support and solidarity , whether it is against the likes of Leighton and Crozier , appointees of the State , or against some rival mail company take-over , or a possible future Private Equity buy-out baron . The class war will only cease when Capitalism ends .

Monday, October 08, 2007

October 8th - Columbus Day

Columbus's programs reduced Taino numbers from as many as eight million at the outset of his regime to about three million in 1496. Perhaps 100,000 were left by the time of the governor's departure. His policies, however, remained, with the result that by 1514 the Spanish census of the island showed barely 22,000 Indians remaining alive. In 1542, only two hundred were recorded. Thereafter, they were considered extinct.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Who rules Israel

From Gabriel Sheffer , professor at the Hebrew University's political science department and a senior research fellow at the Van Leer Institute .

The defense network is made up of senior military officers, both past and present, heads of the secret services and police, and business owners in the security sphere. The members of this network have determined the political and military moves en route to all our wars, and between them. They are both leftist and rightist (as of late, there are more rightist and religious ones) and also took part in important political moves and in the peace process.
In addition, they are also intimately involved in economic, political, and cultural developments that pertain to the defense establishment. It is no secret that most Israeli prime ministers, even if not all of them, were members of this network. There was not always agreement between them and between those serving in the defense establishment during their tenure, but ultimately they acted together – and this can be clearly seen when we examine the evacuation of southern Lebanon, the disengagement from Gaza, the security fence, etc.

The capitalist network is made up of the 12 or 18 wealthiest families in Israel, as well as the large business owners. Its members are interested in the continuation of privatization processes, low taxation levels, low salary levels, etc. The members of this network are connected to senior politicians who enjoy their assistance and are willing to maintain neo-liberal policies, which led to great destruction of the Israeli welfare state and huge gaps between the highest and lowest echelons.

The strictly Orthodox rabbinical network is relatively small, and its members share common interests in all matters pertaining to the relationship between religion and state. They influence, and in fact determine, matters of personal status, yeshiva students' exemption from military service, conversion policy, attitude to foreign workers, and to a growing extent our policy in the territories.

The network of senior bureaucratic officials is particularly important. Its most prominent members include senior Treasury, Bank of Israel, Defense Ministry and Education Ministry officials. On the one hand, they are the ones who determine and formulate most of the important decisions and laws passed by the Knesset, and on the other hand they have the power to torpedo decisions and laws, particularly through inaction.

All Israeli prime ministers and senior ministers in recent decades were connected to or members of these networks. The three candidates for the next premiership are also connected to these networks: Benjamin Netanyahu is affiliated with the capitalist and Orthodox networks. Ehud Olmert is also affiliated with the capitalist and Orthodox networks. Meanwhile, Ehud Barak is associated with the defense and capitalist networks.

Monday, October 01, 2007

299th !!!

Many thanks for the Inveresk Street Ingrate for informing me that this blog has been listed as the 299th in the list of 500 Top Political blogs . How that corresponds to actual numbers of voters- who knows .

If i had known i would have of course would have voted for myself and crept up a few more places . [ or recommended voting for Socialist Courier , a fine SPGB blog from its Scottish branches , or for the Socialist Banner , a Socialist blog that concentrates on African news- stories ]

But anyways , there will be a short intermission while Mailstrom goes on his hols .

Football Politics 2

What some supporters think of the new chairman

Football politics

According to the BBC , Arsenal managing director Keith Edelman is "relaxed" about Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov's interest in the club. Usmanov's investment company Red and White Holdings Limited (RAWHL) owns nearly a quarter of the club's shares.

Well , he shouldn't be relaxed . He should be worried . Very worried . As should all Gunners supporters .

Craig Murray , the ex- UK diplomat , has had his blog censored when Usmanov decided he didn't quite like the truth being told about his past and ordered in the lawyers to intimidate Craig Muray's web-site host .

Apparently, Usmanov doesn't like Murray accusing him of being a Vicious Thug, Criminal, Racketeer, Heroin Trafficker and Accused Rapist....that Usmanov is just a criminal whose gangster connections with one of the World's most corrupt regimes got him out of jail....that Usmanov's present role as chairman of Gazprom is to handle Gazprom's bribery and sleaze on the international arena on behalf of Putin , and the use of gas supply cuts as a threat to uncooperative Russian satellite states.

The censored biographical article can be found here

A Business Report

Salaries of UK executives rose by 37 percent this year to an average approaching £3 million - 20 times the inflation rate and 11 times the 4 percent rise in average earnings last year in Britain , according to this article .

The ratio between what executives of the 100 biggest firms earn and what their staff are paid has risen to 98:1 from 93:1 a year ago. Executives are valued nearly 100 times more highly than their employees. Banker JP Morgan said a century ago that no company should have an executive:employee differential of more than 20:1; indeed, the differential in the US in the 1960s was 24:1.

UK Pub group chief executive Giles Thorley last year took a salary package of £11 276 000, which was 1 278 times the average salary of the group's employees; they got £8 821, a salary on which a family could not survive without supplement .

This is not a one-off occurrence; it is a long-term global trend towards deepening inequality. The Russians have joined in: last month tax-evading oil executive Mikhail Gutseriyev arrived in London with $3 billion .

The fact is that national economic growth does not translate into wages, but goes straight to the top.
In the five years to 2005, the US economy grew by 14 percent in real terms, and labour productivity by 16.6 percent. But in that time the median family income fell by nearly 3 percent. Where did the productivity go? Into profit, whose share rose from 17.7 percent to nearly 21 percent. And chief executive pay rose by 186 per¬cent in the three years to 2005.

Executive salaries and bonuses are calculated by how much value they have delivered - to shareholders. They are judged by how much shareholders have taken away in dividends, and the value of their shares. Nothing to do with how anyone else benefited, or the company's long-term interests.
Stewart Wallis, the director of the London-based New Economics Foundation, defines the current version of capitalism as a system that operates "for the prime benefit of the providers of private capital".