Unite statement on Uber: Sadiq Khan and Transport for London have done the right thing

September 23, 2017 at 8:17 am (London, posted by JD, profiteers, transport, Unite the union)

Statement from Unite:

Black cab drivers’ union Unite, has today (Friday 22 September) praised mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Transport for London (TfL) for putting the safety of Londoners ahead of big corporate interests by deciding not to renew Uber’s licence to operate in London.

Commenting chair of London’s Unite black cab section Jim Kelly said: “The mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Transport for London have done the right thing in putting the safety of passengers and Londoners ahead of the big corporate interests of Uber.

“Dogged by controversy, Uber’s approach has been to exploit workers and bend the rules while trying to brush passenger safety concerns under the carpet.

“No one is above the law and today’s decision will be welcomed by London’s trusted professional black cab drivers. It signals that the mayor of London and Transport for London are not prepared to allow London to become the ‘wild west’ of the cab trade and put passengers at risk.

“In the coming weeks Uber will no doubt throw all its legal and corporate lobbying might to overturn this decision. We would urge the mayor of London and Transport for London to stand firm and continue to stand up for the safety of Londoners and the capital’s trusted cabbies.”

ENDS

For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.

See also:

Guardian piece by this driver  who welcomes the sanctions against Uber.

at first you could make a good living. But then Uber slashed prices to attract customers, and began recruiting on a massive scale to keep up with demand. Not only did we end up with more drivers working longer hours, for worse pay, but some of those drivers should never have been behind the wheel.

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How Houston was left to drown under Harvey

August 30, 2017 at 6:04 pm (climate change, environment, Migrants, posted by JD, profiteers, Trump, United States)


Above: the cynicism and opportunitsm of Trump’s visit to Houston

From: https://socialistworker.org
Politicians cannot feign surprise at the disaster they literally paved the way for, explains Seth Uzman.

STORMS ARE natural, but what happens in response to them is not. Flooding in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which smashed into the Gulf Coast on August 25, has left at least nine people dead, thousands in need of rescue on rooftops or in boats, hundreds of thousands more without power and tens of thousands in need of shelter.

Yet characterizations of the carnage by the National Weather Service as “historic,” “unprecedented” or “beyond anything experienced” should not be conflated with the spurious claim that the devastation wrought by Harvey is “unpreventable” or “unexpected.”

The outcry by advocates, experts and activists against the unplanned, for-profit development of cities like Houston has been consistently ignored by city officials, leaving millions–especially the poor and people of color–in the fourth-largest city in the U.S. in a death trap.

“Houston is the fourth-largest city, but it’s the only city that does not have zoning,” Dr. Robert Bullard, a Houston resident and a professor who studies environmental racism, told Democracy Now! on August 29. “[As a result], communities of color and poor communities have been unofficially zoned as compatible with pollution…We call that environmental injustice and environmental racism. It is that plain, and it’s just that simple.”

The image of elderly people in a nursing home sitting in waist-deep water is a shocking illustration of how the most vulnerable segments of the population are struggling to deal with the effects of Harvey. Thankfully, all of those people have been rescued and brought to safety.

But, as Dr. Bullard points out, the nightmare for tens of thousands of the city’s poorest residents living in close proximity to Houston’s vast petrochemical industry is just beginning. They are literally being gassed by and steeped in the toxic materials unleashed by the floodwaters that have damaged the oil refineries and chemical manufacturers that surround their homes and neighborhoods.

The choices facing people in these neighborhoods are gut-wrenching. Should you and your family stay as toxic floodwaters rise all around you? If you decide to go, where do you go?

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

THE CHOICES confronting Houston’s undocumented population are equally terrifying.

Just hours before Harvey made landfall (and exactly one week before the state’s notorious “show me your papers” bill known as SB 4 is set to take effect), Customs and Border Patrol officials announced they would maintain their checkpoints to verify immigration status as people fled north, evacuating ahead of the approaching destruction.

