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Wednesday, 31 December 2014

The struggle for statehood continues despite the hostility of some and the acquiescence of others.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/30/un-security-council-rejects-palestinian-statehood-bid


UN security council rejects Palestinian statehood bid


The UNSC votes against a Palestinian resolution calling for an end to Israeli occupation and for independent Palestine





















The Americans can, as always, be relied upon to support the Israeli's no matter what the issue may be, for Israel can do no wrong.
The Australians, contrary to all public option, press and media coverage, support the Americans and vote against the Palestinian peoples desire for statehood.
The United Kingdom, again contrary to large sections of British public opinion, join Rwanda, Nigeria, Lithuania, and South Korea in sitting on the fence and doing nothing. These countries perched on the railings, have abdicated their responsibilities towards Palestine and the possibility of achieving any form of settlement in the region, but have secured for themselves the continuing favour of "Uncle Sam".
The duplicity of abstention, gives a veneer of respectability to a distorted UN Security Council vote, suggesting that of the countries represented on UNSC, 7 were opposed to Palestinian statehood. The fact that the United States would have, in any event, exercised their "veto" to defeat the motion, makes a mockery of the process. Had the vote been 13 to 2 in favour, but in any case defeated with the US veto, at least the United States and Australia would have been isolated and exposed as the supporters of Israel and the continuing occupation of Palestine and the barbaric blockade of Gaza.,
History will judge Israel as a cruel and inhuman aggressor, and those who support them by deed or acquiescence, as co-conspirators and equally guilty

Sunday, 28 December 2014

The struggle to find sufficient food.



 Millions of Britons struggling to feed themselves and facing malnourishment

 



Foodbanks relying on donations of food.


 
On December 20th, I blogged on the bigoted generalisations, unfortunately, all too common in today's greedy, selfish and prejudiced society, in respect of attitudes towards the poor, foodbanks, child poverty and the general demonisation of large sections of our society, by those all too ready to accept and believe the propaganda trotted out from the pages of the Daily Mail, Telegraph and other such rags, and the completely biased reporting of Wilcox and others on the BBC with Brazier and Boulton on the British version of Fox News. The “success” of divisive social policies maintained by successive governments, have now become the “flagship” of this current ConDem coalition and have been enhanced and expanded by the DWP to effect more and more people.

This “Independent” article, emphasises just one aspect of the wider scandal, and yet still manages to draw venomous, spiteful and mostly inaccurate remarks from many people responding in the “comments” section. I am the first to admit that there may well be a few cases of abuses of the Foodbanks and other charities, but with the controls and referral procedures in place, these abuses comprise a minute number of the over 1 million people who now rely on their three times in 12 months food allocation to feed themselves and their families.

Perhaps some of those people who have such negative and bigoted opinions on the issues of poverty and foodbanks may soon find their personal circumstances change significantly and through no fault of their own, are forced to join the ranks of Foodbank users. It will be interesting to see their attitudes and remarks published in the “comments” columns then.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Memories

http://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/tomorrow/the-incredible-new-abu-dhabi-airport-terminal/ss-BBh4A4T?ocid=U142DHP

 The incredible new Abu Dhabi Airport terminal.


The "Mushroom"




Abu Dhabi, was/is the one stop between London Heathrow and Muscat Seeb airport in the Sultanate of Oman.
My fist view of Abu Dhabi International terminal after getting off the BA 777 for an hours pause in my journey, was the mushroom shaped structure starting on the floor below and reaching high up above the mezzanine where the tunnels lead to incoming and departing aircraft, to form the terminal ceiling above. (pictures 5 and 9 on the link).
Standing right beside the structure, reaching to where the “mushroom” begins to curve over to form the ceiling, was the largest broadest real Christmas Tree that I had ever seen, decorated from bottom to top with every type of tree decoration you could imagine and hundreds (if not more) Christmas tree lights. A truly remarkable sight.
It seems that “The incredible new Abu Dhabi Airport terminal”, will maintain the high standard.

