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  1. No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee. John Donne, Dean of Pauls (1624)
  2. And the Daily Mail, revelling in the tensions as expected, are not innocent. Their malicious publication of the leak outlining ambassador Kim Darroch's private observations generated significant tensions between the UK and the USA. There is little doubt that these tensions were noted by Iran, and constitute a factor in their decision to seize a vessel sailing under a British flag.
  3. It appears Albert the Cat is arguing that parents who cannot afford to pay extra on top of the taxes they pay don't care about their children. Every pound donated to a state school is a pound's worth of cuts to the public sector budget as the cynical tories howl with laughter and proclaim 'You see, they can pay for their own services! So, we can cut more from the education budget and then set even lower taxes for millionaires! And nobody suffers. Well, no one that matters' That's desperately needed resources for our poorest communities diverted into the pockets of the rich. alchresearch is quite right to point out that the neoliberal agenda pursued by Tony Blair's New Labour played a part in impoverishing the public sector with their PFI scandal.
  4. And those schools in marginalised communities, where parents are struggling to pay the rent and the bills, they can just slip further behind? We either show respect for all children, wherever they are born and grow up, or we carry on towards further entrenchment of inequality and injustice.
  5. The neoliberals are jubilant every time a volunteer takes over and cleans a station platform while the tax abusing train operators shovel their profits offshore. And any and every time an individual gives to charity the neoliberals howl with laughter at our gullibility. 'Look' they say, 'the poor saps will fork out on top of the taxes they pay, the suckers, so let's cut harder, and then we can give even bigger tax cuts to our millionaire friends. If you want public services, tax is the central component. And equity demands a fair system, not one where schools are dependent on the local community to prop up the failures brought about by greedy politicians in the South East. Local schools in poor areas are also vulnerable to entrenched inequality. The good people living in the catchment areas if High Storrs and Tapton could afford to donate more than those around Handsworth Grange or Chaucer. This leads to further advantage in the more affluent localities while marginalised communities suffer yet more inequality. Our services, health, education, social care, transport, law and order, must be funded by the taxes we pay. And the tax loopholes that PriceWaterhouseCooper have written into HMRC policy must be closed in order that we can all flourish as a community. A functioning society is based on robust tax law, fully enforced, not charity and volunteers.
  6. Today's Mail reveals the astonishing recklessness of Trump causing shocking tensions with Iran, tensions that, apart from the appalling risk to peace, are already costing the UK taxpayer (that's you and me) as British defence forces are deployed in the Hormuz domain. And why did Trump trigger this crisis? Apparently for no better reason than to spite Barack Obama. This child in the White House is incapable of diplomacy or restraint. So, should we be grateful to the Mail for this information? The Mail is a stranger to social justice or measured, responsible reporting, it's own motivation for releasing the leaks relating to Kim Darroch were exactly similar in their reckless disregard for international stability to Trump's stupid provocation of Middle East tensions. This is the Mail doing what it does best, petulant destabilising, childish conduct in pursuit of its own political agenda, a withdrawal from Europe on any, or no, terms. Donald Trump, the Mail - there's no significant difference!
  7. This is a fascinating listen – highly recommended. It features many Sheffield voices. The thing to bear in mind when listening is that the voices we hear are real. They are not the words of a novelist, not George Orwell or Franz Kafka, though listening to the points they make, you would be forgiven for believing so. They in fact relate the reality of life here in Sheffield, in the twenty-first century. Private contractors banging on your door in the early hours, the police changing the laws by the minute and then pursuing you as an offender. And all for the profit of a multinational tax abuser, Ferrovial (Amey). Once upon a time, we could avoid the neoliberal agenda by refusing to shop in their stores or from their online platforms. Today, however, they come right to our door, destroy our home locality, shatter our peace in their cynical demand for profit. Trees are felled for the financial benefit of executives sitting in London and Spain – they don't care about us or the places we live. They just want money. And who's money is it that they are grasping? Ours, our council tax has been handed over to this multinational. And who pays the South Yorkshire Police, who turn up in numbers to protect FerrovialAmey's revenue stream? We do, via our taxes. What a shocking reality – and all right here, on our streets. Shame on Sheffield City Council for putting private profit before the citizens of Sheffield. Shame on South Yorkshire Police for their political policing policy, facilitating this scandal and threatening quiet, law abiding residents with arrest and detention, even as we stand on our own doorsteps. Meanwhile, FerrovialAmey shovel their seedy profits into their offshore account.
