PROPAGANDA WARS

The Labour Party is different from the National Party in the same way that Marmite is different from Vegemite.

I see that everyone in the media are saying that Labour's opening television address on Friday night was far better than National's effort. But its hard to see how it could of been worse.

National were clearly trying to trade on Key's 'nice guy' image but having Key give prepared answers to prepared questions from a handpicked studio audience just didn't work. Key looked uncomfortable under the blaze of the studio lights and strangely wooden.

I tuned out about ten minutes in.

If Labour's opening television address is any indication, then Labour is going to be spending its entire election campaign denying what it really is and pretending its something else altogether.

Labour tried to conceal its neoliberal politics behind the smokescreen of its past. It hauled in Mickey Savage, Norm Kirk, David Lange and others to suggest that its a straight line from Savage to Goff and Labour's surrender to neoliberalism never happened.

Within this world where pink elephants float across the sky, Phil Goff was never a loyal lieutenant of Rogernomics. The smug and arrogant bastard I jeered at various protests in the eighties was apparently a figment of my imagination. It apparently wasn't Phil Goff who told me it was necessary to sell Telecom. It also wasn't Phil Goff who introduced users pays into education.

You will learn to love Big Phil. Repeat after me - 'Labour is a centre left party', 'Labour is a centre left party'.

Propaganda might be used to convince people that hell is paradise but in Labour's case its an attempt to create a fiction that it is different from National. It has no intention of disturbing the economic and power structures in this country and wants us to believe that a little tinkering with the neoliberal economy will produce a 'fairer society'.

There is no new vision. While the Occupy movement seeks to create a brand new world, both Labour and National want to keep us deep in the neoliberal mire. Anyone who says that this isn't acceptable is, according to Trevor Mallard (Labour's election 'strategist'), part of the 'loony left'.

Of course you can't expect anything approaching the truth from election propaganda but there's still something seedy about this politically bankrupt Labour Party trading on the names and achievements of the more principled Labour Party's of its social democratic era. It's especially odious since Goff is on record as saying that Labour's social democratic history is irrelevant. But he's more than happy to plunder the past if it'll garner him a few more votes.

Of course there are some clowns who'll believe any old rubbish that Labour serves up. So someone called 'The Sprout' on the Labour propaganda website The Standard declared Labour's opening address was 'the best piece of contemporary political television by a political party I can remember.'

My advice to 'The Sprout' is to stop talking goo and grow up.

WE'RE HAVING A PARTY!

Councillor Sue Wells lives it up in Germany...

Councillor Sue Wells quietly slipped out of Christchurch a week or so ago. She was off on a ratepayer-funded junket to Mainz, Germany where she has been attending the five day 'conference' of the 'Great Wine Capital Network'.

The good people of Christchurch have been forced to stump up the cash for her travel expenses which could be as much as $5000.

During last years election campaign Wells stressed that she would listen to the concerns of ratepayers . But the loyal Sideshow Bob supporter chose not to listen when the good people of Christchurch told her that if she wanted to go on a wine junket then she should pay for it herself.

Not known for her modesty, Wells has uncharacteristically made no mention of her German holiday on her blog. In fact, there have been no posts since around mid-October. She's even gone strangely quiet on Twitter albeit for one 'wish you were here' tweet.

But here's some photos of Sue Wells and her chums hard at work at the 'conference'. It's a tough job drinking all that wine and eating all that smoked salmon, but someone has to do it..

WORK TILL YOU DROP

The CTU bureaucrats are going to support Labour's threat to raise the retirement age to 67.

What's 'a point of difference' between two right wing neoliberal parties, namely the Labour Party and National?

According to the hopeless Peter Conway, CTU secretary and Labour Party flunky, it's Labour's nasty proposal to raise the retirement age to 67.

Workers might think that Labour's plan to make them work until they drop is, to put it mildly, 'exploitative', but according to Conway, its 'bold'. In the same way that taking the axe to the welfare state is 'bold'.

Having obviously connived with the Labour leadership to come up with this lousy policy, Conway wants us to believe that 'The increase in the qualifying age for NZ Super will be a challenging issue for unions to work through.' As they might say in Parliament, Conway is being 'economical with the truth'.

Perhaps one of the 'challenging' issues for Peter Conway and the CTU will be trying to promote this policy to a membership who might reasonably expect the CTU to defend their interests - although after many years of being betrayed and sold out by the CTU bureaucracy many workers expect nothing from their union ''leaders'. Which is usually what they get. And less.

Conway goes on to say: 'But there will also be concerns, particularly among manual workers”.

