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September 2012

The Seeds of Revolution?

The seeds of revolution
This Illustration is based on art work from a site called Energise 2.0 and used here with their kind permission

 The Seeds Of Revolution?

Even writing the word revolution seems overly dramatic, but is the oldest democracy in the world heading for major change?

It seems that successful online groups like 38 degrees have given the down trodden masses of the UK a glimmer of hope that their voice and vote count for more than just lip service.

Added to the mix we now have direct actions groups like UK Uncut, who are equally good at organising the voice of protest against the continued excesses of the wealthy 1%  whilst the majority of us have to suffer swingging cuts in many areas of our lives.

Treasury Minister David Gauke ignores £13 trillion in tax havens to focus on trades people

Protesters armed with broadcast quality TV cameras give a whole dimension to the event,instead of relying on the traditional roles of just being the protester.  One particular group has taken this a step further and decided to gate crash black –tie events to embarrass those major companies who are seeking to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.  

Calling themselves The Intruders they recently gate crashed a retirement party held for former top government tax man Dave Hartnett, who retired in July. The dinner was held at a "tax planning" conference in Oxford which cost £854.00 + VAT to attend.  The conference run by the aptly named Key Haven Publications, that  brings together accountants for the mega rich and multinational corporations to discuss, very explicitly, how to get away with paying as little tax as possible.  Mr Hartnett was also there as the invited guest speaker, strange as it may seem Dave Hartnett also happens to also be Whitehall's most wined and dined civil servant who would have thought it?

 

At the other end of the spectrum is a brave young solicitor named Osita Mba at HM Revenue & Customs who turned whistleblower to disclose that senior managers had quietly let off Goldman Sachs from paying millions of pounds in tax penalties.   Mr Mba is facing disciplinary procedures and possible prosecution for speaking out, instead of being rewarded for trying to save the country some money.

 

As always our politicians haven’t yet grasped this changing reality, which started in the UK with the expenses scandal and now seems to be gathering a head of steam.  They still seem to be operating with a "business as usual" mentality, lying and then lying some more to get out of it.

It is strange

When we think of the power of the internet to free oppressed people, we never look at ourselves in the West.   But if you look at the movement born from the protests on Wall Street, carried through to the protesters outside St Paul’s in London things are moving.  The banking crisis has brought the world's finances to it's knees but still many in power seem unwilling to hold the guilty to account.

In both the USA and UK tax cheats be they corporate or a wealthy individual are being caught by the internet, which is shining a camera light into places it never could before by ordinary people like you and me.

Will the Mitt Romney’s of the world and his kind keep the status quo or is there a better way?

In my life time it seems we in the UK have gone from being treated with benevolent distain by the ruling classes, then came the Thatcher era when "greed is good" ethos was born (or reborn), to today where we have the naked arrogance of the current ruling Toffs, in avoiding taxes, carving up the NHS for their own profit, lying, cheating but never resigning because they have no shame.  

The Liberal Democrats bless their cotton yellow socks, have been sold down the river by their Conservative partners, and yet are still too insipid and indecisive to do anything about it, so they pretend to themselves that "staying the course" is their only option.    The Labour party have to choose their battles wisely for fear of highlighting the incompetence they committed during their previous time in government when they pretended to be Tories.

I’m not sure where this movement will end up taking the country but I hope to a fairer less morally bankrupt place were people place more importance on family and our leaders start leading by example and stop trying to Con us.    Writing the first 3 letters of the Con servatives I wonder whether that is just a weird coincidence?

This is just the beginning

UK Uncut targets Goldman Sachs's £10m tax

Vodaphone tax dodgers

 

 

www.hypersmash.com

Rich Tory Toffs Are At It Again!

On your Bike Mitchell small

Andrew Mitchell — newly-promoted by PM David Cameron to the cabinet position of Chief Whip lost his temper when the police who protect 10 Downing Street would not open the main gates for him to cycle through. They tried to usher him through a side gate used by all pedestrians.

A source reported Mr Mitchell as saying: “Open this gate, I’m the Chief Whip. I’m telling you — I’m the Chief Whip and I’m coming through these gates.”

The Tory lost his rag when police told him security rules mean they open the main gate as little as possible.

 

It’s reported by several newspapers that the Tory MP— dubbed “Thrasher” when he was a posh prefect at Rugby public school said “You’re f***ing plebs.”  

The Police officer targeted by the tirade reported to his superiors that Mitchell told him: “Best you learn your f***ing place. You don’t run this f***ing government.   “You’re f***ing plebs.”

Despite his fury, the officers refused to budge and warned him that he would be arrested under the Public Order Act if he continued to abuse them.

