Labour defends Miliband’s cuts rally role and condemns ‘hooligan’ minority

Hooligan minority?  But enough about the police.

From The Guardian UK:

Business secretary Vince Cable says huge turnout at TUC march will not knock government’s cuts strategy off course

James Meikle, Sunday 27 March 2011

Labour has defended Ed Miliband‘s part in Saturday’s peaceful TUC march and rally in London against government spending cuts, as the cleanup continued of symbols of wealth damaged by a minority of anarchists.

Senior opposition figures condemned the “unrepresentative hooligans” whose behaviour threatened to overshadow the protests of hundreds of thousands of others.

Michael Fallon, the deputy Conservative party chairman, accused Labour of “the laughable fiction” that it had “left the country some sort of golden economic legacy”. The business secretary, Vince Cable, told the BBC that the government was listening to the trade unions but would not change its strategy because of yesterday’s march.

More than 200 people were arrested and 84 people injured, including 31 police officers, as trouble flared in Oxford Street, Regent Street, Piccadily and Trafalgar Square, with banks, the Ritz hotel and the upmarket food store Fortnum and Mason among the targets.

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The Collapse of Globalization

From Truthdig:

By Chris Hedges
Mar 27, 2011

The uprisings in the Middle East, the unrest that is tearing apart nations such as the Ivory Coast, the bubbling discontent in Greece, Ireland and Britain and the labor disputes in states such as Wisconsin and Ohio presage the collapse of globalization. They presage a world where vital resources, including food and water, jobs and security, are becoming scarcer and harder to obtain. They presage growing misery for hundreds of millions of people who find themselves trapped in failed states, suffering escalating violence and crippling poverty. They presage increasingly draconian controls and force—take a look at what is being done to Pfc. Bradley Manning—used to protect the corporate elite who are orchestrating our demise.

We must embrace, and embrace rapidly, a radical new ethic of simplicity and rigorous protection of our ecosystem—especially the climate—or we will all be holding on to life by our fingertips. We must rebuild radical socialist movements that demand that the resources of the state and the nation provide for the welfare of all citizens and the heavy hand of state power be employed to prohibit the plunder by the corporate power elite. We must view the corporate capitalists who have seized control of our money, our food, our energy, our education, our press, our health care system and our governance as mortal enemies to be vanquished.

Adequate food, clean water and basic security are already beyond the reach of perhaps half the world’s population. Food prices have risen 61 percent globally since December 2008, according to the International Monetary Fund. The price of wheat has exploded, more than doubling in the last eight months to $8.56 a bushel. When half of your income is spent on food, as it is in countries such as Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia and the Ivory Coast, price increases of this magnitude bring with them malnutrition and starvation. Food prices in the United States have risen over the past three months at an annualized rate of 5 percent. There are some 40 million poor in the United States who devote 35 percent of their after-tax incomes to pay for food. As the cost of fossil fuel climbs, as climate change continues to disrupt agricultural production and as populations and unemployment swell, we will find ourselves convulsed in more global and domestic unrest. Food riots and political protests will be inevitable. But it will not necessarily mean more democracy.

The refusal by all of our liberal institutions, including the press, universities, labor and the Democratic Party, to challenge the utopian assumptions that the marketplace should determine human behavior permits corporations and investment firms to continue their assault, including speculating on commodities to drive up food prices. It permits coal, oil and natural gas corporations to stymie alternative energy and emit deadly levels of greenhouse gases. It permits agribusinesses to divert corn and soybeans to ethanol production and crush systems of local, sustainable agriculture. It permits the war industry to drain half of all state expenditures, generate trillions in deficits, and profit from conflicts in the Middle East we have no chance of winning. It permits corporations to evade the most basic controls and regulations to cement into place a global neo-feudalism. The last people who should be in charge of our food supply or our social and political life, not to mention the welfare of sick children, are corporate capitalists and Wall Street speculators. But none of this is going to change until we turn our backs on the Democratic Party, denounce the orthodoxies peddled in our universities and in the press by corporate apologists and construct our opposition to the corporate state from the ground up. It will not be easy. It will take time. And it will require us to accept the status of social and political pariahs, especially as the lunatic fringe of our political establishment steadily gains power. The corporate state has nothing to offer the left or the right but fear. It uses fear—fear of secular humanism or fear of Christian fascists—to turn the population into passive accomplices. As long as we remain afraid nothing will change.

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Indiana House Democrats halt GOP anti-union agenda

From Raw Story:

By Eric W. Dolan
Monday, March 28th, 2011

Indiana House Democrats who fled to Urbana, Illinois nearly six weeks ago in protest of Republican anti-union legislation will be returning to their state after successfully winning concessions.

“Today we can announce compromises that are great steps forward for working Hoosiers,” Indiana House Democratic Leader B. Patrick Bauer said Monday in a statement. “The principled stand by House Democrats forced concessions by the House Republicans that reflected the concerns expressed by so many people who came to the Statehouse in recent weeks.”

Republicans have agreed to take “right-to-work” legislation that would prohibit union-representation fees from being a condition of employment and a permanent ban on public employee bargaining off the table in the Indiana House. GOP state lawmakers also killed legislation for a private takeover of public schools and an outright ban of Project Labor Agreements.

“The compromise reached by the Party leaders in the House is a significant retreat from the radical right-wing agenda the Republicans sought to advance a month ago,” Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee Executive Director Michael Sargeant said. “House Democrats secured an important victory in their efforts to protect public education and workers’ rights.”

