Pictures to follow, naturally…
“Rather than ‘austerity’, I prefer the words ‘national sacrifice’.”
Reading Robert Peston’s new book, “WTF”.
I’m struck by his analysis that sometimes the richer a country gets, the worse-off the majority of people seem to be. As if to bear this out, The Guardian carries a story today on one of the contracted-in canteen assistants at Facebook, who can barely pay the rent or feed her kids while feeding the workers directly employed by one of the richest companies in one of the richest areas in the world.
“One in four people in Silicon Valley are at risk of hunger, researchers have found. Using hundreds of community interviews and data modeling, a new study suggests that 26.8% of the population – almost 720,000 people – qualify as “food insecure” based on risk factors such as missing meals, relying on food banks or food stamps, borrowing money for food, or neglecting bills and rent in order to buy groceries. Nearly a quarter are families with children.”
Meanwhile, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who may well have stolen the idea for his business model in the first place, he’s been accused of it, has just deposited his 74 billionth dollar in the bank and says his ambition is to run for President because he wants to spread social equality and happiness around the globe.
The West has become a slave society, a coolie culture; college graduates cycling hither and yon, strapped to monstrous blue boxes, paid minimum wage and no sick-pay or guaranteed hours to ship stuff to lazy “time-poor” arses with disposable income.
So, Zuck, you could start by forcing your contractor agencies to pay their employees properly, or even taking them on as direct labor? What’s that going to cost, compared with the billions you make from purloining unsuspecting dimwits’ personal data and selling them on to the Russians?
Part of the problem is, the richer the executives of the burgeoning tech corps get, the higher the local prices climb.
“…this study is putting light on the non-traditional homeless: people living in their car or a garage, working people who have to choose between rent and food, people without access to a kitchen.” – Steve Brennan, Second Harvest Food Bank
And, sickest of all, the article is part of a series on ‘Outside in America’, sponsored by…. Bill & Melinda Gates.
A book I’m not reading is Peter Dench’s Britain on the Verge.
The photographer took a car journey up Britain’s longest, and in parts oldest, highway, the A1, Roman ‘Watling Street’, but a far older Brythonic trade route, capturing mundane scenes of life in the nation today.
The one thing that strikes you constantly looking at these photographs is how poverty-ridden so much of the country seems to be, shabby people doing not very much in shabby surroundings, struggling to make the best of it.
Boarded-up Britain. Nothing seems to have changed since the 1970s. And with inflation at 3.1 per cent, average savings of less than £100, ever-rising housing and energy costs and wages for most barely rising; with expensive post-Brexit trade agreements to look forward to, on ripoff terms from the USA, China, India, subordinate to their court rulings, it’s not going to get better.
A journey through the Thames Valley from, say, Theresa May’s Maidenhead to David Cameron’s Witney constituency might give a very different impression, though.
Some people are doing okay at our expense.
Rather than ‘austerity’, I prefer the words ‘national sacrifice’.
“Would I give up my seat on the bus for them?”
V for Vainglorious
To take everyone’s mind off the calamitous efforts of David Davis and his team of comic inadequates to battle their way out of the EU paper bag, and to defy reports that the Conservatives are still the ‘Nasty party’ (as Theresa May once dubbed them), in the wake of unspeakable cuts to working and disabled people’s welfare safety net, an array of suspiciously ‘nice’ initiatives is being dreamed up in the corridors of Whitehall and pushed out to a media and a voting public desperate for some Christmas cheer.
Not only has the ambitious Environment Secretary, the speccy little swot Michael Gove, announced half a dozen new measures he wants to pass, obliging us all to be kinder to fish and other animals before we slaughter them; now, the brattish new Defence Secretary, the previously unheard-of Gavin Williamson, already being spoken of as our next Prime Minister, who proposes Trump-like casually to murder anyone thinking of returning from Syria rather than wasting time on due process, knowing that true Britons care not a fig for the international laws we’re signed up to, has suggested adding the letter ‘V’ to the driving licenses of British forces veterans, as a mark of respect for their great sacrifice in the national honour.
The designation to come into effect, ooh, sometime possibly in the next decade, after lengthy consultation with the licensing authority and feasibility impact studies, should entitle them to special recognition: discounts on stuff, seats on public transport, cinema tickets, air miles – more considerate treatment than the rest of us get from the police (regardless of color) and the health services.
Anyone who imagines this is not just a PR stunt dreamed up in the cabinet office by Conservative interns desperate to re-engage with the disillusioned readership of the Daily Mail after the disaster of the last election and the unfolding horror of the failing Brexit readers dreamed of is living in another universe.
