Tied to a runaway train…


Naomi Klein (new book, This Changes Everything) has a point. In fact, the only point from here on in, and the one that dictates the others.

Take war: the reason we’ve started these wars is for advantage, whether that’s for oil contracts (Iraq, Libya), or territorial advantage from non-allies (Syria (on the way to oil-rich Iran), Ukraine (challenging Russia)).

Imperial motives aren’t humane ones. Funny, we had something similar about 100 years ago; empires, including ours, rubbing up against each other. I don’t remember that ending well.

If anything the US-UK empire is more aggressive. We often may not see it because ours are masters of propaganda and only do anything from the most humanitarian of principles. But we’ve so run out of planet to exploit that for years we’ve been profit-mining the future of the economy itself, let alone the planet which comes a poor third.

Green Party policy doesn’t start from how can we better exploit everything and everybody, it starts from the point of sustainability: how do we put less strain on each other and on the environment, how do we harmonise life, society and nature. These are immensely valuable ideas.

They’re also hard to remember when you’re tied to the back of a runaway train.

Student debt: The invisible bag of rocks just got bigger

The invisible bag of rocks every student is forced to carry around after they graduate just keeps on getting bigger.

After another broken promise from Nick Clegg to oppose the rise of student tuition fees, the burden of debt students have to accept before they begin higher education has reached unprecedented levels.

In an increasingly technological world, if Britain wants to remain at the forefront of business and economics, our country must have a highly educated and well trained work force. Yet supposedly in the midst of an economic recovery the squeeze on the next generation doesn’t appear to be letting up.

A recent study provides some useful statistics on the effects of the 2012 rise in tuition fees on graduates and the impact it will have on the nation’s coffers. Loan repayments are made on a sliding scale with income and any unpaid debt written off after 30 years. With the cap for repayments lifted to £21,000, the lowest 10% of graduate earners will actually repay less under the new system. The highest earning 10% will pay back substantially more, an estimated £60,600 compared with £25,500 for their predecessors in the class of 2011. Real interest rates of up to 3% now accrue debt from the START of university as opposed to after graduation. Previously, interest charged on student loans had been set at the inflation rate – but with these new higher rates another step has been taken towards turning a profit on student debt. On average, graduates can now expect to repay roughly £15,000 MORE than they would have with the old scheme.

Even with this massive increase in debt a large chunk will still be written off. Only about 5% of graduates can expect to have repaid their loan in full by the time they turn 40, compared to 50% under the old system. As people will be paying off their debt later in life, 73% of all graduates will have some debt written off, on average about £30,000 per student. London Economics has calculated the breakeven point for government loan repayments to be 48.6% and current projections estimate 45% of loans will go unpaid under the new scheme.

In one fell swoop David Willetts managed to encumber the next generation brave enough to get a degree, while balancing on the dotted line between the red and black of the Tory cheque book.

Fortunately this hasn’t perturbed school leavers from applying to university. According toUCAS, after a two year lull around 2012-2013, the number of applicants reached record highs this year, 2014. Applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds haven’t been dissuaded from applying either, with a 2% increase from 2011. Although that’s nothing to shout about, it shows that university is accessible for everyone regardless of increasing debt.

The real threat to our higher education system isn’t the increase in fees, but is instead staring at us from across the Atlantic. Had the plans not been stalled by Vince Cable, George Osborne’s austerity economics would be right on course with his attempts to sell off our student loan debt. Following in the footsteps of the US, the insidious march towards privatisation continues. The amount of revenue this sale would supposedly generate is approximately £2.3bn by 2020, which is a drop in the ocean compared to the national debt. The massive amount of debt US students must accept before getting an education is putting a tremendous squeeze on their middle class, yet another way the elites have found to suck money up from the 99%.

The average American student is accepting $33,000 of debt for their education, but that number can easily soar to six figures for some institutions. America is also number one in debt-burden for graduates and in some circumstances it can completely cripple them financially. After graduation interest rates can rise to 5.4% leaving many only able to pay off the interest. Unlike all other forms of debt, student loans in America cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, it can even be transferred onto family members in the event of death. This is a truly terrifying thought; many Americans will never pay off their loans and will be shackled by debt forever. We must fight to ensure such a draconian policy can never rear its ugly head in Britain.

There is however, some light at the end of this pretty grim tunnel. It should not fall to students to subsidise the government for their education. Green Party policy would scrap tuition fees and re-introduce grants for students to meet living costs. Scottish nationals get to study for free and Germany has recently made university free for domestic AND foreign students.

