Another Fine Mess

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The idea was to be able to import the old posts from the old system and server into this new place.

Things did not exactly go according to plan.

OK. Tell the truth.

There never was a plan.

It was all just cobbled together at the last minute.

The way the world at large operates, really.


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InternationalClimatewash - Greenwash 2.0. Simple, cheap and no real change needed - great for big business!From:

So it's official. Climate change is in. Global warming is hip. Pop stars are urging action. It seems not a day passes without another big business making a green pronouncement. The scale of the problem is clear but there are still very few big companies walking their climate talk.

Live Earth was great for raising awareness on climate change and promoting ways everyone can help. To see global megastars urging action on climate change to an audience of billions warms the heart of many a hardened Greenpeace climate campaigner. Today is certainly light years away from when we first started campaigning nearly 20 years ago on what was then a little known issue.

Awareness raised, but where's the corporate action?

This year has seen the science debate (artificially prolonged by dirty energy funded front groups) settled. And Live Earth helped raise awareness of the problem in many countries to an unprecedented level. But even a quick scan of the Live Earth sponsors reveals many companies who, while spending millions on appearing to be concerned about climate change, are profiting from climate changing business as usual.

Just down the road from our international office in Amsterdam is a major Dutch energy company called Nuon, which sponsored the Dutch Live Earth event. But what Nuon isn't so keen to highlight is that it's one of the companies pushing ahead with the building of five new coal power plants in the Netherlands.  If built these will guarantee the Dutch government's 30 percent CO2 reduction by 2020 target will not be met.  Dirty, polluting business as usual.

As coal power stations are one of the biggest single causes of climate change no new ones should be being built. That's the sort of serious action required. Yet most big power companies are trying to forge ahead with plans for massive new coal plants in Europe, Asia and the Americas. The very same companies you pay your energy bill to are telling you they care, but spending that money like they never knew coal was a bad idea. Many big oil companies (now marketing themselves as 'energy' companies) like BP, Shell and even Exxon are throwing the odd million or several at websites and ad campaigns to say they are looking for solutions to climate change. But in fact they are spending billions finding and extracting more oil. Exxon even still funds the climate skeptic front groups that exist to attempt to muddy the water and stall action on climate change.

Green cars?

General Motors (owner of Chevy) and DaimlerChrysler (owner of the Smart car brand) were two massive car makers hoping for some positive association with Live Earth. However, what you won't see on DaimlerChrysler's website is the fact that their (and other big German car makers) lobbying was crucial in preventing the European Union from imposing tough new efficiency regulations on cars in 2006. Car manufactures had eight years to comply with previous voluntary targets (that they mostly failed miserably to meet), hence the EU proposal for new strict legally binding rules. Yet, European car manufactures (supported by US car firms, like General Motors) lobbied successfully that there should be significantly weaker efficiency regulations, as car companies should be free to sell lots of big, inefficient and polluting cars. (Report on car industry EU lobbying). That's the real sign of how companies like DaimlerChrysler have failed to change in response to the climate challenge.

The lights are on, but there's no climate champion home

One big area where a simple and significant win for the climate can be made is lighting. Old style incandescent bulbs are so inefficient that by just switching from old to new efficient lighting technology in the EU we could close down 25 medium sized power plants, and possibly save Europe 3-5 billion euros. Right now major lighting manufactures like Phillips, GE and Osram have mumbled about a possible incandescent phase out in maybe 10 years time. But being the makers of most of the inefficient lightbulbs on the global market it's time they were more ambitious. Why not a bold climate move now - stop making incandescent bulbs to focus solely on selling more efficient lighting. As the companies obviously need some pressure to take this step you can write to them now.

"Business as usual is no longer an option"

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

That was the UN head talking about the need for a new political agreement on climate change, but he could just have easily been addressing business leaders.

If we are to have any chance to meeting the necessary carbon emission reductions required to prevent a climate crisis there must to be major changes now. No new coal plants should be approved. Old inefficient lighting must be made a thing of the past. Gas guzzling cars belong on the scrap heap.

