Take It As Red

"Blogging is, by its very nature, erratic and irregular, feverish effort punctuated by random silence, a conundrum wrapped in a contradiction wrapped in a mystery wrapped in an unclosed em tag. " - The Poor Man

Saturday, June 11


Still Laughing Hollowly

Twenty-seven countries are eligible for debt relief under the HIPC
(highly-indebted poor countries initiative). The 18 that have reached completion
point, and will therefore qualify for immediate debt relief, are shown in bold:
Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo,
Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Guyana, Honduras, Madagascar,
Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Niger, Rwanda, Sao Tome,
Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia

I've just been listening to the detail of the deal the G8 has made to 'write off third world debt' - in effect a mere drop in the ocean, though I have no doubt Blair will spin it as an amazing triumph that will put him in the history books. He will be, but not for that. But did we really expect anything better from a voluntary arrangement with a country like the US? A country that observes none of its international obligations, moral, legal or financial? And the hypocrites of the EU, knowing the amount of subsidy they vote themselves, for agriculture particularly, could feed the third world by itself.

It's all very well Geldof acclaiming it as 'a great victory'. He's almost as deluded as Blair himself. We have also yet to see what strings are attached, and there will certainly be strings. The small amount of money that has been allocated to debt relief is also being deducted from the total development funds available from the IMF and World Bank. This pl;an falls so far short in so many ways they needn't have bothered. Nice of Sir Bob to pat them on the back though.

The BBC has an excellent fact-packed overview of the 'plan' and the response by aid agencies and other NGO's, here.

I also found this story, which illustrates the effects of laissez-faire economics and an entrenched class system better than anything I could say. This so-called plan is unlikely to have any effect on these people at all, in a country where the lack of a social support system and adequate work means that child slavery is necessary to retain a government sinecure:

India's five-year-old policeman
By Alok Prakash Putul
BBC News, Chhattisgarh

Police officer Saurabh - 'hides behind his mother'

At a time when most children prepare to go to school, Saurabh Nagvanshi is off to the office.

Saurabh works at a police station in Raipur, the capital of India's central state of Chhattisgarh. He is five years old. He is part of an Indian system that allows a family member to take the post of a government employee who dies while in service.

There is no age limit and many families have no alternative but to send young children to work to make ends meet. Saurabh has to feed a family of five and so his mother, Ishwari Devi Nagvanshi, holds his hand and takes him the 110km (68 miles) from Bilaspur, where they live, to Raipur. In this surrogate police job, a child must work one day and go to school the next.
At work, the children are asked to do filing and bring tea and water for senior officials. The children are paid 2,500 rupees ($57) a month. At an age when children are learning how to write, Saurabh now knows how to sign his name when he receives his monthly salary. He is quiet. If you try to talk to him he will either run away or hide behind his mother.
Railway Police superintendent in Raipur, Pawan Dev, says the employment of the children in the police must be seen from a social perspective. The money is a great relief to the families, he says. In addition, the workload is light. But Subhash Mishra, a member of the state's Human Rights Commission, says it is wrong to make children work like this. He says, instead, the families should be given an equal amount of money to pay for the child's upbringing and education.



Saint Bob - Knave, Or Fool?

Corporate circus to take front row for best Live 8 views
By Adam Sherwin, The Times

WHEN the Wembley turnstiles swung open for Live Aid, 72,000 fans dashed for the plum stage-front positions. But at Live 8, a band of gold ticket holders will have the best view as corporate hospitality invades the world’s biggest charity event.

VIP tickets for the Hyde Park Africa awareness concert are already being sold for up to £400 through official corporate hospitality packages.

The Gold Circle tickets guarantee access to food, drink and entry to an exclusive reserved area in front of the stage, offering a close-up view.

More than two million people have entered the text message lottery to win tickets for the July 2 event starring Sir Paul McCartney, Robbie Williams, U2 and Madonna.

But barriers will divide the 133,000 ticket winners chosen by computer next Monday from the Gold Circle reserved for 15,000 special guests standing directly in front of the stage.The Gold Circle tickets were yesterday advertised as part of an accommodation package including two nights at the Royal Lancaster or Marriot Maida Vale London hotels.

Guests of the concert sponsors, such as O2, operators of the text lottery and AOL, in charge of the internet concert relay, will also be among the Gold Circle guests. Money raised from corporate packages will fund the staging of the London concert and the simultaneous shows for Africa held across the world.

Clear Channel, the company staging the Hyde Park concert, has offered the packages to block hospitality companies profiting from the event through corporate deals involving touted tickets. It is taking no profit from the deals.

On last night's Radio 4 News Quiz (listen here) someone made the joke that the only Black faces to be seen at Live 8 will be the setup and takedown crews. Later on that evening Saint Bob, dressed in holy white, in what was one of the most hagiographic interviews I've ever seen ( funny as Jonafon Woss is, he's no Paxo) hurried to add that Jay Z, Alicia Keys and IIRC, Snoop Dogg were also appearing in his hideously pallid concert lineup. Woohoo, a few more multimillionaires on stage! Yeah,really inclusive, Bob.

What's enraging me about this whole Geldof publicity stunt for out-of-the-public-eye-currently white musicians is that there were already huge protests planned for the G8 by Globalise Resistance and other anticapitalist and left groups. It was to have been the Genoa of the North - remember Galloway calling for a mass mobilisation to Edinburgh on Question Time?

