While ek hornbeck has been dong his happy dance and gloating over the electoral spanking a that Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May and her Conservative party took, the politics over the UK withdrawal from the European Union got complicated. The host of “Last Week Tonight” John Oliver has found the answer to their “Brexit Prayers”: …
Tag: Great Britain
Jun 12 2017
Now A Word From Lord Buckethead
Jun 06 2017
The US Media Reeling Over British Attacks
In his opening segment John Oliver, host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” laced in the the US media over its narrative the British are reeling and the notion that England is “under siege” after the latest attacks by Muslim extremists in Manchester and London. The British, too, were upset by the coverage and took to …
Jun 15 2014
Anti-Capitalist Meetup: These are a few of my least favourite things by NY Brit Expat
It’s been one of those weeks where so many things have come to light that I simply do not know where to begin writing first. I sit there and think, which of the various things that I have been listening to or reading about have actually annoyed me to the point of actually writing about. I have realised that I am just generally annoyed.
When I thought about it more, I concluded that the underlying theme of these various stories is a complete and utter contempt by bourgeois governments (that lay claim to being utterly democratic) of the vast majority of people that they govern. Whether they govern competently or not, whether there is anything resembling a democratic mandate or not; it is the utter contempt in which they hold the majority of the population that has really gotten my goat.
I also realised that this is not only confined to governments, it is a view shared by the leadership of religious authorities, by arms of the state (police, armies, etc.) and even by the heads of sporting associations. This contempt is a reflection of the fact that those in power think/know that when push comes to shove, they know who they serve and it is not the vast majority of people; it is a tiny elite hiding behind the word “democracy” while actually not even slightly being accountable to that majority. It is the abuse of power by those that have it wielded against those that view themselves as powerless. Having just spoken to my postman about my frustration, he agreed and said “this is a long term problem, what can you and I do about it”?
Aug 20 2013
Journalists Are Not Terrorists
In her opening segment on her show, Rachel Maddow took the US and Great Britain to task for harassing journalists like Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald’s partner, David Miranda.
Apparently, when Rachel went on the air she was not aware of this latest development.
UK Authorities Destroy Guardian’s Hard Drives, Force Journalists to Report NSA Stories In Exile
by Trevor Timm, Freedom of the Press Foundation
Fresh off the news that UK authorities detained the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald for nine hours yesterday, Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger has published [an extraordinary report http://www.theguardian.com/com… of government pressure and intimidation that should send chills down the spine of anyone who cares about a free press.
Rusbridger, who up until recently was based in the UK, recounts being approached by UK government officials multiple times and threatened with legal action unless he returned or destroyed the Edward Snowden documents the Guardian had in its possession. Officials from GCHQ, Britain’s NSA counterpart, eventually entered Guardian headquarters and destroyed the hard drives that contained copies of the Snowden documents.
David Miranda, schedule 7 and the danger that all reporters now face
by Alan Rusbridger, The Guardian
As the events in a Heathrow transit lounge – and the Guardian offices – have shown, the threat to journalism is real and growing
During one of these meetings I asked directly whether the government would move to close down the Guardian’s reporting through a legal route – by going to court to force the surrender of the material on which we were working. The official confirmed that, in the absence of handover or destruction, this was indeed the government’s intention. Prior restraint, near impossible in the US, was now explicitly and imminently on the table in the UK. But my experience over WikiLeaks – the thumb drive and the first amendment – had already prepared me for this moment. I explained to the man from Whitehall about the nature of international collaborations and the way in which, these days, media organisations could take advantage of the most permissive legal environments. Bluntly, we did not have to do our reporting from London. Already most of the NSA stories were being reported and edited out of New York. And had it occurred to him that Greenwald lived in Brazil?
The man was unmoved. And so one of the more bizarre moments in the Guardian’s long history occurred – with two GCHQ security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian’s basement just to make sure there was nothing in the mangled bits of metal which could possibly be of any interest to passing Chinese agents. “We can call off the black helicopters,” joked one as we swept up the remains of a MacBook Pro.