While we can all do our bit individually to combat climate change it's companies taking real action that can massively magnify our individual actions and be themselves ahead of the competition when government regulation on climate is enforced. To date the signs have not been promising. Examples of real action are few. Some power companies have dropped plans for a handful of coal plants in places like the US and New Zealand. A handful of retailers, like Currys in the UK, have stopped selling wasteful incandescent bulbs. But given the scale of the climate crisis facing us all it's high time big companies stopped just talking green and took action to make their business climate friendly. Anything less just results in more hot air.

Take action

  • Take personal action and pressure companies to make real changes to tackle climate change by taking our 7 Steps.


  • We never allow ourselves to be fed by a hand we might want to bite. Not accepting corporate donations means we rely entirely on people like you to help keep us going. Some of our corporate targets spend in a few hours what we spend in an entire year. Please help with anything you can.
Strange what different people say about war, terrorism and democracy and how similar it all sounds. Hermann Goering:
"Naturally the common people don't want war. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament or a communist dictatorship. All you have to do is to tell them that they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."  (Hermann Goering)
 John Pilger taking the gloss from Ronald Reagan:
In researching a new film, I have been watching documentary archive from the 1980s, the era of Ronald Reagan and his “secret war" against Central America. What is striking is the relentless lying. A department of lying was set up under Reagan with the coy name, “office of public diplomacy". Its purpose was to dispense “white" and “black" propaganda – lies – and to smear journalists who told the truth. Almost everything Reagan himself said on the subject was false. Time and again, he warned Americans of an “imminent threat" from the tiny impoverished nations that occupy the isthmus between the two continents of the western hemisphere. “Central America is too close and its strategic stakes are too high for us to ignore the danger of governments seizing power with military ties to the Soviet Union," he said. Nicaragua was “a Soviet base" and “communism is about to take over the Caribbean". The United States, said the president, “is engaged in a war on terrorism, a war for freedom". How familiar it all sounds. Merely replace Soviet Union and communism with al-Qaeda, and you are up to date. And it was all a fantasy. The Soviet Union had no bases in or designs on Central America; on the contrary, the Soviets were adamant in turning down appeals for their aid. The comic strips of “missile storage depots" that American officials presented to the United Nations were precursors to the lies told by Colin Powell in his infamous promotion of Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction at the Security Council in 2003. (John Pilger this time last year - 2006)
George W Bush:
What we have found in Afghanistan confirms that, far from ending there, our war against terror is only beginning... tens of thousands of trained terrorists are still at large. These enemies view the entire world as a battlefield, and we must pursue them wherever they are. So long as training camps operate, so long as nations harbor terrorists, freedom is at risk. And America and our allies must not, and will not, allow it....Our military has put the terror training camps of Afghanistan out of business, yet camps still exist in at least a dozen countries. A terrorist underworld — including groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Jaish-i-Mohammed — operates in remote jungles and deserts, and hides in the centers of large cities....But some governments will be timid in the face of terror. And make no mistake about it: If they do not act, America will.
  • George W. Bush, State of the Union Address
Tony Blair:
[The Joint Intelligence Committee] concludes that Iraq has chemical and biological weapons, that Saddam has continued to produce them, that he has existing and active military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, which could be activated within 45 minutes, including against his own Shia population, and that he is actively trying to acquire nuclear weapons capability.
  • Hansard
If you want to play a game of spotting who of these is telling the truth, here is a clue: it's the Nazi.

