Big Pharma makes you sick
The fact that the UK government alone wasted £473m on a drug for flu that works no better than paracetamol is an expensive example of how Big Pharma can actually harm your health at the taxpayer’s expense rather than improve it.
The game is up already, Len
Len McCluskey, the leader of the union Unite, is sounding more than a little desperate. His lengthy campaign to influence Labour’s policies in advance of next year’s scheduled general election has yielded nothing. His latest warning – to cut funding from the party altogether – will predictably have the same result.
System failure – both East and West
The Russia-Ukraine conflict is ostensibly over the status of Crimea, which Moscow today annexed after a military-supervised, one-sided referendum process. It also expresses in a dramatic way how the old world order is breaking apart at the seams, bringing nationalism and other horrors in its wake.
People's Inquiry into 'Our future beyond capitalism'
The Ukraine-Russia crisis is just one expression of dramatic changes that are taking diverse forms in different countries. Nevertheless, there is an essential unity to a fast-moving global crisis that embraces economy and finance, ecosystems, democracy and politics, culture and ideology.
Get fracking – corporate plans for Ukraine's future
An independent, modern, prosperous Ukraine was the vision of the young people that took to the streets to get rid of the Yanukovych regime and many think there is a better chance of that in partnership with the European Union than under Russian influence. But the fact is that the EU, US and their transnational corporate partners (and the home-grown oligarchs) have very different plans.
Welsh co-ops report points the way forward
Parallel announcements of job cuts across the UK underline the price of the so-called “recovery” as it affects the lives of the majority of ordinary people caught up in the global economic crisis. A timely report from the Welsh Co-operative and Mutuals Commission sets out a new path.
Defend Ukraine's right to self-determination
Russia’s occupation of Crimea and the threat to invade other parts of Ukraine on a trumped up pretext, is a reactionary response to a popular uprising for democracy in Kiev and a diversion from serious economic problems confronting the Putin regime.
How Miliband called McCluskey's bluff
If Len McCluskey were an investment banker, he surely would have been fired a long time ago. Instead, his position as general secretary of the Unite union is secure even though the return on capital invested in Labour leader Ed Miliband is beyond measurement because it’s so low.
Standard Life threat shows where power really lies
Standard Life's statement that in the event of a “Yes" vote in the Scottish referendum they would leave Edinburgh, forcing 5,000 employees to choose unemployment or emigration, shows up the narrowness of the independence debate so far.
Vultures circle Ukraine as economy collapses
The formation of an acceptable new government in Ukraine reflecting the multi-dimensional aspirations of the popular uprising that saw off the Yanukovych kleptocracy is proving difficult enough. Dealing with its collapsing economy is an even bigger problem.
In case you missed it, here's hot news from the TUC
As tumultuous world events like the uprising in Ukraine, the direct democracy movement sweeping Bosnia, the Syrian civil war etc etc grab your attention, you may have missed a momentous announcement by the Trades Union Congress here in Britain. There is to be a mass demonstration in – wait for it – October!
Penguin capitulates to book banning in India
Penguin India is now in the business of banning bocks, in an action that has shocked writers and free speech campaigners inside and outside the country. The publisher is recalling all copies of The Hindus: An Alternative History, will pulp them and ensure their withdrawal “from the Bharat” (Indian territory) within a period “not exceeding six (6) months”.
Ukrainians die for themselves, not East or West
The portrayal of the uprising against Ukraine’s government in Kiev and other cites as simply an East-West tug-of-war is a superficial viewpoint that insults those slaughtered by snipers on the streets of the country’s capital yesterday. Ukrainians are actually dying to remove a corrupt regime that represents only the oligarchs.
Co-op has totally lost its way
Admitting that it has lost touch with “its customers and members and with the communities in which it operates”, the Co-op is at a crossroads. After the near collapse of its bank, the Co-op is asking anyone and everyone to help determine the organisation’s future direction.
Housing misery built into the system
Soaring house prices, a frenzied housing market, unaffordable rents and massive overcrowding. Welcome to ConDem Britain 2014, where only the wealthy can get a decent roof over their heads while those in genuine need can only stand and watch.
'Death to nationalism' is message of Bosnia uprising
A feature of revolutionary times is when people’s movements decide to take matters into their own hands and throw up new forms of democracy. That’s what we are witnessing in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where people of all ages – from teenagers to the very old – are engaging in an experiment in self-government.
Response to flooding shows the system isn't working
The current weather crisis has shown up the illegitimacy of politicians in charge of a system that is unable and unwilling to act for the common good. They greatly fear this exposure – it's the reason for the tide of government rhetoric about "money no object" and promises of future help.
New banking crisis looms as credit crunch returns
Around the world’s biggest economies, gears are being thrown into reverse as credit, liquidity, broad money, leverage – whatever name you give it – turns from the antidote to recession to the source of volatility and a potent systemic threat.
Miliband's praise for Thatcher says it all
Following Ed Miliband’s speeches is a thankless task for a number of reasons. They are more often than not vague and full of phrases devoid of any obvious content. But dig a little deeper and you will find an agenda that promises a reactionary continuity in British politics.
Palestinian kids given electric shock torture
You have to hand it to US secretary of state John Kerry. In his dream of entering the history books, he has taken on mission impossible. He is fighting tooth and nail for his version of the two-state peace plan between Israel and the Palestinians.
It's kick-off time in Brazil
When protesters seize a transport hub in a protest against fare increases, allowing passengers to travel free for a short time, you can understand why Brazil’s authorities are preparing to establish an armed camp for this year’s World Cup.
Memo to Cameron: Floods are actually in charge of us
There had to be a moment when a changed climate resulting from global warming caused persistent extreme weather. With horrific storms and floods in Britain and France, the worst drought in California since records began and temperatures over 40º in Australia, that moment has arrived.
Sick global economy hit by new contagion
The list of countries hit by the wave of withdrawal of speculative investment capital lengthens by the day. Countries amounting to half the global economy are being forced to spend currency reserves, raise interest rates and consider controls over the movement of capital.
Miliband marches in Blair's footsteps
When Labour’s national executive committee today rubber-stamps plans to “reform” the party’s historic relations with the trade unions, it will put the finishing touches to a long-term project to bring the party’s organisation into line with what it actually stands for.
Ukraine insurrection against brutality and state corruption
As the anti-government movement in Maidan Square hunkers down for its tenth week of occupation in sub-zero temperatures, the battle-lines have changed. Starting as a largely pro-European Union movement last November, the remarkable courage and determination of Kiev’s people has changed the stakes.
Plan A or Plan B spell misery for Scots
Currency unions between sovereign states are a dangerous business for ordinary people as Greeks under the hammer of Troika-imposed austerity will confirm. Or Italians, whose grand coalition of all the parties is systematically destroying living standards and pensions in the name of the euro. Or Spanish people living in poverty as unemployment climbs above 26%.
Osborne's 'recovery' built on sand
Just as the ConDem coalition is trumpeting a “return to growth” – one that is more apparent than real – their hopes for a sustained economic recovery have been shattered by the eruption of new phase of the global crisis.
Jobcentre sanctions used to meet targets
Lest anyone is under the illusion that job centres are there principally to help the unemployed find work, a quick read of a new report by a parliamentary committee will prove salutary. What shines through is a harsh sanctions regime enforced by management under government orders to make life hard for claimants.
Blair fans the flames of intolerance
Still smarting from an attempt at a citizen’s arrest earlier this month for war crimes over the illegal invasion of Iraq, Tony Blair is now recycling noxious neo-con, pseudo-theories in telling us that modern wars are predominantly the result of religious conflicts.
ConDem con trick can't disguise inequality growth
The ConDems claim that pay for most rose faster than prices in the year to April 2013 is a con trick that cannot disguise a rapid growth in inequality of household incomes since 2008. And with another credit-fuelled frenzy under way, a second crash is much more likely than a “sustainable recovery”.
EU ditches climate change action for growth
New climate change targets announced by the European Union are a major step backwards and virtually end any chance of keeping global warming below 2ºC. They are the result of pressure from governments desperate for growth, whatever the cost environmentally.
Spectre of deflation haunts global economy
For the first time since 2009 the UK rate of inflation has fallen to the Bank of England’s target of 2%. For most people, whose real incomes have been falling, a slowing in the rate at which prices increase is surely a welcome relief. But alarm bells are ringing for the capitalist economy as the spectre of deflation looms large.
Geldof hits the political nail on the head
Has Bob Geldof joined Russell Brand in seeing the political light? For more than 30 years, Geldof has thrown himself into numerous humanitarian projects, starting with his famous Band Aid single in 1984 and the subsequent Live Aid concert to draw attention to famine in Africa. Poverty, hunger and inequality haven’t gone away despite the best efforts of Geldof and countless others.
Putin's £31 billion nightmare
Vladimir Putin says that he is not anti-gay. And adds that he’s even in favour of the right to self-determination. For the macho Russian president, black is white and white is black.
Miliband's dream of a new, improved capitalism
Ed Miliband’s half-baked proposals to increase competition between high street banks – not exactly a burning issue for most working people – just about sums up the Labour leader’s vision of the “responsible capitalism” he champions.
Cameron's fracking big lies
Prime minister David Cameron is the snake oil salesman for the fracking companies, making claims about jobs and he knows are false while attempting to bribe councils to speed up controversial planning applications that local people oppose.
When a return to 'normal' spells crisis
Gamblers, speculators and investors on the world’s capital markets are watching and wondering what is going to happen now, in the wake of the US Federal Reserves’ decision to begin slowing the growth of credit.
Egypt's sham referendum
Referendums by themselves are not necessarily a sign of democracy at work. In fact, the one taking place in Egypt today is precisely the opposite because it is aimed at creating an autocracy with the country’s notorious army leadership firmly in control.
Let us not mourn the 'Butcher of Beirut'
For every leader such as Tony Blair, Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin and Benjamin Netanyahu who are praising the life of Ariel Sharon, there are countless ordinary people for whom his name is synonymous with ruthless, brutal anti-Palestinian policies.
Vote Balls get Clegg. Why bother?
In 2010, Labour joined in the general vilification of Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg for choosing the Tories over them after the general election produced a hung parliament. Now, with the next election on the horizon, Labour’s tune is changing.
Protection from extreme weather is a democratic question
The main impact of climate change on the UK will be more frequent and extensive floods. That is the conclusion of every single report and study for the last decade, including the government's own major risk assessment published by the Environment Agency (EA) in 2012.
Global economy faces turbulent 2014
Chancellor George Osborne believes he has found a way to secure continued support from the Tories’ corporate backers while embarrassing Labour sufficiently enough to keep Ed Miliband’s party backing austerity policies into the distant future.
Xenophobia - they are all in it together
In the wake of the threatened invasion by Romanians and Bulgarians that never was, anti-immigration demagogy continues to darken the political horizon. There is no shortage of politicians eager to exploit xenophobia of all kinds in the hunt for votes.
Hunt's phoney war of words with Gove
When the smoke has cleared in the exchange between Michael Gove, the education secretary, and Tristram Hunt, his Labour shadow, over how to assess the First World war as we approach its 100th anniversary, we are back almost exactly to where the major parties were in August 1914.
Finishing what the miners started
Thirty years ago, a group of determined workers challenged the power of the British state. How close the miners came to defeating the Thatcher regime – with some Tories fearing a “revolutionary” confrontation – is revealed in cabinet papers released today.
Season of goodwill passes Palestinian children by
The season of peace and goodwill is, as we know, honoured more in the breach than the observance, by states around the world. The abuse of human rights continues unabated and the Israeli state is always somewhere near the top of the list.
Make 2014 the year of a leap into the future
If last year witnessed the sudden and unexpected eruption of mass movements in countries from Brazil to Turkey, then 2014 is certain to see countless millions in many more countries become part of what is a global street upheaval.
The year we found our rulers out
As 2013 draws to a close, we can say with some certainty that while none of the major questions facing humanity are any nearer finding a solution, there is a renewed determination amongst ordinary people to reject how things stand in the search for answers.
Violent palm oil land grab hits poorest
Hired thugs working for a palm oil corporation stormed villages in Indonesia to force people off their land earlier this month so that PT Asiatic Persada could take up a government concession. It was a dramatic example of an often violent international land grab at work.
Edgy markets make “growth” seem hollow
The eyes and ears of the world’s biggest gamblers will turn towards the US Federal Reserve announcement this evening.
Romania testing ground for ruthless corporations
In a sign of what to expect if US corporate interests are allowed free reign in Europe, as outlined by the planned transatlantic trade deal, an alliance of oil giant Chevron and the Romanian state has evicted villagers opposed to exploration for shale gas.
They don't make them like O'Toole any more
Peter O’Toole, who has died at 81, was a mercurial, hell-raising actor who captured and lampooned the break-up of the English ruling classes. He was fiercely proud of his Irish roots, sharing Oscar Wilde’s uncanny grasp of the English characters he made his own.
'Terminator' seeds back on corporate agenda
For over a decade, Monsanto and other corporations have reluctantly acknowledged an international moratorium on what are known as “terminator” seeds. These make crops die off after one harvest, forcing farmers to buy new seeds for planting. All that could be about to change as a result of pressure from Brazilian landowners.
Ukrainians up against the oligarchs
The tremendous popular movement that has taken control of the centre of Kiev to demand the departure of the government represents a wide spectrum of forces. They range from workers tired of falling living standards to rabid nationalists who hate everything Russian.
Cost-of-living crisis about falling pay
Workers on low and middle incomes are experiencing the biggest decline in their living standards since reliable records began in the 19th century. For the average worker, wages have fallen by £1,300 every year since the Coalition government took office in 2010.
Air pollution set to become biggest global killer
Increased greenhouse gases emissions are not only speeding up dangerous climate change – they are creating a health crisis that will kill millions. Urban air pollution is set to become the top environmental cause of mortality worldwide by 2050, ahead of dirty water and lack of sanitation, a new report warns.
Corporations get 'keys to Europe' under trade deal
In recent history, only nation states had the attribute of sovereignty, the power to govern a defined area, to make laws and exercise force in defence of perceived interests. Now what is called “corporate sovereignty” is assuming a superior position in the political hierarchy.
Mandela's passing leaves unfinished business
The death of Nelson Mandela marks the closure of an era of independence struggles in Africa which ended colonial rule and brought political freedom. But despite Mandela’s heroic and self-sacrificing struggle, his vision of a just and equal society eludes the vast majority.
Osborne's budget for business at our expense
Put simply this was a ConDem budget statement for business at the expense of those who depend on public services, those who have to rely on benefits and the millions who will have to wait years longer to draw their state pension.
Detroit goes bankrupt and others are certain to follow
Detroit, the former Motor City, home of Motown music is now the largest bankrupt city in US history, brought down by debts totalling $18.5 billion. Already, 40% of the city's streetlights do not work and 78,000 abandoned buildings litter the city, whose population has dropped from its 1.8 million peak in 1950 to 700,000.
A property-owning oligarchy has London in its grip
London is being transformed into a glass skyscraper for the super-rich and global property speculators while many of the things which have made Europe’s largest metropolis a great place to live, work and play are set to vanish.
Getting beyond dead end parliamentary politics
Positioning yourself to the left of One Nation Labour, as it now prefers to be known, is an easy enough task. Building a new party that can mount a successful electoral challenge to Ed Miliband’s austerity-lite “responsible capitalism” crew is more fraught.
Let's write our own constitution for Scotland
In a doorstop of a White Paper published this week, Scotland's SNP government promises an opportunity for people to be involved in drafting a new constitution for Scotland. We should seize this rare chance to identify where power actually lies and map out what real self-determination would look like.
Unite against destructive trade 'partnerships'
“Localists of the world, unite!” That’s the timely call from the International Society for Ecology and Culture to join the global resistance movement against two planned trade deals that would undermine decades of achievements.
For the times they are a-changin'
We all know that wide swathes of the global media are dominated by celebrity nonsense which breeds a deep cynicism towards the entertainment industry. But when celebrities like Morrissey, Russell Brand and now Antonio Banderas suddenly speak out against the status quo, something else is happening.
RBS is a vulture bank driven by debt
From the disaster at the Co-op Bank, driven into the hands of hedge funds by incompetent management, to the Royal Bank of Scotland, which forced small firms out of business so it could buy up their assets on the cheap, the message is clear.
JFK – myth and reality
Beyond the speculation about who killed John F. Kennedy and the reasons behind his assassination 50 years ago today in Dallas, myths have endured about his supposedly liberal, even left-wing, views and policies. Oliver Stone’s film even suggests that’s why he was shot.
Fracking Capitalism for a fossil free future
From Algiers to Falkirk, New Brunswick to Colorado, Pungesti to Salford, Zurawlow to Balcombe, people are uniting to halt a new and damaging industry. They are using protest, lobbying, the courts – any tool they have to stop their communities being fracked. They have faced down police with guns and tear gas and local councils who support the corporations against their voters.
This hunger is no game – it's ConDem Britain 2013
Malnutrition, hunger and debt. That’s the price increasing numbers of ordinary people are paying for ConDem austerity as the fiction of “economic recovery” passes the majority by.
Corporate power has sidelined Lincoln's vision
Abraham Lincoln’s two-minute speech at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, delivered 150 years ago today, during the country’s bitter civil war, looks back to the founding principles of the American revolution and forward to a democratic society for all.
The green revolution is on its way
The scale of opposition to ecological devastation and the damage caused by fossil fuels is mounting globally to a point where some are now forecasting a “green revolution” coming to a neighbourhood near you soon.
The old politics is dying on its feet – for very good reasons
Why the political establishment has reacted so sourly to Russell Brand’s call for people not to vote and to think about revolution instead, should surprise no one. The comedian touched a raw nerve because the old politics is dying on its feet.
UK economy living on borrowing – and borrowed time
There’s one thing that prime minister Cameron got right during his speech to the City – the need for a “fundamental culture change”, because the UK economy is diving deeper into debt in a bid by the ConDems to engineer a mini-boom.
Blunkett targets Roma in another shocking outburst
Demonising migrants and minorities is not just the privilege of the Tories. You only have to listen to the latest reactionary remarks of former New Labour cabinet minister David Blunkett to realise that.
Why did it take so long to investigate Arafat's death?
Nine years to the day since the death of Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat in a Paris hospital, it seems we now know the cause – though not the perpetrators.
Parliament is spooked by the spooks
A parliament that cannot defend civil liberties and human rights against the secret state is not fit for purpose and ought to be sent packing. That’s one conclusion you could draw from the pathetic performance of the Intelligence and Security Committee yesterday.
Transform systems to tackle climate change, IPCC concludes
Without a dramatic cut in carbon emissions, earth systems will reach a point beyond the scope of any mitigation or adaptation, according to a leaked report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
How coexistence with capitalism undermines co-ops
Two of the world’s biggest and best known co-operatives are struggling with the impact of the unending global recession. Both are seeking rescue deals by hedge funds and private equity groups that could lead to their destruction.
Tax breaks for 'living wage' will reinforce inequality
If Ed Miliband believes that giving employers a tax break to pay the “living wage” will restore, in his words, the broken link between “growth and prosperity”, he is even more cynical and opportunist than we thought.
Snowden calls for support for A Manifesto for Truth
While the Guardian is targeted by the state for publishing Greenwald’s articles exposing mass surveillance of its citizens, with few public figures coming forward to defend the paper, in Germany the response is different.
Unite leaders pin their hopes on Miliband instead of fighting back
To engage in a battle with employers which then ends in defeat or a setback is no disgrace. To run up the white flag at the first whiff of grapeshot is shameful, however hard Unite leader Len McCluskey is trying to spin the Grangemouth debacle.
Communities rise up against toxic gold mining
Thousands of people are rising up in their communities in Greece and Romania against toxic plans by gold mining companies who are working in cahoots with their governments to destroy their environment.
Russell Brand's fire crosses the Atlantic
As Russell Brand’s simultaneously visceral, emotional and intellectual case for revolutionary change goes viral, respected Pulitzer prize-winning US journalist Chris Hedges, arriving at the same conclusion, goes even further than the comedian.
Cameron and Obama: puppets of the state within the state
There are two “democracies” where the secret state within the state is pulling the strings of politicians so hard that their movements resemble those of puppets. The hidden apparatus is so powerful that to challenge it is to court accusations tantamount to treason.
Backlash against Brand shows he got it right
Be worried. Be very worried. The “revolution” word got top billing on the BBC’s Newsnight. And, God forbid, the word “profit” was called “filthy” by a comedian, actor, radio host and author who has over seven million followers on Twitter. No wonder the media – right across the spectrum – is working overtime to give Russell Brand a thumping.
Grangemouth workers hung out to dry by Unite and SNP
The fate of jobs at the Grangemouth petrochemical plant now lies solely in the hands of a ruthless corporation that buys firms and then drives them back into profit at the expense of their workers’ wages and benefits.
Exclusive: Sell the Acropolis, says Merkel in bugged phone call
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has complained to President Barack Obama about the bugging of her mobile phone by America’s infamous National Security Agency. In fact, according to whistleblower Edward Snowden, the NSA has access to just about everyone’s emails and phone conversations.
EU-US trade deal will intensify race to the bottom
Corporations like Monsanto, Nestle, Toyota and the big pharmaceuticals are amongst the world’s most powerful economic actors hard at work promoting an increasingly complex web of bilateral deals aimed at opening up trade and driving down wages and conditions.
Don't wait for supermarkets to end food waste scandal
“All the world's nearly one billion hungry people could be lifted out of malnourishment on less than a quarter of the food that is wasted in the US, UK and Europe,” says Feeding the 5,000, a campaign group which is pioneering food recycling.
ConDemned to a nuclear nightmare
When Japan and Germany decided to halt nuclear power dependency in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster, some hoped it was a turning point. But the deal with French and Chinese corporations announced today marks an abrupt end to the dream that nuclear power might be phased out.
Heat or eat, live or die: the market will decide
Behind the rip-off increases in gas and electricity prices announced by British Gas is an industry dominated by six secretive corporations who take their cue from the international energy market to drive up profits.
Fracking capitalism is the way to go
The campaign against fracking the UK is building on all fronts, including the legal one. Greenpeace is encouraging actions for trespass against the companies like Cuadrilla. But will they be enough to bring a halt to shale gas exploration?
Clock is ticking on US debt time bomb
Is America too big to fail? Or will a dysfunctional Congress, by continuing to block a deal on raising the astronomical federal debt ceiling, precipitate a default by the world's largest economy?
Osborne extols virtues of China while students work for nothing
While chancellor George Osborne and London mayor Boris Johnson are busy selling off UK infrastructure to Chinese capitalists, they want us to abandon what they claim are outdated attitudes about the country. The trouble is, the new reality about China is almost as bad.
The surveillance state tightens its grip on us all
New laws that will mean ID checks for all, state supervision of the media, gagging of campaigns in the run-up to an election and a threat against publishers of devastating accounts of secret surveillance. Russia? China? Nope, dear old Britain.
Stop council 'regeneration' vandalism
In the country where people work the longest hours in Europe and have the least leisure time, where real wages are what they were two decades ago, councils are fixated on building new shopping and leisure facilities. All in the name of “regeneration”.
Moving goalposts no solution to climate change
A group of eminent climate scientists has come to the not-so-scientific conclusion that adopting the 2°C target for global warming has “failed to drive social change”. Their proposals to move the goalposts are unlikely to meet with any more success.
The trillion dollar question with no answers
If nothing changes, the US government will run out of money, somewhere between October 22 and November 1 and plunge a fragile global economy into another meltdown. With the two parties in Congress locked in deadlock, time is running out.
War on migrants behind Lampedusa tragedy
How terrible, how sad, said the politicians from Italy to England. Pope Francis called the shipwreck a “disgrace” and offered prayers for the victims. Italy took the easy route saying, quite understandably, that it was a problem for Europe as a whole.
In Tory Britain, old people are like 'robots to be serviced'
Picture this graphic illustration of Two Britains. While hedge funds and big investors can choose whether to cash in on the Royal Mail sell-off, the choice for thousands of older and disabled people is whether to go thirsty or go to the toilet.
Ralph got it right and his son 100% wrong
In defending him against the malicious Daily Mail, Ed Miliband struggles to depict his father Ralph as a man who “loved Britain” while at the same time distancing himself from his actual views.
Biodiversity offsetting – a licence to trash nature
A cynic, wrote Oscar Wilde, is a man “who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing”. Climate change denier Owen Paterson, the ConDem anti-environment secretary, fits this description down to his toes.
US shutdown shows the system is cracking up
The shutdown of the US government by the right-wing Tea Party faction of the right-wing Republican party is a critical moment, one that reveals deepening cracks inside the capitalist state’s political system.
Why teachers have had enough
The two main teachers’ unions, representing about 500,000 teachers, today begin a series of rolling strikes culminating in an all-out national strike for one day before the end of the year. They have simply had enough and it’s easy to see why.
ConDemned to climate change as profit comes first
The ConDems’ answer to the stark warnings contained in the latest scientific assessment of climate change is to put forward policies that will actually intensify the ecological crisis.
Climate deniers losing the battle for public opinion
As the International Panel on Climate Change prepares to publish its latest scientific assessment tomorrow aimed at informing policy makers, the deniers are readying themselves for a new assault on the truth.
Move over Ukip, One Nation Labour is the real deal
Move over Nigel Farage and your eurosceptic-patriotic Ukip outfit. If you want real social populism (as opposed to social-ism), Ed Miliband and his One Nation Labour are the better brand, or so he would like you to believe.
Egypt's military ratchets up the misery in Gaza
The military-led Egyptian regime, which yesterday banned the Muslim Brotherhood as well as its political wing which won last year’s elections, is also ensuring that Palestinians cannot escape from the biggest prison camp in the world.
Labour in race to the bottom over immigration
Ed Miliband says he wants to halt the “race to the bottom” in wages, jobs and employment rights. All fine sentiments, except that when it comes down to policies, Labour is in its very own race to the bottom over immigration.
One Nation Labour is Blairism Mark II
Over the weekend, rebranded One Nation Labour will almost certainly vote for proposals to end the historic relationship between the trade unions and the party they founded over a century ago.
Naomi Klein also relies on corporations to deliver on climate change
An unseemly row is raging between author Naomi Klein and some big environmental groups. Klein made the shocking claim that they are more damaging to the fight against climate change than climate change deniers, because of links with the corporations and their dependence on the market.
Double, double toil and trouble
There are plans afoot in the United States to block the construction of new coal-fired plants – except for those that capture and store greenhouse gas emissions. China, meanwhile, wants to block new coal-fired installations near major cities to curb air pollution.
Americans find their anti-war voice and throw Obama into disarray
President Obama’s volte face on launching an attack on Syria has little to do with his desire for a peaceful solution to the country’s civil war and everything to do with the ongoing crisis of his administration, which is marked by a lack of public support for military action.
Weapons of financial mass destruction threaten new meltdown
On the fifth anniversary of the great global financial meltdown, set in motion by the collapse of Lehman Brothers on Wall Street, the government’s narrative about the state of the economy is at odds with those in the know.
Mail sell-off is market state's 'wild experiment'
The privatisation of the Royal Mail after centuries in state hands is not simply a carve-up of a public service for the benefit of big business and shareholders. It’s also another step down the road towards a fully-fledged market state.
For a world without the WTO and 'free trade agreements'
From the supermarkets that dominate food sales, through distribution systems, to agriculture and its increasing dependence on chemicals and back down the chain to gene research, the story is one of the concentration of power in fewer and fewer corporations.
Attenborough's 'theory' of evolution is nonsense
Once again Sir David Attenborough presents a mish-mash of scientific fact and fiction, to promote his ideas about the need to clamp down on population growth. In an interview with the Radio Times, he makes the astonishing claim that humans have stopped evolving.
Distrust of politicians reaches new heights
We live in a Britain where a clear majority see themselves as working class, where trust in politicians continues to plummet and where new generations are the least likely to have party loyalties and to vote at general elections.
Unions losing their 'voice' as Labour plans long goodbye
Frances O’Grady, the first woman general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, says “trade unions should have a strong political voice”. She’s so right because as things stand, their traditional “voice” in the shape of Labour is fading away.
Dash for gas exposes corporate-state fix
"Baseless economics" underlie the mad dash for unconventional gas, says economist Nicholas Stern. And whilst Cameron and Osborne link their fate to the fossil fuel corporations, Lord Stern has rubbished their claim that fracking will bring down consumer bills.
'Recovery' based on low pay and falling living standards
Most people in Britain are struggling to make ends meet. Talk of a “recovery” is designed to deflect mounting discontent, but the everyday lived experience is proving more powerful.
How the state plans to shut down dissent
Later this month, the Trades Union Congress is backing a march and rally in Manchester against the ConDems’ carve-up of the NHS. Next year, a repeat campaign could be deemed illegal under legislation due for debate in parliament today.
Chemical blame game over Syria disguises the real issues
In the aftermath of parliament’s rebuff to prime minister Cameron’s proposed attack on Syria, Barack Obama has been forced to acknowledge the mass opposition to military action.
Use political crisis over Syria to drive out ConDems
The governing parties’ surprise defeat in last night’s vote on Syria is just as much a reflection of the immense distrust of the political class across the board as it is a general desire to prevent another in a long line of military adventures.
US shale gas bubble is ready to burst
"If we don't back this technology, we will miss a massive opportunity to help families with their bills and make our country more competitive." David Cameron. “Cuadrilla's never said it [shale] will bring down prices… We don't think it will bring down prices.” Cuadrilla spokesperson.
Why we should oppose any attack on Syria
Desperate acts by unpopular regimes have the capacity to spiral out of control. And we’re not talking just talking about the Assad dictatorship in Syria but also the plans by the US and Britain to launch missile attacks on Damascus.
Salute Bradley Manning, victim of the secret state
The front pages are full of a statement by Bradley Manning that he will try now to live as a woman, reconciling what he explains has been a lifelong personal difficulty. They lasciviously reprint the picture that was introduced into his trial.
Kafka's nightmare goes global
We are all potential “terrorists” now, at least in the eyes of the state. Why else would the police want to stop 61,000 people at entry points into Britain during the last year under the infamous schedule 7 of the anti-terror laws of 2000.
US-UK security state strikes back
The outrageous detention of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald’s partner for nine hours at Heathrow airport yesterday gives a new meaning to the “special relationship” between Britain and the United States.
Immigrant checkpoints are naked state racism
Today is Roma Holocaust Memorial Day, marking the start of the liquidation by the Nazis of the “Gipsy” camp at Auschwitz on 2 August 1944. Today is also being marked by racist, illegal state targeting of immigrants on the streets of Britain. The parallels are clearly not exact, but the sentiments are.
Zero hours shows how capitalism works for the 1%
Job anyone? Yes? Good! Wait by the door with your cap in you hand and we’ll call you when we need you. If we call you we’ll pay you. Maybe. A bit. Not much though, times are hard. We’re all in it together.
They take the profits – we pay for the clean up
Somehow, the public always ends up with the bill for dirty energy operations, whilst the corporations take the profits and run. In 2010, it was estimated that dealing with the UK's nuclear waste would cost £49bn. Now that has more than doubled and some say it could rise to £100bn.
Wanted: A Chartism for our times
As Labour prepares to terminate its historic relationship with the very trade unions that founded the party, the questions of democracy and representation assume an even greater importance.
Army rule in Egypt rejected by new movement
With the brutal murder of 74 – probably more – pro-Morsi supporters and persecution of thousands of Muslim Brotherhood members by the army leadership, the Egyptian revolution enters a dangerous and crucial phase.
Capitalism's Arctic plan – get the oil, destroy the lives of millions
Citizens of every country will pay a massive, painful price for the melting of Arctic sea ice, even though capitalist corporations and governments view it as a potential profit bonanza.
Sleeping giant threatens rule of China's corrupt elite
China is in the grip of a profound social, political and economic crisis. The evidence is there in corruption scandals, a fading economy and a rising tide of desperate resistance by ordinary people.
Climate chaos is also the failure of political systems
While you enjoy the warm weather, consider this. “Atmospheric Rivers” will become more frequent and intense as global temperatures rise this century in response to increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Miliband to apply coup de grace to Labour's history
What a day! There was wall-to-wall media coverage of just one of 370,000 babies born yesterday around the world and confirmation that Labour is pressing ahead with plans to break its current links with the organisations that created the party in 1900.
George Obsorne - CEO of Britain PLC
“The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.” So wrote Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in 1848. And today George Osborne confirmed how true this observation remains.
Corporate lobbyists prepare ground for Heathrow expansion
News that Heathrow is proposing not one, but two new runways in its submission to the Davies Commission on aviation expansion, is the culmination of a crafty lobbying strategy that swung into action as soon as the last election was over.
Don't let them kill off the NHS
“As long as you’ve got your health.” It’s a refrain I remember my mother sharing with her friends and relations as we were growing up in the 1950s, in the days when the National Health Service, established in 1948, was new.
'Virtual' Romanistan the way forward
The commemoration of the murder of Romani prisoners by the Nazis in the Auschwitz concentration camp in August 1944 is a chance to reflect on the future of the Romani people in the UK and around the world. But instead of being overwhelmed, Roma campaigners see their history as offering a way forward not only for themselves, but for the world community.
Bulgarians in revolt against a country 'parcelled out to business interests'
A month of continuous demonstrations against the Bulgarian government has brought the Balkan state’s population alongside struggles in Egypt, Brazil and Turkey that are directly challenging political systems.
The planet is drowning in waste
The planet is being overwhelmed by waste of all kinds, from plastic bags to throwaway digital devices. Even remote areas such as Alaskan beaches, often refuges for rare species, are increasingly blighted by tonnes of indestructible objects and harmful and unsightly refuse.
Those in power make tennis hard to love
Andy Murray, Wimbledon champion. I was there to see it, even if it was just on the big screen inside the grounds, a couple of hundred metres away from the Centre Court. I'd spent the night ill-equipped in a tent to be there, queuing along with a few thousand more.
Global capitalism's new world disorder
Yet again, in its latest world economic outlook the International Monetary Fund has been forced to cut its forecast for growth worldwide. Even as it casts around for signs of optimism in Japan and the UK, there is no hiding the profound corrosion of the global capitalist economy.
Miliband follows in Tories' footsteps with opt-in plans
Whichever way he dresses it up, Ed Miliband’s plan for trade union members to opt-in to paying a subscription to Labour is an historic break with the organisations that formed the party and have since provided the bulk of its funds.
Labour provides cover for state spies
Labour’s shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, will say today that she is “appalled” by revelations about the Metropolitan Police’s use of undercover agents.
Egyptian revolution at the crossroads
The Egyptian revolution has reached a critical point, with the weakness and lack of strategy of the opposition leadership allowing a once-discredited army elite to resume a key role just over a year after it was forced to yield power to civilian authority.
The rise and fall of Brazil's No.1 tycoon tells you a lot about the global economy
Rio’s Maracana stadium was the centre of attention on Sunday, as protestors clashed with police outside over the billions spent on preparations for the World Cup and the Olympics. Behind the very public scenes another drama is playing out.
He who pays the piper doesn't always call the tune
The unseemly row between the Unite trade union and Labour over the selection of a parliamentary candidate could bring to a head the increasingly frosty relationship between the party and its single biggest funder.
Egypt's second revolution for 'bread, freedom, justice'
The second Egyptian revolution which is firmly under way has swept millions into the new uprising against the presidency of Mohamed Morsi, whose regime has patently failed to solve any of the day-to-day problems of the masses.
Memo to McCluskey: you can't fight the ConDems with hot air
The second wave of austerity without end, if not halted, will mean the end of many public services, a huge increase in unemployment and huge subsidies for big corporations so they can cash in on infrastructure projects.
Obama's greenwash won't wash
President Obama's much-publicised climate change speech this week was simply a smokescreen for the forthcoming decision to allow the second phase of the Keystone tar sands pipeline to go ahead.
Food sovereignty goal is a fight for the commons
For humans as for all living beings, nothing is more important than food. So the people who produce it fulfil a supremely important role in any society. They feed humanity and care for nature. Future generations depend on them to protect the earth.
Secret police show how rotten the state is
The revelation by former Met officer turned whistleblower Peter Francis that he was ordered to find dirt on the Stephen Lawrence family in the wake of their son’s murder is shocking in itself. But it’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the state within the state.
Assemblies can become the new democratic politics of the people
The People’s Assembly Against Austerity, the first major rally against the ConDems’ austerity programme since last autumn’s TUC demonstration, showed that many rank-and-file activists are looking for a way forward that is beyond protest.
Brazilians join the global revolt
When a million people take to the streets in 100 cities in self-organised, angry demonstrations against the ruling elites and their failure to meet their needs, they are joining a global revolt against the system.
GM crops: bad science, big profits
You would think that someone holding the post of environment secretary would actually have concerns about, well, the environment. Such is our topsy-turvy world, however, that the opposite is true when it comes to Owen Paterson.
EU-US trade deal threat to food safety
The launch of EU-US negotiations on a new trade deal should set alarm bells ringing for food producers and consumers throughout Europe. If successful the deal will sweep away environmental, health, privacy and cultural standards.
Memories are made of this
Anyone who has had the nerve-wracking experience of a hard-drive breakdown or losing or damaging digital devices will be only too aware of how fragile memory storage can be.
People's Assemblies can move beyond resistance
The powerful response to the call for the People’s Assembly against Austerity on June 22 confirms that the build-up of opposition to the ConDem cuts is reaching boiling point, presenting a unique opportunity to move beyond resistance.
More of the same won't solve the food crisis
An intensifying global climate and farming emergency is threatening the security and affordability of food while leading international agencies view the crisis as an investment opportunity.
Living standards crash as recession cuts deep
The living standards of British workers are being progressively destroyed, during the longest slump in the modern age as the capitalist recession takes its toll on the only people who create value in society.
Greek union denounces “coup d’etat”
The besieged people of Greece awoke this morning to blacked-out television screens. They discovered that the conservative Samaras-led coalition government had shut down the ERT, the Greek equivalent of the BBC. No discussion, no warning, no consultation, not even with the two smaller parties in the coalition.
Snowden exposes how a whole country is under suspicion
US whistleblower Edward Snowden’s courageous decision to lift the lid on the secret state is dramatically changing the stakes in the war between covert spy agencies and ordinary people.
Miliband's 'epiphany' clear victory for Mammon
And Mammon spoke. Let there be just one party that worships me. And lo and behold, the ConDemLab party came to pass. Some people were astonished and many declared in a firm voice: “We will not vote for this party. But who will represent us now?”
Greek state's racism scapegoats migrants
Greece’s economic crisis has prompted a series of criminal acts by the Greek state against migrants. The European Union is largely silent except where it is helping Greece to keep refugees from entering its borders. In their desperation, undocumented migrants and asylum seekers have launched hunger strikes and protests, including attempted suicides and self-mutilation, in detention camps across Greece.
Growth addicts meet in Watford
George Osborne, the ConDem’s chancellor and Labour’s Ed Balls, who are locked in a fierce agreement about the need for more austerity to promote growth – work that one out for yourselves – are in not-so-exotic Watford this week.
Lawyers defy ConDems assault on justice system
Lawyers are normally known for their measured language. But their anger over the government’s pseudo-consultation over cuts to legal aid which will undermine defendants’ rights, knows no bounds.
Taksim Square takes its place alongside Tahrir Square
The nationwide protests sweeping Turkey, the hundreds of thousands who jammed Lisbon’s streets and other Portuguese cities at the weekend and the activists who staged Blockupy in Frankfurt are linked by a common goal. They want the right to determine their own futures.
Cultural barbarians at the gate as war takes its toll
Nearly 60 years ago, the founding members of UNESCO, the cultural arm of the United Nations, declared: “Damage to cultural property belonging to any people whatsoever means damage to the cultural heritage of all mankind, since each people makes its contribution to the culture of the world.”
Corporate plunder of Mozambique threatens millions
Two recent reports on Mozambique offer a shocking insight into the nightmare model of growth being forced on the continent in this new phase of global corporate neo-colonialism. Millions of small farmers and peasants are its victims.
Credit crisis back with a vengeance as Bankia's customers take a hit
This column doesn’t usually express much sympathy with shareholders because a share gives the right to profits derived from other people’s labour. But the plight of shareholders in the Spanish bank, Bankia, requires us to make an exception.
The state is a greater danger than the EDL
In the wake of Woolwich, the need to unite communities against threats of all kinds goes without saying. The question is, however, who do we unite against and for what purpose?
Obama's 'just war' is the language of the Crusades
President Obama’s claim that America’s targeted assassination by remote-controlled drones is part of a “just war” reinforces the sense that his administration is equally if not more reactionary than that of his predecessor, George W. Bush.
The state feeds on terror and ignores serious threats to society
Events in Woolwich yesterday show that the state is totally geared up for emergency action when it wants to be – committees meet, officials are called in, politicians focus their attention and insist something must be done.
Crying wolf is not good enough, Martin
When one of the most respected commentators on the world economy repeatedly expresses his profound pessimism about the prospects of an effective response to the “real and present dangers of climate change”, it is surely worth some serious consideration.
We have to move beyond 'post-democracy'
The rise of Ukip and the parallel break-up of the Tory Party are part of a wider malaise across Europe that poses a threat to the established order. What happens next depends on whether we can get our act together in the face of growing reaction.
Palestinians start campaign for one state for all citizens
Momentum for a one-state solution for Palestine is building up just as the Israeli state is destroying even a remote chance of success for any Saudi-US Arab peace plan.
Amazon and Google having a laugh at taxpayers' expense
Whatever angle you come at it from, the state at national level, as well as key global agencies, exist to make life easier for corporations like Amazon and Google when it comes to taxation.
Making clothes for profit kills workers and wrecks the eco-system
The capitalist model for producing clothes – from start to finish, field to shop – is a global blight. It puts at risk not only garment workers, but textile workers, cotton farmers, retail workers and the global eco-system itself.
Co-operative movement at the crossroads
Signs of a meltdown at the Co-operative group of companies are multiplying at an alarming rate. Following last week’s mark-down of bank debt to junk status, the malaise is hitting all of its operations including insurance, supermarkets and beyond.
SS Westminster heads for black hole
Westminster is fast becoming the political equivalent of an emerging black hole, with the political elite engaged in an increasingly futile struggle to overcome the collapse of their own system into a region where nothing, including light, can escape.
The battle for revolutionary history
The plaque commemorating 17th century Leveller leader Colonel Thomas Rainsborough, unveiled in a Wapping churchyard yesterday, appropriately comes at a moment when a modest civil war has broken out about the country’s history.
Blairites on the march as Miliband falters
Political turmoil is not just engulfing the Tory Party over an in/out referendum on Europe. It is about to break over Labour in a big way as its Blairite wing gears up for a massive push against what they consider a weak Ed Miliband leadership.
Defiant Hawking strikes a blow for the Palestinians
The brave decision by Professor Stephen Hawking not to attend a conference in Israel has predictably led to condemnation of the physicist’s action in joining the growing academic boycott of the country.
The market recipe for cooking the planet
The economic logic of the capitalist system is obstructing the critical transition from fossil fuels to alternative energy sources.
Death of a Godfather
For many Italians, Giulio Andreotti, who died yesterday aged 94, was simply “Mr Italy”. His political power and influence stretched from the immediate postwar period until the day of his death.
Warning signs as Ukip's neo-nasties cash in
The massive vote for Ukip in the English local elections alongside its second place in the South Shields by-election is confirmation, if any was needed, that the political system is dying on its feet. We have now entered a period of the known unknowns.
Corporate freebooters always put shareholders first
Popular anger against tax avoiding transnational corporations like Starbucks, Amazon, and Google is rising fast as government spending cuts accelerate. Now Rupert Murdoch’s Sun is beating its drum against Npower.
Austerity is a killer disease
No one should be surprised that the financial and economic crisis is taking its toll on people’s health right across Europe and North America. What would be a surprise, however, is if policy makers and politicians responded positively to shocking research findings.
Corporate murder in Bangladesh
Cheers went up yesterday among the exhausted rescuers at Rana Plaza factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh. It had just been announced that six factory owners had been arrested.
McCluskey lets Miliband off the hook
What are we to make of the spat between Len McCluskey, the leader of Britain’s biggest union and Ed Miliband, leader of the Labour Party who in large measure owes his very position to the man he has publicly castigated?
Osborne defends sovereignty of banks not UK citizens
The Treasury is trying to frighten Scots out of voting “Yes” in the 2014 referendum on independence over the question of what a currency union based on the pound would mean. But George Osborne is hardly in any position to lecture others.
Tell Goldman Sachs to get lost
The cracks in the global economy are widening at a hard-to-grasp rate. Contraction is accelerating in Europe, and growth is slowing in the United States and China, the world’s two largest economies.
ConDems attack rule of law with sledgehammer
The slide to outright authoritarian rule continues apace. Another assault on access to the courts system, this time through restrictions to the judicial reviews process, is a further nail in the coffin of the rule of law and thus to our democratic rights.
Iron fist of the US state comes down hard in Boston
The reaction to the Boston marathon attack reveals a dangerous degeneration at the very heart of the US state, from president Barack Obama downwards. In truth, if you want to know what martial law looks like in the 21st century, what happened in Boston says it all.
Capitalism is forever blowing bubbles
Usually, this column begins on a serious note, especially when we’re talking about the global economy. Today, however, I bring you the chorus of a song that made its debut in America in 1918 and is better known as the club anthem of West Ham United.
Veneuzuela faces US plots to overthrow Maduro
The US State Department is at it again, supporting attempts to overturn the results of the Venezuelan election and plotting against the United Socialist Party government.
China's 'unsustainable'' economy weighed down by debt
Hopes that the continuation of China’s long boom will drag the rest of the developed capitalist world – the so-called advanced economies – back from contraction have been further dashed.
When Michael Foot rescued Margaret Thatcher
Place yourself for a moment in April 1982. Margaret Thatcher is a deeply unpopular prime minister. Unemployment has risen to over three million for the first time since the 1930s. Trade unions have staged strikes and protests against her government’s policies.
Le Carré's anger finds an echo at Guantanamo
John Le Carré, the consummate spy story writer, insists that his first best-seller was a figment of his own fevered imagination. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold was simply, “a bad dream”, he says, in an article to mark the 50 years since its publication.
Thatcher's death leaves Cameron looking second-rate
In their desperation to elevate Margaret Thatcher into a figure who will live on in the hearts of the British people for all time, the Tories are playing with fire. A latent hatred of her policies has re-emerged and the state she regularly deployed is back in action against opponents.
Scottish independence is not a question of 'empathy', Mr Salmond
Scotland's SNP first minister Alex Salmond is basing his plans for the country's future on the ideas of Scottish Enlightenment thinker Adam Smith. He told an American audience he would be looking to both of Smith's great works - not only The Wealth of Nations but also the less well-known Moral Sentiments.
Japan goes for broke as Fukushima takes its toll
The world is watching as tensions rise in Asia, but attention is not restricted to North Korea. About 650 miles away across the sea, Japan is struggling with the fallout from its own real nuclear hell and has taken a huge financial gamble as a result.
Thatcher's 'children' alive and well in the mainstream parties
Margaret Thatcher was a class-war warrior who dragged British capitalism screaming into the 20th century at the expense of millions of working people. She lives on in the shape of leaders of the main parties who, in a variety of ways, espouse her reactionary policies.
'Monstrations' take aim at Putin's regime
Dire Straits former front man Mark Knopfler has cancelled his June gigs in Moscow and St Petersburg. With good reason.
Separating rhetoric from reality over general strike call
Talk of a one-day general strike against ConDem policies is being floated, led by the Unite union. While any action against this most reactionary of governments is to be supported, we need to separate the rhetoric from reality.
Junk bonds frenzy points to a new crash
After five years of austerity budgets, the headline on the latest survey from global financial information services company Markit sums it up: “Downturn deepens as business conditions deteriorate in all euro nations”.
Aux armes, Citoyens!
The sheer arrogance of the Tories and their Lib Dem poodles as they go about making the poorest and the most vulnerable targets for benefit cuts increasingly makes them resemble the French court on the eve of the revolution of 1789.
Climate change adding to health inequality
It's the Easter holidays, when households might have traditionally planned a Sunday feast of roast lamb, peas, roast potatoes, mint sauce, apple pie and custard. But it's a custom many families can only dream about.
Banks in 'collateral crunch' as debts mount
Thousands of high school students took to the streets outside parliament in Nicosia yesterday. They were protesting against the harsh consequences the people of Cyprus can expect from the deal imposed by the European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank.
Labour's 'opposition' to bedroom tax is phony
The campaign against the “bedroom tax”, with over 660,000 households due to start losing significant amounts of housing benefit from Easter Monday, has exposed the duplicity of a Labour leadership that has tried but failed to hijack the protests.
Dancing to the tune of the far right
Prime Minister David Cameron has chosen the pages of the Sun newspaper to launch a crackdown on immigrants. In what the tabloid calls his “manifesto”, he claims that “frankly this country became a soft touch”.
ConDems consign Kyoto to the dustbin
Big and dirty – that's the energy future envisaged by the Coalition government and backed up with tax breaks in the budget.
Political system 'incapable' of solving crisis, warns leading Tory
The ConDem government’s plan to, in effect, engineer a state-financed, speculative housing boom in a bid to stimulate expansion, sums up the increasingly desperate state of both the economy and the political classes.
Resistance by Cypriots deepens eurozone crisis
The deepening crisis in Cyprus, where every single MP voted against plans to steal a portion of people’s savings, has thrown eurozone leaders into turmoil. Clearly the snail pace of parliamentary processes forcing through austerity is proving too slow for Europe’s ruling elites.
Beware the threat of rule by Privy Council
The agreement of the three main parties to use the Privy Council to create a Royal Charter to impose controls over newspapers shows their utter contempt for the democratic process.
Cypriots angry at bail-out at their expense
Punish the poor, protect big investors and retain Cyprus as an offshore banking haven for oligarchs. That was the meaning of the measure rammed down the throats of Cypriots over the weekend under the direction of the infamous Troika.
Big Pharma more of a threat than a cure
The absurd notion that taxpayers should give money to the drugs industry as an incentive to develop a new generation of antibiotics demonstrates how a handful of corporations have their proverbial fingers round society’s throat.
Climate change reduced to a 'security' issue
Whilst publicly claiming climate change is no block to business as usual, and even a potential source of green profits, the world's ruling élites are planning for its impact on "security" (as they call their uninterrupted rule).
Exploitation on the rise as recession deepens
Today’s forlorn protest by the TUC designed to put “pressure on chancellor George Osborne to change course” as he puts his final touches to next week’s budget will fall on deaf ears.
Speculators cash in as homelessness grows
While homelessness grows and people struggle to pay exorbitant rents, rich property speculators in central London are cashing in.
Action needed NOW as CO2 emissions take off
Hopes of holding the global rise in temperatures to 2˚C, an increase that would be disastrous in itself, have vanished after figures just released show that 2012 saw the second biggest ever annual increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide.
The age of profit has reached its limit
In the wake of the worldwide scandal of meat products boosted with horse, investigations into contaminated cakes sold by IKEA are certain to reveal more links in a contaminated global food chain. The actual cause will stay hidden, however.
Climate change deniers trade in disinformation
A draft of the next major report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been leaked on line by a small-time climate change denier, doubtless seeking to enter the big time.
Chavez leaves an unfinished revolution
The death of Hugo Chavez at the age of only 58 has robbed Venezuelans of a president who was the first political leader in the country’s history to use oil revenues to fund social programmes.
Dark days for rights as attacks gather pace
A massive attack against deeply enshrined rights is gathering pace and the alarm bells are ringing in unlikely quarters. Never before have they been rung so thick and fast.
Eurocrats fear 'protest against entire system'
The game is up for eurozone countries Italy and Greece and a fatal blow to the single currency may not be far behind. A deadlock of different sorts has arrived in both countries and the political systems are locked into the impasse.
