Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Paperback Writer

After a couple of years hammering on about the influence of Rupert Murdoch's News International it has now officially spilled out onto every ones doorstep. You literally cannot go a day without hearing about the latest skeleton to fall out of the 'Hackgate' closet.

As a child I remember my father telling me stories of how various news outlets changed their allegiance depending on which way the wind was blowing and as I grew it gradually became clearer what he meant. Now as I look back it seems even more obvious. Successive Governments came and went but a certain someone was never too far away.  Rupert Murdoch.

Murdoch's links to the New Labour Government have been well documented and for all the efforts of the latest Labour Leader, Ed Milliband, to hustle and unsettle David Cameron over his relationship with Rebecca Brooks and the appointment of Andy Coulson, it should not go unnoticed that he too has cosied up to Murdoch Senior and it is reported that he too recruited a former News International employee, Tom Baldwin, as his director of Strategy and Communications.

People in glass houses springs to mind.

I remember as a child the Lib Dems taking a pasting at the hands of The Sun, John Major had his turn getting bashed too, leading us to Tony Blair where it was difficult to see where he ended and Rupert Murdoch began. The cosy relationship these two power hungry moguls shared only briefly took a dip on Blair's obsession with Europe and the Euro, resulting in the Euro referendum which Blair did unwilling allow the public to have allegedly to appease Murdoch.

The media frenzy whipped up prior to the invasion and occupation of Iraq is today a great example for the majority of the country of the power and influence of Murdoch's news empire, any one who has seen John Pilger's 'The War You Didn't See', I am sure would agree.  If you have not then I suggest you do. It will make you look at the British Press in a totally different light.  The documentary highlights the inept way the WMD scandal was dealt with and investigated (or not as the case turned out to be) and the duty that our media has to report, not repeat, these stories to and for us and where mistakes have been made.

The current hacking scandal engulfing Rupert Murdoch and his news empire at the moment has given rise to a couple of new documentaries, one on BBC 1 by Panorama called 'Breaking the Spell' and another on Channel 4 by Dispatches called 'How Murdoch Ran Britain'.  Both highly entertaining but for some of us not exactly breaking news, the speed of which they have been put together has been particularly interesting, with footage from the most recent enquiries appearing.
One thing I would like to know, or ask, is why has it taken until now for these documentaries to air on television?

People have got to start asking more questions of the world around them.

There will be of course a percentage of people that do not care because to them it is "just politics", there will be those that think it is important but that there are more important things going on in the world such as the American debt default crisis which is going relatively unnoticed and since I started writing this there was the tragic incident in Norway. As a student of history however, the power of propaganda and the effect the news can have in manipulating the population is of great importance.

Some people form all their opinions based solely on what they read in a daily rag, let us hope it does not include these readers.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

The Myth Lives On?

Back in 2006 it became apparent to me that water was becoming a big business. People walking around with bottles in their hands, afraid they were going to dry up if they went more than an hour without a contribution towards their 2 litres a day and prior to 2006 I was one of them.  For the past few years I have been trying to inform people that the bottle water industry has been in fact a big con.  There have been numerous documentaries about the subject, such as 'Water Wars, Blue Gold' and 'Tapped' and I have blogged about it here back in March also (

It's all a myth
Imagine my surprise last week then when I happened across an article in a Rupert Murdoch newspaper that outed the eight glasses, or 2 litres of water a day, advice for people as a myth perpetuated by healthy living tips, probably reinforced by certain health and fitness or beauty magazines.  
I just hope they have not bribed anyone to provide this information.
Schools even have been convincing kids to bring a water bottle to school with them to stay hydrated throughout the day. As I have stated before drinking water is good for you but the water you consume comes from everything you eat and drink, not just your bottle of Evian.

Whether this change in attitude towards the consumption of water has anything to do with the droughts that the mainstream media has been highlighting in Somalia and more locally in Britain remains to be seen but we can but live in hope that the public will soon refrain from paying more for a bottle of water than a litre of petrol.

