Thursday, 16 September 2021

Brexit & Covid. Who benefits?

 

 

“As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest.” — Nelson Mandela

 

 

BREXIT has been a disaster for most of us, but a success for a few. Exit from the EU has meant the UK has escaped the regulatory practices and directives implemented by Europe relating to tax avoidance and can retain its position as the ‘go to’ country for more than a third of global tax avoidance. Government figures show the total cost of tax avoidance in the year 2018 to 2019 came to approximately £1.7 billion, while tax evasion was around £4.6 billion. HMRC has estimated that £4.6 billion in tax revenue was lost to evasion in 2018/19.


Let’s put a few names to those who benefit from tax avoidance. Famously David Cameron said he didn’t know whether the £300,000 he inherited from his father was the result of tax haven status in Jersey. Leave EU backer Arron Banks has money put away in Belize and was listed in the ‘Panama Papers’ as a shareholder of PRI Holdings. Jacob Rees-Mogg owns property company, Saliston, and is a major stakeholder in Somerset Capital Management, both registered abroad to avoid tax. He also had £500,000 in British Virgin Islands company, Lloyd George Management. Talking of virgins, Richard Branson paid no tax on the £229 million he made when selling his Virgin Music Group to Thorn EMI. He used tax havens in Jersey and Guernsey to avoid a United Kingdom tax bill of £92 million. Former Tory Party deputy chairman, Lord Ashcroft, domiciled in Belize, has hundreds of millions of pounds in Bermuda’s Punta Gorda Trust Fund. I haven't listed the many tax-avoiding copanies such as Amazon, Starbucks, Facebook, Google, Boots ....


COVID: Surely no one can have benefitted from a global pandemic, but the British Medical Journal has concluded that, “The coronavirus pandemic has unleashed state corruption on a grand scale that is harmful to public health.” Billions of pounds have been paid to private companies in Covid contracts. Allyson Pollock, a member of the Independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, described it as “scandalous expenditure … This money should have been put into supporting the established system of public health services instead of going into new parallel services run by private companies, where much of it is squandered and wasted.”

 

Let’s put a few names to those who have benefitted from the Covid pandemic.They range from pest-control companies to publicans, experts in offshore investment to fashion, confectionary and interior design companies. Ayanda Capital, Clandeboyes, Clipper Logistics, Faculty, Family Office, Globus, Hanbury Strategy, Kau Media, Meller Designs, PA Consultancy, Pest Fix, PPE Medpro, Public First, Randox, Serco, Taeg Energy, Tower Supplies, Uniserve, Ventures Ltd.


This all takes place as the 1,000 richest people in UK are worth £771 billion. This is 6 times the NHS budget. Meanwhile14 million are living in poverty. And it’s getting worse


Sources:


https://www.theguardian.com/news/2016/apr/07/david-cameron-admits-he-profited-fathers-offshore-fund-panama-papers


https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/tax-avoidance-uk-cayman-islands-report-b1758986.html



https://medium.com/the-jist/was-eu-tax-evasion-regulation-the-reason-for-the-brexit-referendum-980ba88a8077



https://www.ft.com/content/00de4f00-b754-11e7-8c12-5661783e5589



 



Thursday, 2 September 2021

Three books on the boil

  

 

I am now involved in the writing and editing of three books. I am entering the final stages of my first draft of a book on food and memory. There are twenty chapters to date: from recollections of enjoying childhood popcorn to more recent memories of eating burritos in hospital. 

 

I am the reader of Anne Aylor’s work-in-progress about the Spanish Civil War, The Witness from Salamanca. Her protagonists are International Brigaders from the Abraham Lincoln Battalion. 

 

I am also helping to edit Merilyn Moos’s memoir. The daughter of German Leftists bravely involved in agit-prop in Hitler's Berlin, she has spent a lifetime haunted by her past. Despite her family's traumatic life, this book of her writings, photos and sculptures is a testament of survival. 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 

 



 


 


Friday, 27 August 2021

Afghanistan - Operation Cyclone

 


 

In 1978, a liberation movement led by the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) overthrew the dictatorship of Mohammad Dawd. A year later the U.S. Embassy in Kabul reported that “the United States’ larger interests… would be served by the removal of the government, despite whatever setbacks this might mean for future social and economic reforms in Afghanistan.” The USA then launched “Operation Cyclone” to bribe and arm religious zealots, known as the Mujaheedin.


Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward wrote that the CIA spent $70 million on bribes alone. He describes a meeting between a CIA agent known as “Gary” and a warlord called Amniat-Melli: “Gary placed a bundle of cash on the table: $500,000 in one-foot stacks of $100 bills. He believed it would be more impressive than the usual $200,000, the best way to say we’re here, we’re serious, here’s money, we know you need it.”

 

There then followed years of war, occupation, bombings and killings.


We were told it was Osama bin Laden. But he escaped into Pakistan - on horseback - soon after the U.S. started dropping bombs. The war then became a "feminist” mission, but with the Taliban beaten the mission changed again to reconstruction— President Bush introduced us to, "an Afghanistan that is free from evil and a better place to live." This translates as a better place for the Pentagon, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Boeing, Raytheon, multiple defense contractors, mercenaries and Afghan warlords who, over the years pocketed $2.6 trillion.


Andrew Cockburn wrote that. "if we understand that the [military industrial complex] exists purely to sustain itself and grow, it becomes easier to make sense of the corruption, mismanagement and war.”


Where will be the next bonanza for the war profiteers and the next catastrophe for the civilians and soldiers who pay the ultimate price for campaigns launched in the names of "security" and "freedom"?


Those who have caused this chaos are having their noses powdered in TV studios. Those politicians who have tried to tell us the truth have been villified and removed. An even worse fate for truth-telling journalists. They have been forced into exile or imprisoned. 

 

Further reading

https://mronline.org/2021/08/26/john-pilger-afghanistan-the-great-game-of-smashing-countries/

 

https://www.salon.com/2021/08/22/the-war-afghanistan-was-a-huge-victory--for-the-military-industrial-complex/

 

https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2021/08/defense-contractors-spent-big-in-afghanistan-before-the-us-left-taliban-took-control

 

https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/07/19/20-years-of-u-s-occupation-was-brutal-in-afghanistan-and-so-will-be-the-exit/


Tuesday, 17 August 2021

War is a racket

 

Robert Reich: Don’t say that nobody won the war in Afghanistan. If you invested $10,000 in defense stocks when the war began, your stocks would now be worth almost $100,000. Defense contractors and their shareholders. That’s who won the war in Afghanistan.

 

 

After 90 years US Army Maj Richard Ojeda repeats words of Gen Smedley Butler


 

 


 

Saturday, 14 August 2021

keeping the war kettle on the boil

 



 

This was the dedication on the credits for the 1988 Rambo 3 film. The US supported and financed the Afghan Mujahideen from the get go. It’s never a matter of winning a war. It’s a matter of good business practice. The war kettle needs to be kept on the boil to justify military-industrial cashflow. There will always be funding for both friend and enemy. 

 

Oh and Jeremy Corbyn voted against the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 saying, “This will set off a spiral of conflict, of hate, of misery, of desperation, that will fuel the wars, the conflict, the terrorism, the depression and the misery of future generations.”

Friday, 13 August 2021

The Paris Commune - 150 years anniversary

 

 

 

"The fighting for a total involvement of the people in their own democracy gripped Paris. The newspaper Rappel declared, “Today Paris has become truly pictureaque with the cries of its paper-sellers from dawn to dusk. It is a permanent concert, a sort of perpetual fair.” Read the article in full here

 


 

 

 


Monday, 9 August 2021

'Out of control' climate crisis or 'ping-pong sweat'?

 

"We have no time to waste. We are living in a climate crisis that will spiral dangerously out of control". Jeremy Corbyn 

 

"There may be all kinds of reasons why I was sweating at ping-pong." Boris Johnson

 

