Unemployment forecast brings warning for Osborne

CIPD says pressing on with austerity measures would depress economy and lead to real-term wage cuts.


Eeeer. No shit Sherlock.

Unemployment forecast brings warning for George Osborne | Business | The Guardian

Heathrow

I've been meaning to post this news link from Channel 4 about Heathrow since before xmas...
They cut snow defence by two thirds.
So no wonder they couldn't cope. That's the whole trouble with private companies when they foul up they do so spectacularly. Usually crying to the Gov. for a bail out. Only in this case Heathrow refused the help the Govt. offered.

Windows - tsk...

Yesterday - I tried turning my 'puter off - my big black Acer box... using 'install updates' and there it hung... 'installing updates 1 of 3...' 20 minutes passed then an hour, two hours, then eight before I lost patience and pulled the plug on it. Did a 'Safe boot' - couldn't see anything wrong - went to a last restore point. Told it was corrupted - couldn't be used. An earlier point worked...

What was causing the frozen/hung shut down? It looks like it was the .NET extension for the firefox browser - Microsoft Update Quietly Installs Firefox Extension. Of course I haven't let that extension anywhere near firefox - and I've two year's worth of log saying how it's failed to install, it looks like this was one fail too many and it decided to have a massive sulk about it.

Now I need to find out how to stop Windows trying to do updates for things I expressly do not want.

Oh the irony - the 2nd update on the list is supposedly a fix so you can remove the 'one-click' update from firefox.

Remove the Microsoft .NET Framework Assistant (ClickOnce) Firefox Extension.

US intervened in Michael Moore NZ screening

I'm just shaking my head - G W Bush was just a over-privileged frat boy that never grew up. This is just pathetic...

WikiLeaks cables: US intervened in Michael Moore NZ screening | World news | The Guardian

and here's what MM has to say about it...

Another wiki-leaks cable.

Set Knowledge Free: The University as a Public Good « The Return of the Public

Let’s take social science first. What is the most prestigious social science? Put it another way – which social science has a Nobel Prize all of its own? OK. The Nobel Prize for Media Studies? … No. It’s the Nobel Prize for economics. Economics is the top predator – economists are the physicists of social science. And who determines the content of economics and related research in accountancy and business studies? The financial sector. As the financier-turned-reformer Philip Augar has pointed out over the last thirty years ‘finance wrapped its tentacles around the relevant parts of the academic world … under these circumstances it is little wonder that so much academic research was supportive of the financial system’.

So academics supported the financial system and the consequences were disastrous – for the discipline, but, more importantly, for the wider society. Most academic economists had no idea that there was trouble ahead. In the words of Joseph Stiglitz – Nobel Prize-winner in, anyone? – in economics, that’s right –

‘If science is defined by its ability to forecast the future, the failure of much of the economics profession to see the crisis coming should be a cause of great concern’.

Given the performance of the economists it is not clear that the discipline qualifies as a science at all. It is as though physicists spent ages pushing an elephant up the stairs of the physics department and then expressed surprise at what happened when they heaved it off the roof.


Set Knowledge Free: The University as a Public Good « The Return of the Public

Xmas travel chaos

Just a random thought sparked by the recent snow travel chaos thing.

Isn’t it weird?

It just points up how so many of us live so far from home nowadays. Not so long ago (only so far back as the 1960s really) only a small handful of people did that - people used to be born and stayed within a certain relatively small area of their own communities, so before then family Christmases were easy to arrange, when most would live within walking distance from each other. But now every Christmas sparks off a mass exodus in all directions with people having to travel miles across the country (or even to other countries) to get back ‘home’. It’s a historical accident that the Christian Church founders decided that Christmas should take over the pagan Solstice ceremonies - but now hundreds and years later it’s the worse possible weather to be travelling anywhere.

But because it’s tradition (by the way that’s among the worse reasons to do anything) people persevere with it - when, I don’t know, if they feel the mutual need to have a big family get together once a year, then why can’t they arrange among themselves to do it at a time when not everybody else in nearly the whole Western world is all doing the same thing? There’s just too many of us now to be all doing the same thing at the same time - we need to stagger things out a bit - the infrastructure simply can’t cope.

But with people not being sane rational creatures (individuals can mostly be sane and rational - but people hardly ever can) - I guess that's never going to happen.

Vince Cable: I could end coalition

"'There is a kind of Maoist revolution happening in a lot of areas like the health service, local government, reform, all this kind of stuff, which is in danger of getting out of control. We are trying to do too many things, actually,' he said.

'Some of them are Lib Dem inspired, but a lot of it is Tory inspired. The problem is not that they are Tory-inspired, but that they haven't thought them through. We should be putting a brake on it.'"


Vince Cable: I could end coalition | Politics | The Guardian


So can we all stop pretending that this is coalition Government - and have another election now please?

Pissarides warns chancellor: don't axe jobless benefits

Well, you can pretty well predict with 100% certainty that Osbourne will be totally ignoring these warnings.

UK's Nobel economics laureate Christopher Pissarides warns chancellor: don't axe jobless benefits | Business | The Observer

Jobless total rises above 2.5m

"Vicky Redwood, UK analyst at Capital Economics, said the jobless total was likely to rise "sharply" to hit 3 million over the next two years."

Eeer. it's likely to hit that long before then - she's forgotten the numbers that are going to be moved from Incapacity Benefits onto Job Seeker's Allowance...

Jobless total rises above 2.5m as public-sector cull begins | Business | The Guardian

Clegg will lose his greatest reward

"Unlike, say, America and France, we use a single vote to determine both who we want to represent us in parliament and who we want to govern us. Unlike most European countries, we also have highly centralised government that (bar Scotland, Wales and, to a lesser extent, London) leaves the country with no alternative sources of political authority to Westminster and Whitehall. That one vote is more or less the sum total of the ordinary citizen's influence over how the country and its public services, from health to education, are run. And as we have seen, coalition largely destroys even that slither of influence."


By his act of betrayal, Clegg will lose his greatest reward | Peter Wilby:

Vulnerable children 'at risk'

Really? You think?

But so long as it saves some money - that's all OK right?

Not that the handful of multi-millionaires who are behind these policies know anything about how the poor live or anything...

BBC News - Vulnerable children 'at risk', says Baby P council

and so it begins

BBC News - Housing benefit cap: Councils 'move people from London'

The gap between rich and poor starts to widen into a chasm...

and most people - according to this survey care about it, but paradoxically hate benefit claimants. Hum. These people are stupid if they think they're not next in the firing line...

damning report on impact of benefits cuts

It's bloody obvious that cuts in HB are going to totally devastating to many people's lives... but like Nu Labour before them this Govt. is happy to ignore any report they disagree with.

Ministers accused of 'burying' damning report on impact of benefits cuts

It’s a Kodak moment: the end of Kodachrome

Nostalgia for film and slide photography is all very well... and I'd have taken a lot more slides and polariods in my time - if only they weren't so damn expensive.

It’s a Kodak moment: the end of Kodachrome | spiked

The ultra-rich could solve this financial crisis

All of which is true, except the problem is the ultra-rich not only helped cause the global crisis by their unmitigated greed in the first place, but it's also them who PAY the politicians (it doesn't matter which party) to get them in power to let them keep their profits and keep their off-shore tax havens etc. The money they pay out in party donations is a small portion of what they would have to pay in taxes, that's why they do it in the first place.

The ultra-rich could solve this financial crisis | Prem Sikka | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

And if you tolerate this

And if you tolerate this
Then your children will be next
Will be next
Will be next
Will be next

---oh wait, it's too late -our children are already in the firing line. damn.

Britain's trillion pound horror story

I sat through that whole Channel 4 program going 'uh? Wha...?' and 'hang on a minute - that's not right' and I screamed when they went over to Hong Kong. Oh yes, let's compare apples with oranges and indulge in the demented right-wing fantasy world where benign capitalists will solve all of society's ills... mmmmm.

The Socialist dissects better than I could...
Britain's trillion pound horror story | The Socialist 17 November 2010

Nearly everyday now

we hear of something else that our coaltion is taking way from the poor that affects them the most...