Incidentally, in picture 9 on the link, on the right as you view the image, is the retail outlet where in November of 1999, I purchased 2 wrist watches, one for my wife and the other for me. As we now move into 2015, I have purchased only 2 replacement batteries for my watch which I have been wearing practically every day since then.


Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas everybody.

Christmas 2014.

To readers of this "New Agenda" Blog (according to Google statistics) all around the world, all Facebook "Friends", "Followers" on the Twitter account, readers of "New Agenda on Sunday" and any others who may venture onto any of the pages, I wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas and a Peaceful, prosperous New Year.


Merry Christmas
Merry Christmas

 

 

Thank you for taking the time to read my observations and remarks on events and for your support and comments over the past 12 months. May we all look forward to what promises to be a momentous 2015.

 

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

A scandal which continues to grow.

http://www.dorsetecho.co.uk/news/11683374.People_turn_to_foodbanks_to_feed_their_families_over_Christmas/



People turn to foodbanks to feed their families over Christmas



Foodbank volunteers



"Hundreds of people (in Dorset,) will be turning to foodbanks to feed their families this Christmas.
Instead of turkey with all the trimmings, hard-pressed families will be serving up tinned and dried foods this festive season."  Dorset Echo: 23rd December 2014.


 
Just one small part of scandal which has grown vastly over the past 5 years. In this country today, there are over 1 million people who are reliant on Food banks or other food charities, to feed their families this Christmas. The figure has grown significantly since last Christmas and shows no sign of reducing anytime soon. It is a scandal and a disgrace, which should shame us all for allowing such a situation to come about.
The Foodbank charities and the volunteers working in them are doing a magnificent job in trying to alleviate the hardship.The contributions of food and other essentials in supermarkets, shops and other retail outlets, together with the contributions handed in at the charity centres, are providing an invaluable source of relief for hard pressed families.
It is to the credit of all those people who contribute regularly or occasionally, that the spirit of "community" remains in some sections of society.  




Sunday, 21 December 2014

Planning to normalise relationships but sticking to the myths.




 http://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/magazine/it%E2%80%99s-not-the-us-embargo-that-keeps-cuba-poor-it%E2%80%99s-the-brothers-castro/ar-BBgUYpV?ocid=U142DHP


It’s not the US embargo that keeps Cuba poor, it’s the brothers Castro



Celebrations in Havana for US and Cuba plans to restore ties.

 
The headline from this MSN, introduces an article which, ostensibly, is to report on the American initiative to "normalise" the relationship between Havana and Washington.The article of course does nothing of the sort, and soon sinks to the depth of yet another criticism to add to the list of criticisms leveled at Cuba and Fidel Castro in particular, over the last 56 years.The piece of journalistic nonsense, goes the way of all the rest and seeks to explain away the Cuban revolution as just another failed exercise in the "Marxist" experiment of economy management and ignores, as is often the case with American versions of history, the "Why" and the "How". By way of a brief attempt to put the record straight, the following comments may remind us of the reality rather than the myth reported as "fact" in the MSN article.

Fidel Castro

Fulgencio Batista








       






 
Since the American backed dictator, gangster and corrupt despot Fulgencio Batista was removed from office as a result of the 1958 revolution, the Cuban people have lost the mafia controlled casino's, brothels, clip joint bars, drugs industry and extreme illiteracy, abject poverty and high infant mortality rates so common on the island. They have gained schools, hospitals, university education, greater life expectation, an improved economy (in comparison to Batista's corrupt system) and a relatively higher standard of living.
The gangsters, drug barons and most other criminals  with their links to organised crime and the CIA in the United States, fled to Miami and other parts of Florida to set up, with American backing and assistance, the DRF (Democratic Revolutionary Front), Brigade 2506 and other tin pot organisations with the objective of overthrowing the new Castro regime in Cuba and restoring the dominance of organised crime in Havana. It was these organisations, with CIA finance, arms and training which embarked on the abortive Bay of Pigs invasion fiasco in 1961, a plan about which J. F. Kennedy, the new American President knew nothing until after the event.
 


