The World is a fine Place and worth fighting for, I believe in the latter part. - Ernest Hemmingway, Andrew Kevin Walker

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Rioting in Tottenham - Part 1, the catalyst.

A riot has occurred in Tottenham, I am writing this in an attempt to try and quantify what exactly caused it.

Tottenham is a suburb of London, to the north of the centre. It has a large Afro-Caribbean population and is home to a wide variety of ethnicities. It is a deprived area with double the UK national average unemployment

The catalyst for this disturbance was the shooting of a 29 year old man, Mark Duggan, by an armed police officer. The police story (and the only one you'll be hearing in the media) goes that when an anti-gang task force attempted to arrest the dead man he resisted, shot at them with an illegal handgun and they returned fire and killed him.

Which you know, might be true.

The problem is the Metropolitan Police have a great deal of trouble telling the truth. Take for instance the death of Jean Charles de Menezes the way they told it he ran away from them, jumped a ticket barrier and was generally behaving suspicously. The way eye witnesses told it he was sitting on an underground train minding his own business, the police burst in, grabbed him and held him down and then shot him in the head. A slight discrepancy in the police's favour. Similarly when allegations about how police involvement in Ian Tomlinson's death began to emerge the Met forgot that a CCTV camera near the scene of the crime existed.

Lenin's Tomb has an unconfirmed eye witness report that Duggan was executed after being arrested. Now without verification this is questionable but it is far from impossible. Maybe he was killed because they disliked him or, given the endemic corruption across the British police maybe a rival drug gang paid to have him gotten rid of.

Certainly the circumstances surrounding his death are a little odd. He was cornered in the back of a mini-cab and decided to go down in a blaze of glory, if the Police are to be believed, an unusual course of action for nearly all criminals, especially alleged drug dealers with their likely access to a well paid lawyer. Illegal handguns can be placed on the scene, especially if the Police had decided to kill him beforehand. Indeed this is one of the most questionable issues of the whole affair for me, if you ever read one of those cheerleading pieces in the papers about how a cop caught a suspect there will usually be a reference to how if a story is too perfect, too without holes it is likely false and pre-rehearsed. The police officer who shot Duggan apparently was saved by his radio. It so wonderfully justifies his "returning fire" on Duggan in a way a shot lodged in a wall wouldn't do so. Indeed it must've been a wonderous radio because the injured officer didn't even spend a night in hospital.

Now it may be all as the police say, it is just very hard to trust them given the lies they've repeatedly told in the past. The worst thing is though, we have no way of trusting the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC)'s investigation. The reason for this is twofold but connected. Firstly their investigation into Jean Charles de Menezes was deeply flawed with strong suspicions of deliberate coverups. The second reason we can't trust the IPCC is because in the aftermath of that investigation a senior officer directly criticised in relation to the incident was appointed to the IPCC.

With collusion and corruption like this it is difficult to trust anything the Metropolitan Police or the IPCC have to say.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Fractional reserve banking explained.

On a truly terrible day for the markets I have finally happened upon a decent description of fractional reserve banking, one of the major problems with the current financial system.

I've been an occasional follower of Positive money but while their ideas seem fairly decent their videos are terrible.

Happily the Zeitgeist Movement of all things have made a very good lecture about it.

Towards the hour mark things go off the rails slightly but it is consistently a sound analysis of a barely known issue. Their proposed solution is... less sound, being a kind of magical technical centrally planned economy. Though as the guy giving the lecture points out at the end, the current system is way more absurd than that.

Oh and in another unexpected turn arch-conservative David Frum has kinda almost paid Paul Krugman a compliment and again here. We are living in strange times.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Defaultgeddon: More good articles

The articles I post here pretty much show for certain that there wont be a default but still, for ease of lumping the topics together I've kept the same title

Yesterday I posted a short FAQ that was one of the best explanations of the debt ceiling farce so far. In a discussion on Buzz I was caused to ask if there are any longer form articles that give a description of a similar quality. Thanks to a mix of hanging out in a Something Awful thread and checking various sites I regularly do a day later I have an embarrassment of riches on the subject.

This fairly short article by Dean Baker explains how the debt ceiling arguments are just being used as a cover by both Republicans and Democrats, especially Obama, to force austerity measures on America and gut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security at the behest of their corporate overlords.

Given the stealth Bi-partisan support for this Americans really are screwed.

Michael Hudson has written a longer piece that focuses on the great amount of effort Obama has put in to destroying as much of FDR's legacy as he possibly can.

Speaking of FDR, Richard D Wolff has written an article examining the nature of the Keynesian softening of Capitalism that was required to save Capitalism. Essentially the Welfare State and the New Deal were part of a system to keep Capitalism going and protect the rich from popular anger when the system is experiencing one of its' major crisis. However in order to maintain this buffer and protect the rich governments incurred greater deficits because the rich and powerful didn't want to pay the tax necessary to maintain it. Now public debt has gotten so large the elite want deficit reduced. Thus the buffer that keeps people relatively safe and relatively quiet is being removed. Interesting times loon.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Defaultgeddon: A different kind of scare.

There's plenty to be afraid of with Defaultgeddon and the inevitable "compromise" but I had a different kind of scare this morning, The Australian, a Murdoch owned paper, has one of the best breakdowns of the issues surrounding this crisis I've read.

Take a look at it here

I mean a broken clock and all that but still, it has shaken my view of the world a little. Also when did Leonard Nemoy grow a goatee...?

Monday, 25 July 2011

The IMF gets to play to the home crowd.

