Category Archives: Banking and finance
Media 68: social media militarising the young and pacifying the attacked: ‘a vital tool for the armed forces’
AKA Hell’s kitchen?
The blurb: “Social media has become an increasingly vital tool for the armed forces in the 21st Century.
“Not only in order to reach out to a wider and younger audience globally for recruitment and information purposes but as a new front in warfare. What soldiers, airmen and sailors post online can be crucial to winning the hearts and minds of local populations, weakening the enemy’s narrative and as an instrument in the proliferation of cyber warfare”.
The SMi PR group held its 6th Annual Social Media Within The Defence and Military Sector in the Holiday Inn, Bloomsbury earlier this week.
- to present the latest concepts and ideas on how to enhance the outreach of the military in the digital sphere,
- the integration of social media activities within the whole spectrum of operations conducted by the military both at home and abroad,
- to hear from some of the leading voices of social media within the industry and NATO and allied militaries,to focus on the effects of social media on and off the battlefield through training and application,
- to learn from the commercial sector on how to create an effective social media strategy,
- to learn from the military about how they are utilizing digital media channels to project their activities to a wider audience,
- to discover how social media is intertwining with other aspects of warfare to create a multi-levelled war zone both in the real world and the virtual one
- and to discover how popular social media brands operate with militaries in a defence environment
The only named sponsor: Thales, the French multinational company that designs and builds electrical systems and provides services for the aerospace, defence, ground transportation and security market.
COMING SOON, SMi CONFERENCES ON MORE OPEN OPPRESSION
Future armoured vehicles – used to quell dissident or invaded populations
And military airlift and air to air refuelling – to facilitate bombing them
Following the summary of yesterday’s article by the Times’ Jenni Russell, a second analysis is made by John Wight in the Huffington Post article. He writes:
“The liberal order has collapsed and no one should mourn its demise, for on its tombstone is engraved the disaster of Afghanistan, the murder of Iraq and Libya, and the unleashing of an upsurge in global terrorism and religious fanaticism on the back of the destabilisation wrought across the Middle East in the wake of 9/11. Married to a refugee crisis of biblical dimension and the closest we have ever been to direct military confrontation with Russia since the Cold War, these are the fruits of this liberal order abroad.
“Meanwhile at home its moral and intellectual conceit has produced obscene levels of inequality, alienation, and poverty, exacerbated by the worst economic recession since the 1930s and the implementation of that mass experiment in human despair, otherwise known as austerity, in response.
“Tony Blair, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton epitomise this failed liberal order – leaders who perfected the art of speaking left while acting right, presenting themselves as champions of the masses, of ordinary working people, while worshipping at the altar of the free market, cosying up to the banks, corporations, and vested interests”.
- Are Brexit and Donald Trump ‘unleashing the dogs of racism and bigotry’ as John Wight fears?
- Is hope in Jeremy Corbyn lost? Wight thinks he failed to understand the danger posed by Brexit and mounted a dispassionate and lacklustre nature of the campaign.
- Was the manner in which Bernie Sanders folded his tent after Hillary Clinton won the Democratic Party nomination in decidedly dubious circumstances was tantamount to a betrayal of the passion, commitment and hope that millions across America had placed in him?
He emphasises that politics is not a mere parlour game and says that both Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders are fully deserving of criticism for taking positions and an approach which has suggested that for them it is, continuing:
Agreed, but there are better prescriptions than those he outlines in his final paragraphs.
Jenni Russell sees ‘the anguished question’ as being how to remedy the acute problems of inequality, while keeping the engines of capitalism working.
Should we instead try the engines of co-operation, peacebuilding, mutuality and increasing self-provision?
Via John Wight’s Twitter account we saw a link to an article by Saurav Dutt, novelist, independent film producer, playwright, screenwriter, graphic design illustrator, accomplished author and writer. After James Landale, BBC diplomatic correspondent -amongst many others – reported David Cameron’s description of Afghanistan and Nigeria as corrupt, Saurav Dutt asked if anyone is contending that the UK is not corrupt?
”What the City and the tax havens are up to isn’t anything as morally defensible as corruption – it’s that good old fashioned criminal act of “receiving”. It gives corruption a bad name . . . There isn’t a lot of corruption in the UK, well, not in cash . . . “
The well-filled envelope type of corruption is common in some countries. How people laughed at Neil Hamilton when it was alleged that he received money in this way – British corruption is less obvious but now well realised by the general public. When will we protest like the Indian people?
As noted in the earlier post, readers send many links to news about the revolving door, rewards for failure, the political influence wielded by the corporate world and lucrative appointments for the friends and family of those with political influence; this is the British way.