Friday, 8 July 2011

The Economy, Like A Fashion Trend

There has been a lot of talk over the last couple of years regarding the recession, who's to blame and how to get out of the rut. Whilst the newspapers and repeaters flap about a potential double dip, what Kate wore for her wedding or what happened in the latest episode of some nonsense such as 'Only way is Essex' no one seems to be talking about the on going currency wars or the up coming trade wars.

The past few years have seen a rise in the price of goods across the entire spectrum, from the barrel of oil in the docks of Libya, to the food on our shelves. The underlying factors behind this have not been fully explained by economic 'specialists' or should I say not explained in a way that everyday people would necessarily understand, which is wrong, or not linked in a way to show true links and trends.

Economics, finance and all these other important issues are reported in a way that turn people off UNLESS they have a vested interest through business or their specific trades. I am sure the majority of you remember maths, business and other associated topics with a less than fond memory, potentially boring and generally something that you "would not need in later life".

In reality this could not be further from the truth.

The true reason for these increased prices cannot really be linked to a single event, remember globalisation is a fact, as I wrote about in February 2011 as a reaction to events going on around the world currently.

Today are all connected in an unprecedented way.

Events such as the extreme weather systems in Australia that lead to huge cyclones, wiping out not only entire crops but homes and towns also, this added to the crop fires in Russia, both equated to a drop in crop harvested for export resulting in an increase in crop prices as demand starts to outstrip supply. Do I need to remind you of the E.coli outbreak in Europe this year that left Spain (and later) Egypt carrying the can whilst in the midst of economic and political turmoil?

Where does the cucumber, strawberry, broccoli or pepper in your basket come from?

The supply chain has obviously been affected by the spiked increase in the price of oil which recently led to America releasing 30 million barrels of its emergency reserve oil into the supply chain (along with a consortium of other nations that released a combined total of 30 million barrels to help drive down the price) making a total of 60 million barrels in total. As this news was released I am sure I saw the price of petrol drop 3 pence whilst I waited my turn to fill up.

It's like quantative easing with black gold.

When all these things are put together and looked at in context it becomes easy to see that there is not one single reason why the majority of the world is struggling. It is a combination of all these events, major and minor.

More recently the BBC broke the news that a bank is leading the way in returning call centres back to the UK following complaints from customers;

If any one truly believes this is due to satisfying customer satisfaction then I would be surprised. This is hot on the heels of major fashion retailers, such as Christian Louibouton, bringing home their operations from the far east.

All these events are part and parcel of trade wars, the currency war is being lost by the US as the dollar is in steep decline, and the world in it's trade dependency between each nation, now competes on a viscous scale as the financial crisis tightens it's grip.

The rise of the Chinese raises a potential threat to the established 'super power' that is America as it continues to buy land and horde rare Earth minerals. The Chinese Government continue to seek to strengthen it's position in Europe by offering to assist in the Eurozone bail out. This could potentially put the relationship between Europe and America under strain if the economic 'specialists' try to inform us that the only way out of the crisis is to all join a global currency as both the Chinese and the Russians have both categorically said "no" to a world currency.
I imagine we will be offered a referendum but unfortunately the majority of us will not be informed enough to make a decision that will not have been already spelt out to us.

With the trade wars under way and the people around the world rising up against oppression and the standard of living I wait to see the outcome.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

I Love London

When did the 'actors' become so pompous and arrogant? I do not know but when you thank god it's the weekend, with a good group of friends and a trip in to London for some pimms and tennis with a dash of London Dungeon, the last thing you want is an 'actor' to ruin it.

Running a few fashionably late minutes, my friends and I bought a group saver ticket and happened to stumble on to an East Midlands train just in 'time' saving a whole bundle of Earth minutes because it was the flyer straight through to St Pancras. A few spare seats and a distinct lack of human interaction as people sat with their head phones plugged in was nothing unusual for seasoned train goers such as ourselves. The end to this journey though I do not think any of us were prepared for.

