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Redundancy for soldiers who didn’t kill anyone


SOLDIERS who failed to meet Afghan death targets are to be sacked.

Apaches are for closers

The Ministry of Defence said the armed forces will offer taxpayers better value for money if resources are focused solely on those troops who are consistently good at killing people. A spokesman said: “There is no point in buying someone a brand new gun if they keep missing. “And you would not believe the cost of an Apache helicopter. You can’t just hand them out to anyone who’s not related to the Queen.” The MoD is to introduce a commission-based pay structure with new recruits receiving no basic salary but 40% of the value of each dead Afghan. The spokesman added: “The platoon commander will also receive commission for each brown person killed by one of his troops, with the formula being continued all the way up the chain of command. In a good year a brigadier general could take home the best part of £1.5m.” “These days it’s all about ‘ABC’, Always Be Closing…. Afghans. “My watch cost more than your car.” Corporal Roy Hobbs said: “I had a good month in April. Booked six grand worth of Afghans and came top of my section. They gave me two free tickets to the snooker.” But former soldier Nathan Muir added: “I could have closed about 20 Afghans last month but the leads were shit. You get told to close someone but then it turns out they’re fucking miles away. “It’s all politics.” via Redundancy for soldiers who didn’t kill anyone.

Welcome to the downward spiral!


Despite the continued ‘green shoots’ talk, recovery seems increasingly far away.

It does not take a genius or even an economist to realise that we are in fact in the depths of a major depression, which is continuing to worsen. The mainstream media, especially the USA media 90% of which is owned by just 6 corporations, continues to talk up a recovery but this is pure hyperbole that an intelligent person should be able to see through.

Peak oil pundits have suggested that the effects of hitting the plateaux would be like a car that keeps stalling each time it gets into second gear. This crude analogy seems to be entirely appropriate – attempts to kick start the western economies have short-lived and limited effects because the underlying problem of relatively high production and employment costs will not go away. This is exacerbated by the high price of oil, which itself feeds into the increasingly high prices of basic commodities such as food and minerals.

So now rather than peak oil, we might be finding ourselves in a situation of peak everything! As prices rise and debt levels too the printing of more money (quantative easing) makes the situation worse by devaluing currency, making everything even more expensive, fuelling even higher inflation and continuing to reduce the buying power of every individual’s pay packet.

Economies with cheap labour and an abundance of resources (e.g. China) have done very well due to the imbalance between their production costs and those of western economies. However, as the western powers lose their buying power and people increasingly focus on necessities instead of luxuries, they too may well be affected. With a collapse in its export market China may not have a sufficiently strong local or domestic market to continue its expansion and any fiat currency based system of commerce that is not expanding is in crisis.

So what does the future hold? Simple household economics will tell you that if you don’t have enough money to cover your costs then you have to cut your spending until it is equal to or less than your household income. Using myself as a perfect example – I have relatively well paid professional employment but I have remained on the same salary to 5 years.

In truth my static salary has led to a reduction in income, in part due to inflation but also due to rises in taxes. So in order to compensate for this reduction I have had to reduce my household spending by finding better deals (e.g. cheaper insurance), providing essentials myself (food and fuel) or by simply cutting certain items from my monthly budget.

I’d consider myself fortunate that I am able to continue with my life pretty much as normal after accepting some cutbacks and adjustments. Many millions of people are not half so fortunate. In the western economies millions of people are defaulting on their debts, losing their homes and falling into poverty. Elsewhere the situation is far worse – in Egypt for instance most families spend 80% of their income just on food!

All indications are that this depression is far from over, in fact it looks set to become increasing severe in the years ahead. This situation may be exacerbated further by the currency wars that have begun and indeed by the real proxy wars between the main rival blocks (NATO and SCO) taking place in Africa and Arabia as I write.

Given this grim outlook I would consider it wise to be prepared for the worst, although I am ever hopeful that we might escape the worst case scenarios predicted by some commentators. If you can – pay off your debts; save some money as physical cash or metals; reduce your outgoings on unnecessary expenditure; become more self-sufficient. Even if things do not turn out as bad as predicted – cutting away self-indulgence and becoming more self-reliant are positive steps towards gaining more control over your own life – something worth doing even if a financial collapse is not coming.

Luke Eastwood is a writer and horticulturist living in Ireland,

Related Link: http://www.lukeeastwood.com

via Welcome to the downward spiral! – Indymedia Ireland.

via Welcome to the downward spiral! – Indymedia Ireland.

Cannot find Weapons of Mass Destruction


These Weapons of Mass Destruction cannot be displayed

The weapons you are looking for are currently unavailable. The country might be experiencing technical difficulties, or you may need to adjust your weapons inspectors mandate.Please try the following:Click the   Regime change button, or try again later.If you are Barack Obama and typed the country’s name in the address bar, make sure that it is spelled correctly. (IRAN).To check your weapons inspector settings, click the UN menu, and then click Weapons Inspector Options. On the Security Council tab, click Consensus. The settings should match those provided by your government or NATO.