Dutt says that corruption comes from the ‘top’ down and is endemic in Western society: “In a fiscal sense it is the banks, financial institutions and ‘big business’ with acceptance from politicians (who also get their cut one way or another) and moves on to a more moral sense with the Police and the legal professions”.
An All-Party Parliamentary Group on Anti-Corruption was established in November 2011 to raise awareness of the impact of international corruption and to enhance and strengthen UK anti-corruption policies and mechanisms. Could they answer Dutt’s questions?
- How many MPs voted for health legislation when they have interests in private health care?
- Why does Cameron appoint Ministers to the education department who have a direct interest in academies that their companies are involved in?
- Why does this government give honours to people who have given their party money?
- Why does this government pass legislation that directly benefits their donors?
As Dutt says “The Transparency International corruption index shows we have some way to go before we reach the dizzy heights of Denmark, and a short stroll down the slippery path to the likes of Qatar and the UAE”.
Anne sends a link to the ‘shameful’ news that the 50 biggest US companies have more money stashed offshore than the entire GDP of Spain, Mexico or Australia, collectively keeping about $1.3trn (£0.91trn) in territories where the money does not count towards US tax, according to a new report by Oxfam.
Several readers have sent material about the Panama Papers but until now they have not been mentioned on this site – because, as Žižek writes: “The only truly surprising thing about the Panama Papers leak is that there is no surprise in them:
“Didn’t we learn exactly what we expected to learn from them?”
He highlights the ‘shameless cynicism’ of the existing global order and our shame for tolerating their power. In Vox.Com Tara Goshan elaborates:
“Corruption is not a contingent deviation of the global capitalist system, it is part of its basic functioning . . . The papers demonstrate how wealthy people live in a separate world in which different rules apply, in which legal system and police authority are heavily twisted and not only protect the rich, but are even ready to systematically bend the rule of law to accommodate them”.
She points out that, after many years of pressure on Swiss banks to reveal information about rich Americans who hide their money offshore, the U.S. is resisting new global disclosure standards; wealth management experts are now helping the world’s rich move accounts from places like the Bahamas to Nevada, Wyoming, and South Dakota. Goshan quotes Peter A. Cotorceanu, a lawyer at Anaford AG, a Zurich law firm, in a recent legal journal:
“How ironic—no, how perverse—that the USA, which has been so sanctimonious in its condemnation of Swiss banks, has become the banking secrecy jurisdiction du jour. That ‘giant sucking sound’ you hear? It is the sound of money rushing to the USA.”
The Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn responded to the prime minister’s statement to the House of Commons about his tax affairs:
“I’m honestly not sure Mr Speaker that the Prime Minister fully appreciates the anger that is out there over this injustice.
“How can it be right that street cleaners, teaching assistants and nurses work and pay their taxes yet some of those at the top think the rules simply don’t apply to them.
“The truth is, is that the UK is at the heart of the global tax avoidance industry. It’s a national scandal and it’s got to end”.
Anne comments on the focus away from this international scandal, sending a link to the news that today the Security Council holds an open debate on counter-terrorism.
Will the attention of the 99% once again be successfully distracted by the political-corporate alliance?
Parliament’s own website heads the summary of the Committee of Public Accounts report on Revenue and Customs: “HMRC still failing UK taxpayers”.
Its lamentable eprformance in simple tasks such as answering the telephone is on record and its failure to collect a reasonable amount of offshore tax evaded was published in November. It spoke of 11,000 job cuts since 2010 & 40,000 since 2004. Read the summary by the chair, MP Meg Hillier, here: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/public-accounts-committee/news-parliament-2015/hmrc-performance-report-published-15-16/
“HMRC must do more to ensure all due tax is paid. The public purse is missing out and taxpayers expect and deserve better.
“We are deeply disappointed at the low number of prosecutions by HMRC for tax evasion. We believe it is important for HMRC to send a clear message to those who seek to evade tax that the penalties will be severe and public. It’s also important that the majority who play by the rules, paying their tax on time and in full, see that those who don’t will face the consequences.
“Tax avoidance also remains a serious concern. Too many avoidance schemes run rings around the taxman, operating legally but gaining advantages never intended by Parliament. If tax law is to be improved then HMRC must as a priority provide Parliament with comprehensive details of avoidance. HMRC must also rapidly improve its customer service, previously described by the PAC as abysmal and now even worse – to the extent it could be considered a genuine threat to tax collection.
“It beggars belief that, having made disappointing progress on tax evasion and avoidance, the taxman also seems incapable of running a satisfactory service for people trying to pay their fair share.”