Miliband joins race to the bottom after Eastleigh
Earlier in the week, the key message from the Italian elections was that support for traditional politics was in free-fall. Yesterday, the point was reinforced in the Hampshire town of Eastleigh where the by-election result is likely to kick-start a political crisis at Westminster.
US heads for 'slow motion train wreck' over debt crisis
If you thought Italy had sovereign debt issues, you should take a look at the United States. Total public debt this week stands at nearly $17,000 billion, equivalent to 75% of the value of the country’s annual output.
Pesky voters ignore markets, vote against austerity
When an anti-austerity, anti-establishment internet-based political movement with few policies and led by a comedian, gets 25% of the vote in a general election, you know for sure that the political system is travelling on a one-way ticket to disintegration.
Interrogated to death in an Israeli jail
For the Israeli authorities, stone-throwing by Palestinians is a sufficient reason for murder by interrogation. That’s the only conclusion you can draw from the autopsy report into the death of Arafat Jaradat who has died in an Israeli detention centre.
Biofuels land grab a 'recipe for mass hunger'
A few months ago, representatives of nine villages in Madagascar held a press conference in the city of Antananarivo to denounce the Italian company Tozzi Renewable Energy for taking away their lands as part of a 100,000 hectare jatropha plantation that the company is building.
EDF has ConDems over a nuclear barrel
So much for the so-called virtues of the free market. The Coalition government, desperate to maintain energy supplies at any price, has abandoned its previous policy and will now offer nuclear generating companies cash to build new power stations.
Italy bosses call for 'shock therapy' as recession takes its toll
The south of Europe is fast becoming engulfed in political turmoil as the economic contraction deepens. After protests against soaring electricity prices, austerity and corruption turned violent Bulgaria’s government has collapsed. "I will not participate in a government under which police are beating people," says prime minister Boiko Borisov.
A decade of weapons of mass disinformation about Iraq
News that the BBC is preparing a special programme to mark the 10th anniversary of the illegal invasion of Iraq doesn’t feel you with joy, even though it might contain new material about the Blair government’s use – or, rather, misuse – of intelligence.
Anti-Muslim witchhunt fuels Bangladesh crisis
The brutal murder of blogger Ahmad Rajib Haider, a leader in the mass occupation of the Shahbag junction in the capital Dhaka, has deepened the crisis enveloping Bangladesh over the consequences of the country’s struggle for independence over 40 years ago.
The politics of increasingly small differences
It’s reached the point where you need a high-powered microscope to detect the differences between the major political parties. If there are any, they are at sub-atomic level as the much-heralded speech on the economy by Ed Miliband demonstrates.
How the public good became Monsanto's private gain
Agrichemical companies like Monsanto are pursuing hundreds of US farmers and farm companies through the courts, suing them for millions of dollars for infringement of seed patents. It’s a result of the wholesale transfer of crop varieties to the corporations.
Working for free nightmare is here to stay
Jubilant opponents of the ConDems’ multi-faceted so-called Work Programme are celebrating two court judgements ruling that most of the schemes were unlawful. Yet their joy is certain to prove short-lived.
Tunisia crisis poses renewal of the revolution
The abrupt turns by Tunisia’s Congress for the Republic party highlight the political fragility of the country which was the birthplace of the Arab spring two years ago and the potential of the masses to bring change.
Horsemeat scandal driven by cost-cutting and profit
The horsemeat scandal is easier to explain than to trace. What we have are profit-hungry, self-regulated major retailers using their power to force down prices paid to suppliers who in turn cut their own costs by sourcing raw materials more cheaply.
Real democracy needs a new constitution
Watching the impressive Steven Spielberg film Lincoln brought home how important a constitution is to a country and the momentous, often historic, struggle it takes to bring it into line with contemporary social circumstances.
Young people need a future beyond capitalism
Britain is failing young people on every front and you have to wonder if the state has any concern for their future at all. From massive unemployment to deaths in prison, to the impact of the cuts – young people are victims of a massive onslaught.
Obama's 'terror' state under challenge
Journalist Chris Hedges is a passionate and principled man, and these attributes have brought him into a direct conflict with the Obama administration and the US state over the dubious “legality” of anti-terror laws.
An inconvenient truth for Al Gore
Promoting his new book, former US vice-president Al Gore says that the country’s democracy has been “hacked” by corporate interests. Well, despite hacking being deemed a criminal offence, no arrests appear imminent when it comes to big business.
The battle for truth about Stalingrad
As Russia marks the 70th anniversary of the Red Army’s decisive victory over Hitler’s armies in the battle for Stalingrad, there are those in Russia who want to use the occasion to rehabilitate the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.
Revolt over benefit cuts taking off
If there was ever a government intent on getting blood out of a stone, then it is the ConDem coalition. Yet a revolt is growing over the plans to impose a “bedroom tax” and cuts to council tax benefits from April 1. Some are even suggesting it could be Cameron’s poll tax moment.
First Nations in front line of fight against fossil fuels
Protests in 30 Canadian cities, organised by First Nation Canadians of the Idle No More movement, are demanding the right-wing government rescind new laws that breach historic treaties and open the door to land theft and environmental destruction.
Bankrupt states – bankrupt system
Things aren’t going well in Europe. France is totally bankrupt, according to employment minister Michel Sapin. According to the radio interview he actually said, “there is a state but it is a totally bankrupt state”.
Exclusive: Government advice tells Bulgarians and Romanians why they should stay home
Romanians and Bulgarians will be entitled to come to Britain and work at the end of this year because they are citizens of a European Union member state. However, the ConDem government is working on a publicity campaign to dissuade them from leaving for our sunny shores.
Demand for social justice spurs Egypt's new street revolt
Events in Egypt are spiralling out of control of the Muslim Brotherhood government that replaced Hosni Mubarak’s regime. But behind the anti-Morsi movement in Egypt is something much bigger and deeper – the unfinished Arab revolution.
EU referendum also about who rules Britain
In raising questions about Britain’s membership of the European Union, the leader of the Tory Party has put constitutional questions about the state and democracy on the agenda. While David Cameron would like to confine these to the EU, we should make how Britain itself is governed the main question.
Memo to Attenborough: Capitalism, not human beings, is the earth’s 'plague'
TV naturalist Sir David Attenborough’s programmes are usually fascinating and informative but when it comes to his views on population control, he is talking rubbish. Reactionary rubbish at that.
The real cause of growing global inequality
At a global level, the top 1% (60 million people), and particularly the even more select few in the top 0.01% (600,000 individuals – there are around 1,200 billionaires in the world), the last 30 years has been an incredible feeding frenzy.
McCluskey's sleight of hand is cover for Miliband
Go and read Len McCluskey’s lecture at the London School of Economics. It was tremendous and a breath of fresh air, I was told. So I did. Was I disappointed? Not really, because my expectations were not all that high to start with.
Austerity with a class vengeance as benefit cuts bite
Most people were aware that the cuts would be harsh and affect the most vulnerable in society. But now religious figures around the country are joining with charities to point to deep privation amongst large numbers of families, long before the full range of cuts are implemented.
The 'war on terror' and the war for resources
The unfolding disaster at the In Amenas gas facility in Algeria, alongside the Anglo-French military adventure in neighbouring Mali, reveal once more the futility of the “war on terror” and with it the West’s total inability to chart an alternative path.
Labour turning Glasgow's historic George Square into retail outlet
Citizens in Glasgow are up in arms over a council proposal to transform historic George Square, into a corporate “retail-led” space with crass “public art”. Many rightly see it is an attempt to drive the political and social life of the city out of this important square.
Bonanza for private sector in NHS 'level playing field
More than 100 healthcare companies are rubbing their hands at the prospect of a major expansion of private, for-profit service provision in the National Health Service. They are also plotting to maximise their profits by sidestepping tax and VAT bills.
Elephant in the room is profit (and Labour)
If you want to understand what New Labour Mark II looks like, then goings on at Southwark Council give you a real indication. The south London borough is one of the capital’s poorest. Yet tonight, the planning committee will rubber stamp a £1.5 billion deal with a global property corporation that provides just 71 social rented units out of 2,300 new homes.
Another Anglo-French colonialist adventure
Prime Minister Cameron has seen fit to rush transport planes and military help to boost French president Francois Hollande’s military adventure in Africa. They are both trying desperately to stoke up chauvinist enthusiasm and a big diversion from their lack of popularity at home.
Angry Israelis ask Palestinians who they should vote for
As Israeli right-wing nationalist/religious parties try to outdo each other in their reactionary appeal in the run up to this month’s general election, a remarkable online action is offering Palestinians in the Occupied Territories a proxy “vote”.
Drought is good - for Monsanto's profits, that is
The drive to put the chemical industry totally in control of agriculture is resulting in record profits for agri-chemical giant Monsanto and record droughts last year for the United States, Brazil and other parts of South America.
Davos elites warn of "perfect global storm" threat
Listening to the ConDems lecturing the low-waged and unemployed about “fairness” as they cut their state benefits when measured against inflation, reinforces the view of a government at war with ordinary people while protecting the rich and powerful.
Federal agencies spy for corporate America
The United States is always awash with conspiracy theories, some more outlandish than others. But their source does not lie simply within the imagination of those who develop them. In fact, real, actual conspiracies by the American state constantly fuel people’s deep suspicions about their government.
Mid-Staffs scandal linked directly to NHS market
In the run-up to the publication of the inquiry into health care tragedies at mid-Staffordshire, the ConDems and the right-wing media are leading the charge against the trust in particular and NHS bureaucracy in general.
Labour is Coalition Lite
So the race to the bottom continues as Labour and the Tories try to outflank each other by getting tough with the unemployed, the disabled and “benefit scroungers” in general. How will the readers of the Daily Mail and other right-wing papers distinguish between the two?
Climate change brings extreme rain and flooding
As many as 5.2m UK properties are already at risk of flooding, with 2.4m threatened by rivers and the sea, and a further 2.8 million at risk from surface water from overflowing drains. This number will rise significantly as climate change increases the volume of winter rains.
'Fiscal cliff' deal robs US workers
Given that the last-minute deal in Congress was designed to avert the US economy falling over a self-imposed “fiscal cliff”, the best way to picture the outcome is to imagine a cartoon of the two main parties locked together as they cross the precipice.
When people decided that enough was enough
Long ago, society was being overwhelmed by a series of catastrophes to which there seemed no answers. Unemployment, poverty and inequality were rife as a global crisis took hold. The old capitalist economic system had run its course and was unsustainable.
Something rotten in the state of Britain
A plot by the state against a weak government of the day, unable to govern on its own, amidst a grave economic crisis. Sounds familiar? Well, this is not actually about “plebgate” and the Tories – though it could just as well be – but Harold Wilson and Labour.
Dirty gas gets the green light
As the government’s experts on renewable energy form a queue at the exit, the gas specialists are moving in, counting the zeros on their budgets. Dirty gas will get big tax breaks following George Osborne’s budget.
FT turns to Lenin in desperation
Mark Carney isn’t due to move from being governor of the Bank of Canada to governor of the Bank of England until next July. But the intensity of the global economic crisis is so severe that policy makers can’t wait that long.
Don't do it, Wiggo!
Bradley Wiggins, heroic winner of the Tour de France, Olympic gold medallist and BBC sports personality of the year, with sideburns that help mark him out from the crowd, is reported to have accepted a knighthood. My message to him is simple: don’t do it Wiggo!
Tories have Human Rights Act in their sights
The imminent appearance of the parliamentary commission’s report into a new Bill of Rights is giving the Tory right an opportunity to bray against what they call “a court sitting overseas” – the European Court of Human Rights.
Finucane's murder reveals the state within the state
A state within a state signifies the fact that sections of the armed forces, police or intelligence services are running their own agenda, often with deadly consequences. They take it upon themselves to defeat perceived enemies of the state.
Factory farming threatens antibiotics
We don’t have to imagine a world without antibiotics, only look at history to know what life was like before infections like typhoid, tuberculosis, pneumonia, tetanus, diphtheria, syphilis, gonorrhoea or meningitis could be treated.
Revealed: the harsh truth behind jobs figures
Governments on both sides of the Atlantic have good news on jobs. Apparently. The real story is of people giving up the search for work and young people, in particular, facing a life on the dole.
Unions should resist rail and fuel price rises with civil disobedience
Millions of people who commute to work are a just a few weeks away from a massive cut in incomes that will intensify the dramatic fall in living standards that the recession and austerity measures have already created.
Egypt's unfinished revolution
Egypt is experiencing the throes of the third phase of its political and social revolution. Tanks have been ordered onto the streets of Cairo. And a new concrete wall is going up in the street leading to the presidential palace.
Obama's Disposition Matrix decides who lives or dies
Lest anyone thinks that when the US and Britain withdraw troops from Afghanistan, that will end their military involvement, think again. The United States has a new doctrine of permanent war, using hi-tech remote weaponry like the dreaded drone.
Corporations cash in on climate change funds
As governments meet in Doha to discuss the transfer of funds from rich to poor countries to help them adapt to climate change, the developing world is asking both “where’s the money” and who is benefiting from the small amount allocated so far.
Osborne to up the war on the people
Today’s autumn statement from chancellor George Osborne will extend the predicted period of the recession and pile more pressure on the 99% of the people in Britain who are struggling to meet rising bills as real incomes fall.
Secret courts one step closer
“The Ministry of Justice is transforming the justice system”, says its website. But behind the jargon of transformation, transparency and modernisation, there is an actual demolition of justice taking place in Parliament.
Tax avoidance: a case of their morals and ours
Do some global corporations behave “immorally” when they set out to reduce their tax bill to a minimum through a variety of dodgy but apparently legal devices? Or are they simply acting out their own morality play?
The press is neither free nor fair
The dispute over statutory (backed by Leveson, Miliband, Clegg) or non-statutory regulation of the press (Cameron) is really no dispute at all. Because regulated or not, the press will as a whole always remain hostile to the interests of ordinary people.
Monsanto targets Mexican maize in bioethanol push
On a visit to one of Glasgow’s B&Q stores, alongside the electric and gas fires, I noticed modern looking glass and metal bioethanol burners, quite cheap and offering a “living flame”. Clearly, bioethanol has entered the mainstream.
Welfare to profits as contractors cash in
That the results of the government’s welfare-to-work scheme have turned out to be worse than if it hadn’t existed at all is certain to be a disappointment for the ConDems, but for the rest of us it shouldn’t be a surprise.
Ukip leads the race to the bottom of politics
The apparent rise in support for the right-wing, populist Ukip in the polls is further evidence of the break-up of traditional party alignments which we saw at the 2010 general election and the break-down of Westminster parliamentary politics.
Revolt grows against Moore sculpture sell off
Tower Hamlets is one of the worst areas for child poverty in the UK and one of the country’s poorest boroughs. So when Mayor Lutfur Rahman decreed that a publicly-owned iconic sculpture by Henry Moore should be sold off, he probably did not anticipate the furore that would result.
The biggest loophole is capitalism itself
As austerity deepens, with spending cuts stretching into the far horizon, there is a renewed focus on the tax that corporations pay, or rather don’t pay. Some argue that if they paid their “fair share”, cuts in services like health and care would not be so severe.
Coal leads the way as fossil fuels burn up the planet
The rapid expansion of fossil fuel burning which is frying the planet’s atmosphere faster than ever is entirely unnecessary and economically unjustifiable. And that’s official.
'Zombie capitalism' more dead than alive
You don’t have to listen too closely to hear the sound of factory gates slamming for the last time, and shutters rolling down over retail outlets. Consumer electrical chain Comet is just one amongst the many household names facing up to the consequences of the accelerating global contraction.
Cameroon’s constipated constitution
Israel’s assault on Gaza continues to shock. But, sadly there are other regimes which continue to earn their shameful ranking in the roll-call of dishonour and brutality. Take Cameroon.
Marching in the footsteps of the Levellers
Creating a real democracy to replace our deficient, defective system is obviously no simple task. However, the positive outcome of an assembly called around producing an Agreement of the People for the 21st century shows that the project is gathering momentum.
Our sham democracy needs replacing – and soon
If you are looking around for arguments that boost the case for creating a real political and economic democracy in place of the sham one we live under, then this week has seen them piled one on top of the other.
Hands off Gaza – one state the only solution
The latest Israeli assault on Gaza is the act of a state with nothing to offer but the politics and economics of war and terror. With an election coming up in January, Netanyahu’s Likud government is killing Palestinians with the aim of creating fear at home to help them hold on to power.
Historic strike against austerity must become turning point
The historic, co-ordinated pan-Europe strikes and marches taking place today are the clearest indication yet that the struggles against the governments that have imposed austerity policies are coming to a head.
Will the big three parties 'step aside' now please
As there now appears to be a new convention in public life in the shape of “stepping aside” while inquiries take place into incompetence and/or misleading broadcasts by the BBC, surely there are grounds for extending this practice into political circles as well.
Warnings from history in Greek crisis
What happened in Germany during the 1930s does have crucial parallels in today’s economic and political crisis. So the start of a new television series about the rise of Adolf Hitler being broadcast by the beleaguered BBC tonight is timely.
Universities fight back against corporate body snatchers
The onward march of commercial considerations into every area of public life and services has led to an unlikely resistance movement in the shape of the Council for the Defence of British Universities.
Sellafield nuclear waste still a clear and present danger
The situation at Sellafield nuclear plant in Cumbria is dire and poses significant risks to people and the environment. Historic neglect, poor planning and a failure to minimize hazards – that’s the history of decommissioning the site of Britain’s first nuclear accident in 1957 when the plant was known as Windscale.
A symbol of hope's limitations
Poorer workers, Latinos, Afro-Americans, young urban professionals and women put their trust in Barack Obama. And this morning they are celebrating. But despite their vote of defiance against the rich, right-wing, racist Republicans the euphoria will melt away.
Cameron as salesman for the merchants of death
One thing is certain in British politics. Whichever party is in government the sale of arms to countries with oppressive regimes will continue unabated. David Cameron is only the latest in a long list of prime ministers acting as a salesman for an industry that deals in large-scale death.
A democracy with an extremely small ‘d’
Where in the world can you find a $6 billion election campaign that offers the voter little substantive difference between the major contestants? Yes, you’ve guessed it. We’re talking about tomorrow’s US presidential and congressional elections.
A democratic Europe is worth fighting for
The fracturing of the European Union’s existing structures under the weight of the economic and financial crisis should be an opportunity to promote an alternative to a body that is more bureaucracy than democracy, more pro-business than pro-people.
Woodlands sacrificed on the altar of free markets
Ash dieback fungus is only the latest in a series of disasters threatening British woodland. Profit-driven globalisation is spreading diseases, whilst climate change and pollution leave trees vulnerable to assaults they might have been able to fight off in past times.
US faces a perfect storm on all fronts
After the devastation delivered by a perfect storm, the prospect of the United States falling off a “fiscal cliff” within two months is not one that America’s ruling political and corporate elites are looking forward to with any relish.
PFI albatross opens NHS up to private sector
The resource-draining Private Finance Initiative foisted on public sector projects by New Labour is helping to create the conditions for the break-up and privatisation of the National Health Service.
Wanted: Real Utopias and real democracy
“Democracy has recently become extremely important and the key issue in politics.” You can count the political figures who say and mean that on the fingers of one hand. But that was the uncompromising message delivered by John McDonnell to Occupy London activists.
The Levellers' light shines on
Some 365 years ago this weekend, soldiers known as “agitators” and their civilian supporters, sprang a political surprise of historic proportions. They openly challenged the leaders of the New Model Army about the future direction of the English Revolution.
Fossil fuel warriors in charge of ConDems energy policy
As the first cold blast of winter heads down from the Arctic, more than five million UK households cannot afford to heat their homes to the standard required for good health and comfort.
Young people victims of an uncaring state
The British establishment, the state and its institutions, the media – none of them really give a damn about young people. And if they say otherwise, they’re lying. That’s the conclusion not only from the Jimmy Savile scandal but an investigation into the deaths of children and young people in prison too.
End of mining boom hits Australia hard
Way back in May – a whole five months ago – the Honourable Wayne Swan MP, Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Australia was full of confidence.
Octavia Hill's housing dream turns into a nightmare
Today the great and the good will unveil a memorial in Westminster Abbey to commemorate social reformer Octavia Hill, who died 100 years ago. A pioneer thinker and campaigner, she worked to promote the idea of a collective form of property ownership.
How we can move beyond resistance
Everyone joining tomorrow’s anti-austerity march in London called by the Trades Union Congress should take heed of what is happening in Greece if we are going to find ways to move beyond resistance to the deepening crisis.
The China Syndrome in your food
The dust is only just settling on the worst food poisoning scandal in German history. Earlier this month, 11,000 children attending some 500 schools in five east German states were poisoned by strawberries grown in China’s Shandong province.
Leaving cloud cuckoo land
The International Monetary Fund is amongst the most influential institutions on the planet. It has a membership of 188 countries and employs 2,400 staff. Half of them are economists. If anyone should know about the state of the global economy and its likely trajectory, you might think it was the IMF.
Irish people lose out when it comes to oil finds
Let the good times roll (again). Recoverable oil has been found in two areas around the Irish coast. A valid excuse for the Irish to don stetson hats and adopt a smug swagger perhaps?
Scots need a people's constitution, not an SNP one
The deal struck between Edinburgh and Westminster to hold a single question referendum on independence in the autumn of 2014 should not obscure the fact that the needs of ordinary Scots are secondary to this political manoeuvring.
'What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?'
So the ConDem coalition is to spend £50 million on marking the centenary of the outbreak of World War One. But the flag-waving nationalism that will surely surround the events will with certainty obscure the truth about the first global conflict.
A billion hungry people victim of land grabs
The World Bank is one now of the world’s leading land grabbers, channeling aid and loans into projects which force people off land they have used for generations. One of the results is a dramatic rise in food prices and global hunger.
Global economy heading 'down for the count'
Stark warnings from the International Monetary Fund about the risk of financial collapse in Europe have coincided with indicators from the Brookings Institution and the Financial Times showing that the global economy is “on the ropes”.
Fear not, the TUC remains 'vigilant' as Osborne attacks rights
Chancellor George Osborne’s plan for workers to sell off their employment rights, making it easier and cheaper for bosses to sack people, might well have produced a tough reaction from a trade union leadership prepared to confront the despised ConDems.
Venezuelans choose Chavez over the corporations
Hugo Chavez’s fourth election victory in a row was achieved on a turnout of 81% of the 19 million Venezuelans registered to vote, which is in stark contrast to falling turnouts in Britain and the upcoming US presidential election in which 50% may stay at home.
Unfinished business of England's October Revolution
In the early days of October some 365 years ago, the Levellers movement began drafting two documents that would become the political high points of the English Revolution which had developed out of the civil war between King Charles I and Parliament.
ATOS profits pile up while misery for disabled grows
At last, the big bucks to be made out of forcing disabled people through humiliating tests to cut their benefit are out in the open, thanks to detective work by a member of the Scottish parliament.
The end-of-growth 'heresy' raises its head
Has the truth about the nature of the deepening global slump finally begun to make its mark in the brains of the system’s chief analysts and cheerleaders? We ask because some are beginning to question whether a “return to growth” is possible, let alone likely.
By jingo, Labour is the true patriotic party!
A party of true patriotism, making tough decisions in the “national interest”, hiring top business figures as advisers and a party that will stand up to the trade unions. Tories? Lib Dems? Wrong, just wrong!
Drone attacks are state-sponsored terrorism
On 17 March 2011 some 40 individuals – including 35 government-appointed tribal leaders known as maliks, as well as government officials – gathered in Datta Khel town centre in North Waziristan in Pakistan.
India's nuclear expansion at the people's expense
Opposing the expansion of nuclear power is always dealt with ruthlessly. But the Indian state of Tamil Nadu’s charges of treason laid against protesters must be a first. The protesters have also been gassed, injured and one killed in clashes.
Point of no return in Europe
Impasse. Tipping point. Crisis. Boiling point. Point of no return. Explosion. What words can convey the profundity of the present moment of transition?
Revealed: those Cable-Miliband texts
We have been offered details of some the frequent texts exchanged between Vince Cable, the business secretary and leading Lib Dem, and Ed Miliband, the leader of the Labour Party. How they were obtained, we don’t know. But we thought the “public interest” would be best served by publishing extracts.
Policing and mental health body is 'cosmetic exercise'
The Commission on Policing and Mental Health has been set up following concerns about “how police respond to people with mental health conditions”, according to Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe, Britain’s most senior police officer.
An Agreement of the People for 2012
In the light of the ConDems plan to turn Britain into a total market state and Ed Miilband’s plan for Labour to “save capitalism from itself”, we present a 2012 draft of the Agreement of the People (with deference to the Levellers and their 1647 version debated at Putney).
'Uncharted territory' as Arctic sea ice shrinks to new low
We are talking about more than “warning signs” now, or even approaching “tipping points”. Climate change is taking its toll in the here and now and only far-reaching, drastic, emergency measures to cut carbon emissions can even begin to have an impact.
Walmart workers and teachers turn up the heat
After eight days of solid strike action against a regressive restructuring of the education system in the third largest school district in the US, teachers in Chicago are going back to school having won a stand-off compromise that solves nothing.
Film protests express a broader anger
As mass rallies and violent protests continue to sweep the Muslim world over an anti-Islam film made by US-based racists, the widespread reaction raises the question about whether the background to the protests is purely religious.
Boot corporations out of the arts
A row has broken about the role of Creative Scotland, successor to the Arts Council, which the poet Don Paterson has denounced as a “dysfunctional ant-heap”.
Who controls water controls life
One billion people – a seventh of the world’s population – are without reliable supplies of water, and each day 3,900 children die because of water deprivation. Even the wealthy United States cannot provide citizens secure access to water.
A state that serves and protects the powerful
The self-sacrificing and inspiring struggle by relatives of the Merseyside fans who needlessly died at Hillsborough in 1989 to establish the truth, must add to the erosion of public confidence in state institutions of rule and power.
Workers hit back as tipping points breached
The impact of the social crisis on individuals in numbers of suicides, prescriptions for anti-depressants and the increasing numbers of people treated for stress at hospitals in England is steadily growing.
Rhetoric and reality in TUC strike vote
The leaders of the Trades Union Congress will need to match rhetoric with deeds for a change if we are to take seriously the unanimous vote yesterday for co-ordinated strike action by public sector workers over pay and spending cuts.
National Trust in assault on modern Diggers
A strange case is due to be heard in Slough County Court later this week. The National Trust is seeking an order for possession against “Diggers2012 and Persons Unknown”. The NT also wants a “perpetual final injunction” against the “Diggers” of Runnymede Eco-Village. A ruling in its favour would prevent any camps being set up on Cooper’s Hill in Runnymede, west of London, near where the Magna Carta was signed in 1215.
Miliband's manifesto for 'responsible capitalism'
There are people out there who harbour hopes that a future Labour government under Ed Miliband would be a radical administration that responds to ordinary people’s aspirations. Dream on.
Airport expansion based on Toryspeak
A phony war between London Mayor Boris Johnson’s proposed Thames Estuary island airport and the Heathrow third runway has been made the focus of debate over airport expansion.
Wages plummet in global race to the bottom
Despite massive state intervention, including two interest rate reductions and huge injections of credit, the Chinese economy has been unable to withstand the consequences of global overcapacity.
Paralympics success a stark contrast to benefit cuts
Grossly offensive as well as totally hypocritical sums up the presence of David Cameron and George Osborne at the London Paralympics at a time when many people with disabilities are fighting to maintain their meagre benefits.
Milibandism is New Labour Mark II
Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s call for the prosecution of Tony Blair at the International Criminal Court in The Hague for war crimes comes as Labour plans to restore the former prime minister to a prominent position in the party.
World Bank policies help drive global hunger
The World Bank has issued a global hunger warning after food prices soared by 10% in a single month from June to July. But this is disingenuous to say the least since the agency’s own policies backing corporate greed, are major contributors to hunger.
Unsold goods pile up as crash takes its toll
In the wake of the Olympics, countless millions of pairs of trainers lie unsold in warehouses. Thousands of Chinese companies from property developers to car manufacturers sit atop mountains of products surplus to a hoped-for demand that never materialised.
Money can't buy Obama or Romney love
In the 2008 election which brought to power America’s first black president, 131 million people went to the polls – five million more than before, most of the new votes coming from Black and Latino communities.
Sea ice melt puts ecosystem in jeopardy
Normally by this time of year the Arctic sea ice summer melt would be over. But it’s still melting at a rate of 100,000 metres per day and by the weekend, middle of next week latest, a larger area than ever before will have thawed. A halt to the melting process is now not expected for several weeks.
Osborne caught in glare of global recession
For the global economy, the only way is down. Britain shows where things are heading. A deepening recession intensified by austerity has created a spiral of decline in public finances. More brutal assaults on living standards are sure to follow.
ANC gets rich while miners live in poverty
When police gunned down striking Marikana platinum miners, killing at least 34 and wounding many more, they also blew apart the façade of post-apartheid politics in South Africa.
Why Ecuador stands shoulder to shoulder with Assange
Ecuador’s defiant decision to grant Julian Assange political asylum shows how far the country has come in shaking off shackles that not so long ago had reduced it to a plaything of the United States.
Unrest grows as crisis spins out of control in France
Angry confrontations between police and young people on housing estates near Amiens are a sign of growing social unrest in France as the recession, highlighted by the threatened Peugeot plant closure, deepens.
The real way we can 'inspire a generation'
Now that the raucous closing ceremony has brought down the curtain on the London 2012 Olympics, it’s time to cut through the hyperbole and the rhetoric surrounding the games.
Worsening economy behind coalition crisis
All the indications are that the British and European economies have now been drawn into the deepening contraction of global capitalism.
Olympic dream and reality
It’s exactly a year since inner-city riots swept London and other parts of the country. They were sparked by bottled-up anger at the arrogance of the police and rapidly spread into a brief orgy of looting and general destructiveness that took many, including the police, by surprise.
Food as a commodity sends a message
As two-thirds of the United States suffers from the largest drought to hit the country in 50 years, food crop prices rocket and speculation is rising on the financial markets.
The best and worst of London 2012
London’s Olympics sum up a great deal that is brilliant about modern Britain. But, as the first few days’ events are broadcast, some harsh realities are breaking through the extraordinary magic of the opening ceremony.
Turning point in Aleppo
The last time Syria’s largest city, Aleppo, suffered aerial bombardment and heavy guns firing into civilian areas, was in 1925, as the French government set out to crush a rebellion against colonial rule.
'Our cuts will be with a guillotine'
As official figures revealed that Britain is deep into its second recession in four years, with contraction running at a rate not seen for half a century, the European dimension of the global crisis is set to get a whole lot worse.
The whole system is 'morally wrong'
Following the official announcement by a Tory minister that it is “morally wrong” to pay people like plumbers, carpenters and other socially useful citizens cash as a way of reducing household bills, we present a number of other dilemmas to discuss during the Olympics.
Punk band trio victims of Kremlin crackdown
The prolonged detention of three members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot shows just how unsafe the Kremlin feels in the wake of the continuing protests against the rigged presidential elections which Vladimir Putin 'won'.
Lords of the Rings take over London
When a café owner has to change its name, shops are banned from having a certain number of linked rings in their window, roads are barred to ordinary motorists and thousands of police and soldiers occupy a quarter of a major city, it can only mean one thing – the Olympics are here.
Interest rates at minus as 'perfect storm' looms
When you borrow money you pay interest to the lender. The rate you pay is the cost of borrowing and lenders derive their profits from it. At least, that’s the way it is supposed to work.
Weapons of mass deception: we reveal that Bush-Blair transcript
A transcript of a crucial conversation between Tony Blair and George Bush just before the invasion of Iraq seems certain to be suppressed by the Coalition government, despite a ruling that it should be published.
Developers make war on London's green spaces
John Ruskin believed that “the measure of any great civilisation is in its towns and cities and the measure of a city’s greatness is to be found in the quality of its public spaces, its parks and squares”.
G4S - 'securing' their world, not ours
Despite its inability to fulfil its London 2012 contract, the rise and rise of G4S is the story of the privatisation of the state and an increasing emphasis on “threats” and “security concerns” aimed at keeping people in thrall to authority.
Sea bed mining new global gold rush
The last great redivision of the world. That’s how marine geologists are describing the stampede to mine the world’s sea beds for gold, silver, copper and cobalt, lead and zinc with unknown and unpredictable consequences.
Spain's economy heads for the buffers
Watching the minute-by-minute account of this morning’s speech by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy felt like looking over the shoulder of the driver of the locomotive with his hand hard down on the accelerator as the train heads for the buffers.
When the House of Lords was sent packing
While the present Parliament wrestles with a half-baked attempt to turn the House of Lords into something resembling a democratic body, they could always reflect on the legislation introduced into the House of Commons in March 1649.
Local museums 'easy targets' for cuts
The predicament facing public museums and galleries as a result of government cuts is rousing angry feelings, aimed at local MPs and the ConDem coalition alike.
Democracy is more than a governance issue
The fanfare launch of a Manifesto for Global Democracy backed by significant thinkers ought to be a cause for celebration. Unfortunately, its content is so weak that at best it’s a missed opportunity and at worst a step backwards.
All that matters is matter itself
An historic day for science and our understanding of nature yesterday couldn’t fail to contrast with a bad day for democracy when after hours of meandering questions, MPs came no closer to understanding the truth about interest-rate rigging by a global bank.
Extreme weather set to get worse
The UK has just experienced record rainfall in June – double the average. Until now, scientists would only go so far as to say that this is consistent with weather patterns that can be expected from climate change.
Barclays shows how they are all in it together
Yes, they are all in it together: Barclays, the Bank of England, the Financial Services Authority, Tories and especially the previous Labour governments.
London 2012 corporate sponsors cash in
Human sporting talent and achievement? Inspiration? Yes, that’s the Olympic spirit – or rather what’s being exploited to the hilt by corporate sponsors, backed by new laws, when London 2012 opens in 25 days.
Rigging markets par for the course
The way Barclays and several other banks colluded to fix inter-bank interest rates is a blatant example of what is actually par for the course in big business. Price fixing, secret agreements to divide markets, cartels and other nefarious goings on are as old as capitalism itself.
Nature's final frontiers fall to the corporations
The Rio+20 final document is so shocking and the risks it poses so great that it bears revisiting. "Ecosystem services", and other so-called “green economics” initiatives set out at Rio represent capitalism's final assault on wilderness, untamed habitat and the plants and animals (including humans) who live inter-connectedly in these spaces.
Infinity and beyond is Bank's view of crisis
Who’d be an economics forecaster at a time of chaos and crisis? Only six weeks ago, Bank of England experts thought they had the situation covered. Now they’ve ripped up those forecasts and are starting again.
New Labour's PFI legacy poisons NHS
Placing a major healthcare trust in Whitehall-led administration could signal the break-up of the NHS under the cover of a financial crisis that is largely the result of the pro-business policies of previous New Labour governments.
Schools becoming cultural deserts
What kind of education you get – and the chance to participate in music, film, theatre and other forms of culture – is more than ever dependent on your parents’ status and income, how aggressive they are in getting you into a well-resourced school, if they can afford extra tuition and where you live.
Miliband plays the race card
The euro is heading for collapse, major banks were downgraded overnight, the global economy is plunging into depression and Ed Miliband chooses this very moment to play the reactionary race card.
Rio earth summit 'epic failure' warning
"Abandon hope all ye who enter here" should have been written over the entrance to the Rio+20 summit. For the draft text reneges on or waters down every principle of the original agreement and adds in a range of market initiatives that will weaken ecosystems and block sustainable development.
Global economy 'off the rails'
No one any longer thinks that piling on the pressure through austerity, grinding millions into the dust, can possibly make any difference to the debt crisis. But despite increasingly strident calls, “pushing for growth” is a non-starter.
Poverty and inequality: the real State of the Union
As the leaders of the major economies gather for crisis talks at the G20 in Mexico, they’ll be pondering how they can save capitalism from itself. What they won’t be doing is addressing the vast inequalities that have developed in countries like the United States.
Divide and rule in Greece and Egypt
The sigh of relief expressed by the financial markets and the major capitalist governments over the outcome of the Greek election reveals how desperate the ruling elites are for any “good news”, however ephemeral it proves to be.
New financial meltdown under way
The potential for a second, more catastrophic breakdown of the global financial system is the reality behind emergency support for the banks announced by the chancellor George Osborne and the governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King.
Hypermarket nation trumps Danny Boyle's vision
Film director Danny Boyle’s central vision for the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony is a representation of idealised rural life, with cows and sheep grazing, and a ploughman at work. It is, said Boyle, “the green and pleasant land. It is something that still exists, and something that cries out to all of us like a childhood memory".
State is the enforcer of austerity
Q. Why did the 100 billion euro loan to bailout Spanish banks recycled from the 27 members of the European Union via the European Financial Stability Mechanism go to the government rather than, as some wanted, direct to the banks where it is needed?
A. Because the people who run the EFSM act as ciphers for the needs of the global capitalist system. And they have to ensure that states – governments, civil administrations, legal system, armed forces including police – extract the repayments on the loans from their populations.
Another Reformation anyone?
If the Church of England really wanted to attack the government, there are plenty of issues it could seize on: child poverty, homelessness, unemployment, inequality, bankers’ bonuses, spending cuts etc etc. Opposing gay marriage neatly reveals the CoE’s priorities.
Health check reveals electoral politics is sick
Parliamentary election results across the Channel indicate that Francois Hollande’s Socialist Party will gain a majority in France’s National Assembly. But in case anyone gets too excited about a revival of the European “left”, a quick health check of electoral politics is needed.
Wanted: a democratic alternative to Merkel and Cameron
The choice between living in a European so-called “super state”, as advocated by German chancellor Angela Merkel, or an independent, “sovereign” state, as viewed by prime minister David Cameron is, in reality, no choice at all.
Old Macdonald losing out to agri-business
Pressure is building up for the creation of massive animal processing plants in the UK to replace traditional dairy and pig production, despite concerns about water pollution, animal welfare, environmental damage and the wiping out of small farms.
Warnings of new economic collapse mount
With Spain no longer able to borrow on the money markets, German banks downgraded and key indicators pointing towards a massive international downturn, the global economy is heading towards a new meltdown.
Meanwhile, back in the real world
The establishment have milked it for all it’s worth but tomorrow, after the last stage-managed event surrounding that diamond jubilee is over, for the vast majority of the population it will be back to reality with a bang.
Obama plays God
When pro-establishment media start to be concerned about the excessive powers of the US president, it’s time for all of us to be on extra alert.
Relief for the rich but council workers to suffer
Jeremy Hunt’s appearance at the Leveson inquiry yesterday was obviously a good day to bury bad news, and not just on the part of the government. While chancellor Osborne was abandoning plans to limit tax relief on charitable donations, unions were signing off a pensions deal that will leave over a million worse off.
Climate change window closing fast
The chance to prevent runaway climate change is slipping away. Global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil-fuel combustion reached a record high in 2011 and there is nothing to suggest the trajectory will change this year or in the foreseeable future.
Roma made scapegoats for the crisis
As unemployment rises and austerity measures bite, the scapegoating of minorities is growing across Europe. High up in the firing line are, as always, members of Europe’s 12 million-strong gypsy and Roma communities.
EU-IMF blackmail aimed at Ireland and Greece
The principle of self-determination of nations may, to some, appear irrelevant in the context of the eurozone crisis. The 17 countries signed up to the single currency are all, on the face of it, independent states free to determine their own destiny.
Giving Please Release Me a new meaning
This weekend some 125 million viewers will be settling in for the finals of the Eurovision Song Contest being held in Baku, Azerbaijan. It’s the best way to get away from it all as this madly kitsch event seems to be in a fairyland of its own.
Stop land grabbing!
The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, launched at the G8 summit, is yet another business-driven initiative that will fail to tackle hunger or support food producers in Africa.
“Double meltdown” warning for Europe
Today the leaders of the 27 countries that make up the European Union meet in Brussels. Their desperate aim is to keep the debt crisis in Europe from spiralling out of control and ‘promote jobs and growth’.
A big “no” to academy status
Teachers from Downhills Primary School, in Haringay, north London are on strike today against plans by the government to force them to become an Academy. They oppose the new status which would place them under the control of a private sponsor and pull them out of the local authority family of schools.
John Carlos is the real Olympic spirit
As the Olympic flame makes its way around the country amidst scenes of celebration and excitement, it is an appropriate moment to welcome to Britain one of the two African-American athletes who gave the black power salute from the winners’ podium at the 1968 Olympics.
Facebook riches show how obscene the system is
As people wander the towns and cities of Greece and Spain today looking for work, food and simply the means of survival, in California a company that makes no profits at all will sell its shares for over $100 billion.
Historic showdown builds in Europe
Two of surely the most delusional people on the planet strolled down the red carpet in Berlin this week, talking about growth and keeping Greece among the eurozone countries. No chance on the first, and close to zero on the second.
Phone hacking saga to run and run
The charging of former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice in connection with phone hacking at the News of the World can only add to the growing sense of political crisis in Britain.
Iran targets trade unionists as defiance grows
On May Day, in Sanandaj, Kordestan Province, north-west Iran, scores of workers – men and women – gathered and chanted, “We are workers; we are hungry.” Security forces quickly arrived and dispersed the crowd. At least eight workers were arrested, their fate unknown.
'Global May' on the launch pad
A year after the Arab Spring found its echo in the Puerta del Sol in Madrid, where a massive people’s assembly took control of the famous square, a new “Global May” is scheduled for an international launch tomorrow.
Pensions strike challenges austerity
The third major one-day strike in six months in defence of public sector pensions has received tremendous support from trade unionists around Britain. Over 400,000 civil servants, lecturers, health staff and prison officers have joined the action.
'Going for growth' will bring new attacks
If Europe’s voters think “austerity” is bad for their health, it’s nothing compared to what some of the advocates of “growth” have in mind as the next stage of the crisis unfolds.
A gigantic 'no' from Europe's voters
Political crisis is spreading like a forest fire through Europe following the inconvenient intervention, for the ruling classes that is, of millions and millions of voters in Britain, France, Greece and now Italy.
Stay-at-home voters reject the old political order
When an average of two-thirds of registered voters boycott an election – in some areas over three-quarters abstained – it is another sign of a deep disillusionment with mainstream politics and parties.
Global economy heading from contraction to destruction
It’s no wonder that prime minister Cameron now sees no prospect of a “recovery” in the foreseeable future. He’s just stating the obvious.
No vote for cuts parties on May 3
As an exercise in democracy, Thursday’s local elections throughout Britain don’t really cut the mustard. Voters are presented with a range of parties committed to austerity policies and local authorities that are, in effect, adjuncts of central government.
Olympics clampdown takes sinister turn
The Police-Military Games – formerly known as the London 2012 Olympics but now rebranded – are set to challenge Berlin 1936 for the title of most authoritarian sporting event of all time.
A corporatocracy in all but name
The scandal engulfing the Cameron government over ministers’ close links with the Murdoch media empire, as well as promises made about BSkyB before the 2010 election, is symptomatic of a wider political disease called corporatocracy.
Economic crisis meets disillusioned voters
Coalition Chancellor Osborne says that economic “recovery” is taking longer than expected, but this is a deliberate deception because all the indications are that recession in the UK is part of an international trend.
Big Pharma talks patent nonsense
Big Pharma never ceases to surprise but the demand from Novartis that the NHS uses one of its expensive products rather than a cheaper one really takes the biscuit.
Far right steps into political vacuum in France
French voters have used the ballot box to express widespread disillusionment with the main parties and their proposals for austerity measures.
Confusion at the top masks a deeper crisis of legitimacy
Theresa May’s palpable discomfort over the Home Office’s inability to read a calendar can only add to the general disdain voters feel for the political class which goes beyond the issue of Abu Qatada and his intended deportation into the hands of Jordanian torturers.
'Drill baby, drill' and damn the consequences
Measuring risk is the core business of Lloyd’s of London, the global specialist insurance market, so when it sounds the alarm about investment in Arctic oil, someone should be listening.
Desperate acts of desperate people
Last Thursday, a man in Modesto, California, whose house was scheduled for foreclosure, shot and killed the sheriff’s deputy and the locksmith who came to evict him.
Bahrain F1 race like a circuit of death
As the Formula 1 Grand Prix teams begin arriving in Bahrain for this weekend’s race, let’s hope they are not too disturbed by the fact that human rights activist Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja is near to death as he continues his hunger strike.
Charities row about venal self interest
The Coalition’s proposal to limit tax relief on charitable donations to £50,000 per year or 25% of a donor’s income has touched a raw nerve within the government’s natural constituencies – so called “wealth creators” and those who back the notion of “the big society”.
Countdown to attack on Iran has started
As talks open in Turkey over Iran’s nuclear programme, there is increasing evidence that a countdown to an attack on the Islamic republic by Israel and the United States has begun behind the smokescreen of face-to-face meetings.
Rangers own goal leads to ruin
The liquidators' report into the finances of Rangers FC lays bare the extent to which the Glasgow club has itself been a football kicked from end to end by dodgy dealing and financial incompetence.
Global economy can forget China 'rescue'
Once hailed as the country that would ride to the rescue of global capitalism, China is now gripped by political turmoil and, increasingly, serious economic difficulties that are already impacting on the rest of the world.
Supermax prisons: America's own gulag
The European Court of Human Right’s extraordinary decision that a lifetime of solitary confinement in a “supermax” prison in the United States would not amount to a violation of human rights flies in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Spectre of Great Depression looms over Spain
A new phase of the financial and economic crisis threatens to drag Spain and other so-called “peripheral” countries in the eurozone into a 1930s-style depression and trigger a renewed global crash.
The Big Brother state comes calling
Make no mistake, the plans to extend surveillance into real-time monitoring of every type of electronic communication do not originate with the ConDem government. They represent the demands of the secret state tooling up for social confrontation.
Suu Kyi hails Burmese people's awareness
Ecstatic scenes have marked the electoral successes of Burma National League for Democracy party, led by Aung San Suu Kyi. But the reconciliation she is calling for with the other political parties will not bring true democracy.
Galloway victory confirms political meltdown
The Bradford West by-election triumphantly won by George Galloway confirms that Labour’s support in working class communities is extremely fragile and that a major political crisis is coming to a head in Britain.
How the 'Great Acceleration' put profits before the eco-system
As a measure of wealth, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is not only inadequate but leads governments to prioritise policies and activities that wreck the planet's eco-system.
ConDems tool up for confrontation
Yesterday community shops throughout the UK received a message asking “how community shops have collaborated with each other and other local business to ensure the continuity of supply of products and services when normal routes to market are broken”.
Zambian miners resist new colonialists
In the 21st century version of the scramble for Africa, the copper miners of Zambia are leading the resistance to a modern form of colonialism that is being driven from Beijing.
Politics is a commodity for sale
Politics, like most things in our globalised capitalist society, has become a commodity for sale at market prices. The cash-for-access scandal is only the latest case in point.
Profit before nutrition makes you sick
The world’s food systems are “deeply dysfunctional” and society is paying an exorbitant price for a diet of processed food that ignores human beings’ real nutritional needs.
A panic Budget as economy worsens
Figures published by the Office for Budget Responsibility on the morning of the Budget statement, and the Office for National Statistics today tell us more about the state of the economy than George Osborne did.
NHS vote marks end of parliamentary road
While last night’s vote to approve the health bill marks the end of the parliamentary road – in more ways than one – the future of the NHS is far from being a done deal.
Market state wrecks public services
The ConDems’ health bill is part of a major shift in the role of the state that dates back to the Thatcher period and the onset of corporate-driven globalisation in the early 1980s. Rather than a roll-back of history, we need real alternatives to what is effectively a market state.
Tory master plan for a new social order
“Our school is being absolutely bullied, and we are sick to death of it”, said one parent outside Downhills Primary School in Tottenham, North London, after the sacking by the government of the entire board of governors. “Absolutely appalling. Almost like a dawn raid. We live in a democracy, I thought,” said another.
'Poverty Games' comes to Glasgow
Visitors from Vancouver will join local people to carry the Poverty Olympics Torch in Glasgow's East End today, protesting at scandalous profiteering and evictions, as the city council implements its corporate vision for the Commonwealth Games in 2014.
How the 'plutonomists' bought governments
Citigroup is something special. With the largest financial services network in the world, it is a banking and finance behemoth, effectively the defining organisation of the global economy.
How the system is undemocratic
As the Occupy movement in London (and elsewhere), discusses next steps, it is as well to restate some basics about the extremely limited democracy we live under and what the alternatives might be.
Young men as killing machines
We’ve been here before. The killing of at least 16 Afghan civilians – nine of them children – in Kandahar province on Saturday night evokes memories of another atrocity committed by US troops some 44 years ago.
A default by any other name
When is a default not a default? When the Greek government and the European Central Bank pretend otherwise. In the real world, the truth is quite different.
Egyptians pay heavy price for IMF loan
The Egyptian government has accepted a $3.2 billion loan from the IMF in return for a ruthless austerity programme, cuts in food subsidies, the introduction of a sales tax and more privatisation.
'Big Bang' moment will shatter NHS
Even as the bill dismantling the health service completes its journey into law, older people in care homes have already been abandoned in a foretaste of what’s to come.
China's kleptocracy cashes in as resistance grows
China’s National People’s Congress, which is now in session in Beijing, is in effect a gathering of the country’s most powerful shareholders and capitalists. It puts in the shade the close connection between business and politics in other countries.
Putin's 'victory' tainted from the start
The anti-Putin rally planned for Moscow today will have to defy a state of siege organised by an undemocratic, authoritarian regime that weighs rather than counts the votes cast in presidential elections.
Murdoch and the Met uncut
The Leveson media ethics inquiry, now in its fourth month, is unravelling an increasingly sinister web of corruption between the Murdoch media and the Met. It stretches from criminal elements in south east London right up to hacking the phones of politicians and the Royal Family.
Greek parliament imposes debt diktat
As Greek finance minister Evangelos Venizelos knows only too well, the measures being imposed on all but the super rich in Greece are raising the spectre of massive social division.
The end of the beginning
These are the words of George Barda, a member of Occupy London, who along with dozens of others, was thrown out of the encampment outside St Paul’s in the early hours of this morning.
Corporate version of the CIA exposed
Are the Yes Men – a group of anti-corporate activists who stage amazing stunts – just an insignificant bunch of pranksters? Those who control one of the world’s biggest spy companies and their corporate paymasters don’t think so.
Exposed: welfare-to-work industry gravy train
The workfare scandal of forcing the unemployed to work for businesses for free or lose benefits has lifted the lid on outrageous profiteering at the expense of the jobless and taxpayers in general.
'Booted by the suited' for opposing Glasgow centre closure
Grace Harrington was sitting quietly in the public gallery of Glasgow City Chambers listening to Labour councillors agreeing a further £43m of budget cuts. Out of the blue, she was grabbed by staff and "huckled", as the expression goes, out of the building.
Down with the 21st century Troika!
Whoever coined the term ‘Troika’ for the combined staff of the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission has a grim sense of recent history.
Greeks sold into debt slavery
“It's no exaggeration to say that today is a historic day for the Greek economy,” said Lucas Papademos, banker and unelected prime minister of Greece. Yes indeed. February 21 was the day he signed his country’s people into debt slavery for the foreseeable future.
Wrecker of the Year more like it
As a Traveller, I am sickened by the nomination of Tory council leader Tony Ball for the "Leader of the Year" award organised by the Local Government Information Unit and investment advisors CCLA.
Demand the release of Khader Adnan!
“I am defending my dignity and my people’s dignity and not doing this in vain.” The words of 34-year-old Palestinian detainee Khader Adnan, who is close to death, tied to his bed in an Israeli hospital after more than 60 days on hunger strike.
Women hit hardest by the crisis
The lives of women in Britain are being devastated by rising unemployment, rising prices and the coalition's spending cuts.
