Monthly Archives: May 2013


Liberty Reserve and Government Control of Money

I have my doubts about the closure of Liberty Reserve. It is widely reported to have had 1 million users. I am not yet convinced that a higher percentage of these were criminals, than is true in much of the mainstream banking system. I have been told by an email – which I cannot currently verify – that of the US $6 billion processed through Liberty Reserve, only US$20 million has to date been seized as the proceeds of crime.

It seems to me that a public sickened by the massive charges of bankers for simple intermediary services, will increasingly look for means to exchange value outwith the formal banking sector using modern technology. Services like Western Union are dreadfully overpriced, and make massive profits on home transfers by poor immigrant workers worldwide. It is getting increasingly hard to despatch money as physical cash by a friend. Carrying large quantities of money, even if it is your own, is seen as suspicious.

I was astonished when, during the Norwich by-election, my request to take several thousand pounds worth of cash out of my own bank account to pay various expenses was met with an insistence by the bank that I complete a form saying what it was for. Furious at being denied my own money, I wrote on the form that I needed the money for “Drink and bad women”. That sufficed to meet the stupid regulation.

The US government through aggressive – and in my view illegal – pressure on banks and financial services providers managed to cut off Wikileaks from almost all avenues of sources of international donation funding by individuals. You cannot trust governments to have the power to control all funds transfers. Governments will abuse that power.

Of course proceeds of crime should be seized. I have no problem with that. Stopping the crime in the first place would be better, but failing that you should track the money and seize it. But the way to do that is not to control everybody’s exchanges of value at all times. It is like asking me for proof I am not going to rob a bank every time I walk out of the house. It would make as much sense to ban mattresses, as stolen cash can be hidden under them, or cars, as stolen cash can be transported in them, as to close down internet transfer options because they might be used to transfer crooked cash.

Am I alone in worrying that the mainstream media’s reporting of this closure has involved simply repeating US government press releases, with no attempt at all to analyse what percentage of Liberty Reserve’s funds were actually criminal proceeds, and compare that to a mainstream bank?

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The Denial of Justice

I don’t think any single person who has considered the matter seriously, has any real doubt that Jack Straw was complicit in torture in an active and involved way, and has lied about it continually. There are some who would argue he was ethically justified, but that is a different argument. It is not worth engaging in ethical argument with anybody who maintains that the facts which are the basis of the argument, should not be known.

The Gibson Inquiry was set up by the Government precisely to get to the truth of these matters. It was then cancelled precisely in order to hide the truth of these matters, which is one Hell of a U-Turn. The real reason for the cancellation of the Gibson Inquiry was that it became evident from its initial inquiries, firstly that Gibson was not a vicious calculating placeman like Hutton, and secondly that the number of very senior ministers, diplomats, security service agents and civil servants who were directly implicated in criminal activity was very large.

I confess that the cancellation of the Gibson Inquiry, at which I was determined to give evidence, came as a staggering blow to me. The official excuse for its cancellation was that there are a number of law cases pending over torture of individuals. This was very strange as public inquiries are generally into incidents likely to result in law cases, and the notion that the inquiry cannot run in parallel with law cases is a novel one.

Anyway, I collected myself and I quietly after several police interviews gave my formal, sworn, eye-witness evidence to the Metropolitan Police to assist the police investigation against Jack Straw, Mark Allen and others in the kidnap and torture of Abdel Belhaj and others. That was some years ago, and it is now absolutely plain to me that the very decent and genuine policemen whom I met are being blocked from ever going anywhere with that case.

Now we have the news that the new Justice and Security Act is to be used by the government to ensure that the facts of Belhaj’ civil case against Straw and Allen are forever hidden from the public. It is quite extraordinarily Orwellian that the systematic and deliberate denial of justice is through something called the “Justice and Security Act”.

What an appalling country.

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Looking for Gulnara

This video is in Russian but is pretty self-explanatory. While in Geneva we decided to look for Gulnara Karimova’s US25 million dollar home, to see how the proceeds of forced child labour are spent.

childslaves

Regular readers will recall the EU Commission insisted to me there is “no reliable evidence” of what is in truth the use of millions of forced child labourers in the Uzbek state owned cotton plantations. I was also interested to see if there was any activity surrounding the large underground concrete vaults established under the rear of the garden behind Gulnara’s house three years ago at a cost of eight million dollars. I detailed in Murder in Samarkand that the Karimov’s loot Uzbekistan’s large state-owned gold industry in stealing physical gold, some of which is fenced through Gulnara’s jewellery business, but most of which is stored as collateral.

