The Tories in a world of economic spin…

A great comment on this article about Cameron’s party conference speech…

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/oct/01/david-cameron-promises-tax-cuts-human-rights-act

bullingdonmorons

So many false promises, so many brazen lies. But the biggest lie of all?

“The total mess left by Labour. Labour always bankrupt the Exchequer. They spend more, borrow more and destroy our future by increasing our national debt. Only we Tories can be trusted with the economy.”

Oh really?? Lets put this load of bollocks to rest once and for all.

Between the years 2004 and 2008, Labour borrowed a total of £148.8 billion. In 2008/9, the year of the banking crash, Labour borrowed £97.5 billion. 

Since being elected in 2010, the Tories have borrowed a staggering £600 billion. George Osborne borrowed more in his first 3 years than Labour borrowed in their entire 13. 

This has seen the National debt rise from £0.62 trillion in 2009 to £1.26 trillion in 2014. Labour bankrupted our future? Hmmm.

Between 2004 and 2008, before the banking crisis, the average deficit under Labour was £43 billion. Since 2010, the average Tory deficit has been 3 times this, at £108 billion. And they tell you with a straight face they have slashed the deficit!

Between 2004 and 2009, average growth in GDP was 2.4%. Since 2010, the average growth has been 1.4%. Even if growth reaches 2.5% per year between now and 2018, GDP will be a miserable 11% higher than it was in 2007. To put this in context, between 1996 and 2007 GDP grew by 43%. 

But this doesn’t paint the whole picture of their incompetence.

In the last two years, 4.8 million different people have claimed Jobseeker’s Allowance. This fact tells you how secure peoples jobs are. If unemployment was counted in the same way as it was in 1970, there would be over 6 million people classed as unemployed. To keep these figures down, the number of sanctioned jobseekers with a reduced entitlement to JSA is now running at around 800,000 per annum. In addition, there are now 4.6 million people self employed , 15% of the total workforce. Self-employed people have on average experienced a 22% fall in real pay since 2008-09, with average earnings of £207 a week according to the ONS. 

20% of the population, 13 million people, are now classed as living in poverty, of which over 8 million come from families who are IN WORK. Close to eighty per cent of net job creation since June 2010 has taken place in industries where the average wage is less than £7.95 an hour. In 2004, the median wage was £462 a week. Today, it is £427. In addition, in 10 years, inflation has meant that the cost of living has risen by 34%, so that the average disposable income per household is now almost £1,200 a year lower than it was in 2004. Millions are now on zero hour contracts, working part time or on low pay. 913,138 people used food-banks in 2013/14, compared to 346,992 in 2012/13 and 26,000 in 2008/09. There has been a 74% increase in the number of malnutrition-related hospital admissions since 2009, with public health experts warning that the rise of malnutrition in the UK “has all the signs of a public health emergency.”

All this, in one of the richest countries on earth. 

Listening to the Tories this week has been like living in the twilight zone. And yet, we still have people who come on here and try to defend these bastards. You know, the ones telling us that the Tories had to fix Labour’s mess, Labour always destroy the economy, Labour always spend other peoples money. And that old favourite ‘There is no magic money tree.’ Well, guess what? By every one of these standards, the Tories have been an unmitigated disaster. 

And its about time people knew the truth.

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Who needs gun control anyway…?

On 14th December 2012, Adam Lanza walked into Newtown’s Sandy Hook elementary school and proceeded to kill 26 people, including himself, with a Bushmaster assault rifle and a Glock 10mm hand gun, both of which were legally obtained by his mother.

Following the Newtown school shooting, there was public outrage, grief and shock – there were promises that this latest in a long line of shootings wouldn’t go by without an immediate and strong policy response.

Part of the policy response was a joint amendment. This was a limited compromise amendment and stayed clear of the main issues (as usual) which was gun control. This has just been blocked by 54 votes to 46, just 6 short of the magic number. Six other proposals were also blocked, including the banning of semi-automatic weapons and the reduction of magazine sizes to 10 clips.

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The sun rises earlier this month above the US Capitol as volunteers place crosses, symbolising grave markers, on the National Mall in Washington, to ‘remind Congress action is needed on gun violence prevention’. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Who in their right mind wouldn’t want tighter background checks on some of the most deadly weapons available? Why would anyone not want to make it harder to buy semi-automatic assault rifles? I wonder how many politicians feel that the economic and political power of the NRA and lobby groups in general is too great? How, with supposedly 90% public support for tighter background check controls, did this proposed amendment not pass the 60 vote mark?