Random Chomsky Quotes

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"George Bush in his radio addresses a couple of weeks ago, he continues to repeat that the U.S., I'm quoting him, 'saved the world from a tyrant, who was developing weapons of mass destruction, and cultivating ties to terror.' Well, you know, nobody believes that, including his speechwriter, but they know something else. They know that if you keep repeating a lie long and loud enough, and nobody takes you to account for it, it will become truth."  (Noam Chomsky, Chomsky on Iraq, War Profiteers and the Media, 12/26/2003) "Do I simplify all matters by saying that the US acts everywhere as an evil empire? Yeah, that would certainly oversimplify things. And that's why I pointed out that the US is behaving like every other power. The US happens to be more powerful so it's therefore, as you'd expect, more violent. But, yeah, everyone else is about the same. So when the British were running the world, they were doing the same thing."  (Noam Chomsky, from Power and Terror: Noam Chomsky In Our Times, 2003) "I was attracted to anarchism as a young teenager, as soon as I began to think about the world beyond a pretty narrow range, and haven't seen much reason to revise those early attitudes since. I think it only makes sense to seek out and identify structures of authority, hierarchy, and domination in every aspect of life, and to challenge them; unless a justification for them can be given, they are illegitimate, and should be dismantled, to increase the scope of human freedom. That includes political power, ownership and management, relations among men and women, parents and children, our control over the fate of future generations (the basic moral imperative behind the environmental movement, in my view), and much else."  (Noam Chomsky)

Moai at Rano Raraku

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Moai at Rano Raraku Moai at Rano Raraku public domain image. See:

Somebody Says Something

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A person who might be known to somebody has said something. The BBC has this:
Pirates of the Caribbean star Keira Knightley has advised young people seeking fame and fortune to "go and work on the stock market". "It frightens me when kids go, 'I want to be famous,'" the 22-year-old told the Radio Times. "Why? Because you can get into a restaurant? You know what? If you book, you can get into a restaurant!" Earlier this year, Knightley said she had considered quitting acting because of the pressures of fame. Speaking to the Radio Times, she again attacked the media's obsession with her looks. "Okay, I'm on the cover of a magazine but somebody else does the hair, and the make-up, and airbrushes me. "It's not me, it's something other people have created." The actress added that she preferred to watch films from 50 years ago because she prefers not to know about the actors' private lives. "The magic is in the screen, not knowing what's behind it, because that ruins the magic," she said.
Yawn. Paint dry yet?
America, of course, produces more paradigms of capitalism than anywhere else. The country, which is a philosophical one trick pony, has no time for people who might be decent or intelligent, but will lavish praise and money and attention on anyone who can stretch the boundaries of tasteless displays of riches and surpass the depths of avaricious nastiness. Rich people are naturally like celebrities, even when reclusive, because they are the characters whom the ordinary poor working schmucks seek to imitate and emulate, despite the fact that they have no chance of becoming rich themselves. (If America is the land where anyone can 'make it', how come so few do?) As with all celebrities, Leona Helmsley had a catchphrase in order to distinguish herself from all the other rich dross vying for attention. Hers was this: "Only the little people pay taxes". In six words, she summed up the dream of capitalism for an entire world. The New York Daily News has this:
As long as nobody dies and no children or pets are harmed, New Yorkers love a villain - and nonlethal villains didn't come much more gift-wrapped than Leona Helmsley. Every era needs a few rich people who think their money makes them better than the masses, and whether or not that's how she really felt, Helmsley was the poster gal for the attitude. New York didn't even have to invent her. She invented herself, or at least most of herself. She claimed she never said, "Only the little people pay taxes," the phrase that chiseled her into the Mount Rushmore of arrogant and self-centered rich people. But once a court found she and her husband, Harry, had conspired to dodge the taxes the rest of us pay, her denial never made much of a dent in her image. At least three books detailed juicy complaints by ex-employees and others about the way Leona Helmsley treated the nonmonied part of the world. has this:
BEIJING, Aug. 21 (Xinhuanet) -- Billionaire hotelier Leona Helmsley, who went to prison for tax evasion and was dubbed "Queen of Mean," died of heart failure at her summer home in Greenwich, Connecticut, aged 87, her publicist said Monday. She and fourth husband Harry Helmsley owned such sumptuous properties as the Palace Hotel on Madison Avenue, a block from Saint Patrick's Cathedral, the Park Lane and the New York Helmsley. Helmsley was a former model and twice-divorced real estate agent when she met Harry Helmsley, a multimillionaire real estate investor who was married at the time. They wed in 1972. She helped him amass a commercial and residential real estate empire worth billions. At the couple's zenith, Harry Helmsley was worth 5 billion dollars. His company controlled some of New York's finest hotels and managed the Empire State Building. 
The Guardian reports:
Leona Helmsley, the "Queen of Mean" whose legendary cruelty towards her employees and disdain for "little people" became the unacceptable face of New York high society in Ronald Reagan's 1980s, died yesterday of a heart attack aged 87. She died in Dunnellen Hall, the summer house in Connecticut that played a central role in her very public downfall in 1989 when she was found guilty of tax evasion and forced to serve 18 months in jail. [...] It was a housekeeper at the hall who revealed in the course of the trial the phrase that was to hang over the hotel magnate for the rest of her life: "We don't pay taxes," the housekeeper said her employer once told her. "Only the little people pay taxes." How Helmsley, alongside her husband, Harry, came to form an empire worth billions - including the Empire State Building, the Park Lane Hotel and a 100-seat private jet with bedroom attached - only to be brought as low as a New York prison cell ranks alongside that of Wall Street's Gordon Gekko as one of the defining stories of the money-making 80s. One moment she was being lauded in glossy magazines and New York salons as an unparalleled businesswoman, philanthropist and hostess of exotic Manhattan parties; the next people were lining up to lament her excesses.
How are the tawdry plastic mighty of the empire of artificiality fallen. Ronald Reagan is supposed to have said "They say hard work never hurt anyone, but I say, 'Why risk it?'" They say you should never speak ill of the dead - yeah, right, whatever.