Hey, what 'concerns' might they may be, Pete? Conway conveniently doesn't elaborate but one of those 'concerns' will be that people in the lowest paid jobs will have the least prospect of looking forward to an early retirement.

“But we will need to discuss this policy in considerable detail with workers and employers”, says Conway, engaging in more platitudes.

In other words, the CTU is not only not going to oppose Labour's dismal retirement policy but its going to promote it among the membership.

Of course working until he is 67 won't be on the agenda for Peter Conway since he has a nice pension plan, thanks very much.

Similarly working until the age of 67 won't be on the horizon for Labour leader Phil Goff and all his Parliamentary mates.

While its a gold plated, platinum-lined, copper-bottomed pension scheme for Phil Goff and his fellow Labour MP's, he and the Labour Party are campaigning for much tougher terms for everyone else.

THE VIOLENCE OF CAPITAL

The police declare war on Occupy Oakland.

I was disturbed to read of the 'demolition job' the riot people did on Occupy Oakland (California) on Tuesday.

The attack came at 4.30 am on Tuesday morning and involved a reported 600 riot police.

It was a full-on assault by the police who used flash-bang grenades, rubber bullets, and tear gas to get into the Occupy Oakland camp.

There were a reported eighty arrests and multiple, but thankfully, minor injuries.

The police attack has received little coverage in the American mainstream media.

According to an eye witness report: 'The camp looks like a tornado went through it. Everything is destroyed, and it is currently occupied by hundreds of police.'

This is happening in a country whose 'leaders' are boasting about the restoration of 'democracy' in Libya.

The reaction of Occupy Oakland has, naturally enough, been one of anger. But I'm of the view that the Occupy movement must translate its anger into an uncompromising determination and must continue to ask what kind of a society renders such police violence impossible.

The only conclusion that can be drawn is that there are no ameliorative solutions to the capitalist crisis and the violence of capital.



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KERRE IN WONDERLAND

It's a classless society in Kerre Woodham's 'Stadium of Four Million'!

Mac, who is a regular reader of this blog and always good for a interesting observation or two, has brought it to my attention that talkback host Kerre Woodham has been waxing lyrical about the Rugby World Cup in her weekly column in the New Zealand Herald. So I took a look at it.

Jeez. Anyone would of thought we'd discovered a cure for cancer rather then scraped an ugly victory in a tedious rugby game. But according to Woodham, the RWC brought us all together in 'a stadium of four million'. Not me it didn't. I imagine though the working class got the cheap seats and Kerre and her mates were up in the corporate boxes swilling back the champagne.

Kerre's hoping that 'the spirit of fun and optimism and goodwill will remain' for the remainder of the year. I scanned this column with my patented bullshit meter - it charted off the dial and then promptly blew up.

I'm kind of wondering also if young women on the DPB were invited into Kerre's 'Stadium of Four Million'.

Earlier this year Woodham suggested New Zealand's high level of child abuse was due to mothers who had children for cash. Ignoring the effects that increasing poverty and social deprivation have had on child abuse levels, Woodham thundered:

'All those mothers who haven't got a clue who their children's sperm donors were. All those mothers who have children because they get paid to - and, let's face it, they wouldn't get paid to do anything else. Those mothers who stay with men who hurt them and their kids because they're so pathetic and useless that any shag - even when it comes with a biff - is better than being alone.'

The myth that women get pregnant purely to stay on the DPB might appeal to a redneck talkback audience but I would of thought that Woodham, being a mother herself, would have quickly recognised that enduring the lengthy months of a pregnancy in order to pick up the pittance that is the DPB is just nonsensical. It's hardly a ticket to 'lifestyles of the rich and famous' - more like a ticket to the food bank.

Kerre though doesn't seem to have had any problem with the Government throwing tens of millions at the RWC. The Government spent $12 million alone on state functions and to accommodate official guests. Yes it was mighty big piss-up and all at the expense of the taxpayer.

And, as far as I'm aware, there actually is no evidence that backs Woodham's assertion that women do get pregnant in order to continue receiving the DPB. It's simply more anti-working class bigotry.

But then Woodham also wrote this year that some people were just too dumb to find jobs. She wrote: 'Some people are just plain unemployable. They're the ones who would have been the biscuit packers in the factories of yesteryear. '

So its not capitalism's fault you can't get a job - you're just too stupid!

FREE BRADLEY MANNING

Accused Wikileaks whistleblower Bradley Manning has been sitting in prison, much of that time spent in solitary confinement, for over sixteen months.