- Report: HMRCs performance in 2014-15
- Report: HMRCs performance in 2014-15 (PDF)
- Inquiry: Report: HMRCs performance in 2014-15
The FT reports that people of Crickhowell agree: the town’s traders have submitted tax plans to HMRC, using offshore arrangements favoured by multinationals. They hope that their ‘tax rebellion’ will spread to other towns forcing the Government to tackle how Amazon, for example, paid £11.9million tax last year on £5.3billion of UK sales. Their rationale: High street coffee shop owner Steve said: ‘I have always paid every penny of tax I owe, and I don’t object to that. What I object to is paying my full tax when my big name competitors are doing the damnedest to dodge theirs.’
As Glasgow’s Daily Record put it: “Cameron had no good answers and looked like a PM finally being held to account for the all damage his policies are doing. It really was an absolutely terrible day at the office for David Cameron. And quite possibly the day when Tories started taking Jeremy Corbyn seriously”.
As even the right-wing press salutes Jeremy Corbyn’s questions in Wednesday’s PMQs, two of the Telegraph’s journalists – hopefully their worst – pounce.
- One is Dan Hodges, who describes himself as a ‘tribal neo-Blairite’.
Dan has been a parliamentary researcher, a Labour Party official, GMB official, and as director of communications for Transport for London under Ken Livingstone. He left the party in 2013 after the government lost a crucial vote in the House of Commons which was designed to pave the way for a military intervention in Syria. Nice guy.
He writes: “The Lords are in open revolt. Caesar has been brought low. Or George Osborne, who has a haircut remarkably similar to Caesar’s, has been brought low. The barbarians are at the gates. Jeremy Corbyn has finally had a decent PMQs, using the tax credits issue to back David Cameron into a corner”.
He later refers to “Jeremy Corbyn’s besting of David Cameron at PMQs”
Reading around one gathers his attempted ‘downing’ of Osborne and Cameron is due to his support for Boris Johnson, first shown when he voted for him in the London Mayoral elections.
- The other is Angela Epstein, a columnist for the Jewish Chronicle and some right-wing British publications
Under the title, ‘Jeremy Corbyn is too thick to be Prime Minister’, she focusses on his exam results and lack of what she calls ‘natural talent’. It appears that she is a person whose disapproval amounts to an accolade. Read this devastating analysis of her mindset by Kate Smurthwaite, comedian.
Attacks by such people only highlight Corbyn’s decency and the popular welcome for the Labour Party’s policies for building a fairer society and redeeming Britain’s besmirched international reputation.
Compare Jeremy Corbyn’s record with that of the many ‘highly educated’ psychopaths in and out of power. They have successfully connived at the deaths and destruction in so many countries of late – whilst increasing their fortunes by their alliance with subsidised arms traders, multinationals who have taken over most of Britain’s energy, health, water, financial, communications and transport services and those who periodically attempt to make the struggling taxpayer accept mass medication (fluoride, statins, the polypill) GM technology, nuclear power stations, polluting incinerators and fracking – totally disregarding the welfare of the 99%.
The title reference is to an article by Matthew C Klein, a contributor to the FT’s Alphaville: ‘daily news and commentary service giving finance professionals the information they need, when they need it’ – retweeted by Paul Gosling.
Klein (right) says that if Jeremy Corbyn becomes leader of the UK Labour Party, one positive consequence will be ‘the ensuing discussion of the monetary policy transmission mechanism’:
The existing monetary policy tools have the ‘unseemly property’ of appearing to work mainly by making the rich richer and hoping that some of the extra wealth gets spent.
To rebalance the economy, “moving towards the high-growth, sustainable sectors of the future, the Bank of England could be given a new mandate to upgrade the economy to invest in new large scale housing, energy, transport and digital projects”.
Quantitative easing for people instead of banks? The bulk of the British economics commentariat erupted but Klein deems the core idea sound, possessing ‘an impressive intellectual pedigree’.
Corbyn’s plan to have the Bank of England fund government-directed investment in infrastructure could work – in 2011, American economist Adam Posen (left) supported something similar when he was on the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England, except that he focused on small businesses.
Posen thought that private lenders weren’t providing credit where he believed it was needed and recommended creating new public investment banks that could originate and secure loans into bonds that could then be purchased by the Bank of England, thereby funding new business investment.
Corbyn wants specialised “green” investment banks, housing authorities, and local governments to be able to finance infrastructure investment with funding support provided by the Bank of England. Klein comments on the Posen/Corbyn proposals: “We fail to see a significant difference”.
