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Watch this great video taken from the site of ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union). It’s a very relevant and scary take on what we might be trending towards if we don’t stop the Big Brother-esque gathering of personal information NOW.

http://www.aclu.org/pizza/images/screen.swf

 

 

Campaign to put a stop to this! Don’t let this happen in your country.

RESIST!

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Over the last couple of days, we really have hit a new low as far as UK government’s incompetence in face of flagrant demonstration of corporate greed goes. I am, of course, talking about the scandalous pension due to be paid to Sir Fred Goodwin, previously the CEO of RBS, and the way the government has been handling this debacle.

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A few weeks back I found this fantastic January 09 article by Norman Lamont. Despite my delay in commenting on it, this type of material is unfortunately set to have a rather long shelf life, unfortunately for us Britons; Gordon Brown is set to wreak further havoc in the economy before the fat lady sings eventually.

Lord Lamont argues that Brown is “like an arsonist posing as a firefighter”. What does he mean by that?

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Yesterday, four former bosses of UK’s RBS and HBOS (former HBOS chief executive Andy Hornby, former HBOS chairman Lord Stevenson, former RBS CEO Sir Fred Goodwin and former RBS chairman Sir Tom McKillop) faced the Treasury Select Committee for a questioning session about their role in the financial meltdown and the disasters that came to befall their banks.

The key snippets of this session, which has been dubbed “the show trial” for all the public apologies it started off with, can be found here.

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When will this government at last start cutting its wasteful spending, the money it has been squandering for years, and money that – surely – it is now seeing it cannot afford to throw around any longer?

We are now finally hearing admissions about the mammoth scale of government debt UK’s accumulated over the recent years and especially in the aftermath of the financial sector fiasco, and that Britain will be saddled with this debt for 20 years or more. Debt that both us and the next generation will have to shoulder and pay for through higher taxes whilst the government is stuggling to balance its books and finds that its income is lower than its expenditure. None of these forecasts make pretty reading, but let’s face it, we were all aware something of this magnitude was about to start unfolding.

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The Labour Government is making a move to shift its focus onto fighting class discrimination in the UK.

What exactly does this mean? At the core of this new initiative, outlined in a new white paper, sits a noble aim, which is for “every individual to realise their potential, no matter what their background”. And that is a very good ideal to aspire to, don’t get me wrong. Equal opportunities matter at all ages, but especially for younger people still in education whose personalities and perceptions are still being shaped. People who are worse-off don’t always achieve (from the education or career point of view) as much as people from more affluent backgrounds, with notable exceptions of course, so the society as a whole is missing out if talent goes unnoticed or undeveloped.   Read the rest of this entry »

The Labour government is making another attempt at welfare reforms. This week, a white paper is being published by James Purnell, the Work and Pensions Secretary, for discussion proposing a new approach. If effective, this should result in people living on benefits starting to look for work – or risk benefits being slashed, and should be implemented around 2010/ 2011.

I’ve long since felt a sense of bitter outrage that so many people in the UK get a free ride as “tax consumers” living – and some quite comfortably – at the expense of the rest of us. The system is notoriously inefficient and open to abuse. The case of a man who claimed benefits several times over, clocked up a “salary” in excess of £40K per year and only got caught because he carelessly drove to collect his “dues” in a brand new BMW springs to mind – and there are many other cases of blatant fraud.

In total, UK’s welfare bill tops £20bn. That’s pretty shocking in itself.  

What’s much worse is that many of these people bring up their children to believe that it is absolutely OK not to work as the state will provide. And these families can tend to have many kids (which in itself, I feel, is socially irresponsible) – often many more than the national average. That’s a new fast growing brood of brats, many intending to live off us in future. Great – we’ve created a system in the UK that actually encourages people and their offspring to become long-term and life-long shirkers. That surely was not the original intention of creating a welfare state in this country.

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Yesterday’s Queens speech was notable for its omission of the Communications Data bill, the extremely controversial Big-Brother-esque piece of legislation which received a huge amount of opposition in the UK and against which a number of blogs, including this one, have opposed.

Another public consultation on the bill will take place early next year and will aim to discuss problems the government sees in our national security, and proposed ways to tackle these problems.

