15 Fracking Facts and the Truth About Alternative Energy

Activist terrorist

Earlier this month a judge awarded damages to the Parr family in Texas amounting to almost $3million for losses on property value, physical pain, mental anguish and suffering due to the effects of pollution caused by fracking near their home. The jury returned a verdict saying Aruba Petroleum Inc. “intentionally created a private nuisance” resulting in the Parr family suffering from symptoms including chronic nose bleeding, irregular heartbeats, muscle spasms and open sores due to the environmental effects of this controversial gas mining process. Aruba are the first company in the US to be found guilty of charges due to pollution caused of fracking.

Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) involves drilling horizontally deep under the earth and injecting fluid at high pressure to fracture shale rocks and release natural gases. This gas is then used as fuel for energy. It is considered by many to be extremely harmful to the surrounding environment and has divided opinion across the world as to its viability as a safe method of mining for fuel. Ten countries including Spain, France, Germany and South Africa have already banned this controversial mining process over concerns about pollution and the environmental risks. It’s believed by many that fracking can pollute water, release dangerous methane gases that damage the ozone layer and even cause earthquakes. The landmark verdict in Texas indicates that many of these claims are actually true, but what are the fracking facts?

 

  1. Around 600 toxic chemicals are used in the fluid used for fracking, including uranium, radium, hydrochloric acid, mercury, lead, formaldehyde and even bizarre substances like instant coffee and walnut shells.
  2. It takes around 1-8 million gallons of water to complete each fracking job and each gas well needs an average of 400 tanker trucks to carry all the water and supplies to and from the site. This produces about300,000 barrels of natural gas a day.
  3. There are around 500,000 active gas wells in the US that use in total around 72 trillion gallons of water and 360 billion gallons of chemicals in the fracking process and only 30-50% of the fracturing fluid is recovered. The rest of the toxic fluid is left in the ground and is not biodegradable.
  4. Canadian mining companies do not disclose all of the chemicals used for fracking or their quantities. Most oil and gas wells in Canada don’t have to go through an individual environmental assessment process or disclose any information about the chemicals they use on the Canadian National Pollutant Re­lease Inventory (NPRI). This means that the companies themselves decide what information they want to release about what’s in their fracking fluid, despite the fact that tests have shown that many of the chemicals they use are known to cause serious health problems such as cancer or organ damage.
  5. In British Columbia, the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission, who are the organisation responsible for promoting oil and gas development, are also the organisation that regulate fracking. Contamination of fracking fluids from one well to another have been reported in British Columbia and there are well-documented cases of water contamination caused by fracking in several countries around the world.
  6. A 2011 study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency confirmed a clear link between fracking and water contamination and there have been over 1,000 documented cases of water contamination next to areas where companies have used the fracking process to drill for gas. This contaminated water is usually used for drinking water in nearby cities and towns.
  7. In Pennsylvania, USA, there has been a rapid development of the Marcellus shale site, which it’s estimated could produce 500 trillion cubic feet of gas. It’s believed that’s enough to power all American homes for another 50 years.
  8. In 2010 Pennsylvania officials fined Chesapeake Energy $1 million for contaminating water supplies in Bradford County. Because the company had not properly cemented its drilling boreholes, methane gas escaped from the well and contaminated the water of 16 families.
  9. Between 2009 and 2011 there have been a series of surface spills of toxic fracking fluids and two blowouts at wells operated by Chesapeake Energy and EOG Resources. There was also a spill of 8000 gallons of fracking fluid at a site in Dimock, Pa., which contaminated groundwater in the Marcellus Shale region.
  10. Supporters of fracking claim that it is a proven gas extraction method that has been used for decades. However, according to Dr. Anthony Ingraffea, a hydraulic fracturing expert from Cornell University, mining companies have had less than 10 years experience of using the fracking method on a large scale.
  11. Robert Mair, a Professor of Geotechnical Engineering at the University of Cambridge chaired a committee to analyse the environmental, health and safety risks of fracking in Britain. He concluded that it should only take place at depths of several kilometres. At present the fracking in Britain has been at depths of 1.06 miles (1.7km) and 1.93 miles (3.1km), which would make water contamination “unlikely”. This risk could be increased by poorly constructed and badly regulated wells, an area in which Britain has an excellent record. However, Professor Mair recommends that methane emissions and groundwater composition should be monitored at potential sites before any fracking takes place.
  12. Rex Tillerson is the CEO of ExxonMobil who are the biggest natural gas producer in the US and heavily rely on fracking to extract it. It’s his job to promote fracking and fight regulations preventing mining. However, when a fracking project was proposed near Tillerson’s $5 million Texas home, he joined a lawsuit to block its construction with the damaging consequences of fracking cited as one of the main concerns.
  13. The coalition government in the UK have offered tax breaks to councils who allow fracking projects to go ahead. However, Michael Jones, the leader of Cheshire East council, which is the same constituency of coalition chancellor George Osborne, opposes the use of fracking, stating: “Fracking may well be a useful technology for other areas and good luck to them if it is, however the people of Cheshire East have our assurance that there won’t be any in our borough.” Meanwhile Prime Minister David Cameron is trying to push through legislation to change anti trespass laws so that fracking firms can drill underneath private land without the owners’ permission.
  14. Peaceful protests against fracking at the Barton Moss site in Salford, England have resulted in violent assaults against the protestors by the police. One police officer at the site was caught on camera lying to fabricate the false arrest of a man who was documenting the events taking place. The violence used by the police prompted Bez, the maraca shaking dancer of The Happy Mondays to run for mayor of Salford; stating “I got sent to prison for being accused of doing that sh*t. Three grown men battering a woman on the floor…I’m in shock.”
  15. The Daily Mail reported details of the arrests of 82 protestors at the Barton Moss site in Salford, in England earlier this year, with police accusing protestors of offences ranging from ‘assault, damage, harassment of residents and workers, a flare fired at the police helicopter and threats to kill’. However, what the popular press have not reported on is the fact that no successful convictions have resulted from these arrests, despite policing and court costs costing the UK taxpayer almost £1,000,000 so far. However, the independent newspaper The Salford Star has documented the events surrounding the Barton Moss fracking protests and reported that five of those cases have already been dismissed by judges in courts in Manchester. In summing up one case the judge said that he found the absence in court of key officers involved “astonishing”.