While Barack Obama declares a victory for 'democracy' in Libya, one man not enjoying any 'democracy' under the Obama administration is US army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning, the accused Wikileaks whistleblower.

In the blaze of publicity that surrounded the capture (and what appears to be the lynching) of Gadaffi, it went largely unnoticed by the mainstream media that Juan Mendez, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, confirmed that the Department of Defence has blocked his requests for an unmonitored meeting with Manning.

The Obama administration had claimed that such a meeting could take place but effectively undermined any such meeting by refusing not to record it. Mendez said the meeting would have only taken place under conditions where 'he could not confirm the confidentiality' of his conversation with Manning.

He said that this was not acceptable to the United Nations and that Manning himself " chose not to waive his right to have a private conversation with me."

Mendez is investigating evidence that Manning was subjected to severe conditions of confinement while being held at a Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia. Several hundred American legal scholars have signed an open letter arguing that these abuses may have amounted to torture.

We should remember that the 'crime' that the US army intelligence analyst is accused of is releasing a video that shows the killings of civilians, including two Reuters journalists , by a US helicopter in Baghdad.

He is also charged with leaking the Afghan War Diary, the Iraq war log and US diplomatic cables.

For bringing to light what the Obama administration wanted to keep concealed, Manning has been imprisoned for over sixteen months, awaiting trial.

Its worth noting that the Occupy movement has benefited from Bradley Manning's work.

The diplomatic cables, for example, have revealed that Chevron executives worked in tandem with American. officials to avoid paying $18.2 billion in court-ordered damages after the energy giant acquired Texaco and which had dumped billions of gallons of waste in indigenous areas.

Another series of cables illustrate how diplomatic officials successfully squashed a proposed increase in the Haitian minimum wage. Pressure from U.S. diplomats on Haitian officials enabled major American clothing companies like Levi's and Hanes to continue exploiting sweatshop labour in Haiti.
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IF VOTING CHANGED ANYTHING, THEY'D OUTLAW IT

We need to look beyond the ballot box if we are serious about real change.

The Occupy movement has made impressive and inspiring progress in just a few short weeks. It has spread to over 90 countries and over 1000 cities and, despite attempts by governments and the corporate media to 'shut it down', it continues to grow.

In the United States, the country that champions 'democracy' elsewhere, the police have roughed up and intimidated protesters and arrested nearly 2000 of them. The man who promised 'real change', Barack Obama, has said nothing.

it is not hard to work out why the movement has made such rapid progress.

All around the world people are fighting a common enemy, namely an economic and political system bent on surviving and it is of no consequence how many ordinary people will have to be sacrificed in order to save capitalism. That is why the slogan 'We are the 99 percent' has had such resonance. We know, instinctively , who we are and who our real enemy is - the capitalist elite and its governments.

As Richard Seymour writes on Lenin's Tomb:

'The reason we have seen a global movement erupt is because capitalism is an international system, and it's doing the same thing to all of us, everywhere. What was done to the Third World in terms of structural adjustment is now being done to the working classes in advanced capitalist societies.'

The movement has arisen at a time when ordinary people have effectively been shut out of a political system that claims to do things in our name. Indeed we have, for decades, lacked a political voice while the zealots of neoliberalism have crowed in our faces about 'personal choice' and 'personal responsibility'. The empty slogans of the venal.

It is of no surprise that the number of people who bother to vote has continued to fall worldwide.

Why vote when nothing changes and more shit happens? Why bother to vote for another set of bastards to replace the set of bastards you've already got? Who is going to get excited about a political party whose leader says there is 'no alternative' to the 'free market' and whose finance spokesperson says he 'wants to work alongside business'? Ladies and gentlemen - I give you Phil Goff and David Cunliffe.

Representative democracy has failed. Utterly. This won't come as any surprise to anyone but the academics and the commentators who drone on in the media and in the blogosphere as if voting mattered. But, in the end, its just a race for votes and it always leaves the fundamental economic and political structures unchallenged and intact.

We have an elected elite, with the electorate reduced to election fodder, whose only function is to endorse one of the near identical corporate controlled political parties at election times.

The social democratic parties, that once were vehicles for mild reforms, surrendered to Big Business many years and many betrayals ago. These parties, whether its the Democrats in the United States or the Labour Party in New Zealand, are parties dominated by spin and riddled with cronyism and allied to the capitalist elite . The (declining) memberships of these parties have little say in the making of policy. Their job is to do the donkey work like delivering leaflets and raising funds.

