Saturday, 25 March 2017

Scandal in background of Comic Relief

 An article from The Canary highlighting the hidden scandal that causes the need for Comic Relief.  We are asked to help and we do so with many making huge efforts which is brilliant.  The reason we need to help is very well presented, the cause of it is not.  It should be.
 The article.....

No one wants to talk about the scandal dogging Comic Relief, but it has to be done

No one wants to discuss the scandal dogging Comic Relief, but it has to be done. As Labour MP David Lammy writes in The Guardian on 24 March:
A 5% rise in developing countries’ share of world exports would generate $350bn – seven times as much as they receive in aid
He adds that:
profit-shifting by multinational companies costs developing nations $100bn a year that they could spend on education, infrastructure and public services.
Instead of treating developing countries as charity cases, Lammy argues that we could solve the problem structurally.
Profit-shifting or ‘transfer pricing’ is trade between two financial entities that are part of the same multinational group. Corporations then manipulate internal payments in order to avoid paying tax. This exploitation is rife from Western multinationals in Africa.
The MP for Tottenham advocates allowing local companies and public bodies to gain control of their own resources:
we silently acquiesce to global corporations’ asset-stripping of poorer nations.


Historical context will unfortunately be absent from Comic Relief. Colonialism saw the West plunder and enslave Latin America, Asia and Africa. This global system of subjugation and wealth extraction was a driving force of Western development.
Today, the wealth largely accumulated through colonialism perpetuates such practices. Africa loses an estimated £40bn a year in illegal outflows and price manipulation.
But neo-colonialism goes beyond this. John Perkins, a former renowned member of the international banking community, told Democracy Now:
Basically what we were trained to do and what our job is to do is to build up the American empire. To bring – to create situations where as many resources as possible flow into this country, to our corporations, and our government, and in fact we’ve been very successful. We’ve built the largest empire in the history of the world. It’s been done over the last 50 years since World War II with very little military might, actually. It’s only in rare instances like Iraq where the military comes in as a last resort.
According to Perkins, world leaders that do not accept Western ‘free market’ capitalism, loans from the World Bank, and privatised infrastructure are all subject to military force. They must sell off their economies to Western corporations or face the “jackals” (CIA-sanctioned armed opposition), as Perkins says. Failing that, the US military goes in.
But we do not have to rely on Perkins. A parliamentary report on the 2011 military intervention in Libya, released in September 2016, shows that a desire for Libyan oil was one of the main motives. The inquiry found that humanitarianism was merely a pretext for invasion. And The Canary‘s Steve Topple has noted that the conflict in Syria today is largely a battle for natural resources between Russia and the West.

“He who feeds you, controls you”

Without such military and economic behaviour from the world’s most powerful people, developing nations could flourish.
Of course, aid can help within the present context. But some Africans remain opposed. As pan-African Marxist Thomas Sankara once said:
He who feeds you, controls you.
From 1983, Sankara was President of Burkina Faso. The Guardian‘s David Smith wrote:
During his four-year rule, school attendance leaped from 6% to 22%, some 2.5 million children were vaccinated and thousands of health centres opened. Housing, road and railway building projects got under way and 10 million trees were planted.
Sankara opposed foreign aid, along with the financial assistance of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. And by the end of his four-year premiership, Burkina Faso was “practically self-sufficient in its demand for basic foodstuffs”, wrote Peter Dorrie for Think Africa Press. Sankara was assassinated on 15 October, 1987.
If Western corporations stopped administering predatory loans to developing countries, privatising their infrastructure, and avoiding tax in the process, they wouldn’t need our aid. At present, corporations are impoverishing developing nations for profit. Then, the corporations issue a portion back as ‘charity’. The procedure obscures any talk of institutional inequality with an atmosphere of gratitude. Charity helps to frame society so that developing countries are indebted and the rich aren’t, even though the latter actually depend on working people for their privilege.
Meanwhile, the working Western public picks up the rest of the pieces through donation drives. Lammy is right to emphasise the structural problems; because they are what we need to fix in order to achieve lasting relief.

Monday, 20 February 2017

The Bangkok, Penang, Kuala Lumpur Diaries

November 2016
Bangkok, Penang, Kuala Lumpur

It's been 10 years since we first visited Bangkok.  It was our first experience of Asia in 2006 when we did a few days each in Hong Kong and Bangkok and then a week in Koh Samui.  After our first night I think I described it in my travel diary something like "a mad, brain melting, surreal experience".  It was a culture shock at first but one that I liked, the way of life seemed so fascinatingly weird at first but on subsequent trips to similar regions all those sights that were really really weird become more normalised. I never quite recaptured the wonderment of that first clash against my comfort zone but on the upside I think we've become more travel wise, knowing what to expect can help you get more from the overall experience.
Anyway, Bangkok.  10 years have passed and we're staying in a different area than last time with a completely different list of activities we want to try and do so I'm expecting it to seem like we're visiting somewhere completely new.....

31st October 2016
Arrived in BANGKOK

Got to Hotel Trang at night, a bit travel knackered but in need of food so dropped our bags and went straight out to get food and a quick drink.  The well known backpacker tourist area around Khao San Road is ram packed full of bars, food stalls, neon signs and busy full of tourists from all over the world and of all different ages.  Bangkok doesn't attract a particular type of person, it seems to appeal to everyone and have them all mingle together.  Back to the hotel to crash out and start proper in the morning.....
Things I noticed today;
*An array of deep fried insects on 'food' stalls down Khao San Road.  Scorpions, cockroaches, grubs, crickets and so on.  Shame I'm veggie eh?
*Paid too much for the taxi from the airport despite being determined not to get ripped off before we arrived.  they're good at it and they know we're too polite and tired when we first arrive.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Theresa May

Theresa May, the Prime Minister of Great Britain visiting a school yesterday.  The photographs here do not require any further comments or captions.

Saturday, 21 January 2017


 Friday 20th Jan 2017.  Clun.
Before today I'd never heard of a place called Clun.  South Shropshire somewhere.  It does exist.
When out and about exploring the countryside I like woods, hills, valleys and old ruined buildings, or even better ruined castles.  Trudging through farmers fields is pretty boring, so as natural and wild as possible is best.  Clun has several of those things, so pretty good for a 9 mile walk.....