Barton Moss Police Arrests March 16th 2014 (3)(1)

Barton Moss Anti Fracking Protest Salford 16th March 2014 photo by Steven Speed (3)

Vanda was charged with "assaulting a constable in the execution of his duty, resisting a constable in the execution of his duty and assaulting a detention officer" and "remanded in custody to further appear on 25 March 2014" (GMP quote).

Vanda was charged with “assaulting a constable in the execution of his duty, resisting a constable in the execution of his duty and assaulting a detention officer” and “remanded in custody to further appear on 25 March 2014” (GMP quote).

 

As the fracking debate continues one fact remains certain, our society needs energy and there are alternatives that are scientifically viable. There are a number of renewable energy sources that are in use today. The most familiar ones are solar power, which generates energy from the sun, wind turbines that harvest power from the wind, wave and tidal power that generate energy from the sea, and hydroelectricity that draws energy from the gravitational force of flowing water. Other lesser known alternatives include geothermal energy which is generated from natural heat within the earth itself and cold fusion which generates energy from non-toxic and radiation-free nuclear reactions. Biomass energy uses biodegradable rubbish and burns it as fuel and also uses plant matter to generate electricity. The sunlight captured by plants is transformed into chemical energy and then converted into electricity, heat, or liquid fuels. 

Aside from all these alternative energies we also have the technology to build energy efficient homes and buildings. Buildings that not only save energy, but also produce energy. So with all these alternatives to pursuing environmentally damaging mining processes and burning toxic fossil fuels, any sane man would wonder why more isn’t done to develop these alternative methods of energy production. Well the answer is simple – money. The motivation for investing in the pursuit of these alternatives is anchored to the noose of capitalism.

Whilst the capitalist imperative continues to be the voracious pursuit of wealth for individual, selfish gain, energy will always be coveted as an economic advantage and a source of control for the nation or corporation that has it. Yes it would make much more sense if governments and corporations and all of those greedy corporate psychopaths, oligarchs and megalomaniacs dipped into their Swiss bank accounts and threw all their financial resources at environmentally viable energy solutions with the same enthusiasm shown for funding commercially viable projects like an Olympics or World Cup. It would make more sense than spending billions on military equipment to go and murder hundreds of thousands of people in wars for the control of oil and gas in countries in the Middle East. It would make more sense than exploiting the natural resources and environmental beauty of South East Asia, Africa and South America and brokering deals that circumnavigate all the wealth from those countries into the pockets of a small, undeserving minority, whilst subjecting the poor of those countries to lives of impoverished degradation. It would make more sense, it just wouldn’t be financially viable for that small percentage of people in the world that have all the wealth but none of the ethics. Meanwhile, whilst those people pursue the best way to become even more wealthy from sucking OUR planet dry, we continue to fret about how we are going to pay them for it. If this doesn’t make us mad then we’re already crazy, so could the last person to leave the asylum please turn the lights out.

Barton Moss Police Arrests March 16th 2014 (2)

Bez of the Happy Monday’s joins the anti-fracking campaign at Barton Moss.

A Loss of Faith.

There is a lovely Muslim woman whom I teach English to in an entry level beginners class who prays [religiously] half way through every lesson. Today the  class had a test and I caught her cheating – not once, not twice, but three times! She denied profusely despite me looking straight at her from less than two yards away.

Earlier this week it was reported that Reverend Paul Flowers – the ex-Chief Executive of the Co-operative Bank (an ethical bank apparently) – was caught buying crystal meth and cocaine from an undercover reporter; today it was revealed that he also swindled £75,000 from the Lifeline charity (but they didn’t tell anybody about it until now).