The Karimovs had lost a certain amount of faith in the Swiss banking system’s ability or willingness to protect their money in all circumstances, so have started storing the physical gold in the vaults under Gulnara’s back garden on the shores of Lake Geneva.

Their faith in the Swiss banking system was further damaged a few months ago when Gulnara’s erstwhile business partner Bekzond Akhmedov absconded with US 312 million dollars she regarded as hers but which was held in his name. Akhmedov is so hated by the Karimov’s they now even associate him with me, which is definitely the seventh circle of hell in their world-view. Hence Gulnara’s extraordinary attack on me:

For example yesterday in Geneva, on the first day of spring, we had another “support team” visiting us, those who are always ready to work off their payments while not having anything else to do, any other interests, hobbies or a properly paid job. A group of a few people including a cameraman, a lady of Uzbek origin Mutabar Tadjibaeva, who introduces herself as a president of the «Club des Coeurs Ardents» and guess who else? Exactly! Craig Murray – ex-ambassador to Uzbekistan, who had been scandalously fired from the British Foreign Office. He lived in Tashkent for a long time and had a relationship and even got married to a strip-bar dancer, he lobbied so-called businessmen including those from Pakistan willing to get cotton and other state contracts, those people had contacts with different Uzbek clan representatives including Bekzod Akhmedov. Akhmedov was seen many times in Craig Murray and his pseudo businessmen’s company in dens of iniquity of the capital, Bekzod Akhmedov’s favorite venues. It seems like the group of people that visited us in Geneva wanted to congratulate us with spring and express their grievance by screaming and as they said they wanted me or my sister Lola to come out. They attempted to sneak inside and walk around the house recording it all on video and we had nothing to do, but call the police and make our own video of this March invasion of “human right defenders” as they call themselves.

As I have never met Mr Akhmedov, or any Pakistani businessmen, or been involved in cotton trading, I think I have a pretty watertight case to sue Gulnara for libel. Unfortunately the lawyers I approached want £30,000 down. Our libel laws exist to protect the rich from exposure by the honest, not to protect the honest from the malice of the rich. If any lawyer reading wants to take this on pro bono, I should be delighted.

Talking of protection of the rich, Mutabar Tadjibaeva was eventually questioned by Swiss police for three hours over the “incident” in the video. I assure you nothing else happened other than what you see here. This is appalling harassment by the Swiss authorities. It is also racially aggravated harassment. The Uzbek Mission in Switzerland made the complaint by name equally against Mutabar and me, but the Swiss police chose only to harass the more vulnerable Mutabar, a survivor of severe torture in Uzbekistan. Truly disgraceful behaviour by the Swiss authorities.

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The Sky Has Not Fallen

The shocking death of Lee Rigby quite naturally appals us all. The intention of the crazed little group who conceived this killing was to make it as horrible as possible in order to scare people.

Horrible, sociopathic violence happens to people from time to time. They have done since Cain killed Abel, metaphorically or literally as you choose. Here is another headline today, just as horrific:

A British soldier has been jailed for stabbing a 10-year-old boy after getting drunk on vodka while serving in Afghanistan.

Both that obscene attack and Michael Adebolajo’s appalling actions are borne out of the same conflict. But it is reasonable to suppose that both these incidents involved people with, for whatever reason, a pre-disposition to murderous violence.

Such people have always been with us and will always be with us, but fortunately they are very, very few. In a nation of 60 million, involvement in violent crime is very low. If you are the victim of criminal violence, the odds over the last decade are about one in twenty thousand that the violence inflicted on you will have any linkage to political or terrorist causation. And the odds that you will suffer any kind of violent attack are thankfully pretty remote.

We should not panic from theatrical violence, just deplore and take sober stock. Sadly if a lunatic on the bus decides to strangle you tomorrow, there are no pre-emptive laws that can stop that. We should stop pretending that the state can always prevent.

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Yes Scotland Meeting Edinburgh

Am back in Edinburgh and speaking at a Yes Scotland meeting on Friday 24 May at the Columcille Centre, 2 Newbattle Terrace, Edinburgh at 7pm.