Over the years the IMF has gotten to fuck over a lot of countries and bring misery and death to countless poors but this is the big one, the IMF is going to do the biggest gig of all, the home crowd. We all knew it was coming but finally they're starting to hype it up for the fans.

And as they receive a ticker tape along the newly privatised streets the IMF's open topped limo will be blaring out a very special anthem:

Make your peace with your Gods non-millionaire Americans.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Defaultgeddon: a couple of points.

Firstly I would like to thank Amber for bringing something important to my attention. I had assumed renaming welfare programs as "entitlements" had been a slow creeping shifting of the narrative. Amber however pointed out the shift has occurred very rapidly only starting earlier this year with Paul Ryan's slash and burn budget. And I quote:
first instance of "Roadmap for America" plan being introduced: May 21, 2008 with a revision in January 2010.
check this google trends data:
Talk about controlling the narrative...

It is pretty terrifying how much and how rapidly the right wing control the narrative.

Secondly I found this LA Times article that sums up how much damage the Gang of Six proposals and other compromises Obama is willing to back will do to America. He really has sold us down the river.

As an aside there is an article by Jeffrey Sachs doing the rounds at the minute explaining why America is in such a bad state and it is fairly trenchant but thanks to someone in the comments (comments are weird like that, a lot of dross and then some very worthwhile stuff) pointed out Sachs is one of the creators of shock doctrine and was personally responsible for turning Russia into the Oligarch run hellhole it is today.

There are a lot of false friends out there.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

The far right is the majority's worst enemy.

I feel a little uncomfortable writing this, am I simply emulating the worst of the right wing commentators by bandwagoning on a tragedy. Nonetheless I feel that such a tragedy as the bombing and shooting spree in Norway need to be looked at in wider terms than the narrow context of a lone mad man doing a bad thing that can be quickly ignored.

The far right are useful to economic elite and thus the mainstream media are not going to be asking probing questions about the nature and ideology of this attack. Take this analysis from the BBC and reflect on how it ends:
Following the attacks in Oslo and on Utoeya, it will be interesting to see whether many in the country develop a more sophisticated view of where the greatest threats are coming from, amid a growing realisation that extremism is deadly regardless of nationality, ethnicity or religion.

Which marvellously combines an entreaty to support the status quo as much as possible with an equivocation that the Muslims are just as bad. No questioning of if the motives of a marginalised and victimised group in Europe's are any different from a comfortably off man who was a member of the accepted majority in one of the most pleasant places to live on Earth.

Fascists are useful to the elite for the simple reason of their not being Socialists. Socialists might tax them more heavily, ask questions about the distribution of wealth and so on. Fascists will target ethnic minorities and homosexuals which the majority of the elite aren't and those that are are rich enough to be well protected. Best of all Fascists will target Socialists and indeed all social and political movements the elite like least.

So we can expect plenty of condemnation of this particular act but there will be limited attempts to tie this into a wider context and at the same time this good looking white mass murderer gets his picture plastered everywhere, to encourage the others and you better bet the mainstream right will start to ask questions about whether our immigration and asylum policies are causing actual problems. I mean of course killing people is bad but maybe there is something to what he was talking about, we can't let the violence of his actions blind us to the real problems immigrants cause in society. etc etc.

We really do need to look into what kind of utterly corrosive ideology makes a comfortable and affluent man who faces no real threats kill nearly 100 people. We can over no grandiose excuses like Western Imperialism in the Middle East, nor the sociological and economic explanations of competition with immigrants for jobs driving working class whites towards the right wing. No this guy lived with his mum in an affluent part of Oslo, had enough money to set up an agricultural company, that admittedly may have been a front to buy fertilisers for bombs, and lived in Norway, one of the best damn places to live on Earth.

The malignancy of an ideology than even in the most comfortable circumstances can drive someone to commit such horrific crimes is something we in the West truly have to confront, in full force and quickly. However we simply cannot expect the political class to lead us in this regard. As I said before the elite have little to lose from supporting the far right. Indeed they are already doing so quite openly. Back in February of this year David Cameron just happened to give a speech attacking Multiculturalism hours before a big march by the EDL, the biggest Fascist group in the UK.

The EDL, an alliance of football hooligans and other extremely unpleasant groups in society was allegedly an inspiration for the Norwegian terrorist. The EDL has other friends beyond Norwegian Mass Murderers and the British Prime Minister though, The Daily Star, a less reputable tabloid than the Sun but with a decent circulation, also tested the waters for backing them earlier this year.

Also quite by chance while finding that story on the New Statesman website I stumbled on this article about how the architect of "Blue Labour" a plan to move New Labour even further to the right, which Ed Miliband was smiling upon, is at best a xenophobe and may well be a racist.

The political mainstream simply will not save us from Fascism. This atrocity in Norway must be a rallying cry for the majority to push against a growing Fascism in the western world, to defend values most people support and prevent the elite from having an army of remorseless thugs to keep them in power by attacking any positive political and social movements that may emerge from the current economic crisis. Make no mistake the elite will be doing everything they can to take advantage of this with fleet footed "well maybe he had a point" statements and articles.

"Anything but Socialism" has been the mantra of the Western elite for over a century and regardless of whether you are left wing or not it is imperative that we as a majority do not make supporting Fascism the path of least resistance for the elite.

Oh bugger, I meant to incorporate this article into the body of the text because it is very good and was the inspiration for this whole entry. I shall highlight it here instead, please read..

Also it had the best advert for a magazine I've ever seen: