Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Times No 69460 - Strange Days?

I am not a reader of The Times, being more than a little averse to feeding the coffers of Rupert Murdoch. However, today I decided to have a look, tempted (oh the shame!) by a front page banner of a head of Karl Marx and the Words "The New Kapitalism" and underneath the main story of the day being "The Tories, the oligarch and a £50,000 question". Hence began a strange experience. It was most disconcerting, almost as if I had entered a parallel universe where the journalistic bastion of establishment solidity was suddenly all at sea, thrashing this way and that to get a handle on the changing times, yet still throwing out nuggets of disinformation and smears in the old fashioned way.

Not only has the paper gone big on the linked stories of newly ennobled Government Minister Lord Mandelson and Osborne and Feldman (of David Cameron's opposition Tories) hobnobbing with super-rich members of the global elite in Greece this summer, it has an impressive, industry sponsored pull out on renewable energy (demonstrating the financial clout that industry is beginning to amass); a crass article on the "return of Marx" followed by an odd (but revealing) selection of "Marxist" talking heads and several pieces on UFOs! You have entered the Twilight Zone!

The Corfu summer Brit-political shenanigans appears likely to become serious as there are counter allegations which basically mean someone is lying. After having fun at Mandelson's expense over the last week over his schmoozing the Putin linked oligarch Deripaska on his yacht, the core of the new allegations are that Nathaniel Rothschild says that the Shadow Chancellor, George Osborne (himself a millionaire and Bullingdon Club pal of Rothschild)and Andrew Feldman (Tory Chief Exec. and college buddy of Cameron)spent time at the yacht also - and discussed a donation from Deripaska (illegal under British law)through the medium of one of his British companies (Deripaska currently holds Leyland DAF trucks). Cue furious denials from the Tories and a big bust up. Ho ho ho.

But the weirdness does not end with British politics - the paper's Tom Baldwin in Washington reports the US election and the disconcerting comments of Obama's VP candidate Joe Biden to a fund raiser in Seattle on Sunday night -

"Mark my words, it will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We're about to elect a brilliant 47 year old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here...we're gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy"

What the....there's one to make the conspiracy theorists drool!

Interestingly regarding his comments on Kennedy, Biden will be the first Roman Catholic VP if he is elected.

Biden went on to talk about Russia and the Middle East and the Afghan Pakistan border and then said "He's gonna need help because its not gonna be apparent, initially, that we're right." He then added, (just to add fuel to the fire of speculation!) "I probably shouldn't have said all this because it dawned on me that the press is here"

The bit on Marx was prefaced by some appalling ill-informed journalistic-simplistic dross from Phillip Collins and then soundbites from seven "commentators from the left" - three of whom were from the Living Marxism/Furedi/Institute of Ideas sect, including that group's guru the ex RCP leader Furedi. Of course, Mick Hume is Murdoch's tame "libertarian Marxist" in house and his sect-buddy Claire Fox also gets lots of airtime based on her continuing contrarianism. At least the contribution from Alexei Sayle was amusing. The basic message of Collins was that Marx was wrong on loads of things and no great prophet - so far, so what. Hume, who like a stopped clock is occasionally right, pointed out that it was foolish to treat Marx as some kind of Nostradamus figure.

UFOs figure in an article by Martin Rees (President of the Royal Society - the original clandestine elite club!) who says "ET might be out there" and SETI is a worthwhile gamble, and also in a piece for Times readers' kiddies in Times 2 (Do You Believe in Flying Saucers?) which directs enquirers to the National Archives for the recently released UFO files. Woo hoo - bring back Mulder and Scully!

The Renewable Energy pullout from the BWEA and Provisa is 16 pages long with loads of adverts, but interesting facts and figures on the state of play with renewables in Britain (3.1 GW of installed wind capacity - if all the wind farms in the planning process were approved there would be enough installed capacity to power an extra 5 Million homes etc)

If we wanted to be really creative we could begin to link up these stories like the former Tory grandee Sir Bernard Ingham being both a nuclear industry shill and a leading light in the organisation mobilising for the blocking of onshore wind developments in the UK, or that the Spiked/LM/IofI sect are leading backers of global warming scepticism and were behind the two anti-environmentalist C4 "documentaries" Against Nature and The Great Global Warming Swindle in the UK. Meanwhile Deripaska was :

one of 16 global business leaders who drafted CEO Climate Policy Recommendations to G8 Leaders, a document outlining international business community's proposals to effectively tackle global warming. The proposals were signed by more than 100 of the world's leading corporations and handed to Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda on June 20, 2008. G8 leaders discussed the recommendations during the summit in Japan on July 7-9, 2008. The process was coordinated by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development

One of billionaire Deripaska's main sources of wealth and clout is his membership of the Board of Directors of a leading aluminium industry company. And aluminium production is one of the most energy intensive industrial processes on the face of the planet.

This is the Wiki on the Mandelson affair revealed in the papers over the last few weeks -

On October 5 2008, the well informed Mandrake column in the Daily Telegraph disclosed that Peter Mandelson had, while he was the EC Commissioner, availed himself of Deripaska's hospitality aboard his yacht the Queen K while she was anchored off Corfu. Mandelson's spokesman Peter Power downplayed the encounter, saying it was a purely social occasion and that was the extent of Mandelson's links with Deripaska. Subsequently Benjamin Wegg-Prosser, a former employee of Mandelson, appeared to contradict this when he said Mandelson had had a series of dinners earlier with Deripaska. This was of interest to the Conservative Opposition since Mandelson had as EC Commissioner been involved with fixing alumunium tariffs which clearly had an impact on Deripaska's business activities.

However David O'Sullivan, Director-General of the Commission's trade department, denied that Lord Mandelson personally intervened to influence decisions on aluminium import tariffs, Press Association newswire wrote. Mr O'Sullivan, who worked closely with Lord Mandelson during his four years in Brussels, said in an open letter to British newspapers that all relevant decisions had been taken in line with EU law, transparently, and in the interest of EU companies and consumers. The letter declared: "I am very surprised by the allegations in the British Press about Peter Mandelson, Oleg Deripaska and aluminium. He said decisions on tariffs and "anti-dumping" duties on Russian aluminium were "based on sound facts". "Far from receiving favourable treatment from the EU, RUSAL may end up having to pay duties on its exports to the EU", said the Director-General.

Meanwhile, Biden's "off-on record" comments come not only from someone who is the prospective VP, but someone who is Chairman of the US Senate's Committee on Foreign Relations

Curiouser and curiouser. Its enough to make you think we are not all getting the full picture or something......

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