Being told it will break the bank is a lie, it can be done; we just have to fight for it. In Germany protesters took to the street on mass and removed officials who supported fees in subsequent election cycles. They believe that higher education is a right and not a privilege, even with a conservative government they have won the battle and set an example for us all.

Dan Grout


MH17 flight data analysis implicates “large number of high energy objects”

The AAIB has confirmed to me that the FDR (Flight Data Recorder) analysis for flight MH17, downed over eastern Ukraine, was undertaken at the AAIB together with their Dutch counterparts. The results were passed to the Dutch Safety board, which covers air accidents concerning the Netherlands.

What happened to flight MH17 is now a Dutch investigation and subsequently it is their decision to release any relevant information into the public domain.

It is important to note that all EU countries are prohibited from releasing data from flight data recorders including CVR under EU Regulation 996/2010, Article 14.

The Dutch Safety Board have provided an update on this investigation on their website (9 Sept), where the DSB chairman said the crash was likely due to “a large number of high energy objects that penetrated the aircraft.”

Furthermore, “The Safety Board believes that additional evidence will become available for the investigation in the period ahead.” The DSB is hoping to publish a more detailed report on the first anniversary of the crash, according to an Indian report (11 Sept).

The AAIB has not held onto any electronic records or hardware from either of the MH17 flight recorders and everything has been handed over to the Dutch Safety Board.

‘Foley beheading’ video false? Part III

Viz – http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/563998/20140826/james-foley-beheading-video-executioner.htm

Let’s assume the ‘Foley beheading’ video is false (as The Times and Telegraph now suggest).

Who benefits?

If it’s a new group, called IS (ISIS or ISIL too (convenient English names)) and an outgrowth of Al Qa’ida, then such a video will not win it friends. But maybe it’s designed not to.

For the Muslim world who they claim to represent – but don’t – it’s the gruesome killing of a random westerner just for that. They’re not suggesting he’s a soldier or CIA. It’s known he’s a journalist – a US journalist, the most media saturated country in the world. There’s no suggestion either of due process or any sort of trial.

The Muslim world has proud traditions of journalism, law and due process. So this won’t impress them. In fact the vast majority will think it gives another excuse for America to attack the locality.

Maybe it’s for our (“Western”) consumption. A British militant in Iraq is alleged to behead a US journo. Clearly it’s barbaric brutality, and one the US should respond to with military might; many would say “as usual”.

In addition, the presentation of a Briton doing the killing means Britain being brought into join a war. This could well be urgent since blaming Assad for CW attacks didn’t work last year, in the previous bid to get a war on Syria. Also, Britain gets an excuse to become an even greater surveillance state, to demonise Muslims more and to beef up “Jihadist prevention” projects around the country.

It all most certainly takes light away – covered in sensationalist detail by a barely questioning media – from current deep involvement of the US and UK, and proxies Saudi and Qatar, in funding and supplying the same rebels. IMO, by these means, we’re already at war with Syria and Iraq, again, and our powers want even more involvement there – such as the bombing of Libya, and quite possibly boots on the ground.

Does anyone remember “Rebuilding America’s Defenses”? Obama is continuing going through the list of countries. And Iran is on it too.

Tele 25/08 – 

Look after the goldfish bowl!

Much of what passes for modern news plays on our our emotional states, often quite deliberately. 

Hence the presentation of Syria last year and the alleged chemical attack carried out by Assad’s forces, used very quickly by the US and UK to make preparations for war, only voted down in Britain’s case by memories of Iraq. unreported go the finding s later last year that what chemical attack there may have been was likely to have been carried out by the rebels, many of whom were western-backed. 

There’s a similar presentation going on now with the Ukraine. after a western-backed coup, the new government is immediately given lots of legitimisation (as apposed to vilification of the Russians) by western powers. there are similar reasons at play; Russia is an important protector of Syria and everyone watching knows that America has plans to get both Syria then Iran predating 9/11. 

Closer to home we see it in the perennial arguments about foreigners and immigration, so everyone is familiar with the arguments of them taking our jobs’ or ‘benefit scrounging’ – or both these days in the strange policies we’ve adopted. 

Whose murder is all over our screens? The Pistorius trial. It’s there for shock value, involves a celebrity, they’re both white. Was it a tragedy or a murder? Why should it matter to us,thousands of miles away? Actually it doesn’t. It’s there to entertain and to give us something to gossip about. Do we know as much about the 1 or 2 murders a day in Britain? no, of course not. For some reason, they’re not as newsworthy. But why? They’re no less a human tragedy, so if we value human lives surely we should be more concerned about those, read about them, be told about them?

