Five pages of a search on the 7th&15th June showed that only one British paper covered the joint Jewish-Arab demonstration in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square earlier this month, though it was covered in many other countries. A few days later the FT – no longer British-owned – gave good coverage.
Tens of thousands had been peacefully protesting against Israeli plans to annex whole swathes of the occupied West Bank. The Times of Israel reported that police initially sought to block the rally but gave permission after meeting organizers, who urged participants to wear masks and adhere to social distancing guidelines and appointed officials to ensure adherence to these safety measures
The demonstration was organized by Meretz, a left-wing social-democratic and green political party and Hadash, which supports a socialist economy and workers’ rights. It emphasizes Jewish–Arab cooperation. It was joined by several other left-wing rights groups.
Nitzan Horowitz, the head of Meretz, told the crowd that annexation would be a “war crime” and would cost Israel millions as the economy is already reeling due to the pandemic:
“We cannot replace an occupation of dozens of years with an apartheid that will last forever. Yes to two states for two peoples. No to violence and bloodshed. No to annexation, yes to peace.”
Fellow Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg said the agreement would “officially make Israel an apartheid state… sovereignty without citizenship is apartheid.”
Vermont senator Bernie Sanders addressed the crowds via video link: “It’s up to all of us to stand up to authoritarian leaders and to build a peaceful future for every Palestinian and every Israeli … The only future is a shared future.”
His friend, Ayman Odeh, an Israeli Arab lawyer and leader of the Joint List alliance of Arab-majority parties to which Meretz and Hadash belong, told those gathered:
“We are at a crossroads. One path leads to a joint society with a real democracy, civil and national equality for Arab citizens … The second path leads to hatred, violence, annexation and apartheid. We’re here in Rabin Square to pick the first path.”
In a long and comprehensive Financial Times article* today, Mehul Srivastava, writing from the occupied Jordan Valley, reporting that Benjamin Netanyahu (below) has sent mapmakers across the West Bank to prepare for the Israeli parliament’s vote on a new map described in the ‘peace plan’ presented by the Trump administration in January.
It proposes to annex almost a third of the occupied territories — from the entire fertile Jordan Valley, to the homes, factories and vineyards of some 650,000 Jewish residents in the settlement blocs near Jerusalem.
Several maps are presented in the FT article and a great deal of information about the 1993 Oslo Accords, signed when Mr Netanyahu, new to the Knesset, shouted at then prime minister Yitzak Rabin that the Bible was Israel’s “deed to the land”.
Shrivastava describes the proposed Palestinian state as being “shrivelled to a constellation of disconnected enclaves after Israeli land annexations”:
- major Arab cities like Ramallah and Bethlehem would be connected to each other only by highways and tunnels,
- Palestine would have only a tiny strip of land — perhaps just a highway — connecting it to Jordan,
- And the future of several thousand Palestinians in the Jordan Valley remains unclear. They might live in restricted enclaves or become non-voting residents of Israel.
Mohammed Shtayyeh, prime minister of Palestine, is a UK-trained economist. In an interview in Ramallah, he said: “I am angry. I have invested most of my life in this process, and all I have wanted is for our people to have a moment of happiness, not to live under an occupation forever.”
A group of UN human rights experts warned “What would be left of the West Bank would be a Palestinian Bantustan, islands of disconnected land completely surrounded by Israel and with no territorial connection to the outside world”.
A good time to bury bad news
Shrivastava ends by saying that Netanyahu hopes to pass this legislation while he has a favourable administration in power in the US, at a time when regional support for the Palestinians has declined and other countries are focussing on controlling the coronavirus epidemic and restarting economic activity.
The FT editorial says, ”The world should not be silent on Israeli annexation”. Will British media report the news, or assist the Trump/Netanyahu plan by remaining silent ?
*People with a serious interest in this subject who face a paywall may ask for a gift link to this article via its comments section.
A Bardali case-study about alienation of its water supply may be read here.
This fear, expressed today by the FT’s editorial, will not be shared by some, who see globalisation as ”another version of colonialism or imperialism – with Amazons, Facebooks and Googles, Nikes and the garment industry in many aspects of their conduct as more acceptable looking British or Dutch East India companies” (reader’s comment).
Manila port ‘bursting at the seams’ in the Philippines on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. Read more here.