And tragically, but also not surprisingly, is that complacent and conservative union leaderships have chosen - without consulting their grassroots memberships - to support these dismal parties. They have abandoned any form of emancipatory vision to play, frankly, a despicable role in maintaining the rule of capital.

It is in this political vacuum that the Occupy movement has emerged, giving voice to the demands of ordinary people that have been for too long silenced by politicians and trade union leaders who have masqueraded as our friends and defenders.

The movement is, of course, in the embryonic stage, and I think the calls for organisational structure and specific demands are, at the moment, well wide of the mark. It is enough that discussions and debates are taking place. A diversity of views is the movement's strength and not its weakness.

But we do need a movement that does not fall into the trap of fighting merely the symptoms of the capitalist crisis rather than the root causes.

I HATE THE RUGBY WORLD CUP

Relief is at hand! The Rugby World Cup is, thankfully, nearly over.

I am very proud to say that I have seen mere glimpses of the Rugby World Cup (RWC) on my television. I say that I'm proud because the local media has done its damndest to insult my intelligence with some banal RWC related story. But I'm a gun-for-hire when it comes to the TV remote and I've happily flicked away from the rubbish to something more interesting.

Apparently there is so little happening in the world that both TVNZ and TV3 can devote large chunks of their already insubstantial news bulletins to rugby. Apparently it was a game of two halves but rugby was the winner on the day.

On a day when the Prime Minster admitted that poverty has grown under his Government, TVNZ's Mark Sainsbury, possibly the stupidest man on television, was asking trite questions of another All Black. God, these 'ABs' are so dull that they make Wendy Petrie seem interesting and perceptive.

The fact that John Key has no answers to the chronic level of unemployment and the growing level of poverty other than yet more punitive welfare measures has gone completely unexamined by a media which thinks the state of McCaw's foot is of more importance

I resent the way that political and corporate interests conspire to drive so many people into investing so much of their identity and self worth into a game that long ago became the domain of the fat cats. How many working class New Zealanders have been able to pay the exorbitant ticket prices that the RWC has demanded? But yet the myth persists that rugby is the people's game and that the All Blacks are the symbol of the nation. That's right - a group of wealthy rugby players are representative of a nation where 240,000 children live in poverty.

The symbol of the nation is a food bank - but you can't sell the television rights to this.

But the Prime Minister will get his photos with the All Black captain. This is the same Prime Minister whose government have cut food grants to needy families by 20 per cent, driving driving record numbers to seek food parcels from charities instead.

I can't stand all the boasting and flag-waving, the belligerence of pseudo-nationalism. New Zealand is a country in crisis led by politicians who have no answers but the alcohol-fuelled chauvinism of the RWC is supposed to give us the sense of community that neoliberalism shattered long ago.

Hell, Graham Henry - quoting from his Bumper Book of Sports Cliches - tells us that the job has yet to be done and some commentators froth at mouth and quote him endlessly as if he is has expounded some great truth! If he had something to say about the crisis of late capitalism then I might be interested in listening but I'm not buying from the Establishment-approved 'Isn't Graham Henry Wonderful? ' Mythmaking Department. Try next door and don't call again.

New Zealand is a desperately directionless country that has betrayed by over three decades of neoliberal policies that would, we were told, lead us all to the promised land. Instead they have led us to the wasteland of high unemployment, low wages, increasing poverty and ever more savage attacks on what remains of the welfare state.

We have been failed by the parliamentary politicians but a good dose of pseudo-nationalist tubthumping makes everything just dandy apparently.

I reject this engineered national pride, the product of media companies and advertising agencies, and I'm not going to pretend that I have any kind of enthusiasm for the RWC.

WEEKS WHERE DECADES HAPPEN

Europe is pregnant with revolution. The monstrous horrors of…war, the suffering caused by the high cost of living everywhere engender a revolutionary mood; and the ruling classes, the bourgeoisie, and its servitors, the governments, are more and more moving into a blind alley from which they can never extricate themselves without tremendous upheavals.” - VI Lenin

It was our good friend VIadimir Lenin who said: “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”

Who could argue with this now ? All around the world, after years of political defeat and retreat, we are witnessing an explosion of political dissent and activism that, again, tells us that we can defeat the vampires of capitalism and win this world.

With revolution again on the agenda where are the pompous proponents of incremental reform now? The social democratic parties have surrendered to neoliberalism and the leaders like Britain's Ed Miliband and our own Phil Goff splutter that there is 'no alternative' to the free market, all the while cosying up to the rich and the powerful.

The ideology of tepid reformism was, in the end, always a suffocating and sterile ideology because it always assumed stability and inertia. When capitalism couldn't even provide it with that it simply collapsed.

