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On Target Britain
Food for Thought: It is not enough for journalists to see themselves as mere messengers without understanding the hidden agendas of the message and the myths that surround it.
DARE WE LAUGH AS OUR SHIP GOES DOWN? July 2004
The Struggle To Sound The Alarm
It has all been said and written before. The burden of producing a regular newsletter is considerable. A constant flow of material on a range of important topics must be collated and stored properly if it is to be accessible and usable. As well as incoming material, information has to be reproduced and circulated to those who need it and are best able to use it. If not, the inward flow of information essential to a newsletter is likely to cease. A newsletter must be carefully edited before the work of printing and circulation can begin. This takes time, money and effort. Few of those who sacrifice much of their private lives are on any payroll. Many newsletter writers are "one-man-bands". In the past two years we have lost at least three important publications, each produced by an individual whose knowledge over many years has been unique; that irreplaceable factor of hands-on experience. We have lost Hilaire du Berrier along with his HduB newsletter. Hilaire du Berrier knew pre-war Europe, participated in the Spanish Civil War, had a vast knowledge of the Far East in war and peace, and of the early post-war influence of the United States through groups like the Rockefeller Foundation behind machinations to prepare the ground for an European Union. Ed Cain's Rocca Report was one of the most informed and balanced newsletters on Southern Africa. With Aida Parker's death we lost the APN newsletter. Aida had a unique knowledge of South Africa, its politics and the influence of Communism there. As a former financial journalist, she also had a great depth of knowledge, and many contacts, in the field of global economics.
Was it, and is it indeed, all worth it? What, and whom have we influenced or changed? On rare occasions one might read a newspaper item or listen to a radio broadcast and ponder "I could have written that!". Has something we published found its tenuous way into the mainstream media or even registered with some politician? We have often pointed out that mere knowledge is not enough. At the very least the message has to be spread amongst others. Those with the time must maintain relentless pressure on politicians and the media, especially via the local press and local radio. A single letter is soon forgotten and is too easily dismissed. It is vital to stimulate a flow of correspondence, as does Bob Wydell in the columns of his local newspaper(1)(2). A vigorous opponent of European Union, its political wiles, bureaucratic oppression and corruption, Bob Wydell has created a considerable following - for and against - and stimulated on-going interest. This also sells the newspaper! If not, what if we cannot be bothered in our materially comfortable existence? For those more concerned with their golf handicaps, will they begin to worry, too late, when they suddenly find that they can no longer afford to renew their golf club subscriptions? Will those more interested in Coronation Street only wake up when the bailiffs arrive to seize their television set? For such people the alarm bells are ringing too late in the case of collapsing company pension schemes, corrupt pension misselling by the City of London and the diminishing value of state pensions.
Talking Heads And Superficial Illusions
* "It is a bitter irony . . ." the historian Walter Karp once noted, "that the most esteemed journalists are precisely the most servile. For it is by making themselves useful to the powerful that they gain access to the 'best' sources." The servility is hidden behind a specious assumption that prime ministers and presidents are to be afforded unlimited respect bordering on reverence. To raise their responsibility for mass death would be "disrespectful", even "irresponsible". In his recent B.B.C. interview, Bill Clinton told David Dimbleby: "The way I kept score in my presidency was: Did more people have jobs or not? . . . What was our record in the world? Did we advance peace and prosperity and security or not?" Dimbleby said not a word in response to the man who, according to 70 members of the United States Congress, had presided over "infanticide masquerading as policy" in Iraq. . . . Clinton suggested the focus should be on whether, as president, he had "brought a million [people] home from Kosovo". In fact the mass exodus from Kosovo began after Clinton and Blair began bombing on 24th March, 1999. In the summer of 2000, the International War Crimes Tribunal reported that 2,788 bodies had been found in