Although Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, bowing to the ensuing public criticism, announced that those fleeing would have access to shelters regardless of their immigration status, the overall message to the undocumented was clear: drown or get deported. Read the rest of this entry »

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Donald Trump – art connoisseur

August 18, 2017 at 11:50 am (Art and design, Asshole, posted by JD, profiteers, Racism, Trump)

At the very top of the façade

Speaking of beautiful statues that are causing Donald Trump to mourn and pine when they are moved from one spot to another, a couple of Facebook friends have been reminding us of some that were demolished altogether decades ago. They adorned what was then Bonwit Teller at Fifth Avenue and 56th Street in Manhattan.

At the very top of the facade were limestone relief panels of two nearly naked women brandishing large scarves, as if dancing. The architects were Whitney Warren and Charles Wetmore, super-traditional Beaux-Arts designers of mansions and clubs — a puzzling choice for a such an outré building. In time the reliefs would become a Bonwit Teller signature.

Image result for bonwit teller art deco figures trump

Beginning in the 1960s, a series of corporate takeovers changed the face of retailing. Bonwit’s was sold several times, and it lost the luster that Bergdorf, in particular, was able to retain. Although some ancillary stores survived until 2000, Bonwit Teller closed its store at Fifth and 56th in 1979.

That was good news for Donald Trump, who acquired the old Bonwit’s building and began demolition in 1980. He had promised the limestone reliefs of the dancing women to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which wanted them for its sculpture collection, although the offer was conditional on his being able to remove them. But suddenly workmen jackhammered them to bits.

This act was condemned by, among others, The New York Times, which said: “Evidently, New York needs to make salvation of this kind of landmark mandatory and stop expecting that its developers will be good citizens and good sports.”

The Trump organization replied that the two-ton panels were “without artistic merit,” that saving them would have delayed construction for months and cost $500,000.

Plus they weren’t Confederate generals or General Pershing or Mussolini, so you know, who cares.

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Whatever Trump now says, fascists like Bannon and Gorka still hold sway in the White House

August 15, 2017 at 1:47 pm (anti-semitism, fascism, Jim D, nationalism, populism, profiteers, Racism, Trump, wankers)

Anyone foolish enough to be impressed by Trump’s belated condemnation of the far right, should remember that he still employs people who can  accurately be described as fascists: Bannon, Gorka and the slightly less high-profile Miller. Then, of course, there’s his own long record of blatant, crude racism.

This excellent discussion, concentrating on the sinister Gorker, is well worth putting 15 minutes aside to watch:

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Ten days that Mooched the world

August 2, 2017 at 1:53 pm (Asshole, Beyond parody, gloating, parasites, populism, posted by JD, profiteers, Trump, United States)

From the US Socialistworker.org  (nothing to do – these days – with the UK SWP):

Elizabeth Schulte documents the not-so-amazing rise and fall of Donald Trump’s favorite communicator, Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci.

Trump's ex-communications director Anthony Scaramucci

IT SEEMED like the perfect match when Donald Trump hired Anthony Scaramucci as White House communications director in July.

Consider the qualifications of the man known as “The Mooch”: Arrogant, wealthy Wall Street financier who made a career out of business failure. Author of how-to books like Hopping over the Rabbit Hole: How Entrepreneurs Turn Failure into Success and Goodbye Gordon Gekko: How to Find Your Fortune Without Losing Your Soul. Avid Tweeter, prone to curse-filled fits of rage. Unflinching in his ignorance of what his job actually was.

No man was better prepared to serve Donald Trump.

But it was not to be. The Mooch was fired after just 10 days on the job–by incoming Chief of Staff and former Gen. John Kelly, who had just replaced Reince Priebus, the man Scaramucci sent his brief tenure chasing out of the White House.

Talk about your fucking ironies, huh?

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

TRUMP’S NEW communications director hit the ground running, doing what he does best: communi-fucking-cating.

One of the first orders of business was calling journalist Ryan Lizza at the New Yorker to go on a rant in which he, among other things, called Priebus “a fucking paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac,” while accusing Lizza of getting “leaked” information from said “paranoiac.”