'sharing the burden' 'fairness' at first such phrases merely rang hollow, now the words are being used to mean the opposite.
Legal aid cuts would remove free advice for thousands of people

NUS starts campaign to oust leading Lib Dems | Education | The Observer

Good.

When a Party makes pledges they damn well should stick to them. Otherwise what's the point? The MPs concerned might as well just write 'barefaced liar' on their foreheads intead.

I happen to belong to the pre-fees generation when the state saw education of it's own population as an investment and generally a good thing in it's own right. As for fees isn't there a basic illogic there - trying to get money out of people who - as yet don't have any... which is why they have student loans... erm...

Of course the idea might be to get people used to being in debt from the very start and to get used to that the rest of their lives. Neat way of keeping people under control that. Odd then that suddenly the Govt. of today is saying that being in deep debt is a bad, bad thing... while deciding that students should be paying out a lot more to get them deeper in debt...

Hmmmmmm.


NUS starts campaign to oust leading Lib Dems

Plans to force jobless into unpaid work are unfair

Rowan Williams: Plans to force jobless into unpaid work are unfair | Politics | The Guardian

Well... my take on this is - if there was already 100% employment in this country and there were still thousands of unfilled vacancies for full time and part time and flexi-time jobs going begging - then - yeah this would seem fair. Possibly. Maybe. But there aren't and unless we look again at how we work and start asking crucial questions about how and why we work - we're not going to get any where.

But forcing people to work for their woefully meagre benefits...
Well the following random thoughts occur to me...

1. This is just slavery by the back door. If there are all these jobs that need doing, supposedly - then wouldn't it make far more sense to make these into proper full time - paid jobs which will have the people doing them off the dole figures and paying these taxes and supporting themselves...

2. Or they just noddy jobs that aren't worth doing - which is just demeaning and a punishment. Should working be a punishment? What sort of mixed message are they giving out there? Obviously (ha ha ha) they haven't thought through any of this...

Either way... having state sponsored slaves aren't they going to be competing against private firms doing the same sort of jobs? That's a big dent in the Tories' blind worship of the free market enterprise system isn't it? [or is it? ....mmmmmm....??? let's keep those wages artificially low shall we? In our race to the bottom.)

3.

Let them eat cheese

W.
T.
F.
Let them eat cheese: Irish government hands out block of cheddar to every family - Telegraph

They - the EU or whoever are just taking the piss now.

Seriously - there needs to be a people's revolt soon. If you tolerate this...

Housing: Misery beckons on the home front | Editorial | Comment is free | The Guardian

Housing: Misery beckons on the home front | Guardian Editorial: "It was the gambling of the rich that busted the banks, but by some genius of plutocratic contrivance it is now the poor and the public servants who are paying the price."

nefit cap Housing beplan will backfire, ministers told | Society | The Guardian

Housing benefit cap plan will backfire, ministers told

And indeed it will - this is a textbook example of how politicians put forward policy when they haven't even begun to think anything through properly. I can imagine how this happened - they got into power - saw the spreadsheets on how huge the Housing Benefit had grown - and thought 'oh we can cut that'. I imagine they thought they could get away with it too - thinking 'oh, people on benefits don't vote for us, and once we leak a few figures the Daily Mail will give us some juicy headlines.' End of line of thought.

Of course they've settled on the easy option of blaming the victim - they always do. The real way to have dealt with the run-a-way housing budget was to start looking at the rental market for housing. The prices *have* grown insane over the past decade - and allowed to run out of control along with the housing bubble that has now been deflated a bit. [There's also a big part of the market where buy-to-let owners have moved in (often as a way of proving an income or a pension - AND expected the renter to pay a large part of the mortgage as part of the rent to boot. The result being high rents.) Then there's the issue that the building of new developments and especially affordable housing over the past decade or more has been woeful - so that scarcity also has led to house prices being kept high.

These are difficult issues to tackle - and putting arbitrary caps on housing benefit and forcing people into searching for cheaper accommodation (and after a year when another 10% cut in HB takes place - having to move again? and the year after that... and the year after that?) isn't a good way of going about things.

Housing should be seen as a basic human right - and it should be kept affordable.
Years ago I remember moaning repeatedly that post-Thatcher since the UK doesn't make anything much to sell the world any more (we've let globalisation move that sort of thing to China - India -etc.) we've become obsessed with buying and selling property as one of the few ways to make any money. Now like the Banking crisis - it's all unravelling.

what's this? Boris Johnson standing up for the poorer Londoners?

I mean - it's like he's doing something that he was elected for. That's unheard of - shouldn't he be doing what most politicians do? Get into sex scandals and be caught taking backhanders and claiming outrageous expenses or something?


Blimey. Good on Boris.


Now can some Lib Dems start to - you know - do what they said they were there for -and start curbing those mad-dog rabid Tories before they start destroying everything?

Boris Johnson backs down over 'Kosovo' comments on housing benefit cuts

Housing Benefit?

Oh NOW there's questions and a fuss being made in Parliament about the upcoming cuts and changes in Housing Benefit.

With *gasps* even a few Tory and Lib Dem backbenchers expressing concerns - concerns which Cameron blithely brushes off - because he so firmly believes the magic fairies of Privatisation will bring forth thousands upon thousands of jobs out of thin air to solve all the countries woes. Over night. Well, he would wouldn't he? I mean his whole life has been led in cosseted luxury - so he has no idea how harsh and grim the majority of people's lives actually are. He has not even a clue of a clue.

Of course the Govt. is right to be bothered about the huge Housing Benefit bill - but that's because erm, there are an awful lot of unemployed people around (and with the Govt. about to sack a few thousand more Council workers - who - will yes, end up having to claim JSA and Housing Benefit. That's on top of the many low paid workers who have to claim HB because they can't afford to live otherwise. I mean - that I would have thought have been a case for rent controls and for raising the minimum wage to be more of a liveable wage - but these things are expressively against Tory ideology.

[I won't mention the fact that there's been decades of not building enough new affordable housing - and the house price bubble that was allowed to grow and grow and grow and grow - because it made everyone feel richer and they could the ever raising prices to raise credit...]

As for the arbitrary and mean-spirited trick of cutting NB by 10% after you're been unemployed after 12 months - that's just sick. I wouldn't be surprised if they've also got their moronic 'work for your benefits' scheme in place by then... meaning people will be working full time for a LOT less than minimum wage with the added extra threat of eviction over their heads because they won't be able to meet their rent. It'll be the next best thing to state sponsored slavery. No doubt by then we'll have Clegg leaping in to wring his hands and proclaim how it was such a difficult decision to make but how it's ultimately fair, and that we're all in it together. Honest. You can believe me, ol' honest Clegg.

Put me in that position - I think I'd eventually go and kill the chairman of whatever private company the Tory Govt. will have hired (one of their mates no doubt) to run the scheme - well, why not? By then what will I have to lose? At least in prison I'd be fed three times a day and have a roof over my head. That would be a step up from destitution and homelessness - and I'll have performed a much-needed public service to boot.

Seriously though - this is exactly the sort of small-minded, non-joined-up thinking I expect of Tories.

a pot pourri of stealth cuts?

Faisal Islam on Economics - Spending review: a pot pourri of stealth cuts?:
"Even if George Osborne is doing unambiguously the right thing, he has not got the mandate to act in a variety of areas where his axe has fallen. I spent most of the election campaign following the minutiae of his policy announcements, and not one jot about housing benefit or train fares, for example, which have seen huge moves.

The mandate for cuts like this can not be assumed from the election result. It needs to be won. And more clarity, transparency, and honesty than we got yesterday, would help."

-

exactly.

Which is just more proof the cuts are all a smokescreen for the Tories pushing through an idealogical agenda they had in mind from the get-go, but took pains to hide from the public during the election campaign knowing it would not get them elected. Hell, what they did push as promises didn't get them elected either.

So where are the Lib Dems in all of this? (Wish we had some footage of Clegg's face as the cuts were being announced - was he hooting and braying at the announcement of the loss of thousands of public sector jobs as the rest of the Tories back-bencher's were?) Are they really going to nod through all of this and make themselves unelectable for another near century or more? Because the time to stand up is now. Not further down the road when the riots start once the effects of these measures really start to bite.