"We have no time to waste. We are living in a climate crisis that will spiral dangerously out of control unless we take rapid and dramatic action now. This is no longer about the distant future. We are talking about nothing less than the irreversible destruction of the environment within our lifetimes … Parliament rarely leads change. It usually drags its feet. Think about the huge transformations to our society: workers’ rights, women’s rights, gay rights. The impetus has always come from outside. From social movements and communities … Let’s work more closely with countries that are serious about ending the climate catastrophe, especially those at the sharp edge. Like the Maldives – so vulnerable to rising sea levels. They told the UN climate talks last year: “we are not prepared to die” and implored countries to unite … And Bangladesh, whose foreign minister recently warned of the “existential threat” posed by climate breakdown to the 160 million people of his country as he urged others to adhere to their commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement... we must be absolutely clear-eyed about the Paris Agreement. As significant as it is – it is not enough … If every country meets its current pledges temperatures will still rise by three degrees this century. At that point southern Europe, the horn of Africa, Central America and the Caribbean will be in permanent drought. And major cities, like Miami and Rio de Janeiro will be lost to rising sea levels. At four degrees, which is where we’re currently heading, agricultural systems will collapse. This isn’t just climate change. It is a climate emergency … Around the world we’re seeing ice caps melting, coral reefs dissolving, droughts in Africa, hurricanes in the Americas and wildfires in Australia. Cyclone Idai killed more than 900 people in south east Africa, largely in Mozambique, and affected 3 million more, only to be immediately followed by the current horrors of Cyclone Kenneth. The heating up of our climate is contributing to the terrifying loss of animal and plant species – something we are only just recognising. According to the WWF, humanity has wiped out 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles since 1970. Earlier this year the first global scientific review of its kind found that insects could become extinct within a century unless action is taken. Insects pollinate plants and keep the soil healthy. Without pollination and healthy soil there is no food and without food there are no humans. Meanwhile intensive farming is pumping the earth full of fertilisers and taking its toll on our soil. A more sustainable farming system will actually lead in the longer run to better yields and less cost in pesticides, herbicides and fertiliser….It’s those here and around the world who are least to blame for it who bear the highest cost. A 2015 study found that children living in inner city areas can have their lung capacity reduced by up to 10% due to air pollution. And of course it is even more extreme for those children growing up in the polluted cities in India or China. Children shouldn’t have to pay with their health for our failure to clean up our toxic air. And it is working class communities that suffer the worst effects of air pollution – who are least able to rebuild their lives after flooding and who will be hit hardest by rising food prices while the better off, who are responsible for most emissions, can pay their way out of trouble. And internationally, in a cruel twist of fate, it is the Global South which is facing the greatest devastation at the hands of drought and extreme weather. This fuels poverty and war and creates refugees as people are forced to flee their homes. Some of the 65 million refugees in the world right now are climate refugees. Those people are paying the price for emissions that overwhelming come from the richer Global North … That’s the magnitude of what we are talking about. The future of life on Earth. It’s too late for tokenistic policies or gimmicks. We have to do more than just ban plastic straws. Individual action is not enough. We need a collective response which empowers people instead of just shaming them if they don’t buy expensive recycled toilet paper or drive the newest Toyota Prius… The hidden hand of the market is not going to save us… Technological solutions are not going to magically appear out of nowhere … An emergency of this magnitude requires large-scale government intervention to kickstart industries, to direct investment and to boost research and development in the green technologies of the future … What we need is a Green Industrial Revolution with huge investment in new technologies and green industries… It will be about harnessing manufacturing to avert climate breakdown while providing well-paid, high-skilled and secure jobs … The solution to the crisis is to re-programme our whole economy so that it works in the interests of both people and the planet … That means publicly-owned energy and water companies with a mandate to protect the environment instead of just seeking profit. It means redesigning public agricultural funding to benefit local businesses and sustainable farming that supports wildlife and plant life and not unnecessarily flying in basic produce from across the globe. It means funding home insulation schemes, particularly in our poor quality private rented sector. It means investing in bus routes, cycling infrastructure and improved railway lines in public ownership so people can travel quickly and cheaply without cars. It means planting trees to improve air quality and prevent flooding and it means expanding our forests that absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and provide habitats for native wildlife … We must take serious steps on debt relief and cancellation to deal with the injustice of countries trying to recover from climate crises they did not create while struggling to repay international debts … And we must end UK aid support for fossil fuel projects in the Global South. The government will boast that the UK is reducing its carbon emissions, but I have to tell them it’s too slow. At the current rate, we will not reach zero emissions until the end of the century. More than 50 years too late. By that time our grandchildren will be fighting for survival on a dying planet ...The science says this is an emergency. But an emergency does not have to be a catastrophe. We could use it as an opportunity to rebuild our economy so that it works for the many, not the few. This is not a time for despair. It is a time for action … We have the chance to act before it’s too late. It’s a chance that won’t be available to succeeding generations. It is our historic duty to take it." Jeremy Corbyn, 01/05/2019

 

“It is fantastic news that the world has agreed to cut pollution and help people save money, but I am sure that those global leaders were driven by a primitive fear that the present ambient warm weather is somehow caused by humanity; and that fear – as far as I understand the science – is equally without foundation. There may be all kinds of reasons why I was sweating at ping-pong." Boris Johnson