Also in the news, MP Dennis McShane swindled £13,000 of British taxpayers money in bogus expense claims (who want’s to bet he doesn’t do as much time as the 18 months that a young man from Salford did for his first offence of stealing a bottle of vodka from a shop during the England ‘riots’ in 2011?).

MacShane resigned as an MP last year before he could face punishment for submitting fake receipts amounting to £12,900 of taxpayers’ money.

The Independent

In recent history it has been revealed that many Catholic priests have been fiddling with young boys for centuries and many Imams brutally beat young Muslim boys for misbehaving in the Mosque. For decades Evangelists have been fleecing £millions from desperate and gullible morons (that’s ‘morons’ not ‘Mormons’) in the USA in the name of God; politicians have been robbing the poor via the public purse to feed the industries of corporations so the Executives of those corporations can exploit the even poorer in developing countries and swell their own already swollen tax-free bank accounts; Jimmy Savile (a British Knight of the Realm and tireless charity worker) and a whole host of our favourite childhood icons from the seventies have been sexually abusing children for decades – even our footballing heroes cheat the ref and dive all over the place to win matches. All this and people wonder why I’m cynical!

In a world of abundance in education, technology, wealth and natural resources, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this is the End of Days. Have no respect for faith or status, believe in your eyes, ears and most of all, your gut feeling.

Margaret Thatcher Is Dead

The witch is dead

(This posting is re-blogged courtesty of Another Angry Voice)

It was announced on Monday 8th April that the former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was dead. The sense of jubilation at her death is truly remarkable and obviously distressing to the many millions of right-wing people that describe her legacy in glowing terms, even going as far as claiming that she was the best Prime Minister ever, despite her massive unpopularity and her appalling legacy of failure.

The fact that so many people have taken to open celebration of her death is evidence of her legacy. The woman clung to power by dividing society and setting the factions against each other, instead of allowing them to unite against her. Even after her death British society is still clearly divided and the same divisive scapegoating tactics are being used again by the incumbent Tory led government.

Thatcher became Prime Minister in 1979, the first ever adherent of neoliberal pseudo-economics to gain power at the ballot box rather than through violent US backed military coups. She remained a lifetime friend of her fellow neoliberal adherent, the murderous Chilean dictator General Pinochet, even going as far as direct intervention to assist Pinochet in evading justice after he was threatened with extradition to Spain to face trial for crimes against humanity.

Margaret Thatcher and her friend, the murderous  Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Margaret Thatcher and her friend, the murderous
Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Thatcher’s rise to power signaled the end of the post-war consensus mixed economy and the beginning of the neoliberal age. The old agreement between the parties that Britain should strive to balance regulated capitalism with state control over vital infrastructure was torn up in favour of Thatcher’s barmy post-industrial dream of a hyper-capitalist nation built around the financial services industry in London.

One of the core tenets of Thatcher’s neoliberal agenda was the firesale of state assets based on the absurdly fallacious reasoning that capitalists can always run things more efficiently than the state. Huge swathes of taxpayer funded industry and infrastructure were given away at bargain basement prices. In some cases such as the sale of British Telecom, the exponential improvements in technology give the impression that privatisation was a success, however the privatisation of utilities like gas, electric and water have severely damaged the UK economy by eroding the disposable income of the public with ever inflating prices, meaning that the public have less money to save or to invest in genuinely productive activity. Even after Thatcher’s demise, this mania for privatisation continued with all kinds of barmy privatisation scams from John Major’s botched privatisation of the railways to Gordon Brown’s massive expansion of PFI economic alchemy schemes. Some of the most barmy privatisations include the sale and leaseback of the HMRC property portfolio to a tax haven based company (seriously) and the privatisation of the UK independent nuclear deterrent into the hands of a consortium 66% owned by US based companies!

Another way in which the Thatcher government fueled the City of London post-industrial fantasy was through the abandonment of capital controls and the deregulation of the financial sector, which opened the floodgates to an unprecedented tax-dodging bonanza. In return for these changes, financial sector interests and major tax-dodgers poured cash into Tory party coffers allowing them to present their loopy free-market ideology as some kind of slick modernisation programme through expensive ad agencies such as Saachi and Saachi. The Thatcher government introduced the new brand of politics where style took precedence over substance and the real political agenda remained hidden behind impenetrable layers of presentation. Subsequent leaders such as Tony Blair and David Cameron have pushed this kind of spin even further, seeming at perfect ease as they outright lie to the public (Iraqi WMDs, David Cameron’s debt reduction lies).

Margaret Thatcher and Rupert Murdoch shared a marriage of convenience.  She allowed him to build up a vast anti-competitive press empire, and he  used that empire to back her policies.

Margaret Thatcher and Rupert Murdoch shared a marriage of convenience.
She allowed him to build up a vast anti-competitive press empire, and he
used that empire to back her policies.

Slick advertising wasn’t the only way in which the Thatcher government managed public perception. Thatcher allowed right wing interests to build up vast media empires. The most famous example being her intervention to ensure that Rupert Murdoch could buy up the Times newspaper. This marriage of convenience between the UK establishment and Rupert Murdoch has continued to the present day. Murdoch commands a huge audience and continues to be sucked up to by British political leaders despite the shocking revelations about the disgusting criminality and corruption at his newspapers.

Aside from handing over valuable state assets for derisory prices and recklessly deregulating the financial sector, another way in which Thatcher coddled the wealthy was through huge tax cuts justified with the ludicrous trickle down fallacy. Allowing the wealthy to extract ever more wealth from society was never going to enrich the poor as the Thatcherites loved to claim, especially given the the way that the Thatcher regime facilitated offshore tax-dodging. Instead of investing the glut of North Sea oil wealth and the cash raised through privatisations into a sovereign wealth fund like Norway or reinvesting in British industry, Thatcher wasted it all on ludicrous tax breaks for the wealthy.

Another area in which Thatcher wreaked her havoc was in housing policy. Her loathing of anything social led to her direct attacks upon social housing. Her government arranged the firesale of social housing with the stipulation that the money raised could not be reinvested in building more social housing or renovating existing social housing stock. The construction of social housing was all but abandoned in the 1980s and has never resumed.  Othodox neoliberal theory tells us that a reduction in state intervention in the housing market should lead to a rise in private sector housebuilding, however, just like with most neoliberal theory, the reality was completely different and this rise in private sector housebuilding never happened. In fact, private sector housebuilding has declined since the 1980s. The housing shortage created by Thatcher’s assault on social housing led to unsustainable property price inflation, with investors preferring to get fat as ever rising demand pushed their property prices and profit margins upwards, rather than investing in anything productive like the actual construction of new housing.

Thatcher also oversaw the deregulation of the private rental sector and the abolition of security of tenure for private tenants. Countless greedy Thatcherites have sat back and raked in the cash as they allowed other people to pay off their buy-to-let mortgages. This idle rentier class is now a clearly defined Tory demographic. In a way, it is a return to the old days of idle landlords soaking up the wealth of entire communities by renting shit houses to transitory “peasants”. One of the very worst aspects of Thatcher’s housing reforms is that one third of all of the social housing that was sold off on the cheap has now found it’s way into the hands of the idle buy-to-let brigade. In fact, probably the largest former council house property portfolio in the entire country belongs to the son of the minister charged with selling off all those state owned properties in the first place!

In order to build the foundations of this ideologically driven neoliberalisation experiment, Thatcher needed to hobble all opposition and consolidate as much power as possible in her own hands. She castrated local government, closed down the Greater London Council and oversaw a centralisation of the education system (based on privately operated exam boards) that has churned out generation after generation of inadequately prepared an politically naive students.

Thatcher spent eleven consecutive new years eve celebrations with  Jimmy Savile. The idea that he would have been allowed such a close relationship with the Prime Minister without being thoroughly vetted by the security services is frankly laughable.

Thatcher spent eleven consecutive new years eve celebrations with
Jimmy Savile. The idea that he would have been allowed such a close
relationship with the Prime Minister without being thoroughly vetted by
the security services is frankly laughable.

Undoubtedly the most famous way in which she consolidated her own power was through her war on the trade unions. She famously derided the miners that had been the productive backbone of the nation for centuries as “the enemy within” then removed their union powers and crushed their industries, ruining countless communities throughout the industrial heartlands of the UK. The fact that these communities built around their mines, shipyards, and steel factories were predominantly Labour voting areas was absolutely no coincidence. Not only did she castrate their unions and steal their jobs, she had no plan at all for the regions she was destroying, other than to leave them in a permanent state of destitution and social degeneration. It took the outright defiance of Michael Heseltine to save cities like Liverpool from suffering even more from the brutal indifference of Thatcherism.

Such a centralisation of power runs entirely contrary to the libertarian and minarchist principles that supposedly underpin neoliberal theory, but the only way that such a barmy neoliberalisation process could ever have been enforced was through the ruthless revocation of power from anyone that stood in her way. The fact is that all of Thatchers successors have all enjoyed the dictatorial powers she carved out for herself, with very few central government powers being redistributed back to local government.

Another defining characteristic of the Thatcher regime was brazen economic mismanagement. From the massive inflation peaks in the early and late 1980s to the deliberate neglect of British manufacturing, the ever widening trade deficits; and the fact that her government ran constant budget deficits in all but two of the years for which she was Prime Minister (in fact the 1988 and 1989 budget surpluses are the only Tory budget surpluses recorded since 1973, so perhaps, with an 18% budget surplus rate as compared to 0% for all of her Tory party successors, she wasn’t actually that bad by the usual Tory standards).

Still, it didn’t seem to matter that interest rates on people’s mortgages went through the roof, that the long forgotten phenomena of mass unemployment was stalking the land again after a 50 year hiatus, that British industry was collapsing into terminal decline: The right wing press and the Tory propaganda machine spun an unrelentingly positive story of “modernisation” and the public lapped it up and carried on voting for her.