While no-one is decrying the huge work and the bravery and cameraderie of our soldiers, sailors and airmen and women, often in pointless and futile wars, nevertheless I should possibly mention that the laziest, most duplicitous, useless and cowardly man I ever met was serving out his cushy number until he claimed his officer’s pension at taxpayers’ expense as the fundraising director (appointed on Buggins’ Turn) of a services charity, after a career spent far from the frontline bravely managing a military stores unit.
I won’t go into why I developed this impression of him, I will merely pose the question: Does this royal asshole deserve a ‘V’ on his license, merely by ‘v’irtue of having spent 40 years selling stuff illicitly under the counter while pushing a bunch of badly-fitting uniforms, boots and other kit over it? And then funking the opportunity to raise a very large sum of money for the good of veterans because we were being so successful (where he wasn’t) that to raise any more “would make too much work” for his department?
I feel sure there must be many, many veterans in the services who have never done a single brave or difficult or self-sacrificing thing in their entire careers; never even got their boots wet. Would I give up my seat on the bus for them? Do you really want them passing themselves off as one of you?
I’m sure the stuff combat veterans are so clearly made of would see them through without this fawning treatment from politicians desperate to plaster themselves with the autonomic public approval reserved for ‘our heroes’ in the military.
Maybe getting a grip on defense procurement and budgets so that serving forces aren’t continually let down by dysfunctional equipment, inadequate back-up services and undermanning would be a better use of the minister’s time, rather than cheap gesture politics?
“What day is this, boy? What day of the year is it?” (Scrooge: A Christmas Carol)
I just discovered the following, previously unPosted article saved as a Draft on 08 October last. Has anything changed since then? We seem to be living the same day over and over again.
“…if that results in sending the entire country and its millions of hapless civilians who want nothing to do with it back to the Stone Age, well, that’s freedom and democracy for you.”
They just don’t care who they kill, do they
This is a note to remind everyone who hasn’t already grasped it, that the USA is possibly the most malign force in history.
Not only is it now led by a career criminal, the very embodiment of the worst of its voracious greed, pig-ignorance, frontier violence, racism and bogus high-minded patriotism, but it continues on its merry way, failing to distinguish friend from foe, simply hoping to bomb and blast its way to success with indiscriminate use of force as the hatred of the people around the world towards it grows.
If anyone over there thinks we are laughing over here at a USA reeling under the childishly inept, divisive, lying and vindictive Trump regime, its corrupt, pantomime-villain placemen and its out of control law enforcement, a bunch of gun-toting, flag-worshipping, militaristic boobies, I’m sorry to disillusion you. You’re not funny, you’re not yet pitiable, nor even deplorable. You’re lost somewhere between repugnant and morally bankrupt.
This week we have been reminded in several ways of your frontier justice, your instinctive, undiscriminating barbarity, your unremitting stupidity. The voters of Alabama have chosen to run for Congress, a 70-year-old pork-barrel politician, a rabid Christian fundamentalist who pretends to be a cowboy, riding a horse to the polls and waving a pistol*. It then turns out that not only is this preposterous cretin a declared Democrat, but he was running against a Republican candidate supported by Donald Trump and beat him by a considerable margin.
It seems then that even Mr Trump and his shit-on-you philosphy is not enough for the voters of Alabama. No, they want someone even more loathsome, vicious, hogswill ignorant and moronic to represent them on the world stage. Someone supported, for instance, by Steve Bannon.
And then there is the conflict in the Middle East, into which your Commander-in-Chief has pitched US forces with no better policy in mind than simply to bomb a ‘terrorist’ organization out of existence, keeping Americans safe on the streets of Duluth, and if that results in sending an entire country and its millions of helpless serfs who want nothing to do with it back to the Stone Age, well, that’s freedom and democracy for you.
Ken Burns’ documentary series, ‘Vietnam’ reminds us that America has never managed to do foreign policy very well.
There were two schools of thought in 1960: one, resist the onward march of Communism at all costs by obliterating the entire population of the north, while supporting the murderous and corrupt Diem regime in Saigon; or two, support the people’s legitimate demands for freedom and independence from the notoriously reactive French colonials by assassinating Diem, his psychotic brother Dinh, and installing a puppet government friendly to the USA
One of the many good reasons why someone like Vice-President Lyndon B Johnson might have wanted to bump off President Kennedy was his tentative support for the latter course: having opposed it, he was killed within days of the overthrow of Diem and his appalling wife, ‘Madame Nu’ – who was happily abroad on a shopping trip and thus survived the coup, and at the instigation of Henry Kissinger America massively ramped up its presence in Vietnam to ‘protect’ the good people against the bad guys, whichever side they were on.