This is my first entry as a speaker into the referendum campaign, and I am excited – and nervous – about it. I have of course given quite literally hundreds of speeches, on every continent, in the last nine years. I have spoken before official committees of the Council of Europe, European Parliament, Arab League, UK Parliament and Scottish Parliament. I have spoken at a great many of the world’s most prestigious universities. I have spoken to crowds in the tens of thousands.

That has been almost all on the subject of universal human rights, international legality and peace, about which I am so passionate I abandoned a well-paid career to serve those causes. At the Columcille Centre on Friday my audience will not be remotely the largest, or most intimidating, or most potentially hostile, I have ever faced. But I will be speaking in the cause of the freedom of my own nation. That brings a lump to my throat and butterflies to my stomach. And so it damn well ought.

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The Search for Change

The linked long term phenomena of falling electoral turnout and a decreasing percentage of those who do vote, voting for the two main parties, leaves politicians in power with the active support of an increasingly small minority of the population. To date this has not seriously impacted on consent – the Majority are apathetic, and devoid both of interesting sources of useful political information, and of social cohesion. Membership of organisations of horizontal solidarity is also in long term decline.

I would love to see an attempt at long term quantification of the difference between the parties in terms of the manifesto policies they offer. I have no doubt that there will be a very sharp reduction in difference, or rather policy convergence between the parties. If you look at 1911 – social insurance, pensions, power of the hereditary aristocracy, 1945 – nationalisation of major industries, initiation of the NHS and full welfare state, and 1983 – privatisation, nuclear weapons – there were very real and sharp political differences that offered voters a distinct ideological choice. The country – and your own future – could be recognisably different dependent on for whom you voted.

The last two times our government changed parties, the new party came in to pledge to continue the fiscal measures already projected by the treasury under its predecessors. Anyone who believes the Treasury would be fundamentally different under Balls or Osborne is delusional, and responding to tribalism not real difference. Who introduced tuition fees? New Labour. Who accelerated the “marketization” of the NHS? New Labour. Who vastly expanded PFI? New Labour. Who bailed out the banks? New Labour.

In effect, the parties offer exactly the same neo-con policies. NATO, Trident, Occupation of Afghanistan, Privatisation, Tuition Fees – the only apparent alternative at the last election came from the Lib Dems, and the electorate grasped at it in larger numbers than a third party had ever received before, something we have quickly forgotten. The reason that we have forgotten it is that Clegg, who was never any kind of Liberal, dumped the entire radical heritage of his party as soon as he came to power.

There is a much wider point to what happened to the Lib Dems. Two other changes – the introduction of PR for the European Parliament, and the large increase in expenses for MP’s staff – had made a radical change to that party. Lib Dem conferences were suddenly places of power dressing, not woolly jumpers. A great many young professional politicos – MPs research assistants, and staffers from Brussels – were all over the place. Bright, presentable, highly paid, most of them had no connection with liberalism, had never read John Stuart Mill or Hazlitt, had no idea who Lloyd George was and cared less. They had latched on to a rung of paid political work, had become part of the political class – that was the entire purpose of their activity. The woolly jumpered chap who had campaigned about paving stones in Salisbury and passionately wanted to abolish Trident and adopt green energy became sidelined, an amusing anachronism, the subject of the jokes of the sophisticates.

Of course, their focus groups showed that the people want policies which the ever shrinking ownership of the mass media promotes, because they are the only policies they have ever heard of. But the people no longer trust the ownership of the media, and the expenses scandal caused a much-needed scepticism of the appalling political class. People are desperate for leaders who look honest and say something different.

So do not despise UKIP supporters. They are not vicious racists. They are in fact brighter than those stupid enough to continue voting for the three neo-con parties, despite having their lives crippled for the next three decades to pay unconceivable sums to the bankers. The UKIP voters at least wish to punish the political class and wish to hear of some different policies.

The problem is that the only alternative of which the mainstream media is prepared to inform them is Mr Farage and his simple anti-foreigner maxims. Many of the bankers are keen to leave the EU, as Nigel Lawson told us. So if people want an alternative, that is the one they will be offered. Only in Scotland have people been offered a more radical alternative – and while I do not wish to exaggerate the economic radicalism of the SNP, they are markedly to the left of Westminster on issues like tuition fees, healthcare and PFI.

The great question of the day is, how to put before the population, in a way that they will notice, a radical alternative other than simple right wing populism. I have a strong belief that there remains a real desire in society for a more social policy, for a major and real check on the huge divergence between rich and poor, for good public services, for a pacific foreign policy, and for leaders not just in it for the money or to promote wealthy interests. But how do you get that message to people?