The fate of Greece a warning to all of us
Greece has “reached the limits of the social and economic system”, according to its public order minister Christos Papoutsis, and its “people cannot take any more”. It’s a message that will reverberate around the whole of Europe this year.
Don't belittle the Occupation
As Occupy London waits on the Court of Appeal’s decision on whether the City corporation can proceed with its eviction of the camp outside St Paul’s, the obituaries are already being written.
Whitney Houston - another untimely death
Some critics have blamed Whitney Houston’s death on herself, saying it was “self administered”, talking of the “squandered talent of someone who had it all but threw it all away”.
Dracula is alive and well in Brussels
Eurozone finance ministers gave Dracula-style bloodsucking a bad name last night when they rejected proposals brought from Athens for even more severe austerity measures.
Save the bees from corporate greed
Two crucial scientific studies have confirmed that pesticides and insecticides at even low, undetectable levels are linked to the massive collapse of honey bee colonies.
Beware the light at the end of the tunnel
Some optimists are saying that things are beginning to look up because of a fall in unemployment, particularly in the US but also to some small extent in the UK. Yesterday, those closer to the action put things in perspective.
A tale of two Britains
On the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ birth just about everyone wants to lay claim to the most famous author of Victorian England. The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall laying a wreath in Westminster Abbey surely takes the biscuit, however.
Hypocrisy all round over Syria's fate
Manoeuvres at the United Nations over a resolution on Syria cannot disguise the hypocrisy on the part of the major Western countries and the opportunism on the side of Russia and China.
How nuclear power decision was 'fixed'
Parliament was conned by New Labour and the ConDem coalition into supporting new nuclear power stations by distorted evidence and research that ignored important alternatives to achieve emissions cuts, including energy saving measures.
They were all in it together, not just Goodwin
At last! Something we can agree on with Labour’s former chancellor, Alistair Darling. Fred Goodwin (formerly Sir) should not be singled out by the establishment.
Whatever happens on bonuses, we lose out
For all the excitement generated over the reluctant decision by Stephen Hester, the chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland, to decline his near £1 million bonus, this is not a zero sum game.
A Britain divided by class and wealth
Sometimes it takes a comedian to tell it as it is. Rory Bremner just about summed up the real state of affairs as he mused in the columns of the Financial Times.
Turn anger over RBS bonus into action
The palpable anger over the £963,000 bonus in shares awarded to state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Stephen Hester has to turn into some direct political and industrial action if society is to see an end to this kind of obscenity.
'No' to war on Iran
With evidence accumulating that Iran is not actually building a nuclear weapon, the sanctions and oil embargo imposed by the United States and Europe look increasingly like the provocations that they are.
UK heads for recession as '1930s moment' nears
Greek debt is but one black hole among many in the eurozone crisis which threatens to tip the world into a ‘1930’s moment’ according to IMF managing director Christine Lagarde. But the problems facing global capitalism are far deeper.
Israel stands accused of child 'torture'
Imagine a child arrested and taken from the family home by heavily armed soldiers in the middle of the night. Bound with plastic ties and blindfolded, the child is transported to another country for interrogation.
St Paul's Occupation makes its mark
As the tent city Occupation outside St Paul’s, supported by sister occupations at Finsbury Square and the Bank of Ideas, marks its 100th day, it’s time to celebrate its achievements.
Using the C word to prop the system up
Suddenly it’s alright, if not de rigueur, for the political elite to talk about capitalism – so long as you end up praising the system rather than burying it.
Food agency rewrites report to suit corporates
Global agri-business is increasingly influencing the work of publicly-funded food and agriculture bodies such as the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation and the Consultative Group on Agriculture Research.
'Clueless' as global crisis worsens
The World Bank is warning of a global downturn worse than that of 2008/09 which saw trade drop by 90% at it lowest point and production following suit. In a sharp about-face from the optimism of its June 2011 report, the Bank now says “the world economy has entered a dangerous period”.
They are all in it together!
The evidence of Labour’s collusion with the ConDem coalition has piled up so high that even Len McCluskey, the leader of the Unite union, can no longer ignore it. “The real points of differentiation between Labour and the government on the economy are now very hard to identify,” he admits today.
The bottom line and safety at sea
The sinking of a 21st century hi-tech cruise ship in calm waters, on an established route in well-known waters off the coast of Tuscany has set alarm bells ringing for many reasons.
TUC divides pensions fight
At the first whiff of grapeshot, the right-wing leaders of the Trades Union Congress, history will show, turned and ran straight into the arms of the ConDem coalition over cuts to public sector pensions.
Independence for Scotland must end minority rule
It is hardly surprising that Scots hate rule from Westminster – they are not alone. Millions of workers all across the UK have come to hate the ConDems Coalition for imposing the full burden of the economic crisis on their backs.
The spectre of Marx haunts the debate
Contributors to the debate about capitalism increasingly find themselves obliged to consult Marx, the primary authority on the system, and to try and refute his arguments for its replacement.
A capitalism that lacks legitimacy
While Ed Miliband brings Labour into an ever-closer alignment with Tory arguments (and policies) on the economy, it falls to the Financial Times to ask whether capitalism can respond to an historic crisis of legitimacy.
Populist Cameron trumps pathetic Labour
Interviewing the prime minister for the Sunday Telegraph, Matthew D’Ancona curiously concluded that David Cameron was a man with a mission – “to save capitalism from itself”.
Hungary crisis driven on by new credit crunch
A chain under stress usually breaks at its weakest link. For the global financial system, the pressure point could well prove to be Hungary.
The incorporation of Labour
The assimilation of Labour into accepting the Tory Party’s narrative is moving at such a pace that it is no wonder that David Cameron finds his party ahead in the polls.
Institutionally beyond reform
Wheeling out Cressida Dick to give the Metropolitan Police’s reaction to the conviction of two men for the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence almost 19 years ago says it all really.
Scandal of German state's cover for far right
News of an astonishing catalogue of wanton failures by Germany’s intelligence agency, the Bundesverfassungschutz, is sending shock waves through the country.
Make 2012 a year to settle accounts
The year ends as it began, with great social movements of people who have taken to the streets because other means of democratic expression are either cut off, denied or wilfully ignored.
Land grab drives famine in Africa
Global corporations and governments are exploiting traditional forms of land tenure to force through a global land grab. It is leading to a net export of calories from Africa and Asia to richer countries and is a major contributor to famine.
Global meltdown closer as risks pile up
Action taken by governments of the rich capitalist countries to reduce their deficits has produced a dangerous accumulation of risks for the world economy, warns the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
Fight the great pensions betrayal
Only a rank-and-file revolt in defence of their pension rights stands between leaders of most public sector trade unions and what will surely rank near the top of a long list of betrayals.
Havel and the 'power of the powerless'
The laurels being heaped on former Czech president Václav Havel, who died at the weekend, by reactionary world leaders should not blind us to his courageous role in the break-up of Stalinist rule in eastern Europe.
Boycott the Olympic war games!
Just in case you missed yesterday's news, next year will see the inauguration of the first Military and Security Olympics. They will take place over 17 days in London and other venues around the country.
Durban's 'death sentence' for millions
The last-minute deal at the Durban climate summit was as believable as the climax of a reality TV show. Cheering, back-slapping delegates had just condemned millions to starvation and homelessness.
Thinking the unthinkable
The name Terry Smith probably doesn’t mean anything to you, despite the fact that he is one of the biggest fans of David Cameron’s decision to walk away from a new European Union treaty designed to control member states’ budgets.
The 'national interest' con trick
If there’s one phrase that’s dominated parliament, the airwaves and the media over the veto used by David Cameron to block a new European Union treaty, it is the “national interest”. It’s an Orwellian phrase, designed to obscure rather than reveal the truth.
Anti-Putin movement marks end of an era
Russia’s street protest movement, which has shaken not only the Kremlin’s autocrats but global financial markets, is the largest for two decades, and is the end of an era.
The 99% lose out all over Europe
In the end, the “choice” was between a British government determined to protect the City of London at all costs and the rest of the European Union agreeing to allow bureaucrats to impose co-ordinated spending cuts on their increasingly angry populations.
Coalition takes greenwash to a new level
ConDem coalition energy policy is being made on the run, in secret and in cahoots with the energy corporations. The self-styled “greenest-ever government” is engaged in a behind-the-scenes dash for fossil fuel and nuclear.
Capitalism has no moral dilemma
An Occupy London delegation – not everyone at St Paul’s is happy with this – is due to debate prospects for an “ethical capitalism” tonight with city fund managers, religious leaders, former bankers, and tax reformers.
Headless chickens rule EU roost
A French president playing second fiddle to a German chancellor announcing a “fiscal union” to keep eurozone spending under control was patently an uncomfortable moment for Nicolas Sarkozy. His misery was written all over his face.
Russians revolt against fraud elections
The dramatic slump in United Russia’s share of the vote in Sunday’s parliamentary elections shows that voters defied a massive campaign of intimidation aimed at bolstering support for the ruling party.
Climate talks ignore the evidence
As Durban suffered unseasonable heavy rain and flooding that killed six people in the South African city playing host to the current round of UN Climate Talks, European representative Artur Runge-Metzger asked delegates: “How high needs the water to get in this conference centre before negotiators start deciding on things?"
Don't lose pension strike momentum
The commitment shown by at least 1.5 million workers in 29 unions who staged a 24-hour strike against attacks on pensions, and marched in cities and towns in their tens of thousands, is now in jeopardy.
Osborne declares class war
On the eve of today’s historic strike by public sector workers in defence of hard-won pensions, the unelected coalition ConDem government yesterday delivered a new, more vicious, sustained assault on living standards.
Militarized policing comes to America
The crackdown on the Wall Street occupation and similar actions around the country have prompted two authors to warn about an increasing militarization of America’s policing.
Corporate body snatchers at work
The patenting of human genes is going on at a terrifying rate. And most people don’t even know that their bodies are being used to generate vast corporate profits
Don't let the ConDems off the hook
Seldom has a government looked in such disarray as the ConDems do in the countdown to what is effectively a mini-general strike in defence of public sector pensions. All that keeps them from crumbling is the weakness of the opposition ranged against them.
Kyoto II abandoned as corporates call the shots
Any attempt to reduce the risk of runaway climate change with a new international treaty to limit carbon emissions is off the table for the foreseeable future as corporate profits take precedence.
An economic system beyond reform
Some 170 economists have issued a statement in support of the occupation movement in the United States and put forward policies which they say will “liberate the economy from the short-term greed of the rich and powerful one percent”.
Time to sack the watchdog
Two advisors have resigned from the community group set up by the Independent Police Complaints Commission after the police killing of Mark Duggan in Tottenham last August.
Arab Spring leads to winter revolution
The prospect of Egypt’s second uprising inside a year is more than a challenge to continuing military rule; it also poses the transformation of the democratic into the social revolution.
London banks in doomsday planning
Reports that London-based global banks are playing “war games” to work out what to do if a country quits the eurozone or the currency collapses, is a stark indication that the financial crisis is out of control. Survival is the only item on the agenda as meltdown looms.
Unions should block sanctions against unemployed
Thousands of unemployed young people are working for supermarkets without pay for months on end, with the constant threat of losing their measly benefits if they leave, while others are on enforced “mandatory work activity” schemes.
Spain's voters disenfranchised by markets
There can be only one winner in Sunday’s general election in Spain. And it won’t be the voters, many of whom are so disillusioned with the country’s political system that they seem set to stay at home in droves.
The invasion of the commons
One of the transformations in London over recent decades has been the opening out of the Thames embankments to the public. You can now meander from Vauxhall Bridge in the west to beyond Tower Bridge in the east, along the city’s historic riverside.
Goldman Sachs adds Italy and Greece to its portfolio
When trader Alessio Rastani told the BBC that "governments don't rule the world, Goldman Sachs rules the world", jaws dropped in the news room at his brazen candour. Seven weeks later, Rastani is looking more right than ever.
The great 'deception' that killed millions
Perhaps it is fitting on the day that the slaughter of World War One finally ended, the Treasury is said to be preparing for “economic Armageddon”.
Triple whammy of warming planet, high prices and energy insecurity
In the most comprehensive study yet of the global energy market, the International Energy Authority (IEA) has warned that within five years the planet will be on course to breach the limit of 2ºC of global warming which is said to be a “safe” level.
Pay to work and cheap interns future for young workers
During the 40-or so months since the crash of 2008 a new wave of caring, sharing philanthropy has risen slowly to the surface, culminating in the Bellagio “summit” now under way on Lake Como.
Bond dealers put a price on democracy
The financial markets that have forced out the Greek government and are on the verge of bringing down Italy’s, now instinctively prefer to sideline what is left of the democratic process if it means they have a better chance of getting their money back.
Their morals and ours
Teaching a fish to ride a bicycle. That’s how even a Daily Telegraph reader describes the pipedream of making the City of London, bankers et al act in some kind of “ethical” way.
Greece is stuffed by the Merkozy
If the political meltdown in Greece tells us anything, it is that the eurozone crisis has gathered an unstoppable momentum and the ruling elites can’t do anything about it.
Power to the G7 billion, not the G20
The General Assembly of Occupy LSX has called for a global debate about a very different future to the one leaders gathering for the G20 in Cannes are planning.
Democracy bad news – for financial markets
The argument about whether democracy is good for capitalism was settled yesterday – by the financial markets. Any notion that people should have a choice about whether they should shoulder the burden of the global crisis was put to rest.
Crisis in the cathedral
The resignation of the dean of St Paul’s over the occupation outside his front door tells us a great deal about the deepening ideological crisis inside the establishment and the fragility of its institutions.
US rushes to shore up Gulf
President Obama’s announcement to bring home America’s remaining troops from Iraq has apparently fulfilled his promise to end the occupation and war. But Washington is busily reorganising its most reactionary allies in the region to fill any power vacuum.
Labour backs Tories to criminalise squatting
When 90% of those responding to a consultation on new anti-squatting laws say changes aren’t needed, what does the ConDem government do? Rush through new legislation that makes squatting a criminal offence for the first time, of course.
Give a warm welcome to the 7 billionth human
The 7-billionth human, who will be born in the next few days, may get a warm welcome from its family, but there are plenty around who see its arrival as a disaster.
EU leaders delude themselves
Driven to the brink of mental breakdown by the rapidly deepening crisis, European leaders last night agreed on an attempt at self-delusional trickery.
Hedge fund raises spectre of 1933 as 'mobs' gather at bankers' doors
The irresistible force of the global economic and financial crisis is outstripping attempts by Europe’s governments to agree on a plans for tackling the continent’s debt mountain.
The crisis behind the Tory revolt
When more than a quarter of a governing party’s MPs defy instructions and vote against their own prime minister, you sense the political storm clouds are gathering over Westminster.
Arab Spring's first election
“Whatever happens next, I feel like now I exist”, said one man in Tunisia, just after voting. And, indeed, Sunday’s elections in the small country that sparked off the Arab awakening of 2011 have seen an amazing enthusiasm from people, young and old.
Spare us the hypocrisy over Gaddafi
The brutal and sorry end of the Gaddafi era in Libya has brought the expected, sickening outpouring of faked concern in Washington, London and Paris for building democracy in that country and a rewriting of history to suit Nato. Spare us the hypocrisy.
State violence at Dale Farm
The reality is that the state does not hesitate to use violence, undercover agents, bugging, provocations, and other ruthless and illegal methods to enforce the rule of the few over the many and to selectively defend the laws of private property and state power as and when it chooses.
Rating agencies tighten the screw
Moody’s has joined other credit rating agencies in downgrading its assessments for France and Spain when it comes to repaying loans. What logic is unfolding here?
Getting from A to B
A key discussion taking place within the global occupation movement is what kind of “demands” (if any) should be made and who they should be addressed to (if anyone). This conundrum gets to the heart of the matter.
System is 'unsustainable', says Occupy LSX
“This is what democracy looks like,” says the first statement agreed by the mass assembly of 500 held yesterday outside St Paul’s Cathedral in the City of London.
October 15 global voice of the people day
The contrast couldn’t be more stark. Finance ministers in grey suits in Paris trying desperately to save the system while ordinary people in nearly 900 cites in 78 countries take to the streets tomorrow to demand change.
Menace of deep water Shetland oil project
Environmental organisations have joined forces to plead with environment secretary Chris Huhne not to give BP the chance to repeat the oil giant’s disastrous mistakes, by allowing expansion in deep water west of Shetland, in the sea area known as North Uist.
End the rule of the 1% as economy implodes
The force of the global economic implosion, which has seen unemployment skyrocket to a 17-year high in the UK, overwhelmed its first eurozone government last night. It is unlikely to be the last.
Out of work? Cameron has just the job for you
As the dole queue lengthens and living standards fall faster than at any time since the 1930s, you’ll be pleased to know that there is work there for all who want it in a planned new government agency.
Egypt's military provokes sectarian clashes
Tensions between Christians and Muslims are being stoked up by Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces in the run-up to parliamentary elections in November and January. Senior army figures are determined to cling to power whichever way they can.
Scots political elite united – against working people
As the political élite in Scotland focus on wrangling over the future of the union with England, they are united on one thing – the need to impose the full burden of the crisis on people already struggling with low pay, part-time work and fuel poverty.
Room at the top
The empty rhetoric that was David Cameron’s speech to the Tory Party conference speaks volumes about the dire state of the governing political class in Britain (and elsewhere) just as the global economy heads for the cliff.
Capitalism - guilty as charged!
It is rare enough for anyone on the voice-of-the-establishment BBC to even mention the ‘C’ word let alone devote a whole programme to it. Even rarer then for it to broadcast a two-parter entitled “Capitalism on Trial”.
Market destroying state education
Coalition measures to encourage the creation of more academies and “free schools” are creating a market for learning, destroying at a stroke the right of all children to a decent state education.
Food production for profit and climate change
Capitalism has succeeded in replacing the virtuous circle of growth and fertilisation, which is the unalterable premise of agriculture, with a vicious cycle of degradation.
Profiting from the sick and disabled
Disabled people and their supporters taking part in today’s nationwide action against the company enforcing government benefit cuts have asked doctors and nurses organisations to end their relationship with Atos Healthcare.
Tea with Mussolini
Some media commentators have suggested that Ed Miliband’s speech to the Labour conference marked a clear break from the politics of the last 30 years and as such deserves support.
Making a killing at our expense
As the European Union struggles to hold together, riven with differences over impending bail-outs to save the euro (while ejecting Greece), others are moving in for the kill.
'New Bargain' leaves us with a one-party state
New New Labour (NNL) has not only confirmed that in essence it is indistinguishable from the other mainstream parties but that also the present form of what passes for politics in Britain is well past its use by date.
Statehood bid opposed by Palestinian activists
Key Palestinian organisations have united to denounce the attempt by president Mahmoud Abbas and his supporters to achieve a chair at the United Nations for a so-called Palestinian state.
The capitalist leopard cannot change its spots
The dreaded “C” word is making its reappearance as commentators and economists alike openly question whether it’s capitalism as a system that’s in the mire rather than merely the banks or the euro.
New Labour's devastating legacy
Take one struggling NHS Trust, add in an exorbitant build-and-maintain private contract – all this is New Labour’s handiwork – and the result is a financial disaster containing a threat to patient care.
Delusional IMF in the dark
Confusion and disarray is apparent in every national and global capitalist institution – and nowhere more so than in the corridors of the International Monetary Fund. Despite access to confidential data, they don’t really have a clue as to what’s going on.
A post postmodern world
The crosscurrents that flow in the world of style are usually at least one remove from the humdrum daily lives of millions of people. Which is why fashion and celebrity have such a grip on the imagination.
Paying for energy profits in disease and death
The descent of the energy production industry into 19th century activities such as “fracking”, which was last tried in Scotland 150 years ago, and marginal drift mining show that capitalism cannot safely tackle the growing energy crisis
Pension strikers should go beyond resistance
Whatever the Murdoch press may say ("Union leaders are off their heads" – The Sun) it is pressure from members, rather than the not-so-steely resolve of union bosses, that forced the TUC to act over pensions.
Panic as new meltdown looms
On the eve of the third anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers – the investment bank which became the icon of the crash of 2007/8 – the world’s financial markets are once again in a febrile state little short of panic.
Miliband takes union cash – and does a runner
In the summer of 2010, some union leaders met together and decided that they could buy their way to happiness by backing Ed Miliband’s campaign to become the new leader of the Labour Party.
Laughing all the way to the bank
It’s hard to know what is more irrelevant – the report of the Independent Commission on Banking or Ed Miliband’s call for a code of conduct which will allow bankers to be struck off in the same way as doctors.
'A blank cheque for America's war state'
Ceremonies that will mark Sunday’s 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks cannot disguise the fact that the dead have been cruelly misused to justify building a militarised, surveillance state that is a greater threat to Americans than Al-Qaeda will ever be.
Punish the poor 1930s style back with a vengeance
Fake data claiming that the majority of those who took part in the recent riots had previous records is behind the government’s plans for a new, punitive regime.
'Go time' has arrived
The sudden appearance of the global contraction over the summer is inducing a state of chaos amongst the governments of the world’s major economies.
Unison fiddles while health service burns
A 1,000 amendments later and the health bill that returns to Parliament today still contains the plan to deepen market penetration and competition in the NHS, building on the previous New Labour government’s handiwork.
Torture exposes West's hollow claims about democracy
The indictment gets longer. Still wanted over the illegal invasion of Iraq, former prime minister Blair could be open to prosecution over New Labour’s secret collaboration with the Gaddafi regime, leading international lawyer Philippe Sands has suggested.
'Grow or die' measure heads south
The purchasing managers indexes are key “grow-or-die” measures of the health of the capitalist economy. They show that it is in serious trouble.
Chile joins year of 'global indignation'
The political temperature continues to rise in Chile since last week’s killing of 16-year-old high school student Manuel Gutiérrez in the capital Santiago.
Housing crisis is market failure
In a league table of capitalist market failures, housing comes pretty near the top. The market’s distortions and extremes are so enormous that it is heading for its own internal collapse.
Essex council set for ethnic cleansing at Dale Farm
Tensions are mounting as the August 31 deadline for the forced eviction of up to 400 Travelling people from their homes in Basildon, Essex draws near. Campaigners are appealing for a mass attendance at Camp Constant from tomorrow.
The state tools up for confrontation
The summonsing of social networks Facebook, Twitter and the Blackberry messenger service to the Home Office in London today is part of a growing crackdown by the state in the wake of the riots in a number of English cities.
Nato-sponsored regime change
The jubilation of the anti-Gaddafi dictatorship fighters who have entered Tripoli is tempered by the fact that what is taking place is effectively a Nato-facilitated regime change in Libya.
Challenge the hate-filled state
The low level of debate at the emergency recall of Parliament underlines the yawning gulf between rulers and ruled, and the establishment’s poisonous hatred for working class youth.
The real looters
The coalition government has placed an emergency army battalion on standby and is considering authorising the use of water cannon and tear gas to quell disorder and looting around the country.
The story of a riot foretold
Riots across London are a result of rising anger against the corrupt and repressive Metropolitan Police, and against the poverty and unemployment hitting the poorest first.
Jailed for protesting against Big Oil
An oil contracts auction is so important, so very essential to the continuing smooth functioning of the world's most profitable industry, that it must be protected from any kind of disruption or underhand dealing, even to the extent of jail sentences.
It's the system, stupid
A sketchy deal on spending cuts which allow the US debt ceiling to be raised is no more than an acknowledgement that law-makers in even the world’s largest national economy can make little if any impact on the deepening crisis.
Met 'institutionally corrupt' says ex-spy
It’s a plum number: £260,000 a year salary, Thames-side flat, luxury car complete with chauffeur and a bullet-proof pension. And there’s a vacancy if you feel like applying.
Arab Spring meets Jewish Summer
The rhythmic Hebrew slogans used at many of the protests are strikingly similar to punchy Arabic lines that have reverberated throughout the Middle East since January: "Ha'am doresh / tzedek chevrati" ["The people demand social justice"], one observer noted.
12 weeks to pensions showdown
The pensions confrontation clock is counting down. Twelve weeks from now, at the end of October, the leaders of the trade union movement will either have to put up or shut up in the wake of yesterday’s provocation by the ConDem government.
Ethiopia evicts farmers as starvation grows
The Ethiopian government is evicting up to 90,000 of its own people from their land to lease to foreign investors to grow crops for export. And they are doing this at a time when 4.5 million Ethiopians in the south-east of the country face starvation.
Time runs out for Obama and the constitution
The irresistible march of economic and financial events undermines legal and constitutional structures, weakens bureaucratic constraints, exposes weak and divided political leadership and transforms long-established relations between people and states.
The cruelty of stardom
Singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse’s death at the age of just 27 has robbed the music world of a special talent.
Norway attack warning for us all
The killing spree in Norway was not a one-off attack by an “evil madman” but a conscious act of terrorism that will reverberate around Europe as the continent’s growing social crisis unfolds.
Greece is the first domino to fall
The global debt crisis has claimed its first sovereign state victim in the shape of Greece, which has effectively defaulted on its international loans. It won’t be the only country to suffer this fate or its population the last to feel its social impact.
Famine is not made in Africa
Millions have watched in horror the TV pictures of the famine in Africa. Over 11 million people in the Horn of Africa – Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and parts of Uganda – face starvation, according to the United Nations.
System overload brings meltdown closer
Screaming headlines and scary language convey the immediacy of a renewed economic collapse as financial markets demand political solutions to a runaway debt crisis on both sides of the Atlantic.
When the sky was the limit for Murdoch
While the attention of most people was focused on the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003, legislation was making its way through Parliament that would open up media ownership and create the conditions for Rupert Murdoch’s empire to flourish in Britain.
Crisis at the top out of hand
A fully-blown constitutional crisis is emerging within the British state, with the country’s top policeman challenging the authority of the prime minister who himself is connected to phone hacking through his former press secretary.
The political system is part of the problem not the solution
The somewhat contrived outrage by politicians of all parties over the hacking of phones by the News of the World should not blind us to the permanently changed relationship between Parliament and corporations that goes well beyond Murdoch’s News Corp.
Foul play in the name of profit
There are few sports left where rampant commercialism and profit making is not the driving force at the top level.
Second wave of the crisis reaches land
In pursuing what the prevailing law defines as their perfectly legitimate individual interests, investors are collectively destroying the universe within which they – and we all – live. As agents of the capitalist way of doing things they have no alternative.
How New Labour sat on its hands over Murdoch
Although former prime minister Gordon Brown is rightly upset about the underhand not to say criminal methods used by the Murdoch press to obtain sensitive medical details about his son, the fact remains that New Labour did nothing to upset the applecart while they were in power.
The emperors have lost their clothes
Nick Clegg’s statement that "the pillars of the British establishment are tumbling one after the other," should be taken seriously. The question is why now? What is driving the break-up of the institutions that rule Britain? And what follows?
Media is the message
Lest anyone gets too excited about the impending closure of the News of the World in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal, it’s as well to remember the role and power of the media in society.
Hacking shows state's corrupt underbelly
The News of the World phone-hacking scandal shines a spotlight on the sinister side of the tabloid media, the police and Parliament at a time when these institutions are already in crisis and increasingly discredited.
Egypt's military regime is challenged
The 25th of January revolution in Egypt that swept Mubarak from power after 30 years vented simmering social, political and economic pressures which had been building for a long while.
Coalition wants 'National Wealth Service' not NHS
The story of 12-year-old Chloe McGarry in Harwich, East Anglia shows the harsh realities that many face when they seek health care.
ConDems will stand or fall over pensions
The largest and most powerful strike for a quarter of a century, in defence of public sector pensions, must lead to a movement to bring down the ConDem government or it will have no chance of success.
Pension funds in global farmland grab
Public sector pensions from across the globe are helping to drive up food prices by buying up farmland in poor countries as investments. And at least one local government pension fund in Britain is reportedly considering a similar move.
Crisis is all pain and no gain for workers
The crisis in Greece, which comes to a head today with the vote in parliament to impose further massive cuts, also marks four years since the mother of all financial bubbles burst.
Real democracy on the march
In a bold and inspired move, Spain’s Real Democracy Now! movement is taking the struggle to towns and villages throughout the country, so that the issues they have raised can be presented and developed by many more people.
Liberal imperialism rears its ugly head over Libya
Scratch a liberal and you’ll find just about any political disease you care to name. Just look at the Lib Dems’ contribution to the reactionary coalition. Or just read The Observer’s call for Nato to “up its game and finish what it started in Libya”.
General strike is a defining moment
Union leaders threatening sustained and co-ordinated action if there is no agreement with the government on pensions, intend to use what would amount to a general strike simply as a negotiating ploy. That is a serious, fatal miscalculation.
Rains expose China's crisis of ecology and economy
China's three-year drought has ended dramatically with torrential rains that have caused widespread flooding with a million people forced from their homes. The rains have also intensified the problems with the notorious Three Gorges dam project.
A dictatorship of capital in the home of democracy
The global “psychological operation”, aka psyops, that helped to secure last night’s vote of confidence in the Greek parliament for the hastily reorganised Pasok cabinet is a clear expression in its historical birthplace of the negation of democracy.
Militarism comes to Obama's America
President Eisenhower, the general who led the D-Day operation in 1944, famously warned Americans in 1961 of the threat to democracy from an emerging “military-industrial complex”. He’d be astonished at what’s going on 50 years later, where a new kind of complex has a seat at the top table.
In memory of Brian Haw
A World to Win salutes the uncompromising determination of Brian Haw, who became a symbol, not only for the anti-war movement, but for the basic democratic right to demonstrate and protest. His death from cancer at only 62 robs us of an unbending voice and symbol of resistance to the state.
How we can defend pensions
There is a common thread between the upcoming strikes in defence of public sector pensions in Britain and the slow-motion car crash that is Greek political economy. In both countries, the state is saying it can’t pay, won’t pay.
Rain forest activists put their lives on the line
The survival of the world's eco-system is tied to the survival of rain forests, but those fighting to protect them are being systematically slaughtered. Everyone working to defend the Amazon from illegal activities knows their lives are in danger.
Greece edges closer to the brink
Greece is closer than ever before to social breakdown as the Pasok “socialist” government struggles to force through yet more austerity measures demanded by lenders, including the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
A one-party state for the rich
Shocked or surprised at Ed Miliband equating those struggling on benefits in the absence of jobs at decent wages with bankers and executives whose salaries resemble telephone numbers? You shouldn’t be.
The 'enemy within' has a new face
With official opposition to the government’s policies virtually non-existent, the only significant criticism of the Coalition is coming from areas of the establishment usually seen as traditional supporters.
Power vacuum in Yemen's 'endless revolution'
Inspired by the ousting of dictators in Tunisia and Egypt, people have massed on the streets of Yemen since February in their “Endless Revolution”. They have defied government forces, including plain-clothes thugs acting for the regime, despite the martyrdom of at least 350 protesters.
Market mechanisms for nature lead to disaster
Instead of being subtitled "securing the value of nature", the government's new environment White Paper should be called "securing profits from nature".
Eat or heat - the choice facing millions
As energy and food prices soar, jobs and services disappear and incomes are cut it amounts to the worst assault on living standards in living memory.
Gated intellectual community for the rich
Philosopher A.C. Grayling’s justification for setting up a super-elite academy charging students £18,000 a year is a wretched example of a thinker who can no longer tell up from down.
Market and capitalism go hand in hand
Bit of a shock to the system when I read a press release from the Trades Union Congress this morning that attacks “the embrace of market capitalism by successive governments”.
Beyond the 'democratic transition'
The Egyptian revolution that overthrew the Mubarak dictatorship in January also created the conditions for uniting the masses of North Africa and the Middle East with the new movements that have emerged, particularly in southern Europe, against a common enemy.
Ecosystems under attack
A groundbreaking assessment shows that the Britain’s undervalued ecosystem has been damaged by 50 years of intensive agriculture, reckless consumption, waste and the drive for profit.
No going back to Bedlam
Grace, a 92-year-old lady chained herself to the railings in Llandeilo, a small West Wales town, last Friday in protest at the closure of her lifeline day club – one of five shut down by Carmarthenshire County Council.
Older people victims of a market failure
The threatened collapse of Southern Cross, Britain’s biggest care home company, is the latest episode in a crisis that leaves up to a million older people without support, or with care that is often of appallingly poor quality.
Reclaim democracy now!
Just because global elites are always harping on about “democracy”, claiming it as the ideal political system, doesn’t mean that we abstain from the question. The challenge is to fight for a more advanced democracy than society has achieved so far.
No local democracy on nuclear issues
The government has given the go-ahead for Augean Plc to dump nuclear contaminated waste in an ordinary landfill site outside the village of Kings Cliffe near Peterborough, despite massive local opposition.
Obama's spending cuts target the poor
While President Obama is enjoying his European tour, which is essentially a PR trip to boost his chances of re-election next year, his administration is preparing to bear down hard on the most vulnerable in a bid to cut the country’s soaring national debt.
Power is not a dirty word
The occupation of Puerta del Sol in Madrid and actions in other Spanish cities organised by the Real Democracy Now/M-15 movement, openly challenges the country’s economic and status quo.
Obama's warning to Israel falls on deaf ears
President Obama’s latest speeches on Palestine, like his visit to Ireland and to London, are arousing a whole range of emotions and reactions.
Madrid echoes the spirit of Tahrir Square
The Real Democracy Now movement that has sprung up across Spain, with a main square in Madrid under occupation since Sunday, is a key moment in the developing global struggle against the failure of the political and economic status quo.
Peak extraction of minerals spells disaster
Environmental damage and increased global warming are the direct result of a poisonous combination of commodity speculation, reckless overproduction and failing to recycle.
How an IT programme became a licence to print money
Connecting for Health, the £12 billion national IT programme for the NHS launched in 2002, is in serious trouble according to the National Audit Office, and mighty have to be scrapped.
Brown's short-term memory
So Gordon Brown is warning that the “world needs to act in concert” to avoid a re-run of the 2008 collapse of the financial system that, you may recall, happened on his watch.
IMF turmoil adds to sense of crisis
At another time, the fate of the head of the International Monetary Fund would not have mattered too much. But photos of Dominque Strauss-Kahn being led away in handcuffs by New York police have unsettled global markets.
Coalition’s class war challenge
The next wave of the Coalition’s attack on the living standards of trade unionists was launched this week by cabinet ministers. The unashamed aim is to redistribute wealth to a raft of private employers. It is class war with a vengeance.
Renew politics to get renewable energy
Japan says it is to abandon plans for 14 new nuclear power stations and instead focus on renewable energy. In the wake of the catastrophe at the Fukushima Daiichi power plants, the government had little choice but to call a halt.
The great contraction
Signs of a great contraction of the global economy are appearing throughout the world, pushing aside any lingering notions of the return to growth that capitalism requires.
A climate of suppression
Pre-emptive policing aimed at suppressing dissent and frightening people so that they will think twice about taking part in protests, is fast becoming the norm in a Britain more unequal and divided than ever before.
The Palestinian street has spoken
Perhaps the most serious evidence that the reconciliation agreement signed last week in Cairo by Fatah and Hamas, the two main Palestinian organisations, upsets the global status quo is the chorus of denunciation by Israeli leaders.
The break-up of old politics
With or without the alternative vote system, the long-term break up of traditional party allegiances is confirmed by yesterday’s national and council elections. Last year’s general election stalemate may well prove the rule not the exception.
Peak oil is passed as renewable targets plummet
Peak oil has passed us by – it happened in 2006 according to Faith Birol, chief economist at the International Energy Agency.
One corporation's power over life and death
Until now the largest and wealthiest commodities trader in the world, notorious for tax avoidance, has managed its murky business in the shadows. But it needs capital to fuel its growth, hence its launch on the London stock market today.
Hang on to your vote on May 5
At last year’s general election, we argued that a vote for any of the major parties would be a wasted vote. Subsequent events proved we were right and on May 5 we again urge people to withhold their vote in the national and council elections and in the referendum.
Blair's 'gratitude' sums it up
The killing of Osama Bin Laden may satisfy America’s lust for revenge but ordinary people have paid a massive price in the hunting down of al-Qaeda’s US-trained leader.
The real price of cost cutting
A scientific report on last year’s ash cloud from the Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption in Iceland shows that air traffic controllers were right to close European airspace despite loud protests from airline leaders.
High stakes for Bolivia's Mother Earth Ministry
The discovery of vast new natural gas deposits in Bolivia’s Chaco region raises the political stakes in the country just as it is about to form a Ministry of Mother Earth to give nature legal rights. Bolivia’s new law seeks to guarantee the right to life and regeneration, biodiversity, water, clean air, balance and restoration.
A message from the Palace
One does not normally speak to my people at this time of the year but in the light of the splendid marriage between my grandson Prince William and Miss Kate Middleton, it is appropriate to convey a few words to what I am sure is a truly grateful nation.
Shale gas will increase emissions
Supported by governments and floating on a raft of dubious claims, shale gas is the new global fossil fuel of choice for the corporations.
Bond markets have the United States in their sights
Assessing the significance of credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s historic decision to downgrade the debt outlook for the USA is complex. But significant it definitely is.
Obama - defender of the status quo
As President Obama starts looking towards a second term in the White House, the realisation is growing among would-be supporters that he is just as much a defender of the status quo as his predecessor, George W. Bush.
Assad in the firing line on the road to Damascus
The turmoil that has been sweeping Syria since January, when demonstrators caught the fever of the Arab spring revolutionary movement, is reaching a climax.
Ai Weiwei's 'guilt' is speaking out
If, as the brutal Chinese police claim, the artist Ai Weiwei is beginning to “confess” to alleged crimes, one can only imagine the horrors he is suffering at the hands of Beijing’s notorious secret police.
Your chance to make history
On this day 50 years ago, the CIA launched its abortive attack on the Cuban revolution with an invasion at the Bay of Pigs.
An epitaph for Bretton Woods
More than 300 economists, policymakers and academics, and a smattering of the politicians who presided over the events leading to the great crash of 2007-8, met up over the weekend at an historic location.
In praise of Yuri Gagarin
When, on this day 50 years ago, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to orbit the earth, it seemed to many observers that the Soviet Union was destined to triumph over – or at least equal – capitalist countries like the United States.
Assemblies taking off
The People’s Assembly Network (PAN) event held in London at the weekend took place against a dramatic background of mass actions against existing authorities from Wisconsin USA, to Tahrir Square in Cairo.
Portugal: another triumph for the bond dealers
As Portugal declares state bankruptcy, after its Socialist Party government failed to get an austerity package through parliament, it’s another triumph for the dictatorship of the money markets and bond dealers.
Radiation sickness is not a myth, George
The nuclear industry exudes confidence when setting out its business plans and tying down government subsidies – but when it all goes wrong it’s as if they never studied or understood the dangers of radiation at all.
It's deeper than tax avoidance
Supporters of UK Uncut, a relative newcomer to the world of protest, in common with millions of others, are justifiably angry about the savagery of the Coalition’s cuts programme. They say the cuts aren’t necessary and that the government is implementing them out of ideological spite.
AV is no miracle cure for broken political system
To listen to the supporters of the Alternative Vote system, you would think that a 'Yes' vote in the May 5 referendum would lead to a miraculous new lease of life for the clapped-out parliamentary democracy we have now.
Breaking out of the logjam
Meetings around the country are discussing where the anti-cuts movement can go from here. Despite the massive turnout, the TUC’s March for the Alternative has not, as everyone knows, stopped a single attack on jobs, services, benefits or grants to the arts.
Big Society's sinister school policing plan
News that the government plans to involve school students in policing their playgrounds and local neighbourhoods confirms the sinister intent behind the so-called Big Society project.
Can capitalism keep the lights on?
The claim that the crisis at the Fukushima power plant is a Japanese problem because they foolishly built nuclear reactors on an earthquake fault is fatally flawed. As climate change brings more and more extreme weather events, there are many other reactors at risk, from inundation by rising sea levels to damage from hurricanes.
Cracks deepen as 'recovery' proves a myth
New figures from the Office for National Statistics confirm what most people know only too well: living standards are falling sharply as a result of the recession. And the Con-Dem Coalition’s budget measures will ensure that things get a whole lot worse.
Colonialism is alive and well
Today’s international conference in London “on the future of Libya” has an unmistakeable colonial ring about it. Put plainly, Britain, France and America are openly plotting the destiny of someone else’s country, which is in the midst of a civil war.
The challenge ahead after March 26
The biggest demonstration by the trade union movement and its supporters for a generation reveals both the depth of feeling against the Coalition government’s cuts and a determination to do what it takes to succeed in this struggle.
The time to move beyond resistance is now!
The right-wing leadership of the TUC sees tomorrow’s anti-cuts march as a one-off protest that merely “sends a message” to a government which has launched the most comprehensive attack on living standards, jobs and services since the 1930s. March 26 is, however, where the fight to bring down the Coalition gets under way in earnest.
Nuclear regulation in Japan 'amiable fiction'
You would think that of all countries, Japan would be cautious about nuclear power. But no, this is capitalism, stupid! Nothing must be permitted to stand in the way of profits, not even the threat of a catastrophic meltdown.
March for a real alternative
Figures published on the eve of the Budget shed more light on an unrelenting global crisis that pays little or no attention to chancellor Osborne, or to his shadow-boxing 'critics' at the Trades Union Congress.
A Parliament of warmongers
Just in case you think the overwhelming Parliamentary majority of 544 for military action against Libya – only 13 MPs voted no – reflects popular opinion, think again. Seldom has the view of the House of Commons been so diametrically at odds with that of the electorate.
Regime change is the real war aim
So Liam Fox, the Coalition’s defence secretary, has let the cat out of the bag. The aim of the air strikes on Libya is to kill Colonel Gaddafi and bring about regime change, whatever the UN Security Council resolution says.
No to military intervention in Libya
Let’s be clear from the outset. Whatever the leaders of Britain, France and the US say, taking military action against Libya is not primarily aimed at protecting civilians. Human rights have never been top of their agenda, as victims of Western foreign policy around the world will testify.
Profits loom larger than cost of human misery
Analysts are at work trying to minimise the damage to the profitability of the capitalist system from the disaster in Japan. Never mind the towns and villages cut off from all contact without access to food or medical supplies or facing radiation poisoning – the bottom line is the priority.
European politics at the cross-roads
A new survey shows that there is a “crisis in European democracy” as faith and trust in politicians plummets to new lows. No surprises there but, equally, an opportunity to create a different future.
Faustian pact with nuclear power
Many have praised the Japanese people’s resilience and preparedness in response to the earthquake and tsunami which has killed thousands of people with many more unaccounted for.
Pensions attack brings tipping point nearer
On both sides of the Atlantic, a massive onslaught is under way with the single purpose of dramatically reducing the share of national wealth going to working and retired people in favour of the rich, powerful elites who own and control the economy.
Earth's early warning system is dying
Scientists working for the United Nations Environmental Programme have identified more than a dozen factors behind the colony collapse affecting bee populations across the world.
Supermarkets cash in as food prices soar
Food price inflation is running at a faster rate in Britain than in the rest of Europe – and supermarkets, which control around three quarters of grocery sales, are accused of driving prices up faster than is justified by rising costs, to protect their profits.
Death by a thousand cuts
When the Coalition announced its spending review, arts writers warned of a new dark age of philistinism that would follow in the wake of government cuts in arts funding. They were right.
Egyptians storm their Bastille
The storming of the headquarters of Egypt’s secret police over the weekend, while soldiers stood by, is another remarkable episode in the country’s unfolding revolution. Once the feared and hated symbol of torture and abuse, the building was seized by thousands of protesters.
Real courage under fire
As WikiLeaks founder Julan Assange works on his appeal in London against extradition to Sweden, Private First Class Bradley Manning will begin another 23 hour day in a 6ft by 12ft cell in the Marine Corp base at Quantico, Virginia. Only Manning now also faces the death penalty.
Climate activists change course
There will be no Camp for Climate Action this year, and leading activists say this is in recognition of the world’s changing economic and political landscape.
King's speech wins Oscar for half-truths
As everyone who buys their own food and fuel knows, price rises are accelerating. Even in the unlikely event that the revolutionary uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa don’t push oil prices even higher, inflation in the UK is shooting past 4% and heading towards double that by the middle of the year.
Miliband also in denial
If Colonel Gaddafi is said to be “delusional”, believing that all Libyans love him when clearly they do not, where does that leave Ed Miliband? At best he is in denial about 13 years of New Labour. At worst he takes no responsibility for his actions and ought to seek help.
Revolution renews itself
The people’s revolution sweeping north Africa and the Middle East has entered a second phase, gathering a momentum of its own in country after country.
Revolt heading your way sometime soon
When the wave of revolutions and resistance reaches Europe from North Africa and the Middle East, as it surely will, what happens in Britain depends on how we prepare for the eventuality.
Palm oil forests good for business, bad for the planet
The Adam Smith Institute has stepped in to the palm oil plantation debate with an astonishing report suggesting that bio-fuels should be welcomed by those concerned about the planet’s future.
'Devil's excrement' has its revenge
The revolutionary upsurge in North Africa and the Middle East is having a direct impact on the global crisis of capitalism.
Welcome to the market state
From welfare to market state is the name of the project that Thatcher began, Blair and Brown continued and Cameron is intent on completing. The words he uses – 'choice', 'diversity' and 'freedom' – seem harmless. But the real purpose is barely disguised.
The point of no return
The anti-government demonstrations sweeping Libya mark a stunning turn of events in the revolutionary upsurge sweeping North Africa and the Middle East. With diplomats defecting and the army split, Muammar Gaddafi’s regime is rocking.
How Cairo connects to Wisconsin and Britain
As people battle tanks and security forces in Bahrain, Libya, Iran and Yemen, and hundreds of thousands gather once more in Tahrir Square in Cairo to “protect the revolution”, you might wonder how this connects with struggles in Britain, the United States and other major capitalist countries.
Climate change will 'overwhelm governments'
Anger over soaring food prices was a major factor in the Egyptian uprising and the United Nations’ top climate official warned this week that without action on climate change, more governments will fall and the danger of military conflict will grow.
Obama's stimulus plans deepen debt crisis
As the political front man for the world’s most powerful capitalist nation, you might expect President Barack Obama to have some degree of control, or at least influence, over the future direction of both US and global economy.
Bigger state no answer to 'Big Society'
David Cameron’s crusade for the 'Big Society' should compel its opponents to question and reconsider the role of the state in our corporate-owned, profit-driven society. Unfortunately, it has done nothing of the kind.
'You Go - We Stay' fits the bill everywhere
The Egyptian revolution continues its unfinished business. Before but especially since Hosni Mubarak was overthrown, a situation of dual power prevails in a country where eight million people – a tenth of the whole population – took part in the mass uprising that broke the back of the dictatorship.
Economic 'growth' a very dirty business
If anyone needed convincing about the direct link between the in-built growth drive of capitalist economy and climate change, they can thank the European Union’s energy chief for clearing up any confusion.
Glasgow occupation leads fight for survival
Students occupying Glasgow University’s Hetherington Research Club building, have called for a mass protest on February 16 to oppose devastating cuts.
Slavery behind the food on your table
In the two years since the global crisis erupted, conditions in Spain for migrant workers from Morocco, West Africa and Eastern Europe that were already appalling have deteriorated further.
Uniting theory and practice
At a recent meeting of students who had come together from a range of occupations against the rise in tuition fees, a proposal about creating People’s Assemblies was described as a “deeply philosophical” question. The remark, which was not made in a derogatory way, was spot on.
Egypt’s unfinished revolution
The future of the Middle East is being fought out in Cairo's Tahrir Square. The Egyptian people’s determined struggle for economic and political freedom against a regime of dictators and torturers goes on.
Dogma gives Marx a bad name
The merit of veteran Financial Times writer and noted economist Samuel Brittan is that he is not a dogmatist. He may not have all the answers when it comes to today’s crisis. But Brittan believes that summoning the writings or reputations of dead economists to back a policy is hopelessly wrong.
A disaster waiting to happen
The Deepwater Horizon disaster was foreseeable and preventable and was a result of systemic failures in the oil and gas industry, according to the White House enquiry into last year’s oil spill.
Uprisings deepen capitalism's crisis
Attempts to solve the global debt crisis have sent food prices soaring, driving impoverished masses onto the streets throughout the Middle East. Now a wave of political revolutions dashes remaining but false hopes of economic “recovery”.
When marching is not enough
The contrast couldn’t be clearer. In Egypt, they gather in hundreds of thousands and strike with the aim of bringing down the Mubarak regime. In Britain, the leadership of the trade unions wants workers to walk through London at the end of March – and then go home.
Students show the way
The first National Assembly for Education has adopted a strategy to broaden and deepen the student movement against cuts and fees, to take it to workers and the population at large and for the development of people’s assemblies.
Egypt's uprising shakes Washington
The prospect of a renewed period of linked revolutionary struggles not seen since the 1989 anti-Stalinist movements in Europe, is taking shape in North Africa. Events are shaking not just regimes like Mubarak’s in Egypt but the calculations of Washington and London too.
Sheridan made an example of
The harsh three-year jail sentence handed to former Scottish Socialist Party leader Tommy Sheridan for perjury involving the reactionary News of the World, contrasts with the six months given to sleazy private detective Glen Mulcaire, who was paid by the same paper to illegally tap phones.
Workers must sacrifice so capitalists can profit
The Governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King has assured us that unemployment will rise and the value of wages will fall as inflation lets rip, leading to the most dramatic assault on living standards since the 1920s.
One solution, one state
The leaked “Palestine Papers” establish beyond any doubt that the Zionist rulers of Israel are not interested in any sort of an agreement, however dramatic the concessions Palestinian negotiators are prepared to make.
The Jasmine Revolution marches on
As the landless poor from rural Tunisia organised in a “freedom caravan” defy curfews and teargas, the movement to drive all of the country’s old leaders from power has assumed a revolutionary momentum which is shaking the Arab world.
What a balls up!
The degree to which Ed Balls, as a key Treasury minister in the last New Labour government, is responsible for the government’s massive budget deficit is subject to argument. But what is not in dispute is Balls’ undying support for the unbridled, unregulated expansion of the financial sector which went down in flames in 2008.
Secret police defend the status quo
The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) is a state-sponsored, privately-owned organisation accountable to no one which has been running its own operations, both high profile and undercover, since the 1980s.
Get ready for another banking crash
The Bank of England’s Paul Tucker pulled no punches on the BBC last night. “When banks take the upside and taxpayers take the downside, something has gone wrong with the very heart of capitalism”, he said.
Healthcare market already worth £29 billion
David Cameron claims the mantle of Tony Blair in defending the Coalition’s plans to impose market-driven changes in the National Health Service. He is absolutely right and that’s why trade union opposition to the government’s plans is reduced to a letter to The Times.
North Africa's own Intifada
Tunisian youth, workers and professional people have drawn a line against corrupt autocracies that is having powerful repercussions from Lebanon to Libya and beyond. It is the first time since 1985 that a mass people’s movement has overthrown a regime in an Arab country.
Manchester's councillors have lost their legitimacy
While Labour was preparing to celebrate retaining its seat in the Oldham bye-election, half an hour down the road in Manchester its councillors were announcing 2,000 redundancies from April. In practice, they are doing the government’s dirty work – with the support of the national party led by Ed Miliband.
Market driving hunger crisis
The world is facing a hunger crisis unlike anything it has seen in more than 50 years. Some 925 million people don’t have enough to eat and almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes each day.
Bank bonuses the symptom not the cause
The sight and sound of Barclays CEO Bob Diamond running rings around a committee of Westminster MPs should bring an end to the ideas that bankers’ bonuses can be controlled, that the financial sector can be regulated, or that the worst excesses of capitalism can be reined in.
