Wednesday, 31 August 2011

President Turns a Blind Eye as Masses Arrested at White House

"... Now, here’s the thing: while it’s great to see the press corps pushing the Administration to recognize our demonstration, the fact that Carney hasn’t yet briefed the President on the protest and the pipeline is a worrying sign about how out of touch this administration is on this issue."

“Just in the last two days everyone from the president’s chief climate scientist to an 84-year-old grandmother was arrested on his front doorstep,” said environmental author Bill McKibben, who is spearheading the White House protest. “This is the largest civil disobedience action in the environmental movement in a generation, and if they really aren’t even discussing it with the president, that signals a deep disrespect for their supporters ..."

More at Tarsands Action

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

AgroFuels: Pushing Prices of Vital Commodities Ever Higher

Priced out of the UK wood market by subsidies given to electricity generators

It seems there is a new casualty of the drive, or should that be forced march, toward biofuel; timber-based industries, and users of wood products (which is all of us). The Countryman has been hearing from the Wood Panel Industries Federation.

Alistair Kerr of WPIF says, “The government has failed to disclose to the public that generators like Drax, E.ON, RWE NPower and Scottish and Southern Energy will use the subsidy paid by taxpayers to source as much wood as they can from the UK before venturing further afield. If allowed to continue unchecked, not only are the UK’s wood processing industries at serious risk of being wiped out thereby putting at risk tens of thousands of jobs, but the forests that the British public care deeply about will be decimated – and it is the public that will have paid for it to happen.”

More here.

How high do corn prices have to be to get end-users to reduce consumption?

Scarcely credible - scarcely human - but this is the sort of question that economists, those nice men who never rape or commit foul crimes, are now amusing themselves with. Try replacing the phrase "end-users" with the word "people" and you get some idea of the (im)moral universe economists inhabit.

Southeast Farm Press reports that "This year's corn crop is not big enough to meet the entire consumption base that has been built ... [and] ... The largest competitor for corn in the coming year will be the ethanol industry where USDA analysts currently estimate 5.1 billion bushels of corn use."

After six months of peak already in 2011, the World Food Price Index looks set to continue inexorably upward from peak to peak ...

Saturday, 13 August 2011

"We _ Have _ a _ Bigger _ Army _ than _ the _ Police"

You must have seen the films where police batten down the hatches knowing that a turf war is breaking out on the streets.

So it is very unfortunate that the authorities who shot Mark Duggan and then kept his family hanging about outside their station, as rumours and anger grew, did not take more immediate action to ensure that they beefed up both soft and hard power in the Tottenham area; simultaneously speaking extremely softly and carrying a much bigger stick.

If you wish for peace, prepare for war.

They must have known who they were dealing with, as we are now told, Mark Duggan was the nephew by marriage of Desmond Noonan, and a man who spent his formative years visiting with the Noonan Family in Manchester, as they in turn used to stay with him and his family when in the Capital.

For three years Donal MacIntyre followed "the trials and tribulations of Dominic Noonan", head of the Family, making a documentary film called "A Very British Gangster". Described by the New Statesman as "a crime lord of misrule who parodically bought old police cars and ambulances to make up the fleet of his new "security" company", Mr Noonan has frankly declared that  “I've got a bigger army than the police. We have more guns than the police.” 

It is said that "the family act as an unofficial community police force or social service – with many neighbours and associates preferring to come to the Noonans in times of trouble or family crisis rather than go to the relevant authorities often insisting that doing so is more beneficial."

How has it escaped wider public notice over the last week that the family motto is; "Look after those that look after you, fuck off those that fuck off you", something which sounds all too prescient after four days when the police lost control of large areas of of our English cities to gangs of the young, and not so young?

So one question people really ought to be asking is, who is in charge in England now, the bickering politicians and police, or the gangs who now replace the broken family structures in our cities?

Unfortunately for the authorities - and the rest of us - the cat is now out of the bag. After this exercise the gangs now know that, given an element of surprise, they can pull out large enough numbers over wide enough areas to flexibly achieve whatever ends they choose.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

No Rest for the Wicked

Having already had their holidays delayed by one emergency session, on Wednesday July 20th, for a statement by the Prime Minister on the News of the World Hackgate Scandal, followed by lengthy discussion, Westminster politicians faced further mutterings as both European and North American economies experienced ever worsening crisis.

This then culminated in an emergency recall of both Houses today to shake heads over 4 days of civil disorder in cities across England, and yes, a statement from the Chancellor on the economy.