Returning to Thatcher’s war with the trade unions, the ongoing decline in British manufacturing can be traced back to this divisive class war against the working people of Britain. Thatcher’s ideological hatred of the trade unions was so rabid that she would rather the entire industry be destroyed than allow adequate trade union representation for the workforce. A good contrast can be made with Germany, where instead of playing class warfare, with the government and business interests on one side and the workers and trade unions on the other as Thatcher did, they built their industrial strategy on co-operation between the bosses and the unions, even allowing union representatives onto the boards of directors as a matter of course. Thatcher’s divide and rule strategy has resulted in decades of industrial decline, social fragmentation and vast trade deficits, whilst Germany have cemented their place as world leader in the production of high tech machinery, successfully reunified their divided nation and run enormous trade surpluses.

Any commentary on Thatcher would be incomplete without mention of the Falklands. It is quite clear from declassified documents that the conflict was deliberately provoked through the withdrawal of the South Atlantic naval defence. Thatcher was warned several times by military experts that such a withdrawal would be seen as an open invitation for the Argentine military dictatorship to invade. In the buildup to the invasion, Thatcher was languishing in the polls, the most unpopular Prime Minister in history. After the Falklands victory she rode the tide of jingoism to a landslide election victory and a whitewash investigation concluded that the war had been “unavoidable”.

Another incident that must not be forgotten is the Hillsborough disaster where 96 Liverpool FC fans were crushed to death due to police incompetence. It took 23 years for the evidence to be released, evidence which demonstrates beyond any doubt that the Thatcher government and South Yorkshire police colluded in a massive cover-up campaign, where blame was deliberately transferred to innocent Liverpool supporters with the willing assistance of the right-wing press. Especially the S*n, (belonging to Thatcher’s chum Rupert Murdoch) which is still boycotted in the city of Liverpool to this day as a result of the outright lies that were printed about the behavior of Liverpool fans on that tragic day.

The final factor that cannot possibly be excluded is the policy that eventually brought the Thatcher regime down. By the late 1980s Thatcher must have come to believe that she was invincible. She’d crushed the unions, castrated local government, sold off the national silver on the cheap, slashed taxes for her wealthy backers and done it all with three landslide victories at the polls. Her final folly was Poll Tax; a policy so unpopular that it provoked the largest wave of civil disobedience in living memory. Only a power crazed fool with a head full of neoliberal gibberish could possibly have thought that they could get away with imposing it. She was warned by her Tory party colleagues that it wouldn’t float but she persisted with it until she was driven out of office by her own MPs.

Only the blue tinted spectacles brigade would even try to pretend that Thatcher didn’t leave the UK countless toxic legacies such as over-centralised power, adherence to ideological neoliberal pseudo-economics, countless failed privatisations, the massive scale of tax-dodging, industrial decline, mass unemployment, housing policy neglect, rising debt (national, corporate and private), a hopelessly mismanaged education system, political reliance upon the Murdoch empire and the reckless gambling of the deregulated financial sector that eventually led to the global financial sector meltdown. Probably the single thing that stands out above all of these toxic legacies is the way that she ruthlessly destroyed the gains of the post war society, cynically setting sectors of society at each others throats whilst deliberately re-extending the wealth gap.

Another of Thatcher’s toxic legacies was Tony Blair. Many Tories try to deny the link between Thatcher and Blair, however the similarity is absolutely obvious to most people. Tony Blair was quite clearly a Tory in a red tie. Instead of undoing the damage that Thatcher had wrought, he intensified it with more privatisations, more dodgy outsourcing contracts, more Murdoch love-ins, more bank deregulations, more tax-dodging scams and more deliberate neglect of British industry. Even the most rabid Tory would hesitate to contradict Thatcher herself ,and when asked what her greatest achievement in politics was, her reply was “Tony Blair and New Labour”. The affection between the two was mutual, with Blair providing a grotesquely uncritical eulogy to the sworn enemy of anyone remotely left-wing or liberal minded:

Margaret Thatcher was a towering political figure. Very few leaders get to change not only the political landscape of their country but of the world. Margaret was such a leader. Her global impact was vast. And some of the changes she made in Britain were, in certain respects at least, retained by the 1997 Labour Government… As a person she was kind and generous spirited and was always immensely supportive to me as Prime Minister …  you could not disrespect her character or her contribution to Britain’s national life. She will be sadly missed.”

Tony Blair was obviously saddened to hear of the death of his ideological mentor. I thought that I’d be much happier on the day that Thatcher finally died, however, it is absolutely clear from the shape of the UK political landscape that she is actually still alive. All three of the establishment parties are now wedded to her brand of ideologically driven orthodox neoliberalism; the scars of her economic blundering can be seen carved across the landscape and across countless communities; the gap between rich and poor is wider than ever and still growing; the post war welfare system is under ruthless attack from both sides of Parliament; crony capitalism and industrial scale tax-dodging are rife and the tactic of playing elements of society off against each other in order to distract attention away from the villainy of the establishment powers is as prevalent today as it was at the height of Thatcherism.