Nicholas Watts in the Guardian reports that Richard Murphy, Tax Research UK, who drew up the people’s quantitative easing plan for the Corbyn campaign, points out that we will get near the Bank of England’s inflation target of 2% only when we have established people with higher wages and increased productivity and the economy is “humming along nicely”. He adds that once you have people back in work on decent wages, you have to turn QE off because continuing at that point would be inflationary.
Quantitative easing for people instead of banks?
Klein agrees that if Corbyn’s preferred investments prove to be productive, they would help to restore some lost ground and lead to higher real wages for Britons and goes further, predicting that the expanded capacity due to extra investment spending may avoid inflation.
Corbyn, also quoted in the Guardian article, “It is in the long-term interest of the UK to rebuild a resilient industrial base . . . with its people, energy, land and water . . . ”.
Birmingham Press – Corbyn: a man of integrity with decades of experience outwith the political zeitgeist
Author and Birmingham Press contributor, Steve Beauchampé, assesses Jeremy Corbyn’s chances
Title & headings added:
My only surprise is that anyone was surprised. From the moment Jeremy Corbyn received sufficient nominations to qualify as a candidate in the Labour Party leadership contest, it was clear that here was someone who could articulate and represent the opinions of a considerable number of left leaning voters, both within the Labour Party and without.
After two decades of Blairites, Blair lites and the worthy but unelectable Ed Miliband, Labour voters were being offered the choice of more Blair/Brown in the form of either Yvette Cooper or the unspeakably vapid Liz Kendall (strategy: ‘the Tories won the last two elections, so let’s adopt policies that are indistinguishable from theirs’) or decent, honest and likeable Andy Burnham, a slightly more radical version of Ed Miliband but without the geeky visage and voice.
That Corbyn has forged a sizeable and potentially decisive lead over his rivals under Labour’s new ‘one member one vote’ electoral system has caused a mixture of consternation and outrage amongst many of the party’s grandees (most of whom are backing either Cooper or Kendall) and demonstrates how disconnected with a large section of potential Labour voters they have become (the more so with opinion polls placing Burnham second).
Corbyn has fended off the criticism and caricatures with ease
Meanwhile Corbyn, demonised and subjected to vitriolic attacks by some within his own party, and inaccurately dismissed as a 1980s throwback from the hard left of the political spectrum by Tories and most sections of the media, has fended off both the criticism and caricatures with ease, as befits a man with decades of experience of being outwith the political zeitgeist.
A politician with a track record of being on the right side of the argument years before those in the ‘mainstream’
However, following several weeks of lazy, ignorant mis-characterisation of him across the press (not least by the BBC), a realisation finally seems to be dawning amongst the more thoughtful political commentators and scribes that Jeremy Corbyn is no joke candidate, no passing fad, but is instead a serious politician, and one with an agenda appealing to many voters previously disengaged from party politics. No cartoon firebrand Marxist he but a man of conviction and humility with a track record of being on the right side of the argument years before those in the ‘mainstream’ adopted the policies he espoused (Corbyn opposed Britain’s arming of Saddam Hussein in the late 1980s, supported Nelson Mandela and the ANC when the British Government was helping South Africa’s apartheid regime, held talks with the IRA nearly a decade or more before the Major and Blair governments did likewise, campaigned for gay rights when it was unfashionable to do so and voted against the invasion of Iraq in 2003).
A politician with an agenda appealing to many voters previously disengaged from party politics
And just as in Scotland, where the rise of the SNP, under the charismatic leaderships of first Alex Salmond and now Nicola Sturgeon, have helped invigorate politics, particularly amongst the young, so Corbyn’s leadership hustings have been passionate and at times electrifying affairs, populated by a sizeable number of youthful voters.
A victory for Corbyn on September 12th could energise and transform British politics
A victory for Corbyn on September 12th could energise and transform British politics, providing a narrative with which a substantial number of the electorate – many of whom currently feel disenfranchised and perhaps don’t even bother to vote – can feel comfortable and might coalesce around. Because, with every media appearance, every public speaking engagement, all but the most politically jaundiced can see that Jeremy Corbyn is at least a man of integrity, putting an argument that has long been absent from mainstream British politics. Agree with him or not, but here is a politician to be respected and reckoned with, who is shifting the terms of the debate.
The Conservative agenda will be thrown into sharper definition
Thus those in the Conservative Party and its media cheerleaders who view a Corbyn victory as almost a guarantee of a third term in office may be in for a shock. Because, whilst the opprobrium directed at Corbyn from his opponents both outside and inside the Labour Party will only intensify if he becomes Labour leader, with a coherent and plausible genuine alternative to the Cameron/Osborne ideology and its attendant relentless tacking to the right of what constitutes the political centre ground, the Conservative’s agenda will be thrown into sharper definition in a way that a Labour Party offering merely a less extreme alternative to the Tories never can.