For the Conservatives, this is not a financial crisis but a long-awaited opportunity | George Monbiot | Comment is free | The Guardian


"We've been staring at the wrong list. In an effort to guess what will hit us tomorrow, we've been trying to understand the first phase of the British government's assault on the public sector: its bonfire of the quangos. Almost all the public bodies charged with protecting the environment, animal welfare and consumers have been either hobbled or killed. But that's only half the story. Look again, and this time make a list of the quangos which survived."

For the Conservatives, this is not a financial crisis but a long-awaited opportunity | George Monbiot

Social housing budget 'to be cut in half'

WTF?

This is seriously demented. Where are these areas of the country that have these masses of new jobs that these people are supposed to be able to move to? If they could even afford to move...

BBC News - Social housing budget 'to be cut in half'

Rail fare increases of 30 to 40%

Holy honking crap!

This is obscene. Train fares are already ridiculously high - and the service is decidely shoddy - and if we're remotely serious about reducing carbon emissions we should be doing everything possible to improve the train stock, make the service more reliable, more pleasant and easier to use in order to lure a lot more people out of their cars. But here we are again - stupid money grubbing Tories - obsessed with car ownership (they sure love all the extra money they can milk out of motorists) - unable to see the future consequences of their proposals.

I.E. If fares go up that much how care people going to afford it? There's already people taking pay cuts and pay freezes - if they need to get to work they'll have to start asking for wage rises... and if employers have to meet those rises because they need their staff coming into work (although a few might make do with less staff and that'll only increase unemployment) they'll have to raise the costs of their goods/services to their customers - which will come on top of the new VAT rise... and that'll depress demand even more...

You see where I'm going with this.

And erm... when the cap on housing benefit comes into play and people on low wages have to move out of their current homes in a search of cheaper accommodation - and have to travel in to their job only to find they're having to shell out even more in fares...

We're looking at a system that's already straining to cope now going into meltdown.

Faisal Islam on Economics - Rail fare increases of 30 to 40 per cent

University fees: Students' and parents' views

Anything to do with university fees and loans makes me see red. I firmly believe this is something the State should be funding, and should be pleased to see it as an investment in the country's own people and it's own future.

Doesn't anyone else see the total absurdity of asking students to pay for their education when they're not in work earning money? So here they are being forced to take on loans and debts on the premise that they're possibly able to pay it back later when they've got a job... but now all that's in doubt - what with SO many graduates now all out there looking for jobs... and having a degree has been devalued as a consequence. So many kids might have been better off not going to University - taken a low paid job and they'll have had a three year advancement on their peers - who'll looking to get those same jobs out of desperation now.

No one saw that this was coming? Really? (Actually that doesn't surprise me - no one the credit crunch coming - no one saw the bankers were out of control and heading for disaster... etc. Whacking great icebergs bearing down on us and those in control were having such a great time they chose to pretend it wasn't ever going to happen.)



University fees: Students' and parents' views

Incapacity benefit claimants reassessed

I do wish they'd stop trying to spin this as being anything other than a cynical exercise to save the government some money. It's only going to make a lot of people's lives more miserable than they are already. Condemning many to extreme poverty - followed by retarded part Government/part private funded scheme after scheme after scheme to 'help get them back into work' (that if the Government isn't going to start doing something about - is never going to happen). We've seen it all before. We're about to see it again.

Meanwhile the likes of the Daily Mail will be churning out article after article with scaremongering stories how all benefit claimants are living lives of luxury watching Jeremy Kyle on their 50" plasma TV sets while laughing at those mugs who go to work everyday.

We really are a country that's getting nastier and more mean spirited by the day.

BBC News - Incapacity benefit claimants reassessed

Update:
Yup.
Here is the Daily Mail take on the same news - and the 500+ comments are just - for the main part depressing. Look at the type of people who support the Tories - I mean just look at them. So much spitefulness, hate, ignorance, inhumanity.

Vince ditches graduate tax option

Is anyone keeping score on how many manifesto promises the Lid Dems have broken so far? I don't know why they just join the Tory party now and have done with it. Let the original Lib Dem go off on it's own.

BBC News - Vince Cable ditches graduate tax option for England

Duncan Smith universal benefit deal

Duncan Smith universal benefit deal could cut £9billion - Channel4 News

I'm waiting to see the details on this but I have undefined good feeling about DS

lovely headline

"Right-wing dogma has had its day"

Wish that it were true. It should be evident to every last person that the past 30 year neo-liberalist agenda has been as crashing failure - but they've still re-arranging the seats on the Titanic hoping things will soon return to (ab)normal.

ya think so?

Global unemployment to trigger further social unrest

The world is run by a small bunch of frickin' idiots. Insanely greedy idiots. It was obvious the way the banks were behaving that it wasn't going to end well. It was obvious house prices in the UK weren't going to keep on rising forever - it should be obvious the Western countries need to get off the oil teat as soon as possible. And now with people being driven to mass unemployment and poverty all to bail out the bankers and a failing crony capitalist system - it's come as a great surprise they're not going to be happy about it? Dur.

let's cure our economy by tough cuts and slashing spending

...because that'll definitely work... oh. er... hang on

Irish economy faces double dip recession

Maybe it's time to start thinking differently...

Cable and Webb

You go Vincent. Go Vincent. Go Vincent.

Defiant Cable refuses to retract anti-capitalist as he also turns fire on 'spivs and gamblers' in big banks

Why Vince Cable is no Marxist.

Although didn't they mention his speech had been pre-vetted by the Tories too (like Clegg's had.)

Meanwhile even the DWP's Steve Webb is disquieted by the on-coming Housing Benefit cuts for the long term unemployed - as well he should be. It's monstrous.

London housing crisis: most private landlords will not lower rents in response to housing benefit cuts | Politics | guardian.co.uk

Tories have always lived in a weird fantasy world - totally disconnected from how people at the lower ends of society live - they have always come up with some really stupid ideas. Remember the Poll Tax? that was one of those ideas. See how well that played out. But this new one of capping - and cutting housing benefit - do they honestly think landlords are going to lower their rents in response? When in few months time everyone is going to scratching around for extra money - what with frozen wages, VAT increase and god knows what else is on the way... Landlords aren't going to be in any position to lower rents (not unless they're forced to by law - and someone - councils? start setting limits on rents - limits which if memory served - a certain Thatcher Govt. deregulated. Back then the optimistic belief was that rents might go down - instead they went up and up and up - with Housing Benefit having to compensate. Funny that.


London housing crisis: most private landlords will not lower rents in response to housing benefit cuts

telling them to keep their nerve


In a script pre-vetted by Cameron, the Deputy Dawg PM tells his party to keep their nerve. Ummmm. Well he couldn't tell them to do much else - he can't tell them to keep their election promises - they've all been put in the shredder.

DVD Review: The Venture Bros.

I just liked this review. s'all.

I've got season 2 on dvd and am watching it now.

DVD Review: The Venture Bros. | Noise to Signal

Clegg should end dictatorship over the party by 20 Lib Dem ministers

snip:

"I believe that the proposed cuts to housing benefit are spiteful, vindictive, increase poverty, reduce freedom and social mobility and pander to the worse aspects of Tories and the Tory Press."


Mike Hancock

His full letter (pdf format) here.


Mike Hancock is exactly the sort of Lib-Dem I used to support their party for. However this new Torified coalition Govt. version most definitely is not.

Welfare cuts could be more than £4 billion

Wow more cuts on the way.

Funny how we don't get as many headlines proclaiming how we now have a booming shining economy with masses of jobs being created by the hour that are desperate for the disabled, the old and the long term unemployed and the unskilled to fill those jobs - but that could well be because -er, there aren't any.

Mmmmmm.

Just the one story being told over and over. Just the one single idea then?

Welfare cuts could be more than £4 billion - The Scotsman

Nick Clegg tells Lib Dems: accept my Cameron pact

"Party morale will be dented by news that more than half of those who voted Lib Dem at the election now believe the party has 'sold out'. According to a poll for the Independent on Sunday, two-fifths would also have voted differently if they had known in advance about the coalition deal with the Tories."

No shit Sherlock.