  8. Rory? Gone? I thought it would be Sajid Javid on his way out - I didn't follow his proposal for a bilateral post-brexit deal between the UK and the City of London at all. I thought we were all one happy little country. I suppose that means bye bye to Rory's downloadable paint idea. Oh well, good job I've still got half a tin of B&Q magnolia left over. Not to worry!
  9. I loved the showdown last night. They are all of them so smart, I hardly know who to go for. I loved Boris's idea for a 50% tarrif on sherbet lemons. And I thought Jeremy Hunt's promise of a green paper on the abolition of hopscotch was a stroke of genius. Then when Michael Gove announced his plan to establish a non-ministerial department for measuring spoons I was just astonished! No one saw that coming did they? Not even Laura Kuenssberg. Absolutely fantastic. But in the end I think it has to be Rory Stewart who gets my vote - his £2billion investments for research into downloadable paint was the showstopper for me. Oh, what times we live in!
  10. Here's Daily Mail reporter Rachel Millard, writing in December 2017 under the headline Monarch owner now making millions from British Steel: Tycoons charging sky high interest for loans to Scunthorpe plant The former owners of failed Monarch Airlines are set to extract millions from British Steel after loading it with debt, accounts reveal. Brothers Marc and Nathaniel Meyohas and business partners Richard Perlhagen and Daniel Goldstein are charging interest of 9.6 per cent on a £154million loan. Their private equity firm Greybull Capital snapped up British Steel, which employs 4,400 people in the UK, largely in Scunthorpe, for a nominal £1 to stop it going under in 2016. Employees took a pay cut to try to turn around the firm. But the French brothers are now set to rake in cash from the loan pumped in via a company in tax-haven Jersey as part of a £400million rescue package. They have already charged fees of £3million, and accounts reveal that a further £16million in interest was due last year. It comes as Greybull is under fire for its ownership of collapsed airline Monarch. Nearly 1,900 workers were made redundant when Monarch went bust in October, forcing authorities [that's the taxpayer - you and me] to step in and help more than 100,000 holidaymakers get home. Greybull is believed to have reduced its exposure to losses through a complex deal with financing from airplane maker Boeing, and the private equity firm will get first say on any of the travel operator's assets. Meanwhile, Monarch customers and business partners are expected to lose out from the demise. Last night, Greybull defended its loan to British Steel. It said: 'Greybull's investment structure is market standard and in line with the way many financial institutions provide capital to higher risk companies in the midst of a turnaround.' Greybull has not yet received any interest payments, as it has let British Steel defer them until it makes more money. The total debt has climbed to £167million. Greybull created British Steel out of Tata Steel's long products division, which it bought just as it was almost wiped out by a major downturn in the industry. Tata has since sold further assets and closed its heavily indebted inherited pension scheme, threatening workers' pensions and triggering a frenzy among financial advisers. Greybull then rebranded the division as British Steel and staff agreed a 3 per cent salary cut. British Steel has returned to profit for the first time since the industry collapsed, making £39million last year compared to a £65million loss the year before, on revenue of more than £1billion. Chairman Roland Junck, 62, said he was targeting around 10pc profit. Staff have been rewarded with a 5pc stake in the business. Greybull said: 'We are delighted with the progress that British Steel has made since mid-2016. 'We are proud that the employees will share in the success of British Steel through the profit and share ownership schemes that we have put in place.' British Steel said: 'We have had nothing but strong support and help from Greybull since they rescued the business.' In the annual accounts yesterday, British Steel directors said: 'We have made great progress under our new ownership.' https://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/markets/article-5153241/Monarch-owner-making-millions-British-Steel.html Greybull employ routine venture capital techniques to extract value from an ailing enterprise: purchase the company at bargain basement price, load the company with debt, cut staff pay, strip the assets, then leg it to the nearest tax haven, leaving the taxpayer to clear up the mess.