Blame Gordon Brown

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Why did you lose your car keys? Why is your job such a pile of do-do? Why did you never listen at school and you are now just another crack-whore? For these and other problems, blame Gordon Brown. Reuters has this:
LONDON (Reuters) - The Conservative Party blamed Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Monday for a slew of problems from hospital cuts to a pensions deficit as it battled to seize back the political agenda following poor poll results. Conservative leader David Cameron said Brown's 10 years at the Treasury before he became prime minister on June 27 made him responsible for failures in the National Health Service, a rise in crime and "stealth taxes". Voters would take that into account at the next general election, whenever it is, he said. "All the problems the country faces today, whether it's NHS closures, family and social breakdown, whether it's a weak pension system, whether it's the stealth taxes ... they can trace all of those decisions back to Gordon Brown sitting at a desk in Number 11 Downing Street as Chancellor," Cameron told BBC Radio. "That is going to be the key choice at the election: do you want more of the same from Gordon Brown or do you want to see real change from the Conservatives with a set of priorities about health and education and social breakdown and a competitive economy that is actually right for Britain," he added.
So that means the rest of us are innocent. Hurrah!
Not too long ago, the government thought that it would be a good idea to interfere with the general running of the NHS again, particularly with regard to patients and doctors. The idea probably stemmed from the old notion of carrot and stick because, as usual, it was all to do with targets and probably involved a costs-benefits analysis. The doctors were going to get more money if they reached some targets, which involved not killing too many patients during months containing the letter "R" and pushing drugs which were reaching their sell by date. On the upside, doctors were asked whether they wanted to go out in the night and pouring rain and freezing cold to give someone an aspirin. This was the conversation:
Government: Would you like to give up having to make night calls? It's up to you. No pressure. Doctors: OK, thanks very much. Yeah, we'll stop doing that and put our feet up in the evenings instead. Hurrah! Government: Okie-dokie. That's that one sorted. See you. Bye. Doctors: So who is going to do it if we don't? Government: Oh, shit! Silly us, we hadn't thought of that. Still, don't worry, we'll sort something out. We are the government, after all. We know what we are doing!
And so it came to pass that the government had shot itself in the foot again and soon needed medical help. It found that having to pay locums and commercial contractors to cover outside hours service was actually very expensive. So, having made a mistake and now looking decidedly stupid, what was the government to do? Ask the doctors nicely if they would mind doing a bit of evening work? No, of course not! Far better to threaten the doctors with bringing in expensive outside contractors and privatising the whole of the NHS. The Times Online has this:
Family doctors have been warned that unless they agree to open at evenings and on Saturdays, private companies will be contracted to take over their practices. A letter sent to local NHS organisations has ordered them to improve surgeries’ responsiveness to the public, along with people’s access to and choice of GP services. This includes the option of seeking alternative providers, including private companies, instead of GPs. The Times understands that the letter, from Mark Britnell, Director of Commissioning at the Department of Health, was altered before being sent to tone down references to "competitive tendering" – which would include offering GP contracts to private sector companies. But doctors’ leaders said that the final draft sent to health trusts remained "very aggressively-worded" and a clear sign of a government mission to bring more private practice into the NHS. Changes to GPs’ contracts, introduced by the Department of Health in 2004 to relieve some of their work pressures, allowed doctors to opt out of providing night and weekend care. About 90 per cent took up the option, leaving it to Primary Care Trusts to employ private firms, groups of independent doctors and other health staff to provide cover. The change has been the subject of mounting controversy, with patients struggling to get through to doctors’ out-of-hours and for Saturday surgeries. Meanwhile average GP pay has risen to more than £100,000.
