Archive for January, 2012

#occupy If nobody said anything, then no-one would hear.

January 31, 2012

Response to a comment on Facebook’s Taxtherich page.

Even if there are no obvious results from this page, it doesn’t mean it isn’t helping.

If nobody said anything, then no-one would hear.

By voicing our discontent, repeatedly, it spreads. Check #occupy on twitter.

These people are making themselves noticed. journo’s and politico’s are making comments, showing that they are aware of the voiced discontent.

Fred the Shred losing his knighthood and Hester relinquishing his bonus are small signs of a growing awareness that people are unhappy with the present set-up.

Keep on muttering.

Make them itch.

Eventually they’ll start scratching and in the U.S. you have @occupymarines.

They must be a worry to the 1%.

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@bbceducation If Education is fouled up it’s been done by politicians not teachers

January 31, 2012

You can’t blame schools for doing as they are told.

Government, through the DfES, sets school targets, sanctions GCSE awards (four pass grades for Computer Studies, one for Physics), appoints Ofsteds (and sets their criteria for failure), oversee’s Exam Boards, defines National Curriculum, decides Governor powers and duties.

In short, the presiding Cabinet Minister decides what schools do.

One pathetic example of this was a Cabinet Minister ordering that Science Lessons must include graphic details of coitus etc. This was followed by staff having to glue pages of their new text books together, before they had even been issued to pupils, because a new Cabinet Minister forbade such detail being shown.

Everything that has happened in our schools is down to decisions by Ministers, not classroom teachers.

Even teacher opinions on Education are guided by the courses set, under the auspices of the DfES, in teacher training. Teachers don’t qualify, unless they accept the approved mind-set.

If we have teacher’s with poor Numeracy and Literacy, it is because they are the product of the scramble to re-invent education after Sputnik and JFK’s call for America to improve its Science teaching.

We scrambled to follow, throwing out Science teaching methods, which had stood us in good stead for generations.

(This was the beginning of a great period for  publishers of text books, etc.)

We took on Nuffield Science, which was more “hands on”. I.e. children brought toilet roll cores and cotton reels etc. into school to emulate Blue Peter style experiments. it wasn’t enough to say that when you drop something it falls to the ground, pupils had to drop different objects and see this for themselves. (yes! that ridiculous).

It didn’t stop there, because we had to abandon rote learning of times tables, so instead of knowing that 9 x 7 =63, as older family members did, children added up 7’s, using their fingers to count out 9 additions, so they understood what 9 x 7 meant. This meant that those pupils (today’s teachers’ generation) couldn’t do calculations fast enough for GCSE.

Ok, they were allowed to use calculators in exams.

If they had fat fingers, that was tough, as their math wasn’t good enough to see if the answer was reasonable.

Literacy was also fouled up by the theory that children should be able to pick up reading by simply following a story being read out by others.

Worse was the experiment with ITA (remember this was all Government directed and taught to teacher’s in teacher traing colleges), whereby pupils had to learn a new alphabet and read from books written in a new form of English.

No-one (in a position of power) stopped to consider that the rest of the World (including employers and newspapers) was still using the Old fashioned version of English.

English graduates were coming into school’s not knowing the difference between licence and license.

This aspect wasn’t helped when schools became computer literate with Microsoft able to offer French, German etc. versions of their software but not English(UK).

So under Blunkett, we famously had, for a time, the DfES approved spelling of Sulfur being taught in schools and tested in exams.

Education in this country has been downgraded, the qualifications are devalued and pupils (and the country, as a whole) have been cheated.

Not by teacher’s but by the politicians who say “Go, Thither” and “Come, Hither”.

 

Apology DfES is used to refer to what is presently the Department for Education, but has changed its name (at great cost on letterheads, graphic designs and general signage) with each cabinet re-shuffle, being at various times the DFES,DFE,DOE and many another and with many reversions.