Whitehall was satisfied, but it felt like a peculiarly pointless piece of symbolism that understood nothing about the digital age. We will continue to do patient, painstaking reporting on the Snowden documents, we just won’t do it in London. The seizure of Miranda’s laptop, phones, hard drives and camera will similarly have no effect on Greenwald’s work.
The state that is building such a formidable apparatus of surveillance will do its best to prevent journalists from reporting on it. Most journalists can see that. But I wonder how many have truly understood the absolute threat to journalism implicit in the idea of total surveillance, when or if it comes – and, increasingly, it looks like “when”.
I wonder if the White House was given a “head’s up” on this action.
Aug 19 2013
The Forest and the Trees
In another assault on the freedom of the press and a naked attempt at intimidation, journalist Glenn Greenwald’s Brazilian partner, David Miranda was detained at Heathrow Airport and questioned for nine hours under Great Britain’s Terrorism Act:
David Miranda, who lives with Glenn Greenwald, was returning from a trip to Berlin when he was stopped by officers at 8.05am and informed that he was to be questioned under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. The controversial law, which applies only at airports, ports and border areas, allows officers to stop, search, question and detain individuals.
The 28-year-old was held for nine hours, the maximum the law allows before officers must release or formally arrest the individual. According to official figures, most examinations under schedule 7 – over 97% – last less than an hour, and only one in 2,000 people detained are kept for more than six hours (pdf).
Miranda was released, but officials confiscated electronics equipment including his mobile phone, laptop, camera, memory sticks, DVDs and games consoles. [..]
While in Berlin, Miranda had visited Laura Poitras, the US film-maker who has also been working on the Snowden files with Greenwald and the Guardian. The Guardian paid for Miranda’s flights.
This was the reaction of Widney Brown, Amnesty International’s senior director of international law and policy:
“It is utterly improbable that David Michael Miranda, a Brazilian national transiting through London, was detained at random, given the role his partner has played in revealing the truth about the unlawful nature of NSA surveillance.
“David’s detention was unlawful and inexcusable. He was detained under a law that violates any principle of fairness and his detention shows how the law can be abused for petty, vindictive reasons.
“There is simply no basis for believing that David Michael Miranda presents any threat whatsoever to the UK government. The only possible intent behind this detention was to harass him and his partner, Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, for his role in analysing the data released by Edward Snowden.”
Of course the White House denies ordering the detention or the confiscation of Mr. Miranda’s property, but considering the lies that have been told and the use of “national security” as a reason to cover up the lies and crimes of two administrations, there is certainly good reason to question the veracity of any statements from the White House. Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest admitted that the White House was notified in advance of the action.
The detention has caused some outrage in Britain with condemnation and calls for an explanation from the police of why Mr. Miranda was held under the anti-terroism law since there was no little evidence that he was involved in, or connected to terrorism.
Keith Vaz (chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee) called the detention of Miranda “extraordinary” and said he would be writing immediately to police to request information about why Miranda was held under anti-terrorism laws when there appeared to be little evidence that he was involved in terrorism. [..]
“It is an extraordinary twist to a very complicated story,” Vaz told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday. “Of course it is right that the police and security services should question people if they have concerns or the basis of any concerns about what they are doing in the United Kingdom. What needs to happen pretty rapidly is we need to establish the full facts – now you have a complaint from Mr Greenwald and the Brazilian government. They indeed have said they are concerned at the use of terrorism legislation for something that does not appear to relate to terrorism, so it needs to be clarified, and clarified quickly.”
Vaz said he was not aware that personal property could be confiscated under the laws. “What is extraordinary is they knew he was the partner [of Greenwald] and therefore it is clear not only people who are directly involved are being sought but also the partners of those involved,” he said. “Bearing in mind it is a new use of terrorism legislation to detain someone in these circumstances […] I’m certainly interested in knowing, so I will write to the police to ask for the justification of the use of terrorism legislation – they may have a perfectly reasonable explanation. But if we are going to use the act in this way … then at least we need to know so everyone is prepared.”
The British anti-terrorist legislation watchdog, David Anderson QC, also called for an explanation from called on the Home Office and Metropolitan police over what is being called a “gross misuse” of the terror law.:
The intervention by Anderson came as the shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, called for an urgent investigation into the use of schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 to detain Miranda. Cooper said ministers must find out whether anti-terror laws had been misused after detention caused “considerable consternation”.