Obama, in his angry and regretful speech, called it a shameful day for Washington. One of the members of the public gallery (a survivor of the Newtown school killings) shouted shame on you! In a way i’m so angry and almost embarrassed on behalf of all the Americans who are indirectly being represented by these frankly crazy Senators and NRA members.

I think this image says a lot about where certain United States values are.

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The voting senators are being allowed to take a morally dubious stance by the voting American public. They obviously feel that a vote against the amendment wouldn’t have a significant impact on their political positions, or their chances of re-election. The problem isn’t JUST the NRA (although they are a big part of it), but also the cultural values of Americans, including the elected politicians and the voting general public. All these groups must take the blame for this, and for the on-going state of violence and gun-related killings in the country.

Here’s another way of looking at the issue. If there was a disease epidemic which was annually killing more than 20,000 Americans, the action to stop the cause of the deaths would be extremely swift. There would be a powerful and concerted effort across the political and cultural spectrum to stop these deaths and to find a cure for the disease.

Gun-related deaths in the US runs to more than 20,000 per year. Yet policies and amendments on gun control are still being blocked. There is a point where sanity is overridden by a cultural force and sometimes when this starts to happen, a radical shift needs to occur, unless people want the situation to become even worse. I really feel if the president does indeed have special powers to alter the course of this issue, he needs to use them very soon and start representing what the vast majority of the American public want, and which they deserve.

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Glenda Jackson MP speaks about Thatcher…

There is something about Glenda’s passion in what she is saying which really got to me. It represents what I would call a fair balance to the respectful tributes being paid to Thatcher and a very real and fair expression of opinion.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then video must be worth at least 10 times both.

…people knowing under those years ‘the price of everything and the value of nothing’.

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Israel one step closer to the International Criminal Court…

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A very interesting week in world politics, with two massive events taking place: the UN voted to recognise Palestine as a ‘non-member observer state’, while the the UN Climate Change Conference in Doha concluded. Both of these events deserve their … Continue reading

Correcting the world’s wrongs…

Very interesting article on a few levels from the Guardian.

This article points to a number of the central themes of the climate change and renewable technology agenda. Ideas such as industrialised countries fighting against the prevailing world trend and actually lowering carbon emissions, the take up of renewable energy technologies within a framework of investment and remuneration (FIT), and the ever-present threat of dependence on the dirtiest fossil fuel energy sources, even in the face of vast renewables potential in all areas of the world.

Last, but certainly not least, is the reference to the main reason why Germany (and Germans) have embraced the concept of sustainability to the extent they have.

But despite the problems, Germany remains committed to its green agenda, driven, some say, by the need to correct the world’s wrongs – a sentiment that goes back to the second world war and the postwar generation who challenged their parents afterwards for just standing by.

“That has led to a very strong environmental and anti-nuclear movement,” says Green party MP Hermann Ott. “It ultimately led to the foundation of the Green party and made us very strong. If something goes wrong, you have to speak up and do something otherwise your children will ask you in 20 to 30 years, ‘Why didn’t you do anything?'”

Why didn’t you do anything? A powerful question and one which millions of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people are already asking the industrialised western countries and one which many millions more will be asking countries such as India and China in the decades to come. One of this generations (and many to come) biggest problems, set against past tragedies. An example of what not to do can be very powerful.

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9,000 years ago, the Earth began…?

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I don’t normally insert the web link AND the pdf print of the article, but this one has to be recorded for posterity… http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/oct/06/republican-congressman-paul-broun-evolution-video Paul Broun dismisses evolution and other theories My god. I’m not even sure where to start … Continue reading

The Obama boost…

Amazing news on two key Obama social policies on healthcare and the environment…

Environment

US court upholds EPA’s greenhouse gas rules

A US appeals court on Tuesday upheld the first-ever US-proposed rules governing heat-trapping greenhouse gases, clearing a path for sweeping regulations affecting vehicles, coal-burning power plants and other industrial facilities.

Handing a setback to industry and a victory to the Obama administration, the US court of appeals for the district of Columbia unanimously ruled theEnvironmental Protection Agency’s finding that carbon dioxide is a public danger and the decision to set limits for emissions from cars and light trucks were “neither arbitrary nor capricious.”

“These rulings clear the way for EPA to keep moving forward under the Clean Air Act to limit carbon pollution from motor vehicles, new power plants, and other big industrial sources,” said David Doniger, a senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group.

