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Monday, August 09, 2004

One of the interesting things in Michael Moore's film Fahrenheit 9/11 is an excerpt from a speech given by G. W. Bush to some crowd of rich people. He starts by describing his audience as 'the haves... and the have-mores.' Then he observes that 'some people call you the elite. I call you my base.'
So if you don't believe that the class struggle is real, congratulate yourself - you have a worse grasp of politics than President Dumbfuck.

Saturday, July 31, 2004

The world's oldest, richest and most powerful paedophile ring is to offer an official position on the relations between men and women. It will no doubt bring comfort and joy to all those who loathe human sexuality and the miniscule advances won by feminists over recent decades.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Oona King, terrified Nu-Labour MP for Bethnal Green & Bow, has been scouting for new careers just in case her 'safe' Labour seat goes the way of Leicester South at the next election. Yesterday she presented BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour, rather badly. Since she voted for the war, apparently with the idea of improving the Israel / Palestine situation, many of her constituents have turned against her. Her almost uninterrupted campaigning in the St. Dunstan's ward of Stepney for the council election shows how rattled she is about the loss of faith among her core supporters, who showed such strong support for Respect on June 10th. There are dozens of Labour MPs in the same position, for whom a 'score draw' at the next election will mean retirement.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

ASBOs - they're not dark swellings in the armpits of plague victims, they're Anti-Social Behaviour Orders. They were invented by the current government in order to make life for urban teens even more miserable than it already is, so it must have come as a surprise to senior executives at Sony UK when Camden Borough Council applied to Highbury Magistrates' Court to slap an ASBO on them. Sony has irked the good burghers of Camden by using fly-posting companies to promote acts such as [sub - find out what young people are listening to], by illegally sticking posters up on anything flat.
The case was due to be heard on Monday, but Sony gave a written promise not to use the illegal advertising method any more in England or Wales, and Camden Council withdrew the action. A similar action against BMG UK is still with m'learned friends.
The Earth Desk's legal expert confidently expects that Sony will give a wheelbarrowful of cash to Nu Labour and then break all its promises, but in the meantime the only people to benefit will be the SWP, who won't have their posters inciting revolution pasted over by showbiz ones. Could Camden Council's ASBO threat be the spark?

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

On the Today programme this morning Lord Tebbit was interviewed about Clinton's autohagiography - and his lordship failed to rant about buggery, as he did the last time he gave his keepers the slip. This lapse is a great cause for concern. One hopes he is not unwell.

Monday, June 21, 2004

The government has responded to the 'pensions crisis', the economic / demographic trends which mean that a livable retirement pension is not going to be there for today's twenty and thirty-somethings, by planning to increase the retirement age to seventy, for those who wish to continue working past 65. As your joints stiffen, you contribute to labour market flexibility - clever, no? And it's all done using the language of choice - if you've chosen to be poor, you'll want to choose to work until you drop.

Friday, June 18, 2004

The historic decision of the FBU to disaffiliate with the Labour Party is significant not for the size of the £50,000 per year contribution which will no longer be paid, but for the way it came about. It would almost certainly have happened last year, but the leadership of the union prevented a vote taking place - by suspending the annual conference. This year, the leadership proposed to cut the contribution to £20,000 but remain affiliated. The delegates were having none of it, and the disaffiliation was voted through by over 2:1, on the grounds that 'he aims and objectives of the party no longer reflected those of the FBU.'
The loss of further union funding would be a blow to Labour. The RMT was expelled in February when they voted to allow branch-level donations to 'other parties' (the SSP in Scotland), and as early as 2001 the GMB was cutting its funding.
The proportion of party funds which come from the unions has been dropping, from 66% in 1992, to 40% in 1997, to 33% in 2002, with the majority now coming from 'individual and corporate donations, membership fees, sponsorship and commercial events,' but Labour must fear that large donors will be fair-weather friends, and the membership is likely to be haemorrhaging like an Iraqi wedding party.