If the Security Council has enabled it, The United States of America can examine your country and automatically discover Weapons of Mass Destruction.

If you would like to use the CIA to try and discover them,

click  Detect Settings Detect weapons

Some countries require 128 thousand troops to liberate them. Click the Panic menu and then click About US foreign policy to determine what regime they will install.

If you are an Old European Country trying to protect your interests, make sure your options are left wide open as long as possible. Click the Tools menu, and then click on League of Nations. On the Advanced tab, scroll to the Head in the Sand section and check settings for your exports to Iran.

Click the    Bomb button if you are Leon Panetta

 

Cannot find Weapons of Mass Destruction – StumbleUpon.

via Cannot find Weapons of Mass Destruction – StumbleUpon.

European Union Declared a Saint


The Vatican today stunned the world by declaring the European Union to be a saint, effectively immediately.

Vatican spokesman Hermann Sisler declared: “More than any individual person in recent history, living or dead, the European Union has spread the message of peace, hope, and charity through the world. And besides, they really need the money.”

For the first time ever, the EU’s sainthood also comes with a 10 million euro prize.

“Saint EU” is the first international organization to advance to sainthood.  The Church waived the rule that prevents the process of canonization from beginning until five years after a candidate’s death.

The EU is not technically dead yet, according to most political experts.

The surprise announcement comes soon after the European Union being named for the Nobel Peace Prize.

“We are proud to officially declare the European Union to be a saint,” Sisler continued. “With its size and potential for good will, Saint EU dwarfs the power of any one person, such as Mother Theresa, to do good deeds.”

“In the modern world, international organizations alone possess the power, connections and resources to undertake meaningful projects for the common good of humanity. Compared to that, individuals just can’t make a real difference in our globalized world.”

But Sisler denied rumors that the IMF and the World Bank were also being considered for sainthood.

“Not at this time. But the UN and WTO are serious candidates for the near future,” stated Sisler.

EU critics thought the award ridiculous.

Nigel Herring of the UK stated: “This is crazy. Just like the EU Nobel Peace Prize. Sainthood is supposed to go to individuals. Dead people. The European Union is not only not a person; it’s not even a country.”

“And it’s not really the case that EU has somehow kept the peace in Western Europe since World War II. It’s really been NATO. With American troops on the ground in Germany, the Germans have not been able to invade France or partition Poland for a fifth time or whatever. (Though the “Ode to Joy,” the EU national anthem, seems like suitable music for such undertakings.)”

“And those expansionist Belgians have been kept in check as well, except for the fact that they somehow ended up with the capital city of Europe. Very suspicious.”

“But in the end, the EU’s attempts to keep the euro going may prove to be quite divisive. I fear how the end game for the euro could play out,” said Herring.

“It might have made sense to give the prize to the European Coal and Steel Community in the 1950s for tying these economies together after the war, but the EU has inherited a situation conducive to peace in Western Europe. It’s not like there were wars that the EU prevented,” concluded Herring.

Vatican spokesman Sisler concluded: “We have long believed that the twelve stars on Saint EU’s flag represent a halo as seen from above. Now our belief has been realized.”

via European Union Declared a Saint – The Satirist.

via European Union Declared a Saint – The Satirist.

The end of the New World Order


lehman-new-world-order

In the late summer of 2008, two events in quick succession signalled the end of the New World Order. In August, the US client state of Georgia was crushed in a brief but bloody war after it attacked Russian troops in the contested territory of South Ossetia.

The former Soviet republic was a favourite of Washington’s neoconservatives. Its authoritarian president had been lobbying hard for Georgia to join Nato’s eastward expansion. In an unblinking inversion of reality, US vice-president Dick Cheney denounced Russia‘s response as an act of “aggression” that “must not go unanswered”. Fresh from unleashing a catastrophic war on IraqGeorge Bush declared Russia’s “invasion of a sovereign state” to be “unacceptable in the 21st century”.

As the fighting ended, Bush warned Russia not to recognise South Ossetia’s independence. Russia did exactly that, while US warships were reduced to sailing around the Black Sea. The conflict marked an international turning point. The US’s bluff had been called, its military sway undermined by the war on terror, Iraq and Afghanistan. After two decades during which it bestrode the world like a colossus, the years of uncontested US power were over.

Three weeks later, a second, still more far-reaching event threatened the heart of the US-dominated global financial system. On 15 September, the credit crisis finally erupted in the collapse of America’s fourth-largest investment bank. The bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers engulfed the western world in its deepest economic crisis since the 1930s.