UPDATE

From comments made, there must be an ambiguity about this article which I don’t see myself. I made this clarification in a comment and I add it here for certainty:

Of course UKIP are not a real alternative. I said “do not despise UKIP supporters”, not “do not despise UKIP”. UKIP are a false “alternative” dangled by the mainstream media and the bankers. But the support for them is evidence that the public do very much want some alternative. I shall append this to the article as it must be more ambiguous than I thought.

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Plus Ca Change

In 1816, in a “Big Bang” liberalisation, the commercial and financial restrictions on trading with India were removed. This account is from John Capper’s 1853 book, The Three Presidencies of India. I just wondered if it reminded you of anything?

The impetus which the Indian trade received on the opening of the ports of the East to all classes was not without its evils; the prospect of rapid fortunes which opened out to many of the newcomers paved the way to a reckless system of trading, and an improvident style of living, hitherto unknown…

In 1830 and the following year commercial affairs reached a crisis in Calcutta. The hollowness of the fabric reared by rash speculators, demonstrated itself with a convulsion which will not easily be forgotten by those who witnessed its effects. Indigo, silk, cotton, sugar, all had been dealt, or rather gambled in, to an extent that was only limited by the impossibility of obtaining any further means for carrying on the game. It mattered little whose funds were jeopardised…

The bubble burst, scattering ruin and desolation amidst the homes of thousands of helpless victims. None were prepared for the catastrophe, and least of all the harmless men who had caused the mischief. They were not moved; few of them had lost much. The storm overtook them steeped in princely luxuries, deep in selfish physical enjoyment. Bankruptcy stared them and their victims in the face, but how different the result! A month or two without their race-horses, their dinner parties, and their ducal establishments, and the Insolvent Court kindly enabled them to make a fresh start, as unabashed as ever; whilst their constituents (i.e. their victims) became pauperised, and dependent upon charity for subsistence.

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Free UK Entry for Illegals Only

I am furious to learn that Israeli settlers resident illegally in the occupied territories are allowed visa free entry to the UK, whereas Palestinians living legally in those territories require a visa (and won’t usually get one).

From Hansard
Asked by Lord Warner

To ask Her Majesty’s Government why Palestinians from the Occupied Palestinian Territories require a visa before travelling to the United Kingdom, but Israeli citizens living in the Occupied Palestinian Territories do not require a visa to come to the United Kingdom for six months or less.[HL59]
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what consideration has been given to changing immigration rules to restrict access to the United Kingdom by all Israeli citizens who live in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.[HL60]


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach):

Visa regimes are based on nationality, not place of residence. Palestinians are required to obtain a visa before travelling to the United Kingdom. Israeli citizens, regardless of where they reside, are able to visit the United Kingdom visa free for up to six months.
No consideration has been given to changing the Immigration Rules to restrict access to the United Kingdom by Israeli citizens who live in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Visa regimes are kept under regular review.

In immigration cases, evidence of continuing engagement in illegal activity should normally lead to denial of entry to the UK. That is the supposed general policy. The Israeli settlements are illegal under international law, a fact not in serious dispute even by arch-Zionists Hague and May. On top of which, Israeli settlers should be denied entry because they have demonstrated a clear propensity to settle where it is illegal for them to settle. That plainly gives reasonable grounds to suppose that they will not leave the UK at then end of their visa validity.

90% of West Bank Palestinians refused a visa, are refused on the grounds that they may seek to remain and live illegally in the UK – despite the fact they have never lived illegally anywhere. Illegal Israeli settlers, on the other hand, can waltz into the UK without a visa.

It is hard to imagine a more stark double standard and abuse of power.

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The Mavi Marmara Murders

I can claim to have had a small hand in instigating the legal complaint to the International Criminal Court by the Comoros Islands against the murders by Israeli troops on the Mavi Marmara. The Washington Post writes:

In a filing, lawyers from the Istanbul-based law firm Elmadag argued that the events that took place on the Mavi Marmari should be considered as having occurred on the territory of Comoros.

As though this were in any sense a matter of dispute. That crimes committed on any ship outside of territorial waters are under the jurisdiction of the flag state of the ship, is both customary international law of ancient standing and a fundamental provision of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Article 92:
Ships shall sail under the flag of one State only and, save in exceptional cases expressly provided for in international treaties or in this Convention, shall be subject to its exclusive jurisdiction on the high seas.