  11. Thank you lobster for drawing attention to this neoliberal sleeze. Here's what Jonty Bloom, Business Correspondent for BBC News had to say yesterday on Radio 4's The World at One, on the subject of Greybull private equity: '... if you sell a company of 5000 people for a pound, presumably because you're trying to get it off your hands because you think it's a lost cause, and it was certainly a loss-making plant, and it's far from clear if they ever could manage to turn it round successfully. Also there's a fair amount of controversy about this because Greybull is one of these private equity firms, they basically invest the money of two very wealthy European families through Greybull, and it charges, for instance, British Steel plant management fees for running it. It also lends it money at above market rates, so it makes money on the interest it lends to its own companies. And many people will say there's been a long tradition opf these private equity companies coming in, buying distressed firms, basically making a profit while they go bust, and then walking away from them when they go into administration. And this isn't the first one for Greybull. Monarch Airlines went bust when they owned it. and the taxpayer had to spend £60million flying its customers home from abroad.' https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000570v I wonder how much Greybull made out of this little episode? There are all the usual signals of tax abuse in Greybull's strategy. A nice little earner for some, while five thousand ordinary people stare at a bleak future and another town loses its economic base?
  12. Karl Marx himself is on record as assuming that the Rhineland had of necessity to develop through capitalist bourgeoisment towards the radical discontinuity represented by communism. Whilst wishing to avoid any claim that Marx was prey to utopian thinking, the same cannot be said for the proponents of neoliberalism, a form of utopian ideology that has proved anything but durable. The project of globalisation has sawed through the very branch the neoliberals gathered upon. Even their patron Saint Adam Smith sought to discredit the 'beggar my neighbour' logic of unfettered capitalism. But his warnings were subtly suppressed and written out of the neoliberal narrative. Neoliberalism constituted a violent rupture of the capitalist social contract, and its aggressive process of deregulation delivered vast inequality which we can now see created a wake of mass poverty, humiliation and rage. There was nothing aleatory in this process. As the freemarketeers structured their vision, they deliberately sabotaged traditional conservatism, and with it any hope that capitalism might serve a progressive politics. We now see neo-reactionary forces clamouring for the opportunity to wrest power, but to what end? If ever there was a chance for some form of benign capitalism to emerge, that chance was dependent upon robust democratic principles. That hope has rotted. My own concerns and anxieties are immaterial. The question is now one if survival. That billionaires can trumpet their discontents in the columns of luxury lifestyle magazines and that we cannot see through this nonsense demonstrates that we became indifferent to our own condition, and have been rendered powerless to structure any solidarity in a narrative that was triumphantly inscribed by the authors of neoliberalism.
  13. Even the most intelligent among the sheffieldforum community, such as Cyclone, are just as vulnerable as the rest of us to the conventions that have rendered any alternative to aggressive capitalism unthinkable. But social justice, redistribution of wealth, equality and neighbourliness are possibilities that we should not give up on. The neoliberal project actively exercised its governance in order to elevate the few to billionaire status whilst simultaneously proliferating the lie of austerity in order to wither the state. None of this was inevitable or incidental, it was all carefully planned and executed with ruthless vigour. And sadly we have been too exhausted by the desperate struggle to survive amid the crumbling public infrastructure, too distracted and soothed by the venal operatives of the mainstream media, to hold onto and defend our political interests.
  14. We are weary, our sensibilities have been cauterised, we hardly even notice when ten or twenty people die in a Florida spree-killing. Such events are no longer headline news. Similarly, another sneering billionaire bleating about the unfairness of the world is so commonplace that we no longer discern the violent injustice of a useless capitalist amassing over a thousand million pounds even, as Mister M points out with admirable lucidity, people in the most desperate need are losing their basic support services.
  15. Baron99 identifies a fault line in post- democratic politics, a disparity between the ageing indigenous white populations of Europe and the USA and the turbulent demographics of the global South. During the era of globalised capital we were witness to planetary upheavals as the legacy of Western colonialism and the recent Bush/Blair adventures of death and plunder coalesced to deliver a legacy of rage and provoked the logic of migratory imperative. Our institutions proved vulnerable to dissolution by the corrosive of free-market doctrine, and the ensuing failure of Western democracy has allowed neo-reactionary dogma to exploit the natural fears of European and US citizens as we struggle to comprehend contemporary population redefinition. These are troubled times and our exhausted and anxious intellect craves the stability that strong leaders love to promise. It is a savage irony that we must simultaneously suffer the shocks that the environment is delivering. As Baron99 also notes, the Extinction Rebellion comprises a broad spectrum of activists, from lefties to the privileged, from media stars to wealthy individuals. It seems like an impossible mix of trends, personalities and theories, but the unexpected is always friend to action. And no one can deny that action on an unprecedented scale has been mobilised in London over the last few days.
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