Kosovo, including Serbs, Roma and combatants. Dimbleby said nothing. In discussing Iraq, Clinton declared how, in December 1998, "Saddam kicked the inspectors out". Tony Blair made the same claim in a Newsnight (B.B.C.2) interview with Jeremy Paxman in February last year. Unfortunately for Blair, MediaLens [<www.medialens.org>] readers had bombarded the interviewer with scores of e-mails urging him to challenge Blair on exactly this issue. Paxman pointed out that the inspectors had been withdrawn ahead of the Desert Fox air strikes, not thrown out. An aggrieved Blair responded that this was "ridiculous" because, anyway, the inspectors "couldn't do their job". In fact, in the weeks leading up to the withdrawal, deliberate United States provocation caused difficulties with five out of 300 inspections, at a time when Iraq had been disarmed of 90-95 per cent of its weapons of mass destruction. Air strikes began two days before the date scheduled for Clinton's impeachment in the Monica Lewinsky affair, and were called off two hours after the vote. Three weeks earlier, United States government sources had told the chief Unscom weapons inspector, Scott Ritter, that "the two considerations on the horizon [are] Ramadan and impeachment". Apparently innocent of these facts, Paxman, like Dimbleby, said nothing. Elite politicians are protected by journalists. Elite journalists are protected by a corporate media system locked into a status quo serving corporate interests - profit over people, profit over truth.
DRIFTING TOWARDS DISASTER AND ECONOMIC SLAVERY
A Fool's Paradise Of Sums That Simply Do Not Add Up
One might add to this subtitle "Until it is too late"! Why worry? We are all living comfortably, are we not? Or are we? Contemplate the mind-boggling range of goods in any supermarket or Do-It-Yourself emporium. Many such operations, often on out-of-town sites, have swamped and suffocated perfectly good local stores. All teem with customers, especially on the Sabbath in a so-called largely "Christian" society, but one which is forced to pay homage to other, burgeoning cultures under the pressure of Political Correctness and political expediency. We are now largely a godless, materialist society - and it shows! Visit any large garden centre; once known as "nurseries" where one could purchase a few plants. The almost wanton excesses of a self-indulgent society become starkly apparent. Here we find not products like food, essential to life. We find food for ornamental fish. We find every conceivable bauble to embellish house and garden; many items we used mostly to make for ourselves, with a little effort and ingenuity. We find every conceivable tool, fixture and gadget, every conceivable treatment for every conceivable plant for house and garden. The bait to establish this way of life is invariably the "creation of jobs". Read any local newspaper as the battle for planning consent is waged; often over "green" land. But for how long? What other jobs will be lost as a result? Do we know? Do we care? We wait months for hospital treatment. We die like tethered goats of cancers and other ailments at an accelerating rate because we stand by while our environment is polluted by toxins, by ever-denser traffic fumes, by industrial waste and agricultural chemicals, inhaled or ingested. Meanwhile our politicians prate and promise on the basis of economic sums that simply cannot add up. Think of this as an economic "sausage balloon". Squeeze any part and the other parts will expand in compensation. But the overall volume remains constant. The danger is that our balloon can leak. It can also puncture!
Is this a wake-up call? Public information and
the involvement of the public is at very best superficial and cosmetic.
Domestically we are lied to by politicians of all parties on the basis
of false promises as political leaders shuffle for short term electoral
advantage. At the risk of putting the cart before the horse, we list
a few essential, basic references to under-standing the economic scenario
and the way our lives are being eroded beneath out feet at the very
time we are being assured that exactly the opposite is the case.
* The Money Bomb, by James Gibb Stuart(6).
This book might be regarded as a "primer" on the subject of
money .. Written in James Gibb Stuart's clear and explicit style and
published in 1983, it is said that this book, brought to the notice
of then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, alerted her, too late, to
the grip and realities of "Money Power".
The full extent of environmental devastation to areas around Shell's Nigerian oil interests is revealed in a new series of pictures showing contaminated land, forests, lakes and communities in the immediate vicinity of Shell's refineries and pipelines.