It doesn’t matter that the woman is so reviled that her grave will have to be kept behind a security cordon to prevent it from becoming an extremely popular open air toilet. It doesn’t matter that she is dead and that people are satisfied that she is gone. Her toxic legacy has not gone, in fact, the current government are busy with schemes that Thatcher herself would never have dared dream of, such as privatising the NHS and simply giving away half of the secondary schools in England, £billions worth of taxpayer funded property and all, for free, to unaccountable private sector interests.

It is 34 years since Thatcher introduced neoliberal pseudo-economics to the UK and we’re still paying the price now. Hell, we’ll still be paying the price in another 34 years given that the entire political establishment is utterly riddled with this rotten ideology. The economic and social destruction she inflicted can never be fully repaired. Too many industries destroyed, too many taxes dodged, too many communities divided and too many generations brought up on the right-wing mantra of “greed good; social conscience bad”.

Reblogged courtesy of: Another Angry Voice

Freedom of Speech… As Long As You Agree With What We Say.

The Western World prides itself on its laws that protect freedom of speech. We have the right to say anything that we want… more or less. Provided it doesn’t incite riot or it isn’t defamatory, slanderous or libellous, citizens in the UK and America can say whatever they want – which is commendable. However, expressing your opinion is all fine and well, but if that opinion isn’t ‘acceptable’ or in line with popular opinion, then that opinion will quickly be rounded upon by a media militia mob who will drown it before it even gets air, or smother it in ridicule, or denounce all credible association with anybody associated with that opinion.

Every time someone makes fun of the idea of “conspiracy theories” they are exhibiting a conditioned response – like salivating when they hear a bell or believing a TV news program.

Craig McKee – http://www.truthandshadows.wordpress.com

Unless you live in the state of Catatonia, or you have had a lobotomy, or you are just a complete and utter gullible fool, there must have been a time when you were listening to something on the news, or a debate on a TV show, or you’ve read some ‘factual’ news story – or you’ve just listened to the chattering classes chatting over lunch or dinner about some social or political issue and you’ve thought to yourself; “No; no, no, no, that… that’s not right. That can’t be right!” You’ve thought this and kept it to yourself because you don’t feel confident enough to express your own opinion. You may even feel intimidated by the fear of not fitting in with what everyone else thinks, so you keep your opinion to yourself. You may even know or believe something in absolute certainty, but you dare not step out of line of the ‘acceptable’ view. Do you feel free in that moment? Do you feel that you have freedom of speech – freedom of expression?

Anybody who works with battered wives or people who live in abusive homes will know about psychological abuse. Psychological abuse often takes the form of ridicule, making the recipient lose their sense of identity and feel uncertain about themselves. Abused people often find that psychological or emotional abuse is the most damaging form of abuse. Imagine the school bully and his or her cronies all surrounding you in the playground calling you names and poking fun at you. Well this is what the media does when it doesn’t want a certain opinion to gain any credibility.

There was a time before the internet, social media and corporate whistleblowers, that information was power and it could be controlled. The truth was easy to manipulate because only a few people had access to it. Now the truth is out there [excuse the X-Files reference] and everyone has access to it, so the only way to control public opinion is to deny, deny, deny – or simply discredit anyone who is saying what you don’t want them to say.

“To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.”

Voltaire

One of the downsides of mass media is that it proliferates and dominates every waking day of our lives. The sheer volume of images and information surrounding us, shrouds us in subliminal messages. But whilst the teenage whizz kids hack the popular Zeitgeist and indiscriminately flood the world wide web with free software and information, the corporations still manage to control the public consumption of validated information. The whole Western World is intravenously fed digital trash that is filtered through the corporate media, and everyone who is anyone is on it. Images, film, music, news and celebrity views steer popular opinion and distract the intellect from the capacity to discern. This results in a society fed MTV bites of bubble-gum politics and social debate that act as a hypnotic stream of public consciousness and socially acceptable views. So whilst the truth really is out there, it doesn’t really count unless it is viewed through the prism of the relevant celebrity or media channel. This is the controlling tie that binds – if the information isn’t coming from the right source, then it isn’t the right information.

So we find ourselves in an anodyne time where societal passions are a mere husk of sincerity. A time where a man whose good at sport, or a woman with a great body, or a beautiful androgynous creature in a nice outfit singing catchy songs – people who’s abilities are but a veneer of character, reality and truth – dictate the ideas and beliefs of society. This is a polite society based on protocol and etiquette but without substance. A society where nobody wants to ask the dirty, uncomfortable, pointed questions because it upsets the show; a society where heroes sing, dance and prance around whilst the majority of the world starves and kills and silently bemoans the state of their rotten lives. And if someone says “Hey you, what have you really done with all that fame and influence, apart from suck up the adulation, exploit your market and make more money for yourself?” Security eject them from the premises, paparazzi shoot them in flagrante, news agencies present them negatively, presenters, reporters and celebrities mock and ridicule them mercilessly, and the media strips them of all credibility. Who’s going to dare ask that question again now?

