Fire – how did it come to this?

The devastating fire in North Kensington must have had us all thinking of 9/11. And yet this was a preventable, (in all likelihood) accidental fire in what is supposed to be the fifth richest nation on earth.

Personally I feel deeply ashamed that such an appalling inferno, in which at least 17 people perished, can happen in 2017 and in municipally owned housing in one of the richest boroughs in the country.

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Partisanship and the End of Politics (the coming of the neo-feudal state)

Since the US electorate (or more accurately, electoral college) put a reality TV personality and real estate mogul into the White House late last year I’ve become a committed viewer of a number of US news and current affairs programmes. Several of these – such and The Rachel Maddow Show and The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell (both on MSNBC) – have seen a significant increase in their viewing figures since Donald Trump became President. In the case of the former this has much to do with Maddow’s dogged and impressive reporting into possible relations between the Trump campaign and Russia, and in the latter case because of O’Donnell’s forensic and frequently scathing criticisms of Trump and his White House team. O’Donnell speaks from experience, having been Senior Advisor to Senator Patrick Moynihan and Chief of Staff for several Senate committees in the 1990s. He was also a writer for The West Wing. And with daily revelations of Trump/Russia links continuing unabated, Maddow, O’Donnell, and many more in the news and current affairs community in the US – that Trump insists are ‘the fake news’ – certainly have plenty to keep them busy for many months to come.

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Los Lobos -‘The Wolves’

The Tories have recently come out with two ‘ideas’ that involve financialisation packaged as ‘social benefit.’  These two bits of financial engineering will, no doubt, increase private debt and encourage more bubbling of housing. The first is their intention to build more council housing that is paid for by the future sale of the houses based on anticipation of their increase in value.  The second is the funding of social care through the use of assets above £100,000.  For most people this will be in the form of a house which will have to be re-mortgaged via a ‘financial product’ (hold crucifixes aloft), then, when the owner has died, the family or relatives will have to sell the house and pay the costs with interest.  In short:  more wealth extraction from the community.  Given present household debt is at 130% of GDP this does not look good.

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The challenge to Europe and its Democracy

We are more aware today of the need for change within the EU than any time during the last ten years. Since 2010 the Euro Group, which is made up of European Finance Ministers, has successfully sidelined the elected European Parliament. In effect the Euro group operates outside of the Treaties and is no longer accountable to either National or European Parliaments.
The Euro Group now controls all economic policy, the supervision of private banks the rescue packages given to failing states, like Greece, and policy on Austerity.

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