But Marx told us all this many years ago. He reminded us that the status quo is built on sand and can quickly fall when we least expect it. We should never fall into the trap that takes the status quo as a given - leave that dismal mode of thinking to the discredited heirs of Eduard Bernstein and his 'parliamentary road to socialism'.

Even in December 1916, only two months before the outbreak of the Russian revolution, Lenin himself despondently wrote : “The revolutionary movement grows extremely slowly and with difficulty.” But in January 1917, he wrote, “We of the older generation may not live to see the decisive battles of this coming revolution.”

The great events that we are witnessing today began in Spain, arrived in the Middle East, spread to Europe and then landed in the United States, the centre of global capitalism. And it all occurred in a short space of time.

We should always remember the Marxist concept of dialectics. It reminds us that social and political upheaval is a constant possibility, rather than a rare exception.

There are weeks where decades happen.

I AM NOT MOVING

OCCUPY NEW ZEALAND

The movement arrives in New Zealand...

Often a humble blog cannot keep up with the pace of events and I think this is one of those times. In just 24 hours the Occupy movement has swept around the world. There are demonstrations occurring in over 80 countries and over 900 cities.

Ordinary people are taking their rightful place at the centre of politics. They are no longer prepared to accept that they are merely passive bystanders while the politicians canoodle with the banks and corporations to protect the vested interests of the capitalist elite at the expense of everyone else.

One of the fundamental attractions and strengths of this movement is that it represents a fundamental break with 'politics as usual'. Throughout the world spokespeople for the movement have explicitly stated that the established parties have not only failed them - they have betrayed them. This is a movement that will not be diverted down a political no-exit called 'working within the system'. This is a movement that will not go away and 'organise a petition' to present to the politicians. This is a movement that will not go away and let the commentators in the corporate media tell them what they should or shouldn't do.

This is a movement that is demanding fundamental change and that means a whole lot more than voting for a political party every few years.

For the corporate media, this movement represents a real problem because it is raising real issues that the corporate media has done its best to either blur or has simply ignored.

These are fundamental issues like who should own and control the economy and about what democratic participation really means. This is a movement that is questioning the entire legitimacy of a economic and political system that has enriched the few at the expense of the many. The corporate media,very much a part of 'the machine', would like to keep these issues off the political agenda.

In New Zealand thousands of people marched throughout the country yesterday, including 3000 people in Auckland. There were also marches in New Plymouth, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill. Camps are also being established, including one in Aotea Square in Auckland.

The sheer presence of the movement in New Zealand raises all the issues that I mentioned above - and more besides. It is particularly timely given that there will be in general election in just six weeks. (Although if you were to believe the counsel of Labour Party apologist and commentator Chris Trotter, its 'not yet' time for this movement in New Zealand.)

The desire of the politicians and their lackeys in the corporate media is to conduct this election campaign like all the campaigns that have gone before.

In other words, the politicians and the media commentators will joust in the bourgeois political arena while the rest of us are expected, as usual, to passively watch them from the grandstands. And we might even be able to ask a question or two, if we behave.

Then we can vote for whatever set of neoliberal politicians we want. The parliamentary politicians are all singing from the same neoliberal song sheet so you don't get a real choice.

And that'll it be it for another three years,

It is up to the movement to say that this no longer acceptable. We want our country back -not just a vote every three years and nothing ever changes.

We want social and economic justice and we know that 'politics as usual' cannot deliver it.
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BLOOMBERG REVEALS HIS TRUE POLITICAL COLOURS

The Mayor of New York wants Occupy Wall Street to just go away..

While he initially declared that everyone had the democratic right to protest, it was always on the cards that the Mayor of New York was going to show his true political face when he realised that Occupy Wall Street wasn't going to be going away anytime soon.

Despite saying on Monday that OWS protesters were free to stay in Zuccotti Park (near Wall Street) indefinitely, Bloomberg is now trying to remove them.

He has suddenly announced that on Friday morning (New York time) the park will be 'cleaned' - which is an obvious ploy to shut down OWS.

That was made clear when Bloomberg added that after the 'cleaning' OWS protesters would have to 'follow the rules' which include 'no tents', 'no sleeping bags' and 'no lying down'.

This is a deliberate attack on people's right to assemble and, not surprisingly , OWS do not plan to cooperate with the Wall Street crony.

OWS also point out that they have a sanitation working group in operation within the park and say that if Bloomberg is really so interested in sanitation then he should allow the installation of portable toilets and more rubbish disposal facilities.