Now it’s conspiracy – they’ve made that something that should not even be entertained for a minute, that powerful people might get together and have a plan. Doesn’t happen, you’re a kook, you’re a conspiracy buff!

George Carlin

Anybody who works in film, media or showbiz must have felt at some time that they are selling their soul for the privilege. Many if not most of those people you regale in their fame have licked the boots of degradation and humility to get there. Abusive, punishing, long hours; obsequious ego massaging; soul-destroying sacrifices – and for some, leg spreading humility on a casting couch. The price of fame. The price of brushing alongside celebrity. Do you think they are going to throw all that away to make a point? Do you think that kind of person is going to make an ethical or moral stand for anyone else when they won’t even do it for themselves? The recent Jimmy Savile scandal would indicate that people would even turn a blind eye to paedophilia to avoid a confrontation that could jeopardise their career in showbiz. Yet so many of us would take the word and opinions of these people, who have compromised so much of themselves to get where they are, as gospel.

There isn’t the space here to cover all the alternative perspectives on popular world issues, but just as an example, the news is full of the ‘banking crisis’ and the global economic collapse, but you don’t see much in the Western press about how Iceland dealt with their errant bankers – they jailed them and convicted their ex-Prime Minister for his criminally negligent implication. There is a slew of evidence supporting the existence of UFO’s, mountains of evidence to support conspiracy theories surrounding the 9/11 attacks, yet none of these viewpoints receive any credible media coverage. The amount of evidence supporting corruption amongst politicians and corporations over the years beggars belief. In the UK we have the Leveson Inquiry investigating the exposed relationship between politics and media. In Italy they simply have Berlusconi, a shop window for the corrupt collusion between politics, business and the media. So we know that truth and opinion through the looking glass of the media is tainted, so why don’t we turn off, tune in and drop out?

Perhaps it’s the need to feel a sense of belonging that so many of us don’t have the courage to embrace and express our own intuitive self-beliefs. Perhaps it’s a lack of confidence, or maybe it’s just utter spineless, weak minded cowardice. Whatever it is, I really wish that when I was around people that they would show me who they really are. Whilst I wouldn’t condone discrimination against race, religion or creed, I would just as strongly condemn discrimination against expression of opinion. I want you to say your piece, justify it, explain it, and I’ll do the same in the hope that we can find common ground, better mutual understanding, or simply agree to disagree. And if yours isn’t the ‘popular opinion’, I don’t want you simply to be vilified to the point where you harbour secret, hidden thoughts and ideas but walk amongst us anyway. I want you to feel free enough to not like the way I look, or pray, or the way they’re gay, or the sport she plays or the things he says – but I want to know you feel that way. And as long as it doesn’t lead you to hate, we can debate. We don’t have to be friends, but at least in our understanding of our differences we will relate.

Related:
http://teepee12.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/did-you-sell-your-freedom/#comment-6041

http://truthandshadows.wordpress.com/

The Large Print Giveth, But The Small Print Taketh Away.

I like words. Some would say that I just like the sound of my own voice, but I actually think I’ve got a horrible, nasal-sounding voice and most foreigners upon hearing me speak think that I come from Liverpool. But Canadians seem to love my voice though, so it’s not all bad. What I like about words is the wonderful way that, when woven together well, they can inspire, delight, inform and ignite inert passions.

Apart from occasionally having to refuse to apologise to people with a low IQ for using ’big words’, I enjoy my knowledge of words and understanding of language. However, as much as I like words and dislike the sound of my own voice, what I hate even more than when American’s bastardise (ize?) the English language then force it onto our spell checkers, is the deliberate redefining of meaning that professional liars and cheats use to completely bamboozle people.

Sometimes linguistic bamboozling happens semi-accidentally, like in football when ‘cheating’ is replaced by the term ‘simulation’, or ‘playing for it’ when pundits don’t want to offend any of their fellow professionals, so skirt around the issue that a six foot tall professional athlete dived like a little bitch even though he was hardly touched. Then there are those harmless ones which are open to interpretation, such as a ‘live’ TV recording, which isn’t exactly live as it happens because there is a delay, but it was live when it was recorded – much like the CGI scenes in Transformers or The Avengers… WHICH MEANS IT ISN’T LIVE IS IT!

I used to work with some of the least fortunate members of society, which means that a lot of them were what you could call a ‘bit thick’. Professionally we would say they have ‘ADHD’, ‘dyslexia’ or even just ‘learning difficulties’; we may even say that they have ‘issues’. But in private we used expressions like ‘that little fucking idiot’. This was really unfair in a lot of cases, because I’ve worked alongside some people who were ‘professional colleagues’ who had terms like ‘manager’, ‘executive’ and ‘officer’ attached to their working titles, and these people were well educated and particularly fortunate to be holding the position that they were in because they are what you would call ‘fucking stupid’; but that isn’t my point here. My point is the continual con of semantic trickery to which those with limited intelligence and/or weak vocabularies are subjected to on a daily basis – elderly people who’s minds aren’t that quick anymore; young people who didn’t pay attention in school; young people who did pay attention in school but went to a shit school; people who volunteer to go on The Jeremy Kyle Show’, ‘Big Brother’ and ‘Snog, Marry Avoid’; most professional footballers and people who do art degrees. But in honesty, we all suffer from this legally binding linguistic skulduggery.