As Lord Knight put it in Lords of the Blog: "The Government faces a big challenge. It has to manage two crises. One of economic growth and the other of social breakdown. As the Prime Minister said in his statement, [get this!] “crime has a context, and we must not shy away from it”..."

“We can argue about whether some of the measures in response to the economic crisis will exacerbate the social crisis, but most important is the Government putting an absolute priority on tackling the twin challenges"

"Parliamentary time is limited between now and next May when the current session finishes. This unprecedented set of economic and social problems are such that I don’t think Parliament has the luxury of being able to legislate and debate anything else of substance."

In the current state of affairs we can only take bets as to whether hard-done-by parliamentarians will be able to spend the rest of their holidays in relative tranquillity, or no.

As for Eurocrats, they aren't having it much easier either, because "the Socialists & Democrats party bloc in the European Parliament has called for MEPs to be recalled from the summer recess to tackle the eurozone crisis."

Hey ho. 

Nor Any Drop to Drink

Chido Makunike asks how foreign investors will get along exporting food from famine-stricken countries …

I dunno, some people! They seem to think that their being able to eat is more important than company profits!

Friday, 5 August 2011

Ethiopian People Starve as Government Flogs off Land to Foreign Interests Aided by British Taxpayer

Having felt forced to renounce overt imperial control, the West's ruling powers went on to develop a sorry history of supporting 3rd World dictators who appear to serve our regime's interests as well as their own megalomania. To a long list, some of whose more recent luminaries include the likes of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gadaffi, have we to add Meles Zenawi Asres, distinguished founder of the Marxist-Leninist League of Tigray, and a man who combines his job as Prime Minister of Ethiopia with being Chairman of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), and head of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF)?

In an article appearing today in Abugida, the Ethiopian American Information Centre, entitled “Meles Zenawi`s land lease and famine in Ethiopia” Seifu Tsegaye Demmissie denounces the rule of Meles Zenawi as an “ethno-fascist regime” in which “political expediency is the main reason behind Meles Zenawi`s policy of preventing private ownership of cultivable land because he knows that it would mean losing control of farmers and triggering the end of his political power in Ethiopia.”

“The unfavorable domestic land ownership policy of the ethno fascist regime of Meles Zenawi has a pivotal role in making the country vulnerable to the devastating famines. It is to be recalled that the west had blamed the ravaging famine of the 80s on the policies of the military regime of Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam. In fact, the current pro-western regime of Meles Zenawi has inherited and pursues the same land ownership policy which hampers productivity. It is to be recalled that the west had blamed the ravaging famine of the 80s on the policies of the military regime of Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam. Despite this glaring fact, the west are blaming the famine in Ethiopia on drought and this shows an apparent effort on their part to deny or cover up the failure of their close partnership with the regime of Meles Zenawi. This is a partnership which has been instrumental in the formulation and implementation of economic policies which are impoverishing the ordinary citizens and aggravating famine and poverty. As opposed to the current ethno-fascist regime of Meles Zenawi, the military government had never embarked upon leases or sales or transfers of ownership of fertile and virgin lands to foreigners.”

Under the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front regime the economy is dominated by “endowment” corporations controlled by the Party. The largest of these is EFFORT, the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray. It comes as no surprise to find that the deputy chief executive of EFFORT is one Azeb Mesfin - none other than Zenawi’s wife.

In 2010, after a 6 month investigation Human Rights Watch researcher Ben Rawlence described Ethiopia as “one of the most repressive societies in the world.”

"We found systematic discrimination from one end of the country to another against people who were members of the opposition party or people who disagreed with the regime."

Latest Report: “Ethiopia 'using aid as weapon of oppression'".

When will the Powers That Be take action to prevent our aid - which we can ill afford anyway - from being abused in this way? Don’t hold your breath. But a wink to Mr Zenawi here - you might like to ensure your back is well covered, as Western governments have a nasty habit of turning on their friends and you wouldn't want to end up like Muammar ... or Saddam now would you?

Hat-tip to the Land Grab blog.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Economic Senility

Way back on July 13th economist Zanny Minton Beddoes suggested on Radio 4’s Today programme that although Italy had coped thus far with its large debt, that if (if!) problems occurred then the ECB could step in and start buying their bonds, that in turn being the likely start of federalising the debt.

And sure enough, as Berlusconi froths about the ‘locusts of international speculation’ (shades of the interwar era?) the West’s senile economies are only kept going by increasingly large doses of their chosen narcotics.

Over here Federal Europe may be beckoning. Declan Ganley will be pleased.