Bay of Pigs.





Since then however, successive American governments have maintained a policy of embargo and trade restrictions against the Cuban government which to a great extent have been ineffectual in many sectors of the Cuban economy. With perhaps the exception of the "Cuban missile crisis" of 1962, Cuba has maintained a slow but steady growth in the standards of living of the Cuban people (when compared to the days of Batista). There is compelling evidence that Fidel Castro transformed the country from a corrupt and  criminal dictatorship into a progressive and (relatively) successful nation, despite the actions and opposition of the United States. In Cuban society, Fidel Castro remains popular and is viewed as "saint" rather than "sinner", no matter how hard Washington and the criminal exiles in Miami may try to convince the world otherwise.
The MSN "journalists" should at least try to give the impression of being objective with their stories rather than trotting out the tired old cliches of discredited American propaganda.



Saturday, 20 December 2014

A nation divided



 

13m will spend £1.2bn on 'Panic Saturday', but 13m others across the country will spend this Christmas in poverty


 
 


Black Friday, an American shopping frenzy, has arrived on our shores. Just what exactly is it and is it worth the the hype? (GETTY)the vulnerable will vote 












  
In the first quarter of the 21st Century, it is a scandal and a disgrace that 13 million people are, no matter what measurement you choose to employ in establishing that figure, living in poverty in this country today. Over 1 million families reliant on Food-banks and other charities, 1 million in child poverty, hundreds of thousands of people homeless, or in inadequate accommodation, many people actually in work who earn less than the minimum wage or are on zero hour contracts, having to claim benefits, which are being further reduced by government cuts, are indicative of a fractured nation. This is a situation which has been created and exacerbated by successive administrations, and is an indictment of a political philosophy, where the “Markets”, the city and the interests of business are infinitely more important than the concept of society and the social welfare of the country. It is the collective shame of a nation where greed and self interest, fuelled and encouraged by career politicians in Westminster and reprehensible reporting from some parts of the media and television, have become a “norm” and an acceptable aspect of many sections of British society.In the first part of the 21st Century we, as a nation, have progressed little since the traumas of the last 100 years and are in many aspects of life, returning to squalor and deprivation not seen since the 1930's

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

It's in the wrong sacks!

 http://www.dorsetecho.co.uk/news/11668325.Waste_partnership_is_standing_firm_on_rubbish_bags_despite_vermin_fears/


Waste partnership is standing firm on rubbish bags despite vermin fears



Uncollected rubbish in East Street
East Street, Weymouth


 
I drove past this stack of rubbish yesterday 15th December 2014,(and it was not the only one which I passed while in Weymouth). It seems that the waste has been put into the "wrong sacks".
The thought occurred to me that rather than buy "black plastic" sacks to cram the rubbish into, why do the people putting the bags out, not put it into "blue plastic" sacks?
That is of course, provided that the DWP have actually delivered a supply of blue plastic sacks to be used for the purpose. However, so far the performance of DWP in the catalouge of errors, screw ups and general poor management and administration of the "new system" is less than adequate. Moreover, they seem to be demanding more money from the Council to cover "additional costs". You could not make this up.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

A complete waste of our money.

The packaging on medications increases the cost to the NHS, and generates even more profits for the pharmaceutical industry.

 

 













I have just spent the last hour, filling my pill dispensing wallet. This is a task which I carry out every two weeks, usually on alternate Sunday mornings. The reason for using a pill dispenser is that I have a significant number of various pills, which are usually taken in different combinations each day. Consequently, the possibility of taking the wrong dosage or the wrong pills, is avoided.

