Sunday, 18 July 2010

Deepwater Horizon and the media: A letter to auntie Beeb

I am writing concerning BBC coverage of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf Of Mexico.

The vast majority of bulletins I have heard (mostly Radios 4 and 5, which I expect are typical of the network) quote BP sources, very often unchallenged.

Too often they have the distinct ring of a BP press release, but BP are known to have misled us with regards to the scale of the problem, especially in the early days. Treating their PR seriously is demonstrably irresponsible journalism.

The hideous scale of the ecological disaster is rarely touched on. The biggest story by far is efforts to cap the leak rather than the effect of the leak.

Words like “leak” and “spill” vastly understate the scale of what has happened.
“Spill” is appropriate to describe knocking over a glass of water, not a massive underwater volcano of oil.

In fact, the “spill” is larger than Scotland and hundreds of feet thick in parts.

Other problems such as the very unhealthy gasses coming off the oil and the health / environmental effects of the chemical dispersants are not touched on at all.
The same is true of the increase in deepwater drilling caused by increasing scarcity of oil (“peak oil”). This level of drilling is a new phenomena set to continue, so there could well be more disasters of this nature around the corner, but again the BBC appears all too mute.

There is also a news blackout being conducted in some areas of the “clean up” that the BBC generally doesn’t comment on.

Even the Panorama programme on the issue was fairly weak in apportioning responsibility or the role of Blackwater and Halliburton in what went on.

As a licence payer who often defends the BBC I require you to research and tell me precisely how much lobbying BP have done and in what form. What efforts the BBC have made to counterbalance their propaganda? As a layperson I see very little evidence of the latter.

Suffering locals sometimes get a look in, but I have yet to hear anyone from groups such as Greenpeace or the US Green Party. Should the ratio of BP commentary and other groups (including locals) not be 1:1?

What are the BBC news team going to do in future to ensure that content is not overly influenced by large corporations whose hunger for profit can be so destructive to the only planet we have?

I look forward to your reply.

Steven Durrant

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Picking over the bones.

Despite the fact that finance capital has been such an obvious screw-up it was generally not a good election for the left.

I got a strong advance indicator when I noticed on a few of those survey sites (that asked you questions and said which party suited you best) that there was no overt left party listed as a possible recommendation (though there were 2 possibilities to the right of the Conservatives)

The 2 main outfits this time out were Respect and TUSC, both coalitions and to be fair it was kind of nice that they provided for less of an alphabet soup / 57 varieties vibe than is often the case.

The constituency I voted in was targeted by 3 total minnows, probably because of the generally low turnout: Workers Revolutionary Party (AKA "The Actors Party through their association with the Redgraves), Socialist Equality (who they? - a typically comic split from WRP I think) and Scargill's increasingly anachronistic SLP.

When push came to shove the results just weren't all that. And I ain't rubbing it in.

Most notably Galloway lost his RESPECT seat, though he won't be missed by all. More sadly, Salma Yaqoob failed to win a seat, though she did creditably and may yet succeed whatever happens to the party.

TUSC are only young and have yet to build any kind of brand consciousness. The future is uncertain for them and the coalition seems more precarious in nature.

I think it's too early to say if and how the left will realign, but they had better make the most of any opportunity that a new voting system presents. It is pretty vile that fascism has sometimes stepped in where the left should have been ready to pick up the pieces of Labour's complacency and betrayals, but why is there a leaden pessimism lurking in my psyche as I contemplate the possibilities?

With one obvious exception it wasn't great for the Greens either - heavily squeezed, even more than usual at a General Election.

Hardly anyone noticed that there were local elections the same night and the results were far worse for smaller parties as a consequence. It's great that the fascists were wiped out in many places but next year they will bounce back somewhat at the locals and proclaim a miracle. they got about twice as many votes as the Greens at the nationals - a disturbing bellwether.

I said before the election that the single most important seat was Brighton Pavilion. For many far beyond the Greens it was the cheeriest thing of the night. It shocked me because results had been pretty poor elsewhere and Caroline's face looked unlike a winners at the announcement. When my clunking brain, with 3 hours sleep in 48, clicked that we had won I was a gibbering wreck. I still well up to think about it now.

I make no big claim about the potential of The Green Party to be standard bearers for the left: For one thing it's not exactly fair to those Greens who don't see themselves as leftists. I would rather people just examine the policies and judge for themselves.

In old money we average out as Social Democrats with an obvious eco-slant (One Green Left comrade happily throws the term "Menshevik" about as a denouncement).

Such a definition as "social democrat" can be confusing because mainstream media today portrays right wingers like David Miliband as "social democrat" just as erroneously as they call Labour "left wing".

Leftie stalwart John McDonnell is going for Labour leadership again, but he might well not get the requisite MP signatures, just as when Brown was coronated unopposed (a very silly thing for all concerned that there was no contest).

A poor show or no-show from Comrade M will only underline what a right wing outfit they are, but some ever patient cheerleaders are trying to get people to join up.

I am stunned that anyone on the left would join Labour at this time.

This should now be a time to reflect on the failure of 13 years in power to do even the most basic populist social democrat things like nationalising railways. The good things cited by defenders of Labour nearly all came in the first term as firm promises to the Welsh and Scots or via the commitment to the Social Chapter of the EU. Else wise it was mostly offensive right wing bilge all the way.

The idea that Labour MAY be more rhetorically left in opposition just adds insult to injury, like the "look at what you could have won" bit at the end of Bullseye.

The phoney left is as rampant as ever. Their bitterness at the Liberals is hilarious.