The dirty hand of the state exposed
But for the exposure of police agent Mark Kennedy, there is every likelihood that six climate activists would shortly be staring at long prison sentences, framed on conspiracy charges by the state. You can be sure that no one at Scotland Yard would have given a damn.
Tucson shooting and America's crisis
The attempted assassination of US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona, has inescapable links to extreme right-wing vitriol from radio talk shows and the mouthing of populist politicians like Sarah Palin. It marks a new stage in America’s unfolding political crisis.
Pakistan's poor caught in the middle
The political and moral crisis wracking Pakistan in the wake of the assassination of Punjab governor Salman Taseer concentrates all the ills of our 21st century world – but also demonstrates the need for a revolutionary alternative.
A 'system-wide' problem indeed
In the end, of course, it was a question of saving time and, above all, money. Even the official report into the BP gulf oil disaster has been compelled to come to this conclusion.
Attack on living standards intensifies
Share and commodity prices are soaring as speculators endorse the global assault on living standards by corporations and governments.
Your vote counts for very little
News today that Britain’s voting system is said to be “broken” comes as no surprise. What is left unsaid in a report by the Institute for Public Policy Research, however, is that the political system itself is in a state of terminal decline.
Let the sleeping giant speak in 2011
The leaders of the Trades Union Congress are not noted for dramatic statements or exaggerated, let alone rapid, reactions to political change. The TUC’s current general secretary, Brendan Barber, has spent his time in office promoting harmony between social classes and compromise not confrontation.
'False victories won't save the planet'
The Cancun Agreement, hailed by climate secretary Chris Huhne as a “significant turning point”, is in reality a further step down the road to runaway global warming and resulting ecological disaster.
German corporations demand survival of the fittest
The Eurozone is cracking apart as German-based industrial corporations demand the end of support for poorer, peripheral debt-laden countries so that wages can be forced down. In the back rooms of the financial powerhouses the talk is of leaving Portugal, Ireland, Spain and Belgium to collapse, throwing millions into permanent unemployment.
Don't let capitalism off the hook
Embarrassed by the vitality and determination of the student movement against higher tuition fees, some trade union leaders are making militant noises about co-ordinated strike action against the government’s spending cuts. Whether words become deeds is debatable.
The revolution will be digitised
US vice-president Joe Biden has raised the stakes in a global cyber war between those fighting for the right to information about the secret activities of governments and those who protect the warmongering interests of global capital.
Community 'gang-masters' heading your way
Even as local authorities were digesting the destructive impact of the Cameron-Clegg Coalition’s savage assault on their funding, it was revealed that the government is hard at work preparing plans to deal with a sharp downturn in 2011.
Ethiopia drives farmers off their land
It’s Christmas time, and the old favourites are being wheeled out, including Band Aid’s Do they know it’s Christmas, which in 1994 brought together top musicians in response to the terrible famine then raging in Ethiopia. No-one who saw the Michael Buerk’s reports for the BBC will ever forget them.
Time to remove cuts councillors
Absolutely savage cuts in council spending announced by the Coalition yesterday will lead to tens of thousands of jobs losses and the devastation of essential local services. The question is: How can this be stopped?
Student revolt shows state in turmoil
The continuing wave of student protests against increased fees and education cuts is highlighting a deepening crisis within the British state, one that presents opportunities as well as threats.
Parliament as a dead parrot
The events in and around Parliament yesterday represent a watershed – not just for university students but for society at large. Higher education officially became a business and the present political process was shown to have less life in it than a dead parrot.
Boosting carbon markets top priority at Cancún
As the Cancún climate talks stumble along, it should be no surprise to anyone to learn from Wikileaks that the United States and the European Union used pressure and bribery to bully smaller nations into signing up to the Copenhagen Accords.
Irish budget won't stop the rot
The Irish Parliament’s vote to implement a further, more savage €6 billion programme of spending cuts and tax increases has done nothing to stop the worsening debt crisis transforming the political landscape throughout Europe and beyond.
Desert horror for asylum seekers
There has been a hullabaloo about the shark attack on a German tourist in the luxury Egyptian resort of Sharm el Sheikh, on the southern tip of the Sinai peninsula. But the continuing plight of a group of Eritrean refugees held prisoner in the Sinai desert, has received little attention, despite the killing of three hostages on November 28.
Corporate complicity in crimes against Palestinians
Corporations play a decisive role in enabling Israel to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity like destroying Palestinian homes.
'Carrying out orders' is no defence for Labour councillors
Local councils in England will shortly get the news they’ve dreaded hearing ever since George Osborne announced his massive cuts package last month – details of the reduced funding they will get from Whitehall for 2011-12.
Cancún farce puts the world at risk
Government officials meeting in Cancún, Mexico, have begun the annual round of delay and betrayal that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) has become.
The contagion of revolt
Protests by students and teachers throughout Europe are mounting as governments try to offset savage reductions in education budgets with increased fees in the losing race to prevent state bankruptcy.
The truth behind secret diplomacy
For all Washington’s outrage at Wikileak’s publication of hundreds of thousands of hitherto secret diplomatic cables from America’s embassies around the world, they confirm much that was already known.
Resistance must go beyond opposition
The question of how to stop the Con-Dem government’s programme of cuts lay on the table, but remained unresolved at the massively attended Coalition of Resistance conference in London on Saturday.
Game over as the Met's mask slips
Just in case any student still thinks that the police’s role ought to be to facilitate protests and demonstrations, the commissioner of the Met, Sir Paul Stephenson, has put them right. As they showed in London on Wednesday, the police as a state force have other loyalties.
The 'nether world' of capitalism
The propaganda that accompanies the cutting, slashing and burning of government spending is all about “securing the fragile recovery”. It is used in every country from Iceland, Greece, Ireland, Spain, to the US and Britain – to justify what in effect adds up to crashing the economy.
A new Irish sovereignty
“Instead of drums and trumpets, our little apocalypse was played out against the background noise of the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance murmuring evasive and mechanical denials.”
Miliband's New Labour Mark II
There are some in and around the Labour Party who believe – or perhaps imagine – that the election of Ed Miliband opens up the prospect of a qualitative break from the Blair-Brown years. After reading his first major interview as party leader, you have to say they couldn’t be further from the truth.
Ireland and Britain in the same boat
You would be wrong if you thought that Ireland’s banking and budget crisis that has all but overwhelmed the country’s government, couldn’t repeat itself in Britain. In fact, the two countries’ fates are inextricably linked.
Extreme weather is all about climate change
This week serious floods in Cornwall, and in September, floods in Ayrshire and Aberdeenshire. Last year, unprecedented rains and flooding in Cumbria; in 2008 Wales and the Midlands; in 2007 Humber, Yorkshire and Gloucestershire and in 2006, Norfolk and Suffolk. Extreme rain and flooding are becoming more frequent events in the UK.
Royal wedding cannot hide suffering in Wales
It can’t be a coincidence that the announcement of the engagement of Prince William – “Baby Wales” as his mother called him - to Kate Middleton, after a ten-year relationship, is made on the day before the Wales Assembly Government reveals its budget cuts.
Haitian people fighting back
Haiti is usually depicted as the archetypal impoverished underdog – never as a fighting republic with a proud revolutionary history. Earthquakes and disease make the news but not the self-organisation of the Haitian people and their struggle for political independence.
The state prepares for a showdown
Rank-and-file students and their national leaders are travelling in opposite directions. At college and university level, students are preparing for further action against soaring tuition fees. At national level, the Labour-led leadership of the National Union of Students is heading for the hills.
Students come up against a political brick wall
The explosion of anger on London’s streets yesterday was not confined just to the students who attacked the Tory Party HQ. It was also expressed in the fact that unexpectedly vast numbers of students and lecturers turned out to demonstrate against soaring tuition fees and education cuts.
Sinister attack on unemployed
Hundreds of thousands of workers in Washington State, among the eight million who have lost their jobs in the US since the recession, are now receiving letters warning them that their unemployment benefits could run out much earlier than they expected.
No time for burying heads in the sand
Political innocence is one thing. But desperately hanging on to a blinkered point of view in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary is altogether more dangerous.
Making university education free for all
The Coalition’s drive to turn university education into a market-driven business in place of a state-supported system has resulted in an unprecedented alliance of students and lecturers. If the aim, however, is restricted to pressure on the government, the alliance will flounder on the rocks of reality.
Plundering the planet
The battle for the planet’s dwindling resources has taken a further trade war twist with China placing limits on the export of the 17 chemical elements collectively known as “rare earths”.
America's crisis takes a turn for the worse
The sharp swing against the Democratic Party in the US mid-term elections will inevitably deepen a political crisis in Washington which centres on the inability of the state to halt the historic decline of the American economy.
Spooks muscle in
The result of the toner cartridge bomb plot, as with all such individual acts of terrorism, will be to further strengthen, rather than weaken, the anti-democratic arm of the state to use against its own citizens.
Corporate tax scams you may have missed
Protests outside Vodafone shops at the weekend amid claims that the mobile phone company had been let off most of a £6 billion tax bill, highlight the fact that the major corporations ultimately call the shots at the expense of the ordinary taxpayer.
High stakes in firefighters’ strike
Firefighter union leaders Mick Shaw and Ian Leahair called for the support of other trade unions and the entire labour movement at a meeting called by the South East Region of the TUC.
Capitalism feeding off hunger
A capitalist perfect storm has ended all progress in reducing world hunger, and one billion people are now undernourished, a sizable increase from its 2006 estimate of 854 million people. In every country, prices are soaring, including in the UK where food prices have risen by 22% in the last three years.
Race to the bottom
Ireland’s already severe economic troubles just got a whole lot worse.
TUC's shameful betrayal
The Trades Union Congress decision, to hold a national demonstration against the spending cuts to take place over five months after they were announced and on the eve of their implementation, is shameful.
The cost of losing nature
The annual cost of global damage to the natural environment has been put at $4,500 billion. This is greater than the annual cost of coping with the financial crisis, according to a European Commission-backed study group.
Time to end the profit system
The Lib-Con Coalition government’s Spending Review is an attempt to rescue an already bankrupt economy. With £81bn cuts in public spending, it is the biggest and most sustained assault on the public sector since the creation of the welfare state sixty years ago.
All bark and no bite
There was dismay and anger amongst the several thousand trade union members who crowded Westminster Central Hall; some including a large number from the prison officers union, couldn’t get in to the TUC’s anti-cuts rally. People had travelled from Lancashire, Devon, Cornwall, Northamptonshire and around London to take part in the protest meeting and lobby of MPs.
Sarkozy forms crisis cabinet while unions dither
As oil refineries and public transport depots are blocked, petrol stations run dry and young people riot in the Paris suburbs, political tensions are rising in France. The unrest will climax today in demonstrations throughout the country intended to influence Wednesday’s vote in the country’s Senate.
Firefighters' union fights for its future
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU), which has consistently fought to defend the wages and conditions of its members, is about to engage in a momentous struggle in London that could well determine its very future as an organisation. So much is at stake that the FBU needs all the practical and active support it can muster from other unions.
For the TUC and Miliband, resistance is futile
As the coalition puts the finishing touches to next week’s budget cuts, which are certain to devastate services and jobs, you might wonder what the trade union leadership and the Labour Party are up to. Keeping their heads down, is the answer.
Market leaves planet on life support
Yet another report highlights an unprecedented species collapse, with the worst outcomes in tropical areas. It is the only latest in a series of warnings about the dire state of the planet.
Missing the point about 'growth'
The consequences of the sudden eruption of global crisis in 2007-8 took many by surprise. Amongst those struggling to incorporate these dramatic changes into their overly fatalistic views are the growing number of people concerned about the depletion of resources and changes in climate.
A mortgage for a degree
Introducing a free market in tuition fees that universities in England can charge students, together with the coalition’s planned spending cuts, will undermine the last vestiges of state-funded higher education.
Shocking differences within society are revealed in the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s first ever report into fairness in Britain. And the future looks serious, with the report warning that “the current economic and social crises threaten to widen some equality gaps”.
The great pensions robbery
Public sector workers should pay more and retire later on smaller pensions, according to former New Labour minister Lord Hutton. His proposals form part of the continuing pensions rip-off by both the state and the private sector that condemns millions to hardship in older age.
Climate negotiations are a con-trick
Suggested targets for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions are almost a third below what are needed to avoid dangerous climate change, according to a report from the World Wildlife Fund. That’s the reality facing the planet, as negotiators at the latest round of UN climate talks in Tianjin, China, wrangle over even these inadequate proposals.
International currency war under way
The Bank of Japan’s decision yesterday to further reduce its close to zero interest rate looks suspiciously like one of the opening shots in an exchange rate war that will intensify the problems besieging the already weakened major economies.
Tea Party brews up a political crisis
Only in America could a woman like Christine O’Donnell become, in the words of New York Times columnist Frank Rich, “the brightest all-American media meteor since Balloon Boy”.
Capitalism's crisis dictates the cuts
As the coalition begins to unveil its public spending cuts, the muddle-headed idea that they are simply “ideologically driven” remains fashionable, especially among those who think protest will produce a government U-turn.
The continuing tragedy in Haiti
Haitians are no strangers to natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods but January's earthquake was much more terrible in its destructiveness. Yet why, after all the pious promises in the wake of the calamity, is desperately needed aid not reaching the people of Haiti?
Species loss gathers pace while the world watches
While the earth’s interconnected and interdependent eco-system faces an existential crisis, a high-level UN conference on bio-diversity taking place in Japan is set to take no action whatsoever to achieve goals set as far back as 1993.
Crank up the printing machine
Adam Posen, an expert advisor to the US Congress and an influential member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee, is urging governments on both sides of the Atlantic to print more money to rescue the economy from impending disaster.
America's 'enemies within' number millions
“Imagine being among several hundred million people who wake up each day having to prove they are not a ‘terrorist’ by whatever arbitrary means the government has decided to both define the terms of such a crime.”
A victory for instability
Perhaps the most telling statistic in the Labour leadership election was the abysmal turn-out in the trade union section of the electoral college. At 9%, it was lower than during the ballot for the party’s deputy leadership held in 2007.
Delhi becoming an 'apartheid city'
If the hit film Slumdog Millionaire showed the extreme contrast between the dispossessed of Mumbai and the city’s rich, the saga of the 2010 Commonwealth Games is doing the same for Delhi and the country’s political system.
Markets bleeding Ireland dry
“International investors”, better known as the hedge funds and other financiers who gamble and speculate with other people’s money, are queuing up to turn the screws hard on the beleaguered Irish government.
Swedish election marks end of an era
In a shocked reaction, thousands of people have taken to the streets of Stockholm and Gothenburg to protest against the electoral gains of the far-right Sweden Democrats party in the country’s general election. The party, headed by 31-old Jimmie Akeson, won 5.7% of the votes, giving them a parliamentary foothold of 20 seats.
Worthless pledges as starvation grows
There is nothing like a display of commitment by world leaders to reduce global poverty and hunger to turn the stomach. This is just to forewarn you that there’s another gathering taking place in New York this week.
Divine intervention noticeable by its absence
Pope Benedict XVI’s outrageous attack on "atheist extremism" and "aggressive secularism" in Britain has the virtue of providing clear alternatives. We can either shape our own destiny or, as the Vatican and other religions desire, leave our future to divine intervention.
Corporations make oil a dirty business
Russia and Norway have signed a deal carving up the Arctic Ocean bed, opening the way for a new oil boom. All of this is certain to lead to more spills, pollution and the further destruction of marine and coastal environments.
Too big to regulate
Two years after the global financial system imploded, the world’s central banks and regulators have agreed a set of measures intended to prevent a repeat performance. There are, however, more than just a few flies in the ointment.
Biting back against God's Rottweiler
The Pope’s visit to Britain, costing the taxpayer up to £20m, is stirring up a whirlwind of protest. Lest anyone thinks this is a storm in a tea cup, it would be wise to look at the man and the crisis-ridden institution he represents.
TUC faces both ways as crisis looms
That the Trades Union Congress (TUC) is even talking about taking action against the Con-Lib government’s planned spending cuts reflects the deep anger of public sector workers and their willingness to fight back. Most union leaders, however, clearly want to avoid a confrontation with the coalition.
Breaking out of the circle
“We are alarmed to be informed that, despite earlier agreements with the Police and Birmingham City Council, West Midlands Police are attempting to stop the trade union demonstration against public service cuts from marching past the Conservative Party conference at the International Convention Centre on Sunday 3rd October... "
Well they cut everything because why not
The post of poet laureate, at least in Britain, is sometimes a source of derision, as she or he is expected to compose verses in praise of the establishment. But the latest recipient of this honour in the United States may be one to break this mould.
God’s banker appointed to Cabinet
UK Prime Minister David Cameron has ended his search for a new cabinet minister responsible for increasing British exports and attracting foreign investment. He will ennoble HSBC chair Stephen Green to ease his entry into government.
Transport workers break the mantra
At last – a group of workers have broken through the mantra of There Is No Alternative, pumped out by the government and the mass media.
Uncovering the “dark arts”
It has taken an American newspaper, the New York Times, to ferret out the corrupt relationship between Scotland Yard and the Murdoch-owned media empire.
650,000 words later...
In the four years since A World to Win launched its weekday news blog, we have written over 1,000 of them – that is somewhere in the region of 650,000 words! Now the blog team is going on annual holiday.
Pakistan's misery made worse by political failure
The Pakistan floods underline the impossibility of dealing separately with the three interconnected and interdependent ecological, financial and political crises now affecting every country.
A price to pay for China's leap forward
The continued expansion of China’s economy has enabled it to become the world’s second largest generator of new value, overtaking Japan. If current trends continue it would overtake the United States by 2020. But the strains – social and political – are taking their toll
The disaster that is the 'war on drugs'
When the outgoing president of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), Sir Ian Gilmore, calls for an end to the state’s prohibition of drug use, acknowledging that the policy has failed abysmally, you can guess what the official reaction will be.
Petraeus deepens Obama's problems
Only a month after taking charge of US troops in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, commander of US and NATO forces, has openly challenged President Obama. Coming amidst increasing political turmoil, it is a dangerous moment for his presidency.
Public money - private profiteering
As NHS hospitals struggle to make £20 billion in cuts imposed under the previous New Labour government’s spending plans, a select group of large building contractors and developers will be smiling all the way to the bank.
Poisoned legacy of nuclear option
Wildfires raging across Russia are spreading towards the highly contaminated forests of the Bryansk region, threatening to release low-dose nuclear radiation resulting from the Chernobyl disaster of almost 25 years ago.
US economy on the brink
The self-created mirage of recovery that helped sustain the tattered remnants of the American Dream evaporated yesterday as reality came calling.
Making money out of extreme weather
Capitalism has a genius for inventiveness that drives those who represent its interests to extraordinary feats of creativity. The more extreme the weather, the more money they can make.
The strange case of the Irish mercenary in Santa Cruz
Tensions in Bolivia are reaching a high point. Unrest has shut down the city of Potosi in the south-east while president Evo Morales has used a press conference to denounce the United States for fostering tensions in the region with its bases in Colombia.
The crisis and spending cuts: cause and effect
The Lib Dem-Tory government stands accused of making cuts in public spending that are purely “ideologically driven”, that are “unnecessary” and being carried through just to please their rich City friends.
Liberate science to tackle world hunger
Growing enough food to feed the world’s population is already achieved, though poor people often can’t access or afford it and rich countries waste as much as 30%.
US and Pakistan military - a deadly embrace
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari’s current visit to Britain must be one of the most unfortunate ever by a head of state. He has rightly come under fire for lavish junketing while millions of his people are suffering from the worst floods for nearly a century.
The American dream is a nightmare of foreclosures
Las Vegas – known best for its gambling haunts – now has a new reputation. It’s America’s No.1 city for foreclosures, with more people losing their homes here than elsewhere in the country.
When GOD spoke to Cameron and Clegg
What we learned from last night’s BBC documentary on the formation of the first peacetime coalition government for almost 80 years is that in times of crisis, the state will always step into the breach and bang heads together.
The struggle for clean water
Voting on a proposal put forward by Bolivian ambassador Pablo Solon, the United Nations General Assembly voted yesterday to declare that “safe and clean drinking water and sanitation is a human right essential to the full enjoyment of life and all other human rights.”
Coalition broadens its attacks
The fragile Cameron-Clegg Coalition is drawing in more forces with mad but bad schemes to help with the assault on public sector services. And they are using little known, fast-track parliamentary procedures to get their way.
Wanted: a democracy for the people
The Tory wing of the Coalition’s plans for the “Big Society”, which now include a massive shake-up of the police force, are not simply a cover for public spending cuts. They are far more sinister than that.
Making the Web work for us
Web 2.0 with its social networks and huge broadband speeds and capacities, combined with mobile telephony reveals the deep contradictions in what some still believe is an impregnable system.
A law unto themselves
The decision not to bring charges in relation to the death of Ian Tomlinson following his beating by the police at the G20 demonstration on April 1, 2009 is truly shocking. But it should not be surprising.
Carping critics reject Bolivia's struggle
By hosting the People’s World Conference on Climate Change, the Bolivian government offered much-needed leadership in opposition to the majority of the world’s corporate-sponsored governments.
Banks star in the 'Great Escape'
When President Obama informed the White House press corps yesterday that he would shortly sign into law a package of measures that would ensure that the financial collapse of 2008 could not happen again, he was promising something he could not possibly deliver.
US secret state out of control
If you think that the American state is all-knowing, all-powerful and always in control, you couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, some of the most sensitive areas of state activity are not actually under the control of federal employees at all but are in the hands of contractors answerable to shareholders.
Brutality against young people in the criminal injustice system
It’s taken five years and a determined struggle by parents and children’s rights campaigners to get the misnamed Ministry of Justice to release a secret manual used by the prison service to control young people.
Special pleading on cuts not the way to go
The magnitude and harshness of the age of austerity which the Coalition seeks to impose is becoming clearer by the hour. Not only are the basics of life - pensions, jobs, benefits and the health service - threatened, but so is the chance for the many to enjoy culture.
Population scare 'a convenient lie'
With effective international governmental action to tackle climate change well and truly off the agenda, perhaps it is no accident that attempts are under way to make global population levels a central issue once again.
Healthcare and markets will make you sick
Even the right-wing Coalition government is well aware that the National Health Service is embedded in the social being of Britain. So while savaging the rest of the public sector, they have committed to real terms increases in health spending. There’s a big sting in the tail, however.
We could all benefit from real housing solutions
The Coalition government’s plan to cap housing benefits for private sector tenants will undoubtedly lead to more homelessness, especially in London. But a lasting solution to Britain’s housing crisis involves more than just opposing Lib Dem-Tory cuts.
A very 'public execution'
The eleventh-hour arrival of former England footballer Paul Gascoigne at the scene of the manhunt in Rothbury over the weekend certainly was bizarre. But unfortunately Gazza’s efforts at mediating a non-fatal outcome were unsuccessful. Like Raoul Moat’s brother and uncle, the footballer was turned away by the police.
Coalition walking a tightrope
That the first serious opposition to the government’s cuts programme has come from within the Tory Party rather than from the usual quarters, reveals the only the depth of the financial crisis but mounting problems within the Coalition itself.
Climate change deniers exposed by the truth
Scientific truth has won three convincing victories over corporate-funded climate change deniers. Independent reports published in the UK and US entirely exonerate two leading climate scientists and their teams – Phil Jones from the University of East Anglia and Michael Mann at Penn State University.
Plans to bail-out BP
Contingency plans for a possible collapse of BP are reportedly being drawn up in Whitehall as the oil corporation’s crisis continues in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico catastrophe. If the Coalition had to take the company over, it would blow the governments budget-reduction plans apart.
Banning the burqa is scapegoating
The issue of women wearing the full-body burqa, which is up for the debate in the French parliament this week, has stirred up a hornet’s nest of opinions. It’s not too surprising, given that the question of covering up or not raises religious, cultural and sexual issues
Coalition prepares for showdown with unions
A massive provocation against the trade unions in the public sector is openly being prepared by the Coalition government as it prepares to force through spending cuts that will destroy hundreds of thousands of jobs and wreck vital services
Deprivation and inequality - New Labour's record
You didn’t have to wait for the Lib-Tory coalition for an assault to begin on living standards, health and education. All you had to do was endure years of New Labour and watch inequality rise sharply.
A dirty business
From Bhopal to the Niger Delta, Grangemouth to the Gulf of Mexico – humans and animals are paying a high price for the profitability of the petrochemical industry.
Rail union calls for 'co-ordinated strikes' against Coalition
The imposition of austerity budgets to reduce budget deficits – adopted across Europe by governments of all persuasions – is suddenly looking too dangerous to investors in the global markets.
Show the FA a red card
As the England squad trooped wearily off their flight home this morning, it was too easy to see them as the villains of the piece, the spoiled “golden generation” that failed miserably at the World Cup in South Africa. That’s less than half the story.
Toronto's failure a turning point
The failure of the G20 summit in Toronto to find a common approach to tackling the global economic and financial crisis had an air of inevitability about it. After all, capitalism is not exactly a rational system where sensible men and women come together to sort out an international crisis.
Vuvuzela politics won't beat the banks
On the eve of the G20 meeting in Toronto this weekend, which will see further attempts to bring about a recovery from global economic and financial crisis, differences have emerged between the US and Europe. Representatives of the world's 20 richest nations will be arguing over how to "manage their divergence".
Public transport cuts spell hardship and fumes
As striking maintenance workers on London’s underground draw attention to cuts and safety risks, Budget cuts herald the end of local bus services in the rest of the country.
Prepare General Strike to bring down Coalition
Tory Chancellor Osborne’s collection of savage spending cuts and dramatic tax changes is intended to engineer a massive transfer of wealth to shareholders, whilst condemning millions to a life of grinding poverty on reduced benefits or on the dole. Claiming that “we are all in this together” is simply a lie.
In defence of football
The dramas playing out in South Africa over the England team have concentrated the minds of millions of fans around the world. The excitement being generated, the feelings of elation and despair offer an opportunity to think about the true meaning of sport.
Tory right guns for Lib-Dems
When David Laws was forced to resign last month, we asked if the Tory right wing was trying to destabilise the Lib-Con coalition. With the announcement that Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary Chris Huhne is leaving his wife in the wake of gutter press exposure of his relationship with economic advisor Carina Trimingham, the cracks are widening.
Profit and food are a deadly mix
Capitalism’s inability to feed the world, in spite of increased production and a slowdown in population growth, is underlined by a report which predicts that food prices will rise by 40% over the next decade.
Europe in the eye of the storm
With Europe firmly at the epicentre of a new stage of the global financial crisis, the heads of government meeting in Brussels today is hoping for the best but undoubtedly preparing for the worst. As events spiral out of control, there are warnings of dire political consequences from predicted social unrest as governments slash and burn spending on public services and jobs.
Oil spill goes global
Estimates of the quantity of oil gushing into waters of the Gulf of Mexico continue to increase. BP’S own guess was originally as low as 1,000-5,000 barrels a day. Then it grew to 60,000.
Derry remembers Bloody Sunday dead
Thousands of people will march into the centre of Derry today along the route that a civil rights march planned to take on 30 January 1972. This time they will be marking the publication of the Saville report into the cold-blooded shooting dead of 14 people by British paratroopers on what became Bloody Sunday.
They have lost control
The trouble with conspiracy theories is the impression given that “they” – bankers, politicians, the military etc – are always in control of events and will thus determine their outcomes to suit themselves. How wrong-headed and disarming this approach is.
Creative accounting blocks climate action
Rich nations could go on increasing carbon emissions by up to 8% if they exploit gaping loopholes in a new draft agreement which is going to the next UN climate summit in Mexico in December.
Groucho says it how it is
Perhaps John McDonnell could draw some comfort from Groucho Marx after his exclusion (for a second time) from the contest for leader of the Labour Party. Groucho once quipped that he wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would accept him as a member.
Britain - a failed state
A system that produces a government intent on forcing people to cut their own throats is a failed state and we ought to find a democratic replacement for it as soon as possible.
As the coalition government lines up massive spending cuts that even prime minister David Cameron acknowledges will shake society, a strategy that goes beyond resistance is needed if we are to defeat the Lib-Tory government’s plans.
Italy's political crisis raises old fears
As Italian trade unions prepare for a general strike later this month against public spending cuts, political tensions are once again rising within the unstable edifice that is the Italian state.
The real cost of the World Cup
With the opening match of the 2010 World Cup just a week away, hopes that the huge cost of staging the tournament would “showcase” South Africa, encourage inward investment and boost living standards seems misplaced.
UN climate talks are a sham
The views of the people are to be specifically excluded from the next round of United Nations climate talks in Mexico in December, but the interests of the corporations are right on board.
The case for seizing BP
The crashing sound that is the price of BP shares falling through the floor highlights not only the environmental consequences of deep water drilling for oil but also the fatal dependency on stock markets when it comes to workers’ pensions.
Israel continues to get away with murder
If the Israeli government thought it could get away with an act of piracy on the high seas, then it was because it had a green light from Washington and other capitals around the world to act with impunity in defiance of international law.
The curious outing of David Laws
The story of how David Laws, the Lib Dem chief secretary to the Treasury, came to step down from his post at the weekend after just a couple of weeks in the job is a curious one, to say the least.
Tory plans will destroy state education
By inviting all head teachers in the country to re-invent their schools as independent “academies”, Michael Gove, the new Tory education secretary, is really tempting them to abandon the principles and traditions of comprehensive state education.
Science and profit are the wrong mix
Disasters like the Mexican Gulf oil well leak shine a spotlight on capitalism’s everyday disregard for safety and its short-term approach to scientific data and knowledge.
On a knife edge
Share markets around the world suffered another roller-coaster day yesterday as nervous traders decided it was a good time to sell. Everything points to the most dangerous moment for global capitalism since the autumn 2008 meltdown.
For Gazans, the Nakba is a daily tragedy
This is the month when Palestinians remember their Nakba, or "catastrophe," during which millions of women, men and children were eventually pushed off their land and rendered homeless refugees during and after the founding of Israel in 1948.
Let the battle commence
The £6.2 billion cuts package announced by chancellor George Osborne and his Lib Dem partner in crime David Laws will cost jobs and hit services, and are just the opening round in plans for savage reductions in public spending. The big issue is how workers and communities can defeat these plans.
End of 'old politics' is our chance
For all its outward appearance of partnership and harmony, the Lib-Con coalition government is an inherently unstable regime. Patched together solely to impose the burden of the economic and financial crisis on the backs of ordinary people, the coalition is a high-risk operation.
Behind the Red Shirt uprising
The uprising of the poor and peasant farmers is continuing across Thailand, in spite of yesterday’s violent break-up of the Red Shirt camp in central Bangkok.
How to end 'dictatorship of the market'
Protests and strikes are mounting throughout Europe as governments begin to carry out the austerity measures required to attract the investment funds needed to postpone state bankruptcy.
Time to defy anti-union laws
The High Court ruling against the planned British Airways cabin crew strike is not simply the outcome of a clearly partisan decision by Mr Justice McCombe. It is also the result of more than two decades of fearful inaction on the part of the trade union leaders.
Take a leaf out of Picasso's book
The view that, deep down, all that human beings are really interested is in looking after themselves is commonplace and at the same time a truism. Yet it begs the question that in today’s society, individual interests and those of humanity as a whole also coincide.
A very British coup
The political marriage between David Cameron and Nick Clegg in a ceremony in the garden at the back of Downing Street yesterday is not simply the result of a general election that failed to produce a party with an overall majority. Britain’s first coalition government for 70 years also shows that the process that led to New Labour is still at work.
Coalition will provoke extra-parliamentary struggles
The collapse of the Tories and Liberal Democrats into each other’s arms to form the first coalition government in modern times does not so much signify a “new politics”, but the suspension of old-style politics in the face of a calamitous financial crisis.
The uncertainty principle in politics
The break-up of parliamentary politics is happening right before our eyes, most dramatically shown in the resignation under pressure of Gordon Brown and the frantic moves to cobble together some sort of coalition before the money markets decide Britain is another basket case.
It's all about power
The political crisis that has erupted in Britain following the general election provides a window of opportunity to bring the most basic of questions – who rules the country and in whose interests – right to the top of the agenda.
Election crisis: markets call the shots
The hung parliament that has resulted from Britain’s inconclusive general election is certain to lead to a prolonged period of political instability slap bang in the middle of the gravest economic and financial crisis since the 1930s.
Voters in for 'the shock of their lives'
Nothing that happened during this election has persuaded us that our call on people to hang on to their votes and instead focus on building the framework for a new political democracy in Britain was mistaken. In fact, quite the opposite.
Greek workers light the fuse
The general strike that got under way in Greece today, bringing the country to a standstill, is a foretaste of the struggles to come throughout the capitalist world as the global financial crisis moves from the banking system to debt-ridden sovereign states.
Devolution leaves power in same hands
The Scottish people have first hand experience of what it is to have greater devolution without any real power over their lives and communities.
An 'offer' we can and should refuse
When Mervyn King, the governor of the Bank of England, let slip that whoever wins the election would subsequently be out of power for 30 years, he was speaking with inside knowledge. King knows better than anyone the real state of the country’s finances – and it doesn’t make bedtime reading.
BP is beyond the pale
The oil corporation BP likes to brand itself as “beyond petroleum”. Beyond the Pale might be more appropriate after the latest of a series of disasters which the company has to take responsibility for.
Greek crisis triggers debt tsunami
A debt tsunami is now sweeping across Europe to Portugal, Spain and Italy and onwards to the shores of the United Kingdom, before crossing the Atlantic to the United States of America, triggered by the financial earthquake that hit Greece yesterday.
Election deepens political crisis
The death at the weekend of writer Alan Sillitoe and the looming possibility of a hung Parliament have no direct connection. And yet looking back at Sillitoe’s writings, and reflecting on the latest twists in the election campaign, you can detect a profound shift taking place in British history.
PR is not the road to happiness
As the likelihood grows of the Lib Dems holding the balance of power in terms of seats after May 6, so does the debate about what price Nick Clegg’s party might exact for joining a New Labour or Tory-led coalition government. Centre stage is the idea of replacing the present voting system with PR or proportional representation.
TV debate masks fraud of an election
With the general election now firmly in the realms of a TV game show, the degeneration of mainstream politics is clear for all who care to take note. Another ninety minutes of well rehearsed assertions could not disguise the fact that in essence, there is nothing between the major parties.
'Socially acceptable' land grab rejected
Over 100 community and farmers’ rights organisations from across Africa, Asia and Latin America have denounced the World Bank’s proposed code of practice on land sales. They issued a statement today headed Stop Land Grabbing Now, which says that the code effectively facilitates the corporate take-over of rural people’s land.
Ash cloud shows the folly of capitalism
There is some faint irony that natural causes emptied skies over Europe for a week, triggering anguish in business circles over the likely impact of longer-term airspace closures on economic growth.
Tescopoly takeover gathers pace
Whilst most families struggle to meet their bills, owners of shares in Tesco will be thrilled by today’s news. Britain’s biggest supermarket has announced pre-tax profits of £3.4 billion for the last 12 months – an astonishing rise of 10% on the previous year.
Political pop idol comes to Britain
Such is the decline in traditional political allegiance in Britain that one appealing TV appearance can thrust an average performer to apparent super stardom as the general election comes to resemble a TV talent show rather than a political campaign.
Revealed: the secret debate rules
There were apparently about 80 rules agreed between the major parties about how last night’s TV debate should be conducted. We can reveal some of the rules for the first time – and they go a long to explaining why those viewers who didn’t switch channels had to endure what they did.
Mother Earth gets to have her say
Delegates from around the world are gathering in the Bolivian city of Cochabamba as the momentum builds for the start on Monday of the historic World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth called by the country’s president, Evo Morales.
Cameron's great con trick
Conservative leader David Cameron launched his party’s election manifesto with a head-turning invitation to working people in their communities to take on the power to change the system. But don’t be deceived. This is just part of the Tories’ approach to paying off the towering debt that’s threatening to sink the British state.
A future unfair for most
Once upon a time in the 18th century, a Frenchman wrote “the style is the man”. Studying New Labour’s election manifesto published yesterday, it is wise to keep this in mind.
Privatisation by stealth set to soar
Whatever the result of the general election, private sector corporations are eagerly looking forward to getting their hands on larger and larger areas of public services as state spending comes under pressure because of the budget deficit.
Cameron plays populist card
Tory leader David Cameron claimed today that his party and New Labour have swapped places in British politics – the Conservatives are now the “radicals” while New Labour are the “reactionaries”.
Drill baby, drill!
You went to bed with President Obama’s “yes we can” ringing in your ears. You woke up to Sarah Palin’s “drill baby, drill” echoing across the land. That must have been how many Americans felt when they heard that the White House had overturned a moratorium on Atlantic oil exploration in place since the 1980s.
Uncertainty grips the markets
The value of the pound fell in response to the official launch of the election campaign as foreign exchange markets reacted to the distinct possibility that it could produce weeks of wrangling over which leader or leaders and which party or parties are left in charge of the British economy.
The great deception
The reasons for hanging on to your vote at the general election next month are mounting. But surely the most significant is the fact that the electorate is being kept in the dark by a conspiracy of silence by all the major parties capable of forming a government.
Government in shock move to slash emissions
In a shock move today, New Labour promised not only to make a commitment to significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions a central plank of their election campaign but also to withdraw subsidies and tax breaks from fossil fuel corporations and transfer them instead to developing renewables.
Something's got to give
Economic storms continue to batter countries throughout Europe as their governments struggle vainly to keep their heads above the tsunami of debt.
The politics of the present
The case for hanging on to your vote in the general election, while exercising your democratic right to go beyond the present exhausted political system, has more to do with the way we look at the world than most other considerations.
The stakes couldn't be higher
The stakes are being raised in the confrontation between BA management and cabin crew members of Unite who are fighting to protect jobs and conditions. Coming a quarter of a century after the end of the biggest confrontation between unions and the state when the miners fought pit closures in a struggle lasting a year, the company’s reaction to the strike means it is more than just another industrial dispute.
Cashing in on global food crisis
The intensification of the global food crisis is bringing misery to millions but profits for investors and entrepreneurs as a massive land grab takes place at the expense of local people.
Darling's budget deception
You have to hand it to Alistair Darling. Britain is in the midst of a major financial and economic crisis and all the major parties are planning unprecedented cuts in public spending after the upcoming general election. Except you wouldn’t know that from listening to the chancellor of the exchequer drone on yesterday.
Extrajudicial murder by CIA drones
The slap on the wrist delivered to Israel yesterday by foreign secretary David Miliband over the use of fake British passport in the murder of a leading member of Hamas in Dubai should not obscure the fact that “targeted assassination” is a policy that Washington carries out in Afghanistan and Pakistan with London’s blessing.
A global 'twilight of the elites'
The spectacle of former Cabinet ministers Stephen Byers, Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon peddling their services to a fictional US company for rates of between £3,000 and £5,000 per day has brought Parliament into even greater disrepute – if that is indeed possible.
Don't let BA cabin crew fight alone
As New Labour ministers lined up with the right-wing press over the weekend to condemn the strike by British Airways cabin crew, you had to ask yourself what had the national leaders of the Unite trade union done to prepare for a confrontation that the company had clearly planned for some time. The answer is not very much.
History points the way
The idea of organising independently of the state in order to challenge the established political order, which we put forward in the shape of People’s Assemblies, is not new or foreign to British social history.
Bolivia stands firm as Europe/US abandon climate targets
Bolivia is leading a last-ditch stand to achieve a binding agreement on climate change through the United Nations Framework Convention in the teeth of opposition from the US and Europe.
Brown nails his colours to the hedge funds
New Labour’s Gordon Brown has spent his entire period in high office, first as chancellor, and more recently as prime minister, ensuring that the interests of the global financial sector are inextricably enmeshed with the British economy.
Staying out of the hands of the state
The flowering in the numbers of civil society, non-state organisations, groups and campaigns is the reverse side of an historic decline in participation in formal political processes in Britain and an ever-increasing alienation from existing power structures.
New Labour lines up with BA
There’s nothing like a looming national strike to bring out the true class credentials of the political parties, together with the baying hound-dogs of the media. The democratically-agreed industrial action by 12,000 BA’s cabin crew workers in defence of their jobs, pay and conditions is certainly having this effect.
Back the boycott of Israel
Some say it was bad timing or that one half of the Israeli government didn’t know what the other half was doing. In effect, however, the American government had its bluff called by a regime that has no intention of agreeing a deal with the Palestinians. Not now. Not ever.
Biodiversity loss threatens us all
Almost 500 animals and plants have become extinct in England, and almost all within the last two centuries, a period which coincides with industrialisation and the merciless exploitation of the environment for profit.
In thrall to the markets
Governments across the world are engaged in a beauty contest judged by the ratings agencies which pronounce on their credit-worthiness, and the hedge funds which decide whether a country’s debt – its bond issues – are worth buying.
Taking the knife to the NHS
The future fate of public services, whoever comes out on top in the general election, is already taking shape in the National Health Service. Cuts thinly disguised as “efficiency savings” are biting already but they are only the prelude to major reductions in spending and the provision of healthcare.
Tolstoy still an 'enemy of the state'
You would think that the centenary of the death of Leo Tolstoy, widely regarded as among the greatest of novelists, would be celebrated in the country of his birth. You would be wrong, however. He is actually considered an embarrassment. That’s how bad things are in Russia today.
'Rage on the right' threatens Washington
As the Obama administration struggles to get its extremely modest health care bill through Congress, it faces not just a hostile Republican Party that has effectively opted out of the usual bipartisan politics on Capitol Hill, but the menace of far right-wing groups that have found a new lease of life across America.
Tar sands: not ‘dirty oil’ but ‘bloody oil’
A new report produced by the campaigning organisation Platform reveals the extent of global banks’ funding for the world’s most polluting activity. And RBS, which is 84% owned by the UK public, is the biggest lender.
The fault lies within the system itself
The recall of fault-ridden products, which is spreading throughout industrial manufacturing, tells us much about the acute contradictions that permeate the global corporations within the capitalist drive to maximise profits.
Walking blindfold over the precipice
The title of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ novel, Chronicle of a Death Foretold, seems to sum up what is happening at British universities and in the wider world, as cuts in funding for the arts takes their toll.
Fans revolt grows
Will top flight football go the same way as the banks and collapse as debts become unpayable? Portsmouth FC is already in administration, the first Premier League club to suffer that fate, and many Manchester United fans fear the long-term future of the club is endangered by a mountain of debt.
Kurds and unions victims of Turkish state repression
While the media is full of reports of the arrest of alleged coup plotters in Turkey, the military top brass will be reassured by the continuing state repression of not only the Kurdish minority but also the harsh treatment meted out to their legal representatives.
Dump this 'climate justice' model now
The world is facing an unprecedented crisis in food production. Driving the potential calamity is rapid industrialisation in three decades of corporate-led globalisation and the consequences of intensive agriculture across swathes of Asia.
Resistance grows as crisis deepens
Suddenly, as if from nowhere, a wave of opposition is engulfing Europe. Workers are joining a wave of action which threatens to bring the continent to a standstill as they try to resist being made to bear the costs of the deepening global crisis.
Hang on to your vote!
So the latest opinion polls are again pointing to a “hung” Parliament after the upcoming general election, with no single party able to form a majority government. In that event, say constitutional experts, the queen and her advisors could play a key role in deciding who is asked to form a government.
Mafia and Italian state target minorities
A Kafkaesque decree handed down by a magistrate in the town of Pesaro on the east coast of Italy has sentenced two human rights defenders, Roberto Malini and Dario Picciau to prison or payment of a heavy fine.
An act of state terrorism
The Israeli state literally gets away with murder, dealing out death and destruction with impunity, confident that friendly governments in Europe and America will turn a blind eye or at worst profess temporary, affected outrage. That was the scene played out in London yesterday.
Risks ignored as Obama leads nuclear charge
President Obama fired the starting pistol for a rush to nuclear power in the US when he announced this week that his government will offer $8.3billion in loan guarantees for two nuclear reactors to be built in Georgia. This puts the US in line with other big powers, where the stampede to build a new generation of nuclear power stations is on.
Bankers plan to bankrupt Greece
European governments have joined forces with the likes of Goldman Sachs and a large collection of globalised banks. They are ganging up to bully the Greek government into upping the assault on the country’s working people.
Losing 'hearts and minds' in Afghanistan
If there was ever a discredited phrase surely it’s “winning the hearts and minds of the people”. Used by the Americans in Vietnam and more recently Iraq, it is now on the lips of every commander and politician involved in the latest phase of the debacle in Afghanistan.
Destroying the hopes of a generation
The government is dashing the hopes of a generation of young people through cuts in education to try and claw back some of the £850 billion which New Labour committed to save the financial system from imploding.
An open and shut case
Of course MI5 doesn’t collude in torture, as wrongly suggested in the case of Binyam Mohamed. Nor do they suppress documents. And how do we know all this to be true? Because the head of the Security Service, Jonathan Hunt, and two cabinet ministers – foreign secretary David Miliband and Home Secretary Alan Johnson – say so.
Forests under threat in carbon offsets scandal
Campaigners fear a new surge of forest destruction as a result of both the reactionary Copenhagen Accord and a new European Union bio-fuels directive.
Greek debt crisis: a warning from history
Greece has moved centre stage as the global debt contagion engulfs Europe. But Italy, Portugal and Spain are not far behind, whilst France and even Germany, whose banks have many billions invested in the other countries, are waiting in the wings. No wonder EU leaders are holding a crisis meeting tomorrow.
China cracks down as turmoil grows
Signs of growing social tensions in China continue to mount, revealed by the jailing of an activist for documenting shoddy construction work to a decision in one province to assuage workers’ growing anger with a 13% pay rise.
The real price of the 'green' Winter Olympics
The BBC animation promoting the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, begins with an Inuit athlete launching himself into a snowboarding run and, in the following few seconds, cleverly manages to feature the downhill skiing, ski-jump, toboggan and curling events.
Greenpeace and the Chagos Islands
You may recently have received a petition from a well-meaning friend with a request to sign it and circulate, or it might have come to your notice in the form of an appeal from Greenpeace – “it” being the planned creation of one of the world’s largest marine reserves around the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean.
Debt contagion spreads
In the aftermath of Davos, the annual skiing trip for the bankers, businessmen and tame governments of the global economy, one key theme runs through the post-mortems in the wake of the economic and financial crash: the free market requirements of corporations are in open conflict with the political constraints of a world of capitalist nation-states.
Constructing a new world
History has, of course, seen many manifestos come and go. But the social transformations needed to lift societies out of crisis do not simply appear spontaneously. It is vital to break free from received wisdoms and stereotypes and work out solutions to problems that until now have appeared insoluble.
Obama waves big stick at Iran
Perhaps the most frightening aspect of Tony Blair’s appearance before the exceptionally tame Iraq war inquiry was his pointed remarks about Iran being next in line for military action. And it seems it was more than the usual Blair “I’d do it again” bravado and that his connections to the White House are as strong as when he was prime minister.
Time for 'regime change' in Britain
Whatever Tony Blair says or doesn’t say at the Iraq inquiry will not alter the historical record. Blair and George W. Bush went to war on a pretext, pursuing regime change in Baghdad behind the smokescreen of weapons of mass destruction that existed in imagination only.
Scientists made scapegoats for climate change
Reading the blast of outraged hot air in the media about a flawed figure relating to Himalayan glaciers found in a 2007 summary report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), people might be starting to feel a little uneasy about the science of global warming.
Britain's debt is 'nitroglycerine'
As they gather in Davos with the leaders of the global capitalist economy for the annual World Economic Forum, Britain’s New Labour government is struggling to find some crumbs of comfort in the 0.1% “return to growth” for the last quarter of 2009. The figure is worse than the most pessimistic of predictions and knocks a huge hole in Chancellor Alistair Darling’s fanciful budget.
The big voting switch off
It’s a measure of New Labour’s “achievement” in over 12 years of government that whichever party wins the upcoming general election will achieve scant support from voters because larger numbers than ever intend to stay at home. According to the latest NatCen British Social Attitudes (BSA) report, the number of people who feel they have a “civic duty” to vote has fallen sharply.
Van Gogh and the 'value' of art
It is unfashionable to emphasise the social and political underside of art these days, but the highly-charged and meteoric career of Vincent Van Gogh cries out for this approach, especially as a superb new display of his work at the Royal Academy will surely draw massive crowds.
It's no wonder we're sceptical about politicians
Under the radar, like a stealth bomber, Armed Forces minister Bill Rammell dropped some friendly fire "designed to stimulate debate" in a recent speech, telling his audience that the public had lost its stomach for war and was much too cynical and this was not a good thing. One reason, Rammell claims, is that “Britain's own security would be at greater risk if we again allow Afghanistan to become a safe haven for terrorists.”
A people's alternative to the Copenhagen cop-out
The collapse of the Copenhagen conference just before Christmas exploded the myth that somewhere down the road is a multinational agreement on climate change, negotiated through the UN and leading to serious reductions in emissions.
'Business is business'
In the days preceding the deal that saw Cadbury sold to Kraft yesterday, the leaders of the Unite trade union wrote to shareholders asking them to consider the wider “public interest” and prevent British jobs being transferred to production facilities in the United States. But major shareholders naturally had other considerations and Unite’s appeal fell on deaf ears.
Obama delivers - but not for the people
A year ago, Barack Obama was inaugurated as the first African-American president of the United States on a promise that he would deliver “change you can believe in”, the slogan that together with his “yes we can” appeal, swept him into the White House. His supporters eagerly awaited actions that would transform America. How sorely disappointed many of them are today.
Foreign troops out of Haiti!
Disaster relief in Haiti is turning into a debacle. While the earthquake was a natural event, the chaos and violence in the streets are compounded by a high-handed arrogance by the United States towards one of the poorest countries in the world.
Haiti a victim many times over
American forces have secured the airport in Port-au-Prince and thousands of Marines are on their way to Haiti, along with warships. Not for the first time in history either, which will help to explain why this week’s earthquake has had such a devastating impact on the impoverished country.
Energy companies have burnt up the future
The abandonment of strategic energy planning has left UK consumers facing a massive bill for gas bought at high wholesale prices to cope with demand during the cold snap.
Business as usual for bankers
Despite the mind-blowing size of bank bail-outs, governments on both sides of the Atlantic are struggling to have even a modest impact on the behaviour of those held responsible for the collapse of the global financial system. It is quite a demonstration of capitalist power relationships, with politics coming a distant second.
Not a crime to seek asylum
An early campaigner for women’s rights, philosopher John Stuart Mill argued 141 years ago that the treatment of women was the measure of any society’s civilisation. By that measure, today’s Britain is a sorry place, as campaigners against the brutal treatment of female asylum seekers, the most vulnerable women in the world, have documented.
Political crisis gathers momentum
The first thing to say about the divisions within New Labour over Gordon Brown’s leadership is that there are no principles involved on any side of the civil war that rumbles on at Westminster. All the plotters without exception are concerned about one thing above all other considerations – their political futures.
The biggest prison camp in the world
The deportation of Respect MP George Galloway from Egypt today is only the latest in a series of anti-Palestinian actions by the country’s president, Hosni Mubarak which have helped Israel enforce a blockade of Gaza.
Mega-pylons will destroy landscape in name of profit
The Scottish Nationalist government in Edinburgh has given the go-ahead for an upgrade of an existing power line that runs 137 miles from Beauly, near Inverness to Denny, near Stirling, despite massive local objections.
Can't pay, won't pay!
Who was consulted when Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling decided to put the rescue of the global capitalist system ahead of every other priority? Was there a rash of Blair-style focus groups? Were any opinion polls commissioned? Not that we know of.
Britain's cultural divide
Whilst the big cities, London in particular, have an incredible wealth of galleries, museums, theatres, libraries, music, dance, clubs and sports facilities to offer, some of them even free, other parts of Britain like South Shields (where X-Factor winner Joe McElderry comes from), large areas of Yorkshire, Scotland, Cumbria, the Midlands and Kent are unemployment black spots and cultural deserts.