It never ceases to amaze me, that at the end of this exercise, I always have at least half a carrier bag full of discarded pill boxes, instruction leaflets and numerous empty sheets of seven empty slots of tinfoil or thin plastic or a combination of both, where the pill for that particular medication was housed.
In many cases the tin foil or plastic, requires a great amount of finger and thumb pressure to eject the incumbent pill. This practice is not only irritating, but it is also bloody dangerous. I, and perhaps many others, have at some time during this process, had to wander off from the task in hand to find an appropriate box of Elastoplast or some other wound dressing. In my case, one of the medications which I regularly take is Warfarin which has a tendency to make even small cuts bleed profusely.

Each time that I carry out this task, I'm always conscious of the amount of waste packaging being produced, all of which has to be gathered up and placed in a carrier bag to be disposed of with the weekly rubbish collection. I may not be alone in remembering when pills came in small brown, clear plastic bottles, usually with a white screw cap, which required an amount of fiddling to remove but usually produced a satisfactory outcome. (It is rumoured that President Richard M Nixon was never able to master this simple task with the result that many of the white caps on his medication were covered in teeth marks witnessing his usually unsuccessful attempts to open the bottle.)

Now all this additional packaging, plastic, foil, cardboard and printed material must have an associated cost. As pharmaceutical companies are not philanthropic organisations, it must be assumed that this cost over and above that of the little brown bottle with the white lid, together of course, with the medication contained therein, is passed on to the government and therefore the taxpayer (that’s us), as additional charges to the NHS. It is little wonder that the cost charged by the pharmaceutical companies, is a significant part of the NHS budget for drugs and medications. It must be possible to find ways to reduce this unnecessary packaging and at least contribute to a reduction in the annual drug costs of the NHS. It may be argued by some, that there is a health and safety issue in ensuring that pills and medications are protected from possible contamination, but there is little justification for the layers and layers of protective wrappings which add nothing to the effectiveness of the medication concerned but only reduce the cost of that medication. 
 
There are compelling arguments for saving on excess packaging in the pharmaceutical industry, as there are compelling arguments for saving excess packaging in the food industry which is demonstrably present on our supermarket shelves and in our waste bins every day.











The "Blackmail" racket of Royal Mail.

Royal mail can look for other "victims".

 

 


http://moneysaving.weebly.com/uploads/8/6/0/8/860887/106732.jpg?1307228730
A tool used for "Blackmail"





The Royal Mail put a card through my letter box yesterday, (Saturday 13th December 2014)advising, "Unfortunately we can't deliver your item because there is a fee to pay".
Upon closer examination, it seems that "The sender didn't pay the full postage", and Royal Mail are demanding a payment from me of £1.11
This "Fee" includes a £1 handling charge!
The item in question, I know to be a Christmas card which probably exceeds the arbitrary size restrictions (measured by a rather crude template device) imposed by Royal Mail a couple of years back as a means for extorting even more money from the long suffering public.
The "excess charge" of 11p is really neither here nor there, but to add a handling charge of £1 is really adding insult to injury.
I have no objection to excess charges where the sender has either forgotten or omitted to pay any postage, but for Royal Mail to create a plastic measuring device to effectively catch the public out when sending letters is underhand and is used purely as an extra means of generating additional income at both ends of the postal cycle.
I do not play this game. Royal Mail can take this item and any others they may seek to deliver using the same blackmail technique and shove it into an appropriate location.
Ironically, in the long run, it will probably cost them more to measure the offending letter, fill in their card, deliver it to our house, store the item for 18 days, return it to the originating DO, sort the item at that end and redeliver it to the sender. 


The £1 handling fee seems a bit silly.


Saturday, 13 December 2014

The renaissance of New Labour?


 http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/dec/13/david-miliband-british-politics-hints-return


David Miliband hints at another stint in British politics



Miliband major.
Miliband minor.









       







 Blair lurking in the background?