If the Lib-Dems want to survive as a party they've got to stop doing every last little thing the Tories want. On account of - y'know how they have been fighting AGAINST every single last bit of the Tory manifesto for the past few decades... *cough* which is why people have been voting for them - instead of for the Tories.

Why is that so difficult for turncoat Clegg to understand?

If anyone can't see that the Tories and for that matter Labour aren't going to do everything they can to screw up the referendum on voting reform - then I have a few thousand pounds in Nigeria I need help getting out of the country.

It looks like the better outcome of this last general election would have been for the Tories to have formed a minority Government and have to have fought every single last inch of the way to get their psychopathic cuts (-but only for the poorest and most vulnerable -if you've noticed) obsessed plans implemented - rather than now having a Lib-Dem party so giddy at the idea they are finally having a part in a real Govt. they abandoned nearly every last principle and scruple they ever had - and just nod through EVERYTHING.

This has totally destroyed the Lib-Dem party forever.

Oh well - with any luck their lost will be the Green Party's gain.

Pope visit:

"Harriet Harman, Labour’s acting Leader, has criticised the Pope for his outspoken attacks on the equalities measures she was instrumental in introducing."

Good on her.

Last Friday morning

So I've got some TV news magazine programme on in the background and apparently the single most important and only newsworthy thing happening in the UK at the moment is the Papal state visit. There sitting in a TV studio is Cherie Blair and she's quietly gushing on and on about the Pope... and it occurs to me just how much I don't understand ANY of it. Here is a supposedly highly intelligent grown up adult woman who is a lawyer - whose husband held one of the most important positions in the country* and yet here she is -for all the world behaving like a starstruck teenager who's only barely able to contain herself in awe of her favourite pop star.

In that moment --not having been raised in any religion I simply can't fathom why the Pope is supposed to be adored so - not when he doesn’t seem to do much of anything except wear over-elaborate clothes and make a few speeches that show how completely out of touch with the modern world he is, and that's without the borderline offensive remarks from him and from that Cardinal Walter Kasper who made the 'like a third world' comments.

Moreover I guess I must suffer from a mild form of enochlophobia or demophobia - because whenever I see such large groups of people behaving irrationally like that - I start to despair of the human race. Not that it ever takes much to get me to despair of the human race at the best of times. Still, it'll be over soon and the rest of the country can get back to it's usual muddling through in it's own semi-secular ways.

*I got even more confused when I found this newspaper article from last year where both Blairs are proclaiming to be pro-gay issues, pro-contraception and pro-condom use yada yada yada.

The Third Depression

It’s almost as if the financial markets understand what policy makers seemingly don’t: that while long-term fiscal responsibility is important, slashing spending in the midst of a depression, which deepens that depression and paves the way for deflation, is actually self-defeating.

So I don’t think this is really about Greece, or indeed about any realistic appreciation of the tradeoffs between deficits and jobs. It is, instead, the victory of an orthodoxy that has little to do with rational analysis, whose main tenet is that imposing suffering on other people is how you show leadership in tough times.

And who will pay the price for this triumph of orthodoxy? The answer is, tens of millions of unemployed workers, many of whom will go jobless for years, and some of whom will never work again.


[...and America should have the advantage of not being run by a bunch of clueless toffs as we at the moment...]

trouble ahead

"Police: we can't take care of cuts protests if you cut us

Leading officer to tell home secretary that a confident police force will be required to tackle any disorder professionally."



Mmmm I was wondering about this - I just saw it as symptomatic of the cluelessness of the coalition Government (which in all other respects seems to be relishing it's role as the nasty-nasty-nasty party) in not being foresighted enough to see that what they're doing is going to have people out on the streets - striking, protesting and rioting. No doubt we'll see a quiet about-face and suddenly lots of money will appear out of nowhere to fund the police - particularly riot police.

Well - we are all in it together...

Ummmm.

I was a jobseeking STAR (Sod This Appalling Racket) | Owen Hatherley | Comment is free | The Guardian

I've been on schemes like this - they are crippingly depressing and wholly useless. They're a complete scam only being done to make it look like the DWP is doing ---something.

I was a jobseeking STAR (Sod This Appalling Racket) | Owen Hatherley

George Osborne's secret plan to slash sickness benefits

It gets worse by the day.

And this is directly targeting the people who can't march in the streets.

George Osborne's secret plan to slash sickness benefits | Politics | guardian.co.uk

More of this sort of thing please...

George Osborne faces benefit cuts backlash
"Bob Russell, a Liberal Democrat, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Yes, let's deal with the welfare cheats. But the notion that they are responsible for all the ills of the nation is in fact a smokescreen and it's not very ethical."

Fellow leftwing Liberal Democrat MPs, Mike Hancock and Tim Farron, joined Russell in vowing to vote against such cuts.

Hancock said: "This goes right to the heart of the benefit system in this country. He has a lot of questions to answer and this is not the right way to do things."

Farron said: "The government needs to demonstrate that those who got us into this mess are going to more than bear the brunt and that the most in need will not be targeted. We need to scrutinise where the cuts are made."

Welfare spending to be cut by a further £4bn, says George Osborne

This is insane. Completely and utterly insane.

There.
Aren't.
Any.
Jobs.


Not only that...
Everything the Govt. is now doing is MAKING MORE and MORE people UNEMPLOYED!


Not only that if they start cutting people's benefits - because there aren't any jobs - then the only thing left will be people forced into crime!

Why can't they see that?


BBC News - Welfare spending to be cut by £4bn, says George Osborne

Samsung Galaxy Tab vs iPad

mmmm 'terstin'

Samsung Galaxy Tab vs iPad

How Apple plays the pricing game - Business - Bloomberg Businessweek - msnbc.com

Mildly interesting article.

All I know is that Apple stuff is -and always has been, stupidly scarily expensive. Too expensive for me to even contemplate - the only Apple thing I own is second hand ipod touch.


I'm also guessing that 'cognitive dissonance' accounts for the sheer amount of time and energy mac users put into trolling pc forums proclaiming how much better their choice of expensive computer is. I can't help thinking if it was actually that good - that they would be just happily getting on with using it secure in the knowledge of it 'just works' and not waste their time evangelising about it so much.

How Apple plays the pricing game.

Tax blunder: possible loophole emerges

Experts said people hit with an unexpected tax demand may be able to refuse to pay up as HMRC could have exceeded its own time limits in which to ask for the money. Under tax rules HMRC must issue demands for underpaid tax within 12 months of the end of the tax year in which it became aware that people had underpaid.

But if people provided HMRC with all the information they needed to get their tax code right, it should have used this information within 12 months of the end of the tax year in which it was received to claw back the extra money.

'Millions' protest in French pensions strike

I approve. Would that the UK population should show a bit of gumption and start protesting now - you know, like, BEFORE it's too late.

Why should the working population be forced to work years longer than they need or want to - simply to pay off a Government deficit which they had no part in creating whatsoever.

Plus retirement at 60!!! Lucky, sensible French - It's 65 here and eventually set to go up to 70!!! If I go around the same time as my mother (only 68 and that's pretty likely) I'll never see any where near the new retirement age.

'Millions' protest in French pensions strike - Channel 4 News

our way of eating grass

I made a doodle once - just some text - it said:

Cows are our way of eating grass.

That kind of extends to all the animals we eat - chickens - ate seeds and insects and other stuff they could find.

Goats - shrubs in hard to reach places.

Pigs - eat pretty much anything...

Then more recently humans just liked the taste of meat so much they went into mass production, and something weird and very stupid happened... we got so good at growing food that we started to feed it to our livestock. Of course it makes animals ill to eat stuff their digestive systems hadn't evolved to eat - but that's OK we have medical science - so we can pump them full of drugs and anti-biotics and growth hormones - etc. Ok so it changes the meat to do that but we have chemicals and flavourings and... when we get ill from eating that changed meat - well, medical science comes to our rescue too - statins, insulin, etc.

I think the human race is doomed.

Guardian comment:
I was wrong about veganism. Let them eat meat – but farm it properly.