So could Jeremy Corbyn win a general election for Labour and become Prime Minister?
Well, despite his current sizeable lead in opinion polls Corbyn’s campaign could be scuppered by Labour’s second preference voting system, whereby the second choices of the lowest ranked candidate (who drops out) are added to the cumulative totals of those remaining, this procedure being repeated until one candidate has over half of the votes cast, a system expected to benefit Burnham or Cooper the most.
If . . .
If Corbyn can overcome that hurdle, and any subsequent move to oust him from the New Labour wing of the party, then don’t write Jeremy Corbyn off for Prime Minister. Few of life’s earthquake moments are ever foretold and by May 2020 who knows how bloodied and riven the Conservatives might be following the forthcoming EU referendum. Public appetite for the Tories and in particular George Osborne might have waned after two terms and ten years (and barely a quarter of the eligible electorate voted for them in 2015), with the Conservatives needing only to lose eight seats for there to be hung parliament. So a Corbyn prime ministership is not out of the question.
Perhaps the most likely – and intriguing – scenario to that coming to pass would be a coalition between a Corbyn-led Labour, the Liberal Democrats under the auspices of social democrat leftie Tim Farron, the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Greens. Now that really would scare the Daily Mail readers!
Read the Press article here: http://thebirminghampress.com/2015/08/the-john-peel-of-politics/
Steve Beauchampé, August 5th 2015, adds:
Jeremy Corbyn’s policies include:
Re-introduction of a top rate 50% income tax
Tighter regulation of banks and the financial sector to prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis (George Osborne is currently proposing to loosen these controls)
Substantial increase in the number of affordable homes being built
Re-introduction of rent controls to reduce the amount the state pays to private landlords
Support for Britain’s manufacturers rather than the financial services sector
The establishment of a National Investment Bank to pay for major public infrastructure programmes such as house building, improved rail, renewable energy projects and super fast broadband
The minimum wage to apply to apprentices
Removing all elements of privatisation from the NHS
Taking the railways, gas, water and electricity back into public ownership
Bringing Free Schools and Academies under the direct control of local authorities
Budget deficit reduction, but at a slower rate than that currently proposed
Scrapping Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent (Trident)
Support for significant devolution of power from London and opposition to unless voted for in a referendum
An elected second chamber
On the EU referendum, Corbyn has said that he is likely to vote to stay in, and then fight for change from inside.
*John Lloyd, a contributing editor to the Financial Times does condescendingly concede, “There is a gap in the public debate for a credible argument on fairness, inequality and public decency” – adding that Mr Corbyn knows what he stands for:
- more social spending,
- more state intervention,
- renationalisation of services such as rail
- much less inequality.
- and the belief that the US is at the root of evils such as wars, the Ukraine crisis and Middle Eastern turmoil.
Lloyd: “As a candidate for high office, he would be politically and economically eviscerated, both at home and abroad”
Unlike Blair and other MPs from both main parties he has not succumbed to the love of tainted money or fallen into debt.
He is apparently not attracted by extramarital or illegal sexual activities – having far more important and socially beneficial preoccupations.
Lloyd’s advice, pleasing to corporate advertisers and future employers is for opposition to move away from the ‘far left’ with its militant “populist, class-based resentment”
He sets a number of topics that misguided leftists should consider, moving to what he considers a more acceptable form of social democracy – accepting much of the status quo:
”Keep the capitalist show on the road but fight civilised battles for a larger share of its surplus for the lower classes”
One – less than inspiring – example is given: “Last week, campaigners and unions won a pledge from Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic governor of New York state, for a $15-an-hour minimum wage by 2018. The move may not be cost free: it might price some people out of work. But it aims to shift at least some costs from the backs of the poorly paid”.
His conclusion: “Mr Blair was right to say last week that Mr Corbyn would be a disaster.” And Blair was not?
* Mr Lloyd’s journey (Wiki):
In the 1970s, Lloyd was a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain and later the British and Irish Communist Organisation. He then became a supporter of the Labour Party. Lloyd also supported the Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble, believing Trimble could help bring peace to Northern Ireland. In the 1990s, Lloyd was one of several prominent members of Common Voice, a British group that advocated voting reform. A strong supporter of the Blair government, he supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq, as well as the Cameron ministry’s 2011 military intervention in Libya. In August 2014, he was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September’s referendum on that issue.