No wonder Blair is so in favour of Live 8. It deflects public attention away from the politics and onto the pretty singers and poor ikkle photogenic starving brown babies - a classic Roveian bait & switch operation. Mad conspiracy theorists might think that with Geldof's recent knighthood and his closeness to members of the current British government, that the timing is, shall we say, a little convenient for Mr Blair. I, of course, would be utterly horrified should someone suggest such a thing might have happened.

Everyone will dance a bit and have a little self-indulgent weep whilst watching the videos of war and carnage, and give a little money (and we know it's the poorest that give most, not rich people like rock stars or politicians), and then go home with nice phone-camera pics and forget all about pushing for real political change. And the corporate rich fuckers, those cunts responsible for the current condition of Africa and many other nations, the ones who don't actually give to charity much, they can sit smug in their VIP areas thinking what wonderful people they are.

Either Saint Bob is Saint Stupid Fuckwit, for not having noticed he's played right into the hands of Blair and the G8, or he's Saint Devious Bastard for colluding with big money.

But then Bob is big money isn't he? From 2001:

With last week's sale of deckchair.com, Bob Geldof earned himself half a million and a 3-year contract at 100,000 pounds a year to stay involved. Two years ago, when he sold his production company, Planet 24, to Carlton, he bagged a cool five million. He has been transmogrified from Bob of Boomtown Rats, to Sir Bob of Bandaid, to Bob the Businessman.

Draw your own conclusions.

Deckchair.com is just one of Saint Bob's businesses and it would not be exaggerating to call him a plutocrat. Recently he suggested that we all give all our excess personal wealth to charity.

Haha. Ahaha. Listen to the hollow laughing.


Tuesday, June 7


A Terrible Beauty

Reuters - Thu Jun 2, 2:35 PM ET

The Colima volcano, in Mexico, is seen here in a timed exposure as lava and hot rocks flow down its sides and lightning flashes over its crater.

Mexico's fiercest volcano this week fired its angriest blast in at least 15 years. Local villagers shrug off the danger of lava and falling rocks with stoic fatalism. The 12,540-foot volcano, also known as the Volcano of Fire, shot volcanic debris almost three miles into the sky since Monday, forcing emergency services to consider an evacuation of nearby villages.

Picture taken June 1, 2005. REUTERS/Eduardo Quiros

It's been pretty active in California and Mexico recently, at least seismologically speaking. This map, from the US Geological Survey, shows worldwide seismic activity over the past 30 days; you can see at first glancethere's a big cluster of dots denoting quakes and aftershocks in the California/Mexico region. The biggest and most recent quakes are the red dots and as you can see by the map, all the plate margins are pretty active right now. The Aceh quake and tsunami set off a shock wave that is still reverberating around the world. Who knows what will blow next?



Why It Took Deep Throat 25 years to Come Clean

As any fule now know, Deep Throat was Mark Felt., but he managed to keep it quiet for more than 25 years, and after reading this report, that seems like a sensible decision - apart from his position in the FBI, this sort of state sanctioned thuggery is a good reason NOT to have come forward. Just look what happens to whistleblowers when they do whistleblow:

This photo provided by the law firm of Rothstein, Donatelli, Hughes, Dahlstrom, Schoenburg & Bienvenu, Copyright AP

"Los Alamos Lab Whistleblower Beaten Up "

By DEBORAH BAKER, Associated Press Writer 6 minutes ago

"SANTA FE, N.M. - A Los Alamos lab whistleblower scheduled to testify before Congress was lured to a bar and then badly beaten in an attack his wife and lawyer believe was designed to keep him quiet.

Tommy Hook was treated for a fractured jaw and other injuries, according to his wife, Susan Hook. She said the assailants told him during the attack early Sunday that "if you know what's good for you, you'll keep your mouth shut."

Tommy Hook has a pending lawsuit against the University of California alleging whistleblower retaliation. He had been scheduled to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee later this month about alleged financial irregularities at the nuclear weapons lab. Police and the FBI said they were investigating.

According to Hook's wife, the 52-year-old lab employee got a telephone call from someone late Saturday night — after he was already in bed — wanting to meet with him at a Santa Fe bar about 45 minutes from their home.

She said her husband told her the man never showed up, but as he was leaving the topless bar's parking lot, a group of men pulled him from his car and beat him.

"They left him in the parking lot for dead," Hook's lawyer, Robert Rothstein, said Monday at a news conference where pictures of Hook's bruised, bloodied and swollen face were passed around. Rothstein said the assailants didn't take Hook's wallet, other personal belongings or his car. In the absence of any other motive, it appears the beating was related to his whistleblowing, Rothstein contended.

"It is clear to us that this was a message," Susan Hook said.

She said her husband had been told last week by a friend about someone who had information about the lab. A planned meeting with that informant on Friday never materialized, and Hook believed that's who he was going to meet on Saturday, she said.

Susan Hook, who was in Albuquerque visiting their grown sons when the incident occurred, said her husband did not frequent bars and she believed his account of the attack. The assailants did not specifically mention the lab, she also said.

Lab spokesman Kevin Roark said the beating of Hook — who works in the Prime Contract Office, an internal oversight group — was "a senseless and brutal act and should not be tolerated." The university and the lab are "outraged" about the assault, according to a statement released by the lab.

Hook and another whistleblower, Chuck Montano, sued the university in March, alleging that after they uncovered management failures, university and lab managers tried to make their jobs miserable so they would quit."



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