Back in October, Jacqui Smith “clarified” what the Bill would and would not do:

“There are no plans for an enormous database which will contain the content of your e-mails, the texts that you send or the chats you have on the phone or online. Nor are we going to give local authorities the power to trawl through such a database in the interest of investigating lower-level criminality under the spurious cover of counter-terrorist legislation.” (quote from ComputerWeekly.com)

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Today is a historic day for the US – a convincing victory of Barrack Obama, the Democratic candidate, in the race for the White House. Hail Senator Obama, the future first black president of the USA!

Even as I write this, I know it should not matter what colour the face of the winning candidate is. Maybe it will matter less going forward, now that the USA have come this far – but it seems to matter a lot today. So it’s a victory for racial equality, amongst other things. And this alone would have made it a historic day.

Politically and economically, this victory gives the US a chance for change. And it gives the rest of the world a hope that the US will show us a different face. We hope that the USA will stop interfering in other countries’ political affairs, stop being aggressive and act as a policy-maker around the globe. It does not own the world – so we would like to see it behaving like an equal to other nations.

We would like the US to take concrete environmentally-conscious steps and set an example for tackling global warming and investing in alternative energy technologies. Many have paid lip service to this matter in the past but not much has been done. We make no mistake, this is a huge challenge which needs to balance the need for ongoing economic development of the country with ways to make it much greener, fast. But now is the time to step up and really do something.

Last night, US citizens have chosen change over more of the same. It is up to Barrack Obama to lead them through to change he has been talking so eloquently about during his campaign, and to inspire the whole country to adopt the new ways.

Governments can only do so much. It is the electorate that often makes it happen. Senator Obama has scored an unprecedented victory last night which shows he has the support to make change happen. We have seen historic pictures of people queuing up to vote in this election. The Americans have come out in their millions and said that they have had enough of the status quo of the previous presidency. Don’t waste this chance, Obama!

Will Barrack Obama stay true to his ideals once he is in place? Will he change the face of the USA on the international political landscape – or sway under pressure from various lobbies and moderate his election campaign principles? Many have fallen victim to pressure in the past.

Only time will tell whether Obama will stay strong and see through his inspirational ideas. We hope he does – and that today we have seen the start of the new era for the US and the world.

Here is something that did not surprise me at all today.

The UK government, it appears, knew perfectly well that the Icelandic banking system was heading for a meltdown – as recently as March 08. But it did nothing to help out some of the UK savers.

Back then, the Icelandic government was seeking help for its banking system as the confidence was starting to collapse and it needed money. Mervyn King, the governor of the Bank of England, commissioned several reports to assess the state of the Icelandic banking sector, and refused to help out when the results that came back were – predictably – not very reassuring.

Failure to act: Discussions earlier on in 2008 on the possibility of turning UK operations of Landbanksi, the now-collapsed bank, into a UK subsidiary, did not reach any conclusions. This means that whilst the UK government was aware of the impending danger to Landbankski’s UK savers, it failed to negotiate a status change for this branch which would have meant savers would have been covered by the UK deposit protection scheme when the collapse inevitably happened. It failed to act to aleviate the inevitable fallout.

Liberal Democrat treasury Vince Cable is now calling for an inquiry to understand the extent of UK government’s knowledge about the forthcoming crisis.

The government has recently confirmed that it will back private investors’ money, but this leaves charities and local councils at risk of losing all their money.

The savings debacle: Now, a huge amount of charities and public sector bodies have their money locked in collapsed Icelandic banks. Here is the quick list of councils that caught out in the meltdown.

Some councils have been warned: It appears that many did have a prior warning about the impending danger. Landsbanki, Glitnir and Kaupthing bank were all downgraded in Feb – March 2008 by credit rating agencies. The confidential advice to move savings elsewhere was passed to many councils by their advisor, Sector Treasury Services.

Some acted on this advice and moved the investments; some could not, as money was locked in long term deposits. Others – and this is the shocking bit – continued ignoring financial advice and even increased deposits made. This, unfortunately, just confirms some council’s incompetence in financial management.

Read more details here.

So, tell me something I did not know? The UK government that is wilfully closing its eyes to the inevitable and refusing to act early, and UK councils that do not competently manage their money. What a shambles.

 

Copyright 2008 by CuriouslyInspired

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