Following an FT report of drops in rail freight and containerised exports from the UK of as much as 50 to 60% while imports are also declining, its editorial points out that supply chain disruptions and struggles to obtain medical supplies, have accelerated calls for countries and trading blocs to ensure they have sufficient capacity at home — prioritising resilience over producing goods where it is cheapest.
The US trade representative, last week hailed the end of “reflexive offshoring” (NY Times, log in) and in the EU Thierry Breton, the EU’s internal market commissioner, wants government grants, loans and direct intervention to build up European supply capacity.
The FT editorial points out that, in shifting manufacturing jobs out of rich countries and into poorer ones, globalisation reduced poverty in the developing world and prices in the rich ones.
But those working in these sweatshops (a small section of a sweatshop in Karnataka is shown above) still live in poverty and cramped conditions, working far from home in unhealthier conditions than the subsistence agriculture (Karnataka below) which was formerly their lot.
The low prices for their products in rich countries have encouraged a wasteful throwaway culture there, which has added to the waste mountains
The editorial also admits that millions in the ‘rich countries’ lost their jobs in the process, and lost the sense of pride and ownership people felt in their once thriving communities.
But the FT asserts that global supply chains and co-operation are a source of resilience, allowing countries to focus on their strengths and share expertise.
“Spreading people and factories around the world allows companies to guard against risks by diversifying”:
But it has also broken family circles and communities, increased deforestation and reduced the amount of land available for food production
“There will be higher prices and lost export markets”
But higher prices (due to higher wages) will mean a greater market for local goods and better tax revenues. A reduction in exports will lead to a great reduction in transport-related greenhouse gases.
“The direct cost to the taxpayer of subsidising domestic production . . . will make (economies) more fragile, not less”
But huge subsidies are currently given by government to foreign water, energy and transport utilities (including nuclear projects and fossil fuel producers) working in this country, to arms manufacturers and other exporters. That money could be redirected to domestic production which would reduce welfare payments and transport-related pollution.
It can be argued that a knockout blow is long overdue and that purposeful employment created by import substitution and Green New Deal projects might, in time, bring about an environmentally aware, low-crime, harmonious and employment-rich society.
“The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the vulnerability of long-distance, intercontinental supply chains, as governments around the world scramble to acquire large quantities of drugs and PPE”.
Some shortening of global supply chains is inevitable, according to the FT’s Philip Stephens, because the pandemic has exposed just how far even the richest nations are from strategic self-sufficiency
The Loadstar article records that Dr Samuel Roscoe (left), whose doctoral research was on developing environmentally and socially responsible capabilities in the supply network, spoke via video link to the House of Common’s select committee on international trade. He said that glaring gaps in the supply of some products should lead to the creation of parallel supply chains with the capacity to make drugs available in the UK in times like these: “It’s just good business sense – the longer the supply chain is, the more unresponsive it is”.
Arjun Kapur New York, NY, US Investment strategist (Comcast, Blackrock), in a letter to the FT’s editor, stated that, “Company leaders and world leaders would be wise to ditch their reliance on vulnerable supply chains in favour of more resilient, self-sufficient means of delivering health, economic, and business outcomes for their constituents and shareholders”.
Dr Roscoe’s outlook ranged further than financial and electoral self-seeking measures; he pointed out that government support to expand environmentally and socially responsible capacity in the UK will be needed; it won’t be cheap, but will further the government’s industrial strategy, create employment and make the country more self-sufficient.
President Emmanuel Macron’s translated interview with the FT’s new editor and its Paris bureau chief
“In this crisis enter a humanity where everything is fragmenting, where what we thought was worthless, becomes scarce and must be produced in other countries, and where we tell people they can’t even cross the street. It’s a profound change, from which we will all come out different”.
Global trade and the use of container ships increased from the 1960s to the 1990s, followed by the globalisation of finance and the digital economy from 2000 onwards and it’s obvious that it’s starting to overheat, creating three major problems:
Globalisation has created inequalities in developed countries the middle classes and workers are saying “I don’t see myself in this globalisation. I am sacrificed to it.” I can buy cheaper things but I don’t have any work, because there is no more space for me in this society, it’s society for the super-talented, and what I can do is no longer valuable.”
It’s clear that economy is no longer the priority. And when it’s a matter of humanity, women and men but also the ecosystems in which they live, and so CO2, global warming, biodiversity, there is something more important than the economic order.