Cowboy matinée diplomacy prevailed.
Between the two conflicting strategies, with a manic belief in success as measured by body-count/dollar and not (as might have been more sensible) in the growing hatred towards them of the ordinary people of both north and south, in intervening in support of the failing French instead of working with the local culture in seeking consensus, America managed to get trapped in a vicious postcolonial war against an implacable and largely invisible jungle enemy that ultimately cost it 58 thousand young servicemen and women’s lives; although not that of the unabashed draft-dodger, Trump, whose gung-ho militaristic patriotic pieties must surely stick in the craw of every veteran and decent human being watching this series.
Estimates of the civilian casualties of Macnamara’s and Kissinger’s failed policies in SE Asia between 1961 and 1974 run from two to three million human lives. Has no-one the slightest idea of the destructive power of the United States, its corrupt, murderous black heart?
As the last helicopters hauled the remaining US diplomats and military ‘advisors’ and corrupt local officials out of Saigon, the streets filling behind them with small but determined, Kalashnikov-toting men and women in black pajamas and flip-flop sandals cut from rubber tires, it must surely have occurred to someone, even the bullnosed, crop-headed, flag-salutin’ dinosaurs in the Pentagon, that you can’t win an asymmetrical war by turning your allies against yourself.
And yet here we are, still in Afghanistan, seemingly forever.
The lesson should have been, but wasn’t, learned 20 years earlier on the Korean peninsula, when it’s estimated the Americans killed one in five of the civilian population of the North, basically just peasants in wooden houses, women and children, under a massive aerial bombardment lasting for months, that used up 120 per cent of all the munitions expended on both the German and the Japanese in World War Two – except, of course, for the two A-bombs. And still they couldn’t win the war against Communism, which ground to a halt with an armistice that remains at the core of the problem today.
And now Mr Trump is threatening to complete the mission, to remedy the nuclear deficit and kill 100 per cent of the population of the North, and probably a very high percentage of the people of South Korea and Japan, southeast China, US allies, and US troops along with them, because his opposite number, the braggadocious and youthful but calculating and shrewd Kim Jong-un, has built his own A-bomb and taunts the US with insults the spoilt child Trump can’t rise above replying to with yet more (hopefully empty) threats to commit a genocidal war crime against a peasant population weakened by hunger and privations.
Anyone not an American can see, it is not an ideal situation but scarcely worth the kind of embarrassing exchange of playground ya-boos and threats we are witnessing between a 70-year-old bloviating ignoramus refusing to listen to wiser counsel, and a cunning little psychopath desperate to burnish his domestic image and reinforce his power base by reminding his people and the world of the genocidal depths America can sink to in pursuit of its muddled policy objectives.
Meanwhile in Raqqa, Syria, despairing survivors are watching on in horror as the American airforce daily reduces their city to uninhabitable rubble, in an ideologically motivated display of brutal and indiscriminate force against perhaps just 400 remaining ISIS fighters holding thousands of civilians hostage; heedless of the lives of the hostages: a kind of Waco on steroids. Casualties said to be in the ‘low hundreds’ (Britain has flown 1,500 sorties against ISIS positions and does not accept responsibility for even one civilian death, so precise are our precision-guided munitions) will in the course of time no doubt turn into thousands.
Mr Trump has reportedly again given US forces carte blanche to do whatever it takes; which means the deaths of many more ‘beautiful babies’ and others whose lives the shitocrat Trump sets at nought, as he pursues his amoral, selfish ‘America First’ policies (which essentially reduces to ‘my dumbfuck supporters and my bank balance first’, while – beyond their limited ability to know what is going on – he continues to machinate against them with his bestial tax breaks for the wealthiest because they are poor and losers) and to hell with the human race.
They just don’t care who they kill, these Americans, to impose freedom on the rest.
I hate to agree with Mr Kim, but they will surely one day answer to history.
*Roy Moore, a retired hanging judge. Mr Trump is now supporting Mr Moore in the Senate race, a senile Evangelical rectitudinarian as unhinged as he is, despite – or perhaps because of – numerous accusations of sexual impropriety, some with underage girls.
Birds of a feather, as they say.
One internet news channel of fairly predictable reliabity is carrying a story today, that Moore’s former army buddy gave a speech at a wedding at which he let slip they’d visited a child brothel together in Saigon… but no matter, for the better news is also that he’s lost the Alabama Senate race to an apparently normal man, despite securing a 53 per cent majority among white WOMEN.