After exiting the train we 'bopped' toward the turnstile, acting "bad" reminiscent of Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder from 'Stir Crazy' only to have our tickets rebuffed. Seeking assistance we headed toward a ticket inspector only for him to tell us our tickets were "not valid for East Midlands trains". Having sat in 30 degree heat on a crowded train I was not in the mood to be messed about.

The man stood rather smug explaining we had effectively had a free ride on their East Midlands train and that First Capital connect machines do not give them a penny in revenue.  My friends began to argue the point with him but his attitude was one of arrogance.  This set me off but before I could get into full flow my friends rained me in hoping their charm would win the man over.

It soon became apparent that this would not be the case.

Round and round in circles we went, the words from the lady the previous day still ringing in my head "time is money" and by now I was ready to explode and wished I had my megaphone because he just was not listening.  He summoned his supervisor who was even more inept than the individual we had been dealing with originally.  He knew less than his colleague and went around in even smaller circles explaining we had had a free ride.  Apparently it was our fault for not reading leaflets around the station as to our rights as a consumer.  At what point, when ordering from a machine, did the average consumer have to start hunting around for leaflets at a train station to ensure they could use the ticket for the train they were boarding?  We were then told to take the next train back to our point of origin and travel back down on the ticket.

Our entire day was about to be ruined.  Dinner and a show, booked and missed because two different actors did not know enough about their own services to let us through their turn style.  Anyone would have thought it was their train and the money was coming out of their pockets.  Thank you Margaret Thatcher for privatisation. Capitalism is the driving force for innovation and quality services they say.  That depends on what side of the barrier you are sat on I guess.

So back on the train we got.  I had a mini freak out and decided "in for a penny, in for a pound" and considered jumping the barrier and taking my chances against the overweight kid patrolling the line. If my most recent experiences with the police have taught me nothing else they have taught me that the average cop does not have a chance against the average crook unless they have a dog.  But then the doors shut and we were away.

West Hampstead, one stop back, was our chance to turn around and try slipping past.  The train pulled up and I decided to sit in First Class,  somebody told me I could not sit there but the entire carriage was empty and people were cramming into the adjacent carriage, conforming because society told them too.  At the next stop a few people climbed on and I told them they could not sit here because it was First Class so they went to move on to the full carriage.

It is unbelievable to see how well people respond to even a little authority.

I told the people to sit down, it was a happy carriage of non conformists and that they were more than welcome to join us.  We would ride our chariot back into St Pancras in style together.  They stayed and we had a giggle. Not an ipod in sight, nor fear of swine flu (or some other disease the Government told us we could catch off of someone just by looking at them) and certainly no sign of E.Coli.

Once we docked at St Pancras my little group again bopped like Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder, this time even 'badder' than before.  I felt a little like Leonardo DiCaprio arriving at the airport at the end of Inception as I showed my ticket and strolled on through the gate.
We had a great day in London, making it on time to all our planned events, but at the back of my mind I knew when we got back home we would be all over that station looking for these so called signs of our contractual agreement.

As we had suspected, and argued against the actors in London, there were no signs.  We took step by step pictures of the ticket machine and one of the group with a degree in Law made a typically 'British' phone call the next day to both First Capital Connect and East Midlands trains to complain.  Unsurprisingly they told us we were correct and that their staff were wrong.

Another fine example of the great British service industry.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Conflicting Interests

Two different stories on separate days, one highlighting China's commitment to investing in resources used in the construction of everyday things, such as your iPhone, through to military weapons.  The other showing Obama's commitment to creating jobs through industries that rely heavily on these very resources to manufacture them.  The two so called 'super powers' start to compete in the beginning of trade wars.

The third link is to a news feature on China's economic growth but showing the stark reality facing its people with 'super cities' and malls being created with no one living or operating in them, all to perpetuate their economic boom and consolidate their new status as a 'super power'.  The sight of families having to share apartments, when there are hundreds of empty flats that they will never be able to afford, on their slave wage are sobering thoughts as we the 'rent generation' are also suffering at the hands of inflated house prices and relative slave wages.