Ending the 'war on terror'
So now air passengers will be subjected to the equivalent of a strip search as the futile “war on terror” enters its second decade. The next step, surely, is to get travellers to leave all their clothes in a bag and fly in a bathrobe. This is how absurd the world has become, with no solution in sight.
Challenges and opportunities for 2010
Formidable challenges lie ahead in 2010 as the economic, political and ecological crises coincide in a unique way in world history. The myths of the market economy lie in ruins, another Great Depression looms, while the failure of the Copenhagen climate summit revealed that political systems east and west are incapable of putting the interests of humanity first.
The contradiction between what society is capable of and the reactionary nature of the governments and the state systems that rule over us is an explosive cocktail. Astute bourgeois commentators have expressed concern that a new decade will bring not a return to the fabled growth of the early part of the previous decade period but a period of social unrest and instability that will rock the established order.
Japan's crisis goes from bad to worse
Today is the 20th anniversary of the bursting of Japan’s bubble economy of the 1980s. The culmination of attempting to deal with the relentless impact of two decades of precipitous decline has destroyed the health of two finance ministers in less than a year and the prospects for their successor are not bright.
Copenhagen's failure puts the ball in our court
Turning points in human history are few and far between. But it is no exaggeration to say that the abject failure of the Copenhagen climate change conference is one such event, a moment when humanity was hit by an unprecedented collective betrayal.
Unite leaders scared of anti-union laws
British Airways cabin crew should not only be angry at the partisan decision of the courts to declare their planned strike illegal – they should also direct their rage at the way the leaders of the Unite union have conducted themselves.
Morales tells it how it is
It is becoming a cliché to blame the Danish government and the way the talks have been structured for the lack of progress at the Copenhagen climate change conference. Climate Change minister Ed Miliband, for example, warned that the conference may descend into farce, adding: “People will find it extraordinary that this conference ... is at the moment being stalled on points of order".
Getting to grips with the crisis
As we prepare our Manifesto of Revolutionary Solutions, it is of the greatest importance that our analysis and the policies we put forward, are based on the most accurate and well-rounded estimation of the nature and scale of the global crisis and its impact on ordinary working people.
A way forward for BA cabin staff
The overwhelming vote for strike action by British Airways cabin staff, scheduled to start next week, has predictably drawn outrage from the media. Accusations range from “madness” (Daily Mail), to “suicidal” (Daily Telegraph) to workers “cheering the destruction of their own livelihoods (The Sun).
'Human nature' is no barrier to change
There are few who can deny that the global economic system is in a tailspin of truly giant proportions. And the faltering nature of the climate change talks in Copenhagen add to the sense of crisis. Meanwhile, at the level of everyday life, jobs, pensions, and services are under threat.
World 'leaders' in short supply
We are told by the media that the world’s leaders are gathering in Copenhagen. But what does the term “leader” mean in this context?
Darling's con trick fools no one
Chancellor Darling’s pre-budget report (PBR) is a confidence trick aimed at disguising the massive cuts in spending that either New Labour or the Tories (or a national government?) will impose when next year’s general election is over.
Big Pharma is not good for your health
Swine flu is big business for pharmaceuticals like Roche, the manufacturer of the antiviral drug Tamiflu and the other giant corporations now producing vaccines to sell to desperate governments. Whether the products actually work is another matter and getting the trial data is nigh on impossible.
What the 'defence of the realm' really means
Last night’s screening by ITV of Inside MI5: The Real Spooks, could easily be dismissed on the grounds that: “Well, the secret intelligence agencies are hardly likely to tell the truth about themselves.” But in taking this approach you could throw the baby out with the bathwater.
A society 'close to the edge'
The fact that millions of people in Britain cannot cope with everyday life, as revealed in a landmark report today, is testimony to the deeply alienated, dog-eat-dog society that has emerged after three decades of intense globalisation and commercialisation of just about every aspect of society.
Bailouts beyond belief
How a government that has saddled taxpayers with liabilities of up to £850 billion – roughly £40,000 for each household – for bailing out the banks can now parade itself as the party for ordinary people as opposed to the “Tory toffs”, is beyond belief.
System change, not climate change!
Halting climate change and preventing further, catastrophic damage to the world’s ecosystems will require mass action against the very politicians and business interests that are gathering in Copenhagen for next week’s summit.
Co-operatives can help unlock the future
Imagine, if you will, a global society of communities whose citizens wake each day filled with enthusiasm about the prospect of working together, co-operating on the land and in the buildings they own to meet their needs for food, clothing, housing, education, health and transport.
Obama the new 'war president'
Today is the moment of truth for the Obama presidency so far as prominent supporters like filmmaker Michael Moore are concerned. If, as expected, the president announces that America is sending another 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, he will burn his boats with many who campaigned on his behalf.
Trade unions at the 11th hour
How to restore the right to strike and to bargain collectively in the face of a continuing European-wide legal assault is the central issue facing the trade union movement and it is a challenge that poses historic political issues too.
The mirage in Dubai
Dubai was a property dream literally built on sand and borrowed money, where the rich could enjoy the sun and watch their assets soar in value. But like so much of recent capitalism, it has proved more mirage than substance.
Holistic view of climate change answer to hackers
It’s time to cut through the confusion generated by the publication of emails hacked from the climate research centre at the University of East Anglia. Even George Monbiot has lost his cool, calling for the centre’s boss Phil Jones to resign because of some remarks in one of the emails.
Banks a millstone round society's neck
Nine million people in the UK don’t have access to credit from banks, so have no choice but to use rip-off lenders. The cost of a £100 loan with a company such as Provident Financial can be £49.50 – nearly 50% of the amount borrowed, or an APR of 545.2%.
Vote for 'none of the above'!
The spectre of a hung Parliament – where no party has an overall majority – is a possibility when the votes are counted after next year’s general election. It’s the last thing the ruling classes want and could open the door for quite a sinister development.
Iraq war prepared behind a cloak of lies
On the eve of former senior civil servant Secretary Sir John Chilcot’s inquiry into Britain’s role in the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, documents are surfacing which reveal New Labour’s astounding duplicity.
The power of the 'velvet revolution' lives on
On this day 20 years ago, 100,000 people gathered in Prague to demand political freedoms denied them for 40 years by the country’s Stalinist dictatorship. It was the first mobilisation in Czechoslovakia’s “Velvet Revolution”, which brought students, cultural workers and factory workers together in an unstoppable mass movement.
Profit hunger driving world famine
The unchecked surge in the power of global agri-business is bringing the world to the brink of an unprecedented famine. At a world summit on food and agriculture which ended in Rome yesterday, the onus was placed firmly on the governments of developing nations to deliver food security to their people. The G8 countries did not even bother to send representatives.
GM wields the big stick
Nick Reilly, head of General Motor's international operations, is touring Europe on a mission. He's been to Poland and Belgium. Yesterday in England he met New Labour's august Lord Mandelson and Tony Woodley, deputy leader of trade union Unite. Today Reilly is in Spain.
Morals, conscience and capitalism
Arguments are flying to and fro between the experts, as the fallout continues from capitalism’s biggest crisis in living memory. The greatest issue preoccupying them is this: is it possible to tame or control today’s global economy and its financial markets by forms of legal regulation?
The grapes of wrath are back
President Obama’s tour of Asia may have plenty of celebrity star status about it but cannot disguise the reality that the United States is on its knees economically and financially and needs all the help it can get, particularly from China. The Chinese have their own agenda, however, and helping out its former adversary is not exactly top of Beijing’s list of priorities.
Don't let New Labour divide and rule
If you can’t beat them, you can always imitate them. That was the message yesterday from prime minister Gordon Brown when he returned to his “British Jobs for British workers” theme in a speech on immigration.
New Labour's nuclear nightmare
Nothing shows more clearly that capitalism has reached a dead end in its historical development than the plans for nuclear and coal announced this week by New Labour energy secretary Ed Miliband.
The apostles of growth have had their day
Gordon Brown is in big trouble. The financial system he piloted to prominence during his years as Chancellor is in ruins. Rupert Murdoch has turned The Sun against him. The majority of the UK population is in favour of a withdrawal from Afghanistan, and his letter-writing skills have slipped, angering army wives and mothers.
The spirit of the Stasi lives on in Britain
Last night Gordon Brown joined other world leaders in Berlin to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall. But while he and others waxed lyrical about the joys of freedom, his government was forcing a sinister Bill through parliament which reinforces state secrecy in Britain.
Speak out against war
On Sunday thousands of people took part in wreath-laying ceremonies in cities, towns and villages around the country. In London the Queen and members of the political, military and religious establishment laid wreaths at the cenotaph in the familiar slow, solemn, unchanged and presumably unchangeable ceremony.
Wanted: a leap in imagination
US born Muslim Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the army psychiatrist who turned his guns on his fellow soldiers at an army camp in Texas yesterday, was apparently unhappy about being sent to Iraq or Afghanistan. So the horror of Kabul, Baghdad and other cities where terrorist attacks kill scores of people on a daily basis has hit back, in a Texas military stronghold, of all places.
Achieving climate change justice
The chief climate change negotiator for the developing nations has demanded that the rich world agrees to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2020, from 1990 levels, or there can be no deal at Copenhagen.
The mother of all bail-outs
In the run-up to the 2012 London Olympics, the New Labour government has put in a credible bid for victory in the financial events with the sums spent on bailing out the banks. The increasing size of the bail-outs shows one thing – the crisis is getting worse rather than better.
Vietnam returns to haunt US
Elections are alright if they produce the right results. When the Islamic-based Hamas wins in the Gaza Strip, that’s unacceptable and leads to an international boycott. When Hamid Karzai defrauds his way to the presidency of Afghanistan, world leaders from Obama to Brown line up to offer their congratulations.
Scientists stand up against New Labour bullies
The resignation of two more eminent scientists from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs over the weekend, in support of chair Prof David Nutt who was sacked by New Labour, is a blow against an enforced consensus that regards dissent as something akin to subversion.
The future of the CWU is at stake
Billy Hayes, the general secretary of the Communication Worker Union, denies saying that his organisation was in a stronger position than the miners were at the start of their strike 25 years ago. Nevertheless, the miners’ historic, year-long struggle for jobs is a suitable reference point for postal workers.
Climate change a systemic crisis
On land and sea the impacts of climate change intensify. But the UN’s leading climate change official, Yves de Boer, has admitted that the Copenhagen summit will not deliver a binding treaty to follow on from Kyoto.
Good bank, bad bank? Peoples bank!
The European Union is expected today to approve plans for the Northern Rock bank to be split in two – so-called “good” and “bad” banks. The Rock has been state-owned since the spring of 2008.
The EU, Blair and a sense of disgust
Amid all the speculation about Tony Blair seeking to become the first president of Europe, any questions about democracy are put to one side. No wonder the polls show a growing contempt for politicians.
We are all 'terrorists' now
As politicians of all shades flail about in the wake of the financial and economic crisis, the growth of the neo-fascist British National Party and Parliament’s loss of authority, secret units of police are carrying out their time-honoured function – to spy on anyone who does not fit into (their idea of) the status quo.
The challenge facing postal workers
Just how right postal workers are to fight for their jobs is borne out by today’s figures showing that the British economy, far from “recovering”, remains critically ill on life support. The sixth successive quarterly fall in output is the longest continuous decline since records began in 1955.
Emissions of hypocrisy on the increase
Sonorous Presbyterian tones rumble through the room: “We have fewer than fifty days to save our planet from catastrophe.” Gordon Brown is preaching to the Major Economies Forum. Yet Brown and his government stand accused of being amongst the world’s greatest climate change hypocrites.
More shocks on the way
The disarray – and fear – in ruling class circles over the future prospects for the financial system is growing apace. Far from rescuing the banks, unprecedented levels of state intervention have, according to Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England, and others, reinforced existing weaknesses.
Taking inspiration from 1989
The amazing sequence of events that marked the year 1989 which culminated in the tearing down of the Berlin Wall on November 8 continues to stimulate debate in its 20th anniversary year.
Johnson's hypocrisy over BNP
When Alan Johnson, the home secretary, expresses outrage at the decision of the BBC to invite the neo-fascist British National Party on to its Question Time programme this week, you know something is not quite right. This is a stench of opportunist hypocrisy here that is overpowering.
Plot to destroy postal union
New Labour and Royal Mail management have hatched a thinly-disguised plot to destroy the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) if postal workers go ahead with their strikes next week over jobs and pay. That’s the clear message from the leaked document obtained by BBC’s Newsnight.
Jobless youth turn to the army
You see them on trains in North Yorkshire, fresh-faced teenagers struggling with massive kit-bags. Only they are not off to play football or cricket. They are 16-year-olds attached to army training camps in the area, who in a year or two might end up dead or wounded in Afghanistan.
Mind the gap
Despite an agreement to swap half of the 1,200 threatened jobs for a two-year pay freeze and lower pensions, Vauxhall workers in the UK should be warned against welcoming their prospective new Canadian and Russian employers too early.
Parliament's crisis goes from bad to worse
The present Parliamentary system is fast digging its own grave if yesterday’s events are anything to go by and the danger is that without the creation of a democratic alternative, populist forces could try and replace it with something even worse and less representative.
Italy's sinister power struggle
The political crisis in Italy is deepening by the day, with Silvio Berlusconi arrogantly rejecting a damning verdict of the Constitutional Court and sinister forces around Gianfranco Fini waiting in the wings to take over should the government collapse.
Postal workers need first-class leaders
The three to one majority in favour of strike action by postal workers is proof enough that trade unionists are prepared to sacrifice to fight for their jobs and conditions. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the leadership of the Communications Workers Union (CWU) who seem ready to settle for very little indeed.
US and EU scupper climate summit
International talks preparing for the Copenhagen climate summit are in disarray and on the point of collapse, as the science is pushed to one side and the discussion descends into self-seeking wrangling. The United States says it will not sign up to an agreement that includes the Kyoto Protocol. Since other countries thought they were negotiating a successor treaty to Kyoto, this is a major blow.
Dollar 'time bomb' adds to turmoil
The reaction to the global meltdown has so far consisted of so many variations on a common theme: governments deepening their debt to provide backing for too-big-to-fail stricken banks and central banks inventing new money. The single lyric on the hymn sheet is “save the system, return to growth!”
Stop the vandals at the gate!
Since its foundation in 1984, the Turner Prize has stimulated widespread debate and a popular interest in contemporary art. Tate Britain director Stephen Deuchar said yesterday that last year’s prize drew a record 90,000 visitors.
The only way to stop the Tories
As time runs out for the New Labour government, the big question is how do we stop the Tories? The answer is made more difficult by the fact that there is no practical electoral answer to this matter.
Today everyone is focused on the devastation caused by the Samoan tsunami and the Sumatran earthquake. There is no suggestion that these events are connected to climate change, but as governments in the area struggle to deal with the aftermath, we can see a hint of the future unless urgent action is taken to halt global warming.
China's rulers are right to be nervous
The celebrations earlier today to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China were amongst the strangest in history. Residents in Beijing were told that they were likely to be shot if they opened any window or balcony door facing the route of the anniversary parade. Police shouted at people to watch the displays of military might on television rather than venture onto the streets.
Not me, guv'!
Listening to Gordon Brown yesterday reminded you that New Labour is not actually responsible for anything, despite a dozen years in office. Above all, the government has washed its hands of any shared liability for the financial crisis that has overwhelmed the economy.
The real issues behind the election
As the countdown to the general election gets under way with New Labour’s conference at Brighton, there is a danger that politics in Britain will become so narrowly focussed that the real issues and challenges are consumed by a debate about which party to vote for.
Ahmadinejad undermines Palestinian cause
One of the many terrible things about Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is how his denial of the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis enables Israeli leaders to claim the moral high ground even while they systematically repress the Palestinian people.
Blair keeps the wheels of profit turning
Former Prime Minister Blair put in a rare but brief television appearance last night. My, but how he has aged! His new death’s head mask is entirely appropriate for the role he is now playing.
Bankrupt, which ever way you look
Britain is bankrupt – and not just financially either. The obscene bidding war that is going on about public spending cuts confirms that all the major parties have gone bust too as they fall over themselves to offer more pain than their rivals.
Too many people? No - too much capitalism!
The climate summit scheduled for Copenhagen in December is in big trouble before it even gets under way. Major divisions have opened up between the United States, Europe and China and there are serious doubts about whether an effective international agreement can be reached on cuts on carbon emissions.
Academies wrecking state education
In line with the New Labour outlook that there is nothing in heaven and earth that cannot be improved by private companies and religion, the real, but still largely disguised, agenda of this government is the break-up and eventual privatisation of large parts of the education system.
Brown presents the bill
A year and a day ago the Federal Reserve, the US central bank, took the decision to instruct Lehman Brothers to file for bankruptcy after 158 years of trading. It was a case of too big to fail and too big to save. Within days, the world economy fell off a cliff and has never recovered
TUC leaders all words and no action
Brendan Barber, general secretary of the Trade Unions Congress, is warning of riots on the streets if public spending is slashed by the next government. Coming from the TUC, however, that kind of language is unlikely to scare either New Labour or the Tories because the organisation is long on warnings and extremely short on action.
Corporate locusts leave hunger behind
Since 2006, corporations and countries have spent $30 billion buying up 20 million hectares of fertile farmland – an area that equates to a fifth of all the agricultural land in the European Union. The chief culprits of this obscene land grab are countries that accumulated massive surpluses from the boom in oil prices and in the export of consumer goods.
'Ugly political backlash' warning
Some economists are saying that the recession is officially over. Well, we know these same “experts” were caught with their trousers down before last autumn’s meltdown, (being re-enacted on television tonight) even while lesser mortals like A World to Win were warning about the collapse of the financial house of cards.
New Labour's about-turn on BNP
Targeting the BBC for its decision to invite the neo-fascist British National Party onto its Question Time programme is missing the point. The real volte face is on the part of New Labour, which has decided to abandon its long-standing policy of refusing to sit on a platform alongside the BNP.
Capitalism IS crisis
The sign over the entrance to the Climate Camp at Blackheath overlooking the City of London, was spot on: “Capitalism IS Crisis”. Broadening out climate change from a single issue, to seeing it as a part of the interconnected crisis that pervades every aspect of human economic and social life today, is a big step forward. And by the same token, to ask for, or expect, solutions to climate change within the existing structures is to call down misery on the heads of millions.
70 years on - preventing a new apocalypse
Business editors are scouring the world for signs of a recovery. But, despite government intervention to stimulate the credit markets, including the temporary effects of car-scrappage schemes, latest figures show the UK capitalist economy facing its worst nightmare.
Oil sharks circle Libya’s party
Guests from around the world are gathering today in the Libyan capital, Tripoli for the 40th anniversary celebrations of the revolution which toppled the colonial puppet King Idris. The week-long festivities mark an unprecedented opening up to outsiders just as Libya has hit the headlines with its warm reception for Mohamed al-Megrahi, the only person ever convicted in connection with the Lockerbie bombing.
From blessing to curse
Capitalism, by its very nature, transforms paradises into deserts. Take Uganda, a country that enjoyed fertile soil, excellent water supplies, good rains and sizeable deposits of copper, cobalt, gold, and other minerals.
Not holding back the tide
US President Obama has re-appointed Bob Bernanke as chairman of the US central bank the Federal Reserve for a second four-year term. You can see why.
Perils of the Swedish model
The stakes are being raised between those cheering on Tory proposals for “free” (read for the privileged few) education - and those who believe in the principles of equal, universal and free access to education.
All out for the Climate Camp!
Climate Camp 2009 will “swoop” on a site near the hated City of London, on August 26 and the camp’s website sets out 10 good reasons for choosing this location.
Counting the cost of the meltdown
While the International Monetary Fund suggests that the recession has bottomed out, all the signs merely indicate a pause in the crisis before a further lurch towards slump in the coming months.
Not worth dying for
So Gordon Brown says that British soldiers are on a “vital mission” in Afghanistan. That mission would appear to be about dying for no good reason, leading some relatives of dead soldiers to accuse the government of “having blood on its hands”. They are right.
Seeing the wood for the trees
A row has broken out between Greenpeace Canada and other environmentalists, including those who run the Forests.org website, over an agreement Greenpeace signed with paper products giant Kimberly-Clark.
Two years into the crisis and the human toll mounts
Two years ago this week, the global capitalist economy entered uncharted territory. It started with a crisis in the credit markets – the so-called “credit crunch” – and within a year it had led to a precipitate collapse in economic output in all sectors.
Rats desert sinking Parliamentary ship
When the MPs expenses scandal broke out like an ugly rash earlier this year, many cynics pooh-poohed it. Oh, we all knew that they were only in Parliament to line their own pockets, they scoffed.
Production, jobs and climate change: one story
Drax power station in Yorkshire, the UK’s largest single CO2 emitter and the site of the first-ever climate camp and numerous actions since, this week announced a fall in profits for the first quarter of 2009, due to a collapse in demand caused by the recession.
Occupations confront the state as crisis deepens
Hopes of a recovery in the health of the banking sector and the real economy look more like pipe dreams in the wake of worse than expected figures from Lloyds and Northern Rock. Both sets of losses reveal the impact of the deepening recession.
A meeting of minds in Tehran and Moscow
During the continuing street protests in Iran, in the wake of the disputed re-election of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, protesters have been heard shouting “Down with Russia”. This is not as strange as it seems. In fact, as the show trials get under way in Tehran, the slogan carries more historical significance than the marchers may know.
The 'war on terror' unravels
The inquiry into New Labour’s involvement in the invasion and occupation of Iraq opens just as unrest is growing over the rising rate of casualties amongst British and American troops in Afghanistan. On both sides of the Atlantic, the fall-out from the “war against terror” is growing.
'The world is still being cooked'
A survey of top climate scientists published by Oxfam to try and influence the leaders of the G8 economic powers, says that 2 degrees of global warming, now considered economically acceptable and inevitable by the governments of the rich countries, would wreck the lives of 660 million people.
No arguing with the profit motive
Extreme weather events throughout the world mark the impact of profit-driven capitalist growth on a changing climate brought about by burning fossil fuel. Wildfires are sweeping across swathes of Southern Europe and Canada, Turkey is hit by floods, and mid-summer torrential rain is lashing the UK.
Obama's healthcare plans run into the sand
If the Obama administration thought that controlling both houses of Congress, backed by a popular mandate for change on the back of last year’s elections, would get them what they wanted, then the stiff resistance to modest healthcare reforms is a revealing story of where power in America really resides.
Banks show who rules Britain
So Alistair Darling is going to “get tough” with the banks over their lending rates. Don’t make me laugh! The fact is that the banks have simply stuck two fingers up to the government and let New Labour know that when it comes to real power, they are in charge.
From South Korea to Isle of Wight - occupations show the way
Occupations of factories on opposite sides of the world show us different aspects of the problems facing workers as the state backs capitalist companies determined to restore profitability whatever it takes in the midst of the deepening global recession.
Cashing in on swine flu
Swine flu is to be avoided – unless you own shares in the pharmaceutical industry that is. The world’s second biggest drug company GlaxoSmithKline is expected to reap around £3 billion by January from sales of its swine flu vaccine and its anti-viral drug Relenza.
In praise of the National Gallery
Established early in the Victorian age, the National Gallery has matured over the 171 years of its existence to become a well-loved symbol of art for all. Its imposing position overlooking Trafalgar Square, was specially chosen between the east and west sides of London so that it would be accessible to all social classes in London.
How to fight spending cuts
As Britain heads for state bankruptcy, we urgently need a bold strategy that rejects the massive cuts in public spending being planned by New Labour and the Tories because, clearly, the present economic set-up is not sustainable.
Towards a giant step for humanity
The first landing on the moon by US astronauts 40 years ago today illustrates what amazing deeds humanity is capable of, while at the same time showing the limitations immediately placed on these achievements by the narrow confines of the existing social system.
France prepares 'flight of death'
You might have been shocked to hear about the brutal clearance of the camp for migrants in the Greek city of Patras this week. It is now becoming clear that the Patras clearance is not an isolated action by the Greek authorities, however. Several European Union countries are taking extreme action to remove undocumented migrants.
A sacred peak defies the god of profit
On the website of Vedanta, the mining company claims: “Our focus on sustainability drives our conviction to pursue value creating projects and at the same time achieve positive environmental, social and health and safety outcomes.” Can this be the same corporation that is pushing ahead with plans for an open-cast mine in the Indian state of Orissa against fierce local opposition?
Regulators dance to the banks' tune
That Goldman Sachs, the world’s largest investment bank, is set to pay record bonuses that even exceed those made before the credit crunch, is only one sign that nothing has changed in the world of global finance. This comes hard on the heels of decisions by Alistair Darling and the European Union to leave the banking system more or less as it was before it collapsed gratefully into the arms of taxpayers.
Poor bloody infantry pays the price
New Labour lied about the reasons for invading Iraq and now they are doing the same about the purpose of the continued occupation of Afghanistan. In fact, ministers have the blood of the young British soldiers on their hands. They are the sacrificial lambs of a failing neo-colonial policy which messages of condolence cannot conceal.
Durham Gala brings past struggles to life
It was an awesome and poignant sight that sent shivers down your spine and brought a lump to your throat – the first colliery band entering the pristine, green old racecourse at Saturday’s 125th Durham Miners Gala.
Warm words - and global warming - from G8 leaders
Global warming more than 2 degrees higher than today’s temperatures was accepted as inevitable at the G8 summit meeting in Italy yesterday, as the world’s richest capitalist countries failed to agree any measures to reduce emissions.
A crisis beyond the power of prayer
When the leader of an organisation claiming a billion members decides to write a letter about the “complexity and gravity of the present economic situation” to the G8, the leaders of the world’s richest capitalist countries meeting in Italy, it’s worth considering what he has to say.
How 'queue-jumping' myth is reinforced
The report by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) that confirms that social housing allocation does not favour new arrivals to the country nails a myth, although it won’t stop it being repeated. Our question is, however, is who perpetrated this legend and why?
A system bent on self-destruction
So Steve Bundred, chairman of the Audit Commission, wants a public sector pay freeze, describing it is a “painless” way to make some of the spending cuts that, according to accepted wisdom, are required to balance the government’s books. His remarks not only demonstrate a breathtaking arrogance but a bankruptcy of thinking as the economic crisis deepens.
Warning: 'geological disposal' spells danger
At the Local Government Conference in Harrogate this week, amongst the stalls promoting management consultants, security companies and quangos, was a stand run by Managing Radioactive Waste Safely.
New Labour hits the buffers
It was yet another New Labour panacea. Bringing in private finance would make public spending go further and transfer the risk from the taxpayer to companies. Who cared whether it was public or private sector that financed and/or delivered services and projects – what mattered, we were assured, was “what worked”.
'Honey - I shrank the economy', a nightmare by Brown & Darling
The graph from the Office of National Statistics, showing Britain’s incredible shrinking economy, surely has a much bigger immediate impact on our ability to grasp what is happening than the many thousands of words pouring from journalists’ keyboards and spewing from politicians’ mouths.
How to fight job losses
The reinstatement of the sacked 647 Lindsey oil refinery workers, with offers of work for the 51 whose redundancies sparked the walk-out at dozens of energy plants around Britain, is a triumph of rank-and-file solidarity over trade union bureaucrats, who have allowed mass unemployment to develop virtually unopposed.
How the vultures gathered around Jackson
As music fans worldwide mourn the exceptionally talented singer, songwriter, dancer and all-round performer, the passing of Michael Jackson brings to mind the old nursery rhyme, Who killed Cock Robin?
Cyber war on the people
The use of the Internet, mobile phones and social networking sites to mobilise against repressive regimes and send videos, photos and information around the world has reached a high point in Iran. But what few realise is that the Iranian state’s ability to block, censor and filter websites and monitor mobiles comes courtesy of imported technology.
Wonderful, Wonderful “Hopenhagen”
Thank goodness, everything’s going to be OK. The world’s major advertising agencies are galloping to the rescue on climate change.
If it can't be fixed, scrap it!
At the end of last week, Lord Mandelson, the authentic, unelected voice of global capital within the New Labour government, stated what he saw as the “simple problem”. He was making a bid for supranational influence in Washington, in a speech entitled “Can we fix globalisation?".
Business as usual for bankers
Despite the credit crunch and the global financial meltdown, it’s business as usual for bankers. While the jobs massacre continues, thousands of small firms struggle to finance their operations and repossessions mount, bankers are cashing in – courtesy of the New Labour government.
Getting it right about Iran
A little humility is called for in making an assessment of what is at stake in Iran, not only for the sake of the courageous students and others who are in the firing line of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s thugs and secret police. Getting it right about the essence of independent mass movements is not just an Iranian question.
Bosses attack as union leaders run up white flag
The sacking by the Total corporation of 900 construction workers at the Lindsey oil refinery in Lincolnshire last night, who were on strike in defence of their jobs, is part of a growing employers’ offensive against trade union organisation which is also behind today’s strike by 8,000 postal workers in London.
Indigenous Peruvians fight the corporations
A determined campaign by indigenous people has forced the Peruvian government to temporarily suspend new laws that would permit the global oil, gas and timber corporations to expand into virgin forest on the Amazon river.
As dole queues grow, so does case for regime change
As the exam period ends in the UK, young people surging through the gates of schools and colleges will be looking for jobs. But with jobs disappearing and unemployment predicted to surge for months to come as a result of the crisis of capitalism, they’ll mostly be disappointed.
The uprising in Iran
The titanic struggle on the streets of Iran unleashed by the disputed results of the presidential election contain a revolutionary essence that has the potential to take on a momentum all of its own.
Netanyahu endorses a ghetto
Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday became the sixth Israeli prime minister to utter the words “Palestinian state” – and yet the Palestinians are no nearer their goal after his speech. The conditions set out by the right-wing Israeli leader are so draconian that they effectively rule out self-determination for the Palestinians as the outcome of any negotiations before they have even started.
Crisis over? Who are they kidding!
Finance ministers in Italy for this weekend’s annual meeting of the G8 capitalist countries aren’t short of sources to help them interpret economic statistics, and they’re getting plenty of advice about what needs to be done. The trouble is that not only are the statistics contradictory, but so is the advice.
Double dealing on climate change
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon this week summonsed world leaders to attend an unprecedented second pre-meeting in New York in September to "galvanise political will" about "the defining issue of our time". He wants a deal on climate change on the table for the world summit in Copenhagen in December and his urgent intervention shows that prospects for an agreement remain weak.
Shell's 'blood money' pay-out
Relatives of writer and campaigner Ken Saro-Wiwa have welcomed the outcome of the 14-year legal battle against Shell which has been pillaging the Niger delta since it began drilling there in 1958. But has real justice been achieved in the landmark £9.5 million settlement?
How New Labour's 'vision' helped BNP
So the revolt against Gordon Brown fizzled out last night and it’s easy to see why. Ultimately, his opponents were only interested in saving their own skins come general election time and had no differences of principle or policy with the prime minister.
The parliamentary game is up
New Labour’s continued disintegration – both as a government and a party – is now accompanied by an historic fracturing of a political system that has hitherto functioned on the Tweedledum-Tweedledee principle. That much is clear from yesterday’s devastating European election results.
New improved 'fantasy finance' fuels the crisis
The maelstrom of scandal and political in-fighting that is shaking the New Labour government to its foundations – who knows what other ministers may have resigned by the time you read this – is fuelling the fires of the global crisis of capitalism.
Oil giants set Copenhagen agenda
It is now crystal clear that the Copenhagen earth summit planned for later this year cannot and will not deliver action to halt climate change. The agenda for it has been hi-jacked in advance by the global energy corporations.
A government in freefall
To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, to lose one minister, Mr Brown, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose four in two days looks like carelessness. Actually, it looks like more like meltdown time for the New Labour government as it tears itself apart.
Politics has to become our business
So more than half of the British electorate believe that MPs are corrupt and almost eight out of ten don’t trust them to “tell the truth” either. And 62% say they believe MPs put self-interest first. Not much of a vote of confidence in the Parliamentary system there then.
China aids Tamil death toll cover-up
The Tamil people have paid a shocking price in their struggle for self-determination and now the truth about the massacres perpetrated by the Sri Lankan military near the end of the civil war is being covered up. An explanation for this is to be found in the economic and military ambitions of China, Russia, India and the Pacific Rim states of Malaysia and Indonesia.
A way out of the political crisis
When political systems become corrupted and lose their legitimacy, history shows that ordinary people will try to establish new forms of government. And if there was ever a time to draw on this long struggle for democracy it is now.
Health advances under threat
Climate change is “the biggest global health threat of the 21st century”, according to the report of a year-long joint study by the University College London Institute for Global Health and the medical science magazine The Lancet. The gains made in the 19th and 20th centuries – countering infectious and pest-borne diseases, reducing malnutrition, improving infant and maternal mortality levels – could not only be lost, but put into reverse.
Lies, damned lies and statistics
Apparently the number of people imagining that there will be more jobs available in the next six months in the United States has increased. This measure of “confidence” sent markets soaring yesterday. But these are the kinds of reports that sustain the now-fading springtime images of economic green shoots. Those who believe them should be warned about too much optimism.
Power, representation and the state
There is now a competition between the Tories and some members of the New Labour cabinet about how to “redistribute power” in a bid to defuse an historic political crisis that shows no sign of abating.
Vacuum at heart of the system
The expenses scandal continues to stoke up outrage and fury everywhere from deepest Tunbridge Wells right up to the north of Scotland, as the credibility of the political class continues to sink into the mire.
Bankrupt - economically and politically
So now we have it – Britain is officially on the verge of state bankruptcy. And we’re not just talking high finance here but politics as well. This coincidence of the gravest economic and financial crisis of capitalism with the constitutional impasse at Westminster is truly an explosive cocktail.
The roulette wheel of climate change
New projections from the most respected climate modeling methodology suggest that without rapid and massive action, global warming will be twice as severe as previously estimated six years ago – and possibly even worse.
The 'R' word makes it appearance
That it is 300 years since a Speaker of the House of Commons was forced from office reflects a political crisis reverberating up from the deepest bowels of society. But a new Speaker, and new rules for the expenses system have as much chance of solving the constitutional emergency as the measures taken by governments and central banks have of fixing the global financial system.
State cracks at its weakest point
The scandal of MPs’ expenses has led to a constitutional crisis because it creates a vacuum within that part of the machinery of state that the ruling classes have used to hoodwink the populace about the true nature of democracy under capitalism.
Parliament is beyond reform
When right-wing newspapers call for “revolution not reform” and leading Tory writers claim that the bond between rulers and ruled is “irreparably ruptured”, you can gauge the measure of the constitutional crisis now sweeping through the British state
For a new democratic politics
Some leading political commentators have suggested that the present crisis gripping Parliament over fiddled expenses will fuel what they term “anti-politics” and that this is dangerous because it could play into the hands of the far right like the British National Party.
Food crisis fuels new land grab
A new global land grab threatens not only the world's climate but the survival of some of the poorest people on the planet. From Brazil to Cuba, Mexico to Madagascar, governments and corporations are buying up land to bolster their own dwindling food and fuel resources.
'Green shoots' fantasy world
From international speculator George Soros, to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, to global stock markets, there is a concerted attempt to declare that the worst of the economic crisis is over. That’ll be no comfort for 244,000 in the UK who have joined the ranks of the unemployed and the thousands of school and university leavers this summer, whose job prospects are the worst for a generation.
'In the name of God, go'
What to do with Parliament? What to do with MPs who have bought and sold properties using taxpayers’ money, who have had their swimming pools cleaned and have even claimed for tons of horse manure on expenses? What to do with an institution that is said to be the cornerstone of the British constitution but whose members are preoccupied with feathering their own nests?
Parliament versus the people
The shoddy and demeaning spectacle of MPs milking their expenses’ system at the taxpayers' expense for all it is worth knows no bounds. They have been claiming for just about everything: £60,000 (Employment minister Tony McNulty) for second home allowances, and £25,000 for security patrols (Barbara Follett) down to 69p for a packet of biscuits, £2.50 for eyeliner and even for Kit Kats and an Ikea carrier bag.
Rail network heads for meltdown
The Faustian bargain between New Labour, the state and capitalist corporations is collapsing around the government’s ears and nowhere more so than in the rail industry. Led by the debt-ridden National Express, many companies that hold the rail franchises sold to them by the government are close to pulling out of their contracts because they can’t make enough profit to pay their way.
Afghan 'Crusaders' claim more lives
The election of Barack Obama has definitely made a difference to the lives of the people of Afghanistan – his administration will offer a public apology and an inquiry when dozens of civilians are indiscriminately killed by American warplanes. And that’s it.
It's capitalism, stupid!
In the ominously quiet moments as the world awaits the next body blow in the struggle between the ill-matched but inseparable financial and economic systems, some of those on the sidelines look for an explanation that goes beyond greed.
Marking the revolt against Stalinism
Twenty years ago today, the Hungarian government, under pressure from anti-Stalinist demonstrators, announced that it was opening its borders with Austria. Tens of thousands of East Germans flooded into Budapest, on their way to Western Europe. This human tidal wave led to the collapse of the Berlin Wall later that year and the reunification of Germany in 1990.
New Labour vultures gather
As senior New Labour politicians form a queue to deny they are seeking to replace Gordon Brown as leader of the party and take over as prime minister, they are bringing the curtain down on an era that began exactly 30 years ago today.
The truth behind Brown's boom
A committee of MPs today blames the “reckless behaviour” of the banks for the financial crisis, which is as neat a way as any of letting the New Labour government off the hook.
Profit comes before public health
The World Health Organisation has increased its assessment of the risk of a swine flu pandemic to the second highest level, yet not one politician has spoken about the underlying reasons for the outbreak.
Ownership but no control
Get your head round this one. Members of the United Auto Workers of America (UAW) are voting today on a deal which would give them majority ownership of Chrysler, one of the big three US-based global car makers. But don’t get the wrong idea – the corporation is not throwing in the towel and handing control to its workforce.
The audacity of hype
As Barack Obama comes up to his 100th day in office, the limitations of his power to determine the course of events are cruelly exposed, nowhere more so than in relation to the economy.
Unmasking the state
“We don’t want to stop you doing what you are doing. We’re just asking you to consider a proposal… almost a business proposal…At least you’re thinking logically. If you’re going back to school you’re going to have loans to pay off. […] wouldn’t it be nice to have tax-free money you’d be getting?” and “UK plc can afford more than 20 quid.”
Carbon capture rip-off
The government’s commitment to provide £90 million of public money for experiments in unproven, risky carbon capture technology is just the first instalment on a bill to the taxpayer and energy consumers that could run into billions.
Darling's big fraud fools no one
Alistair Darling’s crisis budget is a gigantic attempted fraud that will fool no-one. New Labour’s Chancellor bears comparison with Bernard Madoff who, last month, was convicted of the largest investor fraud ever committed by a single person.
Parliament, power and expenses
On the day when the average person will discover how much bailing out the banks is going to cost them personally, it’s good to know that the prime minister is proposing that a select group will get something like an extra £25,000 a year, tax free, just for turning up to “work”.
Racism and the state of Israel
One doesn’t have to agree with the wilder, deeply reactionary views of the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about Israel and the Jews to spot the hypocrisy of the walk-out by Western diplomats at yesterday’s UN conference on racism in Geneva.
Masters and servants: the state at work
The notion that the police are, or should be, “public servants” is an admirable ideal. Unfortunately, it bears little relation to reality, as the policing of the G20 protests have proved.
Tamil hunger strikers expose New Labour
As hunger striker Paramesweran Subramaniyam languishes in Parliament Square, New Labour Foreign Secretary David Miliband has seen fit to “deplore” the tactics used by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the movement fighting for self-determination, while ignoring the plight of the Tamil people altogether.
Should energy go local?
There are many problems associated with retooling how America obtains its energy, more specifically, how it is generated and transmitted to the consumer. Obama is faced with some energy decisions that will affect the shape of the country indefinitely.
Green shoots in Finaghy
Governments and central banks throughout the world have been struggling with a myriad of unco-ordinated measures to deal with the global financial crisis that has triggered a precipitate fall in output and rising unemployment.
Police raid is real conspiracy
The arrest of 114 environmental activists in Nottingham in the early hours of yesterday morning in a massive police raid on a school in the city, represents a sinister state crack-down on the right to protest and should be condemned outright by everyone who wants to defend human rights and civil liberties.
'Creative destruction' order of the day
Despite the G20’s attempts at confidence-boosting rhetoric, the interdependent components of the global economy remain locked in a deadly embrace, wrestling with each other as they plummet to the ground.
A law unto themselves
Once again the police have blood on their hands and a cover-up is already well under way. That’s the only conclusion you can draw from the video of the gratuitous police attack on bystander Ian Tomlinson during last week’s G20 protests in the City of London, soon after which he collapsed and died.
Spin gives way to the real world
Last week, a photo-opportunity thinly disguised as the G20 emergency economic summit; this week, the real world has reasserted itself. London endured days of synthetic bonhomie that saw world leaders grinning from ear to ear as if everything was under control. Now the smiles have vanished and a new phase of the global crisis is emerging.
The state's dirty work
Important truths about the British state are reaching the light of day, thanks to campaigners and ordinary citizens. The Metropolitan Police and the secret forces of security agencies MI5 and MI6 are being more and more exposed, not only as guilty of brutality, but of cynical lying to cover-up & disguise their activities.
Secret G20 communiqué says it all
The draft communiqué below from the G20, revealed here exclusively by A World to Win, bears no resemblance to the statement eventually published yesterday evening, which is not surprising.
G20 won't bail out the eco-system
Whatever the communiqué issued by G20 leaders says today, it will not address the climate crisis. Rather it will present the shared thinking of governments desperate to get the global capitalist economy rolling again at any cost.
Getting it right about Marx
Mounting street-level opposition to the capitalist G20 governments London gathering prompted the Evening Standard to observe this week that the impact of the combined financial and economic crises is making Karl Marx’s analysis of capitalist society attractive to a rapidly increasing number of people looking for explanations and solutions.
G20: the state flexes its muscles
“We are ready to challenge orthodoxy and we foster a spirit of critical enquiry and innovation to achieve our goals.” So reads part of the “Our values” section of the University of East London’s website. Click through to the home page, however, and we learn that the university, which is near the venue for the G20 summit, will be closed for 48 hours from tonight. And the authorities have simply cancelled the Alternative G20 summit scheduled to take place on the campus tomorrow, citing “security concerns” at “such a sensitive time”.
Being anti-capitalist is only a start
As the leaders of the world’s richest countries start gathering in London for Thursday’s G20 summit, a picture can convey more than words about what confronts Obama, Brown et al. The latest cover of Time magazine just about sums up the desperate nature of the global economic crisis. It depicts a small boat with six people desperately rowing to prevent it falling off the edge of a massive waterfall. The headline is: “All together now (please?)”
Capitalism can't and won't 'put people first'
While most of the world’s media yesterday focused on the US plan for tighter regulations for the disintegrating financial sector and Gordon Brown’s grand tour aimed at talking up next week’s G20 summit, the real, productive economy was going to hell in a handcart.
Crisis hits renewables target
Britain’s alternative energy strategy is in total crisis, with the former boss of BP saying that only urgent government intervention can force the market to deliver the wind and wave developments needed to meet renewables targets.
'Cash for trash' is just rubbish
If someone suggested that you spend a sizeable proportion of your income on buying a pile of household waste from the local refuse tip, you would rightly think they were off their heads. That, however, is exactly what’s happening in the United States in what is now being dubbed by some as President Obama’s “cash for trash” programme.
RMT leads jobs fightback
While the leaders of most trade unions are flying as fast as they can away from any confrontation with government or employers, the RMT rail union is in serious battle with the companies that run trains. The RMT, in the eyes of many, are the true defenders of the rail system.
Beware police 'troublemakers'
Two reports published today provide evidence of the deepening assault on human rights in Britain. Read alongside well-leaked Metropolitan Police plans to deal with anti-G20 protesters in London on April 1, they lift the lid on the state’s preparation for the eventuality of major social unrest.
The horse has bolted
Current and former leaders of global agencies are leap-frogging each other with increasingly dramatic attempts to give expression to the scale and rapidity of the disintegration and collapse of the world’s financial and economic systems. Their warnings contrast sharply with the feeble efforts of national government agencies like the UK’s Financial Services Authority.
Climate scientists say time is running out
Scientists have moved into the front line of the battle against climate change, giving politicians a clear message that failure to agree urgent action when they meet in Copenhagen in December, will lead to social and climate chaos.
How cost cutting costs lives
New Labour health secretary Alan Johnson’s claim that the unnecessary deaths and abysmal standards of care at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust are not being repeated at other hospitals is based on wishful thinking rather than facts because the same target-driven, cost-cutting approach exposed in an official report is at work throughout the health service.
Plan B has to be co-ownership
When Gordon Brown announces that the “old idea that markets were by definition efficient” is over and that “laissez-faire” has “had its day”, you can see how the crisis of confidence in the capitalist system has pervaded the highest reaches of government and the state. What plan B is, however, is altogether another question.
G20 reduced to spectators
There they were on a warm spring weekend in Horsham, West Sussex, with a simple agenda: agree a plan to prevent the global economy from slipping from recession to deep slump, or at least suggest an outline of a strategy that their bosses could sign up to at the G20 summit in London next month.
A question mark over the system itself
The Financial Times major series of articles grandly entitled “The Future of Capitalism” should at least have a question mark after it, especially as the main contributors are, to say the least, struggling to come to terms with what’s actually happened, let alone what lies ahead.
Car workers abandoned by union leaders
Toyota car workers at plants around the country yesterday voted by more than two to one to accept a 10% cut in pay and hours, which was recommended to them by UNITE and GMB unions on the spurious grounds that the negotiated “deal” was better than redundancy.
Demand the release of Hicham Yezza!
Hicham Yezza’s real “crime” was to help a student with his research into Al Qaeda and then to campaign against his arbitrary arrest and detention by the police, called in by his employers, Nottingham University. A nine-month jail sentence he is now serving for immigration “irregularities” is nothing less than the state’s revenge for failing to sustain the original ludicrous terrorism arrest.
Haiti still waiting for real support
Yesterday the people of Haiti, among the poorest in the world, witnessed the start of a high-profile visit by former US president Bill Clinton and UN general secretary Ban Ki-moon. It is billed as an attempt to turn round the island’s fortunes. The population could do with more than celebrity visits, however.
Stop the bail-outs and repudiate 'toxic debts'
When the Financial Times of all newspapers launches a series called “The Future of Capitalism”, and the Archbishop of Canterbury attacks growth as the basis of the global economy, it’s fair to conclude that the system is shaking from head to foot.
A tipping point is reached
It’s difficult to know which of two momentous pronouncements yesterday has the most profound significance for the future of the global capitalist economy.
Stop the real climate criminals
How are ordinary people to make their voice heard on climate change in a country where their vote counts for nothing, their MPs are powerless and cowed (with a few honourable exceptions) and peaceful protest is being outlawed?
Salute the miners’ strike for jobs
This week marks the 25th anniversary of the start of the great miners’ strike in defence of jobs and communities. Their year-long confrontation with the state and the Tory government remains an outstanding example of the determination of ordinary working people to fight for their rights.
Support the boycott of Israeli goods
First “they” sit back and watch the destruction of homes, offices, universities, hospitals and the wanton killing of civilians by Israeli forces in Gaza. Then, when the dust has settled, “they” turn up in Egypt and offer billions for “reconstruction”. Hypocrisy doesn’t come more blatant than this.
Fighting the state for our rights
Two conferences over the weekend 200 miles apart highlighted the difference between a liberal defence of civil liberties which aims at building a classless coalition of the mainstream political centre and a more militant enforcement of human rights in a continuous struggle against the state.
How to 'rescue' the banks from the owners
On the day the Royal Bank of Scotland reported the biggest annual loss in UK corporate history – a mind-boggling £24 billion – and news emerged of former chief executive Sir Fred Goodwin’s £700,000 a year pension, New Labour announced its third rescue package for the stricken bank.
Only so much oil in the ground
Native Americans from the Cree clan will today announce a legal challenge to the Alberta government’s issuing of permits allowing oil corporations to start extracting oil from tar sands in the Beaver Lake area. This highly profitable activity will pollute hunting and fishing lands and destroy protected areas and species.
Stripping away our rights
If the state strips away basic freedoms and civil liberties, what do you have left? And is this then a state worth preserving? These questions are worth asking on a day that two further assaults on our rights make it into the public realm (don’t even ask about the stuff we know nothing about) that are designed to intimidate ordinary citizens.
Behind the Royal Mail sell-off
As postal workers gather outside Parliament today to lobby the government over plans for a partial sell-off of the Royal Mail, as a prelude to mass redundancies, any lingering doubts they might have had about where New Labour’s priorities lie should be dispelled by reports of yet another bail-out of the banks.
Torture on New Labour's hands
With the expected arrival back today of Binyam Mohamed, the young British resident held for four years in the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison camp after his “rendition” by American forces in Pakistan, New Labour’s complicity in his torture has become blindingly clear.
A global protection racket
Global car maker General Motors is demanding an additional $18 billion in addition to the $13.4 billion in loans already received from the US Treasury to keep it afloat whilst it slashes jobs and production.
Policies for the global food crisis
The food crisis may have slipped from the headlines, but almost a billion people face starvation in 2009. Drought and high prices, along with a diversion to bio-fuels and higher costs in the West, will reduce production in most of the world's major grain producers.
Looking after our own interests
Those with money can; those without are expected to take the punishment. If you’ve got resources, you move them out of stocks and shares and into gold and even jewellery. If you’ve just got your labour power to sell, you will be on the receiving end of the redundancy notice, short-time working and, coming soon, pay cuts. You will be expected to pay for a crisis not of your making.
New Labour flounders as old order crumbles
When the prince of darkness – aka Lord Mandelson – tells his fellow New Labour ministers not to panic, you can be sure that is exactly what they are doing. The reason is simple. Social anger is mounting as the economic crisis worsens almost by the hour and the government appears to have no sense of purpose or grip on the crisis.
In praise of Russian revolutionary art
Tate Modern’s exhibition of art from the Russian Revolution has received ecstatic critical acclaim. And rightly so. The two artists in the spotlight, Alexander Rodchenko and Liubov Popova, made paintings and art works which retain their excitement nearly 100 years later.
Hoping for the best - preparing for the worst
When the Governor of the Bank of England says it out loud, it’s because it has already happened. As Mervyn King said himself, he’s not paid to make predictions. It’s why only six months ago he didn’t even acknowledge the possibility. So, in confirming the obvious he says the UK economy faces its deepest recession since the post-war years of 1945 and 1946, and its worst peacetime decline since 1931.
Adapt to climate change - on our terms
Climate scientists have called an emergency meeting in Copenhagen next week to demand that world leaders take immediate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to start preparing society for the impact of climate change. As Australia counts the terrible cost of bush fires, and wheat prices soar in China due to prolonged drought in grain growing regions, the results of climate change are already apparent.
Draw up the charge sheet!
If you were drawing up an indictment of those responsible for the present Great Crash, it would embrace more than just a few bankers delivering a well-rehearsed “sorry” before a committee of tame MPs as they did yesterday. Those in the dock would have to include governments like New Labour, corporate executives, those who run the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank and the so-called regulators who turned a blind eye as global capitalism gorged itself on fantasy finance.
Balls spills the beans
There are at least two conclusions you can draw from the admission by Ed Balls, the schools minister, that Britain is facing its most severe economic and financial crisis for more than a century: We have been systematically lied to about the severity of the rapidly developing catastrophe and the public is being softened up for dramatic political developments.