The first decade of the 21st century shook the international order, turning the received wisdom of the global elites on its head – and 2008 was its watershed. With the end of the cold war, the great political and economic questions had all been settled, we were told. Liberal democracy and free-market capitalism had triumphed. Socialism had been consigned to history. Political controversy would now be confined to culture wars and tax-and-spend trade-offs.

In 1990, George Bush Senior had inaugurated a New World Order, based on uncontested US military supremacy and western economic dominance. This was to be a unipolar world without rivals. Regional powers would bend the knee to the new worldwide imperium. History itself, it was said, had come to an end.

But between the attack on the Twin Towers and the fall of Lehman Brothers, that global order had crumbled. Two factors were crucial. By the end of a decade of continuous warfare, the US had succeeded in exposing the limits, rather than the extent, of its military power. And the neoliberal capitalist model that had reigned supreme for a generation had crashed.

It was the reaction of the US to 9/11 that broke the sense of invincibility of the world’s first truly global empire. The Bush administration’s wildly miscalculated response turned the atrocities in New York and Washington into the most successful terror attack in history.

Not only did Bush’s war fail on its own terms, spawning terrorists across the world, while its campaign of killings, torture and kidnapping discredited Western claims to be guardians of human rights. But the US-British invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq revealed the inability of the global behemoth to impose its will on subject peoples prepared to fight back. That became a strategic defeat for the US and its closest allies.

This passing of the unipolar moment was the first of four decisive changes that transformed the world – in some crucial ways for the better. The second was the fallout from the crash of 2008 and the crisis of the western-dominated capitalist order it unleashed, speeding up relative US decline.

This was a crisis made in America and deepened by the vast cost of its multiple wars. And its most devastating impact was on those economies whose elites had bought most enthusiastically into the neoliberal orthodoxy of deregulated financial markets and unfettered corporate power.

A voracious model of capitalism forced down the throats of the world as the only way to run a modern economy, at a cost of ballooning inequality and environmental degradation, had been discredited – and only rescued from collapse by the greatest state intervention in history. The baleful twins of neoconservatism and neoliberalism had been tried and tested to destruction.

The failure of both accelerated the rise of China, the third epoch-making change of the early 21st century. Not only did the country’s dramatic growth take hundreds of millions out of poverty, but its state-driven investment model rode out the west’s slump, making a mockery of market orthodoxy and creating a new centre of global power. That increased the freedom of manoeuvre for smaller states.

China’s rise widened the space for the tide of progressive change that swept Latin America – the fourth global advance. Across the continent, socialist and social-democratic governments were propelled to power, attacking economic and racial injustice, building regional independence and taking back resources from corporate control. Two decades after we had been assured there could be no alternatives to neoliberal capitalism, Latin Americans were creating them.

These momentous changes came, of course, with huge costs and qualifications. The US will remain the overwhelmingly dominant military power for the foreseeable future; its partial defeats in Iraq and Afghanistan were paid for in death and destruction on a colossal scale; and multipolarity brings its own risks of conflict. The neoliberal model was discredited, but governments tried to refloat it through savage austerity programmes. China’s success was bought at a high price in inequality, civil rights and environmental destruction. And Latin America’s US-backed elites remained determined to reverse the social gains, as they succeeded in doing by violent coup in Honduras in 2009. Such contradictions also beset the revolutionary upheaval that engulfed the Arab world in 2010-11, sparking another shift of global proportions.

By then, Bush’s war on terror had become such an embarrassment that the US government had to change its name to “overseas contingency operations”. Iraq was almost universally acknowledged to have been a disaster, Afghanistan a doomed undertaking. But such chastened realism couldn’t be further from how these campaigns were regarded in the western mainstream when they were first unleashed.

To return to what was routinely said by British and US politicians and their tame pundits in the aftermath of 9/11 is to be transported into a parallel universe of toxic fantasy. Every effort was made to discredit those who rejected the case for invasion and occupation – and would before long be comprehensively vindicated.

Michael Gove, now a Tory cabinet minister, poured vitriol on the Guardian for publishing a full debate on the attacks, denouncing it as a “Prada-Meinhof gang” of “fifth columnists”. Rupert Murdoch’s Sun damned those warning against war as “anti-American propagandists of the fascist left”. When the Taliban regime was overthrown, Blair issued a triumphant condemnation of those (myself included) who had opposed the invasion of Afghanistan and war on terror. We had, he declared, “proved to be wrong”.

A decade later, few could still doubt that it was Blair’s government that had “proved to be wrong”, with catastrophic consequences. The US and its allies would fail to subdue Afghanistan, critics predicted. The war on terror would itself spread terrorism. Ripping up civil rights would have dire consequences – and an occupation of Iraq would be a blood-drenched disaster.

The war party’s “experts”, such as the former “viceroy of Bosnia” Paddy Ashdown, derided warnings that invading Afghanistan would lead to a “long-drawn-out guerrilla campaign” as “fanciful”. More than 10 years on, armed resistance was stronger than ever and the war had become the longest in American history.

It was a similar story in Iraq – though opposition had by then been given voice by millions on the streets. Those who stood against the invasion were still accused of being “appeasers”. US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld predicted the war would last six days. Most of the Anglo-American media expected resistance to collapse in short order. They were entirely wrong.

A new colonial-style occupation of Iraq would, I wrote in the first week of invasion, “face determined guerrilla resistance long after Saddam Hussein has gone” and the occupiers “be driven out”. British troops did indeed face unrelenting attacks until they were forced out in 2009, as did US regular troops until they were withdrawn in 2011.

But it wasn’t just on the war on terror that opponents of the New World Order were shown to be right and its cheerleaders to be talking calamitous nonsense. For 30 years, the west’s elites insisted that only deregulated markets, privatisation and low taxes on the wealthy could deliver growth and prosperity.

Long before 2008, the “free market” model had been under fierce attack: neoliberalism was handing power to unaccountable banks and corporations, anti-corporate globalisation campaigners argued, fuelling poverty and social injustice and eviscerating democracy – and was both economically and ecologically unsustainable.

In contrast to New Labour politicians who claimed “boom and bust” to be a thing of the past, critics dismissed the idea that the capitalist trade cycle could be abolished as absurd. Deregulation, financialisation and the reckless promotion of debt-fuelled speculation would, in fact, lead to crisis.

The large majority of economists who predicted that the neoliberal model was heading for breakdown were, of course, on the left. So while in Britain the main political parties all backed “light-touch regulation” of finance, its opponents had long argued that City liberalisation threatened the wider economy.

Critics warned that privatising public services would cost more, drive down pay and conditions and fuel corruption. Which is exactly what happened. And in the European Union, where corporate privilege and market orthodoxy were embedded into treaty, the result was ruinous. The combination of liberalised banking with an undemocratic, lopsided and deflationary currency union that critics (on both left and right in this case) had always argued risked breaking apart was a disaster waiting to happen. The crash then provided the trigger.

The case against neoliberal capitalism had been overwhelmingly made on the left, as had opposition to the US-led wars of invasion and occupation. But it was strikingly slow to capitalise on its vindication over the central controversies of the era. Hardly surprising, perhaps, given the loss of confidence that flowed from the left’s 20th-century defeats – including in its own social alternatives.

But driving home the lessons of these disasters was essential if they were not to be repeated. Even after Iraq and Afghanistan, the war on terror was pursued in civilian-slaughtering drone attacks from Pakistan to Somalia. The western powers played the decisive role in the overthrow of the Libyan regime – acting in the name of protecting civilians, who then died in their thousands in a Nato-escalated civil war, while conflict-wracked Syria was threatened with intervention and Iran with all-out attack.

And while neoliberalism had been discredited, western governments used the crisis to try to entrench it. Not only were jobs, pay and benefits cut as never before, but privatisation was extended still further. Being right was, of course, never going to be enough. What was needed was political and social pressure strong enough to turn the tables of power.

Revulsion against a discredited elite and its failed social and economic project steadily deepened after 2008. As the burden of the crisis was loaded on to the majority, the spread of protests, strikes and electoral upheavals demonstrated that pressure for real change had only just begun. Rejection of corporate power and greed had become the common sense of the age.

The historian Eric Hobsbawm described the crash of 2008 as a “sort of right-wing equivalent to the fall of the Berlin wall”. It was commonly objected that after the implosion of communism and traditional social democracy, the left had no systemic alternative to offer. But no model ever came pre-cooked. All of them, from Soviet power and the Keynesian welfare state to Thatcherite-Reaganite neoliberalism, grew out of ideologically driven improvisation in specific historical circumstances.

The same would be true in the aftermath of the crisis of the neoliberal order, as the need to reconstruct a broken economy on a more democratic, egalitarian and rational basis began to dictate the shape of a sustainable alternative. Both the economic and ecological crisis demanded social ownership, public intervention and a shift of wealth and power. Real life was pushing in the direction of progressive solutions.

The upheavals of the first years of the 21st century opened up the possibility of a new kind of global order, and of genuine social and economic change. As communists learned in 1989, and the champions of capitalism discovered 20 years later, nothing is ever settled.

This is an edited extract from The Revenge of History: the Battle for the 21st Century by Seumas Milne, published by Verso. 

via The end of the New World Order | Seumas Milne | Comment is free | The Guardian.

via The end of the New World Order | Seumas Milne | Comment is free | The Guardian.

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