Just to make sure everyone knew there was a new sheriff in town, Scaramucci hurled profanity at White House adviser Steve Bannon, too.

By most accounts, Priebus’ days in the Trump White House were already numbered–his conventional right-wing fanaticism had always disturbed the crackpot vibe preferred by alt-right true believers like Bannon.

Scaramucci’s tirade was just the very public push that sent Priebus off the White House plank he had been walking for a while. But it’s some nice poetic justice–the enemy of my enemy is the guy who fired me.

As he cleared out his barely inhabited desk, Scaramucci probably thought back to the early days of his White House career, one week before.

He spent the bright dawn of his West Wing career vowing loyalty to the president–after video of a 2015 Fox Business interview resurfaced, in which Scaramucci, then a supporter of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker for the Republican presidential nomination, called Trump a “political hack” and “un-American.”

After he got the White House gig, the Mooch was quick to delete past tweets complimenting Hillary Clinton and assure reporters “I love the president.” He then clarified: “But I love the president and I’m very, very loyal to the president. And I love the mission that the president has.” Before repeating: “I love the president.” And then: “But here’s what I will tell you, okay? I love the president.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

THE MOOCH’S first–and as it turns out, only–mission was declaring a no-tolerance policy on his and the president’s personal obsession: “leakers.” Threatening to “pare down” the communications staff, Scaramucci told CBS’s Face the Nation, “If you’re going to keep leaking, I’m going to fire everybody. It’s just very binary.”

The leaks that the White House communications director was up in arms about weren’t exactly leaks. They were more like…what is it called again?…oh yeah, reporting.

The Mooch went ballistic when Politico reported his financial holdings in the SkyBridge Capital investment firm, accusing Priebus of leaking the information to the press and threatening an FBI investigation.

“In light of the leak of my financial disclosure info which is a felony, I will be contacting @FBI and the @JusticeDept #swamp @Reince45,” tweeted Scaramucci.

Politico reporter Lorraine Wollert explained that her so-called “illegal” method of obtaining the Mooch’s financial information was a public document: a financial disclosure form Scaramucci submitted to the Office of Government Ethics.

In another attempt to go after the White House’s leak problem, the Mooch quickly responded to a Politico article reporting that he planned to fire White House press aide Michael Short. Short resigned after the article came out.

“This is the problem with the leaking,” Scaramucci told reporters in the White House driveway. “This is actually a terrible thing. Let’s say I’m firing Michael Short today. The fact that you guys know about it before he does really upsets me as a human being and as a Roman Catholic.” (Both!)

One problem–if Scaramucci told Politico about the firing, then doesn’t that make him the leaker?

This isn’t to say that there aren’t leaks in the Trump administration–a boss so petulant surely inspires a lot of frustration and acts of “disloyalty” every day. But the Mooch’s definition of a “leak” says a lot about what the Trump administration considers the real threat: facts.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

REPORTING THE news isn’t leaking. And as long as we’re on the subject, leaking information the public ought to know isn’t actually a disservice to democracy, but the exact opposite. In a “democracy” as undemocratic as the U.S., “leakers” are an absolute necessity.

We need more people like Chelsea Manning, who put her career and her freedom on the line to expose the U.S. military’s war crimes. Or military analyst Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked “secret documents” during Vietnam War to show how the U.S. government lied to the public to justify imperial crimes.

Likewise, we need more journalists who investigate and seek out the truth.

For the press that has covered the White House for years, the Trump administration has been a big adjustment. For one thing, major policy decisions aren’t always announced in press briefings, but instead tweeted at random at any hour of the day or night.

Wall Streeters like the Mooch are already accustomed to working the press to shape what is reported. In a recent article in the Washington Post, Heidi Moore, who covered Wall Street for 18 years, described the obstacles that the financial industry puts in the way of reporting the facts–employing the friendly approach at times, but also a not-so-friendly one that includes the threat of firing.

Reportedly, one of the reasons that Trump liked the Mooch for the communications director job was the way he forced three CNN reporters out of work in June.