This problem is being joined by the rise of a power game in which people rediscover the grammar of sovereignty – the idea that the people are not just consumers or producers, they are citizens, and they want to start controlling the choices they make It puts the human back in the middle.
Macron explained: “The basis of sovereignty is that it structures our balance, and you actually see that during shocks, like an epidemic. When you are afraid, you don’t turn towards Amazon, Google, globalisation, you don’t turn towards the secretary-general of the United Nations, the European Commission etc . . . You turn towards your country”.
The third major phenomenon is the matter of climate which goes hand in hand with the health agenda
In 2019, more than 77 leading American medical groups signed a policy agenda calling for climate action
Macron believes the climate agenda must come back to the foreground, because it goes hand in hand with the health agenda: “We will exit this crisis, and people will no longer agree to breathing polluted air. You’ll see something that was already rising in our societies, people will come out and say “I don’t want to breathe this air. I don’t agree to make such choices which will result in me breathing that type of air, where my little baby might catch bronchitis because of it, because choosing that type of society makes it so. And you have accepted the idea of shutting down everything to stop Covid, but now you are ready to let me go on breathing bad air.”
He adds that we will have to rethink production according to a just balance of CO2 emissions and of biodiversity and so of the safekeeping of our ecosystems. By agreeing to re-fragment things in a non-conflictual way, to reduce emissions, we will rethink logistics, in order to avoid importing a component from across the globe, because we will produce it on our territory to reduce its carbon footprint, commenting, “In my opinion that is what we are heading towards”
Last week, Emmanuel Macron said in an interview with the FT that delocalisation (offshoring) had become “unsustainable” and that the EU should regain industrial sovereignty.
He believes this shock we are currently going through will force us to review globalisation, and bring us to rethink society’s terms. The approval of a fluid world where everything is worth the same, produced anywhere, exchanged neutrally, is no longer universal.
In another speech this week he spoke of a new economic model, of the need to rebuild an agricultural, health, industrial and technological independence. “I believe that we are about to exit a world . . . where there was financial hegemony and hegemony of the non-co-operative military powers, and we can enter something which will enable us to reshuffle the cards. When people are scared of death and come back to these deep existential subjects, they co-operate”.
We have seen that we needed to reconsider goods and services we sometimes believed were worthless.
“We thought a mask or a medical overall had no value on a global commercial level. But it has value since it protects caregivers, and we acknowledged it during this crisis. It’s worth only 40 cents, not even a euro, but it becomes immensely valuable when we start running out of them and unable to produce enough”.
Regarding matters of the common good, military, health, technological, industrial, education, ecological, climate and other matters, we must decide what we must relocate, in our own country or region, in order to co-operate with others without being totally dependent on them.
We must become resilient, possessing the ability to say how we can prevent a risk of serious heatwave, another epidemic, a deterioration of our biodiversity which will affect our lives.
Earlier this week, Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, president of the European Council, issued a paper saying there was a “pressing need to produce critical goods in Europe, to invest in strategic value chains and to reduce over-dependency on third countries in these areas”.
Thierry Breton, an EU trade commissioner also suggested earlier this month that “globalisation has gone too far”, not just in medical equipment but all strategic industrial sectors and agriculture. He acknowledged, in Le Figaro, that “the question posed to us by this crisis is that we may have gone too far in globalization and globalisation”. The question, he added, arises not only on health (drugs and medical equipment) but also on “strategic industrial areas” and on agriculture, saying “I am convinced that our relationship to the world after this crisis will be different.”
This crisis will enable us to invent something new for our humanity, as we have been discussing — that’s to say a new balance in interdependence between men and women in order to consider what it means to be in the world and which is built around education, health and environment.
Most of this summary was drawn from these two main sources:
The Financial Times’ editorial considers this week’s two religious festivals: Passover and Easter which celebrate deliverance at a time when all feel threatened by ‘a tiny agent of death’.
It sees the disease as a shared concern which ‘raises deep questions about how burdens are to be borne and sacrifices are to be shared. Those with the means to do so must help everybody else cope with the virus and with the costs of coping with it, not only today, but in future’, adding:
The author points out that these religious traditions embody abiding moral codes. Rabbi Hillel, a Jewish sage of the first century before the birth of Jesus, said: “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah” and Jesus taught his followers to love their enemies – an even harder command to follow.