Language mutates and evolves all the time, and this is normal, but it’s the deliberate sophistry and obfuscation that is used by politicians, ‘spin-doctors’, and particularly within corporate terms and conditions to which we legally bind ourselves by way of contractual agreement, which I utterly despise. Insurance companies are amongst the worst culprits of this semantic trickery. They’ll try anything to get out of paying up; this after all of their advertising painting a picture of them as the patron saints of payouts. I’ve had my fair share of wrangling with insurance companies and they are robbing bastards. They call it ‘the small print’, but it wouldn’t be small if they weren’t hiding it. The legal people call it ‘Legalese’; well how the fuck can it be legal and binding if it’s in Legalese and not the plain English you signed up for (twats). They blame the annual rise in premiums on bogus claims, but in reality the basis of their whole industry is a con.

“Hi there, can I interest you in my lies?”

You insure yourself against accidents, yet when you have an accident your insurance premium goes up. Ok, that’s the annual gamble you sign up for, and for the most part the insurance company takes your stake. The principal is that those thousands of unclaimed stakes that accumulate go into a big investment pot that is used to pay for those accidents when they do happen. But if I pay to have my no claims bonus protected, I am by the laws of the English language paying a fee in order to have my no claims bonus protected, right? Well apparently not. Apparently the words ‘no claims bonus protected’ don’t actually mean that once they’ve passed through the semantic meat grinder of the insurance industry.

Apparently ‘no claims bonus’ is actually a single ‘term’. It is like an apple, or a pair of jeans or a pet dog – ‘no claims bonus’ is an entity separate from the individual components or even the sum parts of what the words actually mean. The ‘terms’ – ‘no claims bonus’ and ‘no claims bonus protection’ – are additional ‘products’ you buy with your policy apparently. A ‘no claims bonus’ reduces the cost of your policy, however if you do make a claim then the value that this product takes off your policy renewal price is reduced. What your ‘no claims bonus protection’ does is reduce the amount that the ‘no claims bonus’ reduction is reduced by in the event of the claim… sorry if you are choking on your tongue or have suddenly got a headache. Suffice to say that this is utterly misleading bullshit.

When a lady from an insurance company spun this linguistic yarn I said; “You’re a lying little fucking c**t.”

The lady replied; “Sir I’m not going to tolerate that language and if you continue to be abusive I am going to terminate this call.” Taking her literally I asked.
“Are you the Arnie version from the 80’s or that 1990’s liquid metal version from T2?”
She replied, “Sir, I will end this call if you continue to use offensive language”
I asked; “What do you mean? I simply said that I was very grateful for your help and I hope you have a pleasant evening…” She interrupted before I finished.
“No you didn’t, you… you… you know what you said.”
“What did I say?” I asked
“I’m not going to repeat it.” She replied.
I said “Well I think that we must have a problem with interpretation here because when I say ‘you’re a lying little fucking c**t’ I actually mean ‘thanks for your help and I hope you have a pleasant evening” [a long pause] “Hello. Hello…”
The line was dead – or should I say ‘terminated’.

If a no claims bonus is a product, then call it something like ‘A Reducer’, or a ‘Claim Killer’ or ‘Alan’ – don’t call it a ‘no claims bonus’ because people will naturally think that you have received a bonus by way of a discount for not claiming on your insurance. Furthermore, if you have paid to have your no claims bonus protected but in reality have only paid for a product called ‘no claims protection’, then call that product something different, like ‘Super Bonus Protectorizer’ or ‘Cararmourerer’.

I had a motor insurance policy with Tesco and was unfortunate enough to crash into the back of a very expensive Aston Martin. Unlucky, but that’s the gamble the insurers take, right? Wrong; the bastards sent out an investigator then fabricated a story implicating me in some kind of scam with the driver of the Aston Martin. They didn’t even tell me that they were abandoning my claim, I only found this out when the court papers started coming directly to me with my name as the defendant.  Fortunately I’m a fairly intelligent individual and I had flexibility in my working hours, so I managed to evade a claim in excess of £28k and Tesco Insurance ultimately withdrew their withdrawal of my cover and had to pay out to the Aston Martin driver. I received a cheque of £150 for my trouble and decided from that point to tread very carefully with those tricky bastards in the finance industry. It’s a pity the government didn’t!

The moral of this blog is twofold: 1) Insurers and people in the finance industry are not to be trusted 2) Learn to understand your own language so you can recognise when it’s being used to fuck you.

Have a nice day.