" Madam Miaow Says: October 2010

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Vodafone tax protests put Left and TUC to shame



Look. This is what can be achieved with imagination and a bit of media savvy. The sneaky Vodafone deal whereby the ConDem coalition government (that did NOT win the election) let them off £6 billion in taxes owed to the British public while smashing up our society with draconian cuts has been thrust into the media spotlight by independent activists.

So where is the leadership from the Left, whether it be Labour, the TUC or the far left? The sad old dinosaurs and sectarians have had MONTHS to get their act together. Yet all they could do was hold a couple of demos in the week of the actual cuts with another planned manyana.

Meanwhile, the right have been given a free run in the media with the BBC especially shameful in their reinforcing of the cutters' narrative. I'm sure I wasn't the only one to listen to the BBC R4 Today programme coverage on the morning of the Bullingdon Budget (thanks Armando Iannucci) on October 20th, spitting blood over the presentation of the right agenda with no balance except for a meek and mild Mark Steel at the very end.

Did they have a team harrying the BBC editors to present the economically literate side, as articulated by Robert Skidlelsky, and as demanded by their public remit? Aside from the odd token appearance allowed of commentators such as Skidelsky and Ken Loach (who put up a damn good fight versus Michael Heseltine on Newsnight), we were left almost entirely without spokespersons. Selective vox pop meant that the Tory cutting lie was halfway around the world before the truth had got its pants on.

There is a groundswell of disgust with the left's inaction over the assault on our services with the suspicion that Labour is keeping quiet because it, too, would have pushed through similarly swingeing cuts. Johnson instead of Balls in the Treasury? Wrong bit of anatomy, mate. See, I told you "Red" Ed Miliband was all pantomime (here and here), confirmed when he didn't even turn up for the first of the demos as he'd promised.

I look forward to more Vodafone-style action from the public while the Left and the TUC find their balls, now officially MIA.

False Economy
False Economy on Facebook
Paul Anderson in Tribune
Johann Hari in The Independent

Vodafone tax protests put Left and TUC to shame



Look. This is what can be achieved with imagination and a bit of media savvy. The sneaky Vodafone deal whereby the ConDem coalition government (that did NOT win the election) let them off £6 billion in taxes owed to the British public while smashing up our society with draconian cuts has been thrust into the media spotlight by independent activists.

So where is the leadership from the Left, whether it be Labour, the TUC or the far left? The sad old dinosaurs and sectarians have had MONTHS to get their act together. Yet all they could do was hold a couple of demos in the week of the actual cuts with another planned manyana.

Meanwhile, the right have been given a free run in the media with the BBC especially shameful in their reinforcing of the cutters' narrative. I'm sure I wasn't the only one to listen to the BBC R4 Today programme coverage on the morning of the Bullingdon Budget (thanks Armando Iannucci) on October 20th, spitting blood over the presentation of the right agenda with no balance except for a meek and mild Mark Steel at the very end.

Did they have a team harrying the BBC editors to present the economically literate side, as articulated by Robert Skidlelsky, and as demanded by their public remit? Aside from the odd token appearance allowed of commentators such as Skidelsky and Ken Loach (who put up a damn good fight versus Michael Heseltine on Newsnight), we were left almost entirely without spokespersons. Selective vox pop meant that the Tory cutting lie was halfway around the world before the truth had got its pants on.

There is a groundswell of disgust with the left's inaction over the assault on our services with the suspicion that Labour is keeping quiet because it, too, would have pushed through similarly swingeing cuts. Johnson instead of Balls in the Treasury? Wrong bit of anatomy, mate. See, I told you "Red" Ed Miliband was all pantomime (here and here), confirmed when he didn't even turn up for the first of the demos as he'd promised.

I look forward to more Vodafone-style action from the public while the Left and the TUC find their balls, now officially MIA.

False Economy
False Economy on Facebook
Paul Anderson in Tribune
Johann Hari in The Independent

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Ozzy Osbourne meets Tony Blair: War Pigs



Ah, the wit and wisdom of Ozzy Osbourne, clown prince of rock 'n' roll but a breath of fresh air among the creepier psychofrantic wing of the liberal media.

While some present Blair as a sincere chap who, f'rinstance, donated his £4 million book advance to the British Legion out of the goodness of his own heart, which I say was the price of buying back his brand taking a clobbering in the nether regions of the advance book sales lists, Ozzy paints a very different picture of his fan.

From Ozzy's hilarious autobiography, I Am Ozzy (Sphere, Little Brown) a small but telling moment when Blair schmoozed while soldiers and civilians died in his war:
I'm not so comfortable with politicians. Meeting them always feels weird and a bit creepy, no matter who it is. For example, I met Tony Blair during The Osbournes period at this thing called the Pride of Britain Awards. He was all right, I suppose; very charming. But I couldn't get over the fact that our young soldiers were dying out in the Middle East and he could still find time to hang out with pop stars.

Then he came over to me and said, "I was in a rock 'n' roll band once, y'know?"

I said, "So I believe, Prime Minister."

"But I could never work out the chords to 'Iron Man'."

I wanted to say, "Fuck me, Tony, that's a staggering piece of information, that is. I mean, you're at war with Afghanistan, people are getting blown up all over the place, so who honestly gives a fuck that you could never work out the chords to 'Iron Man'?"

But they're all the same, so there's no point getting wound up about it.


A quick reminder of those Black Sabbath War Pigs lyrics:
Generals gathered in their masses
Just like witches at black masses
Evil minds that plot destruction
Sorcerers of death's construction
In the fields the bodies burning
As the war machine keeps turning
Death and hatred to mankind
Poisoning their brainwashed minds
Oh lord yeah!

Politicians hide themselves away
They only started the war
Why should they go out to fight?
They leave that role to the poor
Time will tell on their power minds
Making war just for fun
Treating people just like pawns in chess
Wait 'til their judgement day comes
Yeah!

Now in darkness world stops turning
Ashes where the bodies burning
No more war pigs have the power
Hand of God has struck the hour
Day of judgement, God is calling
On their knees the war pigs crawling
Begging mercy for their sins
Satan laughing spreads his wings
Oh lord yeah!

Ozzy Osbourne meets Tony Blair: War Pigs



Ah, the wit and wisdom of Ozzy Osbourne, clown prince of rock 'n' roll but a breath of fresh air among the creepier psychofrantic wing of the liberal media.

While some present Blair as a sincere chap who, f'rinstance, donated his £4 million book advance to the British Legion out of the goodness of his own heart, which I say was the price of buying back his brand taking a clobbering in the nether regions of the advance book sales lists, Ozzy paints a very different picture of his fan.

From Ozzy's hilarious autobiography, I Am Ozzy (Sphere, Little Brown) a small but telling moment when Blair schmoozed while soldiers and civilians died in his war:
I'm not so comfortable with politicians. Meeting them always feels weird and a bit creepy, no matter who it is. For example, I met Tony Blair during The Osbournes period at this thing called the Pride of Britain Awards. He was all right, I suppose; very charming. But I couldn't get over the fact that our young soldiers were dying out in the Middle East and he could still find time to hang out with pop stars.

Then he came over to me and said, "I was in a rock 'n' roll band once, y'know?"

I said, "So I believe, Prime Minister."

"But I could never work out the chords to 'Iron Man'."

I wanted to say, "Fuck me, Tony, that's a staggering piece of information, that is. I mean, you're at war with Afghanistan, people are getting blown up all over the place, so who honestly gives a fuck that you could never work out the chords to 'Iron Man'?"

But they're all the same, so there's no point getting wound up about it.


A quick reminder of those Black Sabbath War Pigs lyrics:
Generals gathered in their masses
Just like witches at black masses
Evil minds that plot destruction
Sorcerers of death's construction
In the fields the bodies burning
As the war machine keeps turning
Death and hatred to mankind
Poisoning their brainwashed minds
Oh lord yeah!

Politicians hide themselves away
They only started the war
Why should they go out to fight?
They leave that role to the poor
Time will tell on their power minds
Making war just for fun
Treating people just like pawns in chess
Wait 'til their judgement day comes
Yeah!

Now in darkness world stops turning
Ashes where the bodies burning
No more war pigs have the power
Hand of God has struck the hour
Day of judgement, God is calling
On their knees the war pigs crawling
Begging mercy for their sins
Satan laughing spreads his wings
Oh lord yeah!

Monday, 25 October 2010

Gauguin at the Tate review: Derek & Clive go to the pictures


I finally saw the Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) exhibition at the Tate Modern yesterday and, yep, it had more breasts than a Bernard Matthews turkey farm.

It's an interesting look at a former impressionist who predates Matisse in his use of colour and the surface plane of the canvas. Murkier than the great colourist or even Van Gogh en masse, the subject matter was also a bit more, er, limited? A tiny tad "one note', shall we say? All T & A, or, for variety, T or A. As my lovely companion observed, the arses follow you around the room.

There's a hilarious schizophrenic collision of what the gallery wants you to focus on through their high-tone wall texts, and the glaring obviousity that Gauguin was a white bourgeois having much fun with the native girls of Tahiti and the Polynesian South Seas whilst away from his Parisian home.

Overwhelmingly comprising paintings of naked and half-clad dusky women, the exhibition provides a slightly disturbing portrait of a white man immersing himself in the local "colour" and enthusiastically dipping his paintbrush at the drop of a lei. As if Gary Glitter, having spent happy times in Indo-China, produced an oeuvre of work recording the musical delights of his exploits for our delectation.

Gauguin, the double of Alfred Molina (who played him in a recent TV biopic), sought the pagan but initially found the missionary position as the Christian missionaries got there before he did, arming the islanders against their own innocent sexuality with biblical tracts in a process some call civilising and others might think was bloody imperialist cheek. Gauguin made the reverse journey, recreating primitivist fantasies of a lost age in his art. He morphed from bourgeois banker to "savage" ... and he did it very well.

In the last room we were most gobsmacked to learn that Gauguin died of syphillis. WHAT??? Yer kiiiiddiiiing! I'd've thought him more likely to have been hit by an Acme piano dropped from a great height by Wile E. Coyote.

But here's Derek & Clive putting it far more eloquently than I ever could. (Phooey to the purists who point out that this is actually a Pete 'n' Dud routine.)

Admission: Adult £13.50.
Runs until 16 Jan. Sun-Thu 10.00-18.00. Fri & Sat 10.00-22.00. Closed 24-26 Dec.
Telephone: 020 7887 8888.

Gauguin at the Tate review: Derek & Clive go to the pictures


I finally saw the Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) exhibition at the Tate Modern yesterday and, yep, it had more breasts than a Bernard Matthews turkey farm.

It's an interesting look at a former impressionist who predates Matisse in his use of colour and the surface plane of the canvas. Murkier than the great colourist or even Van Gogh en masse, the subject matter was also a bit more, er, limited? A tiny tad "one note', shall we say? All T & A, or, for variety, T or A. As my lovely companion observed, the arses follow you around the room.

There's a hilarious schizophrenic collision of what the gallery wants you to focus on through their high-tone wall texts, and the glaring obviousity that Gauguin was a white bourgeois having much fun with the native girls of Tahiti and the Polynesian South Seas whilst away from his Parisian home.

Overwhelmingly comprising paintings of naked and half-clad dusky women, the exhibition provides a slightly disturbing portrait of a white man immersing himself in the local "colour" and enthusiastically dipping his paintbrush at the drop of a lei. As if Gary Glitter, having spent happy times in Indo-China, produced an oeuvre of work recording the musical delights of his exploits for our delectation.

Gauguin, the double of Alfred Molina (who played him in a recent TV biopic), sought the pagan but initially found the missionary position as the Christian missionaries got there before he did, arming the islanders against their own innocent sexuality with biblical tracts in a process some call civilising and others might think was bloody imperialist cheek. Gauguin made the reverse journey, recreating primitivist fantasies of a lost age in his art. He morphed from bourgeois banker to "savage" ... and he did it very well.

In the last room we were most gobsmacked to learn that Gauguin died of syphillis. WHAT??? Yer kiiiiddiiiing! I'd've thought him more likely to have been hit by an Acme piano dropped from a great height by Wile E. Coyote.

But here's Derek & Clive putting it far more eloquently than I ever could. (Phooey to the purists who point out that this is actually a Pete 'n' Dud routine.)

Admission: Adult £13.50.
Runs until 16 Jan. Sun-Thu 10.00-18.00. Fri & Sat 10.00-22.00. Closed 24-26 Dec.
Telephone: 020 7887 8888.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Anti-cuts demo: Harpy Marx has pix


Harpy Marx has a great set of pix of today's anti-cuts protest in London at her website, including this rather fetching portrait of the proletariat's finest.

I like a man in uniform. Actually, I don't. But I'll make an exception for these chaps. You can come and rescue my cat stuck up a tree any time. (Be still my beating heart.)

Anti-cuts demo: Harpy Marx has pix


Harpy Marx has a great set of pix of today's anti-cuts protest in London at her website, including this rather fetching portrait of the proletariat's finest.

I like a man in uniform. Actually, I don't. But I'll make an exception for these chaps. You can come and rescue my cat stuck up a tree any time. (Be still my beating heart.)

Dr Patrick Nolan defends bankers: Orwell Prize launch


I offer in evidence of the depraved mindset of the managerial class imposing the Tory cuts this video from the Orwell Prize launch debate (Thursday 21st Oct 2011) on Poverty and the Spending Review.

The charmless Dr Patrick Nolan argues that the bankers are innocent while the plebs who sneak smokes back across the channel and small businesses who work the system are to blame.

Tumbrils. Now.

More on Dr Patrick Nolan here

Video 3 of Nolan's original speech here.

Harpy Marx's comments from the floor, followed by Penny Red, in video 8 here

Dr Patrick Nolan defends bankers: Orwell Prize launch


I offer in evidence of the depraved mindset of the managerial class imposing the Tory cuts this video from the Orwell Prize launch debate (Thursday 21st Oct 2011) on Poverty and the Spending Review.

The charmless Dr Patrick Nolan argues that the bankers are innocent while the plebs who sneak smokes back across the channel and small businesses who work the system are to blame.

Tumbrils. Now.

More on Dr Patrick Nolan here

Video 3 of Nolan's original speech here.

Harpy Marx's comments from the floor, followed by Penny Red, in video 8 here

Friday, 22 October 2010

Orwell Prize launch debate: poverty and Tory cuts


The nuts were on the platform, but where were the crisps? Laid out with less legroom than a Romanian airline, last night's Orwell Prize drinks 'n' nibbles launch at London's Frontline Club was a hot and sweaty affair with the faintest methane miasma of drains. The worst flatulence, however, was to come as we gained an insight into the mindset running the economy into the ground.

Four members of the intelligentsia did little to challenge the right-wing narrative that the ConDem coalition cuts are necessary, that we all have to share in the misery, and that there's not a lot we can do. David "Mr Polly Toynbee" Walker got off to a promising start, speaking of the invisibility of the poor and questioning the responsibility of the media in "enhancing the opacity of our fellow citizens". He listed achievements and failures of the Labour government to tackle poverty, concluding that the glass was half empty and half full. "Many of Osborne's destructions announced yesterday had been presaged by successive Labour secretaries of State for Social Security and two Labour Chancellors," who'd already targeted groups of poor people on benefits. Thirteen years of Labour government had left a gap of fifteen years in terms of health and longevity between the best and worst off. But he never nailed the argument that we have been reading the current economic situation through a series of distorting mirrors wielded by the Tories.

Lisa Harker (former co-director of the IPPR) wrung her hands but said little of substance. [EDIT: apols to Lisa but I mixed her up with Meg Russell whose performance at the 2010 Orwell Prize shortlist event earlier this year I was trying to forget when, horror-struck by nasty members of the public who had produced a Wanted poster lampooning the Westminster benefit cheats, she'd had to be calmed down by Helena Kennedy.]

Chris Giles of the Financial Times gave us facts and figures proving that the Tories were dissembling with their figures, but the chief source of entertainment for the mob – er, I mean the us – was the twitchy New Zealand Chief Economist for Reform and former adviser to the New Zealand government, Dr Patrick Nolan.

A classic bean-counting wonk too parsimonious even to move his mouth when he spoke, giving the unfortunate impression of a cat who'd just walked into the room backwards, his case seemed to rest on the assertion that there was too big an ageing population, as if this was a nuisance rather than something to be celebrated in an advanced society. He cited Canada as a success story, where a vicious right-wing government had laid into the poor with gusto in order to stabilise the economy. Nolan said you should never run any deficit. He also slagged off Joseph Stiglitz who, as gamekeeper-turned-poacher and a prominent critic of globalisation, is a bit of a hero to many of us seeking an equitable society.

Nolan really won us over with his claim that you don't measure the health service by the number of nurses, or the education system by the number of buildings. It's quality of spending, not quantity, ya dig. He should tell the rich to remember that next time they count their moolah. He was all about why we had to pick up the bill as "communities" and individuals had to take more responsibility because governments had less money.

As my lovely companion murmered, where's this money going to? The debt is all domestic. Then he said something about "it's the bond markets" and I felt my nictitating membrane flutter as it always does when sleep beckons.

The best moment came when my mates got to work from the floor. Sigh! My heroes.

First Louise (Harpy Marx) asked why no-one had mentioned the cost of Trident, "stupid, futile wars", the £1.3 trillion bail-out for the bankers, or the £70 billion lost in tax evasion every year. "It's always the poor who pay for this, this is an ideological attack on the poor." You can listen to her contribution here.

Then Laurie Penny (New Statesman and Penny Red) observed that the panel was allowing the ideology of the right to set the terms of the event. "The financial failings of the rich are being blamed on the moral failings of the poor."

Sadly, the Orwell Prize You Tube Channel has omitted video No 9 which has Nolan's response. Luckily, I made notes and was paying attention. [EDIT: Saturday 23rd Oct, vid 9 — the Nolan Tape —is now up.]

Nolan launched his riposte with a huffy "How predictable you mention banks and tax. I won't ask if you'd actually bothered to look at the statistics ...". He could have responded to Louise's comments by offering evidence in a coruscating counter-argument but instead eyeballed Louise and repeatedly demanded she "clarify which taxes were most prone to avoidance and who are the people who are most cheating the system." (Thanks Carl Raincoat at Though Cowards Flinch for finding the Spectator article written by the Great Man in his neurosis to have the last word.)

I did respond to his haranguing (you can hear my deep Joan Greenwood tones in video 9), and I should add that by this point the audience was most definitely sniggering at him and not with him. "It's easy to blame the bankers," he blustered, the only point where we all agreed. The tetchy sheep doctor should have got his pearl-grey tank-top off our lawn and allowed some proper debate. "Ahem, the Tolpuddle Martyrs," our Jean had to remind him when he Frank Fielded on the notion of protest and we yelled, "Suffragettes!". And totally correct she was, too.

After this staggering lack of empathy for the weakest in society, I want tumbrils rolling in the streets. I may even take up knitting. Or at least do my make-up during the speeches as Laurie "Red" Penny did last night to stave off boredom and fury.

If they want class warfare, may I suggest we give them class warfare?

Gift-wrapped.

Tied up in a neat bow with a red ribbon.

The Orwell Prize You Tube Channel here

How the richest 1,000 could clear the deficit here

Orwell Prize launch debate: poverty and Tory cuts


The nuts were on the platform, but where were the crisps? Laid out with less legroom than a Romanian airline, last night's Orwell Prize drinks 'n' nibbles launch at London's Frontline Club was a hot and sweaty affair with the faintest methane miasma of drains. The worst flatulence, however, was to come as we gained an insight into the mindset running the economy into the ground.

Four members of the intelligentsia did little to challenge the right-wing narrative that the ConDem coalition cuts are necessary, that we all have to share in the misery, and that there's not a lot we can do. David "Mr Polly Toynbee" Walker got off to a promising start, speaking of the invisibility of the poor and questioning the responsibility of the media in "enhancing the opacity of our fellow citizens". He listed achievements and failures of the Labour government to tackle poverty, concluding that the glass was half empty and half full. "Many of Osborne's destructions announced yesterday had been presaged by successive Labour secretaries of State for Social Security and two Labour Chancellors," who'd already targeted groups of poor people on benefits. Thirteen years of Labour government had left a gap of fifteen years in terms of health and longevity between the best and worst off. But he never nailed the argument that we have been reading the current economic situation through a series of distorting mirrors wielded by the Tories.

Lisa Harker (former co-director of the IPPR) wrung her hands but said little of substance. [EDIT: apols to Lisa but I mixed her up with Meg Russell whose performance at the 2010 Orwell Prize shortlist event earlier this year I was trying to forget when, horror-struck by nasty members of the public who had produced a Wanted poster lampooning the Westminster benefit cheats, she'd had to be calmed down by Helena Kennedy.]

Chris Giles of the Financial Times gave us facts and figures proving that the Tories were dissembling with their figures, but the chief source of entertainment for the mob – er, I mean the us – was the twitchy New Zealand Chief Economist for Reform and former adviser to the New Zealand government, Dr Patrick Nolan.

A classic bean-counting wonk too parsimonious even to move his mouth when he spoke, giving the unfortunate impression of a cat who'd just walked into the room backwards, his case seemed to rest on the assertion that there was too big an ageing population, as if this was a nuisance rather than something to be celebrated in an advanced society. He cited Canada as a success story, where a vicious right-wing government had laid into the poor with gusto in order to stabilise the economy. Nolan said you should never run any deficit. He also slagged off Joseph Stiglitz who, as gamekeeper-turned-poacher and a prominent critic of globalisation, is a bit of a hero to many of us seeking an equitable society.

Nolan really won us over with his claim that you don't measure the health service by the number of nurses, or the education system by the number of buildings. It's quality of spending, not quantity, ya dig. He should tell the rich to remember that next time they count their moolah. He was all about why we had to pick up the bill as "communities" and individuals had to take more responsibility because governments had less money.

As my lovely companion murmered, where's this money going to? The debt is all domestic. Then he said something about "it's the bond markets" and I felt my nictitating membrane flutter as it always does when sleep beckons.

The best moment came when my mates got to work from the floor. Sigh! My heroes.

First Louise (Harpy Marx) asked why no-one had mentioned the cost of Trident, "stupid, futile wars", the £1.3 trillion bail-out for the bankers, or the £70 billion lost in tax evasion every year. "It's always the poor who pay for this, this is an ideological attack on the poor." You can listen to her contribution here.

Then Laurie Penny (New Statesman and Penny Red) observed that the panel was allowing the ideology of the right to set the terms of the event. "The financial failings of the rich are being blamed on the moral failings of the poor."

Sadly, the Orwell Prize You Tube Channel has omitted video No 9 which has Nolan's response. Luckily, I made notes and was paying attention. [EDIT: Saturday 23rd Oct, vid 9 — the Nolan Tape —is now up.]

Nolan launched his riposte with a huffy "How predictable you mention banks and tax. I won't ask if you'd actually bothered to look at the statistics ...". He could have responded to Louise's comments by offering evidence in a coruscating counter-argument but instead eyeballed Louise and repeatedly demanded she "clarify which taxes were most prone to avoidance and who are the people who are most cheating the system." (Thanks Carl Raincoat at Though Cowards Flinch for finding the Spectator article written by the Great Man in his neurosis to have the last word.)

I did respond to his haranguing (you can hear my deep Joan Greenwood tones in video 9), and I should add that by this point the audience was most definitely sniggering at him and not with him. "It's easy to blame the bankers," he blustered, the only point where we all agreed. The tetchy sheep doctor should have got his pearl-grey tank-top off our lawn and allowed some proper debate. "Ahem, the Tolpuddle Martyrs," our Jean had to remind him when he Frank Fielded on the notion of protest and we yelled, "Suffragettes!". And totally correct she was, too.

After this staggering lack of empathy for the weakest in society, I want tumbrils rolling in the streets. I may even take up knitting. Or at least do my make-up during the speeches as Laurie "Red" Penny did last night to stave off boredom and fury.

If they want class warfare, may I suggest we give them class warfare?

Gift-wrapped.

Tied up in a neat bow with a red ribbon.

The Orwell Prize You Tube Channel here

How the richest 1,000 could clear the deficit here

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Why China won't revalue the yuan: exclusive by Loretta Napoleoni

Author Loretta Napoleoni has kindly written this guest post for Madam Miaow who requested that she draw pictures to explain what all the fuss is with the US demanding that China revalues its currency.

It could alternatively be titled "Economics for Dummies" but here it is made easy (easier/easyish). Many thanks, Loretta.

BTW, 1 Chinese yuan = 0.0948186692 British pounds

China, the US, and the Renminbi currency
The 1930s depression became ‘great’ because nations used protectionism to defend their export industry. As barriers came up the economy began to shrink and the world was planed into a global recession. Today the monetary wars waged by nations aim at increasing the competitiveness of the industry by reducing the value of domestic currency and the outcome could well be to add the world ‘great’ the current recession.

At the centre of the currency war one finds China. The world wants the renminbi to revalue but the Chinese, we are told, refuse to do that to keep flooding our markets with their products. But the real reasons are otherwise. China is still a developing country and although, as Japan in the 1960s, it is fast moving towards a sophisticated industrialization, a considerable part of its economy is constituted by companies that produce basic goods and operate with very low margins. A revaluation would force them out of business. China is also experiencing a rise in wages, much needed and welcomed by the rest of the world, which is reducing the profit margins of companies. A revaluation would halt such process. Finally, China is currently in a key transition. The 15 year plan is coming to an end and the new one has not been announced yet, no major decision will be taken in this period.

China will in the near future appreciate its currency but it will do it according to the needs of the domestic economy not to satisfy the demand of the international markets. Such process may prove too slow for the globalised economy.

The real problem is not the renminbi but the dollar. Its weakness is producing great imbalances and the rush to devalue. Korea has de facto devalued its currency to be more competitive and is now planning to increase its gold reserves to safeguard them against the unstoppable weakening of the dollar. For months the Swiss have tried to intervene on the exchange rate markets to keep their currency from appreciating against the dollar and recently thanks to the contraction of exports have managed to stabilize the exchange rate.

Because volatility in the forex market is very high, speculators use this market to gamble their money — as in the past they gambled in the property market — hence the formation of a new bubble.

What we need to prevent another credit crunch is a new monetary system, but it is unlikely to happen in the near future, until China makes the renminbi convertible.

Loretta Napoleoni is the best-selling author of Rogue Economics, and Terror Inc: Tracing the terror dollars. Tonight, she is the guest speaker at the opening gala of the Global Banking Alliance for Women Summit held in Washington DC.

Why China won't revalue the yuan: exclusive by Loretta Napoleoni

Author Loretta Napoleoni has kindly written this guest post for Madam Miaow who requested that she draw pictures to explain what all the fuss is with the US demanding that China revalues its currency.

It could alternatively be titled "Economics for Dummies" but here it is made easy (easier/easyish). Many thanks, Loretta.

BTW, 1 Chinese yuan = 0.0948186692 British pounds

China, the US, and the Renminbi currency
The 1930s depression became ‘great’ because nations used protectionism to defend their export industry. As barriers came up the economy began to shrink and the world was planed into a global recession. Today the monetary wars waged by nations aim at increasing the competitiveness of the industry by reducing the value of domestic currency and the outcome could well be to add the world ‘great’ the current recession.

At the centre of the currency war one finds China. The world wants the renminbi to revalue but the Chinese, we are told, refuse to do that to keep flooding our markets with their products. But the real reasons are otherwise. China is still a developing country and although, as Japan in the 1960s, it is fast moving towards a sophisticated industrialization, a considerable part of its economy is constituted by companies that produce basic goods and operate with very low margins. A revaluation would force them out of business. China is also experiencing a rise in wages, much needed and welcomed by the rest of the world, which is reducing the profit margins of companies. A revaluation would halt such process. Finally, China is currently in a key transition. The 15 year plan is coming to an end and the new one has not been announced yet, no major decision will be taken in this period.

China will in the near future appreciate its currency but it will do it according to the needs of the domestic economy not to satisfy the demand of the international markets. Such process may prove too slow for the globalised economy.

The real problem is not the renminbi but the dollar. Its weakness is producing great imbalances and the rush to devalue. Korea has de facto devalued its currency to be more competitive and is now planning to increase its gold reserves to safeguard them against the unstoppable weakening of the dollar. For months the Swiss have tried to intervene on the exchange rate markets to keep their currency from appreciating against the dollar and recently thanks to the contraction of exports have managed to stabilize the exchange rate.

Because volatility in the forex market is very high, speculators use this market to gamble their money — as in the past they gambled in the property market — hence the formation of a new bubble.

What we need to prevent another credit crunch is a new monetary system, but it is unlikely to happen in the near future, until China makes the renminbi convertible.

Loretta Napoleoni is the best-selling author of Rogue Economics, and Terror Inc: Tracing the terror dollars. Tonight, she is the guest speaker at the opening gala of the Global Banking Alliance for Women Summit held in Washington DC.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Ken Loach & Michael Heseltine debate Tory cuts on Newsnight



Ken Loach pwns Michael Heseltine over Tory lies on cuts.

I'm listening to BBC Radio 4's Today programme right now, horrified that the consensus that those at the bottom of society have to pick up the deficit bill goes almost entirely unchallenged. It's as if we've forgotten the bankers until someone like Loach speaks up.

And, no, a mild-mannered Mark Steel right at the end of the programme is no counter-balance for the skewing of facts by Nick Robinson, Robert Peston, John Humphries, "Sir" John Tusa, et al.

Ken Loach & Michael Heseltine debate Tory cuts on Newsnight



Ken Loach pwns Michael Heseltine over Tory lies on cuts.

I'm listening to BBC Radio 4's Today programme right now, horrified that the consensus that those at the bottom of society have to pick up the deficit bill goes almost entirely unchallenged. It's as if we've forgotten the bankers until someone like Loach speaks up.

And, no, a mild-mannered Mark Steel right at the end of the programme is no counter-balance for the skewing of facts by Nick Robinson, Robert Peston, John Humphries, "Sir" John Tusa, et al.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Tory cuts: How to solve the crisis in one easy move

Here's a wise and wonderful post from someone's Facebook I noted last month.

HOW TO SOLVE THE CRISIS IN ONE EASY MOVE
A report in the Independent shows that the richest 1,000 people in the UK could pay off the whole of the £159 billion public deficit tomorrow, just from the profits they have made last year out of the economic crisis.
The collective wealth of the country's 1,000 richest people rose 30% last year in the wake of the economic crisis.
Their combined wealth rose by more than £77bn to £333.5bn, the biggest annual increase in the 22-year history of the Sunday Times rich list.

Sadly, I can't find the report but if anyone can shed further light, it would be most appreciated.

Sunday Times rich list here.

George Monbiot on the Tories seeing this as a long-awaited opportunity.

UPDATE: I'd also like to point out that the left has been worse than fucking useless. Where is the debate? It's been business as usual for these phonies. One demo on the day of the cuts and one at the weekend? A bit late, don't you think? The "leaders" of the left want all the glory and will do none of the slog to ensure there's been a challenge in the media, so the government and the right-wing argument has set like concrete in the minds of the public. YOU DO NOT ALLOW THEM TO SET THE AGENDA!

Thanks to Bilus for the link to this report on taxing the rich to settle the deficit.

How the richest 1,000 could clear the deficit here

Tory cuts: How to solve the crisis in one easy move

Here's a wise and wonderful post from someone's Facebook I noted last month.

HOW TO SOLVE THE CRISIS IN ONE EASY MOVE
A report in the Independent shows that the richest 1,000 people in the UK could pay off the whole of the £159 billion public deficit tomorrow, just from the profits they have made last year out of the economic crisis.
The collective wealth of the country's 1,000 richest people rose 30% last year in the wake of the economic crisis.
Their combined wealth rose by more than £77bn to £333.5bn, the biggest annual increase in the 22-year history of the Sunday Times rich list.

Sadly, I can't find the report but if anyone can shed further light, it would be most appreciated.

Sunday Times rich list here.

George Monbiot on the Tories seeing this as a long-awaited opportunity.

UPDATE: I'd also like to point out that the left has been worse than fucking useless. Where is the debate? It's been business as usual for these phonies. One demo on the day of the cuts and one at the weekend? A bit late, don't you think? The "leaders" of the left want all the glory and will do none of the slog to ensure there's been a challenge in the media, so the government and the right-wing argument has set like concrete in the minds of the public. YOU DO NOT ALLOW THEM TO SET THE AGENDA!

Thanks to Bilus for the link to this report on taxing the rich to settle the deficit.

How the richest 1,000 could clear the deficit here

The Inception Matrix: reality in the movies


If the Age of Enlightenment was about proving certainties, we're entering the time of unravelment when everything falls apart.

Talk about the centre not holding! My cinematic popcorn experience has been more interesting of late than for ages. We may no longer have the agitprop output of the post-World War II cultural boom, but serious issues are creeping in where Hollywood mainstream normally dreads to tread.

New World Orders are all very well, but they carry the chaos of realignment at every level, with yer actual fabric of reality dropping its stitches in a veritable plain-and-perl harbour disaster of perception slippage. We can't even rely on those pesky film-makers to give us cosy reassuring reflections like they did in the 1950s. Sci-fi novelist Philip K Dick is Deity in Chief as his two key questions — what is real? who is human? — get assessed, processed and re-presented while opposing strands of society try to nail down who and what we are. And Leonardo de Caprio graduates from the permanence of Big Love in Titanic to the transient consciousness of Inception, joining Keanu Reeves as the poster boys for the anxiety at the dark heart of society, as we try to keep a grip on our disintegrating collective take on what is true.

They say we are now underclass, chavs, whiny-middle classes no longer of any value. We say, hell no: we are Neo in The Matrix asserting our humanity by taking the red pill. We are Little Leonardo in Inception, a cosmic matador dancing in and around the "realities" coming at him like trains down a track.

Even though he came unstuck in Shutter Island, another hit movie juggling illusion and actuality, he was still able to make a moral decision at the end and do a better thing than he had ever done, taking his self-imposed fate like a manly Man and not as a lab rat. As did Donny Darko and the protagonist of the multi-layered The Butterfly Effect.

Film historian Jasper Sharp reminds me that these films borrow heavily from Japanese anime. "Matrix was pretty up front on its debt to the original Ghost in the Shell film, which posited a totally 'wired' society back in 1995 before the internet was really a thing of the masses." And Inception was influenced by Satoshi Kon's anime, Paprika, chucking our nightmares right back at us.

Given what happened in Nagasaki and Hiroshima, it's no wonder the Japanese are seriously good at this. Or that William Gibson, whose Neuromancer gave us the founding cyberpunk text back in the 1980s, is so popular in Japan.

I wonder what the developing nations in transition out of third world poverty make of our grizzling: they've been putting up with assaults on their reality for centuries. Mostly from the western powers or, at any rate, those in the driving seat. When you have no power, others – meaning the seriously rich – get to define your world. That's one bit of reality that never changes. Anyone told Hollywood?

The Inception Matrix: reality in the movies


If the Age of Enlightenment was about proving certainties, we're entering the time of unravelment when everything falls apart.

Talk about the centre not holding! My cinematic popcorn experience has been more interesting of late than for ages. We may no longer have the agitprop output of the post-World War II cultural boom, but serious issues are creeping in where Hollywood mainstream normally dreads to tread.

New World Orders are all very well, but they carry the chaos of realignment at every level, with yer actual fabric of reality dropping its stitches in a veritable plain-and-perl harbour disaster of perception slippage. We can't even rely on those pesky film-makers to give us cosy reassuring reflections like they did in the 1950s. Sci-fi novelist Philip K Dick is Deity in Chief as his two key questions — what is real? who is human? — get assessed, processed and re-presented while opposing strands of society try to nail down who and what we are. And Leonardo de Caprio graduates from the permanence of Big Love in Titanic to the transient consciousness of Inception, joining Keanu Reeves as the poster boys for the anxiety at the dark heart of society, as we try to keep a grip on our disintegrating collective take on what is true.

They say we are now underclass, chavs, whiny-middle classes no longer of any value. We say, hell no: we are Neo in The Matrix asserting our humanity by taking the red pill. We are Little Leonardo in Inception, a cosmic matador dancing in and around the "realities" coming at him like trains down a track.

Even though he came unstuck in Shutter Island, another hit movie juggling illusion and actuality, he was still able to make a moral decision at the end and do a better thing than he had ever done, taking his self-imposed fate like a manly Man and not as a lab rat. As did Donny Darko and the protagonist of the multi-layered The Butterfly Effect.

Film historian Jasper Sharp reminds me that these films borrow heavily from Japanese anime. "Matrix was pretty up front on its debt to the original Ghost in the Shell film, which posited a totally 'wired' society back in 1995 before the internet was really a thing of the masses." And Inception was influenced by Satoshi Kon's anime, Paprika, chucking our nightmares right back at us.