But while Wall Street influence over the media has always been a reality, they’ve had to do it in the shadows. With Scaramucci on board, it looked like all the ugly dealings to get the media to say what Trump wanted was going to be acted out in the light of day.

All of this is new for the corporate media, which have become more accustomed to sitting in White House press briefings, taking notes and then parroting whatever line the administration dictates to them.

Thus, in the lead-up to the Bush administration’s 2003 war on Iraq, the cheerleaders for war concocted a story about Saddam Hussein creating a program to manufacture weapons of mass destruction–and got the corporate media to broadcast their lies, partly through leaks to sympathetic and/or ambitious reporters.

The New York Times loyally ran front-page stories about the false evidence–and amped up the urgency by referencing anonymous administration officials saying, “The first sign of a ‘smoking gun,’ they argue, may be a mushroom cloud.”

Today, there may not be the same friendly and orderly relations between the press corps and the White House, but that doesn’t mean the media won’t snap to attention. With a hawk and former general like John Kelly taking the reins as chief of staff, it seems altogether possible that the disgruntled media will be tamed somewhat.

It’s nice when bad things happen to bad people–especially when there are so many bad people in charge. Everybody deserves some time to celebrate the Mooch’s misfortune.

It’s also true that there are probably more Mooches ahead of us. And underneath all of his gibbering about leaks, loyalty and “un-American” behavior, Scaramucci revealed something serious about the climate of suspicion and intimidation created by the Trump administration.

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Brexit and the environment: the Telegraph gives the game away

April 16, 2017 at 12:48 pm (Beyond parody, climate change, environment, Europe, nationalism, populism, posted by JD, profiteers, Tory scum)

 A man with vote leave EU badges.  Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

After Brexit, Britain can be free of the EU’s restrictive green targets 

Editorial, Daily Telegraph 15 April 2017

Government sources say that the Tories will scrap the EU’s green energy targets when legislation is repatriated to Britain. This is excellent news and one of the very best reasons to have supported Brexit.

Leaving the EU must result in a more competitive economy – it would be ridiculous to swap Brussels bureaucracy for Westminster meddling.

The targets are absurd: 15 per cent of energy must be met by renewable sources by 2020, excluding even nuclear. The only way to accomplish this is via public subsidy, which, it is estimated, will cost the average household an extra £100 per year.

Renewable energy will be part of the future mix, for sure, but let it serve human need, not green ideology. Why rob the consumers only to provide them with technology that is often inefficient and unreliable?

If the Government scraps the target then it will be a victory for our campaign to cut EU red tape. That said, there is a great deal of UK red tape that needs looking at, too. The Climate Change Act 2008 was a unilateral decision to commit Britain to cutting carbon emissions by 80 per cent within five decades. It proved that the British are capable of making mistakes all by themselves.

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Gove’s ‘interview’ reveals: Trump out to destroy the EU

January 16, 2017 at 11:08 pm (capitalist crisis, Champagne Charlie, Europe, fascism, grovelling, Migrants, nationalism, populism, profiteers, Racism, reaction, Republican Party, Tory scum, Trump)

The miserable worm Gove has crawled all the way across the Atlantic to suck up to Trump (in the slime-trail of Farage), and his “interview” with the scum-bag appears in today’s Times.Little Govey can scarcely contain his breathless admiration for his host, who he describes  as “like a man who has been plugged into some power source where the dial has been turned up to levels well beyond the safety regulations would recommend” and “the force of nature that is the man”.

Govey’s main point (apart from greasing up to his new hero) is to remind us that the Great Man supports Brexit:

“And, ultra-competitive as he is, the president-elect was particularly keen to remind me that, almost alne among international figures, he had the natural good judgement to foresee our departure from the EU.”

Not just foresee it, of course, but to positively welcome it. Trump’s animosity towards the EU, it would seem, stems from the EU’s obstruction of a proposed “expansion” (we can guess what that meant) to a property he owns in Ireland: “What happened is I went for an approval to do this massive, beautiful expansion … but I learned a lot because … they [ie the EU] were using environmental tricks to stop a project from being built.”