There’s more to being human than any given emotional state.  This is quite important for those of us who live in pathological societies like America or Britain. America has the school of counselling tricks known as NLP, or new age thinking like The Secret, or The Seven Habits of Successful People. But to think that a mindset will cure all our ills is delusional, even if it is temporarily helpful. It arises out of the How to Get Rich school, something America has become very good at. A good contrast for The Secret would be The Wolf of Wall Street – where individuals also get fabulously wealthy and successful – by lying and at the expense of others.

For all Americans to be as rich as their own richest have become would mean the destruction of the planet (already far advanced). We’d be better off with a global ethic such as ‘Live simply, that others may simply live’. This starts from a more global understanding and imperatives arising out of the known macro effects humans are having. The biggest single class in the way of this are the rich and powerful, most of whom haven’t got there by the ‘Law of Attraction’ but through inherited wealth, position and exploitation of others or the earth or both.

Foremostly, we’re social beings and the health of the society will influence how generally healthy the individuals are, rather than the other way around. Like fish in a goldfish bowl – one enlightened fish may teach the others how to enjoy life, but if the water’s poisoned, the progress is short-lived. We have to look after the goldfish bowl now (even if it makes some people unhappy).



Martin Deane speaking at the Bedroom Tax Rally, Hull,. with Dermot Rathbone, LRC (Labour Representation Committee). (Photos: Peter Pollard, with thanks)
Martin Deane, of Hull and East  Riding Green Party, spoke at the Bedroom Tax rally, Sat 5th April. also speaking were Dermot Rathbone (People’s Assembly), Cllr Shelagh Finlay (Lab), and Cllr Gill Kennett (Labour, suspended for voting against the budget costing 400 Hull jobs).
“The figures surrounding the tax are staggering.  Despite the government’s avowed intent to rehouse people more sensibly, only a tiny fraction have been able to move. A further staggering number involve disabled people, as if they didn’t have enough to contend with!
“The figures exposed recently by BBC research show that only 6% of people affected by the bedroom tax have been able to move.
“We already know that 66% are in rent arrears, with 15% facing eviction. This is further evidence that the bedroom tax is causing widespread misery and suffering. That there are now hundreds of thousands of households trapped in unaffordable homes is an indictment of the bedroom tax policy, and this government.
“The bedroom tax is one further blow to disabled people in Britain, already hit hard by the deeply flawed and grossly unreasonable Work Capability Assessment administered by the dreadful Atos.
“We rejoice – briefly – at Atos caving in after recent national demonstrations, and requesting their government contract be ended early – but we know some other craven company will take their place.
“Two thirds of households affected by the bedroom tax have at least one disabled member. This unjust tax piles disadvantage on disadvantage. It expects children of the same gender to share bedrooms – yet we’re expecting schools to improve results for the most disadvantaged pupils. Forcing those children to try to do their homework and study in overcrowded, stressful environments will not help.
“We currently have a government detached from reality with Iain Duncan Smith proclaiming “let them move house” when there are no homes to move to!  We need to back policies to ensure that people have a roof over the heads and enough to eat in the UK – one of the richest countries in the world.”
“It is deeply concerning how grossly unfair it is that the poor are targeted by this tax – especially as the richest are benefiting from tax cuts. It’s horrifying that such a high proportion of those affected are disabled.
“This abhorrent policy is pushing people who are already desperate, into homelessness or into the hands of pay day loan sharks.

“A government minister was recently asked, How much money has the Bedroom Tax saved? She said, It wasn’t all about saving money…

“We need to see an end to this tax. We need an end to this government!”
Janet Alder is still seeking justice for her brother Christopher who died on the floor of Queen’s Gardens Police Station, Hull. 16 years on, and despite an unlawful killing verdict, dozens of questions remain unanswered. There have been 6000 deaths in police custody since the year 2000. ( http://www.scriptonitedaily.com/2013/05/17/2814-deaths-of-the-mentally-ill-in-police-custody-zero-prosecutions-where-is-the-justice/ )
Adding insult to death, when Chris, a 37-year old ex-paratrooper, partner and father of two, was buried, the WRONG body was handed over for the funeral. A recent investigation shed no light on how this occurred beyond revealing Christopher’s body had been transferred between 6 body bags.
It also refused to lay any blame or to find any criminal wrongdoing.
Of further worry is the revelation that 59 police officers attended the mortuary to view Christopher Alder’s body. There is no explanation as to why.
Janet also revealed she had had no support from Labour (under who this killing happened), the Lib Dems or the Conservatives. The Green Party should formally support her and others of the 6000 dead seeking answers. It is time to end the paramilitary model of policing.