The agony of the Tamils
The agony of 250,000 or more civilians trapped in 67 square miles in the north east of Sri Lanka as the army closes in on the Tamil Tiger movement is becoming ever graver. The desperate situation was revealed yet again this morning when a female Tamil Tiger blew herself up as she was travelling with civilians fleeing the fighting.
The only thing we have to fear is capitalism itself
The dispute over the use of imported labour at a UK oil refinery looks like a minor side show compared to the global disquiet over a key part of Barack Obama’s economic package. The president’s throwback to 1930s Roosevelt-style government spending, and its inward-looking Buy American component, is causing concern amongst ailing corporations, as well as countries dependent on exports to the US.
The sound of breaking glass
Waterford Crystal was established in 1783 by the brothers George and William Penrose with the aim of creating crystal “as fine as any in Europe... in the most elegant style”. This the Waterford Crystal company did, using the skills of gifted workers until 1851, when the company closed under the burden of heavy taxation. It was revived a century later and the crystal manufactured by Waterford (now Waterford Wedgewood) is very fine indeed. Elegance of craftsmanship may not be enough however to save the plant this time round.
In praise of Charles Darwin
The imminent 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, whose theory of evolution at a stroke revolutionised the way we see nature and our place in it, is not simply a moment for the celebration of scientific investigation. It also provides an opportunity to show how historical change takes place, both in nature and society.
Painting by numbers
Is there a connection between the purchase by the National Galleries of Scotland and England of a masterpiece by the 16th century Venetian painter Titian for a mere £50 million, and the man who claims to be in charge of the country, Gordon Brown? I only ask this because of the prime minister’s strange reference to the painter which left already bewildered political and economic elites even more bemused.
Unite against our common enemies
The angry walk-outs by engineers and construction workers at refineries and power plants around Britain in defence of their livelihoods is the first major - and explosive - reaction to the economic crisis in the UK. That said, the form these strikes has taken urgently needs redirecting. They cannot be endorsed so long as they are aimed principally against foreign workers.
A tale of two countries
As unemployment rockets around the world, with Britain the hardest hit major economy, workers on both sides of the Channel are beginning to take action against job cuts and attacks on living standards.
Wales grapples with 'green' realities
The economic slump is bringing about a transformation in the way people live and how they think about themselves and the future. They are soberly looking for new ideas and ways forward that address their very real anger and fears. But at the same time, there is enormous ideological pressure to keep them tied to the status quo, as I heard yesterday.
Globalisation 'virus' hits Davos
Spare a thought for the great and the not-so-good who have gathered for the annual party of the rich and the powerful at the luxury resort of Davos in the Swiss mountains for the World Economic Forum (WEF). The 2,500 or so attendees, including 41 heads of state, have been obliged to scale down from the most expensive champagnes like Dom Perignon to “normal champagne”. Some benighted delegates are even downgrading from champagne to white wine, according to a local hotelier.
When corporations 'manage' the food crisis
If you want to know what happens if you leave corporations, bankers and global capitalist agencies in charge of something important, you just have to look at what has happened to food supply in the developing world. In spite of pledges to halve hunger by 2015, it has continued to increase worldwide, reaching over 1 billion people this year.
Avoiding a repeat of history
Karl Marx cited the words of his teacher Georg Hegel, when he recalled, “all facts and personages of great importance in world history occur, as it were, twice”, with Marx adding: “The first time as tragedy, the second as farce.” That déjà vu feeling came to mind while watching TV and reading the news over the weekend.
A Tom Paine for the 21st century!
The economy is in such a steep decline that the top global corporations are now feeling the impact. The collapse of consumer demand is cutting the ground from under giants like Sony, which expects a record $2.9 billion annual operating loss, and Microsoft which is cutting 5,000 jobs worldwide – about 5% of its estimated 96,000 employees – and refusing to make a forecast of future profitability.
What a waste!
The fraud of profit-based recycling has been exposed, as the whole project disintegrates under the weight of the economic crisis. The market price of recycled materials has collapsed, and as a result there are warehouses full of waste paper filling up around the country.
End a system that wrecks lives
This government is interested only in saving capitalism, not jobs. That’s the meaning of today’s unemployment figures, which show that people’s lives are being wrecked by a system that’s breaking apart. That’s the significance of writing a blank cheque to bankers, who promptly hoard taxpayers’ money to bolster their shattered balance sheets, while jobs disappear in their tens of thousands.
The bankruptcy of 'politics'
The failure of a second state bail-out to resuscitate the corpse of British banking, as Lib Dem spokesman Vince Cable so eloquently put it, is a dramatic indication that the entire financial system is close to the precipice. With this looms the increasing possibility of state bankruptcy and an end to what now passes for conventional politics.
Obama's 'tiger' comes to Washington
The veteran US civil rights campaigner Jesse Jackson has given voice to the deep contradictions that lie behind this extraordinary moment in politics on the eve of the inauguration of Barack Obama as the country’s first African-American president when he declared: “On Tuesday, it will be high noon in our politics, yet it is midnight in our economy.”
Corporations warn against bail-out risk
Massive government spending to support financial institutions in countries including the US, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain and Australia will significantly further damage the weakening global economy, especially if, as predicted, China suffers a sharp slowdown this year. Those are not my words but come from an organisation that speaks for the major global corporations.
Fighting the third runway
The government’s go-ahead for a third runway and a sixth terminal at Heathrow will destroy 700 homes, liquidate the village of Sipson, make life unbearable for thousands living under new flight paths, and dramatically increase emissions of greenhouse gases. Is New Labour bothered? You must be joking!
Bankers' government is bankrupt
Is there such a thing as a banking “expert”? We ask this question in the light of today’s announcement that New Labour has recruited a top City banker to the government to – wait for it – try and save the banking system.
'Mass murder' in Gaza
It is not often that you find yourself in agreement with the maverick Labour MP Gerald Kaufman. Today, however, I find myself supporting his remarks in the House of Commons during the brief debate yesterday on Israel’s war on Gaza.
Support unions' call for new People's Charter
Leaders of two major unions laid down a significant challenge at the weekend by calling for a mass campaign for a new People’s Charter, echoing the spirit of the great struggle for representation and political power waged by the 19th century Chartist movement.
Capitalism heads for year zero
Barack Obama yesterday raised the spectre of an irreversible crisis, with the situation getting “dramatically worse”, if his spending plans to boost the US economy were delayed. Is he being alarmist? And will his plans for a $775 billion “shock therapy” treatment work?
Put supermarkets’ bloated profits on a diet
The government’s New Year campaign against obesity and for healthier living is a shameful piece of hypocrisy because it ignores the real causes of the health crisis
One solution - one secular state
Outrage and shock is growing around the world as the Israeli war on Gaza takes its toll on a defenceless civilian population. The slaughter of women and children at a United Nations school compound yesterday prompted Venezuela to expel diplomatic staff from the country and angry demonstrations are taking place in many countries against the US-backed attacks.
New debt time bomb primed
As the economy heads inexorably for catastrophic collapse, the failure of capitalist politicians to come up with any answers – or indeed accept any responsibility for the crisis – is glaring. That, however, does not mean there are no solutions to hand. It’s just that they don’t spring from a conventional approach to what’s happening.
Gaza - a crime against humanity
The war against the defenceless people of Gaza by one of the most powerful military machines in the world is another crime against humanity to add to the existing lengthy indictment of the reactionary and racist rulers of Israel.
Don't pay the price for their follies
As the minor surge of festive consumer hysteria peters out, analysts are preparing for an unprecedented perfect storm in 2009 with unpredictable economic and social consequences.
Seize the time in 2009
This was the year when the wheels came off the juggernaut of corporate-driven globalisation and revealed to a new generation that the capitalist economic and financial model is fundamentally flawed and unsustainable. An insoluble crisis centred at the heart of the system, in the United States and Britain, is certain to deepen in 2009.
The tragedy of the Palestinians
One thing in this turbulent world is always certain - the hypocrisy of the major powers when it comes to the slaughter of innocent Palestinians by Israeli bombs and rockets. Do we ever hear a word of condemnation from Washington and London as the bodies pile up? Never!
Warnings come thick and fast
First the financial crisis, followed by economic disintegration. Then the political and social crisis, which will probably lead to a military-style crackdown by the state. This is not my gloomy assessment but the view increasingly taken by right-wing commentators and aired in a recent report produced by the US Army War College’s Strategic Institute.
Henry Ford's model runs into the sand
Global production of cars is coming to a standstill. This is just the most dramatic and immediate result of a rapidly deteriorating crisis which has paralysed the global financial system and rapidly sent the world economy into recession.
Climate change tipping point
Another day, another set of warnings that runaway climate change is pushing the planet to a tipping point beyond which serious impacts cannot be avoided. Climate change researchers have found the Arctic region is warming faster than the rest of the world, and that this is happening much sooner than expected.
Brown prepares to cut and run
In 1997, New Labour chose Things Can Only Get Better by D:ream as its theme song for the election campaign. As speculation rises that prime minister Brown may call an election early in 2009, it is time for someone to record Things Can Only Get Worse.
Just one big lie
When Bernard Madoff, who is allegedly responsible for a $50 billion fraud that has hit banks, hedge funds and wealthy individuals, told his staff that he was "finished" and that "it's all just one big lie", he could just as easily been referring to the global capitalist financial system as a whole and not just his own “investment” fund.
A state of terror
Gordon Brown is generously offering the “expertise” of the British security and intelligence services to fight al-Qaeda’s activities in Pakistan. But many are increasingly questioning the ability of the British capitalist state to protect anyone from attacks as well as its abuse of anti-terror powers to create an authoritarian regime.
Thinking the unthinkable
Despite Gordon Brown’s notions of saving the world – let alone Britain – the pound is now falling to its lowest-ever levels against the Euro. It is currently trading at 1.04 euros to the pound at some bureaux de change. Things are so bad that insiders are thinking the unthinkable – jettisoning Sterling and adopting the Euro!
EU climate talks fraud
In July this year, 200,000 Germans cheered Barack Obama when he promised a rally in Berlin that under his leadership, the US would join Europe in leading the fight against climate change. The only problem is that far from Europe showing the way, it is all falling apart.
The long struggle for human rights
Sixty years ago, on 10 December 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the landmark Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as the basis for human development following six years of destructive and catastrophic world war. Many of the rights set out in the UDHR, however, remain aspirations for the vast majority and are routinely trampled upon by state bodies.
Greece in revolt
The sustained revolt by Greek students and young workers in major cities throughout the country may have been triggered by the shooting of a 15-year-old by police but is actually a confrontation that was waiting to happen. And it reveals that in the country that first conceived of democracy, there is no future for the ideal within the confines of the existing Greek state.
‘A message to the workers of America’
As workers at a Chicago car plant face the loss of their jobs and money owed them by the company, they are showing a way out of the crisis by occupying their plant. The 260 women and men, who are members of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) Local 1110, refused to leave the Republic Windows & Doors factory when it was due to shut down last Friday.
A system beyond repair
The global economy is in bad shape, nowhere more so than in the UK and each panic measure only makes matters worse. Following a total of 2% cut in the previous two months, the Bank of England has reduced its rate by a further 1% to 2% – equal to the lowest rate since the Bank of England was founded in 1694, when capitalism began to make its mark. That’s how serious the crisis is.
Market can't meet climate change targets
The high-profile report of the Climate Change Committee published this week, exposed all the weaknesses of the New Labour government’s policies, and addressed none of them.
Next stop the workhouse
The world is going to hell in a handcart, driven by the madness of the capitalist market economy. But wait, New Labour is about to leap into action to save us all. Today, Her Majesty’s government will through the Queen announce lie detector tests aimed at “benefit cheats” and harsher financial penalties for the disabled and lone parents who are considered not to have made a supreme effort to find work.
Falling out with Obama
Even before Barack Obama takes office as the first African-American president, some American liberals and activists have expressed concern about the direction his administration might take. They point to his choice of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, the retention of Robert Gates as defence secretary and the selection of James Jones, a prominent hawk who supported John McCain for president, as Obama’s national security advisor.
Questions behind the Mumbai terror attack
The terror attacks in Mumbai have focused attention on some fundamental questions that neither the Indian state – the so-called world’s biggest democracy – nor the Pakistani regime are capable of resolving. They include the status of Kashmir and discrimination against Muslims in India amid vast inequalities of wealth within the country as a whole.
Brown's boot boys in action
When anti-terror police are used to arrest the shadow immigration minister for the grave "crime" of leaking information to the media, the Tories' use of the term "Stalinesque" to describe events is absolutely justified.
New Labour's borrowing bombshell
When the government borrows, who does it borrow off? This question from a reader arose in response to Monday’s crisis budget, when chancellor Darling announced record sums of borrowing. It’s an arrow that gets straight to the heart of the problem.
Save the reefs, not the banks
There is new and dramatic evidence that rising carbon emissions have increased the acidity of the world’s oceans ten times faster than predicted, endangering many species and corals.
'Extraordinary measures' the order of the day
The capitalist system is both broke and broken – and neither New Labour nor the Tories can fix it. Banks can’t and won’t lend, the housing market has collapsed, job losses are piling up (Woolworths finally collapsed this morning) and the state itself is being pawned in the hope that there’ll be money in the future to redeem the pledge.
Darling deludes no-one except himself
The measures set out in the New Labour government’s emergency budget yesterday were designed to set pulses racing and induce a collective sigh of relief across the country. Instead, the record amounts of borrowing required will not only reinforce the economic and financial crisis but also point towards the possibility of state bankruptcy in the not too distant future.
Time to slay the dragon
As the clocks struck midnight in Washington on Sunday, the Bush government scrambled to rescue Citibank, formerly one of the world’s most powerful financial institutions, to prevent it from total collapse when the markets opened today. Another weekend, another bail-out of bankrupt banks as the era of fantasy finance unravels in remorseless fashion.
Shocks to the system
It would be difficult to overestimate the significance of even one of the economic events of the last 24 hours. Fears of a severe recession sent financial markets into freefall once more while retailers launched their January sales two months early in an attempt to tempt now wary consumers into deeper debt.
The great biomass grab
Although three-quarters of the world’s biomass has remained beyond the grasp of the market economy, corporations are now poised to appropriate and further commodify biological products and processes in every part of the globe - as well as further destroy biodiversity, deplete soil and water and displace marginalised farmers.
High art - high prices
The National Gallery's struggle to raise the cash to buy a Titian masterpiece says a lot about the art market and access to cultural works. Yesterday, the gallery announced that it has been granted a £10m lifeline by the National Heritage Memorial Fund “of last resort” to acquire the painting, currently on special loan and on view in London. This leaves it 41 days to raise a total of £50 million to secure the Titian.
There is another way
Trying to solve a global capitalist economic and financial crisis fuelled by credit and debt, which has driven consumers to the wall and left increasing numbers unemployed, with marginal (and temporary) tax cuts only shows how desperate the Brown government has become and is little more than PR exercise.
The spirit of Shankly lives on
“The socialism I believe in,” said the legendary Liverpool FC manager Bill Shankly, “is everybody working for the same goal and everybody having a share in the rewards. That’s how I see football, that’s how I see life.” He is no doubt turning in his grave over the plight of his former club, whose future is now in the hands of crisis-ridden banks.
Can we do it? Yes we must!
As the political leaders of 20 of the biggest economies gather in Washington to work out how to fix the global capitalist economy as, like a runaway train, it heads straight for the buffers, the range of “solutions” is piling up. None of them have a hope of taking off.
Work makes you sick
As the planet’s eco-systems cannot cope with the stress imposed on them by capitalist forms of production, human beings are bound to be similarly affected. That is reflected in the fact that 2.8 million people in Britain claim what until recently was called incapacity benefit.
New Labour isn’t working
This is where New Labour came in. Unemployment is now back to 1997 levels and the claimant count has seen its biggest increase in over 15 years as the global economic and financial crisis sweeps through the highly vulnerable, debt-ridden British economy. It ought to be where New Labour goes out.
A drawing down of blinds
What is left unsaid on November 11, when the slaughter of World War One finally ended exactly 90 years ago, needs to be shouted from the rooftops: the 750,000 British soldiers who were killed – and those from other countries who died – were victims of a war not of their making and fought not in their interest and that the reason for their deaths is still present today.
In the state's firing line
Behind the turmoil of the economic and financial crisis, New Labour is stepping up its construction of a surveillance state that assumes that every citizen is an “enemy within”. The latest threat is contained within the innocuous sounding Data Communications Bill.
The 'great debt unwind' continues apace
Central banks are slashing base rates across Europe in a renewed, desperate attempt to minimise the impact of the unstoppable descent into slump. Their combined efforts can be compared to joining hands in a line to confront an avalanche of snow head-on. You just know what the result will be.
Paying for oil with their lives
People are enjoying a national holiday in Kenya today to mark Barack Obama's family connections with the country and across Africa millions look hopefully towards the USA and its new African-American President-elect. Also today, in San Francisco’s District Court, the oil company Chevron is fighting a case brought by a group of Niger Delta villagers. The company is accused of using soldiers to attack a peaceful demonstration, killing two people and wounding many others.
US voters vent their anger
Barack Obama’s historic and clear-cut victory in yesterday’s US presidential election is the result of a mass mobilisation of people and energy by his campaign that will prove all but impossible to contain within the narrow confines of the American political system.
A global land grab is underway
Today's food and financial crises have, in tandem, triggered a new global land grab. "Food insecure" governments that rely on imports to feed their people are snapping up farms all over the world to outsource their own food production and escape high market prices.
Obama is riding a tiger
As the most expensive election campaign in US history draws to a close – candidates have spent over $1.5 billion since the primaries began last year – one thing is certain whoever gets to the White House: the power relations that dominate American society will not change.
Banks get quids but there's no quo
It is not long since Prime Minister Brown announced a £400 billion bail-out package including a £37 billion gift to the banks, but the big lie has already been exposed. The story a month ago was that the government and the Bank of England were going to do whatever it takes “to maintain the stability of our system and to make sure that there is stability for families and for businesses right across our country”.
Moving beyond peak oil
Obscene profits announced this week by two oil giants underline two important messages. One, governments can neither regulate nor influence the activities of the global corporations. And two, if we leave our energy future to companies operating within the capitalist profit-driven framework, we might as well abandon hope now.
Keeping people in their homes
As repossessions soar – they are up 71% on last year – and millions of homeowners see the market value of their properties fall well below what they owe to the banks, the New Labour government washes its hands of the growing housing crisis.
'Walking blind into a minefield'
The impending collapse of so-called “emerging” economies from Ukraine to Turkey illustrates dramatically the domino-effect of the global financial crash, with the weakest countries going to the wall first. Rising political tensions at national and regional level are also dangerous signals that the crisis is destabilising international relations.
The 'Big Ear' hears everything... and nothing
While conspiracy theorists insist against all the evidence that the third tower at the World Trade Centre was deliberately destroyed by the American government, the real behaviour of the secret state is being exposed by a courageous group of US journalists and whistleblowers from within the military and intelligence agencies.
When limits are reached
Alan Greenspan, former head of the US Federal Reserve, admitted yesterday that the credit crisis had exceeded anything he had imagined. Talking about the operation of financial markets he said: “It had been going for 40 years with considerable evidence that it was working very well.” Either he was looking down the wrong end of the telescope, or his theoretical models were wrong.
Still 'business as usual' when it comes to climate change
Nicholas Stern – who wrote the 2006 report on the economics of climate change for New Labour – argues that recession “is the time to build a low-carbon future with the investment vital for economy and planet”. In an article entitled Green routes to growth (“growth” appears no fewer than 11 times) he proposes a quasi-Keynesian solution to climate change and recession, which is superficially attractive.
The spectre of Marx looms large
As Bank of England governor Mervyn King warns that UK is entering recession and the pound plunges, websites and newspapers around the world are noting that the ideas of Karl Marx have a new relevance.
No easy fixes
To those who have been preaching state intervention as the solution to the credit crunch and the recession it must seem as though their time has come. Out go the discredited free-market assumptions of the late 20th century and in come the theories that found favour in the late 1930s and the immediate post-war.
A Charter for Democracy
How to defend our rights but also secure them in a lasting way was the overall theme running through our Stand Up for Your Rights festival at the weekend. Dramas portraying the struggles of the Levellers of the 17th century and the Chartist movement of the mid-19th century attested to the fact that this is not a new question.
Time to cut the losses
In the last week, stock markets the world over have been showing the classic signs of bipolar disorder, but in the most concentrated form. Euphoric, manic, hysterical highs followed by the deepest depression. Much of it, say some of the commentators, is internally generated, the result of speculators feeding off each other’s panic.
Too much 'civilisation'
Nothing sums up the insanity of the capitalist system more than unemployment. Just think about it. People want to work; the means of production like offices, shops, factories, plant and equipment all exist; yet all of a sudden, workers are thrown on the dole.
The state we are in
That capitalism today requires incredible, almost unimaginable levels of financial support and assistance from the state just to keep the system on life support in intensive care, is beyond dispute. What is also apparent is that both the state and the cap-in-hand former masters of the universe who run capitalism have fatally wounded the case for their own continuance.
The storm is just starting to blow
Gordon Brown is being feted as the “master of the universe”. Stock markets yesterday were delirious with joy, making record-breaking, stratospheric leaps as governments around the world bailed out the banks. Right-wing Tory newspapers joined in unalloyed praise for the bankers’ government.
'The worst is yet to come'
The emergency state bail-out today of Britain’s major banks to the tune of £37 billion marks the end of an era and is the clearest indication that the recession that prompted the global financial crash is already turning into economic depression.
From fantasy finance to economic crash
When corporations at the heart of American capitalism, Ford and General Motors, find themselves close to bankruptcy, there is no surer sign that financial mayhem is turning into economic disaster for the masses who actually work for a living rather than speculate with other people’s money and lives.
End of an era
In a talk to black Londoners last night, American-born playwright Bonnie Greer remarked that we are witnessing the end of an era – the age of bling and its associated cultures. She is right. We have reached the end of the age of easy credit and growth-driven consumerism – along with all the illusions that went with it.
Banks bail-out is a con and a swindle
The £50 billion bail-out of the banks is a desperate act by a cornered government. Worse, it is a futile bid to shore up a capitalist financial system that is in meltdown precisely because of the actions of the very same people the money is being handed over to.
One law for the rich...
The global credit crisis provides unparalleled opportunities to expose not just the failure of capitalism as an economic and financial system but also to confront governments like New Labour that are desperately trying to keep the show on the road, whatever it takes.
Political crisis takes centre stage
The scale and spread of the historically unprecedented disintegration of the world’s financial system, and its impact on global markets is beyond the control of any one government. And now it is equally clear that no co-ordinated action is possible either.
Celtic Tiger defanged
With unemployment rising by over a third in the last year as recession bites in and with a national debt of €45 billion, the Irish government is guaranteeing the bank and building society deposits to the tune of a staggering €400 billion. That’s equivalent to €100,000 for each man, woman and child!
Naive and dangerous
As the global credit crisis lurches out of control, you can always find some consolation if you look hard enough, especially if you are a Guardian columnist with words of advice for the political and financial élites who are allegedly in control.
The 'bipartisan' fraud
“Bipartisanship” has broken out all over. Just as we are confronted with the gravest economic and financial crisis since the 1930s, politicians on both sides of the Atlantic have decided that politics is a luxury society cannot afford. Well, there’s a surprise.
Meltdown and revolt
The global capitalist financial system is grinding to a halt amid a meltdown of support for bailing out banks and political paralysis in the United States, the most indebted country of all. Without forms of finance/credit, the economy itself cannot function. It’s that serious.
Another way is possible
The increasingly desperate attempts to bail-out the financial system in America and Europe have raised fundamental questions about economics and politics that were considered dead and buried not so long ago.
Panic in Washington
The chaos in Washington last night, with members of Congress shouting at each other across the table, ignoring President Bush who was chairing the emergency cross-party summit, shows how the frenzy in the crumbling financial system is finding its mirror image in politics.
Drive the merchants from the temple
When the Archbishops of Canterbury and York weigh in against what they see as the excesses of market capitalism and financial speculators, something is definitely up. The most senior figures in the Church of England haven’t suddenly become revolutionaries, however, but reflect a growing sense in society that the economy is going to hell and that ordinary people are the principal victims.
Ironically, the best case for the abolition of private ownership of production and finance is now being made by capitalism itself. For example, banks which until just a few months ago were firmly in the private sector are now state owned or controlled. As yet, the world as we know it has not come to an end following this remarkable turnaround.
A step forward in Manchester
The Convention of the Left meeting in Manchester near the New Labour conference yesterday adopted a “statement of intent” that is intended to sustain a framework of ongoing discussion on policies and actions over the next few months. A World to Win’s participants voted for the statement because it represents a step forward.
'Managing' the crash
Every passing day sees more of the consequences of the global meltdown coming to light. Financial institutions implode and disappear and increasingly desperate measures are taken by private sector banks, central banks and governments.
An 'orderly' failure
Manchester United have a new sponsor this morning – the federal government of the United States of America! Yesterday, the global insurance company AIG was in private hands. This morning, 80% of the shares are owned by the government following a hastily-arranged take-over to prevent the company’s total collapse and a systemic failure of the global financial system.
On a knife edge
The Financial Times puts it like this: “The world has not ended. The international economy has not yet collapsed. But one thing is now quite clear: the banking system as we know it has failed.”
A Sunday crash on Wall Street
It has come to something when the right-wing Daily Telegraph starts talking about the possibility that "capitalism is collapsing under the weight of its internal contradictions". But with Lehman Brothers, one of the world’s biggest investment banks going to the wall overnight, and another, Merrill Lynch, disappearing in a rescue takeover on the same day, you can understand the paper’s concerns.
An umbrella in a hurricane
The union leaders at the TUC this week built up quite a head of theatrical steam over their demand – swiftly rejected - that New Labour politely asks the energy companies to pay a one-off, windfall tax to be used to hold down prices. It was a waste of everybody’s time – and energy.
Embarassed but not deterred
The acquittal yesterday of the Kingsnorth 6, who climbed a 200-metre smokestack (from the inside) as part of the campaign to oppose the building of a new coal-fired station on the site in Kent, is one in the eye for the government’s refusal to tackle climate change in any serious way.
Nature hits back
Hundreds of people in Haiti and the Caribbean are dead, the whole of Cuba has been battered. Millions in the United States have been forced to flee the coastal areas of the Gulf of Mexico, with hundreds of thousands of homes destroyed.
No justice for unions
On the eve of the Trade Union Congress conference in Britain, transport union leader Bob Crow has warned of a massive erosion of workers’ rights resulting from the decisions of the European Court of Justice.
Essex Travellers call for support
Being able to afford a home has become more difficult than ever for countless people as the credit crunch continues to bite. In a home-ownership obsessed country the dream has turned into a nightmare.But quite apart from those struggling to pay their mortgages, there is another group of people who are suffering even greater insecurity. In addition to eviction, they are now in danger of being made scapegoats for countryside blight and local and national government failure.
How history speaks
Seventy years ago today, thirty people from eleven countries came together secretly in the home of a French anti-war revolutionary Alfred Rosmer in Périgny, near Paris... Their mission? To found a new organisation that would work internationally for revolutionary socialism. It was to be called the Fourth International.
Escape from Neverland
New Labour’s crisis deepened over the weekend, with the Chancellor Alistair Darling’s open admission about the seriousness of the credit crunch. He said today’s economic times are “arguably the worst they’ve been in 60 years”.
Something rotten in the state of the Met
The open war raging at the very top of the Metropolitan police is revealing deep schisms that go far beyond a personality clash between the top officers involved or the accusations flying thick and fast.
Just say no
Five waves of the flag, a toss of his flaxen locks and it was done, London had officially taken over from Beijing as the next Olympic city. Boris looked only a little flustered and the eight minute exhibition showcasing British culture managed not to be quite as embarrassing as had been forecast by some, although it was decidedly underwhelming in comparison with the extravagant pageantry of the closing ceremony. Still what can you expect in only eight minutes and with a mere £2.5 million to play with?
Youth criminalised as Brown demands bigger prisons
As Britain continues to lock up more people per capita than any other Western European country, New Labour’s grandees are arguing amongst themselves about plans to build “super” jails.
An inspector calls
As lovers of good detective stories know, the gradual accumulation of seemingly unconnected facts unerringly, but in always surprising ways, weaken the defences of the guilty, and end in a damning conclusion. And so it is proving for the British state.
A chilling anniversary
People in Eastern Europe will feel particularly chilled by the entry of Russian tanks into Georgia in response to its attack on South Ossetia. For 40 years ago today, the Soviet army and other Warsaw Pact troops invaded Czechoslovakia and began the brutal crushing of the Prague Spring of 1968 led by Alexander Dubcek.
Milking the NHS
So even the chair of the government’s own drugs watchdog has had to acknowledge what everyone else working in health has always known – the pharmaceutical corporations milk the NHS for all its worth and patients in need are the biggest losers (along with taxpayers).
Global economy goes belly up
When the debt-fuelled boom came to an end a year ago, official pronouncements from every part of the world assured us that the economic fundamentals were sound. Gordon Brown was to the fore in his confidence that after ten years in his care, the British economy was better placed than most to weather what he and others told us was as a temporary problem affecting the world of finance dubbed the "credit crunch".
The Tel Aviv-Tbilisi axis
From the moment Georgia launched a surprise attack on the tiny breakaway region of South Ossetia last week, prompting a fierce Russian counterattack, Israel has been trying to distance itself from the conflict. This is understandable: with Georgian forces on the retreat, large numbers of civilians killed and injured, and Russia's fury unabated, Israel's deep involvement is severely embarrassing.
Winning economic and social rights
The call by a cross-party committee of MPs and peers yesterday for a wide-ranging Bill of Rights that would cover housing, education, standards of living and a healthy environment as well as civil liberties like the right to a jury trial, leaves open as many questions as it answers.
The credit crunch one year on
In the shadows of the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, the effects of the slow-motion implosion of the global capitalist economy one year on from the start of the credit crunch are becoming apparent in China. Whilst many factories have been shut, apparently to reduce pollution for the period of the Games, there are questions whether many of them will reopen when the medals have been awarded.
Solzhenitsyn's place in history
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who is being buried in Moscow today, was the most indomitable of the post-war opponents of the Stalinist terror machine in the Soviet Union, who paved the way for countless others.
Beyond New Labour's civil war
The thing about the civil war that is now consuming New Labour is that it is absolutely impossible to take sides. For not even the most powerful microscope in the world would reveal a microbe of a principle in any camp.
Can't pay, won't pay
What a week. Everywhere you look, evidence of a global systemic crisis slaps you in the face. Banks on both sides of the Atlantic reported major losses and capital wipe-outs, world trade talks collapsed, energy prices rocketed and politicians appeared more paralysed and powerless than ever.
The real Chinese heroes
It is two weeks to the start of the Beijing Olympics and while the athletes settle into their spanking new village, they might spare a thought for the thousands of Beijing residents who normally earn their living by picking and recycling rubbish. The city authorities this week rounded them up and shipped them out for the duration.
A Convention for democracy
When communities come up against the New Labour steamroller they don’t back off – they get angry. That’s what brought people together on a hot Saturday afternoon to discuss what to do if, as is likely, the government presses ahead with plans to expand Heathrow in the face of the overwhelming case against a third runway.
'New economics' is old hat
There were earthquakes on both sides of the Atlantic yesterday. By mid-afternon, US financial stocks had suffered their worst one-day fall since 2000 after the release of figures showing sharp drops in US home sales and house prices. Several hours later, New Labour lost Glasgow East, one of its safest seats, to the Scottish Nationalists. Translated into a general election, the result would all but wipe out Gordon Brown’s party.
Energy short-cuts spell danger
Two reports published today highlight the growing and acute dangers of leaving New Labour in charge of Britain’s energy future.
From welfare to warfare
A smiling Gordon Brown pictured sitting in a helicopter gunship at the weekend may have been dreaming about new ways to persuade disillusioned voters to back him or simply how he was taking New Labour further down the road from welfare to warfare. For today, the government declared war on people scraping by on miserly state benefits.
Policies for the crisis - finance
Centrica’s prediction of a 60% rise in household energy bills over the next two years comes as dire news for the millions already drowning in unaffordable debt. It signals a continuing upward price spiral which is rapidly eroding the value of wages and salaries, just as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) foreshadows the onset of a global recession.
Greenwash won't wash
Politicians, local government and business leaders, gathered in London yesterday at a giant greenwash conference sponsored by The Guardian newspaper and (you couldn’t make it up) by energy giant E-On. Yes that’s E-On, the company planning to build vast new polluting coal-fired power stations across the country with the government’s enthusiastic support.
Winning the council workers' claim
The 48-hour strike by 600,000 council workers is testimony to the strength of feeling among the low-paid, rank and file of the Unison and Unite unions. Whatever doubts they may have had about striking would surely have vanished yesterday when official inflation figures showed prices rising at their highest rate since 1992.
The Manchester Convention and 'ulterior measures'
Revolutionary, at times insurrectionary, movements against the state have a significant place in the history of the struggle for rights in Britain in the late 18th century and in the first half of the 19th. They used the device of a “Convention” to advance their cause, borrowing the term from the name of the revolutionary legislative and constitutional assembly which sat in France from 1792-95.
The privatised hell of Britain plc
A secret document has revealed the shape of things to come as jobs and livelihoods are threatened by economic meltdown. Global corporations will be employed by the government to break strikes under the guise of carrying out public services and responding to national emergencies.
Policies for the crisis – housing
The worsening recession is taking an increasing toll on jobs, mortgages and home ownership, and threatens to bring down the entire banking system at the same time. Housebuilders are laying off workers, mortgages are virtually unobtainable while many owner-occupiers cannot afford to maintain payments and face the prospect of repossession.
Tube cleaners show the way
While Londoners struggle to get about on the Tube system each day, workers who keep the carriages and stations clean are enduring Dickensian conditions and employment practices. An heroic three-day strike by mostly migrant workers belonging to the RMT transport union has exposed how the employers run a brutal hire-and-fire, low-wage system.
A racist state
What’s the connection between 42 days detention for alleged “terror suspects”, the mass targeting of black people for stop and search, a sharp rise in racist attacks and the planned introduction of identity cards? Answer: each represents an aspect of an institutionalised racist state under the direction of the New Labour government.
Let them eat cake
Few gatherings of world leaders can have shown greater political impotence alongside callous indifference than those currently gathered in Hokkaido, Japan, for the annual G8 summit. Protected from protestors as usual by a massive display of force, they are truly the leaders of the new world disorder.
Support Southall Black Sisters
Southall Black Sisters is making a landmark High Court challenge to London Borough of Ealing later this month. The organisation, which has protected women’s rights for nearly two decades, faces closure due to the withdrawal of £100,000 of annual funding by the Tory-controlled council in West London.
'Citizens must lead' on climate chaos
The upcoming G8+5 summit in Japan has climate change high on the agenda, apparently. The original eight countries have been widened to an unprecedented extent to include other major economies, no doubt in an attempt to pass the buck or find new reasons for the G8's failure to take action.
Dangerous days in Italy
It’s been an odd week for the “Il Cavaliere”, as Italy’s prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, is known. In a single day, a key group of top judges attacked his government whilst Italy’s highest court approved racist measures against Roma gypsies.
Dr Who and the economic crisis
An economic crisis like the one we are now in has a ruthless, market-driven logic all of its own. As it takes its toll of jobs, homes and living standards, the results of the collapse of credit-fuelled growth also exposes fundamental limitations of the capitalist state system and advance the case for revolutionary change.
Unions call for Zimbabwe blockade
With Robert Mugabe self-elected as president of Zimbabwe once again, the workers and small farmers in the country face even greater terror and deprivation. Unemployment is already over 80% and hyper-inflation means that wages are meaningless. This is a country of pauper billionaires, where Zim$50-billion, the highest note, can only buy you tea and some fruit.
In praise of open studios
In a week that saw yet more record sales at the big art auction houses, it’s worth remembering the many thousands of unsung artists who don’t reach the limelight. While millions were changing hands at auction, artists throughout the country were opening their doors to the public at large.
The rich cash in
Shares in General Motors have fallen to the lowest level for over half a century, a sure sign of the deepening global recession. Just as stark in the world of fantasy finance is the one-third decline in the value attributed to Countrywide, the US’s largest mortgage lender, since it was merged with the Bank of America in January.
Putting an end to 'business as usual'
On the day the government launches its renewable energy strategy, it might consider the fact that while three-quarters of British people are worried about climate change, more than half have no confidence in political leaders to tackle the crisis. According to a recent Mori poll, two-thirds want more government action, but just as many are cynical about the real purpose of so-called “green taxes”.
How to fight price rises
As 600,000 low-paid council workers prepare to strike on July 16 and 17 in support of a 6% rise in their meagre wages, the cause of their anger – soaring prices – shows no sign of abating. On the contrary, gas and electricity prices are set to climb 40% this winter while the cost of food and fuel continues to rocket.
Military move in on universities
Military involvement in the funding of research, teaching and training at British universities is on the rise. Pushing this agenda is the government, which has maintained Britain’s unenviable position as the second biggest arms exporter and devotes a third of state research and development funding to military projects.
Hunger haunts the Big Apple
Problems of hunger and malnutrition in many parts of the developing world are common knowledge. But less well known is that in the United States itself, the world’s richest country, growing numbers are finding it difficult to put food on their table as prices rise at their sharpest for nearly 20 years.
Lies and more lies over pay
Chancellor Alistair Darling has joined forces with Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, to admit their inability to prevent spiralling prices and deepening recession. Except for one thing. In order to protect corporate profits they have launched an assault on the living standards of public and private workers by denouncing any attempt to keep pay levels in line with inflation.
Planet pays the price for energy crisis
As the energy crisis deepens, global capitalism is scraping the bottom of the oil barrel, leaving behind ruined land and communities. Climate change campaigners occupying farmland earmarked for open cast mining in the Derbyshire countryside are highlighting one key aspect of this.
The 'Tsar' of Downing Street
Louise Casey is an archetypal New Labour apparatchik. She doesn’t care too much about human rights (if at all) and believes that the state’s priority is to identify and punish people as a way of changing behaviour. Listening to her is enough to make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.
Afghanistan: Brown in Bush's pocket
The love-in between George W. Bush and Gordon Brown in Downing Street yesterday could not disguise the fact that events in Afghanistan are spiralling out of control. Brown’s decision to send more British soldiers to Afghanistan (while yielding to Bush over maintaining troop levels in Iraq) is a real sign that the occupying forces are losing it.
Irish voters make a stand
So Ireland has voted the "wrong" way yet again. What can you do with them, those pesky Irish voters who have chosen to bite the hand that once fed them so generously, how exasperating! If it weren't for the European Union, Ireland would still be mired in poverty and unemployment – or so the story goes.
Pouring oil on troubled waters
The start of a four-day strike by hundreds of oil tanker drivers brings a new angle to the energy crisis which is convulsing countries around the world.
42 reasons to rid ourselves of New Labour
As another ancient liberty is scrapped by New Labour in forcing through detention without charge for six weeks (relying on the votes of the ultra-reactionaries in Ian Paisley’s party), here are 42 reasons (I’m sure there are many more) why this wretched regime needs ousting:
Poverty street for more young and old
Life for children and pensioners is getting worse under New Labour. Figures published yesterday show that 22.7% of children and 23% of pensioners are living in poverty and that the numbers are rising at both ends of life. After two successive years in which child and pensioner poverty have grown, 3.9 million children and 2.5 million pensioners are living on incomes below the minimum required for a reasonable standard of living.
A cornered, frightened government
New Labour came to power pledging to end the “boom and bust” policies of the Tories for ever. Now, as the economy slides into recession and prices soar, the Brown government is paralysed, desperate to divert attention away from the mounting crisis by any means. Scaremongering plans to lock up terror suspects for six weeks without charge fit the bill nicely.
The real price of art
This week Russian oligarchs like Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich will have yet another opportunity to spend astronomic sums of money buying art. In May alone, Abramovich spent a total of £60.2 million on two paintings – one by Lucien Freud, the other by Francis Bacon. Sotheby’s auction house is holding a three-day auction of paintings by top Russian artists, including all-time favourite Marc Chagall, and noted modernist Natalia Goncharova, many of them from the period leading up to the October 1917 revolution.
A perfect economic storm
The Bank of England and the European Central Bank kept interest rates steady this week, despite pressures for a cut to boost economic activity. The central banks were paralysed by contradictory movements in the global economy that render them helpless.
UN summits - all talk and no action
Another week, another United Nations-sponsored summit. Another failure to act. The food summit is just ending in Rome with no effective plan to come to the aid of the increasing numbers of people in the developing world who are going hungry because of rising prices and shortages.
Obama and corporate America
Barack Obama will make history as the first African-American to challenge for the White House. But will the Democratic Party’s nominee for US president have an equally historic impact on the military and corporate power structures that are viewed by many as the country’s shadow government? Indeed, would he want to? All the indications say not.
Strike back against the banks
When banks refuse to lend, what is the point of a commercial bank? It’s not a fanciful question. Banks throughout Britain and other countries are on a lending strike because their balance sheets are shot to pieces. For example, tens of thousands of people whose mortgage deals are up for renegotiation cannot get a loan at any price and face losing their homes. Small businesses are in a similar state.
A time for boldness
The apparent recovery of Tory fortunes as New Labour’s poll popularity plunges offers much food for thought. Support for New Labour is now at its lowest level since polling began in 1943. There are those who, fixated on the mood-swings expressed through parliamentary politics, see these trends as indicators of a general shift to the right.
The R word raises its head
You could argue that ordinary people understand the immediacy of the global economic crisis of capitalism better than political activists because working people are struggling with rising prices for food and energy, mounting debts, lower wages and redundancies. The coincidence of all these facts of daily existence with a mounting political crisis in Britain adds up to an even greater test for political campaigners.
Brown's 'greenwash' failure
The government’s alleged environmental credentials are in ruins, with Gordon Brown’s announcement of support for a massive expansion of nuclear power, and the exposure of the “green tax” fraud. Brown has gone further than before by declaring that new nuclear power sites will be needed. And this is in addition to the even more immediate threat of a new generation of heavily polluting coal-fired power stations.
New unions need new leaders
The prospect of the first global trade union moved a step nearer last week when Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers of America, flew to London for merger talks with Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley, joint general secretaries of Unite, now the UK’s biggest union with two million members. Unfortunately, it's more a case of union leaders huddling together for warmth rather than getting ready to fight global corporate power.
A victim of New Labour's thought police
According to Hicham Yezza, the Home Office operates with a “Gestapo mentality”, especially when dealing with foreign nationals. Hicham, an active member of the academic community at the University of Nottingham, should know. He is in detention, facing rapid deportation to Algeria, an innocent victim of New Labour’s spurious “war on terror”.
'Well-placed' - pull the other one
New Labour was always fond of telling anyone who would listen that globalisation dominated by powerful corporations and open markets, worked to everyone’s benefit. We were in a new period of economic history, where old-style capitalism was no more. What then to make of the following: "We are facing a testing period in the economy. We are facing the first real international economic crisis of globalisation."
Watchdog needs a new home
This is the story of the watchdog who barked in the night to warn its owner of impending danger – to no avail. Its master had gone deaf, the result of a long-term illness. As a consequence, disaster overtook one and all. The watchdog in this case was the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) and its master – you must have guessed by now – was the terminally-ill New Labour government.
The eunuch of all Parliaments
When the leader of a major political party devotes 2,500 words in a national newspaper to the crisis of the parliamentary political system, he confirms that it’s not only New Labour that is in free fall. Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, is expressing the fact that the authority, legitimacy and role of the state itself is now being called into question by increasing numbers of people.
Paving over England
England is disappearing rapidly as New Labour presides over the concreting over of the countryside. Since 1997, over 1,100 hectares of Green Belt have been lost each year and at least 45,240 homes – equivalent to a city the size of Bath – have been built on Green Belt land.
The Blairs (and others) cash in
Years ago, when Harold Wilson was the Labour Prime Minister, the satirical magazine Private Eye used to run an amusing column called Mrs Wilson’s Diary. The PM’s life was described through the eyes of his wife Mary Wilson, a middle-class woman with few pretensions who lived modestly and wrote poetry. She led a fairly humble life-style symbolised by her husband’s raincoats and the couple’s holidays in the Scilly Isles.
Brown's fantasy world
The Bank of England’s inflation report makes grim reading. Bland assurances about the strength of economic fundamentals as the credit crisis erupted in the autumn have been replaced, superseded with expectations of soaring inflation – “above 3% for several quarters”, and recession, with governor Mervyn King declaring: “The central projection is for growth to slow sharply in the near term, reflecting the squeeze on real incomes.”
Corporations stockpile "climate gene"
Never mind that polar bears face extinction, or that bio-fuels production is driving food scarcity and rising prices, the corporations will always find novel ways to create new sources of profit out of the climate crisis. This time it is the patenting of “climate genes” that are top of their agenda.
Two anniversaries, one catastrophe
Palestinians across the world tomorrow mark the 60th anniversary of the Nakba – “the day of catastrophe”. Only hours before, on the evening of 14 May 1948, a group of Zionist Jews declared themselves the independent government of a Jewish state, excluding Palestinians who had lived on the land since time immemorial. They are two very different anniversaries.
Will Hutton's fantasy world
I wonder what Will Hutton, writer on economic affairs, chief executive of the Work Foundation and former editor-in-chief of The Observer thought at breakfast this morning as he scanned today’s financial headlines, where the talk is all gloom and doom? Just two days ago, in Sunday’s Observer, Hutton argued that the US economy was showing the world the way forward, despite all the evidence to the contrary.
Burma: the roll call of shame
As the world watches with horror at the actions of the military junta that rules Myanmar (Burma) with an iron fist, the generals are not the only ones to bear the blame for the suffering of millions of people who are victims of Cyclone Nargis. The international roll call of shame is a long one.
The momentum of 1968
The season of celebration of the tumultuous events of 1968 continues in London tomorrow. A World to Win’s new publication 1968 Revolution, analysing the worldwide impact and lessons of those times will be on sale there for the first time.
India's farmers resist GM
The Coalition for a GM-free India, representing hundreds of farmers’ unions, environmental and women’s organisations and organic farming groups from 15 Indian states, this week marched in Delhi against the sale and distribution of genetically-modified (GM) crops and seeds. In particular, they are opposed to an experimental type of Bt brinjal (aubergine) recently approved for large-scale field trials.
Point of no return
The crisis within New Labour shows no signs of abating as MPs stare electoral oblivion in the face come the next election. In fact, matters are getting worse. Wendy Alexander, its leader in Scotland, has broken ranks with Gordon Brown’s position on an independence referendum in a bid to steal some votes from the nationalists, while opponents of the abolition of the 10p tax rate are resuming their campaign. These are further indications that New Labour has reached and passed the point of no return. It seems inconceivable they can win the next general election – whatever Brown does.
Every little helps
Amidst the kerfuffle of Gordon Brown’s humble pie about his “mistakes” over the abolition of the 10p tax rate, and anxiety to help those who face difficulties as a result of rising prices, we should bear in mind a few home truths about the true relation between New Labour and corporate taxpayers.
R.I.P. New Labour
The humiliating results for New Labour at last week’s local and London elections amount to much more than just a swing to the Tories by people fed up with government policies. The scale of the defeat is a measure of the break-up of a party that once fondly imagined it would rule for decades.
A global car crash
Any lingering doubts about the trend towards recession were swept away last night as the world’s vehicle makers announced their April results. Falling off a cliff would sum it up. General Motors sales fell 23%, Ford 19%, and Chrysler nearly 30%. And to make matters worse for the manufacturers, the effect of spiralling fuel prices has shifted sales from high-profit trucks and gas-guzzling SUVs to more fuel-efficient but less profitable models. The idea that a US recession wouldn’t affect the rest of the world also took a beating as Toyota dropped 5% and Nissan 2%.
How to make the right to vote count
May Day is international workers’ day, when the labour movement celebrates its social and economic achievements. Winning the right to vote is undoubtedly one of the landmark successes in the history of workers’ struggles against the employing classes and the state. So it is more than a little ironic that May Day in England and Wales coincides with local elections which the majority of the electorate will simply boycott.
Profiting from the food crisis
The world’s major governments are sitting on their hands while the world’s poor face starvation from soaring food prices. This is the stark conclusion to be drawn from the fact that the United Nation’s World Food Programme (WFP) has so far received only £9 million towards closing a £380m funding gap, despite all the fine words from London, Washington and other capitals.
Nadine Gordimer and Gaza's dismay
This year Israel is marking the 60th anniversary of its declaration of independence in May 1948, which for the Palestinians immediately became a continuing disaster. Yesterday, for example, Israeli shells killed four children and their mother at their home in Ezbet Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip. Now former anti-apartheid activist and Nobel-prize winning author Nadine Gordimer is accused of lending her support to the oppression of Palestinians by joining in “Israel at 60” events. Gaza lecturer Dr Haider Eid, has written Gordimer an open letter.
Coastal peoples hit by climate change
There is serious doubt whether the majority of people who rely on fishing and other coastal activities for their livelihood can survive the impact of climate change. Millions of coastal refugees could be forced to move inland, at a time when the interiors of continents are becoming hotter and drier.
Debt crisis behind Grangemouth strike
Members of the Unite trade union at Grangemouth are set for the first strike at an oil refinery for 73 years over pension rights. The dispute brings the potential impact of declining production of oil into sharp focus. The threat of a major impact on availability of fuel in Scotland and the North of England has driven already record prices higher and triggered panic buying as supplies from the North Sea oil and gas field are cut off.
Form alliance to defeat government
Today’s strike by teachers, college lecturers and civil servants is an important challenge to the low pay and privatisation agenda that this government is inflicting on workers in the public services. It is the first national strike by teachers in the National Union of Teachers (NUT) for 21 years. For many lecturers in the University and College Union (UCU) and for civil servants in the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) it is the first time that they too have taken industrial action.
New Labour's tame copper
Sir Ian Blair, commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, is New Labour’s favourite copper. Ministers can always rely on him to back the government when others are reluctant to do so. In fact, when it comes to plans to extend pre-trial detention to 42 days, Blair is about the only supporter of substance that they can wheel out.
America's judicial murder machine
As the campaign between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party presidential ticket comes to a head, it would be well to note that they both support the death penalty just when the gruesome American prison system is gearing up for a slaughter of the mentally ill, people of colour and Hispanics from a poor or working class background, not to mention the downright innocent.
Another 'fix' for debt junkies
The true nature of New Labour doesn’t come clearer than this. If you are a low earner, New Labour says you should pay more tax. But if you are a banker, government hand-outs are the order of the day. So prime minister Brown is “standing firm” over the abolition of the 10% tax band, which reduces the incomes of five million people, while his chancellor is today helping out the major banks to the tune of £50 billion.
The real costs of the price of oil
The price of a barrel of oil reached and passed $115 yesterday. It has doubled in a year. As the price of oil goes up so must everything else, as everything that is produced, distributed and consumed depends on it in some way. The higher the price of oil goes, the deeper will be the global economic slump.
Climate change hits water cycle
Global warming has already brought about significant changes to what is known as the hydrological cycle, warns an authoritative new report on climate change and water. The International Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) stark assessment comes as the major economic powers refuse to take action to cut carbon emissions and, in Britain’s case, are actually allowing them to rise.
Italy at the crossroads
The election of billionaire Silvio Berlusconi as prime minister of Italy for the third time brings together an extreme right-wing coalition at a time of severe economic problems for the country, even before the global credit crunch hits home. These conditions are certain to create a nationalist-racist, authoritarian regime and, at the same time, deepen the crisis of a decrepit and corrupt Italian parliamentary state.
The German student revolt
Forty years ago today, students demonstrated in Berlin following the attempted assassination of their revolutionary leader, Rudi Dutschke. After narrowly surviving the attack, he and his family later took refuge in Britain, only to be expelled by the Heath government as “undesirable aliens” in 1971.
Meltdown hits New Labour
The turmoil in global financial markets is now reflecting itself as paralysis and confusion in the minds and actions of politicians, amid opposition from bankers to their plans for more regulation. Most significantly, the crisis is also finding a strong echo in the opinions of voters, especially in Britain where confidence in the Brown government has plunged to a record low.
Food prices revolt grows
Governments across the globe are being shaken by mass protests, as people take to the streets demanding lower food prices. According to the World Bank, increases in global wheat prices reached 181% over the 36 months leading up to February 2008, and overall global food prices increased by 83%. The UN says the price of rice has soared by 75% in just two months.
IMF predicts the unpredictable
Headline reports of the stark admissions, predictions and warnings in the two latest reports from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) literally overshadow the impact of the developing financial and economic crisis on the world’s population. A third report, also released this week, for the weekend spring meetings of the central bankers and finance ministers has been almost universally ignored.
Housing market misery
The morbid concern over the sharp fall in house prices in March not only expresses middle-class obsession with property values. It is also graphically illustrates how the market economy in housing results in gross distortions. In human misery terms, it means growing numbers of repossessions, more homelessness, overcrowding, extortionate rents and children denied the space to grow up or do their homework.
Help - I could lose my seat!
If some New Labour MPs are suddenly concerned about how Gordon Brown’s tax changes benefit the well off at the expense of low earners, it is not because for the most part they have suddenly developed a political conscience. Their real worry - panic is probably a better expression - is about whether they can retain their seats, along with their comfortable, expenses-paid, two-house, lifestyle, at the next general election.
Put this Olympic torch out!
Former Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq no doubt summed up many people’s feelings after a protester tried to grab the Olympic flame from her yesterday. She valued the Olympic ideals but also condemned the “despicable” nature of the Chinese government’s role in Tibet. The Chinese Olympic organisers may well have lost control of the script for the flame, but they are still in charge of China and will get on with murdering Buddhist monks in Tibet and killing and jailing dissidents at home.
Martin Luther King's unfinished business
Martin Luther King, who was assassinated 40 years ago today in Memphis, where he was supporting a strike of low-paid municipal workers, is more often than not characterised as leader of the civil rights movement in the United States and man driven solely by religion. But King was much, much more than that and by the end of his life was advocating change of a revolutionary character, challenging the power of American capitalism.
Carbon emissions deadline looms
Carbon emissions have to peak before 2015 to have any impact on climate change, according to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) meeting in Bangkok this week, where it discussed mitigation measures. It would take a reduction in average annual growth rates of less than 0.12%, to achieve this target, the IPCC report claims.
Out of control
Some people you meet have a touching faith in global capitalism, although they would never put it like that. They believe that the authorities are more or less always in control of affairs and they will always be able to “manage the crisis” to avoid disaster. The assumptions behind this are that a) capitalism is a rational system that follows a predictable logic b) they have all the answers up their sleeves. Of course, if you add a) and b) together, there is no chance of challenging, let alone defeating, the economic system.
Speculation feeds rice price crisis
Across Asia, sudden stratospheric increases in rice prices have prompted countries to ban exports amid fears that shortages could provoke food riots following street protests in Jakarta, capital of Indonesia. World prices for rice, the staple food of about 2.5 billion Asian people, have almost doubled since the beginning of the year, joining those of wheat, corn and other agricultural commodities which have surged since the end of 2006.
Unions should act on asylum rights
The sinister underside of New Labour’s racist, dehumanising immigration policy came to light at a trade union and community conference over the weekend. It is a Kafkaesque world of state-organised disappearances, unlimited detention, rapid expulsions, exploitation and destitution designed to divide communties and win cheap votes at election time.
Send for Dr Who!
Regulate! Regulate! Regulate! This is the cry heard with increasing stridency on both sides of the Atlantic as the global financial crisis continues to take its toll on both bankers and ordinary people’s lives. This sounds plausible enough, even mildly anti-capitalist. But in truth, regulation is a non-starter when it comes to dealing with the depth and breadth of the meltdown.
An Anglo-French nuclear nightmare
The very concept of a “nuclear renaissance” is such an assault on the senses that it seems that only a madman could come up with it. Yet today Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy will agree to build a new generation of Anglo-French nuclear power stations, with the aim of becoming the world’s largest exporters of nuclear technology.
Credit chain breaks at weakest link
Hedge funds are not just investment opportunities open only to wealthy individuals. They also apparently come in the shape of Iceland. Now, pardon the pun, Iceland’s finances are in meltdown and it could be the first country to fall victim of a global credit crunch that shows no signs of abating.
The hidden unholy alliance
The backlash from senior religious figures against the human fertilisation and embryology Bill before parliament should not be allowed to obscure their medieval, anti-science viewpoint on the one hand and the government’s close connection with biotech corporations on the other.
No security against climate change
New Labour’s characterisation of climate change as a “security threat”, second only to terrorism in the pecking order, indicates how the state intends to respond to the results of global warming. And we’re not talking drastic cuts in carbon emissions here but a huge increase in the powers of the state over ordinary people.
Iraq: America's nightmare
Exactly five years ago, US and British forces embarked on an illegal pre-emptive war on Iraq with the stated aim of bringing “freedom and democracy” to the country. Instead, they have destroyed Iraq, turning it into a country of mutually hostile ghettoes, presiding over the deaths of over one million Iraqis, driving more than two million into exile, with another 1.9 million internally displaced.
Policies for a crisis without precedent
The global financial crisis, which this weekend claimed the giant investment bank Bear Stearns and led to a hysterical response on world stock markets, has no precedent. Comparisons with the Wall Street crash of 1929 or even the “bankers’ panic” of 1907 don’t even begin to get near the essence of the crisis.
Tibet: Brown puts trade before human rights
While China is desperate to present a benign image to the world in anticipation of the summer Olympics, the brutal crackdown on Tibetans determined to defend their language, religion and culture, betrays the real nature of the authoritarian regime in Beijing.
Prayers as 'the great unwinding' claims another casualty
Guests on last night’s Newsnight (BBC2) talked about a ‘crumbling house of cards built by the capitalist financial system’. They weren’t talking about our book A House of Cards, from fantasy finance to global crash but they might as well have been. Instead, they were discussing the latest bankruptcy of a major financial group.
E.ON calls the tune
Alistair Darling’s failure to keep his pledge to put “sustainability at the heart of his budget” may have disappointed campaign groups like Friends of the Earth, but they shouldn’t really be surprised. Earlier this week, the government’s new Committee on Climate Change met for the first time – and got an object lesson in just how effective they are likely to be.
Goldsmith's allegiance to the state
As we approach the fifth anniversary of the occupation of Iraq, it is indeed ironic that the man who now tells us that an oath of allegiance to the state by young people would enhance respect for authority and engender a stronger sense of citizenship, is the same person who in 2003 helped facilitate the illegal invasion.
The surveillance Olympics
If gold medals were awarded for surveillance, then Britain will win a hatful at the 2012 Games. The Metropolitan Police hopes to use no fewer than 500,000 CCTV cameras to police the 2012 Olympics Games in London.
Clegg sounds the alarm bells
Media pundits made fun of the Liberal Democrats’ new leader, Nick Clegg, when he split his party over the European Union treaty referendum vote. But over the weekend, he defied predictions of disaster by winning over spring conference delegates with a sweeping condemnation of “establishment politics” in a bid to position himself for the outcome of the next general election.
American dream in tatters
The first fall in US household wealth in five years reveals the growing impact of a financial and economic crisis that will be felt by every person on the planet. World prices for oil – now over $100 dollars for a barrel of crude, gold nearing $1000 an ounce, food driven skywards by demand for biofuel, and many other basic commodities are spiralling, whilst the warning signs of recession, including declining retail sales are appearing everywhere.
Shelter strike for the homeless
The charity Shelter was founded in 1966 in response to the television play Cathy Come Home. The powerful drama brought to a head widespread anger about Britain’s housing crisis. Now the play’s director, Ken Loach, is backing a series of strikes by Shelter workers – the first took place yesterday – over plans to make them work longer hours for the same pay.
A profit-and-loss government
You can’t argue that this government hasn’t got its priorities clear. New Labour commits up to £100 billion to propping up the failed Northern Rock bank in a desperate bid to keep the financial system intact but won’t spend relatively smaller sums to maintain disabled workers’ jobs or keep post offices open. In these cases, “commercial considerations” come first, second and last above those of the community at large.
The railroading begins
With Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama facing a crucial day in their campaign to win the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, organised labour is having its day in the limelight. With no viable or independent alternative on the horizon, US union leaders still hitch their wagon to the Democratic Party in the hope that they will have some influence when and if their nominee occupies the White House.
A murderous smokescreen
The Israelis have done this so many times before that it’s hard to find the appropriate words to describe their latest murderous onslaught in occupied Palestine. More than 100 Palestinians dead in Gaza, including many women and children, is just the cold statistic of a military action that cannot hide a deep political crisis inside Israel itself.
New drugs 'strategy', same result
Another week, another government “10-year strategy” aimed at grabbing the tabloid headlines with get-tough policies that might even pull in a few votes. Sounds cynical? It’s not when you examine the facts. The latest “war on drugs” strategy is much like the last one, which even had a “Drugs Czar” in charge for a time.
'More like Mafia than democracy'
As Russia moves towards its coronation – sorry, presidential election – this Sunday, the clampdown on the autocracy’s political opponents continues to tighten. The outcome is already decided, as President Putin has anointed Dimitry Medvedev as his successor. But just to make sure, the authorities have been using every trick in the book to clamp down on freedom of expression, assembly and association.
Making money out of unhappiness
Global drug corporations have been making make millions out of people’s unhappiness. Now it turns out that the drugs don’t work and the 40 million people taking anti-depressants like Prozac and Seroxat, and the doctors prescribing them, may have been duped.
Global food crisis grows
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is warning that it will be forced to abandon millions of people to starvation, as sharp increases in food prices eat into its funds. International market prices for wheat, corn, soya beans and dozens of other commodities have doubled or trebled in recent years.
The government’s plans to expand Heathrow Airport have succeeded in one respect. They have created a veritable mass movement in opposition to the proposed third runway and new terminals. Local people, campaign groups, environmental organisations, direct action activists, local councils and MPs from all political parties have united against New Labour’s eco-vandalism.
Crime and punishment
Perhaps it could be a two-part question set for those taking a “citizenship test” to prove that they know about British values before getting a passport (or an ID card). How big is the prison population and what distinguishes the country’s record in jailing people? Answer: the prison population in England and Wales has risen to a record high of 82,006 - 21 places short of capacity; nowhere in Western Europe jails more of its population than England and Wales, where about 147 people per 100,000 are in prison.
Debt tsunami builds
The emergency legislation to allow a temporary period of public ownership of what now seems are the most worthless parts of Northern Rock, is increasingly looking like a finger plugging a hole in the dyke (or levee for American readers) as the global financial system continues to haemorrhage on debt.
Cuba at the crossroads
The chorus from the White House and Downing Street was entirely predictable (and so hypocritical). On hearing about the retirement of Fidel Castro as the president of Cuba, those pre-eminent world leaders and exemplary champions of human rights, George Bush and Gordon Brown, said that they now hoped that the island state would now move “towards democracy”. It was enough to make you throw up!
A 21st century Balkan powder keg
Birth should be a happy event. But the declaration of a new state in Kosovo, which according to the United Nations is still part of Serbia, could spin dangerously out of control. Both the majority Kosovan Albanians and the ethnic Serb minority have become parties to 19th-century style Balkans manoeuvres, with Western Europe on one side and Russia and Serb nationalists on the other.
Darling going down with the ship
“Floundering - SS Corporate Globalisation taking on heavy water – pumps failing.” That was the essence of the emergency message relayed to the world yesterday by chancellor Alistair Darling as he announced public ownership of failed bank Northern Rock following failure to strike a deal with venture capitalists led by Sir Richard Branson. His was the equivalent of announcing "don't panic" to passengers on the Titanic.
Bird flu good for business
One thing is certain when bird flu strikes in developing countries: small poultry keepers will suffer to the advantage of major producers. That is exactly what has happened in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal, where local people have had their livelihood destroyed, enabling the corporations to assume ever-increasing dominance.
The judges hit back
The Appeal Court’s decision to strike out the convictions of five young Muslim men is part of a continuing struggle between the government and the judiciary over the rule of law. Now into its sixth major piece of anti-terror legislation, New Labour has trampled over the long struggle for rights and has attempted to bypass ancient and contemporary legal rights as well as the independence of the judiciary.
Non-doms have their way
The government’s ignominious retreat over modest proposals for taxing super-rich, non-domiciled foreigners – the so-called “non-doms” – is a further sign of New Labour’s confusion and decline as the party favoured by big business. After a decade of helping to turn London in particular into the playground of the rich, the government is losing its touch to such an extent that there are clear indications that business is turning back to the Tories.
Crucifying the Archbishop
A World to Win’s editors are not for any religion or the supremacy of one “belief system” over another. But we can see how those who want to find a peg on which to hang all their prejudices have chosen the Archbishop of Canterbury’s thoughts about the rights of minorities. Rowan Williams has become a punch bag for reactionaries and fake liberals of all kinds following his considered remarks about sharia law and minority communities.
Staring at 'economic calamity'
The world’s financial ministers are all in a dither, and it is not surprising. At the weekend meeting of the G7 – the world’s richest economies – ministers took a few steps towards acknowledging the scale of the economic unravelling that is both cause and consequence of the global credit crunch. Then most did a sharp about turn, rejecting America’s call for a global reflationary package and claiming things could be contained.
A week of intolerance
Another bad week for civil liberties and human rights in Britain, courtesy of the New Labour government and their supporters around the country. A mixture of anti-working class, anti-Islamic and plain anti-democratic measures all add to the authoritarian and intolerant atmosphere that is the hallmark of this grim government.
Democrats tried and trusted
Lest anyone gets too excited about the prospect of the first woman or the first black person entering the White House as president, it is well to remember what the Democratic Party is all about. Probably the oldest capitalist party in the world, tracing its roots back to the late 18th century, the Democrats represent absolutely no threat to the corporate and financial power centres that dominate politics in the United States.
The nightmare Olympics
The Beijing government is struggling to hide the truth about how ordinary people in China are paying for this summer’s Olympic Games by muzzling the Internet and arresting outspoken journalists and critics. At the same time, ordinary people in villages throughout the country, even around Beijing itself, are paying heavily for the staging of the Games.
The lives of others
The bugging of MP Sadiq Khan’s conversations with a constituent in prison shows once more that Britain is a fully-fledged surveillance state and also that the New Labour government has created a monster it has no effective control over. The secret state within the state has its own agenda about how to protect “national interests” – and the government will always be at least one step behind.
When corporations rule the world
Google’s owners are not the only ones troubled by Microsoft’s unsolicited bid for rival search engine Yahoo. No less than the right-leaning, pro-business Daily Telegraph believes that Microsoft’s move is yet further evidence that corporations have become more powerful than governments. The Telegraph has discovered what many have known for a long time – that corporate-driven globalisation is at odds with what are considered to be the norms of a parliamentary democratic state.
Poverty not tribalism behind Kenya's crisis
Political leaders in the West expressing pious shock at the terrible events in Kenya are achieving new pinnacles of hypocrisy since for decades they have ignored the country’s growing crisis. They continued to support Mwai Kibaki’s rapacious and corrupt regime in return for Kenya’s full participation in the global market economy. The subjection of this formerly peaceful country of 40 ethnic groups to the requirements of capitalist globalisation, rather than “tribalism”, has driven on the current ethnic violence and social breakdown.
Free Parvez Kambaksh!
A World to Win calls on its supporters to oppose the death sentence passed on a 23-year-old journalism student in Afghanistan for daring to read and distribute material from the Internet. The conviction of Sayed Pervez Kambaksh, passed and confirmed by Afghan Islamic courts and the Afghan Senate, has sparked a campaign by a revolutionary organisation, Left Radicals of Afghanistan, against the Karzai government and the country’s ruling Ulema Council.
Millions in mortgage crisis
The thing about capitalism is that it appears to solve problems only to recreate them in a new, more dramatic form. Take housing, for example. Until recently it seemed that everyone could buy a home, watch its value rise and borrow against the property to buy consumer goods to keep the economy moving. Now up to two million households in Britain and a similar number in the United States face a struggle to retain their homes as the economic and financial crisis takes its toll.
Global warming not a priority for business, survey confirms
As the talks on a new climate change treaty to replace the Kyoto accord reached a crisis point in Bali last month, the United States representatives were actually booed by the delegates of more than 180 other countries. The Bush administration’s dogged refusal to accept any binding targets for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the main cause of global warming, had simply exhausted everybody else’s patience.
IMF rearranges deckchairs on sinking ship
Make no mistake, the global capitalist elites know they are in a major crisis and are stumbling around trying to find a way out. The call by Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, for countries to spend their way out of recession is perhaps the most dramatic expression of the panic now gripping policy makers. Another cut in US interest rates is also expected to add to the sense of turmoil.
A rogue financial system
To describe Jérôme Kerviel, the man who allegedly wiped out a year’s profits for the French bank Société Générale by making the wrong call on which way stock markets would move, as a “rogue trader” is convenient but entirely superficial. Kerviel was, after all, only engaged in what traders all over the world are doing every minute of the day in New York, London, Frankfurt, Tokyo and other major financial centres.
Threat to Amazon grows
The news of a huge rise in the rate of deforestation of the vast Amazon rainforest is one of the most serious indications yet that governments are standing more or less idly by as the conditions for climate change worsen. While they may wring their hands in concern, they are essentially taking on the role of spectators as global warming continues its acceleration.
Seize the initiative
“Bloodbath in share prices”, “the dark 1970s”, “panic and desperation” – just some of the headlines littering newspaper pages and websites in response to the turmoil in the financial markets. While yesterday’s dramatic rate cut by the US Federal Reserve gave shares a small boost, nothing is resolved. Far from it.
Fear and panic greet Davos elite
The fear and panic stalking the world’s stock markets is the surest expression that a global economic recession is under way with the potential to become a catastrophic, full-scale slump. What shape this will take is impossible to predict, but it would clearly involve the destruction of capital and assets on an unprecedented scale throughout the global capitalist economy.
War crimes in Gaza
The Israelis are not the first to practice collective punishment against a subjugated people. In 1857, the British slaughtered thousands indiscriminately after putting down an uprising in India, while American troops destroyed entire villages in Vietnam if they suspected a sympathiser of the National Liberation Front had lived there.
Terror from the air
In case you thought that British withdrawal from Basra means that the suffering of Iraq and Afghanistan is coming to an end, think again. A report issued yesterday by U.S. Central Air Forces Combined Air Operations Center shows that last year the US military carried out five times more air strikes than in 2006.
Who is the real Luddite?
When you hear Sir David King (ex-government chief scientific advisor) accusing green activists of being Luddites, it reminds you of those 19th century mill owner magistrates intent on punishing poor weavers for destroying private property. The cottage artisans who tried to defend their jobs were persecuted on behalf of a system that threw people onto the scrap heap just to keep profits levels high.
Banks’ losses threaten action on climate change
Despite Government loans and guarantees in the region of £55billion and the sale of a choice part of its assets to J P Morgan, (perhaps coincidentally the first of Tony Blair’s private sector income streams), Northern Rock’s problems are not easing. It isn’t making enough to repay the penal interest rates charged by the Bank of England. Plans for a state takeover – nationalisation – are well-advanced.
'Nano' fears spark campaigns
There is a growing movement against the unbridled and mostly secret use of nanomaterials in products when they have not been subjected to vigorous and open scientific testing. The Soil Association and the Consumer Association have both launched initiatives aimed at alerting the public to the dangers.
Coup plotters still at it
The revelation that Britain and NATO considered staging a coup in Italy in 1976 to prevent the Communist Party (PCI) from forming a government fits with what is already known about a whole series of actions by the state intended to destabilise that country and maintain the status quo. These merged with the aims of a long-term operation throughout Western Europe put together by the US and Britain at the end of World War II.
Nuclear power - the case for decomissioning New Labour
The government’s commitment to nuclear power has everything to do with servitude to the global energy companies and nothing to do with tackling climate change. New Labour has accepted a financial model which will leave the British people paying the price in every way.
Blair's new 'job' is fitting
New Labour and money – don’t they just make a perfect fit! Former prime minister Tony Blair is taking a part-time advisory post with a US bank at a modest £500,000 a year while work and pensions secretary Peter Hain is about to own up to £100,000 in previously undeclared donations towards his deputy leadership campaign. Apparently most of these came from big business.
The year of the bailiff
The extent to which we are cajoled, enticed, seduced and even tricked into spending more than we have – especially over the end-of-year holiday period – is revealed through startling figures. A poll conducted by the Norwich Union found that 73% people who responded said they would run out of money by today – several weeks before their next pay day at the end of the month.
New Labour wants pay cuts
It was ever thus. When the capitalist economic system plunges into crisis, the burdens are expected to be carried by those who have to work for a wage. That is the real significance of chancellor Alistair Darling’s plan announced today to impose three-year pay deals on over 5.5 million public sector workers.
The bishop as pawn
The term “Uncle Tom” has for a long time been a way of denouncing people of colour who ingratiate themselves with the white ruling classes. Well, the Right Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester for the established Church of England, certainly fits the bill. Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, the bishop claims that immigration and multi-culturalism are threatening Britain’s so-called Christian heritage. He claims that that some Muslim communities are “no-go areas” for people of other faiths.
The system’s broke – and Larry can’t fix it
Any lingering doubts that the global financial crisis of 2007 would presage a deep, worldwide recession evaporated as 2008 opened for business with a quick-fire salvo of bad news for the economy. US manufacturing slumped to its lowest since April 2003, and global manufacturing growth slipped closer to negative territory – contraction – adding to fears that the US recession is spreading.
Corporate interests and Kenya's crisis
Kenya has been Africa’s fastest-growing economy, a key ally in the Bush-Blair-Brown “war against terror” and was considered a stable place for investment and tourism. Until now the country has been considered a stable hub” for transnationals like Barclays, British American Tobacco, Diageo and Unilever. Now there are indications of a breakdown of the economic model of development and the pseudo-democracy that Kenya represented.
Sick plan for the NHS
So Gordon Brown has come up with a novel plan to cut health spending – let the sick treat themselves and also decline to help those who are deemed not to have looked after themselves properly. Welcome to the 60th anniversary of the National Heath Service, New Labour style.
A turbulent 2008 beckons
The coming year is certain to be one of the most turbulent for a generation in terms of economic, social and political instability, particularly in Britain. While they undoubtedly present themselves as dangers and threats to people’s jobs and livelihoods, the new conditions also open up the possibility of shaping the future in a way that reflects the aspirations of the powerless majority.
The other Bethlehem story
The Palestinians of Bethlehem, which according to the Gospels is the birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth, have waited and struggled a long time for their freedom. Rulers down the ages have included the Romans, Persians, Crusaders, Ottomans, Egyptians, British, Jordanians and, to date, the Israelis who captured the town in 1967.
Disbelief all around has greeted the announcement that the Arts Council of England (ACE) is axing a fifth of the organisations it helps to fund. And it is not simply the loss of financial support that has angered arts practitioners, but the way in which the cuts have been made. The Arts Council only gave arts bodies 18 working days to lodge an appeal, after sending them a letter last week – what a nice Christmas present! Some are being forced to issue redundancy letters to staff because the cuts could mean they are trading while insolvent.
The Afghan debacle
Gordon Brown claims that recent fighting at Musa Qala is a turning point in the six-year war against the Taleban in Afghanistan. The truth is that British and NATO operations in the country have been an unmitigated debacle and a suicide mission for many of the troops involved.
'Road map' with no destination
Environment secretary Hilary Benn and other ministers gathered at the Bali climate talks fell over themselves in the rush to declare the conference a resounding success. The reality is somewhat different. All that was agreed at Bali was to hold talks about more talks with the hope that one day there will be a firm agreement to cut carbon emissions.
Time to cook Electrolux
The closure announced today of the Electrolux cooker factory in County Durham with the loss of 500 jobs is an opportunity for the trade unions to reject the profit and loss approach of the global corporations and mount a worldwide campaign against the decision. The early signs are not hopeful.
Central bankers go for broke
The unprecedented intervention in the financial markets by the world’s five largest central banks is the most dramatic illustration yet of the scale of the credit crisis. Already, doubts are surfacing about how effective the decision to pump billions into money markets will be because the underlying problems remain.
Police anger mounts
Apart from Sir Ian Blair, the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, is there any other copper who likes this government? Not many, judging by the angry reaction from the men and women in blue to New Labour’s decision to reduce their pay award.
March on Wall Street
The jailing of press baron Conrad Black for defrauding shareholders has captured the headlines this morning. But Black’s $32 million theft is simply the tip of an iceberg of what may be viewed as an entirely criminal situation in the world of business and finance. And Black’s six and a half years in jail will perhaps seem small to the millions of people around the world who are imprisoned by debt for their entire lives.
Consumerism from cradle to grave
Not so long ago, I was amazed to find that my neighbour’s six-year-old boy knew more brand names than I did, as he swept around identifying every gadget in my flat, from Dell, HP, to Sony. I shouldn’t have been surprised at all. The average 10-year-old is now aware of between 300 and 400 different brands. Young people are exposed to about 10,000 TV adverts per year, as well as pop-ups on the Internet.
Basic rights reduced to a lottery
For this government, civil liberties are something to be subjected to a kind of lottery. You draw a number out of the hat and that becomes the number of days you can detain someone without charge on the suspicion of committing a terror offence. The rules are fixed, however, by comparison with the real game of chance. Under New Labour’s National Security Lottery Rules, the number chosen must always result in a longer period of detention than is already the case.
Who killed Sajida Khan?
As the World Bank plans its launch of a new carbon fund at the United Nations climate conference in Bali, activists worldwide will pay tribute to the woman who spent her last breath resisting one of its most controversial projects. Sajida Khan won the struggle against the project when the Bank pulled out of the toxic South African landfill. But sadly, Khan passed away on 15 July 2007 in her Durban home.
The emperor has no clothes
In the four months since the advent of the credit crunch in the global financial markets caught Northern Rock with its pants down, the chorus of ritual assurances about the soundness of the economic fundamentals has given way to doom-laden panic. A recent “emperor-has-no-clothes” statement from former US Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers opened the floodgates on admissions about the depth and breadth of the worsening crisis, together with dire predictions and warnings about its damaging effects.
Miners in challenge to ANC
Not a lot has changed for South Africa’s 500,000 miners since the end of apartheid. Most days, a miner is killed as he labours in unsafe conditions to extract precious metals for sale by the mining corporations. Today, members of the 270,000-strong Miners Union of South Africa stage a 24-hour strike against the rising death toll. Some 201 miners have been killed in accidents so far this year, compared with 199 for the whole of 2006.
Stalemate in Venezuela
The narrow 51%-49% defeat for Hugo Chavez in a referendum on the constitution is a potentially dangerous moment for Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution. Emboldened by their victory, the anti-Chavez movement will undoubtedly look to the United States for support in yet another attempt to overthrow the president.
“Fire-storm” warning for global economy
A World to Win’s view of the capitalist economy is often pooh-poohed by those who tell us that the system is unchallengeable. We are often told that we exaggerate the instability of the world economy. But over the last few days, one financial expert after another is outdoing us in predicting extreme crisis and break-down to come. Warnings are flying thick and fast as the credit crunch is conducted throughout the world economy via the global financial system.
Planetary emergency appeal
In the run up to the December crisis meeting on global warming, a call has gone out to world governments meeting in Bali to make a global energy and economic transition without delay in order to save the planet and its inhabitants from disaster. Signatories to the call say a “systemic shift” is needed just to stabilise the planet’s climate.
Dangerous and unpredictable times
The crisis of the Brown government has a self-destructive logic, taking us into politically uncharted and dangerous waters. There is heady and unpredictable mix of a government in melt down, state administrative systems in turmoil, a deepening banking and financial crisis and senior figures in the armed services denouncing the prime minister for his indifference.
Two states no solution for Palestinians
Palestinian leaders meeting the Israelis in Annapolis, Maryland, today will be offered nothing. Instead, they will be asked to sacrifice the right of Palestinian refugees to return, to abandon Palestinians living inside Israel’s 1948 borders and to forget about the aspirations of the Palestinians living in Jerusalem and Gaza. Failed preliminary talks over many weeks mean that all those attending the US-sponsored conference know in advance that no genuine gains can be made.
Writers' strike holds firm
Today is high-noon in the three-week long stand-off between screen writers belonging to the Writers Guild of America and the big studio conglomerates which dominate US cinema and television screens. Leaders of the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers are resuming negotiations after powerful strike action by WGA members.
Crying for Argentina
In the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires, the poor – many of them street children - scurry ahead of municipal lorries collecting in well-off areas. They are searching for glass, paper, cardboard, scraps of food - anything that can be reused. They also pick through rubbish dumps in search of food. But as political tensions rise throughout the country, the city’s right-wing mayor, businessman Mauricio Macri, has decided to curb their activities.
Put New Labour in the post
The government’s refusal to accept responsibility for the loss of personal and financial records of 25 million people is absolutely typical. Blaming some “junior official” acting alone is simply an excuse to avoid the fact that ten years of New Labour have created the conditions for what happened at Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
Climate report passes the buck
Even vetting by the US government could not prevent the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) from opening its synthesis report with the stark statement that "warming of the climate system is unequivocal". The United Nations agency has, however, once again passed on identifying the main cause and fails to come up with any solutions to climate change that might challenge the status quo.
Sarkozy’s ‘Thatcher moment’
The outcome of the strike movement sweeping France is being monitored closely by The Economist and other voices of the market economy. “Let battle commence”, they urged (15 November). “Can Nicolas Sarkozy be a French Margaret Thatcher?” asked Les Echos, a business newspaper. “Is Sarkozy ready for a long trial of strength with the unions à la Thatcher?” mused Le Parisien, in a reference to the class conflict that shook Britain between 1982 and 1986.
Bankers the priority for New Labour
When it comes to bailing out bankers, the New Labour government’s coffers are deep, as shown by the vast amounts of taxpayers’ money used in the futile bid to save Northern Rock. Contrast this with the treatment meted out to people claiming disability benefits and spending cuts imposed on climate change agencies as well as the body that reviews miscarriages of justice, and you get the picture about where priorities lie.
Co-op FC a winner
At first sight, it might seem like an idea for a new comedy. A football website buys a controlling interest in a serious football club, promising the 20,000 fans who have each put up £35, not only joint ownership, but an equal say in team selection, player transfers and the running of the club. “Own the club and pick the team”, says the website.
Lost for words in the digital age
In what may be a shock for those who believe that the digital age has made class struggle so last century, household names from TV and Hollywood are picketing and rallying in support of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) on both sides of America. Spirits are running high as rallies bring together writers and performers against the corporate studios that dominate TV, DVD, film and Internet entertainment.
The great unravelling
“Housing market faces big slowdown” reports the Financial Times, while today’s Daily Telegraph main headline is “Fastest rise in food prices for 14 years”. These are not unrelated stories but are further indications of the great unravelling that is occurring in the major capitalist economies and financial system.
Big business backing Democrats
Just as in the 1990s, big business in the United States is lining up behind the Democratic Party ahead of next year’s presidential elections. The Republicans under Bush are now so discredited that the corporations are looking for another horse to back. They don’t have to worry. In fact, the Democrats are queuing up to take their money...
Police above the law
The refusal of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair to quit over the killing – or, more precisely, execution - of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell Tube station in 2005 verifies one thing above all: the capitalist state and its institutions consider themselves above the rest of society and see no reason why they should be made accountable for their actions.
Everyone's a 'suspect'
Just in case you thought New Labour’s planned new anti-terror laws were bad enough, pay attention to what the European Union is cooking up. This undemocratic, bureaucratic organisation is bringing forward a raft of measures that add to the growth of a European-wide authoritarian state.
Ten days that shook the world
Ninety years ago today, a remarkable series of events began in Russia that would change the course of the 20th century. The first anti-capitalist, workers’ revolution in history was set in motion.
New Labour plays race card
Targeting immigrant workers is becoming the number one priority for governments from Italy, to Switzerland and Britain.
Citigroup's 'assets' bonfire
When the world’s largest bank has to ask its chief executive and chairman to go because up to $11 billion of its assets are actually not worth the paper they are printed on, you know that the global financial crisis has entered deeper into the unknown.
Energy firms cash in on fuel poverty
As winter looms, many millions of people in Britain are preparing for a winter of shivering cold in badly insulated homes that they can’t afford to heat. And the poorer people are, the more likely they are to be penalised in terms of fuel costs and insulation. Four million UK households live in fuel poverty, says Energywatch, and pre-pay meters are a major contributing factor.
Protecting the powerful
Campaigners are surprised and even shocked that the Competition Commission has ignored mounting evidence about how the big four supermarkets crush competitors, force local shops to close and squeeze suppliers dry. But they shouldn’t be, because the commission’s primary function is to protect the oligopoly that exists in food retailing, with Tesco’s 30% share of the market (plus £3bn in annual profits) growing by the day.
Gold soars: $ crashes
The price of gold and other precious metals is fast approaching record levels. The continued weakening of the dollar against other currencies – the lowest ever against the euro, together with spiralling prices for oil and other key commodities point to a deepening crisis for the global economy.
Saudi Arabia: an inconvenient truth
So, according to a New Labour foreign office minister, Britain and Saudi Arabia’s feudal absolute monarchy should work more closely together on the basis of “shared values”. Kim Howells declined to elaborate whether these might include routine torture, imprisonment without trial, amputations, beheadings, stoning, endemic corruption, discrimination against women and gay people as well as support for those who attack Shia Muslims on the basis that they are not “true believers”. Amnesty International says that at least 124 people have been executed in Saudi so far this year, the majority by beheading.
Renewables target ditched
On the day scientists announced that the Earth’s ability to soak up carbon emissions has dramatically declined, while at the same time we are seeing an acceleration in the rise of atmospheric carbon levels, it was revealed that the government is about to ditch a commitment to expand renewable energy generation.
Simply not sustainable
Twenty years ago, a commission convened by the United Nations put forward the concept of “sustainable development” as a way that capitalism, growth and protection of the environment could live in perfect harmony. The World Commission on Environment and Development (the Brundtland Commission) called its report Our Common Future. Yesterday the UN’s Environment Programme (UNEP) had to admit failure as it painted a bleak picture in an assessment of the two decades since the original report.
Let them eat cake
In the popular imagination, Queen Marie Antoinette is believed to have sparked the French Revolution when she said of the starving poor, “Let them eat cake”. True or not, the price of food is again a dangerous political issue. Warning signs are coming from around the world that food price increases will cause major social unrest in the poorest as well as the richest nations.
Global push for rice ‘suicide seed’
The seed industry will do whatever it takes to stop farmers saving seeds. The only way it can make big money from seeds is to force farmers to buy from seed companies every year. With rice, one of the world’s most important crops, it is no wonder that there is a relentless push for a hybrid variety that is essentially sterile. Suicide seeds, so to speak. At the heart of this race for hybrid rice are the transnational corporations as well as the Chinese government, according to a new assessment by GRAIN, which promotes sustainable development and agricultural biodiversity based on people’s control of genetic resources and local knowledge.
Free Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine
October is Black History month and it should be a time to celebrate the achievements of black heroes during the 200th anniversary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade. And yet in Haiti, the small country that did more than any other to defeat slavery, a notable human rights campaigner, Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, has vanished since August 12.
IMF paralysed as crisis grows
The mass of red covering the trading screens of stock markets from Asia to Europe this morning confirms that attempts to wish away the credit crisis by marking up share prices in the last few weeks has come to grief. Adding to the uncertainty was the total failure of the International Monetary Fund’s annual meeting in Washington to offer anything but platitudes.
Empty gestures in the face of climate change
Latest warnings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change show the extent of damage already done to our planet through the excesses of global capitalism. The IPCC have confirmed that it is now very unlikely (which means they are 90% certain) that the rise in average global temperatures can be kept below 20C.
The results of melting ice caps may terrify the rest of us but for the oil corporations and their client governments there is a silver lining – the opportunity to drill for deposits previously inaccessible below the permafrost. This summer’s Arctic ice cover was the thinnest ever recorded. Researchers say there could be ice-free Arctic summers by 2040.
No fun being young
A conference at the TUC today will hear that there are 3.8 million children in Britain living in poverty, 100,000 more than last year. Ending child poverty in a generation was Gordon Brown’s own special pledge as Chancellor, but last week’s spending review put just an extra 50p in the pocket of the poorest parents.
A crisis of leadership
The sudden resignation of the Lib Dem leader Menzies Campbell is another indication of the turmoil at the top of British politics as the main parties struggle to occupy the same small piece of territory – the so-called “middle ground”. While all parties claim to have the interests of the “whole nation” at heart, all they are really interested in is garnering the votes of a few crucial voters in key marginal seats who determine the outcome of general elections.
Writing on the wall for China's leaders
One thing is certain as the Chinese Communist Party gathers in Beijing for its 17th Congress – a political earthquake is inevitable that will in time sweep the delegates away. The political and social contradictions in the country are glaring and unbearable, starting with the name of the organisation under whose banner the delegates meet.
50 years of nuclear cover-ups
Fifty years ago this week, scientists at Windscale nuclear fuel plant in Cumbria finally brought under control a fire in a stack of fuel rods that had been raging for days. By then the fire had already pumped out an estimated 20,000 curies of radioactive iodine, plutonium, caesium and polonium, sending a toxic cloud over the north of England and Ireland. It was an accident waiting to happen and occurred as a direct result of speeding up production of tritium needed for Britain’s nuclear bomb. Warnings that production methods were unsafe were ignored by a government desperate to stay in the arms race.
Brown delivers the message
The leaders of the CWU postal workers’ union have waited and waited for the intervention of the government in their pay and jobs dispute with Royal Mail. Yesterday it arrived. But it was not what the CWU leadership wanted to hear. New Labour broke its silence – and came down firmly on the side of the employers.
Israel's harsh 'realities on the ground'
Creating “realities on the ground” is the speciality of the Israeli government. This week Israel has implemented a major land-grab around four Palestinian West Bank villages, precisely in order to create “realities” that will be the starting point for the talks to be held in Maryland in November.
Next stop Iran
One door closes another opens. Having failed abysmally to achieve their objectives in Iraq, the British government is preparing to move on to Iran. British troops may be preparing to leave Iraq – although not for some time – but they will stay in the Middle East. The reason is not hard to fathom.
Running to stand still
So Gordon Brown’s plans to cut and run before the storm of the economic crisis turns into a hurricane have fallen victim to New Labour’s own arrogance and grubby desire for perpetual political power. The self-appointed Leader of The Party of All People (PAP) thought he just had to think the word election and the voters would be overwhelmed with joy.
South African workers fight back
As 3,000 miners emerged from three days underground at the Harmony mine at Elandsrand, it was clear that behind the growing number of accidents and deaths in South African mines is the desperate drive for profit. To take advantage of the current high gold price, the global mining corporations have pushed the pace of deeper mining; miners say an attempt to sink a 2.2 mile deep shaft miles was to blame for this latest incident.
How to fight the export of jobs
In the end, it doesn’t matter whether a firm has a Quaker tradition with close links to the local community. The bottom line is entirely about profit margins under conditions of global competition, as Cadbury Schweppes showed yesterday by announcing the switching of its chocolate production to Poland.
Midnight of a surveillance society
In the week that new laws requiring phone companies to keep records of ALL calls and make them available to a range of agencies came into force in Britain, a report from the United States gives a chilling account of the destruction of civil liberties in that other great “democracy”.
Britain’s very own sub-prime housing crisis
The credit crunch in the global financial system is now beginning to interact with the British housing market. Lax credit conditions that allowed prices to spiral are drawing to an end and many home owners are staring at sharp increases in their mortgage repayments. Record outstanding debts of £1,400 billion and low savings rates all weigh heavily on the property market. Experts are warning of a dramatic fall in house prices ahead.
Biofuels increase emissions - and profits
Straight from a most unlikely source comes news of another eco-scandal. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has exposed the fact that the European Commission is colluding with renewable energy corporations and investors. The aim is to ensure that environmental standards are not allowed to interfere with profitability and investment opportunities in biofuel production.
Birth of a nation
The struggle for self-determination in Africa and against corporate exploitation has taken a new, but little known turn. Tuareg nomads from the Sahara joined together last week to announce the foundation of the Tumoujgha Republic. They will go down in history as the first national liberation movement to announce a new state and constitution via an Internet blog. A World to Win welcomes this historic move by the Tuareg to assert their right to existence.
China fears Burma uprising
While the Buddhist monks and people of Burma heroically defy bullets and batons to continue to march against the military junta, no one should be surprised that world leaders sit on their hands and/or offer up crocodile tears. Some, like the Chinese regime, have a lot to lose in Burma – and we’re not just talking about trade in oil, gas and timber. Beijing’s Stalinist rulers in particular are terrified that the mass movement in Burma could easily spread to China itself and unseat the corrupt bureaucracy ruling the country.
Climate change window closing
World leaders are preparing to abandon whole areas of the planet to climate change. That’s the implication from speeches at the one-day (!) gathering at the United Nations to discuss the impact of global warming and the prospects for a post-Kyoto treaty.
One Nation, One Party under Our Leader
A serious question: What do you get if you put together a nationalist-patriotic, socially conservative, free market, business-worshipping, authoritarian, religious political leader? Answer: a highly dangerous, heady political cocktail with echoes in 20th century history. Who needs the Tory Party, or even the far-right British National Party when you have the Brown movement?
Beijing the key to Burma protests
All eyes are on how Beijing will react as Burma’s Buddhist monks lead waves of protests against the country’s dictatorship. It is the biggest movement Burma has seen since people rose against the junta in 1988 when 3,000 people were gunned down. Burma’s military junta is utterly dependent on the Chinese regime, which is ruthlessly exploiting the country’s oil and gas reserves.
Dollar collapse looms
Northern Rock’s problems are a mere blip by comparison with the crisis now emerging on the other side of the Atlantic, where the fall in the value of the once almighty dollar threatens to bring down not just the American economy but the entire global trading system with it.
Union turkeys vote for Christmas
Like turkeys voting for Christmas, the trade union leaders have given up their existing voting rights at Labour’s annual conference. Barely a voice was raised as they offered Gordon Brown what even Tony Blair could not achieve – total control of the party machine.
Immigration and the race card
The Liberal Democrats’ call for a selective amnesty for immigrants in Britain without legal rights will have no impact on a government determined to play the race card at every opportunity. It may be “absurd”, as Lib Dem’s Nick Clegg said, to deport an estimated 500,000 “illegals” at £10,000 a time, but then New Labour is that type of government.
Government joins the panic
Desperate times, desperate measures. That’s the only explanation for New Labour’s emergency decision to underwrite every last penny of depositors’ money in Northern Rock – and do the same if any other lender looks like going belly up.
Northern Rock storm blows confidence away
The financial storm battering the Northern Rock expresses not just the unravelling of the last 30 years of credit-led expansion but also a growing loss of confidence in both politicians and bankers. Every supposedly reassuring statement and action by chief executive Adam Applegarth, the Bank of England and Chancellor Alistair Darling has had the opposite effect.
Endless brute force
Last night US president Bush announced a plan for withdrawing a paltry 5,700 troops from Iraq by Christmas, and more next summer – “the more successful we are, the more American troops can return home", he said. But even as he spoke, it became clearer than ever that the only end game for Bush and his co-thinkers Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Vice President Dick Cheney is yet another war.
Banks pile up 'distressed debt'
The cynic is a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing, Oscar Wilde once wrote. Today, many cynical bankers don’t even know the price of things, let alone their value as the financial crisis takes its toll.
Anger with New Labour boils over
The TUC’s decision to co-ordinate strike action over public sector pay expresses not so much their desire to confront New Labour but the seething discontent among rank-and-file trade unionists whose living standards and conditions have been eroded by government policies. Their restlessness is also aimed at a compliant trade union leadership who, in the main, have allowed this to take place without a shot being fired.
Reality comes calling at the TUC
Those who inhabit a world of illusions and fantasy can get a nasty shock when reality comes calling. So after Gordon Brown addressed the TUC yesterday, union leaders staggered out into the sunlight to confess that all was not how they thought it was or should be.
Set fair for hot air in Brighton
The TUC Congress in Brighton this week will hear some angry words and even some heartfelt speeches on the themes of vulnerable workers, trade union rights (or the lack of them), poverty, social housing, casualisation, employment rights, globalisation and other issues. But everyone knows that the words spoken at Congress carry little weight and hardly any influence anywhere.
US confronted by double crisis
The warnings about the dangerous state of the global economy are flying thick and fast. Earlier this week, a senior banker told City financiers that capital markets had suffered a heart attack over the summer. “If we stay stuck,” Hans-Jörg Rudloff, chairman of Barclays Capital said, “the patient will die”.
Cream for the rich, cake for the rest
While the media assault on the RMT union continues – even though Tube maintenance workers have suspended their strike – news comes of how well some people are doing when it comes to pensions. Tube and other workers affected by bankrupt companies are rightly concerned whether they will actually get a pension but top directors are sitting pretty.
Tube workers defy 'brutal' logic
The RMT rail union may have suspended the strike by a group of Tube maintenance workers while it considers a fresh offer, but not before enduring hysterical press and political attacks. What angered the London media and politicians from Ken Livingstone to Gordon Brown, was the fact that a group of workers rejected soothing words and actually dared to take action that was more than just a gesture.
Dream factory turns on Bush
US President Bush’s surprise secret visit to Iraq yesterday was a desperate attempt to rally support for an enterprise that is ending in humiliation and defeat. The deep fissures that the invasion and occupation has created in American society itself are now being reflected right in the heart of the US dream factory itself – Hollywood.
Things can only get worse
In 1997, New Labour’s election theme tune was Things Can Only Get Better. If Gordon Brown is thinking of calling a snap general election it is because the government knows that severe economic and political turbulence lies ahead and that things can only get worse.
Katrina's victims still paying the price
Two years ago, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. Today, many of its people are still suffering. They are the victims of government bureaucracy, racism, corruption and indifference. A report by the Institute for Southern Studies catalogues the shocking conditions faced by the poor of the city, who were overwhelmingly the hurricane’s victims.
Profit mono-culture food threat
Transnational corporations, seeking profitable solutions to a post-oil world, are driving a change of land use that will outstrip all previous agricultural revolutions. It will bring billions of acres of land into new mono-cultures, pushing the planet’s water and soil resources beyond their limit. If allowed to continue, it will further intensify social inequality, hunger and global warming and inevitably lead to wars over land and water.
Targeting young people
The shooting last week of 11-year-old Rhys Jones has become a signal for the Conservative leader David Cameron to talk about “anarchy in the UK”, while another Tory Simon Heffer blames “welfarism” and “Marxism” for the present ills of society. But the essential underlying cause of youth disenfranchisement and estrangement are ignored by all the major parties in their search for “law-and-order” votes.
Opposing the new EU treaty
The gathering storm over the new European Union treaty, focused on the growing demands for a referendum, raises deep issues about the nation-state and its place in the globalised market economy. At the heart of the proposed treaty is the further development of the EU as a regional bloc better able to compete in increasingly tough capitalist market conditions.
Middle East war danger grows
The failure of the US occupation in Iraq carries with it the threat of a pre-emptive war in the Middle East sponsored by Washington and launched with the support of the Israeli government. Evidence is mounting of a desperate, cornered White House that is not prepared to quit Iraq with its tail between its legs.
UN throws in towel on climate change
The United Nations is preparing to throw in the towel on achieving further cuts in the emission of greenhouse gases by the world’s industralised nations. Instead, it plans to rely on already discredited carbon trading and offsetting schemes. The cat was let out of the bag by the UN official leading negotiations for a new convention to follow on from the Kyoto treaty, which ends in 2012.
September 11 - the real conspiracy
The real conspiracy over the September 11 attacks on the United States involves a determination by the authorities to cover up a report into the mismanagement, lack of analysis, bungling and infighting between the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency. That much is clear from the small section of the report by the inspector of the CIA, John L. Helgerson that was declassified last night.
Putin rehabilitates Stalin
There are few families in Russia today untouched by the horrors of the Stalin period. Nearly everyone has a story to tell about a relative who suffered in the forced collectivisation and the purges that consumed up to 20 million people. So when Vladimir Putin, the ex-KGB man who is now president of Russia, sanctions a rewriting of history that eulogises Stalin and glosses over his regime’s crimes, it amounts to a warning to opponents of today’s Kremlin.
Composting the state
The Camp for Climate Action at Heathrow brought activists, local communities and others opposed to the building of a new runway at the airport, together in an inspiring, united way. The political support of local MP John McDonnell was also important, especially in dealing with the state. This enclave of democracy and self-organisation surrounded by surveillance cameras and massive searchlights, police horses and vans was a shining example of self-sacrifice and utopianism.
In the eye of a cyclone
For those who believe that some sort of regulatory control of global capitalism is a way to curb corporate and financial power, the events of the last few weeks are salutary. The international financial system generated by globalisation since the 1970s patently transcends the powers of nation states, as the failure of the central banks to turn the tide amply testifies.
The global pyramid scam
After a week of attempts by central banks to resuscitate global financial markets by injecting cash, the contagion continues to spread around the world, driving stock markets sharply lower. As is the fate of all pyramid-selling scams, the global economic structures built upon an addiction to credit and its inseparable opposite debt, are unwinding fast with devastating impact.
Canada joins terror witch-hunt
As the police use anti-terror laws to harass climate protesters at the Heathrow climate camp, governments around the world are making copycat versions of Britain’s detention and secret trials powers. Canada is not usually viewed as an authoritarian state, but Stephen Harper’s right-wing government, elected in January 2006, is pushing through legislation based closely on the provisions enacted into British law under New Labour.
Targeting the climate camp
The lurid media headlines aimed at the climate action camp, combined with systematic police harassment, just about sum up the state of Britain today. Anything that disturbs the status quo and challenges corporate assumptions about the environment or anything else is regarded as intolerable and dangerous.
A universe of fantasy finance
The turmoil in the world’s financial and stock markets that erupted at the end of last week prompted a panic release of funds into the system from the leading central banks. But their actions only add to the underlying cause of this crisis.
Iraqi unions threaten 'mutiny' over oil law
The struggle over future control of Iraq’s oil is coming to a head, with parliament deeply divided over American proposals designed to benefit the major corporations and the country’s trade unionists vowing to resist any foreign takeover. It adds to the deepening crisis engulfing the US-UK four-year occupation of Iraq.
Postal leaders duck the fight
Postal workers start another series of actions today which are scheduled to last on and off for two weeks. But there is a real danger that the leaders of the Communication Workers Union are frittering away the energy and determination of their members instead of mounting a serious challenge to Royal Mail’s job cuts and below-inflation pay rise.
The sweatshop Olympics
There will be celebrations in China today to mark the one-year countdown to the start of the 2008 Olympic Games. But it will be business as usual for the hundreds of thousands of workers slaving away in factories making products associated with the games. Research into four of the factories supplying goods under licence for the Beijing Olympics has revealed massive labour rights abuses, including child labour, forced overtime, workers being instructed to lie about wages and conditions to outside inspectors, poor health and safety conditions, excessive hours of work and employers falsifying employment records.
Painful times for borrowers
Those driven into insolvency as they try to keep a roof over their heads will take little comfort from the knowledge that they are the victims of a crisis that is spreading rapidly throughout the world’s financial markets. More than 100,000 people in the UK will be declared insolvent during 2007.
‘We are living in the stone age’
Three headlines from a country in the fourth year of foreign occupation: ‘Armed robots to go to war in Iraq’; ‘Power cuts worsen as grid collapses’; ‘ US soldier sentenced to 110 years’. Three indictments of the American-British invasion of 2003 that has brought untold suffering and misery to the Iraqi people.