It’s truly amazing the level of industry sponsored political opposition to the environmental movement and a huge series of legal hoops needed to just set pollution limits. Pollution… bad for your health, surely not!

Health care

A significant ruling by the Supreme Court on health care.

The US supreme court has upheld Barack Obama‘s landmark healthcare reform law, delivering the president a major victory going into November’s election campaign but also setting up a fresh political battle over the legislation’s future.

In an historic, and in some quarters unexpected, ruling, the supreme court upheld the legislation on the grounds that its central provision – the requirement for almost all Americans to buy health insurance known as the individual mandate – is legal because the measure amounts to a tax.

Obama is counting on Americans growing to like the reforms as they kick in and people benefit from a law that extends insurance coverage to 50 million Americans who were priced out of the market and ending a slew of immoral practices that led to people losing their homes to pay medical bills after their insurance was cut off.

There must have been a huge debate about the reasoning to impose the need to buy health care insurance on every citizen, but the result will be the same as in the UK, where essentially all medical care is covered without the need for extra payments. This may even add up to the same amount of outgoings if the UK’s higher tax is taken into account.

Things seem to finally be going in the right direction and it feels good to be able to write a post about these things!

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Japan’s nuclear dream over…? Ummm, not really!

I posted something on the issue of Japan becoming a nuclear-power free country about a week ago and what impact this would have on the country, particularly coming up to the heavy power usage summer period.

I suggested that Japan would become a very important case study for other countries considering going away from nuclear power.

Well, it seems that this isn’t now going to happen and that at least two nuclear power reactors will be brought on-line very soon, to deal with a reported 15% power deficit in the western area!

I have to say i’m a bit surprised, given what has very recently happened to the country. In some ways it’s a good thing and will lead to far less CO2 being emitted from alternative power sources, including oil and gas. It’s also actually a bit predictable, given Japan’s renewable power system is not yet able to support the country’s power needs. A very tempting situation to be in for the Government – having a fleet of 50+ reactors just standing by, ready to supply vast quantities of power.

A bit more time needed for the renewable power sector.

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The nuclear debate: Monbiot v Simon…

Wow…

Probably the most interesting 5,000 words i’ve read for many years. If you are into energy production, the environment or sustainability, this small exchange between George Monbiot and Theo Simon will really bring the issue of nuclear power into focus.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/apr/10/monbiot-simon-nuclear-letter

The article in full: Theo Simon response to George Monbiot

The two issues which really do need to be investigated are the ‘need’ for new nuclear power (can renewables fill that gap and quickly enough to prevent runaway climate change?) and the issue of what happens to the nuclear waste?

As things stand, i’m in favour of a new generation of nuclear waste-processing power stations, not power stations which will create the next waste legacy for generations to come. I’m also very interested in exactly how renewables will fill the gap, but fear that coal and gas will inevitably fill the gap instead, as is happening already in Germany and Japan.

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Climate change and slavery…

An inspiring article which strongly shifts the case for averting climate change, into the realms of morality.

Nasa scientist: climate change is a moral issue on a par with slavery

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/apr/06/nasa-scientist-climate-change

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Iran, ‘according to’ The New York Times…

I was considering doing a series of posts generally titled ‘according to…’ where i’ll scan a newspaper clipping of a prominent news story or interesting event. Instead of lots of waffle from yours truly, i’ll just give a very brief explanation of what I thought stood out of the featured article, maybe using the technique developed by the Achitects Journal where a highlighted section of text is used in place of traditional ‘quotes’.

But, this being me, my creative energy is greater than my implementing energy, meaning things just get left in ‘drafts’ or in notebooks, without the time or energy to finish them off or bring them to life! Claire calls me ‘half-job’! Charming. : )

So, here is the the first ‘according to’ post, without my opinions – Facing the Prospect of a Nuclear Iran, by David E. Sanger, writing in the New York Times.

A very well written article which neatly sums up many of the relevant issues. This is a story to watch and could shape the next generation of Middle East relations.

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Brussels & Durban – the focus of the world…

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It’s strange that two of the seemingly most important issues facing humans right now are being fought over/discussed/determined at the very same time. The on-going discussions during the Brussels Euro talks have been taking place during the Climate talks in Durban, … Continue reading

Incineration considerations…

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The Gloucester incinerator (AKA: energy from waste facility). Well, my heart says ‘no’ but my head says ‘maybe’. It’s useful sometimes to analyse each part of the argument, rather than focussing on any single area. I’m reading the Complete Works … Continue reading