No reference was made to the Muslim religion in which practical obligations, recognised and carried out for centuries, are laid down. Every adult Muslim man or woman who has wealth remaining at the end of the year after paying for his/her basic needs are expected to pay a certain percentage to help others, including the poor and destitute.
The editorial could also have drawn on the clear and positive basic principles of the ancient Zoroastrian religion: ‘Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds’ (Humata, Huxta, Huvarshta)
The author then reflected: “The threat which brings us together also divides us: Richer societies have far greater capacity to look after the sick and ultimately find a cure. Rich people find it far easier to stay at home in comfort and security than poorer ones. Poor people who live in poor countries are most vulnerable of all: they cannot cope with lockdowns that deprive them of the ability to earn their daily bread”, adding:
The Nuffield Council on Bioethics responding to the epidemic, agrees: “Solidarity is crucial at the international level between countries, by businesses in how they exercise their corporate social responsibility; and at the individual level in the way we all respond to the outbreak in day-to-day life”.
The FT editorial finally issued a dire warning that if we fail, the pandemic may continue to kill millions of people and devastate our economies, leaving a world more divided, embittered and unable to co-operate to confront the challenges of climate change in the years ahead.
A relevant passage was later received from Brother Shafi Chowdhury, AL-MUTTAQIIN
Prophet Muhammad ( PBUH ) said: “If you hear of an outbreak of plague in a land, do not enter it; but if the plague outbreaks out in a place while you are in it, do not leave that place.”
He also said: “Those with contagious diseases should be kept away from those who are healthy.” Muhammad PBUH ) strongly encouraged human beings to adhere to hygienic practices that would keep people safe from infection. Consider the following hadiths, or sayings of Muhammad ( PBUH ) :
“Cleanliness is part of faith.” “The blessings of food lie in washing hands before and after eating.” The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) asked ( To say ), There is no power or strength save by Allah Who has a Remedy from incurring ninety-nine ailments the least of which is worry. ( Ibn Abi Dunya – 62 ).
To stand alongside the two religious festivals mentioned in the article, Passover and Easter, he sent information about Ramadan: RAMADAN KAREEM
Before 1990, healthcare in the United Kingdom was provided by health authorities which were given a budget to run hospitals and community health services in their area. The National Health Service and Community Care Act 1990 introduced an internal market into the supply of healthcare in the United Kingdom, making the state an ‘enabler’ rather than a supplier of health and social care provision.
Care homes were then outsourced by local authorities to the private sector which employed large numbers of low-paid workers with weak representation by unions and professional organisations. Spending on social care is now below 2010 levels.
Gill Plimmer describes the way in which global private equity, sovereign wealth and hedge funds have piled into the sector in the past three decades, lured by the promise of a steady government income and the long-term demographics of Britain’s ageing population.
Three of the biggest chains — HC-One, Four Seasons and Care UK — are in the hands of buyout groups.
At the Four Seasons Whitchurch Care Home in Bristol (above), emergency buzzers went unanswered, some medicines were not dispensed and many of its frail and elderly residents had not been given a bath, shower or a wash for a month, an official inspector’s report found. A broken elevator meant residents on the second floor could not be taken to hospital appointments.
Problems are in part a result of:
- a long-term decline in fees paid to providers for social care,
- a state mandated rise in the minimum wage,
- a decline in state funding for local governments, which pay for 60% of their residents,
- short term investment and speculation,
- larger private equity-owned care homeowners have a short-term investment focus and complex structures, involving scores of subsidiary companies, many of which are listed offshore and
- the money to fund the trading coming from taxpayers or from middle class people running down their savings.
When Terra Firma (building better businesses) bought the Four Seasons chain in a £825m deal in 2012, there was still £780m of outstanding borrowings hanging over the business. Now around £1.2bn of interest-bearing debt and loans from unspecified “related” parties.