A business friendly climate Bill
The Climate Change Bill is, above all, business friendly. In fact, it is so weak that a Commons committee this week published a damning indictment of the Bill, criticising all of its key proposals and accusing it of incoherence.
London's firefighters oppose 12-hour day
London’s firefighters are gearing up to resist unilateral changes to their shift system by employers who are determined to impose the government’s cost-cutting “modernisation” agenda on the service. A staggering 98.5% of firefighters are opposed to the plans to compel them to work a system of 12-hour shifts and strike action is a distinct possibility if current negotiations break down.
Conscience and global poverty
If conscience alone could abolish world poverty, it would have happened many times over by now. Countless millions, especially in countries like Britain, have a sense of what is right and wrong. They are deeply concerned about disease, ill health, starvation and low wages in developing countries. They donate, they do voluntary work, they sign petitions, they go on marches, join vigils and pray for the poor of the world. And still the world is one of gross inequalities, at home and abroad.
Kick Israeli match into touch
When it comes to trade boycotts, countries like the United States decide them on the basis of pure politics. Cuba and Iran – boycott. Israel, Saudi Arabia – sell them as many weapons as you can. But when trade unions and campaign groups propose a boycott in support of Palestinian rights, they are accused of “playing politics” and even, outrageously, of anti-Semitism.
Brown sings Bush's praises
Those are those who convinced themselves that New Labour’s close relationship with the most reactionary White House in history was restricted to Tony Blair and that once he was gone, normal service would be resumed (whatever that might be). Gordon Brown’s flattering comments about president Bush show, however, an unbroken continuity.
Global financial hurricane starts to blow
Turmoil on the world’s stock markets, induced by yesterday’s sharp falls in New York, is directly connected to a crisis at the heart of the global banking system. The implications for the everyday lives of ordinary working people in every country are enormous in terms of jobs, housing and living standards.
A report by top scientists published yesterday in the magazine Nature, confirms that extreme weather events, including floods in the northern hemisphere, will become commonplace as a result of climate change.
Rail passengers pay the price
If you thought rail fares were high now, wait until the transport secretary Ruth Kelly is finished with you. Yesterday she announced plans to expand the rail network – and passengers are going to pay through the nose for much-needed improvements.
Tale of a catastrophe foretold
Welcome to the weather of the 21st century. That’s the message from the floods that have overwhelmed whole areas of the West of England, leaving hundreds of thousands without power, without water and with damaged homes. And the government, despite many warnings, is totally unprepared for the consequences of a Hurricane Katrina-New Orleans type of event.
New Labour puts unions out to grass
What Tony Blair started, Gordon Brown will finish. And that includes winding up what remains of democratic procedures inside the New Labour party. The principal victims will be the trade unions, whose substantial voice at the annual conference will be reduced to a whisper.
The BBC, bread and circuses
The admission by the BBC that its programmes are not always what they appear to be raises important issues about perception, image and reality and the role of the mass media in manipulating and distorting their relationship.
Picking up the bill for Tube firm collapse
When Gordon Brown set out to part-privatise London’s Underground system in 2001, he was implementing a New Labour strategy designed to transfer capital from the state to the corporations. With the collapse of the Metronet consortium charged with upgrading most of the network, the state (i.e. the taxpayers) will now step in to pick up the pieces.
Business as usual in Burma
This week Amnesty International, Saferworld and other NGOs pointed to a breach of the EU arms embargo on Burma (Myanmar) by the Indian government. Their report demands that the EU “stand by its obligations” and urges the Indian government to stop the transfer of a military helicopter to the dictatorship.
The inequality indictment
If you wanted evidence to draw up an indictment of corporate power and the global market economy, you need look no further than the reports on inequality in Britain published today by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF). While you’re about it, there is plenty of material for a charge sheet against successive governments as well. In the dog-eat-dog globalised market economy, the story is a simple one: the rich have obviously got a lot richer and the average worker has got relatively poorer.
A global war on rights
The global “war on terror” has truly become the global war of terror against people’s human rights. In Australia, a terror suspect freed on bail is immediately held on spurious immigration charges; in Britain, a senior police officer calls for indefinite detention of suspects; in Germany, the interior minister suggests target killing of terror suspects; in the Philippines, new anti-terror laws come into force today.
Peak oil - peak madness
The sharp rise in the price of oil to almost $80 a barrel, coupled with evidence that production is nearing or is already at its peak, is a dangerous indicator of the unsustainability of the global market economy. As oil runs out, the corporations are expanding production as if there was no tomorrow, with dire consequences for the rest of us.
London NHS review smokescreen
Radical proposals for revamping the capital’s health services intended to meet the needs of Londoners, include far more than the widely-reported intention to move the majority of care from old-style general hospitals to polyclinics and urgent care centres closer to people’s homes. Few would argue with the need for more and better services provided through community-based facilities designed to overcome inequality, complemented by an integrated network of specialist hospitals. But...
Democracy, revolution and British values
The Brown government wants to "reinvigorate our democracy" through a series of changes to the constitution. But proposals in The Governance of Britain published by New Labour last week are superficial and essentially aimed at trying to restore public support for a failing process by "renewing our trust in our democratic institutions".
How the war was spun
Alastair Campbell’s diaries will earn him piles of money but the former Downing Street spin doctor is still playing fast and loose with the truth about the preparations for the attack on Iraq. Key entries for the days leading up to the infamous autumn 2002 dossier, with its false claims about weapons of mass destruction (WMD), are omitted from his diaries.
Taking a leaf out of the Stasi's book
In former East Germany, the hated Stasi – or state security police – just about had one half of the population spying on the other. While that is now the stuff of films like Other People’s Lives, the spirit of the Stasi lives on the shape of one Admiral Sir Alan West, who is a security minister in the Brown government of “all the talents”.
Flood victims abandoned
From Mount Everest to Hull, the evidence of climate change is before our very eyes, as well as in the homes of thousands of people in the north of England. Yet the British government sees nothing and hears nothing, with its response to the floods little better than the White House’s inaction when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005.
Labour – ‘the natural party of business’
This is one of those moments in history when the clouds of confusion begin to lift and it becomes easy to see how the land lies. Blowing away the clouds is John Hutton, the man in charge of the newly created Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. According to Hutton, Tory Leader David Cameron’s alleged weak support for business provides “a major opportunity for Labour” because “we want to be the natural party of business”.
Palestine: One state the only solution
Two new books published this week by Palestinian writers offer a way forward for those currently locked in struggle in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza. Both argue the need for a democratic, secular state on all the land currently occupied by Israel. In his book, One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse, Ali Abunimah, the Palestinian-American writer and co-founder of the Electronic Intifada website, argues that the "conventional wisdom" of the two-state, land-for-peace equation needs to be rethought.
How corporations avoid tax
The news that Saga and the AA, the private equity businesses that are merging, paid no corporation tax last year highlights the fact that global business has turned avoidance into an international art. A shadowy world of tax havens and creative accounting means that the burden of funding the state falls increasingly on the shoulders of working people.
Terrorism and 'our way of life'
The near-miss terror attacks in London and Glasgow reveal the futility of the government’s policies and methods, which all lead in one direction – towards full-scale, authoritarian rule. For, in the end, the government’s aim of “defeating terrorism” will require a police state apparatus on an immense and permanent scale.
Agrofuel market madness
Hundreds of thousands of acres of land, whether in the UK or elsewhere on the planet, will be needed to feed a giant bio-ethanol plant to be opened near Hull by a joint company set up by BP and Associated British Foods. The company claims fuel production is separate from food production and "the impact on food prices is likely to be negligible". But production of bio-ethanol and biodiesel, from vegetable oils such as soya or palm, is already having an impact on the cost of food and on the environment.
You might have imagined that recent media exposure of the CIA’s worldwide programme of torture and rendition flights has curbed what the European Parliament has called illegal acts, massive violation of fundamental human rights and contempt for the rule of law. But in fact the CIA has simply moved its operations from Poland and Romania to other countries and continues to work closely with repressive regimes around the world, including those in North Africa.
Welcome to Brown's corporate state
Gordon Brown, who becomes prime minister today, may have a different style to Tony Blair, but the substance of New Labour remains the same. In fact, Brown’s politics are in many respects more explicit than Blair’s when it comes to promoting corporate-driven globalisation as the answer to everything.
More sinister than cuckoo
Jack Nicholson shot to fame in the 1975 film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The mental hospital was itself a metaphor for state authorities. For many people Milos Forman’s film brought to light the cruel imprisonment of mentally ill people and the horrors of electro convulsive treatment (ECT).
Financial 'Katrina' begins to blow
For some days now, banks and finance houses have been watching the unfolding crisis at major investment bank Bear Stearns, as it tries to limit the fallout from the failure of two of its hedge funds.
Post strike and globalisation
At the heart of the looming confrontation between Royal Mail management and New Labour on one side and the Communication Workers Union (CWU) on the other, is the nature of public services in a period of free-market globalisation.
Honours, lingerie and liberties
Joseph Corre, co-founder of the lingerie company Agent Provocateur, turns down an official honour because of the war in Iraq and the government’s attacks on human rights in Britain. In doing so he shames Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, who was only too pleased to accept an award from the Blair regime.
Global cities - divided cities
Global Cities, the new exhibition at Tate Modern, raises big questions about the future of humanity.
Climate change makes you sick
As predicted, a rise in temperatures is causing a surge in cases of dengue fever. There are signs that climate change, combined with rapid urbanisation, could make 2007 the worst ever year for this low-profile serious health risk.
Coming to a field near you: Zombie and Exorcist seeds
A new crop of genetic engineering technologies are being promoted as a solution to the unwanted spread of transgenes from genetically-modified (GM) plants. In practice, these technologies will allow the transnationals to tighten their grip on proprietary seeds and further restrict the rights of farmers.
Oil men warm to plans for recycling climate victims
The Yes Men, masters at corporate identity theft who once posed as the World Trade Organisation on the world stage, have pulled off another triumph. Posing as representatives of Exxon-Mobil and the National Petroleum Council( NPC), yesterday they presented a product with a difference to 300 oil industry representatives in Calgary, Alberta.
Double standards over Israel boycott
The denial of education, of work, of any possibility of a future lies behind the communal fighting raging in Gaza today.
Climate change takes its toll in Asia
As torrential rains continue to sweep across South China and Bangladesh, Sir David King, the UK government's chief scientist told a committee of MPs that global warming has already altered the climate and the country will have to prepare for extreme weather such as heat waves and "torrential downpours".
Google bowls a googly
Google, the world’s most used internet search engine has been rated ‘hostile to privacy’ and placed bottom of the pile of Internet based service companies, whilst other big names like AOL, Apple and Yahoo! are identified as companies with policies and techniques that pose substantial threats to privacy.
Rendition: lies and their liars
Who would you rather believe when it comes to "extraordinary rendition" – the British government and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) or the respected human rights body, the Council of Europe (CoE)? New Labour’s denial that British airports were used by the CIA for refuelling en route to torture camps is worthless.
G8 all talk on climate change
Pressure on the G8 to act now on climate change has failed. The world’s richest countries are not committed to a single target to reduce emissions as a result of yesterday’s announcement. While there was talk of the need for “for strong and early action” to tackle climate change through a "substantial global emissions reduction", the only serious target agreed was that more talks would be held.
40 years in an Israeli jail
Forty years ago this week, Israel launched an unprovoked attack on Egypt and Syria. By 10 June, Israeli forces captured the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, along with the Sinai and the Golan Heights. At the end of the war Israel had succeeded in almost doubling the amount of territory it controlled. Today, the misery of the Palestinians continues as they live in what is effectively a prison camp with Israeli guards.
Taking liberties with our rights
Director Chris Atkins says he wanted to achieve two things in making Taking Liberties: To make people laugh, and to make them angry. This powerful indictment of the assault on human rights and civil liberties by the New Labour government achieves both and more.
Missile shield and oil supplies
The threat by Russian president Vladimir Putin to target Western Europe with nuclear missiles underlines a growing international instability, which increasingly revolves around the availability and supply of energy for the global economy.
Unions face up to globalisation
It’s been a long time coming, but there are signs that sections of the trade union movement in Britain are prepared to take an internationalist approach to the challenges posed by the advance of corporate-driven globalisation. Until now, the unions have generally taken a nationalist, keep-our-jobs British, view.
Climate change: rhetoric and reality
Two statements, one in Washington and the other in Stansted, yesterday restated the gap between rhetoric on climate change and doing something about it.
If there was any doubt about the direction of travel that New Labourites are taking as Blair departs, Hazel Blears and Alan Milburn give us a clear view. Former health secretary Milburn has been recruited by PepsiCo to join its ‘nutritional advisory board’ in the UK along with Blair’s PR advisor Philip Gould.
Another day, another atrocity
Can you imagine a situation where a third of the members of the House of Commons are illegally seized and transferred, say, to France where they were held without trial? Sounds a bit far fetched, doesn't it but that is exactly the situation in occupied Palestine.
Sheehan slams Democrats over Iraq
Cindy Sheehan, whose son Casey was killed in Iraq, has ended her anti-war campaign that galvanised America on a bitter note – but not before striking a telling blow against the Democratic Party.
The state: evolution and revolution
The trailing of plans for draconian new police powers, ostensibly required to pursue the “fight against terrorism”, brings into sharp focus important questions: what is the nature of this state and how should we oppose the rapid slide towards full-scale authoritarian rule?
Reid gives judges marching orders
If the judges don’t do what we tell them, we’ll declare a state of emergency and detain people without trial to get our way. No, this is not Putin’s Russia or the generals’ regime in Burma. This is Britain 2007 under New Labour.
Private sector gets nuclear button
One thing is certain in the government’s white paper – energy production will remain in the hands of the private sector and be subject to the laws of the capitalist market. Trade and industry secretary Alistair Darling has thrown up his hands in the face of future uncertainty, using this as the excuse to leave all major decisions with companies who he says “are best placed to weigh up and manage the complex range of interrelated factors affecting the economics of energy investments”.
Soap opera provocation
Street protests in Venezuela for and against the closing down of a popular right-wing television channel are revealing the tensions in the country under the government of President Hugo Chavez. Radio Caracas Television, a private network, is due to go off the air this Sunday because the state is refusing to renew its licence. RCT, together with three other networks, backed the 2002 coup against Chavez, which temporarily saw him lose power.
Another right bites the dust
One by one, the rights of ordinary citizens are being eroded by the state. Today it is turn of the right to object to having a nuclear power station or a new airport on your doorstep.
Hodge: following the BNP's lead
Will New Labour MPs and ministers say and do anything in a bid to get re-elected, even if they sound like the far-right British National Party? The answer is an obvious "yes", judging by the notorious outburst by industry minister Margaret Hodge on immigrants and housing.
Planetary emergency warnings mount
New scientific evidence of the multiple mounting effects of global warming had little visible impact on the 2,000 representatives of 166 countries at two weeks of United Nations talks in Bonn now drawing to a close.
McDonnell should seize the moment
So it’s just not just the British monarchy that enshrines the feudal, hereditary principle of succession. New Labour has now joined the anti-democratic club by blocking the nomination of left-wing candidate John McDonnell and allowing Gordon Brown to be crowned Our Great Leader unchallenged.
G8 crackdown under way
Two related stories from the world of global capitalism: 1) the G8 has failed to deliver pledges on aid made at Gleneagles summit in 2005 (surprise, surprise); 2) German police have launched a massive crackdown on activists in advance of next month’s G8 in the Baltic sea resort of Heiligendamm.
Corporate man heads for No.10
If you want to understand what New Labour in general, and Gordon Brown in particular, is all about, you need look no further than the so-called private finance initiative (PFI). A report from the Commons public accounts committee (PAC) today confirms that PFI is simply a government licence to print money at the taxpayer’s expense.
Private equity vultures
It really doesn’t matter to the investors what commodity a company produces, just so long as there’s a profit to be made. These days the big money is generating profits from a new kind of commodity – the companies themselves.
Profiting from 'green' business
It is hard for consumers and employees to evaluate the truth of claims that companies make about their green credentials. For example, Tesco, which says it is eco-friendly, is sending CDs and DVDs on a 1,400 mile trip to exploit a tax loophole.
Jobless victims of Blair's oil war
On the day that Prime Minister Blair announces his departure from office, let us take note of the trail of despair he leaves behind, not least for the families of those who have lost their loved ones in Iraq.
Pakistan's struggle for democracy
When it comes to attacks on human rights in Pakistan, ruling politicians in Britain and the United States invariably look the other way. Even the suspension by President (and General) Pervez Musharraf of the country’s top judge, passes without comment in Washington and London. After all, Pakistan is an ally in the "war on terror" and is a useful place to torture alleged suspects before delivering them to US and British agencies.
Union leaders have a choice
If, as seems probable, Gordon Brown is crowned as the next leader of New Labour without a contest, much of the responsibility will lie with the leaders of the major trade unions. They have deliberately cold-shouldered the challenge of MP John McDonnell in favour of Brown, who is the principal architect of New Labour’s reactionary policies.
Political crossroads in France and Britain
The decisive victory of the right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy in Sunday's French presidential elections and the crushing defeat for New Labour in last week’s elections in Britain may not appear to have much connection. But both mark the end of an era and signal periods of political and social upheaval.
Gambling with the future of humanity
Measures to cut harmful emissions over the next three decades will determine the future of the planet. That’s the stark statement in today’s third report of the UN international panel on climate change (IPCC).
A very British press freedom
UN World Press Freedom Day is an occasion to remember the journalists who are in prison or who were killed while in pursuit of their stories, or to criticise governments which exert direct state control over the media. Today should also be a day to recognise that in countries like Britain, where nominal press freedom exists, media control is exercised just as effectively but in more subtle ways.
Two concerts - two different worlds
We are not on the edge of climate change disaster. It is happening now. Many people are already finding their lives altered and even destroyed by extreme weather.
Ten reasons to reject New Labour
Today marks the 10th anniversary of New Labour in government. To mark the occasion, here are ten good reasons for rejecting the Blair/Brown regime and denying New Labour your vote in this Thursday’s elections.
A tale of two Britains
Two stories that have hit the headlines inside 24 hours just about sum a decade of New Labour. The fortunes of the richest 1,000 soared by £59 billion in the past year, according to the Sunday Times "rich list". Meanwhile, four in 10 black and Asian people in Britain live in poverty, twice the rate among white people, research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has revealed.
Rights for migrant workers
An estimated 175 million people world-wide live outside their countries of origin, most driven by globalisation and hopes of jobs and higher pay. Migrant workers make up 10% of the working population in Britain, an increase of a third since 1995. Yet their dreams are often dashed as they are become the victims of exploitation and abuse.
The truth about Guernica
Seventy years ago today, on 26 April 1937, the small market town of Guernica in the Basque region of Spain, was virtually destroyed by German and Italian bombers in the first mass air raid in history. What is not often mentioned in accounts of the atrocity, however, is that the Italian planes were flying on oil sent by Stalin.
The right to land
The 75th anniversary this week of the mass trespass on Kinder Scout in the Peak District to demand the right to roam is a timely reminder of a deeper and unresolved issue – the private ownership of land in Britain.
Yeltsin - the IMF's man in Russia
Boris Yeltsin, who has died aged 76, will be remembered as the populist who helped bring down the Soviet Union and then impoverished the Russian people with Western-funded "shock therapy" market economic policies. Under Yeltsin’s rule, state assets were ripped off and handed to oligarchs, while the democratisation process that began with Mikhail Gorbachev was replaced with authoritarian rule.
Arts funding a real lottery
The outrage expressed by arts and sports bodies over cuts to their budgets to help fund the 2012 Olympics highlights the fact that the existence of many cultural and sporting projects is a real lottery. They often hang on the proceeds garnered through the National Lottery, which is a not-so-subtle way of redistributing money from those on lower incomes to the state.
Propelling new commodities into the profit-focused system of production that caused the climate crisis in the first place is like seeking the cure by doubling the disease. The gadarene rush to bio-fuels is perhaps the most destructive of this self-defeating approach to global warming.
Big Brother's European project
If you thought New Labour just attacked human rights in Britain you would be wrong. Four detailed Statewatch analyses of draft European Union measures show the extent to which powerful member states, including Britain, are driving down protection standards in the creation of the so-called EU "Area of Freedom, Security and Justice".
Inflation soars - nurses resist
A deluge of debt and higher profits are key factors behind the sharp rise in inflation reported yesterday. After ten years in which inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) has stayed within the threshold set by the Bank of England, increasing volatility has driven the rate across the line to 3.1% in March, having risen from 1.8% a year ago.
Buying your way to the White House
Democracy, or what passes for it, comes at a hefty price in the United States. It now seems that between them the Democrat and Republican hopefuls for the 2008 presidential race will raise $1,000 million dollars in campaign funds, the first time this has happened in American politics. Hillary Clinton is trying desperately to buy the Democrat nomination by raising more money than her rivals to force them out of the race.
The World Bank's real victims
The furore at the World Bank over Paul Wolfowitz’s unilateral decision to promote his girlfriend and give her a pay rise, stands in mark contrast to the disastrous results of the organisation’s policies in developing countries. The bank’s loans are often tied to ruthless Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs).
The social cost of housing market failure
So infatuated is New Labour with imposing market "solutions" on everything from education to climate change, that it has actually managed to create a series of market failures. Nowhere is this more apparent than in housing. Its policies have helped drive house prices beyond the reach of most people, put large numbers of people in housing debt and added to homelessness.
Russia's unfinished revolution
Just over 90 years after the overthrow of the Tsarist autocracy in February 1917, Russia is due another revolution – this time against the authoritarian Putin regime, the oligarchs who ripped off former state assets and the clique of security and military officers who control the Kremlin. Between them they have impoverished large sections of the population and silenced any effective opposition.
The destruction of Iraq
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is not exactly a partisan organisation. For example, the ICRC took a long time to make public its views on Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo. So when the ICRC says that the war in Iraq is inflicting immense suffering on the entire population, it is choosing its word carefully.
World’s poor pay the price for climate change
Buried over the holiday period, when the media was more interested in New Labour’s disastrous attempt to spin the Iranian hostage story, was another devastating report on climate change. Rajendra Pachauri, the chair of the of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was clear that "the poorest of the poor in the world - and this includes poor people in prosperous societies - are going to be the worst hit" by climate change.
When Thatcher sank peace hopes
The 25th anniversary of the Falklands war is usually depicted as something that became inevitable once Argentina’s army had occupied the islands. Yet the real history is that Thatcher’s Tories rejected a series of peace deals because they wanted a war for political reasons.
'Oi, Blair - you're nicked'
There are an estimated 4.2 million CCTV cameras in Britain and a recent report by the privacy watchdog, the Information Commissioner, warned that Britain was becoming a "surveillance society".
Drugs and punishment
The news that drug education and prevention services for vulnerable young people are facing massive spending cuts is par for the course for a New Labour government that lays the emphasis on punishing rather than treating users.
Support the workers of Zimbabwe
President Thabo Mbeke of South Africa cannot bring himself to utter a word about the misery the regime of Robert Mugabe is inflicting on the people of Zimbabwe. But the South African Congress of Trade Unions (COSATU) shows no such reluctance. Tomorrow and Wednesday, COSATU is organising demonstrations in Johannesburg and marching to the Zimbabwean High Commissioner's office.
Rights and beyond
That the Daily Telegraph should choose this moment to help launch Billy Bragg’s campaign for a Declaration of Rights based on open public debate shows how much things have changed in Britain.
Big Brother targets 11 year olds
New Labour's plans to screen young children in search of potential criminals, announced yesterday, shows that Blair and his clutch of co-thinkers have not yet completed their construction of the most comprehensively repressive state machine ever seen in Britain.
Child poverty indicts New Labour
The number of children in poverty has increased by 100,000, and all measures of inequality, other than for pensioners, have worsened, according to the latest figures in the annual Households Below Average Income (HBAI) report. The UK has one of the highest rates of child poverty in Europe despite being one of the wealthiest countries in the world.
Oil, Iran and a British coup
Whatever Iran’s motives for seizing British military personnel, it’s not difficult to fathom out why Teheran is so jumpy. There is the UK-US occupation of neighbouring Iraq, where American forces recently seized – and still hold - Iranian officials, barely-disguised plans to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities, the presence of a massive hostile naval presence in the Persian Gulf - plus plenty of alarming history.
Brown's 'coronation' - New Labour's epitaph
The manoeuvrings around the succession to Tony Blair are resonant of the machinations of court circles under a feudal monarchy. There is even talk of a "coronation" for Gordon Brown, just in case people mistakenly think we are still living in a parliamentary democracy where elections used to be custom and practice.
It's more than a game to Palestinians
When England fans arrive in Tel Aviv to watch tomorrow’s Euro 2008 qualifier with Israel, they’ll be entering a country in political turmoil.
Blair Mark II snubs unions
Gordon Brown’s Budget, with its redistribution of wealth from the poor to the well-off, plus reductions in company taxes and spending cuts, is the firmest indication that he will continue down the path carved by New Labour under Blair. This will surprise few observers except, perhaps, the leaders of two of Britain’s largest trade unions.
Iraq: the facts
As the illegal occupation of Iraq enters its fifth year, following an invasion based on lies, here are some facts and figures. They cover the non-stop destruction of Iraq, the uprooting of about 16% of the population and the horrors of the civil war that has engulfed the country.
Homeowners pay the price
The news on the financial pages is that private-equity group Blackstone is preparing to bring some of its secretive operations out from the shadows and into public view by launching an offering of shares on the stock exchange. We’re not recommending that you buy any.
Mubarak's 'war on terror'
Under the guise of combatting terrorism, Egypt’s People’s Assembly is today rubber-stamping a vote on constitutional amendments designed to turn the country into a police state.
Bird flu: a bonanza for Big Chicken
A corporate vision of globalised, full-integrated factory farms and slaughterhouses churning out standardised birds for supermarket shelves is being drilled into decision makers using the threat of a bird flu pandemic. The corporate bonanza is destroying traditional poultry systems and poultry biodiversity that hundreds of millions of people depend on for their food security and livelihoods.
Trident and the case for regime change
In the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, the American and British governments fabricated stories about Saddam Hussein’s supposed array of weapons of mass destruction. These were said to include nuclear and biological devices, with missiles capable of being launched in 45 minutes.
Government 'greenwash' won't wash
Set targets, then rely on the market economy, an expanded nuclear industry and personal sacrifices to make them work. This is what lies at the heart of the government’s Climate Change Bill. All the evidence says this won’t wash when it comes to carbon emissions.
Profit and loss in the NHS
The Healthcare Commission, the government's health watchdog is launching a safety drive. Officials are concerned about the "alarming" figures on the harm patients suffer in hospital and elsewhere. Various studies estimate that there is a one in 300 chance of a hospital patient dying as a result of medical error.
Bush's 'road to hell'
It has taken the Bush administration an exceptionally long time to summon up the political will to tour Latin America – almost seven years in fact. You can see why the White House staff were nervous. Latin America is in the middle of a popular revolt against the burdens of globalisation and legacies of foreign debt.
New Labour dead soul
If anything was still needed to convince people of the debased and degraded nature of the social system presided over by the New Labour government, the Freud report – which proposes ways of reducing the number of people on benefits - would fit the bill. As most people have come to realise, the external appearance of every New Labour initiative is an inversion of its true intent.
Reports of Baudrillard's death are somewhat exaggerated
Did Jean Baudrillard exist? Did he have an objective, tangible reality? Or was he just a figment of our imagination, a mere media contrivance? If that’s the case, is he really "dead"?
Libby takes the rap - is Levy next?
Every regime needs a fall guy (or woman) or two. In the United States, Vice-President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby now holds number this unenviable title. Yesterday he was convicted of obstruction of justice, perjury and lying to the FBI.
Losing the opium war
Afghanistan is set to produce record volumes of opium this year, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Which is some achievement, considering the country has effectively been under the control of the United States and Britain since 2001. Already, Afghanistan produces 92% of the world’s supply following a doubling of poppy growing between 2005 and 2006.
The real climate change swindle
In the world of Channel 4 it’s probably called balance. Tonight, George Monbiot is given air time to expose the sham that is the New Labour government’s "commitment" to cutting carbon emissions. Later this week, Channel 4 is broadcasting the "Great Global Warming Swindle", in which alleged experts will claim that the world’s scientific community is lying about the causes of global warming.
A real climate action plan for London
Some time soon, humanity will officially become a city-dwelling, not a rural, species. UN figures for urbanisation published in the State of the World 2007 report, show that more than 60 million people are added to the planet’s cities and suburbs each year.
Privatising probation boosts the market state
The forcing through on Wednesday night of the Bill to part-privatise the probation service is one more New Labour act in the creation of a market state to replace the welfare state that developed in the period after World War II.
Behind the shares sell-off
The turmoil on the world’s stock markets, which yesterday saw the steepest fall in the Dow Jones index in New York since September 11, 2001, reflects a deeper malaise in the global capitalist economy. Behind the shares sell-off, which began in China, is a combined crisis.
Marketing Star Wars
To justify spending more than $18 billion on a missile defence system that is unproven requires a "threat". Just like the sale of any other commodity, marketing is essential to create an irresistible desire to buy and consume. The marketing in this case centres around the "threat" from Iran.
Democracy beyond the Bush regime
More and more American commentators are beginning to question whether the American political system can survive the Bush regime. Joe Conason, a columnist for the New York Observer and Salon, is blunt. In It Can Happen Here (Thomas Dunne Books, 2007), Conason says: "For the first time since the resignation of Richard M. Nixon more than three decades ago, Americans have had reason to doubt the future of democracy and the rule of law in our own country."
Apartheid, war crimes and the Palestinians
There are two things you can say about the United Nations and the Palestinians. One is that the UN will produce hard-hitting reports condemning the actions of the Israeli government. The second is that, in practice, the UN will do nothing to change the situation.
Freefall in Iraq
The planned withdrawal of a handful of British troops from southern Iraq is more about a desperate attempt to save political face than the success story prime minister Blair is claiming.
Health needs conflict with drug profits
So the Office of Fair Trading has revealed what everyone in the health service has known for 50 years: successive governments have sustained the compromise which trades the needs of the NHS and its patients against the profits of the pharmaceutical companies. The OFT's study, carried out since 2005, identified several drugs where it said prices were "significantly out of line with patient benefits".
The gulf with parliament
Andrew Murray, chair of the Stop the War Coalition, is a deeply worried man. What apparently keeps him awake at night is the growing gulf between people’s aspirations and the response – or lack of it - from parliament over the invasion of Iraq and New Labour’s plans to spend £70 billion on a new generation of nuclear weapons.
Corporate threat to farm-saved seeds
The handful of corporations that dominate the world seed industry are gearing up to remove remaining loopholes in the plant variety protection system, which was the alternative to patenting that they set up in the 1960s. European-based firms want to get rid of farmers’ limited entitlement to save seed.
New Labour's nuclear charade
The High Court ruling that New Labour’s "consultation" on its energy policy was "misleading" and "seriously flawed" is further proof that the mid-19th century system of representative democracy is no longer fit for purpose. As if to confirm this view, Tony Blair’s immediate response was that the nuclear power station programme would go ahead, whatever the judgement said.
Deficits point to inflation time-bomb
The US trade deficit widened to an all time record of $764bn last year, despite the falling value of the dollar on world markets. Meanwhile, data from the Office for National Statistics documented the worst year for the UK trade deficit since figures for imports and exports were first collected in 1697.
Children the victims in Blair's Britain
There is a crisis at the heart of our society, admits the children’s commissioner for England, Aynsley Green. Not the sort of remark New Labour wanted to hear after a decade in power during which time Britain has become a more fractured, divided society. Green’s remarks come in the wake of a damning United Nations report into the wellbeing – or lack of it – of children growing up in the UK. The UK is bottom of the league of 21 economically-advanced countries according to a report by Unicef on the wellbeing of children and adolescents.
BBC News 24Speak over Iran
If you watched BBC News 24 on Sunday evening, you would have heard it reported that American officials had "revealed" evidence about Iran's involvement in Iraq. There were no caveats, no use of words like "alleged" or "claimed". And certainly no reference to hypocrisy, whereby a country with 150,000 troops unlawfully stationed in another state can then accuse another nation - Iran - of meddling!
Running a Temperature bids for $25m prize
The authors of a new guide to tackling climate change, Running a Temperature, are going all out to win Richard Branson’s $25m prize for finding the most cost-effective way of extracting one billion tonnes from the atmosphere each year.
Questions of ownership
The ruthless operations of private equity firms, with Sainsbury’s now a prime target for a takeover, is a timely opportunity to organise workers and consumers in campaigns that raise the whole nature of ownership and control of enterprises. Or so you would have thought.
Climate change: hope and reality
Those who, despite all the evidence, live in hope that pressure on governments will produce action on climate change are in a difficult bind today. The European Commission’s decision to water down plans to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from cars demonstrates once again that corporate interests will always win out.
GM is now a global battlefield
The struggle between the biotechnology companies who try to ram genetically-modified (GM) crops and food down the throats of farmers and consumers is now being fought out on a global scale. And biotech corporations like Monsanto are not having it all their way own way.
Avian flu and fowl play
Blaming wild birds for the spread of avian flu is a convenient way of avoiding the real cause – intensively farmed poultry and the domination of the food chain by corporations whose first duty is to shareholders. In a factory farm with a high density of birds, the virus can spread and multiply rapidly throughout the huge confined flock, and beyond that, via the global trade in live birds, eggs, virus-contaminated feed and manure, across country borders and across continents.
Making liberty history
On top of the fact that the 2012 Olympics project is resembling a typical New Labour disaster, which Londoners in particular will have to pay for, comes more sinister news about how the state plans to use the cover of the Games to further erode citizens’ rights.
Liberating science from profit
The warning today in the UN Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that global temperatures could rise by as much as 6.4C by 2100 has one simple implication: immediate, drastic action is needed to reduce CO2 emissions by 90%.
Legal advice at any price
Is Tony Blair planning to go out with a bang in the shape of an unprovoked Anglo-America air attack on Iran? If he is, one thing is certain - he can count on the support of Lord Goldsmith, his Attorney-General.
A new vista needed
For the British Library, the immediate vista is how to deal with the threat of deep government spending cuts. So it was ironic that the prestigious library should provide the venue for Bill Gates, the world’s richest man, to launch his corporation’s new operating system, called Vista.
Behind Gaza's tragedy
Palestinian may be killing Palestinian in the Gaza Strip but the ultimate responsibility for its descent into near civil war rests principally with the governments of the United States, Britain and Israel. In the last year they have destabilised Gaza politically, reduced its economy to ruins and destroyed much of its infrastructure with high explosive.
Their history and ours - There is official history – and then there is real, living history, which is the outcome of struggles between competing, class interests which are often hidden from view or presented in a one-sided, distorted fashion. We should keep this in mind when looking at the government’s insistence that school students learn about "the shared British heritage" and core "British" values, which are said to include tolerance, respect, freedom of speech and justice.
Robbie Burns' message to Brown - On this day when Scots all over the world celebrate their national poet, one of Robert Burns’ poems in particular came to mind watching Gordon Brown’s princely progress around India.
Simply not sustainable - On the face of it, the politicians and business leaders gathered at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos appear to be powerful enough to do something effective about climate change.
Hillary Clinton and the war in Iraq - Hillary Clinton’s announcement that she plans to run for the White House in 2008 has left anti-war campaigners cold. The Democratic Party senator from New York supported the 2003 invasion and, despite the fact that by a large majority the American people oppose the continuing occupation and the despatch of another 21,000 troops, has not changed her position.
A ministry for insecurity - So Blair’s “legacy” is mounting – the illegal invasion of Iraq, the cash for honours scandal, the break-up of public services from health to education and now a reorganisation of the Home Office and the creation of a National Security ministry.
Mad Max rally denounced - So far this year, the world’s most extreme motor race has only killed one participant. South African motorcyclist Elmer Symons, 29, was killed during the fourth stage of the Dakar Rally last week.
Olympic bonfire of the vanities - The decision to bulldoze a unique East London allotment site demonstrates there will be no Olympic gain for Londoners – but plenty of pain.
Bank of England twists debt spiral - Tuesday’s news that consumer price inflation rose from 2.7 per cent in November to 3 per cent in December, the highest for 15 years, is a major blow for people with credit card and mortgage debt.
High stakes at BA - Major trade union disputes are few and far between these days. The globalised economy, overseen in Britain by the New Labour Government, has transformed the relationship between workers and employers, and it is no longer possible to win a strike in the old way, by staying out until the management is prepared to accept a compromise.
The UK’s Unheard of Detainee - HMP Long Lartin is UK’s Guatanamo - approved and made legal by SIAC (Special Immigration Appeal Commission) - a secret court with secret evidence.
Strategy for disaster - US president George Bush announced yesterday that the US will send another 20,000 troops into Iraq next week.
Locking people up on the say-so - Locking people up on the say-so of the authorities because they are said to be mentally ill is not only authoritarian but is also an attitude to health issues that stretches back to the darkest days of early Victorian England.
How the state fails older people - The number of people aged 65 and over in the UK is predicted to increase by 81% from 9.3 million in 2000 to 16.8 million in 2051. Many will ask: what is the point in growing old in New Labour's Britain?
A letter from a hostage - I shall start this letter by announcing that I refuse to be called "Q" any more. I am Reda Dendani, 31, Algerian national, married and have a step daughter of 7.
The spoils of war in Iraq - Whatever else happened under Saddam Hussein’s regime, one thing is certain – oil production remained under state control, with the lion’s share of revenues going into the government’s coffers to pay for education and other social provision. Forget about weapons of mass destruction - this is what really bugged the United States and what inspired the 2003 invasion.
Market madness and climate chaos - A day after British climate scientists warned that a resurgent El Nino and persistently high levels of greenhouse gases are likely to make 2007 the world's hottest year ever recorded, New Labour demonstrated its unsurpassed talent for rhetoric on climate chaos.
The £23 billion unpaid overtime bill - From the Trades Union Congress (TUC) comes the news that British workers who do unpaid overtime work an average of seven hours six minutes extra a week.
Commuters pay the price - Record numbers of workers apparently stayed away from work yesterday. Perhaps they were trying to avoid the massive increases in the cost of transport that would actually get them to work.
Settling accounts for Iraq - John Prescott’s statement today that the circumstances of the execution of Saddam Hussein were "deplorable" cannot obscure the fact that the New Labour government broke British law by declining to oppose the judicial murder of the former Iraqi president.
For a new kind of politics in 2007 - Behind the façade of consumerism and the "success" of globalisation a ticking time bomb of popular revolt is waiting to go off. A few things are clear in an uncertain world...
Beware attacks on Syria and Iran - The first few months of 2007 could see a major escalation of the war in the Middle East, with attacks on Syria and Iran. That’s the view of the respected investigative reporter Robert Parry who broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s.
Nigerians pay a cruel price for oil - The cruel inequalities of corporate-driven globalisation have claimed their latest victims in the hundreds of people burned to death on Boxing Day as they tried to scoop up oil from a broken pipeline in Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria.
‘Fit only for nightmares’ - The term “rendition” was used during the slavery era in the USA to describe the capture and return of runaway slaves to their respective states. Today the term is synonymous with the wholesale abandonment of the rule of law by the Bush-Blair axis, as a new report demonstrates.
Looking back in anger - One day, people of the planet Earth will examine the records for 2006 and see it as the year climate chaos really took off. They will read about the data provided by members of the World Meteorological Organisation
(WMO) just before the end of that year and look back in wonder and anger at the international paralysis in the face of overwhelming evidence about global warming.
The Burmese Gulag - Attempts by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to bring the military government of Burma to book over its use of forced labour came to a head this week. The ILO finally decided to bring its concerns to the United Nations Security Council after years of denial by the Burmese government.
American scientists in revolt - American scientists are so angry with the Bush administration’s manipulation of and interference in their work that 10,000 of them have now signed a statement calling for integrity in policy making.
America goes cap in hand - A falling dollar, growing import deficits, a loss of domestic manufacturing jobs and the election of a more protectionist Congress, which takes office next month, add up to one thing – increasing trade tensions between the United States and its main creditor, China, which could derail the global economy.
By your friends you shall know them - It was not exactly a dawn raid, but the knock on the door at No.10 Downing Street on Thursday marked the first time a sitting prime minister has been quizzed by police in connection with a criminal investigation. Unfortunately, police inquiries were to do with the sordid cash-for-honours affair rather than the illegal invasion of Iraq or the government-led conspiracy to demolish cherished democratic rights.
Two Britains - This is a story about the two groups of employees working for Goldman Sachs, the international investment bank. One group are cleaners... The other group of employees, are dealers - speculators to you and me - operating in the global money markets. They gambled so well in 2006 that Goldman Sachs is handing them a total of £8.3 billion.
No port to call home - One of the consequences of globalisation, with corporate ownership often obscured behind multinational holding companies, is a sharp increase in the numbers of seafarers abandoned in foreign ports, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
Rewriting history in Teheran - Loathsome and anti-Semitic are two words that spring to mind to describe the international conference sponsored by the Iranian government that casts doubt over the historical fact that six million Jews were murdered by the Nazi regime.
Healthy business for some - The National Health Service is in danger of capsizing as a result of the government’s constant changing of the rules, private sector financing and exploitation by the drugs corporations, otherwise known as Big Pharma. At least 13 NHS trusts are technically bankrupt and about a third of the NHS trusts in England forecast deficits totalling almost £1.2bn this year.
Green Belt to become a money belt - One by one the achievements struggled for by previous generations come under the New Labour axe. Today you can add the Green Belt around cities to a list that already includes the commercialisation of health and education, the devastation of affordable social housing programmes and the destruction of a whole series of democratic rights.
Iraq – playground for big business - The invasion and occupation of Iraq was, as we know, not simply a military exercise aimed at overthrowing the Saddam Hussein regime. What it crucially did was put in place foreign investment rules long sought by corporations, according to Antonia Juhasz, a visiting scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington.
A clear and present danger - The priorities couldn’t be clearer. While climate chaos goes unchecked, while hospitals cut services, while the retirement age is pushed back and back, while millions can’t access affordable housing, while train fares soar, New Labour has spoken. Britain will spend at least £25 billion, and probably a lot more, on a new generation of nuclear weapons.
Education for sale - The conversion of public education into commodities for sale continues apace, with PM Tony Blair’s announcement of a major expansion in England of the city academies’ programme. When trust schools that New Labour is creating are included, it is clear that the systematic and break-up of the local authority-run schools system is well advanced.
Charities, aid and the status quo - An unseemly row has broken out in the world of charitable giving about "ethical" Christmas presents which, it is claimed, double-up as valuable aid to people in poorer countries. Aid agencies like Oxfam, Christian Aid and World Vision offer people the chance to purchase farming animals like goats, chickens, sheep, donkeys, pigs and cows for people in developing countries.
Too late - the wheels are falling off! - Gordon Brown, the most likely successor to Tony Blair, wants Britain to become "an evangelist for globalisation". Speaking to the CBI, the employers’ organisation, he argued that free trade, open markets and flexibility were the preconditions of success in the global economy.
Asylum seekers are big business - Running detention centres for asylum seekers is big business for global corporations like Sodexho, which has the contract for Harmondsworth in west London. It is also a brutal and violent business, as today’s report on the centre by the chief inspector of prisons confirms.
The real history of slavery - The political establishment’s attempt to distance itself from the slave trade, rewriting history in the process, has begun in earnest. With the bicentenary of the trade’s abolition just four months away, the New Labour disinformation machine is already swinging into action.
Putting New Labour's MPs to shame - While overpaid and overfed New Labour MPs plan their extensive and expensive Christmas break from swanning around the bars at Westminster, a lone campaigner faces jail for challenging the legality of the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq.
Financial murders and acquisitions - A corporate merger mania is sweeping the globe, reminiscent of the dot.com frenzy of the late 1990s. That ended in tears and all the signs are that the same will happen this time – only on a larger scale with far-greater consequences for the global economy and millions of jobs. The common denominator about current deals is debt.
Cashing in on the Olympics - One thing is certain - the soaring costs of the 2012 London Olympics, with a final bill of perhaps £8 billion compared with a bid figure of £2.4 billion – will not fall on the big corporations who will cash in whatever happens. Because make no mistake, the modern Olympics are just one big commercial feast, with sport coming a long way second.
A goose that lays golden eggs - For an average person, spending more money than they have is certain to result in ever-growing debt, unless they are lucky enough to know someone who is prepared to bail them out.
Masters of 'doublethink' - George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, about a thought-controlling totalitarian state, is built around a never-ending war involving the book's three superstates, with two allied powers fighting against the third. The allied states occasionally split with each other and new alliances are formed. Each time this happens, history is rewritten to convince the people that the new alliances were always there, using the principles of "doublethink".
Democrats block Bush impeachment - The storm clouds are gathering around the Bush administration on both sides of the Atlantic following the Republican Party’s defeat in the mid-term Congressional elections. The election have given fresh impetus to the grassroots movement in the United States calling on Congress to impeach Bush and the rest of the White House.
A failed state - At least New Labour is consistent. Its new legislative programme focuses on strengthening the state’s repressive powers and kow-tows to big business when it comes to the question of the day, climate change. The proposals are so far to the right politically that many of them leave the Tories stranded.
Art market's winners and losers - A rush by investors and the super rich to get out of stocks and shares into objects that seem safer investments is undoubtedly a major factor behind the soaring price of artworks.
One law for the rich... - When businesses collapse, the last to lose out are the banks, while the directors usually make sure they are alright too. As for the customers, the idea put about by capitalism that they call the shots is reduced to empty rhetoric when firms go bust.
Fiddling while the planet burns - With just a few days to go, the United Nations climate change conference in Nairobi is stalled. As delegates gathered for the second week of talks, there was no sign of setting goals for a Kyoto Treaty Mark II after the present one expires in 2012.
The state's war of terror - Is MI5 flying a kite for sweeping changes that would further undermine democratic rights?
Collective punishment in Gaza - Under the Geneva Convention on the rules of war, it is expressly forbidden for armies to impose a collective punishment on people who are not involved in the combat.
Bush's new world disorder - The outcome of America’s mid-term Congressional elections lends weight to what Abraham Lincoln is reported to have said: you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.
Financial tsunami beyond regulation - When the financial regulators start getting concerned about what speculators are up to, it is time to take notice.
Saddam verdict and the rule of law - The "trial" of Saddam Hussein, with its inevitable verdict, just about sums up the legacy of three years of occupation of the country by US and UK troops following the illegal invasion in 2003 against a tissue of lies and deceptions.
A sick state of affairs - A charity for men with prostate cancer says many face a "titanic" struggle to be prescribed an approved drug.
They know all about us - You thought states that spied on everything its citizens did only existed in Eastern Europe in the dark days of the Cold War. Think again.
Britain’s housing crisis: the facts tell the story - The news that Abbey, Britain's second largest home loan provider, is offering borrowers five times their salary, instead of the usual three, in order to help them get onto the property ladder, is a desperate indication of Britain’s housing crisis.
Action plan for climate chaos - Although the Stern report on climate change is primarily concerned with measures that could avoid a catastrophic meltdown of the global capitalist economy, it has the merit of focusing minds on the need to act sooner rather than later.
The Stern report - waving while drowning - According to Sir Nicholas Stern, a former chief economist at the World Bank, climate change represents the greatest and widest-ranging market failure ever seen. Ignoring climate change could lead to economic upheaval on the scale of the 1930s’ Depression.
How not to revive local democracy - New Labour’s cosmetic proposals about "rebalancing" power in favour of councils and their citizens simply ignore the fact that local democracy in Britain was effectively destroyed by the actions of successive governments. Now Britain boasts the most centralised state in Europe and the white paper produced by Ruth Kelly does nothing to address that question.
Even a sense of identity has its price - Cutting off your nose to spite your face could be one way of describing Bury Council’s decision to auction off its painting, The Riverbank, by one of England’s best-loved artists, LS Lowry.
Danger: cornered fantasists at work - The crisis facing Britain and the US over Iraq is not just about how to withdraw troops without admitting defeat and losing face. It is also about a collapse in political credibility at home.
The criminal youth 'justice' system - One way to judge a country’s culture, it is said, is by the state of its penal system. On that basis, Britain comes somewhere near the bottom of so-called civilised nations. Today comes the news that the number of young people in custody in England and Wales has reached a record high.
50th anniversary of a people's uprising - When students gathered on a crisp, bright autumn morning in Budapest exactly half a century ago today, for a march in support of a 16-point manifesto, no one could have predicted that by late evening an armed insurrection would break out and that revolution would sweep the whole of Hungary, challenging the might of Kremlin rule.
GM crops consultation fraud - New Labour has tried, and failed, repeatedly to introduce commercial, genetically-modified crop growing in Britain.
Ripping off Iraq's oil - The invasion of Iraq was driven by a desire to open Iraq up to the global, market economy under a pretext of searching for non-existent weapons of mass destruction or combating terrorism.
UN as a US toy - Once again the United States and Britain are on the warpath. Once again they are using the United Nations to pave the way for pre-emptive action.
Corporations fight to keep Chinese workers down - Global corporations moved to China for one simple reason – a plentiful supply of labour, low wages, a compliant government and few, if any, health and safety restrictions.
New Labour does the BNP out of a job - New Labour and the Tories are now in a sordid bidding war to see who can demonise the Muslim community the most over the question of women and veils. They are even outflanking the extreme right British National Party.
General declares war on Blair - When the Chief of the General Staff calls for an end to the British army’s presence in Iraq, choosing the right-wing Daily Mail as his platform for a vehement attack on the policies of the New Labour government, you know you are living in dangerous times politically. While anti-war campaigners fall over themselves in the rush to congratulate Sir Richard Dannatt, it’s worth considering some of the wider implications of his intervention.
Concerns over financial ‘weapons of mass destruction’ - Some of those who claim to know are getting nervous about the record growth of hedge funds. There is concern at the European Central Bank and the Financial Services Authority in Britain.
'No’ to war against North Korea - You can hardly blame North Korea for developing nuclear weapons, given that the government of the United States has labelled it part of the "axis of evil" and is undoubtedly preparing an Iraq-style, pre-emptive war against the country.
Putin’s crimes against humanity - The silence of Russian president Vladimir Putin following the murder of campaigning journalist Anna Politkovskaya speaks volumes about his government’s attitude to human rights.
Jack Straw’s veiled threat - What is it about these New Labourites? They just can’t stop themselves from demonising the Muslim community.
Climate change and corporate blackmail - Like a rabbit caught in the headlights of an oncoming car, the governments of the top 20 of the world’s polluting nations are paralysed by the unfolding climate change emergency.
US soldiers turn war resisters - Increasing numbers of US troops are going AWOL – absent without leave – from Iraq. Many are opposed to the continued occupation while others are traumatised by what they have done and what they have seen.
Tescopoly, where every little hurts - "Every little helps", goes Tesco’s marketing slogan. Which is alright if you’re a shareholder but not so good if you’re a dairy farmer, fruit grower, small shopkeeper, someone who enjoys the character of a local community or who cares about the environment.
Cable Street is unfinished business - Tomorrow is the 70th anniversary of the historic battle of Cable Street when tens of thousands of East End workers blocked a march through the area by Sir Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists.
The next word on democracy - Advocating alternatives to the existing political system as an immediate rather than a long-term policy, as AWTW does, naturally challenges preconceptions about the nature of the British state.
Beyond the market economy - Awareness is emerging that neither the international system of carbon trading, nor myriad individual actions, nor even a combination of the two can stem the acceleration of global warming towards a predicted cataclysmic change in climate resulting from the recent period of capitalist globalisation.
Unions have to support McDonnell - Some trade union leaders are apparently, if reluctantly, coming to the conclusion that most of us reached some time ago - that there is no substantial differences between the politics of Tony Blair and those of his likely successor, Gordon Brown.