The bonus season is coming

Oh just as I was wondering about the bankers at the end of my last post... this comes to my attention.
The bonus season is coming – and Ed Balls is right to foresee a train crash - Telegraph

All that scaremongering around at the time of the last election that we were going to turn into the next Greece - was utter nonsense. Although we are pretty much guaranteed to have similar riots next year. Just as soon as the realization just how evil this really coalition is starts to sink in with the population at large.

Housing benefit cuts

(It's on today's broadcast news - but not on the BBC news website (at least not yet) - what's that about?)

Link dump:


Job-linked benefit cuts would hit 200,000
Nearly 200,000 unemployed people will lose around £500 a year if cuts to housing benefit go ahead, union leaders warned today.


When even Boris Johnson has expressed disquiet over the proposals - then something is so clearly wrong it could be written in neon letters a mile high...

Boris fears housing benefit reforms

‘For many households the potential consequences of this are losing jobs to which they will not be able to commute, having to change their children’s schools and being cut off from their local social networks that are essential to successful communities.

‘The end result could be further polarisation between high and low income households in inner London and growing pressure on housing in outer London.’


Treasury minister Mark Hoban: Benefit cut? Then you'll just have to move house.

Is this an admission of social engineering? A plan of moving the poor out of the cities to... -where exactly? So they won't offend the eyes of the wealthy? and where are the poorest people in society going to find the money for deposits, and removal costs etc.?

Housing benefit cutbacks will cost thousands of Londoners £22 a week.

Crisis warns of homelessness over benefit cuts.

How are the Bank's profits and Banker's bonuses so far?

Poverty, inequality and the welfare state

Professor Richard Wilkinson has some very important things to say about our current Govt. in the podcast.

2020 Visions – Episode 2: Poverty, inequality and the welfare state

Pay As You Eeeeer...

from channel 4 news:

"Almost six million people across the UK are about to be told they've paid the wrong amount of tax because employers were sent the wrong tax codes by Revenue and Customs. The first letters will go through letterboxes on Tuesday telling those affected that they will either get a refund, or pay more tax next year to make up the shortfall.

Around £2bn has been underpaid through the Pay as You Earn tax system and the errors have been identified by a new computer system. The average underpayment is £1,400 - which will be a painful amount to lose next year for those families. There is not much you can do - other than check to make sure the tax calculation is correct. Obviously it only affects employees paid through the PAYE system and not those people who are self-employed."
So with various tax credits being cut and various benefits either being frozen or cut - and VAT to go up to 20% in a few months time - those that will have to make up their underpayment over the next year rather than getting a refund will be feeling the pinch even more... A underpayment that has not their fault...

And remember we're only in this mess because of the financial sector going into meltdown - and having to be bailed out by - what was it again? -Oh yeah, lot's and lots and lots of tax-payer's money.

Mmmmm. Something is not very fair here.

Robert Reich (The Real Lesson of Labor Day)

If UK governments will insist on blindly copying US Government ideas - why can't they use ideas like these?

Robert Reich (The Real Lesson of Labor Day)

Richard Fairbrass - of Rightwing said Fred

Richard confuses me. Right-wing gayers always do though.

Richard Fairbrass (RFairbrass) on Twitter

UK economic growth overshadowed by US data - Channel 4 News

Perhaps one day the UK Government (it doesn't matter which party) will wake up and stop trying to be the unofficial 52nd State of America and start to act independently and do things that aren't just blind copying of whatever America is doing... because that why we keep getting into the exact same messes -over and over again.

So many other European Countries haven't got themselves into a big a pickle as the UK repeatedly has -funny that.

UK economic growth overshadowed by US data - Channel 4 News

Austerity and Resistance

Austerity and Resistance: After the ‘ConDem’ Election:
"It was meant to be the election that would clean out the stables, rid parliament of corruption, greed and careerism. It ushered in a Coalition government that would offer a ‘new politics’ that would break from the tired politics of the past.

In truth, what we have ended up with is another set of parliamentary place seekers and a Con Dem Coalition that has set out its stall as a viciously anti-working class and reactionary government, committed to dismantling the welfare state and making the most vulnerable pay the price for economic crisis and the orgy of greed of the banks."

Time to admit budget hits the poor the hardest?

Channel 4's Faisal Islam's blog on economics:
Time to admit budget hits the poor the hardest?

Yeah - I left a comment. I'm posting that full comment here - because 1. there's no guarantee it'll get posted. 2. I ran out of words.
I always get annoyed when I hear people talk of the mess Blair/Brown got the economy into - because it blatantly flies in the face of the facts that New Labour were only continuing down the path set out by Thatcher and Major before them, one of privatisation, and various part-state part-privation schemes- of the ever increasing deregulation of the banks & financial sector, the encouragement of unfettered globalisation, allowing uncontrolled immigration of European workers and introducing pointless 'competition' into the public sector (hospital against hospital, school against school etc.) We're now reaping the results of all these misguided ideas - and yet the only way forward seems to be to make the poorest of our society suffer even more deprivations - so we can eventually, hopefully crawl back up onto the very same path that caused so much trouble in the first place...

We're suffering from a severe lack of real political vision and ideas in this country (actually there only seems to ever be one idea – 'what are the Americans doing? Oh – let's do that then.') But then we've now governed by a PM whose only real job was in PR (and to think how New Labour was lambasted over it's over-reliance on spin-doctors. Now we have a spin doctor for PM) a Chancellor who knows more about English literature than he does about economics and a whole Lib-Dem party that are acting like deer-in-headlights – still so incredulous at their luck that they're on the other side of the house for the first time in decades that all they can currently do is mouth apologises for the Tory cuts - having totally abandoned absolutely everything they were supposed to stand for in their election manifesto.

I could add that -apparently the only alternative to this is a couple of brothers - neither of which have had any 'real' jobs outside of politics...

This worries me a lot - because we now have an entrenched bunch of career politicians - people who will sing any tune they are told to by anyone who waves a hefty party donation their way...

This isn't what democracy is supposed to be about. Is it?

Clegg rejects budget 'poorest pay most' claims

Clegg rejects budget 'poorest pay most' claims - Channel 4 News

He then went onto to dismiss claims that black is black and white is white - and later knocked over a pedestrian on a zebra crossing when driving home.

David Rowland: red faces at Tory HQ as next treasurer quits | Politics | The Guardian

Mmmm interesting...

one multi-millionaire down - how many more to go?

Seriously - it does piss me off all this talk of austerity Britain coming out of millionaire MPs mouths.

'We're all in it together' - yeah right.

David Rowland: red faces at Tory HQ as next treasurer quits | Politics | The Guardian

cheery thoughts of the day...

Warning To Gulf Volunteers: Almost Every Cleanup Worker From The 1989 Exxon Valdez Disaster Is Now Dead


Ocean pollution ‘threatening the human food supply’

We Killed The Goose

This sounds depressingly familiar - the UK has been blindly copying everything the US has been doing for decades - and so we end up with the exact same problems. Do we learn from this mistake? Hell, no, we just copy the same solutions that America tries - and which don't work.


We Killed The Goose That Laid The Golden Egg And Now The Number Of Americans Receiving Long-Term Unemployment Benefits Has Risen A Whopping 60 Percent In Just One Year

100 days

100 facts about the coalition's first 100 days

Social cleansing.

This article goes on about expensive central London rents -while ignoring that this applies everywhere in the country. The completely arbitrary and totally unfair decision to cut housing benefit by 10% after someone has been unemployed for a year - by which point someone's resources (if they have any) will be completely depleted will cause a lot of hardship - if not homelessness - people forget it actually costs a lot money to move, there's removal costs, the deposit for new flats, etc. Where's that money going to come from? Not to mention the social cost if you end up moving away from your network of family and friends. Housing policy in general in this country is a disgrace - for many reasons.

Clegg turning his back on the very people who voted him into power - the Forgemasters loan fiasco.

I'm keeping a countdown to when we get our first riots. Any Tory Govt. isn't happy until things end with riots in the streets.

Under Surveillance free comic book

With Cameron giving the go ahead to start using private companies to go data mining on the UK's citizens, just in case they're claiming benefits they're not entitled to (oh, the irony) - here's the EU who are educating young people about the dangers of the increasing Surveillance Society. Odd that.