During the campaign of lies, deception and xenophobia that the Leave side ran during the referendum campaign, Little Govey and most of his Tory chums claimed that they weren’t seeking the break-up of the EU, merely then UK’s amicable exit.

The one single useful aspect of Govey’s Times piece is that Trump makes it clear that the aim of nationalists, nativists and outright racists like himself is the total destruction of the EU (in this respect Trump is more honest than Govey and the Tory Leavers):

“A combination of economic woes and the migrant crisis will, he believes, lead to other countries leaving. ‘People, countries, want their own identity and the UK wanted its own identity. But, I do believe this, if they hadn’t been forced to take in all of the refugees, so many, with all the problems that it … entails, I think you wouldn’t have a Brexit. This was the final straw that broke the camel’s back … I believe others will leave. I do think keeping it together is not gonna be as easy as a lot of people think. And I think this, if refugees keep pouring into different parts of Europe … I think it’s gonna be very hard to keep it together because people are angry about it.”

So it takes the pathological liar Trump to point out a simple truth that the Tory Bexiteers and their useful idiots on the anti-EU “left” (Morning Star, SWP, etc) either denied of avoided during the referendum campaign: Brexit will inevitably help undermine the EU as a whole, which is precisely why racists everywhere seek this goal.

And the end result of the racists’ wet dream of destroying the EU?

The freedom for workers to move across Europe would be lost. “Foreign” workers in each country from other ex-EU states would face increased hostility at best, and racist attacks (as is already happening in post-referendum UK) at worst.

There would be a big reduction in the productive capacities of the separate states, cut off from broader economic arenas.

Governments and employers in each state would be weaker in capitalist world-market competition, and thus would be pushed towards crude cost-cutting, in the same way that small capitalist businesses, more fragile in competition, use cruder cost-cutting than the bigger employers.

There would be more slumps and depression, in the same way that the raising of economic barriers between states in the 1930s lengthened and deepened the slump then.

Nationalist and far-right forces, already the leaders of anti-EU political discourse everywhere, would be “vindicated” and boosted. Democracy would shrink, not expand. The economically-weaker states in Europe, cut off from the EU aid which has helped them narrow the gap a bit, would suffer worst, and probably some would fall to military dictatorships.

Before long the economic tensions between the different nations competing elbow-to-elbow in Europe’s narrow cockpit would lead to war, as they did repeatedly for centuries, culminating in the world wars of 1914 and 1939.

That’s why the left should fight, not to go backwards from the current bureaucratic, neo-liberal European Union, but forward, towards workers’ unity across Europe, a democratic United States of Europe, and a socialist United States of Europe. But the idiot-left, who advocated Brexit and privately look forward to the break-up of the EU, don’t see things that way. They are the useful idiots of Trump, Le Pen, Farage … and even that wretched little weasel Gove.

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Osborne’s shameful sweetheart deal with Google

January 26, 2016 at 4:36 pm (capitalism, corruption, internet, Jim D, London, profiteers, tax, Tory scum)

George Osborne’s claim that Google’s £130 million over ten years tax settlement with HMRC is a “major success” now looks like a pretty sick joke.

Tax campaigners like Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK have exposed the deal as involving a tiny proportion of Google’s $5.6 billion (£5.6 billion) annual UK revenues. Google spends about $12 million a year on chicken for its staff canteens.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has aptly described the settlement as a “sweetheart deal” , making the point that tax experts (including Murphy, Prof Prem Sikka and  Labour tax barrister Jolyn Maugham) all think that the likely tax rate paid by Google on its likely UK profits may, even after this settlement, not exceed 5%. Google has paid an effective tax rate of around 3% over the past decade, despite a UK corporation tax rate of more than 20%.

Today’s Times reports that French officials have pursued Google far more aggressively, and are in the process of negotiating a settlement worth three times the amount agreed with Britain, despite Google doing more business and employing thousands more staff (2,500) in the UK. Referring to the company’s practice of registering all European sales in Dublin (to benefit from a lower tax rate), a French official (quoted in The Times) said, “We have a hard time believing that 150 well-paid salespeople with advanced degrees employed by one particular company in France are nothing more than busboys for Ireland.”