The Comoros Islands are a tiny state off the East coast of the continent. They are part of the disgraceful system where small or failed states lease out their shipping registers – often corruptly – to western companies who run them, enabling major shipping owners to evade safety, conditions, qualifications and pay regulations of more serious states. Liberia has been the most notorious example. The Comoros government therefore deserves huge congratulation for taking its flag state responsibility so seriously, and so bravely, in taking on Israel.

It is a responsibility Turkey deliberately shed just before the Mavi Marmara was attacked.

There is, in this regard, as I reported from my meetings with organisers and bereaved families of the Mavi Marmara in Izmir two years ago, something extremely disturbing about the case of the Mavi Marmara:

Shortly before sailing, the registration was switched from Turkey to the Comoros Islands. This exempted Turkey from the responsibility of jurisdiction. It also made discussion at NATO much easier for the US; if the Israelis had attacked in international waters a ship flying the flag of a NATO state, that would have been a much more difficult thing for the alliance to ignore.

It turns out that the change was made at the insistence of the Turkish Ministry of Transport. They carried out a number of inspections of the Mavi Marmara prior to the Gaza trip and made repeated demands for changes: mattresses and cushions had to have more modern, fire resistant foam. Internal walls had to be upgraded for fire resistance. Whatever changes were then made, the Ministry found new faults. In the end, the Ministry had said that the Mavi Marmara would be impounded unless it changed its registration, as it could not meet the safety requirements for a Turkish flagged ship.

The strange thing is that the Mavi Marmara had been Turkish flagged for years, and hade been running tourist cruises out of Istanbul. None of the faults the Ministry found resulted from any changes, yet none had apparently been a problem on past inspections. The family told me that, before the Mavi Marmara sailed, they had been in no doubt the Turkish government had been deliberately obstructive and had forced the change of flag.

Part of the Turkish state was insistent on giving the Mavi Marmara no protection. You have to ask the question, did these people know in advance the Mavi Marmara was to be attacked? The fatal shootings on board were mostly not random – they were targeted shots to the head of selected people. If Israel had planned this, how long in advance, where did they get their intelligence on who was aboard? If they had assistance from within the Turkish state, of course the Turkish state would want to ensure they did not have legal responsibility over the killings.

Let me be plain. I am not accusing the current government of Turkey. But they inherited a bureaucracy and political establishment riddled, especially at the most senior levels, with ultra-nationalists and relatives and connections of the Turkish military. The Turkish Foreign Office in particular is notoriously ultra and completely penetrated and corrupted by Israel. The Turkish government has had a most difficult job in changing the direction of the country without provoking violent nationalist reaction. That has been a process; and the result is that those apparently in power did not in reality get control of all the levers of power at once.

We are a long way yet from knowing the full truth about the Mavi Marmara: and Israel is not the only place to look.

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The Tough Life of a Dissident

Ray McGovern always advises me not to accentuate the negatives in becoming a whistleblower. I always talk of the inevitable unemployment – no employer, not even those you might think of as moral, will ever employ a whistleblower as the quality an employer values in an employee above all others is loyalty to their employer. I also talk of the persecution and harassment. Those are very real indeed, and I think of Bradley Manning constantly.

Ray’s excellent point is that we need more whistleblowers not less, so I should accentuate the positive and talk of how great I feel, how I can sleep at night, how I am recognized all round the world, etc. – all of which is true.

On top of which, I am at the Cannes Film Festival with my incredibly beautiful and talented Nadira.

It’s been a bit hectic getting here straight after Istanbul, so will post on the Mavi Marmara tomorrow.

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Time to Abolish the BBC

It must be a fundamental human right not to have to pay James Purnell. The obnoxious Blair clone is on £420,000 a year at the BBC. I found this article absolutely horrifying; the BBC has appointed as director of news and current affairs James Harding, a man who wrote a defence of the 2008/9 massacre of 1400 Palestinians in Gaza, which used illegal and horrifying white phosphorous bombs as well as depleted uranium, and killed hundreds of small children. That attack was so shocking it reintroduced a significant proportion of the British student population to the idea of radical politics.

That the BBC should appoint the openly politically partisan to top positions – and that they should be openly neo-con – is not shocking because we have come to accept the depredations of the political class as normal.