Given what happened in Nagasaki and Hiroshima, it's no wonder the Japanese are seriously good at this. Or that William Gibson, whose Neuromancer gave us the founding cyberpunk text back in the 1980s, is so popular in Japan.

I wonder what the developing nations in transition out of third world poverty make of our grizzling: they've been putting up with assaults on their reality for centuries. Mostly from the western powers or, at any rate, those in the driving seat. When you have no power, others – meaning the seriously rich – get to define your world. That's one bit of reality that never changes. Anyone told Hollywood?

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

US firefighters allow house to burn for non-payment of fee



This is the future if the Tea Party and their UK equivalents get their own way.

Shocking and barking mad.

Hat tip to Claire M

US firefighters allow house to burn for non-payment of fee



This is the future if the Tea Party and their UK equivalents get their own way.

Shocking and barking mad.

Hat tip to Claire M

Monday, 4 October 2010

Ever Fallen In Love With Someone You Shouldn't've? Noisettes do Buzzcocks



Sometimes the universe just hands you one of these.

Ever Fallen In Love With Someone You Shouldn't've? Noisettes do Buzzcocks



Sometimes the universe just hands you one of these.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

I yam Spartacus: Tony Curtis RIP



So sad to learn that the funny and impossibly beautiful Tony Curtis died on Wednesday. I had such a major crush on him as a child.

The film clip above of Curtis leading the heroically suicidal "I am Spartacus" declaration of freedom and solidarity still makes my eyes well up.

Other favourite Curtis moments include, "Match me, Sidney." The evil J.J. Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster) to Curtis's struggling press agent, Sidney Falco, in Sweet Smell Of Success (1957).

"Yonda lies da castle of my faddah," from The Black Shield Of Falworth(1954), a regularly quoted line whose Bronx accent he thought was unfairly exaggerated by snobs.

"Judy, Judy, Judy." His chortlesome parody of Cary Grant in Some Like It Hot (1959).

He was apparently "The Voice" in Rosemary's Baby (1968) but I can't place it. Anyone know anything?

I think I'm going to have a TC DVD glut.

Burt Lancaster abusing Tony Curtis in Sweet Smell Of Success (1957)

I yam Spartacus: Tony Curtis RIP



So sad to learn that the funny and impossibly beautiful Tony Curtis died on Wednesday. I had such a major crush on him as a child.

The film clip above of Curtis leading the heroically suicidal "I am Spartacus" declaration of freedom and solidarity still makes my eyes well up.

Other favourite Curtis moments include, "Match me, Sidney." The evil J.J. Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster) to Curtis's struggling press agent, Sidney Falco, in Sweet Smell Of Success (1957).

"Yonda lies da castle of my faddah," from The Black Shield Of Falworth(1954), a regularly quoted line whose Bronx accent he thought was unfairly exaggerated by snobs.

"Judy, Judy, Judy." His chortlesome parody of Cary Grant in Some Like It Hot (1959).

He was apparently "The Voice" in Rosemary's Baby (1968) but I can't place it. Anyone know anything?

I think I'm going to have a TC DVD glut.

Burt Lancaster abusing Tony Curtis in Sweet Smell Of Success (1957)

Friday, 1 October 2010

Bird With Two Right Wings: Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Been watching the jolly pantomime fun with not-so "Red" Ed Miliband in the Labour Party saddle.

And now a poem by Lawrence Ferlinghetti.


Bird With Two Right Wings

And now our government
a bird with two right wings
flies on from zone to zone
while we go on having our little fun & games
at each election
as if it really mattered who the pilot is
of Air Force One
(They're interchangeable, stupid!)
While this bird with two right wings
flies right on with its corporate flight crew
And this year its the Great Movie Cowboy in the cockpit
And next year its the great Bush pilot
And now its the Chameleon Kid
and he keeps changing the logo on his captains cap
and now its a donkey and now an elephant
and now some kind of donkephant
And now we recognize two of the crew
who took out a contract on America
and one is a certain gringo wretch
who's busy monkeywrenching
crucial parts of the engine
and its life-support systems
and they got a big fat hose
to siphon off the fuel to privatized tanks
And all the while we just sit there
in the passenger seats
without parachutes
listening to all the news that's fit to air
over the one-way PA system
about how the contract on America
is really good for us etcetera
As all the while the plane lumbers on
into its postmodern
manifest destiny

Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Bird With Two Right Wings: Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Been watching the jolly pantomime fun with not-so "Red" Ed Miliband in the Labour Party saddle.

And now a poem by Lawrence Ferlinghetti.


Bird With Two Right Wings

And now our government
a bird with two right wings
flies on from zone to zone
while we go on having our little fun & games
at each election
as if it really mattered who the pilot is
of Air Force One
(They're interchangeable, stupid!)
While this bird with two right wings
flies right on with its corporate flight crew
And this year its the Great Movie Cowboy in the cockpit
And next year its the great Bush pilot
And now its the Chameleon Kid
and he keeps changing the logo on his captains cap
and now its a donkey and now an elephant
and now some kind of donkephant
And now we recognize two of the crew
who took out a contract on America
and one is a certain gringo wretch
who's busy monkeywrenching
crucial parts of the engine
and its life-support systems
and they got a big fat hose
to siphon off the fuel to privatized tanks
And all the while we just sit there
in the passenger seats
without parachutes
listening to all the news that's fit to air
over the one-way PA system
about how the contract on America
is really good for us etcetera
As all the while the plane lumbers on
into its postmodern
manifest destiny

Lawrence Ferlinghetti

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