In the BP Amoco Annual Review for 1999, we read under the "Environmental and Social Review":
BP Amoco's Business Policies are the foundation on which we build and conduct our business. Everyone who works for us is expected to live up to them. This section reviews progress to fulfilment of our business policy commitments on: ethical conduct; employees; relationships; and health, safety and environmental performance. . . . Good H.S.E. [Health, safety and environment] performance and the health, safety and security of everyone who works for the group are critical to our success. Performance improved through 1999, but we continue to achieve our goals of no accidents, no harm to people and no damage to the environment.
They [Objectors] say the project will worsen the already polluted Caspian Sea, where sturgeon numbers are reckoned to be collapsing. In Georgia, the project will clear areas in two dense primary forests, cross the buffer zone of a protected national park, and could badly affect several rare and endangered species. . . . The route crosses two sites protected under national legislation, including a wildlife protection area for the Caucasian grouse, a threatened species. There are two critically endangered plant species and 15 bird species with nesting pairs numbering 500 or less within the corridor. Campaigners say legal agreements make BP the effective governing power over the corridor, over-riding all environmental, social, human rights or other laws, present and future, for the next 40 years. . . . The four whistleblowers who contacted The Independent all said the way the pipeline was being built failed all international standards. This included incorrect materials being supplied, work being started before the land had been surveyed, and the pipe installed before it had been inspected.
One Of The World's Richest Economies For Whom?
In a Politically Correct, litigation crazed society, the banking sector continues to pay out multi-million pound compensation to women, still relatively young, for various permutations of sex discrimination offences. All things are relative, maybe, but a few cancer patients on lengthy Health Service hospital waiting lists, and a few servicemen stricken by Gulf War Syndrome, officially cheated of any formal investigation and compensation, would welcome a few quid in their direction. We can close a few loops here. In 2000 The Sunday Telegraph reported that National Health Service hospitals were "set for £1bn debt crisis". In February this year we wrote of the closure of our local district hospital as a cost compensating measure(15). The Deputy Editor of On Target has now seen his post-operation review cancelled for the second time in two months by a renowned National Health Service Orthopaedic Hospital Trust reported to have an accumulated £3,500,000 debt. Max Pemberton, in The Daily Telegraph, wrote with particular reference to private Health Care that the Public Finance Initiative [P.F.I.] is "the brainchild of a brainless government". By this arrangement the government passes the buck - sorry, delegates management - to the supposedly more efficient and entrepreneurial private sector in a "shared" responsibility to run, inter alia, Education, Security and Health Care. As hospital wards and operating theatres are closed to save costs, that is, to ensure profits to the P.F.I. companies, The Observer of 4th July, 2004, reported, under the heading "Scandal of city tycoons' £170m hospital profits":
A select group of city banks and building firms have reaped more than £170 million in windfall profits from building four flagship hospitals under the government's controversial Public Finance Initiative policy, . . . The disclosures sparked outrage from unions and backbench M.Ps., who described it as a public scandal. They have demanded an independent inquiry into P.F.I., under which private firms are used to develop public buildings such as hospitals, schools and prisons. An Observer investigation has discovered that while new hospitals struggle with mounting debts and building faults, private contractors reap huge financial rewards using sophisticated methods to "refinance" the original P.F.I. deals.
"Dozens of schools and universities around the country will be left in the lurch if Jarvis goes bankrupt," Mr Gable (Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman) said. . . . Brighton City Council described work on a £105m contract to develop and manage four of its schools as "unacceptable", while it failed to complete on time five out of eight schools being improved on Merseyside.
Living A Lie - A World Of Fiscal And Financial Duplicity
This book is about the rise to power of the financial sector, the City, with help from their friends overseas, and its struggles en route with Labour and Conservative Governments. It sounds complex and it is not. At one level it is relatively simple: one section of society, chiefly concerned with moving money, has cheated the other sections. . . . It is remarkable politically. After all, everybody hates their bank - or knows someone who hates their bank. Most people would not need too much instruction to see that the billions of profits made by banks have come from their pockets; two to three million people were fraudulently sold private pensions in the 1980s.
