- Moving on up?
- BAE bungs
- Feudal blues
- Siberian blues
- Viva, left of centre politicians!
Moving on up?
Residents of Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest have been promised that should London's bid to host the 2012 Olympics goes ahead, their boroughs will benefit from 'the most significant urban and environmental regeneration ever seen in London'.
However, many of them won't be around to see it. That's because Ken Livingstone's London Development Agency (LDA) are threatening residents of the proposed Olympic site with Compulsory Purchase Orders if they don't agree to sell their homes and businesses, and relocate to make way for the developers!
Of course the Olympics will be a big boost to the construction industry - for firms like Amec, the UK construction firm that has done best in the battle for business in Iraq.
Amec, together with its US partners Fluor, have got themselves $500 million to repair the Iraqi electric grid. Amec likes to build big: pipelines through a Georgian national park, a toll motorway through the West Midlands green belt. They are also a massive beneficiary of New Labour's PPP scheme.
Chief Executive of Amec, Sir Peter Mason (knighted for building crap hospitals), also happens to be a director of BAE Systems. BAE Systems is currently being investigated by the police for £60 million in undeclared backhanders to prominent Saudis including £17 million in benefits and cash to the man in charge of Saudi arms purchases, Prince Turki bin Nasser.
Bin Nasser was well provided for: Rolls Royces, summer and winter holidays for all the family (and the servants). The alleged payments are said to have continued past February 2002, when it became illegal under UK law to pay foreign officials.
The Saudi embassy said: "The kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not condone corrupt practice of any kind."
But Saudi officials have good reasons for taking hard drugs. All is not well in the Kingdom. Some estimates put unemployment as high as 30 per cent - this in a country where the power of the oligarchy has rested on its ability to provide employment for its citizens (though not its Shi'ite minority) through income from oil.
World crude oil prices are currently running at a record high which cannot last forever. Any fall in oil prices will intensify the opposition movement, both the moderate loyally Royalist opposition and the Islamist opposition which regards Saudi's ultra-harsh Islamic regime as not Islamic enough!
More trouble for oil and gas giant Shell, which was relying on its project to build a gas pipeline through Eastern Siberia to boost its ailing business.
The $12 billion dollar project is going to cost more as the company admits the pipeline needs to be more deeply sunk and investors are threatening to pull out. Environmentalists also say that the project will kill off the almost extinct Asian grey whale.
Viva, left of centre politicians!
We thought the British Trotskyist group Socialist Appeal were almost extinct. But they came out on May Day, holding a meeting where Alan Woods talked about his visit to Venezuela. Below, Alan is pictured with Hugo Chavez himself.
Socialist Appeal are campaigning against US-backed military intervention against Chavez's government. And good for them.
However, the group also prides itself on 'having the ear' of Chavez, suggesting that if he follows their advice the 'revolutionary process' will 'deepen' into socialism.
Since 1998 Chavez has rewritten the constitution, giving new rights to indigenous peoples, helped jack up the world oil price and built new schools. But Chavez's project is to utilise the revenue raised from oil to finance state capitalist development. That is to say, he is a particular type of Latin American bourgeois politician, more radical than Peron in Argentina, but not as radical as Allende in Chile.