Cooper said public support for schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act could be undermined if there was a perception it was not being used for the right purposes. “Any suggestion that terror powers are being misused must be investigated and clarified urgently,” she said. “The public support for these powers must not be endangered by a perception of misuse.
Laura Poitras, with whom Mr. Miranda was visiting in Berlin and whose work usually involves sensitive national security issues, had recently relocated to Berlin, Germany because of the harassment at US airports.
Glenn Greenwald called the detention of his partner a failed attempt at intimidation:
This is obviously a rather profound escalation of their attacks on the news-gathering process and journalism. It’s bad enough to prosecute and imprison sources. It’s worse still to imprison journalists who report the truth. But to start detaining the family members and loved ones of journalists is simply despotic. Even the Mafia had ethical rules against targeting the family members of people they felt threatened by. But the UK puppets and their owners in the US national security state obviously are unconstrained by even those minimal scruples.
If the UK and US governments believe that tactics like this are going to deter or intimidate us in any way from continuing to report aggressively on what these documents reveal, they are beyond deluded. If anything, it will have only the opposite effect: to embolden us even further. Beyond that, every time the US and UK governments show their true character to the world – when they prevent the Bolivian President’s plane from flying safely home, when they threaten journalists with prosecution, when they engage in behavior like what they did today – all they do is helpfully underscore why it’s so dangerous to allow them to exercise vast, unchecked spying power in the dark.
The press and the supporters of police state tactic of the US and Britain focused on the individuals involved completely miss the heart of this matter, the world wide freedom of the press, the free flow of information and the rights of people’s property and privacy. They are missing the forest for the trees.
Jul 07 2013
ACM: Undermining Our Past & Our Future aka Austerity is an Attack on Women by NY Brit Expat
This piece is a summary of a paper that I presented at the Left Forum in a panel organised by Geminijen. If you want to see a copy of the longer paper (which is being edited for English and clarity), send me a personal message here with your email and I will send it to you. Fran Luck who is the producer of the radio series “Joy of Resistance: Largest Minority” on WBAI was in the audience and asked us to appear on her show. If you would like to listen to Geminijen, Diana Zevala (who has written for the ACM on education), Barbara Garson and me, please click here: http://archive.wbai.org/files/mp3/wbai_130703_210001wed9pm10pm.mp3).
While in no way denying the impact of the introduction of austerity upon the working class, the disabled and the poor as a whole, there is no question that the impact of austerity on women is far greater. This is due to the job losses in the state sector where women’s labour is predominant, our historically lower wages due to the undervaluation of traditional women’s labour in a capitalist labour market leading to greater dependence upon the social welfare state, and our overwhelming responsibility for reproduction of the working class and how that impacts on our working lives. The failure of the state to provide completely for social reproduction especially in childcare and care for the infirm and disabled has resulted in women having: 1) discontinuous working lives; 2) and the predominance of our labour in part-time employment.
With incomes falling in the advanced capitalist world as part of general economic policy, women face greater threats than men due to our responsibility as primary caretakers of children, the disabled and the elderly. Women are facing lower incomes, lower pensions, and an increasing reluctance for the state to support women in the workplace through provision of child-care and after-school programmes and shouldering carer responsibilities for the elderly and infirm. Given the transformations in general employment possibilities towards increasingly underemployed and part-time labour, we will begin to face competition from men for the jobs we have normally held while benefits are increasingly run down.
We face increasing economic insecurity without sufficient state assistance to ensure that our children and families can have a decent standard of living provided through employment. Women can no longer depend upon the fact that our labour is of sufficient value to capitalists as men also face increasing precariousness in their employment, and in the absence of a strong labour movement or left-wing movements, can serve the same role of an easily intimidated low-paid work force.
The destruction of the public sector enabling the weakening of the last bastion of trade union organisation to force through even lower wages and a reduction in social subsistence levels of wages along with a further deterioration in working conditions on the basis of non-competition with emerging and peripheral economies is nothing less than a race to the bottom and women will be the first, but not the last, victims of neoliberal economics in the advanced capitalist world.