Comic Book - Under Surveillance | EDRI

Blunkett joins the Tories...

this comes as no surprise to me...

David Blunkett set to join Tory war on dole cheats

I could never see what he was doing in the Labour party anyway... maybe he signed the wrong party membership papers by mistake?

See how there's now a steady constant drip-drip-drip of mentions by the media of tackling 'dole cheats' and 'scroungers'. Soon to make a claim for anything no matter how legitimately - you're going to be branded as that.

Yet mentions of how they hope to create more of these jobs that they're expecting these unemployed to be going off benefits to fill - well, you'd have a hard time finding any. Funny that. What with the two having to go together - being basic common sense. Mmmmm.

Where’s the benefit...

Where’s the benefit in private sector chasing welfare cheats?
Where's the benefit? -well, for one it whips up support (hysteric support at that) from those core Tory voters the Daily Mail and Telegraph readers. It divides the people into squabbling amongst themselves - when in fact both are victims of the current system, and distracts them from identifying the real culprits as to why we are in this mess. (Clue: it isn't the long term unemployed people's fault.)

And it lies some groundwork for a privatised surveillance society. I have no doubt that the Tories actually secretly liked the idea of the ID card/database system Labour was going to inflict upon us - but being the cheapskates they are - simply didn't want to spend the money on it - not when they could see there are existing companies that already hold a lot of that information over our heads. So why not co-opt them?

This is just the start of a thin wedge.

Britain looks into in-flight surveillance cameras - RT

So it's not enough that if you fly you have to undergo an electronic strip search - now they're planning to cctv you all the time you're on board?

If there were terrorist attacks every month or so - I might understand - but it gets more and more ridiculous. And at the end of the day it only really benefits the companies that are making all this spy equipment.

Britain looks into in-flight surveillance cameras - RT

big brother watch

Body scan images retained by the thousand.

Town asks 'volunteers' to man the CCTV room

"The kind of people who would want to spy on their neighbours are exactly the sort of people you don't want watching a town's CCTV network."

jobs for the boys

Topshop chief Sir Philip Green to conduct review of coalition spending cuts. I thought it was bad enough when NuLabour brought in Alan 'you're fired' Sugar as an advisor - and when Mandelson was swanning around on various multi-millionaires' yachts.

Mobile disco: how phones make music inescapable

"I was recently at a friend's house with a number of young club music producers, including Ikonika and three DJs from Rinse FM, the UK's leading pirate station. Someone jokingly said 'let's make a tune', and this quickly devolved into the strangest jam session I've ever seen. DJ Bok Bok used an 808 drum application on his iPhone to lay down a beat, Ikonika and Optimum both used synthesiser applications on their phones to play keyboard melodies, Manara played and replayed a spoken-word 'sample' from a YouTube clip on her laptop, and Jam City played the cymbals on a £10 battery-powered 'finger drumkit'. So that's three mobile phones, a YouTube video, and a £10 toy as the tools for some of the most cutting-edge musicians in the country. Remarkably, it even sounded pretty good."


All so very 'Nathan Barley'.

who needs publishers?

Author Ray Connolly explains why he is publishing his latest novel chapter by chapter, online | Books | The Guardian

Homeless Poles living on barbecued rats and alcoholic handwash

WTF.

Homeless Poles living on barbecued rats and alcoholic handwash | UK news | The Guardian

But give it a year or two and their numbers will be swelled by a mass of new UK homeless folk. That'll be when people who've been unemployed for longer than year will get their Housing Benefit automatically cut by 10% - for no very good reason other than the Tories are complete c*nts and want to appease Daily Mail readers.

state sponsored snooping

Chris Grayling defends plan to use credit rating agencies to help catch benefit cheats.

No chance of using the same techniques to sniff out tax evaders? You know - given how much more tax revenue that will actually bring in?

Every week they come out with yet another plan that's targeted against the poorest and most vulnerable. [Share the pain? Haven't seen any signs of that.] No doubt when the removal of 10% worth of Housing Benefit kicks in for the long term unemployed - anyone who isn't made homeless or who hasn't starved to death after a month or two because they can't make their rent payments any more will be automatically deemed guilty of benefit fraud.

Support for Lib Dems slumps as voters fear party has lost its way - UK Politics, UK - The Independent

ya think? Really? Gosh.

the amazing coalition Cam-Clegg

Support for Lib Dems slumps as voters fear party has lost its way - UK Politics, UK - The Independent

Vince Cable: 'What we're managing is quite a difficult situation' | Politics | The Guardian


The risk of a double-dip recession remains, he acknowledges, very real – perhaps a little more so in his mind than the Treasury's. "As I recall," he says, "the government's own forecasting risk puts it at something like one in four, one in five." But asked for his own estimate, he says, "Well, you know, certainly well below 50-50," which sounds somewhat higher than one in five.

Vince Cable: 'What we're managing is quite a difficult situation' | Politics | The Guardian

whoever won the last election - the unemployed were set to lose whatever

Labour's plans in 2009:
Labour's latest attacks on unemployment and disability benefits.

The current coalition plans:
Hitting those on benefits hardest.

But never mind eh, at least the banks are now back in profit. That's THE important thing. Woooo!

Naked Body Scanners: Monumental Cover Up Exposed

"Declan McCullagh of CNET reports that “The U.S. Marshals Service admitted this week that it had surreptitiously saved tens of thousands of images recorded with a millimeter wave system at the security checkpoint of a single Florida courthouse.”


"The level of intimate detail captured by the scanners prompted the passage in the House last year of an amendment brought by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) to ban “strip-search” imaging at airports, a proposal he has reiterated his support for since the failed bombing attempt.

“You don’t have to look at my wife and 8-year-old daughter naked to secure an airplane,” Chaffetz said at the time."


Naked Body Scanners: Monumental Cover Up Exposed

A Welfare State for Landlords: Who Benefits? | HumanRights TV

And to think Mr Cameron wants to mess about even more with council houses.

A Welfare State for Landlords: Who Benefits?

firefox add ons

I might have to reinstall firefox - it keeps giving me endless stupid 'this script has stopped responding messages'.

Here's the plug-ins I can't do without:

the Googlebar.

Downloadhelper.

Greasemonkey.

Flickr Photo Page Enhancer

Yahoo! User Persistence Thing

BBC News - Poole council loses school catchment 'spying' tribunal

WTF? Seriously - how much did this cost and how many man hours were wasted simply to see if a little girl was eligible to go to a certain school?

Moreover, why are local councils even given access to these powers? If it's legislation that was brought in to counter serious crime and terrorism - then surely only the police should be allowed to use them.

Makes me wonder how far we were (or possibly still are) going down the path of East German style Stasiland.


BBC News - Poole council loses school catchment 'spying' tribunal

Cameron's economic policies will kill, not cure : Johann Hari

I'm not an economist but I can tell that everything the Govt. is doing will lead the country to disaster.

Kinnock's words in 1983 have never sounded more prescient:

I warn you.

I warn you that you will have pain–when healing and relief depend upon payment.

I warn you that you will have ignorance–when talents are untended and wits are wasted, when learning is a privilege and not a right.

I warn you that you will have poverty–when pensions slip and benefits are whittled away by a government that won’t pay in an economy that can’t pay.

I warn you that you will be cold–when fuel charges are used as a tax system that the rich don’t notice and the poor can’t afford.

I warn you that you must not expect work–when many cannot spend, more will not be able to earn. When they don’t earn, they don’t spend. When they don’t spend, work dies.

I warn you not to go into the streets alone after dark or into the streets in large crowds of protest in the light.

I warn you that you will be quiet–when the curfew of fear and the gibbet of unemployment make you obedient.

I warn you that you will have defence of a sort–with a risk and at a price that passes all understanding.

I warn you that you will be home-bound–when fares and transport bills kill leisure and lock you up.

I warn you that you will borrow less–when credit, loans, mortgages and easy payments are refused to people on your melting income.

---- --- ---

- I warn you not to be ordinary

- I warn you not to be young

- I warn you not to fall ill

- I warn you not to get old.


As Hari points out during the Thatcher years public spending actually went UP 1.1% year upon year. Cameron plans cuts of 25% to 40%.