The phlegmatic British people are slow to stir, to anger; as Karl Marx recognised 150 years ago when he decided to attack Great Britain and the British Empire indirectly through the Irish problem. Broadly speaking, the rich economies of the Developed World should logically bring to the people the well-being of comfortably secure prosperity for all. If not, where does all this income, the "money" from these riches, go? We offer a selection of press headlines and bylines that reflect various aspects of the current situation, with our notes where necessary:
* "As the D.T.I. [Department of Trade and Industry] prepares for its crisis summit on lending, Susan Emmett asks whether debt is spiralling out of control". (The Times, 21st October, 2000).
* "There can't be many M.Ps. who aren't aware by now of the plight of thousands of workers whose pensions have been devastated by the wind-ups scandal. But incredibly, 300 Labour members have failed to back a move to help them. The outrage is growing. And now there's . . . No hiding place for the ostrich M.Ps." (Mail on Sunday, 4th January, 2004).
* "Bankruptcies soar to 10-year high as consumer debt rises". The Independent, 7th February. 2004).
* "Pensions blow as Labour shrinks inflation shield - New threat to millions of workers in company pension schemes". (Daily Mail, 13th February, 2004).
* "O.A.Ps. 'Should pass tax bills on to heirs' - Inheritance - Pensioners should be allowed to 'bequeath' council tax liability to their children, says leading Blair ally" (The Independent on Sunday, 15th February, 2004). [Straight from the Communist Manifesto and the elimination of private property and inheritance with the Inheritance Tax threshold already at a punitively low level, except for the super-rich who have access to the necessary mechanisms to reserve their position].
* "I went to jail rather than pay tax for inept police" (Daily Mail, 5th July, 2004). [Another situation in which reality, commitment and vital public funding simply do not reconcile in practice, in which burglary and robbery are out of control in the face of wholly inadequate policing. Dr Richard North is a distinguished public figure who reacted in "contravention" of the anaesthetising Politically Correct mores of International Socialist, "New" Labour Government. The conduct of the West Yorkshire Police and the Bradford Magistrates appear to have been redolent of the Geheime Staats Polizei (Gestapo), of pre-war Nazi Germany.].
* "Pensions crisis will cause rift in society over benefits , warn Tories - David Willetts talks of a threat to generations of pensioners" " and "Tory plans 'would not solve pensions crisis". (Financial Times, 5th & 6th July, 2004). [Cheap party-political manoeuvring in an area fundamentally flawed and misrepresented by the prevailing debt-usury system of money creation. David Willetts, M.P., is a Conservative Party economics spokesman. In November, 1993, Willetts was reported in The Independent on Sunday as stating that pensioners should liquidate their assets to finance a retirement income rather than leave an inheritance for their children(17)].
* "Businesses urged to fund local policing" (Financial Times, 10th July, 2004). [This, and other private security enterprises, such as closed circuit television systems, are a brazen form of indirect taxation for Law and Order services for which taxation has already been levied by central Government].
* "Middle class face council tax bombshell - Better off homeowners to be punished in Labour's local finance shake-up". (The Sunday Telegraph, 18th July, 2004). [As announced, this sweeps in by implication undefined levels of property-owning society in a typical politically motivated Middle Class "collective" to the reaches of seriously wealthy profes-sionals and others of the higher reaches of the Middle, and Upper, Classes].
* "C.B.I. calls to raise retirement age and state benefits" (Financial Times, 19th July, 2004). [Already postulated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that people should work on to the age of 70. This is a remarkable contradiction in a period of out-sourcing manufacturing capacity and service industry overseas, and shrinking productive capacity at home. The problem is attributed to an increasing life-span. In truth it is a consequence of the escalating debt-usury spiral generally and refusal of governments to "create" their own money to satisfy public expenditure, as in the case of Health Care, Education and Law and Order].