This piece will be divided into 3 parts. The first is composed of some general statements on austerity. The second part will discuss the women’s labour market in Britain and the impact of austerity. The third part addresses the attack on the universal social welfare state in Britain and its impact upon women.
Apr 14 2013
ACM: Maggie’s Dead, but Thatcherism lives on: Thoughts from a Beleaguered Island by NY brit expat
The state funding of a funeral for Margaret Thatcher (estimated cost £10m) and the claims that she was the greatest post-war prime minister mourning for “Boadicea in pearls” (yes, I couldn’t make that up) in the Commons is still not ringing true on the streets of Glasgow, Brixton, Leeds, and Bristol where impromptu parties celebrating her death sprung up; the police are so worried that they have started monitoring social media sites fearing demonstrations at the funeral.
Given that the last funeral of this type for a politician (as opposed to a member of the royal family) was held for Winston Churchill, the “everything but state funeral in name” is causing a bit of a fuss, especially as austerity is taking food out of the mouths of the poor and disabled. The arrogance and cynicism of the ruling class in Britain in the face of the misery they are causing is making even the most resigned of the British population to grumble.
Feb 04 2013
Preventing Future Economic Failures. Maybe
In the “I’ll believe this when I see it” category, there are two bits of news about banking and Wall Street have been too long in the coming and if it happens, there will be a lot of happy dances in places like Zucotti Park.
First, the British Treasury chief has told the “Too Big To Fail” banks that their days are numbered if they flout the law and banking regulations in the future:
George Osborne told executives from JPMorgan that the days of banks being “too big to fail” are over in Britain, and that taxpayers shouldn’t be expected to bail out the lenders. The next time a crisis hits, he wants more options to act. [..]
The new measure gives regulators the power to force a complete separation of a lender’s retail business from its investment banking. Risky investments undermined banks’ stability in 2008, leading to taxpayer bailouts of two big U.K. banks. [..]
The banking standards commission said that the scandal of manipulating key lending indexes (LIBOR) had “exposed a culture of culpable greed far removed from the interests of bank customers.” [..]
Other countries and regulators are also grappling with how to prevent future bailouts. In the United States, legislation known as the Dodd-Frank act seeks to bar banks them from engaging in risky trading on their own account. The European Union is also examining how banks might separate their riskier investment banking operations from the rest of their business.
Besides that, new international rules – known as Basel III – will require banks to hold more financial reserves to protect against possible losses. The requirements will be phased in over the coming years, but banks have said they are too demanding.
The second is the report that the US Department of Justice and state prosecutors intend to file civil charges again the rating service, Standard & Poors, alleging wrong doing in its rating of mortgage bonds before the financial crisis erupted in 2008. According to the report in The Wall Street Journal
The likely move by U.S. officials would be the first federal enforcement action against a credit-rating firm for alleged illegal behavior related to the crisis. Several state attorneys general are expected to join the case, making it one of the highest-profile and widest-ranging enforcement crisis-era crackdowns.
The expected civil charges against S&P follow the breakdown of long-running settlement talks between the Justice Department and S&P, the people said. [..]
All three credit-rating firms have faced intense criticism from lawmakers for giving allegedly overly rosy ratings to thousands of subprime-mortgage bonds before the housing market collapsed.
The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission concluded two years ago that the top credit-rating agencies were “key enablers of the financial meltdown.”
The Justice Department and other law-enforcement agencies have long been investigating whether the rating firms broke securities laws or simply failed to predict the housing crisis.
Over at Zero Hedge, Tyler Durdin questions why S&P is being targeted and not the other ratings agencies:
Certainly if S&P is being targeted so will be the Octogenarian of Omaha’s pet rating company, Moody’s as well, not to mention French Fitch. Or maybe not: after all these were the two raters who sternly refused to downgrade the US when the country boldly penetrated the 100% debt/GDP target barrier, and which at last check has some 105% in debt/GDP with no actual plan of trimming spending. As in ever.
And in these here united banana states, it is only reasonable to expect that such crony, corrupt behavior is not only not punished but solidly rewarded.
I expect to be disappointed. Fool me.