Log In | Subscribe | | |


If this is a civilised country, there is something savagely wrong

Middlesbrough in the north-east of England is a harsh place. Economically, socially, politically and, in winter, in terms of climate. It's the kind of place where you need warm clothes and somewhere safe, warm and dry to stay. But if you fell out of the social services system when you were seventeen, if you have a brain tumour, if you have no where to go so you sleep in shop doorways, if you have no benefits so you beg, if the town council issues an order that prevents you even sitting on a bench in a bus shelter to keep out of the driving, freezing rain, if you are arrested at least once every day for trying to stay warm and dry, if you were born in Teesside so you don't qualify for the benefits given to even illegal migrants, if you are autistic, well fuck you.

This is England.

Thankfully, there was one voice of reason: a judge. How did it come to this?



Myanmar Rohingya to go home. But to what?

Leaving aside for a moment the long history that has led to where the Rohingya are today, the news that a deal has been signed between the governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar for those that have crossed the border to return seems like a good thing. But what will they return to? The Rohingya are stateless in Myanmar and have been for more than a generation, they are unwelcome everywhere they try to run to and run they feel they must in the face of what some are calling ethnic cleansing and others are calling apartheid. Harrowing tales, denied by the Myanmar government but accepted by the UN and others, of burning villages and rape and murder at the hands of the military are not going away. All told, there are probably somewhere around a million Rohingya in camps or shelters in Thailand, Malaysia and, of course, mostly in Bangladesh. There are said to be large numbers of illegal migrants in Indonesia and hundreds if not thousands drowned at sea, plus an as yet unknown number in mass graves of which some have been found but it is suspected there are more where smugglers have taken payment then killed the cargo.

Is the deal good news? It would be lovely if it could be said to be so but in truth it is unlikely to do more than increase uncertainty and fear amongst the migrants who, if Bangladesh forces them to return, could find themselves between two unfriendly armed forces.



Gordon Brown wants to save the world, again.

The hopelessly delusional former Chancellor of the Exchequer and Prime Minister keeps trying to re-invent himself and to paint himself in a good light. It's not working because he was, in office, dishonest, profligate, corrupt, a closet republican and, most of all, dishonest: so much we say it twice. In recent weeks, he's tried to ingratiate himself with .. well, someone, by saying that the UK should not have invaded Gulf states. It's a bit late to say that now. And now he says that the world should abolish tax havens and he knows how to do it. Well, let's consider his record, shall we: yes, he put in place measures, via HM Treasury, that required UK banks to report offshore holdings in their subsidiaries by people with UK addresses (that went horribly wrong, by the way, because it caught non-residents who live in countries with poor mail and so had statements sent to relatives in the UK and caused a stack of work as the Inland Revenue had to sort out who it had already issued non-resident status to because no one thought to put a box on the form to tick to that effect). But what really happened was that his pre-election promises to bring the offshore sector to heel were abandoned immediately after the election because he found out that many of the Labour Party's largest donors who had been sold a vision of a business-friendly socialist government (duh) were themselves significant beneficiaries of the off-shore world. Nothing much has changed, except Brown has failed to get every significant role he has tried for, including running the IMF (thank, God) and now he's running around, somewhat hilariously in the wake of Hillary Clinton, trying to drum up interest in a book he's written. Sadly, trees have died for his ego. And it can't be more than that because if he really had answers, he and his pal Tony Blair had about 15 years to do it but, instead, what they did was reform pensions for MPs while destroying pensions for everyone else.

Left-leaning mag "The New Statesman" has given him a platform. The bad news is that it's on shiny paper so it's not even any use in the toilet.



If poverty is unfair, why is treatment of it so one-sided?

We wanted to find stories about poverty in the USA so we made a search. We are not going to give you the link. We want you to do your own search and ask yourself this question: "if poverty is unfair, why are all the prominent activists left wing?" We know that social conservatives make a fuss, too, but why does no one notice? Or is it a truth that concern for the disadvantaged really is almost entirely to be found on the left?

We seriously hope not and if the right people are reading this, it should be a call to arms to act across political, social, educational and even economic divides to address an issue that, in recent years, has spread far beyond those who would normally be expected to be classified as "the poor."