Anyone who heard the wretched performance of Jim Harra (HMRC’s ‘Director General Business Tax’) attempting to defend the deal on Radio4’s World At One today, will be aware that when all else fails, HMRC falls back on the plea of ” taxpayer confidentiality” to avoid discussion of the principles it has applied when reaching its deal with Google. Nils Pratley, in today’s Guardian, gives the “taxpayer confidentiality” argument short shrift:

“Google and Osborne were happy to publish selected highlights of HMRC’s settlement – the former to appear a good corporate citizen, the latter to try to appear a muscular chancellor. If limited disclosure is OK, both parties should be able to agree full disclosure for the sake of wider understanding.”

But perhaps the most astonishing and outrageous aspect of this whole sordid business is the claim (in todays Times) that:

“HMRC officials never challenged the company’s central and most controversial claim — that it has no ‘permanent establishment’ in Britain — even after they were given whistleblower evidence challenging its account

“The claim is critical to a complex structure used by Google to avoid hundreds of millions of pounds in UK corporation tax. By arguing that it has no fixed place of business in Britain, the company is able to book all its sales to UK customers through an Irish subsidiary, from where profits are again diverted to the tax haven of Bermuda.”

Never mind “whistleblower evidence”: you’d have thought this building, the Google offices in central London, might just have given the game away:

 

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End #RailRipOff on Monday – protest at Kings Cross and stations across the country

January 3, 2016 at 12:30 pm (posted by JD, privatisation, profiteers, protest, RMT, Tory scum, transport, Unite the union)

In January, passengers returning to work after Christmas will see their fares rise yet again. Over the last five years rail fares have risen nearly three times faster than average wages. We have the highest commuter fares in Europe, yet services are often overcrowded, late and under-staffed.

Although the government has pledged to cap rail fare rises to inflation for this parliament, fares will still go up by one per cent in January 2016, making already exorbitant season tickets a cost too much to bear for most passengers. The Department for Transport’s own figures reveals the cost of the cap to taxpayers will be £700m over the parliament.

British passengers continue to pay much higher fares than passengers on publicly-owned railways in Europe. We need an affordable railway under public ownership that puts people before profit.

Come and join us at Kings Cross Station on Monday 4th January 07:30am – 09:30, and at stations across the country. We will also be asking supporters to email their MPs – watch this space for more details!

If you would like to organise an action at a station, please get in touch with us at actionforrail@tuc.org.uk.


#EndRailRipOff Protests on Monday 4 January

(please note this list is regularly updated) Read the rest of this entry »

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FIFA corruption is the least of it: here’s the real reason for cancelling the Qatar World Cup

June 1, 2015 at 7:26 pm (corruption, Human rights, Middle East, murder, posted by JD, profiteers, Slavery, workers)

This Chart Shows the Staggering Human Cost of Staging a World Cup in Qatar

The US Department of Justice has  dropped the hammer on FIFA, the world governing body of soccer, indicting nine senior FIFA officials and five sports marketing execs on charges of corruption, wire fraud, racketeering, and money laundering.

Allegations of bribery have long plagued FIFA, especially since its controversial decision to grant Qatar the 2022 World Cup. But much worse is the plight of South Asian migrant workers brought in to build the stadium infrastructure there: Since 2010, more than 1,200 migrant workers have died in Qatar under hazardous working conditions, and a 2013 Guardian investigation found that at least 4,000 total are projected to die before the 2022 World Cup even starts. And as we reported yesterday, Nepali workers weren’t even allowed to return home after the country’s recent devastating earthquake.

Christopher Ingraham at the Washington Post put that toll in perspective in a striking infographic. He compared the number of workers who died in the run-up to several Olympics and World Cups with the number of those who have died in Qatar so far. It’s horrifying:

Christopher Ingraham/Washington Post 

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