Cameron's economic policies will kill, not cure : Johann Hari

Antiquated benefits system faces overhaul | Reuters

*Sighs*

Where to start with the folly of this? Let's start with the elephant in the room that politicians never mention - the startling but indisputable fact that there are far more people in the UK than there is paid work for them to do. Yet there is an overwhelming all consuming obsession that people should be working and even forced to work if they don't particularly want to, and soon even the unemployed will be forced into 'work for welfare' schemes (what will amount to state sponsored slavery). Moreover they've already started tinkering with the retirement age so people will be working longer. That's all so very nice if you're in a job you like - but hell if you're in one you hate. This is being done under the guise that people are living longer and longer. (Um, that's not an argument that sits well with me when my mother died at 68.) And anyway aren't there new statistics that many children born today aren't going to outlive their parents due to obesity and ill health?amo

And aren't we the only country in the EU where people work the longest hours (but are paradoxically also among the lowest in terms of levels of productivity)?

Anyway the point I'm reaching for is that it's the whole world of work that needs to be looked at and overhauled in many crucial areas. But with the blind worship of anything in the private sector by a succession of governments you can guarantee that's never going to happen. Well, you know -do anything big business doesn't like and those party donations might stop coming in.

So what's left to do..? oh yeah. Blame the victims for their own plight. Unemployed people aren't unemployed because there's no jobs or because employers don't want to employ them - of course not. It's because they're idle and feckless and the benefits system is all so generous - that every unemployed person has two homes, and can claim for giant plasma screen tvs, and champagne and caviar, and duck houses, all on taxpayer's money. Oh wait. That wasn't the unemployed (as the Daily Mail likes to portray them) that was the MPs. *headslap* Well there you go - if they do it then they must know how to stop the unemployed scamming the system... or something.

We're basically living in a state of perpetual delusion - we've just had an extended period where we allowed the financial sector of the western world bloom into a feel-good fantasy world where property prices where going to go on increasing unto infinity and banks could sell mortgages to people who hadn't a cat-in-hell's chance of ever paying back, and that's now collapsed in a heap. But now we're heading into another whole new fantasy state where if we go through an extended period of austerity and cut backs and prune back the state (making a few thousand unemployed in the process) then by magic they'll soon be jobs for every one of us and the good times will roll again...

until the next crash.

Antiquated benefits system faces overhaul | Reuters

ID card astroturf

Creepy.

ID card astroturf - No2ID beats the truth out of IPS • The Register

Murdoch's media empire scares me

All very interesting:
Glenn Beck's Incendiary Angst Is Dangerously Close to Having a Body Count.
- Huffington Post.

Fox hunt: cracks in Murdoch dynasty. - Guardian

I'm also worried about the BBC now that the Tories are back in power - every time there has an election where Murdoch has backed the winner - (we used to call that propaganda you know) there's always a little payback due to Murdoch afterwards. And this time round his beady eyes have long been set on the BBC - who sees as competition, and I'll bet they'll be something about the internet - Murdoch hates that too - he sees that as losing him money....

Tory tension over 'Brokeback coalition'

"The corollary of the big society is the smaller state. If you talk about the small state, people think you’re Attila the Hun. If you talk about the big society, people think you’re Mother Teresa,"

-David Davis

Tory tension over 'Brokeback coalition' - Channel 4 News

Ian Tomlinson death: police officer will not face criminal charges

So let me get this right:

an innocent passer-by gets fatally assaulted by an out-of-control policeman who's in full riot gear. It's captured on video and shown for all the whole country to see – they have an absurdly long official enquiry only to conclude that because of 'technical reasons' no one is going to face a trial.

And what sort of message does this send out to the general public do you think?

Welcome to Police State Britain.


Ian Tomlinson death: police officer will not face criminal charges.

'Water poverty' loans to utilities set to hit €4bn

Golly - that's terrible, awful - they should priviti.... oh, wait.

So back in the Eighties a certain Mrs Thatcher had the great idea of selling off the publically owned water companies. Part of it was sold under the impression that once they were private companies they would be free to be able to raise their own funding and this would in turn benefit the customer - who'd see lower bills as a result. What it meant in reality was the stocks were sold too cheaply to the public, who then in turn sold them on to other companies for a quick profit. Now nearly all of the UK - bar one I think are owned by European companies, and everyone saw their water bills sky rocket through the roof... and that's were the 1999 legislation came in. Simply because more and more poor people found they couldn't pay these ever increasing water bills, but to have cut them off would have been a massive public health disaster.

Now it's all becoming even more of a mess... mmmmm. Why am I not surprised?

Dunno about you but I tend to think a basic commodity like water for domestic use shouldn't ever be run for profit - and the Government ought to be ensuring everyone gets it as cheaply as possible, so long as people aren't being wasteful with it.


'Water poverty' loans to utilities set to hit €4bn

Big Society

oh noes. I have a bad feeling about this...

I watching the early news - apparently later today our new overlord is to make announcements about his plans for 'the Big Society' - which I'm guessing is all about to mobilising a hidden army of volunteers to take over lots of little jobs 'the state' should be or is already doing. Where are these volunteers going to come from? Ermmmmmm, let me think - I seem to remember quite a few plans being floated around before the time of the election about getting the long term unemployed to work for their benefits...

So. Cutting back 'the state' = people losing their jobs = their work having to be done by unpaid 'volunteers' (probably eventually by the same people who used to do that job as a living when they can't find another job and being made to do it for their dole money). All of this to be funded by money that doesn't even really belong to the state, money taken from 'dormant accounts'. Doesn't that sound dodgy in itself?

US Punishing the Unemployed - NYTimes.com

So things aren't much better in the States then.

Op-Ed Columnist - Punishing the Unemployed - NYTimes.com

Seriously - if the bankers and the Politicians want there to be a revolution where the entire population eventually turns on them - they're going the right way about it.

Graduates warned of record 70 applicants for every job

Class of 2010 told to consider flipping burgers or shelf stacking to build skills as they also compete with last year's graduates.

[I had a written a fairly long post from google bar but that's completely vanished -grrr. So I'm having to write this from memory.]

But isn't it the point that most people go into higher education to get a degree precisely so they don't have to get a job flipping burgers and stacking supermarket shelves? Not to mention that if they do take these sorts of jobs then what's left for the people who don't have degrees going to do? Moreover how the hell are they supposed to start paying back their student loans?

For quite some time we've seen degrees increasingly devalued as there are more and more people with them -and recent graduates have been forced into taking jobs like call centre work - and now they've being told to set their expectations even lower?

This seriously fucked up stuff.

Hey! For the first times in years Blogger has eaten one of my posts.

It's just vanished completely. I blame the new updated google bar. Grrrrrr.

Dell Streak Android

Mmmmm. Potential gadget lust. Although think I'll wait until both the retail and smartphone data plans drop drastically in price*, and after it gets an update to Android 2.2

Dell Streak Android tablet phone • reghardware

*I think £35 a month is a ludicrous amount of money. But then I am a pauper.

food stamps for food from Charities...

Ministers consider scheme to hand out food vouchers to unemployed.

Yup. What's next? Re-opening the Poor Houses?

Oh gawd. I hope I haven't given them an idea.

airships a'coming

I've been banging on about this for years - that with the end of peak oil and carbon footprints etc. that they'll have to bring airships and blimps back.

Helium-powered ships could be carrying freight – and even passengers – in as little as a decade's time.

Global Blimp Network Will Deliver Our Goods by 2020.


Next - re-opening the canal network.

Housing Benefit cuts planned

"The new government has unveiled plans to cut housing benefit by 10% for people claiming jobseeker's allowance for 12 months or more from April 2013. The cuts would hit Britain's 200,000 single, childless claimants hardest. Someone in London with a weekly rent of £350 would see their benefit cut by £35. The NHF said tenants would be forced to make up the shortfall from their £65.45 weekly allowance, leaving just £30.45 for food, clothing and energy."

Treasury orders cabinet ministers to brace themselves for 40% cuts | Politics | The Observer

Well, well, well, it didn't take long for those empty promises about protecting the most vulnerable in society to get broken did it?

I predict a riot. Seriously. People have forgotten that every time we have a Tory Govt. we get riots.

