March 2011
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
« Feb   Apr »

Month March 2011

Project for a New Middle East…..

This was drawn a few years back….. looks more plausibe now. Note the disintegration of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran, along with the de-facto partition of Iraq (hardly noted by commentators).

Add Peak Oil on top and it’s a nasty cocktail. The departure of Bush Jr hasn’t made the world a safer place…..because things haven’t really changed… except for one thing… the rise of the Arab population…….. It’s not clear how this will all shake out though the Saudis have already crushed dissent in Bahrain to prevent any such scenario developing.

The US Fifit Fleet anchored in Qatar and 150,000 US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan will have a say in all this.

Note that not a peep is coming out of Israel


Splintering states

The new map of the Middle East – part 1

Sykes-Picot 2 and the aftermath of the 21st century Arab Revolt

Sepp Blatter cancels 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Sepp Blatter explained his decision to cancel 2022 World Cup in Qatar ” there will soon be no Qatar”. He added that there would be no refund. Opening a new bidding round, he suggested the main criteria would be:

a) willingness to waste billions of citizens’ money on white elephant buildings

b) ability to be discreet in greasing palms of FIFA officials

c) tendency to allow Multinationals to fleece your treasury in hugely inflated contracts.

As an example, he pointed to the London 2012 Olympics to show it as a prime example of how to waste money: How marvellous that they have taken a £3bn bid and stretched that to £12bn in contracts & spend.”

Blatter thought it ingenious that a publicly owned Olympic stadium costing £500M of our money was now handed over to a Football club owned by two multimillionaires for free.

The icing on the Olympic cake was Newham Countil (one of the poorest in the country) underwriting a loan of £40M too, just as it announced £50M worth of cuts to council services.

Alice would have felt at home in this Wonderland called free-market economics.

The over-manned hedge fund Capital

The hedge fund capital of Europe can’t get carbon trading signed off, is about to lose nuclear billions, facing tough competition from Shanghai/Singapore/Frankfurt and still looks prosperous, enjoying QE2 & doesn’t want to think strategically about the end of the decade… British banks have that look of early 1970s British Leyland – the only place ‘over-manned’ today is the City of London & Canary Wharf. The cuts are a ‘subsidy’ along with QE2 to keep it afloat. They are ripping through outsourcing, PFI, bonuses while they can the first half of this decade…. they know it can’t last.

It’s time we used that old argument of over-manning which was deployed to crush manufacturing industry and demand that the financial sector become ‘efficient, lean and mean’.
If Osborne can revive Thatcher’s enterprise zones, we can revive the question of overmanning.
And value add.
How is it that Germany survives without hedge funds (80% of whose ‘business’ is generated by London)?
The printing of money is keeping it going for now but this is not a solution.
Mervyn King knows it.

Fossil parties in retreat

Nuclear is rocking German politics. The 3 fossil (sorry mainstream) parties are scrambling. They got it wrong over the banking crisis. Now they are all at sea over nuclear which supplies 17% of UK electricity even before the programme for 11 more plants.
We have to call for a permanent moratorium over expansion. Public opinion will be on our side. The German Greens are leading on this and we have to raise the issue here more stridently.
Blending this into an alternative programme (Green New Deal) of energy, manufacturing & energy efficiency along with wealth redistribution will carve out a solid space for the Greens and get a lot of people listening.

Nuclear nightmare for some

Big nuclear is reeling. Dozens of new behemoths in China & India may have to be scrapped eventually.
Three Mile Island was only a partial meltdown but still killed the industry for a generation.
Watching explosions on TV is far more powerful than the China Syndrome.
The nuclear lobby and it’s coopted politicos such as Miliband, Clegg, Huyne & Cameron will have nightmares.
German Greens will sweep through elections over 2011 and 2012 to challenge SPD as nuclear is a far greater issue there.
In UK. We can attack the falsehoods of Lynas and Monbiot etc and have an honest clear up in the Green movement. Deep Green must be exposed.
We can occupy the anti-cuts ground with a far more radical message than New Labour apologists.
We can also bring to the front a high technology German message of renewable energy & clean manufacturing to appeal to Union members on the lines of 1964 White Heat of Technology.
We also have to be vocal on housing with a radical vision to roll back 30 years of extreme privatization.
Not only must we be seen as Left with the cuts and bankers, we have to show we are modern too which is also a Left view.
We have a cuddly image over soft green issues on the periphery.
It’s time we moved into the thick of things over wealth distribution, nuclear energy and manufacturing jobs.

Greening Europe? What a good idea


09.03.2011 @ 14:18 CET

EUOBSERVER / COMMENT – When Gandhi was asked what he thought of Western civilisation, he famously quipped that it would be a very good idea. The implication, of course, was that the West needed to raise its game considerably if it were to qualify as a civilised part of the globe or boast of its achievements; and more contemporary Indian public intellectuals such as Vandana Shiva or Arundhati Roy have said much the same thing.

Throughout Europe 2020, environmental concerns are treated secondary at best (Photo: infomatique)

Pondering upon recent EU attempts to pose as the global champion of green politics, Gandhi’s comments have echoed through my mind. Is the EU really qualified to play this role? The recent strategic document which sets out the EU’s vision for the future – Europe 2020 – certainly leaves much room for doubt.

Proposed by the Commission and then accepted by the European Council, this document sets out how the EU should respond to the greatest economic challenge for generations, namely the current financial crisis/recession. Given the EU’s claims to be an innovator in green politics and pretensions to global leadership in the fight against climate change, citizens might have expected that the opportunity to rethink the EU economy along greener lines would be seized. They would have been wrong.

Throughout Europe 2020, environmental concerns are treated at best as secondary concerns, completely subordinate to the ‘competitiveness’ and ‘growth’ agenda. Only one part of the strategy speaks explicitly to environmental concerns – the flagship initiative on ‘resource efficient Europe’ – and this keeps green issues firmly within the confines of conventional economic thinking.

The document even backtracks on the idea of sustainable development, the UN-agreed set of principles established over 20 years ago to guide economic change and shape public and social policy. Instead, a bogus new term – ‘sustainable growth’ – is invented.

The Commission claims to have drawn lessons from the financial crisis, but these seem only to be that previous economic policy must be maintained and even entrenched. The neoliberal and monetarist policies of the EU and its principal member states, which produced the recession, are to be continued; the crisis is considered to have shown the need for greater budgetary discipline, more growth, and yet more emphasis on ‘competitiveness’.

Where are the proposals to rethink social and welfare policy, reduce working hours, or guarantee a basic income? Where are the proposals for a Tobin tax or to regulate the markets? Where is the questioning of economism and the recognition that on a planet of finite resources, ‘growth’ cannot go on forever?

That crash you hear is the slamming of the ideological doors; that sobbing you hear is people in DG Environment and DG Climate Action jamming the Samaritans switchboard, wondering how not to feel irrelevant.

The EU has decided its economic future, and it’s looking anything but green.

The writer is a Professor of Politics and International Relations at the Brunel University and and an Associate Fellow UNU-CRIS (United Nations University, Comparative Regional Integration Studies)