OWS is an occupation - it is not a Bloomberg- approved picnic outing.

Bloomberg has also recently been in the media defending his Wall Street mates, claiming that OWS was unfairly blaming "hard working" Wall Street employees for America's ills!
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TURKEY FM

More appalling ratings for Kiwi FM...

The numbers are in and, yes, the Mediaworks station Kiwi FM has delivered, yet again, another set of dismal ratings.

For the period 13 August to 24 September the station that is squatting in three valuable government-owned FM frequencies bombed again. Kiwi is consistently delivering the kind of ratings that, if there was any justice, would result it in being told to vacate the premises immediately and work then recommenced in setting up the non-commercial youth radio network.

But that's not about to happen soon so we're stuck with Turkey FM - a station listed as part of Mediaworks stable of commercial stations but which squats in valuable FM frequencies owned by the Government and which it has never paid for.

In Auckland Kiwi delivered the same rotten rating it invariably delivers - 0.1 percent. In Wellington it got 0.5 and in Christchurch Kiwi managed 0.3 percent.

Given that the margin of error is +/- 2.5 percent there is a real possibility no one is actually listening to this station, except perhaps Karyn Hay.

# OCCUPY AMERICA

WINE JUNKETS AND SHOPPING SHOWS

Councillor Sue Wells is off on a German wine junket later this month which the good people of Christchurch are being forced to subsidise. The Christchurch ratepayer has also been subsiding her to front a shopping show on a local television channel.

Later this month Councillor Sue Wells is waltzing off to Germany for a week at the expense of the Christchurch ratepayer - despite the fact that the good people of Christchurch have told her that this is simply unacceptable. But Wells, as usual, isn't listening - because she's right and everyone else is wrong.

Funnily enough she has yet to mention her wine junket on her blog . We'll keep you posted when she does.

But this junket is yet another example of Wells cavalier 'I'll do what I like' attitude when it comes to her responsibilities to the people who pay her exorbitant six-figure salary - the good people of Christchurch.

While we have written about her moonlighting as a in-house continuity announcer for both the New World supermarket chain and The Warehouse, this year she has been fronting a half hour shopping show on the regional television channel, Canterbury TV.

Its imaginatively called Susan Sells and it screens every weekday.

While the loyal Sideshow Bob supporter is reportedly not being paid to host the show she is apparently doing it on council time. So, in other words, the good people of Christchurch are subsiding Wells to front a show on a privately owned television channel.

It seems that Sideshow Bob is just fine with Wells less than convincing commitment to her council work. She can go on wine junkets and front shopping shows and its all OK with Bob. But. hey, Sue Wells is a loyal member of Sideshow's 'A team'...

APOCALYPSE NOW

The Financial Crash Pt 2 is on its way. This time it'll be worse

I don't wish to crash the Rugby World Cup 'Bread and Circuses' Party (actually I do), but has anyone given any thought to the coming economic apocalypse? Or has it been put on the backburner until the rugby circus is over?

This is what that august journal of the British establishment, the Financial Times , said recently:

“This recession is not normal. When economies suffer such steep collapses, as they did during the worst of the crisis (the peak to trough fall on gross domestic product having varied between 3.9% in France and 9.9% in Japan), an expansion that fails to return output to the starting point will not feel like a recovery. This is especially true if unemployment remains high, employment low and spare capacity elevated. In the US, unemployment is still double its pre-crisis rates. Another downturn now would surely be a disaster.”

Echoing the Financial Times, the Governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, warned last week that the world was showing growing signs of a global economic disaster. He said:

“This is the most serious financial crisis we’ve seen, at least since the 1930s, if not ever. We’re having to deal with very unusual circumstances..'

Recently, Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize winner for economics, stated that “A long malaise now seems like the optimistic scenario.”

The alarm bells are well and truly ringing among the capitalist elite but the corporate media seem incapable of seeing this crisis as anything other than 'a rough patch' which 'we' will, somehow muddle through. So they cling to any piece of economic good news, however small, as a sign that things aren't so bad and that we can all pack up our troubles in our old kit bag.

I was dumbfounded to hear someone on either TVNZ or TV3 speculating recently whether we were going into a double dip recession.

The fact is that the world has never come out of the 2008 Great Recession. We've basically had four years of economic stagnation. This is looking like a Depression folks but you will not hear the 'D' word mentioned in the corporate media.

Instead over the last four years we've had nonsense about an 'economic recovery being just around the corner' and 'economic green shoots'.

But while these clowns have babbled nonsense, the crisis has deepened. This crisis is not cyclical but structural. In other words we have reached a point where capitalism itself is the problem and no amount of tinkering will fix it.