The Blair government, taking a break from bringing democracy and self-determination to others, has tried again to finally suppress the hopes of the Chagos islanders. The entire archipelago was emptied of people, who were moved from their homes thirty years ago to make way for a US military base on the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. They have taken various legal actions, and won a partial victory in 2000, but the Foreign Office has just issued an 'order in coucil' to bar them from returning to any of the islands. The order in council is a debate-free way to pass laws, or perhaps decrees is a better word.
On Radio 4 yesterday, the minister responsible justified the unjustifiable by talking about the expense of repatriating the islanders, and by alluding to the uncertain future of tropical islands due to global warming. He claimed that the US's 'defence needs' have also increased since 9-11, implying that people's 'human rights needs' will have to decrease in the War on Turrism.
The spirit of justice still burns fiercely in nu-Labour, it seems.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

There are some interesting data in a mid-May CPA poll of over 1000 Iraqis.
The explanation of attacks on US forces which was most agreed with was that the attackers 'believe the Coalition is trying to steal Iraqis wealth' (78% thought this totally or partially true, to 7% who thought it false.)
Other explanations seen as true were 'they believes all foreign forces must leave at once' (74%: 11%), and 'they believe national dignity requires the attacks' (68%: 13%)
The least likely explanations were those usually promulgated by the US and UK politicians:
'they want to return to Saddam and the Ba'ath Party' (20%: 61%),
'they are angry because they lost the privileges they had under Saddam' (32%: 48%), and
'they do not want democracy in Iraq' (38%: 48%).
The question on confidence in different institutions also made grim reading for the CPA:
78% of those polled had no confidence in the CPA, and 81% had none in the Coalition forces. The Governing Council and the UN inspired no confidence in 55% and 57% respectively, and the Iraqi police came out best, with 76% having a fair amount or a great deal of confidence in them. This is reflected in the response to other questions about security: 87% thought it likely or very likely that the Iraqi police and army could keep order on their own, and 55%:32% of those polled would feel more rather than less safe if foreign troops left immediately - foreign troops were seen as occupiers by 92%.
Meanwhile, with the purely paper excercise of the transfer of sovereignty only two weeks away, oil exports have been crippled after attacks on pipelines in both north and south, and three senior Iraqi officials have been killed in the last week: the head of security for the northern oilfields yesterday, after the Deputy Foreign Minister on Saturday, and the Education Ministry's Director of Cultural Relations on Sunday.
The British Prime Minister, the increasingly unhinged Tony Blair, responded to the Iraq-related hammering the voters gave him by saying (about his decision to join the American attack) 'the judgement will increasingly be seen to be to be right as time goes on.'

Monday, June 14, 2004

From the Strange Observations department: Outside the UK headquarters of News International, Rupert Murdoch's empire of lies, is a row of flagpoles. The first flies the union jack, the next four fly flags with the logos of the Sun, Times, etc., and the last one flies... the EU flag of yellow stars in a circle on a blue field.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

The Information Commissioner reported yesterday on Blunkett's proposed ID card scheme - and was rightly scathing. Describing it as 'not an identity card, but a national identity register,' he criticised it as a 'really significant sea-change in the relationship between the state and every individual.' He viewed this change with 'increasing alarm,' and noted that the plans were 'more comprehensive and ambitious than any other scheme in the world.'
However, since people under capitalism can best be seen as commodities, it makes sense to give them all bar-codes. If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. Oh, except computer errors. And the recent legitimation of torture by the global ruler, to whom Blair has tied himself. But apart from that, you have nothing to fear.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

In Tony Blair's interview on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, he made a variety of risible statements, the worst of which was that Saddam turned out (after the fall of Baghdad) to be even more of a threat than the coalition thought before the invasion began.
Now, as a politician who has got to the top, Blair must have passed his Lying 101 course, and he should know that a key to succesful lying is that the truth of the issue should not be readily apparent to anyone over three years old. Comical Ali fell foul of this principle too, when announcing that Americans were nowhere near Baghdad while their tanks were trundling along behind him.
However for Blair, as for Ali, there is no fall-back position other than capitulation. Blair has completely dropped the 'Third Way' nonsense of his late opposition and early premiership, which is exploded even as a 'salutary myth'. His complete alignment with the demented Bush regime makes self-identification in a mid-position between corporate capitalism and socialism (even of the feeblest parliamentary kind) impossible. The Third Way, always vacuous, has vanished to be replaced by blatant kow-towing to the hegemony of capital, adorned with a sickly icing of simpering.
This is why Blair has to make assertions such as the one this morning. His rejection of ideology (and even history) means that his brand-image is the whole of his politics - the surface is the core; he is an authentic vacuum. Hence his 'integrity' now consists of telling lies that he knows that we know are lies, because he told them before.