The purpose of the BBC ended when Grag Dyke and Andrew Gilligan were forced out and the BBC issued a formal apology – in effect to Tony Blair – an apology for telling the truth about Iraqi WMD and the “dodgy dossier” which Blair, Campbell and Scarlett conducted. The BBC has seldom made the mistake of telling the truth since.

I increasingly find myself advocating political opinions I would have found anathema five years ago. I am forced to the opinion that now it is time to abolish the licence fee and end all public funding to the BBC. We should not be blinded by nostalgia; the BBC has no claim to impartiality or “public service ethic.” Nor, for the most part, to quality. Talent shows, reality TV and endless cooking and property auction programmes are not something everybody should be obliged to pay for, on penalty of not owning a television.

Doubtless bits of the BBC would survive in the private sector. World Service broadcasting might be taken over by DFID – another “fake independent agency” can be interposed if desired. But even if some good were lost, the overall harm done by this inflated structure and its all-pervading propaganda is such that it would be worth the sacrifice.

The Leveson Inquiry was a brilliant sleight of hand which managed to get liberals arguing for more government control of the media, while the real problem – the need for a radical breaking up of media ownership – was ignored. If we fracture the Murdoch empire and break up the BBC, with radically tough regulations restricting the percentage of the market any owner can have, we have a real chance to have a diverse media and broader political debate.

All institutions tend to corruption the longer they have existed. Over time those who control the structures of power develop ways to make sure large institutions are twisted to their personal interests. There is not much the rest of us can in truth do about it, except to give the kaleidoscope a good hard shake every now and then.

It is time to shake the kaleidoscope and abolish the BBC.

UPDATE

Just received from BBC Press Office:

Hi Craig

We wanted to draw your attention to our release from 14 Feb this year:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2013/tony-hall-senior-team.html

James Purnell’s salary as Director, Strategy and Digital, will be a total of £295,000 not £420,000.

Best wishes
BBC Press Office

So that’s OK then.

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Virus

A computer virus is sending out emails from me – don’t open if you get one.
I am puzzled how this happened, as I have not received or opened any suspicious emails today or visited any dubious websites. I have Norton on fully and it automatically both updated and scanned last night. As soon as I started getting back a rash of auto-replies, I started scan again and it has immediately detecting and started eliminating threats.
I am not the most technology savvy of people – does anyone know how this can happen without an apparent triggering event such as opening an infected email?

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Fat Cat Culture

The Guardian today published a photo of a bit of derelict yard where kids had been playing, as evidence that because of cuts the local council – Blackburn – could not afford a proper playground.

The reason Blackburn council cannot afford a proper playground is nothing to do with cuts. It is because. like most local governments in this country, it blows far too much money on the excellent lifestyles of fatcat senior officers. In the town hall of Blackburn there are an astonishing 16 council officers on over £75,000 per year plus allowances, gold-plated pension, car and benefits.

The chief executive is paid more than the Prime Minister. A council deputy leisure centre manager in Blackburn gets £42,000. A friend of mine is deputy food and beverages manager at a famous Central London hotel – he gets £26,000.

Yesterday saw the British establishment through pomp and show, and a display of jewels looted with violence and rape from foreign cities, announcing policies to worsen the lives of the poorest on benefits, and clamp down further on the immigrants who do so much to keep this ailing economy active. But despite their willingness to attack the vulnerable poor or foreign, what the political class do not do is attack their own. The point of the state is to divert money from the taxpayer to the political class and their paymasters.

The high-ups in Blackburn Council may be bottom feeders within that system of privilege, but boy! their bottoms are certainly getting fed. Doubtless they all take the Guardian, the newspaper of those “living high off the taxpayer” classes. Maybe they could have a whip round from their inflated salaries and build a little playground?

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Alex Ferguson

Alex Ferguson is fit to be mentioned in the same sentence as Jock Stein. That is most of what needs to be said on his retirement.

Except to remind that fool Abramovic that Ferguson won nothing for his first four seasons at Old Trafford. I recall in 1990, at the end of Ferguson’s third season in charge, Manchester United just escaped relegation and there were Manchester United fans clamouring for Ferguson to be sacked. The reconstruction of the squad and the installation of his system took time and care. It took a full four years for Ferguson to lay the foundations for the following twenty years of great achievement.