So, expect more problems with the NHS as it undergoes the process of being changed into a private commercial enterprise.
Not too long ago, Alan Greenspan, the Chairman of the US Federal Reserve, was portrayed as the man who kept the global economy going. At the least he was the world's main money guru and according to some he was semi-divine. If Alan Greenspan sneezed, the world was going to catch a cold. Now, it seems, he was at best slightly ga-ga and probably borderline criminally insane. Like all things, it depends on who you listen to and what your own viewpoint happens to be. Like someone who is rich beyond the dreams of Croesus, but feels poor because he cannot buy an entire country from his back-pocket money; or someone so poor that they are eating grass and insects, but feel rich because they have one semi-working limb, it is a matter of perspective. What you always have to remember with money, however, is that those who control it, like a toddler with his toys, want all of it and are only prepared to let some go if they can get back more. If that seems to start going wrong, they are going to have a tantrum and scream until they get back what they think is theirs. Apparently, this is where Alan Greenspan went wrong. He gave in to the toddlers and now they are having a tantrum. The problem is, it is never they who pay the price for their childishness. It is time for the rest of the world to start coughing up - again. The Guardian has this:
Spare a thought for Ben Bernanke. The chairman of the US Federal Reserve has been left to clear up the mess left by his predecessor, Alan Greenspan, and one heck of a mess it is too. Wall Street loved Greenspan and with good reason. Every time the market ran into trouble, he would ride to the rescue with a cut in interest rates. Like a spoiled child, Wall Street came to believe it could get away with any amount of bad behaviour without being punished. The indulgence shown by the Fed became known as the Greenspan "put" - as in a put option which allows an investor to sell shares at an advantageous price even when they have fallen below it. It was belief that the "put" lived on with Bernanke that brought about last week's turmoil. Rarely has there been a crisis easier to predict, yet speculators continued to take high-risk bets even as the warnings piled up. [...] The second problem is that it is extremely difficult to assess the potential for a chain reaction that might rip through markets and bring down the world economy. We are not dealing here with rational economic agents but the madness of crowds, and there were at least two worrying signs for policymakers at the end of last week: the freezing up of the Wall Street money markets and the demise of the yen carry trade. [...] Finally, and although they would be reluctant to admit as much, central banks - especially the Fed - are always alive to the risk that they could be sitting on their hands with another 1929 looming. In the US the legacy of the Depression means policymakers have a far stronger bias in favour of growth than counterparts in continental Europe. Bernanke may be worried about the risks of re-inflating the bubble, but he is just as worried that a stock market crash will lead to an American recession and a global slump. Expect a cut in the Fed funds rate on September 18 - and even sooner if markets continue to fall.
So, forget the eighties bullshit myths about the money-men being the masters of the universe. They are really just toddlers trying to hold on to their toys at all costs. At the moment, they have eaten too many sweet and sticky things at a party and now they are going to be sick over everyone. Note: For American audiences, the title of this entry should probably be something like "Rug Rat Throws Pacifier From Baby Carriage".