Not that Governments haven't tried. The banks, the corporations and the finance houses have all been bailed out with taxpayer money in a desperate attempt to revive the dying patient.

The scale of the bailout has been so vast as to be barely comprehensible. The total bailout (so far) has been anywhere between 20- 25 trillion dollars. That's 25,000,000,000,000 or a million million or a thousand billion. If you want to look at an instructive visual demonstration of what a trillion dollars looks like, go here.

This astounding bailout of global capitalism has driven a massive build-up of government debt. Countries like Greece , Portugal , Spain and Italy are all teetering on the edge of the abyss. Greece is broke and its only a matter of time before it defaults.

But as the debts continue to mount the austerity cuts demanded by the IMF become more savage . All around the world ordinary people are being forced into joblessness, poverty and homelessness in order that the finance centres of global capitalism can survive.

And the resistance to the rule of the financial terrorists (because that is what they are) continues to grow and Occupy Wall Street is just the latest manifestation of that resistance.

It should be made clear that capitalism can no longer afford the kind of reforms that characterised the post war period. This era has long gone and will never return. The machinery of gradual reform has been smashed into a million pieces.

This is the era of the capitalist offensive and vicious austerity measures.

The only solution is the radical transformation of the capitalist political economy. It really is either socialism or barbarism.
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BOMBER GETS THE BOOT


Blogger Martyn 'Bomber' Bradbury has been booted off a National Radio show for criticising the Prime Minister. Apparently he wasn't 'fair and balanced'.

Blogger Martyn Bradbury is acerbic, passionate and he says what he thinks.

Politically he isn't a socialist. He's left wing in a Mana Party-type way, which in the zealously protected neoliberal hothouse that is New Zealand, that makes him almost radical. It certainly won't get him a job writing opinion pieces for The Press or the NZ Herald.

But, regardless of his politics, when the barricades go up I know he'll be standing on my side. In stark contrast I suspect that some of his fellow contributors to National Radio's 'The Panel'' will be standing on the sidelines, drinking their lattes-to-go and wailing 'Why can't we all just get along?'

Because he isn't a socialist Bradbury was a regular guest on 'The Panel'. He was, apparently, a regular contributor for some ten years.

But because he says what he thinks and because the avenues of dissent in New Zealand are narrowing, he has been axed from the weekday afternoon show.

It seems Bradbury got the Spanish archer because he criticised the Prime Minister in a manner that displeased the top brass at Radio New Zealand.

According to Peter Cavanagh , the big boss at RNZ, Bradbury went too far in his criticisms of Key and that he breached RNZ's 'editorial policies'. This is absurd and the suggestion that what he said was 'defamatory' is even more nonsensical.

You can read what Bradbury said here.

In my view, there is nothing wrong with Bradbury's opinion piece. All he appears to have done is upset Cavanagh's sensitive and fragile disposition . 'The Panel' is an opinion show and Bradbury was expressing his opinion. What exactly is wrong with that?

According to the delicate Cavanagh, Bradbury's comments were not 'fair and balanced'.

Bradbury was giving his opinion on a opinion-based show. Opinion shows, are by their very nature. neither fair or balanced. If I want 'fair and balanced' I'll read the back of the cornflakes box.

Or is Cavanagh talking about being 'fair and balanced' in a Fox News-type way?


Radio Live just doesn't learn or just doesn't care.

After being rightfully lambasted for giving the Prime Minister a free hour long show to promote himself, it is now running a promo for Paul Henry's drivetime show that also features Key.

Amidst the jolly banter, we hear Key declaring to Henry: 'You love me like a brother!"

Henry is a former National Party candidate and during his time on TVNZ's Breakfast crawled up to Key on a regular basis. It looks like he's doing the same thing on Radio Live.
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WHY I'M OCCUPYING

I believe another world is possible'.
By
Trish Kahle

If you’re one of those people wondering why in the world those people are down there, if you’re one of those people wondering what’s making us sleep out in the cold, if you’re one of the people who tells us to just wait and vote, this message is for you.

I’m occupying because I have a degree from one of the country’s top colleges, a decade of work experience and I rarely get called back for any jobs I have applied for.

I’m occupying for Troy Davis and for Shaka Sankofa–because I will not allow this government and this system to continue lynching Black men and calling it justice.

I’m occupying because back when I had a decent part-time job (making $9.50/hour), and I was so scared of doing something wrong and being fired that my hands would shake all day and my jaw was constantly sore from the tension. It ended up affecting my job performance so much that I was let go.