Even as we write, another surreal dimension caught our eye in The Daily Telegraph of 20th July, 2004; involving lavish funds that appear to circumvent any concept of more basic public requirements. Along with the imprisoned Russian oil magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky of Yukos Oil and Boris Berezovsky, the fugitive Russian media magnate granted sanctuary in the West, Roman Abramovitch, now the owner of Chelsea Football Club, is one of the Russian "Oligarchs" who made vast personal fortunes out of the Russian economy during the sell-off of State assets in the post-Communist era. These and other oligarchs have exported their wealth and are buying up assets in the West. Modern league football clubs, with their foreign ownership and players, in any case bear little more than nominal resemblance, as commercialised entertainment, to the towns and cities whose names they take. We now read of Abramovitch's £195,000,000 "spree" on players for Chelsea. This is tantamount to financial obscenity even if it is nigh impossible to relate the movement of such sums to the mechanics and requirements of public expenditure. Early Day Motion (E.D.M.) 323 tabled in the present session of Parliament, replaced E.D.M. 854 from the previous session. When we read the terms of the Motion we may better understand the disparity with financial greed and profligacy, in which ordinary people are forced to go abroad for elementary Health Care, or why many more like Dr Richard North are vulnerable to inadequate policing, in which large numbers of people are deprived of dental services, the eternal debt burden of student and university funding and so on:
The role of the Bank of England has been described in an extremely revealing paper, from which we reproduce an extract below, by money system reformer, Richard Greaves. In this he shows that 97 per cent of the national - government - money supply is based on interest-bearing loans from commercial banks. This compares with the 20-80 per cent ration in 1964, referred to in E.D.M. 323, and a 50-50 per cent ration after the 1939-45 War. The £68,000,000 in cash and coin, broadly that required "on the street", is but a Mickey Mouse figure in the current overall sums. At least in part this reflects the gradual transition from government-issued hard cash in the pay packet of 60 years ago to the cheque book and automated systems of today in the hands of the commercial banks. At every stage we are adding to the virtually irreversible growth of an unrepayable national Debt that has its roots in the Tonnage Act of 1694.
The following extract from a letter of 13th March, 2004, from Physics Professor David Flower of Durham University in answer to an article in the Financial Times, takes the pension question a stage further. The securities - the 97 per cent to which Richard Greaves refers - are those on which interest is paid through public taxation. If commercial pension schemes come to be based on these securities, with handling charges and profits extracted in the process, investors in these schemes are being effectively charged twice over; first by public taxation, secondly by these extractions. This can only constitute another form of fiscal and financial exploitation, of which any government must be fully aware.
Philip Coggan notes that "government bonds are simply a claim on future tax revenues". In the context of pension provision, notably private pension provision, this comment seems to me to be very significant. The recent moves of insurance companies out of equities and into bonds in effect transfer the costs of providing pensions to the taxpayer, as noted by Philip Coggan in his article, this process seems to defeat the objective. Indeed, giving money to private insurance companies that then take their (considerable) cut, only to invest the money in government bonds, is a singularly inefficient way of providing pensions cover. It is rather like paying commission to an agent to settle your bills on time.
Pay-Back Time - Economic Consequences For National Security
Voters and politicians alike are not very familiar with the mechanisms of creating money and the power of controlling the money supply. The Government's share of the supply (cash and coin), has fallen from 20 per cent to 3 per cent since 1964. 97 per cent of the money circulating is interest-bearing, created by the banks as credit. No wonder that 5 of the top 10 companies on the FTSE [Financial Times Stock Exchange] 100 are banks. For what does it cost them to create the "product" they "sell"? The Government's budget equals 40 per cent of all the money in circulation. This budget includes interest on the National Debt, every year the interest is comparable to the annual cost of Education, Health or the Military. While personal and corporate indebtedness is increasing and student fees are to finance Higher Education, it seems paramount to make voters and M.Ps. more aware of the underlying causes (Emphasis added).
