Grangemouth and the EU/WTO

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Grangemouth and the EU/WTO

By Syzygysue

Also published here  on Politics and Parasites

The dispute at Grangemouth is the old trick of provoking industrial action – then holding the workforce to ransom by threatening their jobs unless they agree to the draconian changes in their employment packages that the bosses wanted all along.  It’s exactly what Margaret Thatcher did to the Miners, and it is what Ratcliffe, a private Hedge Fund owner, has done to his employees.

But it is not just those who were threatened with job loss, Ratcliffe was also holding the UK and Scottish governments to ransom.  70% of Scotland’s fuel is processed at Grangemouth, and represents 8% of Scotland’s manufacturing capacity or 2% of its GDP.

Isn’t about time, the politicians turned the tables and called a halt to these blackmailing tactics by private energy providers?

For example, Ed Miliband’s announcement at LP conference which identified the public anxiety and anger about energy prices, has been met by the energy providers increasing their bills by 10%, in spite of OVO reports that wholesale prices have not increased.

The energy companies’ action is nothing short of a provocative Vs-up to the public and politicians.

Cameron et al have nowhere to go because they are caught between the public anger and their ideological commitment to the corporates.  Meanwhile, Ed Miliband’s proposal to freeze prices for 20 months is criticized as not being able to prevent price hikes both before and after (as indeed, the current show of strength on the part of the energy companies is intended to demonstrate).

Too rarely reported, however, is Labour’s intention to regulate the wholesale energy market by pooling electricity prior to its being sold on to the energy companies.

But why on earth go to all that bother?

We’ve already seen the energy providers disregard for the public good; their indifference to increasing the numbers of cold-related deaths this winter, and people forced to choose between eating and heating.

How much further do the energy companies have to go, in clearly demonstrating that the UK needs to be able to control supply and energy prices on behalf of its people, the economy and the environment?

The political-bullying alone, is reason enough to curb the energy companies power by taking them into public ownership asap.

But on top of that, climate change and transforming energy provision away from fossil fuels will never be achieved through the markets.

… the project of sustainable capitalism was misconceived and doomed from the start because maximizing profit and saving the planet are inherently in conflict and cannot be systematically aligned even if, here and there, they might coincide for a moment. That’s because under capitalism, CEOs and corporate boards are not responsible to society, they’re responsible to private shareholders. CEOs can embrace environmentalism so long as this increases profits. But saving the world requires that the pursuit of profits be systematically subordinated to ecological concerns…

http://www.paecon.net/PAEReview/issue56/Smith56.pdf

Profits depend on increasing sales and prices not on reducing energy consumption and supporting cheaper renewable energy.  The first duty of a private company is to maximize the return to its shareholders.

However, taking the refinery into public ownership is not so easy given the EU/WTO legislation, negotiated and signed in secret by the EU Commission and Council of Ministers… and the UK government will be even further constrained by the US-EU FTA (Free Trade Agreement) currently being rushed through for 2014.

Once a country is locked into the GATS regime, the right of its government to regulate liberalized service sectors is diminished, paving the way for foreign transnationals to enter the domestic market. Any attempt to reverse the situation would be subject to WTO disciplines and penalties.

The same holds true for Royal Mail and the NHS.  As an unelected Corporate Tribunal, the WTO has the power to overturn UK sovereignty on employment and environmental protection legislation, and many other decisions.

Unravelling the spin: a guide to corporate rights in the EU-US trade deal

But as Michael Meacher writes:

… this disaster reveals the desperate need for a proper industrial strategy to safeguard and steadily enhance the nation’s manufacturing capacity.   This dispute reveals the appalling consequences which flow from unconditional belief in private markets and the need for a strong supportive State role as exists in all successful economies today.

So how can we take back our public services and utilities into democratic ownership?

We are never going to dismantle this free trade regime with negotiation tactics… if we want to defeat the free trade regime or an institution like the WTO we need to build a new balance of forces led by social movements.

Essentially we need to organise/support a united anti-capitalist Battle-for-Seattle-on-Thames  and reject the ever-increasing stranglehold of liberalisation, financialisation and the Washington Consensus.  After all, none of us were even told about this, let alone voted for it.  We certainly are already in the post-democratic era.