 
Why not go the whole hog and parachute the hypocrite Blair straight into some safe(?) Labour seat, instead of settling for this toadying facsimile of a Blairite lackey?
Westminster if full of self serving career politicians and another one (or perhaps two) would not make one iota of difference. However, the prospect of Miliband major replacing Miliband minor and ultimately being reprised  with Blair as a new "dynamic duo", is a thought too awful to contemplate.



Thursday, 11 December 2014

Miliband, drifting even further to the right.





Ed Miliband vows to wield the axe on public services to balance books


Ed Miliband will cut the budgets of most Whitehall departments



A statement of intent, indicating how far away from its traditional supporters and its traditional principles the Labour party has drifted. Miliband seeks to grab power in the "centre ground" as did Blair, and to hell with the ordinary people who historically have relied on the Labour Party and the trade Union movement to provide some alternative and redress from the excesses of Conservative policies and the exploitation by businesses and business interests in this country. The "Centre ground" is populated by Tories, Liberal Democrats, business interests and others, seeking only to perpetuate their own existence by persuading everyone that they are the only ones offering a solution to a problem which they themselves, together with their friends in the city, not least of all the banking sector. have created.
Their reliance on the hysteria, myth and negative smear generated by the media and television and depending which way the "media barons" happen to be leaning this week. usually ensures that one or other of the "main Westminster Parties", will secure for themselves another 5 years membership of that very exclusive Westminster club where the salaries are high, the "perks" are plentiful and the expenses provide a bottomless pit of public money for those “necessities of life” such as second homes, heating for the stables, moat cleaning, restaurant bills, state of the art entertainment systems, tablet computers and other electronic toys, salaries for relatives working as researchers in constituency offices and all the other obscene claims which have littered the expenses office over the last few years.
It is not service to the people of the United Kingdom which is the driving force and motivation for seeking elected office in the Commons. It is the incentive of office, financial gain, image and position which puts the vast majority of these 650 individuals on the road to becoming the career politician. They will say and do what ever is expedient in order to achieve this goal and the day after election day will revert to their task of ensuring that their little bubble is safely insulated from the reality of life outside Parliament. In this regard Miliband is exactly the same as the rest. The pursuit and occupation of the "centre ground" proves that they are all the same once the achieve power.

Monday, 8 December 2014

The continuing scandal of more people being forced to resort to using foodbanks


Tories seek to avert rift with Church of England over food bank report



One Conservative minister claimed the increased use of food banks is due to greater publicity about
A foodbank in the United Kingdom in the year 2014.