Nick Hood, analyst at Opus Restructuring & Insolvency, which has advised several care home chains, said “owners are playing with the debt and expecting returns of 12 or 14 per cent and that is simply unsuitable for businesses with heavy social responsibilities”
He adds that the watchdog — the Care Quality Commission — should require the entire corporate structure to be held within the UK
Jon Moulton, the private equity veteran who ran Four Seasons in the early 2000s recommends that care home chains should hold a certain amount of capital, just as banks are requited to do by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Toothless regulator/watchdog places all responsibility on Britain’s cash-strapped local authorities
Kate Terroni, chief inspector of adult social care at the CQC, says that for now it has no authority to introduce minimum capital requirements or to intervene to prevent business failure. “Our powers are to provide a notification to assist local authorities who are responsible for ensuring continuity of peoples care
Meanwhile, as Four Seasons “hurtles towards insolvency”, directors are paid lavishly and their care homes continue to close.
Media 104: The fight-back? Seriously flawed FT article on the next 30 years of fossil fuelled energy
The message from the article’s author, Nick Butler: “Loved or not, the energy companies will still be giving us products we need and they will thrive over the next three decades . . . Wind and solar power are of limited value in meeting industrial energy requirements”.
He stresses the continuing weighting of investment in favour of oil and gas against renewables and focuses on the latest long-term international outlook, which “paints a picture of the world to 2050, on the basis of current policy, reasonable expectations of economic and population growth across the world”.
Sounds good: but this report “comes from the US Energy Information Administration — an independent agency in September”. However, according to its hyperlink and Investopedia, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) is a government agency formed in 1977.
In addition to this incorrect information, the author attribution – ‘energy commentator for the FT and chair of The Policy Institute at King’s College London’ – fails to add his significant previous employment as Senior Policy Adviser in the Prime Ministers policy unit and BP’s Group Vice President for Strategy and Policy.
Not so: a scroll through the report saw no input from such companies and a word search of the report, using the names of three of the largest oil companies, found ‘no results’.
He concedes that the energy transition is indeed happening (see Bloomberg, above) but asserts that its impact is small and “on this analysis will largely remain focused on the generation of electricity”.
The report, Butler continues, gives a picture of two very different worlds.
“On the one hand, in the developed OECD countries energy demand in volume terms thanks to efficiency gains, minimal population growth and public policy — is static to falling and the supply is getting progressively cleaner. In the rapidly growing Asian economies, population increases and the desire to escape poverty are pushing up both demand and emissions shows an inherently unsustainable future. The trends it describes are a recipe for serious global warming and climate instability.”
As the website of UK Oil & Gas PLC (UKOG) reminds us, there is no alternative (TINA): oil is indispensable: it heats homes, provides fuel for water, air and road transport and is used in plastics, fertilisers, detergents, paints and medicines.
Is Butler unaware of research under way to redesign many of these products to eliminate oil use. The use of electric heating is growing and of electric road and waterway transport, mainly ferries? And though emissions will be reduced by increasing localisation of supplies, there will be some need for clean shipping; for nearly three years the first Chinese 2000-tonne electric cargo ship has been in business. Japan and Norway are also working in this sector, with Japan’s Komatsu Ltd developing its first electric-powered digger.
Many commentators see the need to phase out long-distance air travel, but there will always be the need for some air transport during emergencies and the BBC reports progress towards such a capability: July’s Paris Airshow saw the launch of the world’s first all-electric nine-passenger aircraft for which orders are now being placed
Years ago, Dave Lindorff wrote about ‘ecological cataclysm’: “it is useful to look at the hypocrisy of the energy companies when it comes to an even worse crisis threatening life itself on the planet – rapid climate change due to increasing carbon in the atmosphere”.
His advice is more reliable than Butler’s: Watch What Big Oil Does, Not What It Pays to Have Said.
The whole unspun truth is given briefly in the FT: “a ban on charges for paying via credit or debit card comes into force across the EU from Saturday, making it unlawful for retailers to charge customers additional fees for paying on plastic”.
Though the whole truth is too tall an order in matters of diplomacy, the government wold have been well advised to emulate the FT’s delivery.
No longer confined to the mainstream media, adventures with the truth are mercilessly mocked on social media and more radical media:
See Steve Walker’s shot of the official Conservative Twitter site:
The Independent’s gentler account quotes British MEPs who criticised the Government for claiming responsibility for the move, “which comes as part of a broad range of new payment regulations based on an EU–wide directive that was spearheaded by left-wing politicians in the European Parliament”.
We expect a jaded public response to this ‘business as usual’ spin. No longer has financial or political dishonesty the power to surprise.
May the British public one day routinely hear the truth – or would that be electoral suicide?