The Koch Brothers’ Amazing Climate Change Denial

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Climate Change, Propaganda  and the Koch Brothers.

What can we believe? Our own eyes? The press?  Much has been said and written about the power of the media, and the rich whose tool it is to achieve their ends. Furthermore the very rich corporations are welcome lobbyists, welcomed to political conferences. They fund think-tanks and ensure their ‘truth’ is perceived as fact, even when scientific evidence proves otherwise. Perhaps the most dangerous example is that of the growing denial of climate change resulting from human activity.

This short animation details the effort of billionaires oil barons Charles & David Koch to undermine belief in climate change and prevent legislation that threatens their profits. By pouring money into bogus scientific studies and funding third parties such as Think Tanks and Front Groups (posing as everything from Seniors groups to Women’s groups) the public is led to believe a genuine scientific debate is raging. In truth, as one climate denier candidly admits, those doubting the science are just a small, if brilliantly coordinated, minority.

The piece was made by Australian filmmaker Taki Oldham and incorporates footage from his 55 min. documentary The Billionaires’ Tea Party (2011).

Big thanks to the visual effects team at Hungry Beast  as well to the team at Greenpeace for their great research on the Koch Brothers

Welcome to the 21st Century – The Crisis of Civilization

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Nafeez Ahmed’s 2011 “Crisis of civilization” film  (80 minutes) brings together the emerging economical, political and environmental trends that are likely to shape our common future over the next few decades.  The main thrust of Nafeez Ahmed’s argument is that energy, environment, economic instability, food production, international militarisation, and terrorism cannot be viewed as separate issues.  They are implicitly interlinked and codependent.  An approach which provides the global context, demonstrated by David Malone’s illuminating analysis of the different interests behind the Syria conflict (see links listed below).

Ultimately, the global situation cannot be sustained using the current neoliberal model and we need a radically different approach.

Richard Heinberg of the Post Carbon Institute said of the film, “a really fantastic overview of the global situation. I don’t think I’ve seen a more comprehensive ‘welcome to the 21st century’.”

The Crisis of Civilization – Full Length Documentary Movie HD

Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed is Executive Director of the Institute for Policy Research and Development in London. He has taught international relations, contemporary history, empire and globalisation at the School of Global Studies, University of Sussex and the Politics & History Unit, Brunel University. His previous books include The War on Truth: Disinformation and the Anatomy of Terrorism (2005) and Behind the War on Terror: Western Secret Strategy and the Struggle for Iraq (2003).  This documentary is based on his book ‘A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilisation: And How to Save It’

Links on Syria:

http://www.golemxiv.co.uk/2013/09/syria-cui-bono/

http://www.golemxiv.co.uk/2013/09/syria-cui-bono-part-2-a-partial-analysis/

http://www.golemxiv.co.uk/2013/09/syria-cui-bono-part-three-europe-and-the-usa/

Podcast:

http://ccragg123.libsyn.com/it-s-all-gas-gas-gas-not-an-oil-pipedream-david-malone-on-syria

Fracking Crazy

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FRACKING CRAZY
From Suzanne Kelsey
They are going to bring a gigantic drill
Down your quiet sleepy country lane
Cause a lot of upheaval and disruption
That could easily drive you all insane
They are going to do some fracking
Pump toxic chemicals to break up shale
With irreversible damage to the earth
And your beautiful hill and vale
They are going to shake the earth’s foundations
Make great cracks for goodness sake
Scaring you, your family and neighbours
By creating a frightening earth quake
They are going to pump in toxic chemicals
And make gallons of contaminated waste water
That could get into your domestic supply
And possibly harm your son or daughter
They are going to light naked flames of methane
This they most definitely cannot hide
For they will be many metres high
And dotted around the countryside
They are going to ignore renewable energy
That could make good use of wind and solar power
Instead create another greenhouse effect
Climate change happening each and every hour
They are going to cause environmental hazards
Releasing a harmful volatile compound
In the polluted air above you
And acid rain falling upon the ground
They are going to cause distress
Anger. opposition and fear
As they press on with this fracking boom
Large swathes of rural areas will simply disappear
They are going to think only about wealth not health
Because they know the price of everything
Sadly no one sees the hidden costs
They know the value of absolutely nothing.
© Suzi@frackingcrazy.org