I’m occupying because I have been protesting the wars and the international crimes carried out in my name for too long.

I’m occupying because being told I must choose between Democrats and Republicans is like being told I must choose to drink antifreeze or drain cleaner.

I’m occupying because a war criminal can come to my city and charge $80 a ticket to talk about “peace.”

I’m occupying against the segregation of my city, which fifty years after the sit-ins at Woolworth’s began still stands at 86%.

I’m occupying because the wealth doesn’t belong to the people who create it. They steal it from us and call it development.

I’m occupying because there are more empty homes in my city than there are homeless people, because the foreclosures continue and escalate.

I’m occupying because politicians are content with business as usual and business as usual is Goldman Sachs running the country.

I’m occupying for amnesty. The people to arrest are the bankers and traders–not the undocumented.

I’m occupying because I live in a country where a person’s sexuality makes them a target and gender marks a person for violence, and this is unacceptable.

I’m occupying because we need a world without police and the brutality they inflict, a world without prisons and mass incarceration of people of color.

I’m occupying because with the money spent on war and occupation over the last decade the US government could have provided every unemployed person with a living wage job.

I’m occupying because what I’ve just described isn’t life. It’s alienation at best and a death sentence at worst. This system is broken, and we are the only ones who can fix it.

I’m occupying because I believe another world is possible–a world free of oppression and exploitation, a world where people come first, and the ugly spectre of profit is absent from our lives.

I’m occupying because I believe that the world is worth fighting for.


This article was first published on I Can't Believe We Still Have To Protest This Shit
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GEORGE CARLIN ON 'THE AMERICAN DREAM'



''But I'll tell you what they don't want. They don't want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don't want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. They're not interested in that. That doesn't help them. That's against their interests. They don't want people who are smart enough to sit around the kitchen table and figure out how badly they're getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard thirty fucking years ago. You know what they want? Obedient workers - people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork - but dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, reduced benefits, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it.

"And now, they're coming for your Social Security. They want your fucking retirement money! They want it back so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They'll get it! They'll get it all, sooner or later, because they own this fucking place. It's a big club and you ain't in it. You and I are not in the Big Club."

AN AMERICAN AWAKENING

Real political change is finally back on the agenda in the United States


Thursday will be another significant day for the new political movement emerging in the United States.

This is the day when the movement arrives on the steps of the White House. This is the day when October 2011 will descend on Washington's Freedom Plaza.

And the thousands of people who will go to Freedom Plaza will know that thousands of people are making the same stand in communities, towns and cities thoughout the United States.

And not just in the United States. Throughout the world people are making a stand. In countries like Greece, Spain, Britain and Portugal ordinary people are fighting the same capitalist forces that see us as mere fodder for 'the machine'.

The machine has to be stopped and a new world won.

I have read several columns where the issues of political demands and organisation have been discussed.

The comments have been well-intentioned and made in a spirit of solidarity but I think they are well wide of the mark.

One of the great strengths of Occupy Wall Street is that it embraces a diverse constellation of social and political forces within the United States. This is a movement that has embraced different groups and organisations without rancour but with respect.

Its present strength and growing popularity lies in its diversity and not in uniformity.

It is more than enough at this stage that the movement has ignited a conversation and debate within the United States about the legitimacy of a economic system that enriches one percent of the population at the expense of everyone else.

That debate has been off the American political agenda for decades and, at last, we are truly seeing an American awakening.

Social democratic parties throughout the West long ago meekly surrendered to neoliberalism. But out of the rubble of social democracy we can build new progressive movements.

In the United States there is a yearning for a fundamental change. Occupy Wall Street has tapped into that yearning.

It can be done elsewhere too.

It would nice to think it could be done in New Zealand too and that we can find a new politics that bypasses the neoliberalism and the cronyism of the parliamentary parties. We need a new kind of politics that rejects voting for a cabal of oppressors every three years.
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#OCCUPY WALL STREET : 700 ARRESTED

While the New Zealand mainstream media obsesses over the All Blacks, the New York police arrest a reported 700 Occupy Wall Street protesters. Will both TVNZ and TV3 continue to keep the demonstrations off the six o'clock news shows?


Thousands of Occupy Wall Street protesters swarmed the Brooklyn Bridge Saturday, shutting down car lanes and setting up yet another tense showdown with the NYPD.

An army of cops swooped in after the demonstrators took over the bridge's pedestrian walkway and flooded onto the car lanes heading to Brooklyn. The showdown halted traffic on the bridge for nearly three hours. - New York Daily News, Oct 1


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