Nowadays managers are not given four months, let alone four years, to mature their designs. There can be no doubt the short-termism of glamour hungry individual foreign owners accounts in part for the relative decline of the quality of Premier League clubs compared to their continental rivals.

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Lawson: The Banker’s Poison is Out

It is the bankers who pay the rat Lawson who want London as an offshore money-laundering centre outside the EU. This is what Lawson said about the EU today:

“Economic disadvantages are much greater than the advantages. In particular – it is not the only thing, but in particular – the attempt to overregulate and to cut down to size the financial services sector, banking and financial services including insurance which we need in this country, this is already causing great concern to people in the Bank of England, it is extremely damaging to one of our biggest industries so the economic minus is a very big one.”

BBC News Channel today 12.43PM.

It was of course Lawson who was Thatcher’s accomplice in destroying most of our real industries, the ones which actually made something visible. It was replaced by the crazed idea of elevating the financial services sector, from providers of middlemen services for a small percentage, into the greatest net recipients of income in the economy, through creation of price gambling instruments and South Sea Bubble schemes. The result has on average cost everybody in the UK and US the equivalent of their housing cost again in extra tax, plus plunged the entire world into recession.

All that tax, plus the 225 billion sterling extra money from QE in the UK alone, has just been given to the bankers so they can have no interruption in their gambling or lifestyles.

Let us not exaggerate the marginal changes the EU has been seeking to make. Instead of banning whole classes of derivative trading, they are merely looking to institute a transaction tax (entirely sensible in itself) and put some limit to the financial rewards of bankers – who will still get massively better paid than equivalent workers elsewhere. But even that is too much moderation for the insatiable greed of Lawson and his ilk, and they would rather destroy the EU than have any bounds placed on their wealth.

In a recent posting, I pointed out that, precisely opposite to the way it had been reported in the mainstream media, the recent Eurobarometer poll showed that voters, specifically including UK voters, had more trust in the EU than in national government. They also wanted the EU to control the likes of Lawson and his chums in the City:

Here are some more details of the Eurobarometer poll the Guardian omitted in its total misrepresentation. 70% wish to see a stronger EU role in regulating the financial services industry (p.28) and on the same page, 76% want to see stronger EU coordination of economic policy.

Large majorities across Europe support:
the introduction of a tax on financial transactions (71%)
tighter rules for credit rating agencies (79%)
a tax on profits made by banks (83%)
tighter rules on tax avoidance and tax havens (61%)

These are all areas where the Tory government has been among those blocking effective EU action, against the will of the people of the EU.

That is why the bankers are against the EU.

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Lynne Stewart – Last Chance for Compassionate Release

In the same week that the Obama administration decided there would be no prosecutions of Bush acolytes for torture and extraordinary rendition, they also agreed to go ahead with a move to increase the jail sentence of civil rights lawyer Lynne Stewart. In July 2010 they succeeded in getting her sentence increased from 28 months to ten years.

Lynne Stewart’s “crime” was to pass a message from one of her clients, imprisoned Egyptian cleric Omar Abdel Rahman, to his followers who were struggling against the dictatorial Mubarak regime. Mubarak was one of the United States’ favourite dictators. Despite the fact that Mubarak killed many thousands more people than Omar Abdel Rahman’s supporters ever did, it was Mubarak that the United States designated a good guy, and Rahman a bad guy. At Lynne Stewart’s trial, the jury were repeatedly shown videos and photographs of 9/11 and Osama Bin Laden, despite the fact that neither Stewart or Rahman had any link to either.

Stewart believed that restrictions on her communication as a lawyer with her client, and the recording by government of her meetings with her client, were unconstitutional. She read out the message from her client at a public press conference in New York. This was it:

“I [Omar Abdel-Rahmn] am not withdrawing my support of the cease-fire, I am merely questioning it and I am urging you, who are on the ground there to discuss it and to include everyone in your discussions as we always have done.”

At the time Obama decided to imprison her for much longer, Stewart was already known to have cancer. Due to delayed and inadequate treatment in prison, this has now spread throughout her body. it is now in her shoulder, lungs and lymph nodes. She has just been recommended for compassionate release on these grounds by the prison Governor. This however is a Federal decision. Obama’s pursuit of whistleblowers and others who question the “war on terror” has been vicious and unremitting. The hate campaign in the USA towards Stewart in the USA is startling to British eyes.

Desmond Tutu and Noam Chomsky head the petition to free Lynne Stewart. Please add your names.

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