#occupy Even Capitalists are getting concerned about the actions of banks

January 28, 2012

From Fullermoney:

MF Global: Uncertain futures – This is a good article (may require subscription registration) on a sorry and damaging saga, written by Hal Weitzman and Gregory Meyer for the Financial Times. Here is the opening:

  Since MF Global filed for bankruptcy on October 31 and revealed that customer money was missing, attention has been focused on Jon Corzine, the firm’s former chief executive. Once a Wall Street “master of the universe”, with a career including stints as head of Goldman Sachs, a US senator and governor of New Jersey, Mr Corzine is now one of the most reviled figures in finance.

There has also been intense scrutiny of CME Group, America’s biggest futures exchange operator and the industry body responsible for regulating MF Global’s commodities business. Some customers are angry at what they say was a lapse in oversight; others say a for-profit entity should not be regulating its own customers. CME responds that no watchdog can guarantee against fraud.

 But the MF Global scandal is more than just a question of tarnished reputations. It has had a profound effect on the entire financial industry. The realisation that customers could lose money kept in segregated accounts separate from the firm’s own money – thought by many to be as safe as a bank – has severely damaged confidence in the 163-year-old US futures market. Before the financial crisis, futures were among the fastest-growing of all exchange-traded products.

“This is unprecedented. It’s the single biggest blow the industry has ever had to its business and credibility,” says a former senior CME executive. “It has forced us to ask the question: is the model of the futures industry so flawed that it can never be the same again?”

 Such soul-searching is rare for a business that in the past 30 years has transformed itself from an agricultural backwater. Futures markets – which enable producers such as manufacturers to fix for the longer term the prices at which they buy or sell rather than expose themselves to the risk of volatility on the daily spot markets – were once seen chiefly as a system of crop insurance for farmers. Today investors trade agreements to buy and sell in the future anything from oil to financial products.

My view – The scandal of MF Global has less to do with regulatory problems than a cavalier recklessness on the part of the firm’s management. Jon Corzine, of all people should have known better. Many observers felt that he was treated deferentially by former colleagues during the Congressional committee hearings examining what went wrong at MF Global.   There should be a proper trial and if found guilty, Mr Corzine and others responsible should receive sufficient fines and jail sentences to serve as a deterrent to others who might be tempted to play fast and loose with their fiduciary responsibilities, not least clients’ money.

#SOPA only needed to make United States Department of Justice actions look justifiable

January 28, 2012

Whe I started reading this piece, I wondered why they had bothered trying to get SOPA passed in the first place.

http://www.afterdawn.com/news/article.cfm/2012/01/20/doj_brings_the_hammer_down_on_megaupload?utm_source=newsletterENG&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20120127

If they can take file sharers down, without the legislation, then why bother trying to bring in legislation that could shut down Google, Facebook and loads of socially useful sites.

Then I read this from someone commenting on the takedown:

This should make people stop and take a second look of storing their data in the cloud. Many legitimate users of megaupload are being inconvenienced now. XDA Developers, the developers of apps for Android, Windows Phone, and other mobile devices had over 200,000 links to Megaupload, all non-functional now.

Taking out the filesharer’s, such as Megaupload, inconveniences their own backers and seriously weakens the campaign to get more people thinking cloud-computing is safe.

The whole furore about piracy is being used as a cover for trying to control the Internet to an extent that only an authoritarian Gov’t, such as China can do, at present, , whilst still laying claim to supporting the Democratic principle.

 

@number10gov Cameron’s fat cat who got the cream.

January 28, 2012

Mirror.co.uk printed this pic of The RBS boss and proceeded to justify his bonus, not in terms of the criteria that must have been set (one hopes that such criteria were set) but by comparing him to a Premiership footballer.

Apparently, his salary is a mere £40,000 per week:

“That’s about the same as a mediocre Premier League player. Mario Balotelli, the clown prince of Manchester City, and Wayne Rooney command £200,000 a week.”

A fair comparison?

The Public can actually see these mediocre footballer’s earning their money during their short career, after which many will need intensive and on-going medical care.

Everyone can see why Rooney got his job. Who appointed Hester? How did he merit this job? ( Never mind..  C.V .’s aren’t real evidence)

These mediocre footballers will be knocking back Ibuprofen, when Hester will be knocking back Banana Dacquiri’s, in the Caribbean.

Of course there’s no threat that Hester’s career could be shortened by a crippling injury.  Even if he makes a momentous mess of his job, he’ll probably get an O.B.E.,  or some such.

Perhaps Hester should be rated on a par with Rooney.

Rooney was sold by cash-strapped Everton to wealthy M.U. for a sum which helped them out of financial straits.

RBS is cash-strapped, perhaps there’s a bank out there, in the real world, that’d like to buy Hester off us, at a Premiership price, but I somehow doubt it.

When bonuses are paid in shares, it risks share price rigging, so why do it with RBS?

January 28, 2012

The boss of the RBS is to get his bonus in shares.

Share prices in RBS are exceptionally low at present but that is nothing to do with his stewardship, apparently, and so he deserves(!) his bonus.   I’d like to know how he qualified for this bonus.

What criteria were set that he has been able to meet?

Why has no-one asked or answered this point?

Obviously the anticipation is that he will be motivated to see the bank run more profitably, so that these share prices will rise and thus increase his pay-out, when he sells the shares.

The assumption is that he is an honourable man.

That he didn’t take measures to depress the share price, prior to his award and that he won’t indulge in artificially bumping the share prices, when it comes to time for him to sell them.

[I was told eons ago that the simplest means of doing this is by sacking staff and selling stock in January, before the end of the financial year, then rehiring and re-stocking in June after the budget figures have been released and the share prices boosted.]

Capitalism isn’t the problem it’s greedy capitalists and incompetent politico’s

January 28, 2012

This is my response to Guardian’s

“Capitalism only creates misery – we need a system that puts human wellbeing first.”  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2012/jan/27/capitalism-creates-misery-human-wellbeing?commentpage=last#end-of-comments

Capitalism is a useful means of funding business start-ups.

The problem arises when the power it has is used to destroy good businesses for profit or corrupt the political process.

The first scenario arose back under Maggie, when many firms, which had trading difficulties, were asset stripped instead of just being stripped fitter (the main benefit claimed for private enterprises).

The second scenario, although originating in the John Smith Institute, was again seized on by Maggie.

That is the notion of privatisation.

Gas etc. had, wisely, been nationalised, because the plethora of independent enterprises was causing chaos.

The State (funded by the taxpayer) bought these companies up , standardised and modernised them, before Maggie sold them off.

They lie in the hands of cartels.

These work against the public good and show one area in which Capitalism needs to be removed from the equation.

I.e. where it acts against the good of the Nation.

Essentially those facilities that an enemy nation would target, in the event of war.

Privatisation is also contrary to public interest, when it relies on State funding and is enforceble by Law.

Here I include BBC licensing, most Arms-Length organisations, quangoes, PFI’s etc.

Keep Capitalism but keep it in check.

@occupylsx stop further privatisation

January 27, 2012

I looked up privatisation on Wiki. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Privatization

Quite apart from anything else it uses the U.S. spelling but the main point to notice is the poundage of words used.

It is  Obviously written by someone with more than a passing interest  in privatisation and, from the substance, someone biased in favour of it.

I get a sense of someone muddying the waters (obfuscation), to dissuade any depth of discussion, so here’s my take, as someone who opposes it.

First, any Government function or concern that is passed over to a separate organisation, which is funded either directly from public funds, or indirectly from Government enforced levies, or through monopoly/cartel position as the chosen provider has been privatised.

In all these cases the public pays (after providing the infra structure at minimal cost, or even free of charge), without any control over a facility, which the public either need or are legally required to take.

For me the arguments, given, in favour of privatisation boil down to the claim that they are allegedly more efficient and provide a better service.

The supposed logic is that ***Civil Servants get paid, no matter what, whereas a privatised organisation trims the fat to maximise profits. Employees being incentivised, by bonuses and threat of the sack.

What we’ve found in practice is that the logic is false.

Yes they trim the fat and yes they use stick (hourly paid) and carrot (management) to maximise profits.