BOOK REVIEWby "Kitz"
New Rulers Of The World, by John Pilger. Verso, 2002. Now obtainable through the Bloomfield Books Stock Price List, in hardback, price £12.50.
There is something special about John Pilger for he is an uncommonly honest man whose investigative journalism and now his growing impact as an author rests upon his willingness to be where the news is and not be prepared to sit in an hotel room and await the information that comes to him. I have in mind here his readiness to go to bombed-out villages in Afghanistan, drive along the Baghdad-Amman road and to meet face-to-face with James Rubin in which he tears him apart intellectually and reveals the lying nature of the State Department's policy over the bogus Oil-for-Food Programme in post-Gulf War Iraq.
Pilger's book covers areas of great global concern. The chapter The Model Pupil deals not only with the brutality of the Suharto regime in Indonesia, but also with the brazen complicity of America and Britain in installing Suharto as its president in the first place and then countenancing an oppression against his own people as well as against the East Timorese in which over a million people died. It was Pilger who got hold of the Time-Life Corporation's sponsored conference in Geneva where companies carved up Indonesia's resources as if they were slicing bread. It was Pilger, too, who went behind the cover of so-called Indonesian respectability to examine the factory conditions of Indonesian women working as slave labour for Western companies whose cheap labour meant great profits for sales of clothing and sports equipment. Pilger also reveals how Western companies whilst denying the sale of arms to the unsavoury Suharto, also had the gall to persistently deny their involvement.
The most important and penetrating part of the
book comes under the title "The Great Game" for in it with
all its cynical realpolitik is the story first of all of Britain's role
as an imperial power to dominate and benefit from its global colonies
and then to Britain's replacement in this role by America. Since the
stakes are now higher and since global corporations, mainly under American
control or ownership, allied to international bodies such as the I.M.F.
[International Monetary Fund], the W.T.O. [World Trade Organisation],
the World Bank and the United Nations itself, all within the orbit of
American domination or influence. Lord Curzon's comment about the great
game for world domination now has even greater significance. One does
not have to look very far to realise what this means to nations and
people who get in the way of the great corporations and Pilger displays
this fact brilliantly when describing how the Rockefellers meet up with
the oil-rich Bush-Cheney dynasty in their search for a pipeline through
Afghanistan to develop the new oil Eldorado in the Caspian region. In
this connection, Pilger describes how the bombing of defenceless villages
in Afghanistan, America's pumping of dollars to buttress some unsavoury
states bordering the Caspian Sea are part of this plan. Against such
a background Pilger acidly comments that in 2000 the United States Senate
approved $75,000,000 for the poorer countries of the world - no more
than the cost of one tenth of a B52 bomber, one of those which might
have unleashed its load of death in Afghanistan and elsewhere. In short,
if anyone doubts America's global reach in the Great Game one has only
to witness the use of terrorism of the Al Qa'eda variety in justifying
her own "terrorist" interventions when Pilger reveals that
United States Secretary of Defence Rumsfeld openly stated that America
was planning actions against "forty to fifty countries"!
The book is the result of years of investigative journalism and serves as a warning to those rulers whose greed is fostering global discontent and misery amongst a major part of the world's population.
Note: Prices are shown where available from Bloomfield Books, and represent only a selection relevant to the theme of this edition of On Target. A wide range of reading may be found in the Stock Price List (S.P.L.), which may be obtained post free on request from the address on the last page. Books temporarily out of stock are annotated *. Out of print, or older works, may be obtained through the Book Search Service, or the Second-Hand Book Service, both of which are operated by Mr. T.G. Turner, for which details are available as for the S.P.L.
(1) On Target, Vol. 31, Nos. 24 & 25, 1st
& 15th June, 2002. The European Flytrap.
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