Bauer noted the compromises were not perfect, but were something Democrats could at least work with. “And we are headed back to Indianapolis to do just that,” he said.

Indiana House Democrats left the state on February 22 to protest the Republican legislation. The Indiana constitution requires two-thirds of the members of the House to be present to conduct business.

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The Truth Behind the Public Pensions’ Funding Gap

From In These Times:

By Jack Rasmus
Monday Mar 28, 2011

It’s not workers’ fault

State governors across the nation, led by newly elected right-wing Republicans (with several Democratic governors in tow), are whipping up anti-union sentiment by declaring that public workers and their unions are the cause of state budget deficits. They argue that various labor costs are driving up their deficits, and that the lead cause of those labor costs is overly generous increases public employee pension benefits.

But increases in public employee pension benefits are not the cause of the states’ budget crises. There are, indeed, serious pension funding gaps in many states’ public pension plans. But a close investigation of these gaps clearly shows that they do not exist because of states’ granting public employees exorbitant pension benefits.

The real reasons behind the pension funding gap are several. First, the current ‘jobless recovery’ since the 2007-09 recession has reduced contributions to pension fund balances. Current estimates are that it will take 84-96 months, or 7 to 8 years, for job creation to recover to 2007 levels. That means a projected larger pension gap.

But there’s an even greater reason why pension funds have ended up short of income today. It’s the practice of ‘contribution holidays’; that is, pension managers refusing to put the necessary contributions into the funds—a practice in the public sector that has been going on since the mid-1990s and even before that in the private sector.

Contribution holidays in turn were made possible by fund managers employing fraudulent actuarial assumptions about rates of return on fund investments and, secondly, by assuming they would hire large numbers of younger workers when, in fact, that hiring never occurred.

Both gimmicks allow a pension fund to appear adequately funded when in fact it isn’t. They permit fund managers to maintain that the pension has more income and fewer liabilities than it in fact actually has.

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Dutch bankers’ bonuses axed by people power

From The Guardian:

An online campaign has overturned ING’s executive pay policy, and the mood in Amsterdam is getting increasingly militant about bonuses at bailed-out banks

Richard Wachman in AmsterdamThe Observer,
Sunday 27 March 2011

Britain has a rival when it comes to bashing bankers. After a furious row over pay packages at Amsterdam-based ING in which thousands of customers threatened to make mass withdrawals, the Netherlands is now vying for the title of Europe‘s most bonus-hating country.

A growing Dutch political storm could end with a blanket ban on bonuses to financiers who work for institutions bailed out by the taxpayer.

ING customers mobilised on Twitter and other social networks to protest at bonuses paid to bosses at the bank, one of the biggest in the country. The threat of direct action raised the spectre of a partial run on ING, terrifying the Dutch establishment. Fred Polhout, union organiser at the bank, says: “People were outraged. We heard about the bloated sums being paid again in the City and in New York; but suddenly the issue exploded on our own front door.”

Compared with the packages awarded to bankers in the US and UK, the Dutch bonuses were small potatoes. Jan Hommen, ING’s chief executive, was due to receive a £1m bonus – a pittance when you consider that Stephen Hester, head of state-controlled RBS in the UK, is in line for up to £7.7m, Bob Diamond of Barclays is to collect as much as £6.5m, and some senior bankers at Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan are looking at windfalls of about £40m each.

“Perhaps we are so upset because we are a small country that prefers to set an example, rather than follow others,” suggests Polhout.

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France: Martine Aubry spurred by Socialist poll victory

From BBC:

28 March 2011

France’s opposition Socialists are celebrating a decisive local election victory against President Nicolas Sarkozy’s ruling centre-right UMP.

The Socialists took nearly 36% of votes, while the UMP mustered just 20% and the far-right National Front (FN) scored 12%.

The result was interpreted as a key step in the presidential ambitions of Socialist leader Martine Aubry.

Fifty Socialist MPs have now urged the party to back her for the presidency.

Ms Aubry told supporters: “Our determination is total to show that another France is possible.”

Although presidential elections are not due until 2012, Ms Aubry faces strong opposition to lead the Socialist campaign from current International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Khan as well as other candidates such as former party leader Francois Hollande.

‘Enormous surges’

In their letter, made public on Monday, the 50 MPs throw their weight behind the Socialist leader, arguing that she has the “legitimacy” and “responsibility” to unite “the Left, ecologists and popular forces” which they believe are necessary for election victory.

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Trans Murder Monitoring project update reveals more than 500 reported murders of trans people in the last 3 years

This is Reposted with permission

By Helen G.

Originally posted at:

Crossposted at:

The Trans Murder Monitoring (TMM) project has published its latest update regarding the numbers of recorded murders of trans people worldwide – and it makes depressing reading.

From the Trans Murder Monitoring project website:

In total, the preliminary results show 539 reports of murdered trans people in 42 countries since January 2008.

Although cases have been reported from all six major World Regions (Africa, Asia, Central and South America, Europe, North America, and Oceania), by far the largest number – 424 cases – are from Central and South America. This makes up 80% of the globally reported homicides of trans people since January 2008.

Globally, the number of trans people murdered continues to rise, as it has year-on-year since the TMM project began its work.

Trans Murder Monitoring (TMM) project map (2008-2010)

[Click image to enlarge]

For further information, see the Trans Murder Monitoring project website.


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