For those not familiar with the word pleb the Urban dictionary says:

Pleb: Actually defined as a member of a despised social class, a commoner, a member of the plebs of ancient Rome. Also low-born, undisinguished, vulgar, and my personal favourite: vulgar-looking.

 

The Prime Minister condemned Mr Mitchell after the The Sun newspaper revealed the outburst.

The Chief Whip apologised for his behaviour but insisted he did not use the words “plebs”.

However John Tully, Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation has backed The Sun’s account after speaking to the abused officer.

Mr Tully reportedly said: “I know what the officer has told me and I know who

I believe."

He then called for Mr Mitchell to go, saying: “He should resign. As a Cabinet Minister it’s unacceptable for someone of his standing to use such disrespectful and abusive language to a police constable let alone anyone else.

"If the shoe was on the other foot and my officer had said those things he’d be out of a job now. Its double standards.

“Only a few days ago the Government was expressing support for the police in the wake of the officers’ deaths in Manchester, and then we have a very senior member of the Government saying that officers are plebs and morons.

“I know Mr Mitchell has apologised and that’s good, but it’s not enough."

The cycling Tory’s outburst came the day after two women PCs were shot dead.

An eyewitness said Mr Mitchell, 56, also branded them “morons”.

Speaking on a visit to Greater Manchester Police headquarters in the wake of the murders of Pcs Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes, Prime Minster Cameron said: “What Andrew Mitchell said and what he did was not appropriate. It was wrong and it is right that he has apologised.

“He has obviously apologised to me, but more importantly he has apologised thoroughly to the police and that needed to be done.

“Police do an outstanding job across our country. They do a very important job protecting places like Number 10 Downing Street and I am very conscious of the protection they give to me and my family and the work they do for everyone in public life.

DAVID Cameron says Chief Whip's words and actions towards cop were "inappropriate" and "wrong"

“I am eternally grateful for that and the police should always have our respect and our help and support and that is very, very important.

His disgraceful outburst on Wednesday evening came just 33 HOURS after PCs Bone and Hughes were shot dead in Manchester.

The Police Federation of England and Wales, which represents rank-and-file officers, today slammed Mr Mitchell saying it was “hard to fathom how someone who holds the police in such contempt could be allowed to hold a public office”.

Tourists and other members of the public looking in towards No10 heard the tirade and were left “visibly shocked” by it, the Downing St cop told bosses.

Mr Mitchell has since apologised to the PC who copped the most offensive but he is still denying using the word plebs even though the police officers reported his tirade word for word.

Ironically right-winger and keen cyclist Mr Mitchell is a former shadow police minister which tells you everything about the reality of how the Tories in government view the rest of us.

A former investment banker, he is worth at least £2.2million and owns a number of swanky homes.

He lives in one of the most fashionable squares in Islington, North London, with his GP wife Sharon and their two daughters.

He also has a house in his Sutton Coldfield constituency in Birmingham and a property in the French ski resort of Val d’Isere.

A Met Police spokesman said last night: “We have not made a complaint.”

The murders of PCs Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes have left Britain’s Thin Blue Line feeling very vulnerable. That is on top of a deep resentment over redundancies and pension cuts.

The knives are out! 

From former Tory party volunteers to Mr.Mitchell's neighbors are lining up to tell all 

The Daily Telegraph have taken the unprecidented step of publishing the whole of the police log which make it abundantly clear that Mr Mitchell has been telling porkies to the Prime Minister.

And finally I saw this spoof Andrew Mitchell bicycle advert, at least I think it was a spoof?



    Has Red Nose Day Come Early?

Lord young-small

If you need more evidence that the Conservatives are out of touch with ordinary people the Prime Minster’s advisor Lord Young A KEY adviser to David Cameron was slammed last night after he questioned whether Britain was really in recession.

Lord Young said he believed official figures that show the economy is shrinking could be wrong.

The Tory peer said: “I’ve never known a recession where employment goes up and at a time when the population is growing. I’m not sure the Government can actually measure the economy any more.”

Labour accused the 80-year-old of being out of touch. Shadow Treasury minister Chris Leslie said the Government “should be changing course and kick-starting the economy”.

Lord Young’s comments echo remarks he made in 2010 when he said Brits had “never had it so good”. He was forced to quit then as the Government’s enterprise tsar.

 

Birmingham Council Staff clock up 58,635 sick days

Can my readers please send a few get well cards to the poor little lambs at Birmingham Council.

According to my local newspaper Birmingham City Council staff took off 58,635 sick days between April and July of this year.   It is estimated that every additional day on the average rate cost the local taxpayer an extra £3 million to pay for cover or agency staff and delays to services.