But the profits, coming from public money, isn’t being re-invested to provide the supposedly better service, it’s being bled out to share-holders.

In many cases it’s being bled out of the country to foreign shareholders, who recognise a money-on-tap investment.

Who looks after our interests?

Politico’s, supervised by ***Civil Servants, who both get paid no matter what.

The main difference for the politico’s is that they can now claim that they have no direct control over these functions, so people should stop moaning to them about the problems.

Privatisation is about about enslaving your customer base using resources that they previously owned and the connivance of their corrupt, or ideologically misguided, political masters.

number10gov Why do Gov’t Joint Committee’s ask for public opinions if they don’t want them?

January 26, 2012

Email from “Unlock Democracy”

You may have spotted on the internet that one of the members of the Joint Committee looking into the draft House of Lords Reform Bill, Lord Norton [1], is claiming that they have only received 22 written submissions.

This simply isn’t the case. In response to our campaign last year, over 4,100 people took part in our survey and over 2,400 people separately wrote their own submission, entirely in their own words. We even submitted the ones from people who didn’t want reform.

We encouraged people to submit their views in this way because we were asked to do so by the clerks. Indeed, the committee made it clear that they would not accept submissions from individuals unless they submitted them both on paper and by email – a completely unnecessary act of bureaucratic nonsense. Having jumped through their hoops, it is quite repugnant to now see certain committee members claiming that means your views don’t count.

We’ve taken this matter up with the committee’s clerks and they have assured us that they have read your submissions and that your name will be published as a respondent (unless of course you don’t want it to – in which case please reply to this email and let us know).

It is unfortunate that a member of the committee feels they can play games like this but it just goes to show that they will say anything to try and stop democratic reform of the House of Lords.

All the best,

Peter Facey

Director, Unlock Democracy

[1] Lord Norton’s blog post can be found here: http://lordsoftheblog.net/2012/01/09/stirring-up-apathy-2/

@Number10gov Time for a new definition of a colony and a re-defined role for the U.N.

January 26, 2012

Argentina President Cristina Kirchner says:

“The United Nations Committee on Decolonisation has 16 cases open on places that remain colonies, of which 10 are British colonies, and one of the best known is our beloved Malvinas islands,”

Time to decolonise ?

We need to do something to blunt the point of this accusation.

Could we declare these colonies, Departments, as the French did?

They’d have voting rights in the British and, for the present, European Parliaments, and they could insist on being addressed by their own chosen name.

[Incidentally, what name would The Falklands be listed under by the United Nations Committee on Decolonisation?]

There must be some legal nicety that would remove the opportunity for Argentina, Spain etc. to use the U.N. as a soapbox to demand control of English speaking territories.

Above all, a line needs to be drawn under which territories can be declared colonies; perhaps they should be territories captured or annexed since the inception of the U.N. and the international agreement that colonies are a “bad thing”.

If the Argentine claim to the Falklands has to go back to 1883, why not go back to the seizure of South American Territories from the Amerindians in the 1500’s. There are probably a few native people’s, deep in the jungles, who weren’t exterminated. We could have a U.N. resolution for their present overlords to negotiate a settlement on sovereignty with some of their representatives.

Sounds ridiculous but then we have our own example of Welsh independence for land that was captured, even earlier and populated by people who are genetically indistinguishable from the rest of the population of Britain.

We could go back even further and split England along the lines of the Viking North and the Saxon South.

What role has the U.N. played?

All I could find was this load of blather (http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2009/gaspd422.doc.htm ), which makes it clear that the mighty peacemakers of the U.N. have done no more than ask us to negotiate with Argentina.

The wisdom of Pontius Pilate, rather than a Solomon.

Why ask us to negotiate?

What possible agreement can there be?

It’s just a playground “They’re ours…. Oh,No, they’re not!”.

In its present context, it’s as soluble as a debate on Theism.   We need a new context that removes the debate.

Above all of this:

What is the point of the U.N., except as a talking shop, fermenting (not fomenting) discord?