A church funded all-party report is published today,(8th December 2014), on the increased use of food banks in this country and warning that Britain is stalked by low pay, growing inequality, a harsh benefits section scheme and social breakdown. It is perhaps fitting that the report is published just two weeks before Christmas, highlighting the growing phenomena of food bank usage in the United Kingdom. The Tories have of course attempted to distance themselves from any blame associated with this scandal, with one minister claiming that the increased use of food banks is due to the greater publicity about their existence. The Department of Work and Pensions, remain adamant that the administration of the benefit system has little to do with people resorting to food banks, notwithstanding the fact that the report is highly critical of the way in which the benefits system is administered and the consequential delays in payment of benefits not only to those unemployed but also to those claiming additional benefits due to low pay.
Over recent months and years, I have been very critical of the circumstances which have led to over 1 million people today being reliant on food banks and food by charities. The number of people claiming additional support due to insufficient income is indicative of a society which has become reliant on low pay employment, zero hour contracts and a high incidence of part-time employment, all of which are used by the government as indications of a growing economy and increased levels of employment. Nothing could be further from the truth.
During this period, there have been voices raised by government ministers some organisations and elements of the press, suggesting that people are using food banks because either they are unable to budget their incomes properly, or because the food is free, or perhaps their priorities for household expenditure are somehow directed towards cigarettes, alcohol and plasma televisions. It is regrettable that this warped perspective has found its way into the minds of many people who would normally not entertain such bigoted views, but have been influenced by the leader items of the Express, Telegraph, Mail and other right wing media. Today's article in the Observer is no exception with one letter in the comments section, actually stating that, “The benefits system as I well know will support you if you budget sensibly these people are so ignorant the word budget is beyond their comprehension”. The way in which this attitude has contaminated large sections of public opinion, is both sinister and worrying. The government has was sometime been engaged in a conscious program of demonisation not only of food bank users but also of benefit claimants generally. The purpose of this program is to ensure that the concept of divide and rule is applied throughout society, where the employed are set against the unemployed, where the sick are set against the able-bodied and where differences between peoples are highlighted and emphasised in order to gain political advantage.
It may well be true that there are some users of food banks and food by charities who abuse the system albeit that with the requirements of referral by social services, probation services or other such government bodies, will make abuse of the system difficult. However, there is little doubt that the vast majority of the 1 million people who currently use food banks or other such charities, are reliant on these bodies through no fault of their own and do not deserve to be targets of bigoted and ill informed individuals spouting bile and other obscenities through the press as with comments columns of online newspapers.
There seems to be little prospect of the numbers rely on food banks will reduce any time soon, as we are promised a further period of years for cuts and austerity to be the norm in British society. It is predicted that the United Kingdom is reverting to a society not seen since the 1930s, without the Welfare State and without any form of social conscience. It is a scandal and an outrage that we as a nation, allow such circumstances to occur and to perpetuate. The blame lies with successive governments going back as far as the previous Labour administration, but exacerbated over the period of the current ConDem coalition during the last five years. It is a situation about which we should all feel a collective shame, for allowing this scandal to continue. Perhaps with a general election due in May of next year, there may be a change but from the evidence thus far, all political parties are promising a continuation of its territory. It is a scandal and it is unacceptable.
Perhaps today's report, may have some influence on the philosophy of this government but the evidence suggests that this is unlikely to be the case.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

The perks of a rotten structure

 http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/dec/07/champagne-house-of-lords-reform-taxpayer


Champagne wars in the Lords as peers say no to a cheaper vintage


Since 2010, the Lords has bought in 17,000 bottles of champagne, enought for five for every peer.
Since 2010, the Lords has bought in 17,000 bottles of champagne



 

This story adds to the list of things wrong with the people who populate the corridors of the Palace of Westminster. Commons and Lords, filled with people who care only for themselves and retaining their position of privilege in society.
Expenses, extortionate salary increases, perks of subsidised food and alcohol and all the other trimmings of Parliamentary life are indicative of a system which is corrupt and which encourages greed and selfishness amongst those who are part of and profit from it. The phrase "Parliamentary privilege" takes on a whole new meaning when abuses and self indulgences such as this are exposed. 
There is a compelling argument from dissolving the whole rotten structure and starting again from scratch.



The renaissance of "New Labour" with Umunna at the helm?




http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/tony-blair-wants-chuka-umunna-to-be-the-next-labour-leader-9908489.html


Tony Blair wants Chuka Umunna to be the next Labour leader



Chuka Umunna


Tony Blair
















The "Blairite" right emerge from the woodwork to promote another career politician/lawyer to take up where Blair left off. The destruction of the Labour party was essentially complete when Blair, Mandelson,Campbell and the others crawled off into their burrows to plot and scheme while reading their bank statements. Chuka Umunna fits very nicely into the mould and could complete the task commenced by the triumvirate and firmly fix the Labour party in that pro business, pro establishment, laying only slightly to the left of the Tory extremists who have ruled this country for the last 5 years.
Working people, the sick, pensioners and benefit claimants and vast sections of British society will of course, remain ignored, unrepresented and disillusioned with the Westminster elite and the Commons "Old School tie" club.
Blair may see the renaissance of his "New Labour" with his disciple Umunna leading it, but it will be the ordinary people of this country who will pay the price.