Monday, June 07, 2004

An interesting article by Slavoj Zizek, on a new category of Earthling, Homo Sacer, here.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Former President Ronald Reagan has died.
This Earth Desk correspondent started studying Earth politics in the era when almost the whole of the world's thermonuclear arsenal was in the hands of two vegetables - between 1980, when Reagan came to power, and 1984 when Leonid Brezhnev died, life on Earth was balanced on a knife-edge - remember Reagan's 'bombing begins in five minutes' joke?
Other things to remember Ronnie for are the huge increase in military spending in peacetime, wrecking the US economy for the sole purpose of transferring tax dollars to military contractors, and for the filthy terrorism perpetrated (especially) against school-teachers and medical workers in Nicaragua, illegally funded by selling weaponry to extremists in Iran, and by flooding US cities with cocaine.
Good fucking riddance, Ronnie; rot quickly.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Today, Radio Free Neptune is taking a day off from poking despairing fun at Earth's jaw-droppingly delusional poiliticians, and providing a public information bulletin on everyone's favorite strategic resources, hydrocarbons.

Ten largest proven oil reserves by country (2002, in billions of barrels, b bl)
  • 263 - Saudi Arabia
  • 115 - Iraq
  • 99 - Iran
  • 97.8 - UAE
  • 96.5 - Kuwait
  • 78 - Venezuela
  • 78 - Former USSR
  • 36 - Libya
  • 31.5 - Nigeria
  • 22.4 - USA

    The world's two most populous countries, China and India have 18.25 b bl, and 5.3 b bl of oil reserves respectively.

    Proven oil reserves by region (2002, b bl)
  • 698.9 - Middle East
  • 111.1 - Latin America
  • 93.5 - Africa
  • 79.1 - Eastern Europe
  • 38.4 - Asia and Pacific
  • 27.6 - North America
  • 18.2 - Western Europe

  • World total, 2002, was 1067 b bl.

    Ten largest proven natural gas reserves (2002, in billions of cubic metres)
  • 56,900 - Former USSR
  • 26,600 - Iran
  • 25,800 - Qatar
  • 6,600 - Saudi Arabia
  • 6,000 - UAE
  • 4,200 - Venezuela
  • 4,500 - Algeria
  • 4,500 - Nigeria
  • 3,500 - Australia
  • 3,100 - Iraq

    Fifteen largest oil producers (2002, in millions of barrels / day)
  • 8.8 - Former USSR
  • 7.1 - Saudi Arabia*
  • 5.8 - USA
  • 3.4 - China
  • 3.2 - Iran
  • 3.1 - Mexico
  • 2.9 - Norway
  • 2.4 - Venezuela
  • 2.2 - United Kingdom
  • 2.1 - Iraq
  • 1.9 - UAE
  • 1.8 - Nigeria
  • 1.7 - Kuwait
  • 1.4 - Canada
  • 1.4 - Brazil

    *Saudi Arabia is now producing ~8.5 m bl / day, with ~1.5 m bl / day unused production capacity. It is the only country with significant unused capacity.

  • Global consumption rate, 2002 - 72.8 million barrels / day

    Ten largest consumers (2002, in millions of barrels / day of refined products)
  • 19.5 - USA
  • 5.0 - Japan
  • 5.0 - China
  • 3.7 - Former USSR
  • 2.6 - Germany
  • 2.1 - India
  • 2.0 - South Korea
  • 1.9 - France
  • 1.8 - Italy
  • 1.6 - United Kingdom

    Opec members
  • Algeria
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Kuwait
  • Libya
  • Nigeria
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Venezuela

    Opec's 2002 Statistics Bulletin (150 page pdf, 2.0 Mb) can be downloaded here.

  • A pundit on Radio Five has just observed, concerning rising oil prices, that there is 'no need for an emergency dash to the pumps yet' - very reassuring for R5's core audience of people serving long sentences in traffic jams.

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