Yay.

Govt stop-and-search appeal rejected.

The European court of human rights has rejected an attempt by the UK government to appeal a jugdment over its stop-and-search powers.

The decision means that a January 2010 court judgement which found section 44 of the Terrorism Act to be illegal is final.


It remains to be seen if the coalition will the repeal the act, or if they see it as being quite handy to keep it on the books.

welfare - deforms

Welfare reform: who will suffer most?
Our research shows that bad jobs do not provide a sustainable route out of poverty and that it is not only benefit levels that put people below an acceptable standard of living.

Meanwhile there's plenty of talk of getting tough on claimants - promising moves to cut people's benefits if they refuse an offer of a job (except that's already the case - so they must be promising to do enough of this that it hits newspaper headlines which will no doubt please the Daily Mail and Express readers no end) and wed that to Iain Duncan Smith's bright idea to get people in Council Houses moving around the country to find jobs... and we can expect many a similar scenario in Job Centres up and down the land:

Advisor 'I see on the computer there's a minimum wage McJob going in Outer Bogend-NowhereVille ..."
Client: 'I don't want to move out there, all my family and friends are here, how will I find affordable childcare, my mum helps with that at the moment? and my kid's schooling and their friends?'

Advisor: 'Well - you've just refused the opportunity of a job. We'll have to cut your benefits now.'

Meanwhile - more job cuts are on their way.

Welfare cuts put added health strain on population

Which should be blindingly obvious - except I don't believe the Govt. -this new one or any other gives much of a damn.

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: "We are committed to reforming the welfare system to make work pay.

"We know that work itself is the best way out of poverty."


By which they mean cutting the already wholly inadequate and meagre welfare payments to the point where even a 50p a hour job might seem the better bet. They won't be raising minimum wage levels to actually liveable wage levels any time soon. People will be in work - but will be starving too.

Ahem. Work itself is not the best way out of poverty if it's only poverty wages - or if you're a single parent having to pay out child care fees - or whatever. Or if working that extra hour means you'll get your housing benefits or tax credits cut.

Grim fact - most of the poorest people in the UK are already in employment and not on any benefits...


BBC News - Welfare cuts put added health strain on population

65 - 66 - 70 - never.

Not so long ago I remember masses and masses of fuss being made by the chattering classes about 'the pensions timebomb' Apparently people simply weren't putting enough of their own money into private pension schemes - yadda yadda yadda (and most pension schemes depended on dodgy trading in stocks and shares a lot of which have probably since failed anyway. Plus a lot of people simply couldn't afford to put so much money into these schemes - not if they wanted to eat day to day.) so we were all going to retire into utter poverty - or something. Whizz fast forward to today and it looks like the Con-Dems have the perfect solution... they plan to rise and raise and raise the retirement age until no one (except the very rich, who can retire at 55 or whenever they damn well choose) has a pension any more. They'll just work until they drop dead. Problem solved.

Wha....?

I can't believe it. Did Cameron really use the phrase 'welfare scrounger' in a recent speech? Er, OK then - shouldn't we all now start saying 'fraudulent expense claimant' for those MPs who've been found out as such, and 'over-privileged multi-millionaire' for the rest of them - just so we know were we all stand with the name-calling.

There's been a couple of 'fox bites babies' stories lately (one. Two.) Mmmmm. Wonder how long it will take before we see calls for the return of fox-hunting? We already know the Tories are all for that and so is Nick Clegg (apparently the ban on fox hunting was one of the few things he was passionately against).

how does this add up?

Mark Ronson's Version. A few years old now - probably cost £14 when it was first out. Like all first release albums - (and knowing HMV if it isn't in one of their many sales - prob. still costs that) on Amazon uk - £4.93 - what's their download mpg version - oh. the same. Exactly the same. So despite the distinct lack of a physical disk, a jewel case and a nice printed cover - and the costs of post and packaging involved - it costs the same. Um. What does one of the 2nd hand discs cost? 91p... Um...er... this is the sort of nonsense they, the mostly tech/web ignorant never even touched upon when they were pushing through the digital rights bill thingy earlier this year.

US unemployment

USA:

Huffington Post:
Long term unemployed at 46% - the highest ever on record.

But if you're looking for a job: 'The unemployed will not be considered'.

Yup. Same thing here - with yet no one admitting that there are far more people than there are jobs - that's when what jobs there are don't go to migrants.

That ol' capitalist system is falling apart at the seams - no one's 'fesin' up to that either - everyone's scrambling to keep the show going for the want of anything better.

So Inception...

this is sort of 'The Matrix' but without any of the Artificial Intelligent software and robots all out to kill the techno Ravers/hippies then?

Stop and search used illegally against thousands

But is an apology enough? i mean when anyone else does something illegal and they get caught - there's usually a fine or a spell in jail... mmmmm? here they're not getting so much as a slap on the wrist. I can't help but think that having to pay out some compensation might get them thinking about so eagerly over stepping the mark next time.

And if the plans for ID cards had gone ahead can you see how the police and any jumped up petty official would have loved to have gone around demanding to see your card at every turn?

Stop and search used illegally against thousands | Law | guardian.co.uk

hasty stupid legislation

Banned mephedrone cleared of blame for two deaths | Society | The Guardian

That'll be the very same deaths that had the Labour Government rush through another piece of their infamous knee-jerk legislation, and had two people on their drug advisory group resign in disgust that their advice was being ignored.

Talking of legislation:
Look who's backed down on their promises to have the Digital Economy Act overturned and discussed properly?

ISPs told to start collecting filesharers' data next year... lovely.

uh-oh Nudity Scanners are heeeeeeeeeeereeeeee

Well,it's official - Gatwick now has it's first scanner installed.

One of it's apologists was on the local news proclaiming that each image will deleted as soon as it's been viewed. Oh really. How comforting. Not that we live in a world full of tiny cheap camphones - or where you can buy a pen off the internets that has a camera built into it - not to mention that these offices are likely to have CCTV cameras recording away 24/7. Whose recordings are kept for a very long time...

Pity it's going to take a picture of some celebrity leaked and a high profile court case before someone wakes up to taking into consideration the privacy and personal dignity of the rest of us.

Meanwhile here's some other related things to ponder over:
New airport X-ray body scanners could be harmful, scientists say. dvice.com
- - - - - - -
Support for full-body scanners 'lower than reported'.
- - - - - - -
I thought Rapiscan had to be a made up joke name - 'Rape-I-scan'. But what? It isn't!? Well, I'm sorry when you have a company choosing a name like that for it's self wholly ignorant of the controversy it's going to inevitably cause.

Anyhoo - they make the machines and of course they've set to make massive profits out of it. Just when the whole Airport industry is in trouble and making massive losses year after year... why not spend lots more money than strictly necessary. It's not as if it's going to put people off travelling by air now is it?
- - - - - - -
We might have had our first celebrity print out already... Although Heathrow denies it can have happened.

(How difficult would it be to see these machines specs. if these machines do have a print-out facility? Because if they did - well, at some point that facility is going to be turned on and used isn't it? As sure as eggs are eggs.
- - - - - - -
oh and before we go - just to remind you that the scanners aren't fit for purpose anyway. They don't even detect the very things that they're supposed to be protecting us from.

City of London security guards told to report 'suspicious' photographers

Unfortunately to many a security guard merely owning a camera and not using it to only take photos of someone smiling is suspicious behaviour - not bending over backward when some jumped up little Hitler asks what you're doing is suspicious behaviour, breathing is suspicious behaviour... what's that old 'Not the 9 o'clock news' sketch...

City of London security guards told to report 'suspicious' photographers

Facebook privacy

BBC News - Facebook downplays privacy crisis meeting

Yes i'm on Facebook - but only because a few other people I know are on it. Otherwise - I've never really got on with it - and never quite understood why it's so popular, partly because years ago I used to be on AOL and remember how awful that was. Facebook seems altogether too AOL to me. While I can see the valve of having the one place where all my other web stuff comes together - but then Facebook comes with too much other crap - like those dreary games.

I've never felt safe divulging too much personal information to the web either. That's a real internet-age thing. The social web thing - my arse.

How to delete your Facebook account - Telegraph