Sir Richard's Smelly Toilets

Virgin Story.small

Like many other Brits, I admire Richard Branson for the way he has done business, and showed that you can treat customers well and be successful.  I also think for years members of the Tory party seem to stop Virgin whenever they got the chance i.e. the lottery and now taking back his train franchise. That said I will not be sorry to see Virgin lose their Train network because I have often thought it was a step too far.  By that I mean firstly that Virgin only part own Virgin Trains (partnered by Stagecoach) and I think this move watered down the Virgin ethos. 

 

Out of all the Virgin products and services I have bought in the last 40 years travelling on his trains is not a good one, overcrowded trains and expensive tickets.

Now I am not saying anyone could have done it better or that this new company that is coming will either, I'm just saying how disappointed I have been on Virgin Trains compared to Virgin Planes.  

 

Several years ago I complained about the smelly toilets on my frequent travels down to London from Birmingham.  Of course the company line was a fulsome apology and a £5 discount on my next ticket.  Trouble was that during the half a dozen trips I made around that period an employee on the train confided that the reason the toilets were now smelly is someone in the company had cut back the frequency that the chemical toilets were emptied to save money.  

 

Fast forward to last weekend Sept 1-2nd 2012, I was up in Liverpool for the great Food and Drinks Festival and for one section of my return journey I was on a Virgin train.  Guess what, the toilets are still smelly due to this policy.   I'm sure when Sir Richard plans a train journey they amend their emptying schedule and with such a world wide umbrella of companies he can not be expected to keep up with the minutia of Virgin Trains....but maybe he should disguise himself and do a spot check.

 P.S. even the BBC mentioned the smelly toilets

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19268724

 

The Similarities between the Tories and the Ferengi in Star Trek

Gove-Ferengi

I recently came to the conclusion that UK Tory politicians and Ferengi have a lot in common.   Both are always looking to see what is in it for them, only prepared to support something if it brings them advantage.   Both are defined by their mercantile obsession with profit and trade, but would sell their colleagues down the river if there was a profit in it.

P.s.  I think Michael makes a very handsome Ferengi, don't you?


 


German Search Engine with a Racist Name

Accidental Racist

 Surfing the internet I chanced upon a site called ACOON, on closer inspection this was actually 2 sites Acoon.de  and Acoon.com both owned by Michael Schöbel in Germany.

Since June I have been in correspondence with Michael trying to convince him to change the name carefully explaining what A Coon means in English.

Urban Dictionary

Coon:  An insulting name for a black person. Similar to ‘Nigger’.

The Free Dictionary

1. Informal A raccoon.

2. Offensive Slang Used as a disparaging term for a Black person.

 

At first the owner Michael Schöbel showed sympathy to my complaint and said he would rename the site, and that he didn’t realise the racist meaning when he chose ACoon as the name for his search engines.  Then when I followed up with further emails he said he still needed more time to make the necessary changes.

Now in September, Herr Schöbel told me that he has taken down Acoon.com but when pressed has flatly refused to change the name of Acoon.de because he says and I quote,

Acoon.de is meant for the German-speaking audience. Acoon.com was meant for the rest of the world, but now I know that I need to use a different name for that”. 

He reasoned that because 90% of Germans would not know that Acoon is a racist slur it was ok.

I went on to ask him if I could open up a website in Germany and name it Nigger would that be allowed? and he said, “if you would call a German website "nigger" you would definitely be in trouble. Because people here actually know what "nigger" means”, end quote.

 

Should a search engine continue to use a racist term for its name even after it has been pointed out?  Herr Schöbel has tried to imply that only Germans would see his Racist named search engine but that is just simply not true, the internet is not a series of islands but an interconnected super highway.

It is impossible to corral a racist named search engine just in Germany.   As the world becomes ever more interconnected, Germans will learn the English/American meaning of ACoon and demand it’s change anyway.

 

If someone types in “worldwide search engine list” the very first result on google page one is a site called http://www.searchenginecolossus.com/

This is a list of search engines and directories across the globe catalogued into countries.

If you click on the list of German search engines you will find this description of Acoon.de

The largest, most powerful German language database on the web! [spinne] (Marl, Nordrhein-Westfalen)

So does racism matter on the internet?  Well it should, I know there are lots of worse things happening in the world such as wars, famine, genocide etc, but just like the beginning of the persecution of the Jews before the Second World War….Wrong is just plain wrong! 

If we don’t stand up and prevent this unnecessary racism then where does this lead?...definitely not to a better more tolerant,  inclusive world.  When the persecution of the Jews began in the 1930’s many decent Germans looked away and didn’t speak up.  And still today as the conflicts in Africa and Syria show, denial is still a major factor in facilitating racism and hate crimes.

The bad thing about Michael’s decision is seems to be based around economics rather than the morals of the issue.  Perhaps if a few thousand decent Germans wrote complaints he might rethink the long term economic down side of having a racist name on his search engine.