One week it was "oooohhh..we have so much in common with you, please be our friends" then it was " are in bed with Tories!!11!" (yeah, better than actually being Tories like you, you war criminal muppets)

This showed just how much Labour and Conservatives have in common. It would have been the most honest and stable thing to have had a Tory/labour coalition but it would have given the vacuous tribal game away.

It's like when Labour courted Murdoch for all those years and then suddenly gibbered about how awful he was as soon as he deserted them. Nauseating.

As a leftist there is actually a strong case to be made that it is more preferable for the Tories to be dragged toward the centre than for Labour to take itself to the right.

I'm a coalition sceptic and don't hold a torch for the LDs, but I wont slag them off just for being in government. Truth is that as a minority they look like doing some good rolling back Labour's disgusting authoritarian agenda and implementing a new voting system (though far from perfect). Labour failed to deliver voting reform with a comfortable majority and wanted us monitored for life like sex offenders with ID Cards - their reactionary instincts plain to those with eyes to see.

In her first interview after being elected Caroline Lucas said she would vote on a case by case basis - the right approach and one that will mean politics watchers will constantly be looking to her opinions. There was a short while when there was chatter about her being part of a Labour led coalition. This would have been disastrous. Praise be that it didn't come to pass. -

Greens need not to do much to pick up some votes and support. Our Local GP meeting last week had a record attendance. It's down to us to build on that.

The basics of coalition “mudguard” politics is that the LDs will hang themselves sooner or later in the eyes of many toward the left without us having to lay it on thick. The bigger threat probably comes from Labour posturing, as usual. I lose my rag every time I hear one of the patronising slimes say "progressive". Labour have made that word as redundant as "sustainable". You'd need a masters in quantum physics to get a grip on the different planes of existence which facilitate so many contradictory meanings of the same word. On the other hand, perhaps a rudimentary knowledge of Orwell may suffice as usual.

Back, now with more added puns!!

After lots of electioneering and general neglect of this blog I will be posting some longer pieces soon.

But for now work continues on the gags and puns associated with the leadership battle for the red rose faction of the Authoritarian Banker Puppet War Crime Party.

McDonnell fans will appreciate:

Balls and Deadwood: Burn'eml

Monday, 22 March 2010

Spinwatch on latest Labour scandal

The Labour apologists on messageboards are distancing themselves from the latest influence peddling corruption scandal by labelling Byers et al as "Blairites". It's Gethsemane politics.

Is this line from Labour themselves? I don't know, but we are told a certain Blairite, who had to resign twice over sleaze, is still often "running the country".

Dont foget: His "mysterious" return as Business Secretary (unelected in any capacity) preceeded the banker bailouts (which he oversaw) by a very short time. Mystery indeed. But once more the cry will go up: Hold your nose! endorse corruption, warcrime, right wing economics and authoritarianism with an "X" cos the tory toffs mustn't win!11?

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Banking fraud still on the increase.

Any of the mainstreamers who "didn't see the crisis" comming are probably overlooking that the practices which brought it about have not in any way been stopped.

Goldman Sachs now operate at levels of leverage up to 38,000% against actual "wealth"

Basic history: following the 1929 crash a law was put in place in the US that severely limited the main practices that brought it about. This is called The Glass Steagal act. The main facet was dividing the functions of savings banks and investment banks. Generally, for every unit of currency actually held by a bank 10 were leant out. This is known as "fractional reserve" banking. Now, a 1 to 10 ratio is in itself fraud, but it propelled capitalism for quite a few generations with some booms/ busts, but along with Keynsiam treatments for recession there was a limit to the severity of the bust.

Under Clinton, with Greenspan controlling the Federal Reserve (which is privately owned and not federal at all), Glass Steagal was repealed. These were conidered years of economic miracle but the 1 to 10 ratio shot up. It is this factor, linked to the boom in the "derivatives market" (bets on bets on bets to the nth degree, made increasingly and rapidly by computers) that is the true cause of the financial crisis.

Put simply, fact eventually caught up with fiction, but the way out with bailouts and quantitive easing is just a further perpetuation of the fiction.

Despite some strong words Brown et al have done next to nothing to stop this, in fact they have encouraged it. Frankly, another crash at some point is inevitable.

Solutions are complicated, but a basic one is GPEW policy - that only the state should create credit and that banks should be broken up so that "too big to fail" can't happen.

banks being "too big to fail" is the given justification for the bailouts. Even the Libdems are calling for them to be broken up now. That the state should be sole creator of credit is not Marxist dogma. It was a principle of the Founding Fathers of the US.

Obama is looking at some Glass Steagal type regulations, but don't hold your breath.
Gargantuan scams beyond those I have described here continue on his watch.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Busy busy busy.

Just a note on the lack of blogging here: Circumstances compel me to do a lot of paid work at the moment and with campaigning and general political meetings etc. I just aint getting the time together to formulate decent pieces. Hopefully this won't have to last too long, suffice to say that there will be plenty to say as the descent into madness accelerates.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Brown suddenly discovers electoral reform: Nothing suspicious there!

After 13 years it's funny how Labour have suddenly discovered the uses of another system when they are faced with the likely boot.

Of course they could have ended Conservative rule in this way if they hadnt been so lustful for power or such conservatives themselves.

Without consultation or public discussion on alternatives Brown has cynically brought this idea to the fore with his usual outdated top-down approach. He and his wonks have probably calculated (quite rightly I daresay) that the AV system suits them best and gives them the highest chance of getting back into power to represent banks and corporations 4 or 5 years from now.

Of course, he will present it as a remedy for all the disquiet around the expenses scandal, not only does it not fit that bill but it's likely people will see through it and their opinion of "Clunk" will drop even further.