Monday, June 6, 2011

Layer 470 . . . Not Keeping Up, Spain, Obama, Gil Scott-Heron, The Super-Rich, Nakba Day, and Social Housing

It's a bit of an effort to keep up with what's happening in the world these days.

Good things have been happening in Spain. The people are stirring. Crowds have been gathering in towns and cities and demanding an end to the political and economic bullshit that's being inflicted on them, just like it is everywhere else. The start of the European Summer?


Of course he's driven by a spirit that neither he, nor anyone else, can control. He's smart enough to know how fast he can move with the things he wants to do in a hideously conservative country like America. Some things you don't even try - rather than rush forward and suffer a heavy defeat. He's learnt the lessons of history.


Gil Scott-Heron: leader of a revolution you could dance to

He fought the powers that be and paid the price. But he also taught us that politics plus soul equals movement

by Suzanne Moore

When Gil Scott-Heron asked in the mid-70s: "Sister/woman have you heard from Johannesburg?" I hadn't actually. I was too young. Too uninformed, maybe, to know really what was going on. He also told us the news was unreliable. And that the situation of black people in America was not far from that of those who would end up rioting two years later in Soweto.

That was important. But what was important to me at the time was that I liked the songs. This was joyous music: politics with soul. And soul meant movement. It meant a revolution you could dance to.

I cant remember where I first saw him, in the early-80s. For some reason I always associate seeing him with seeing Fela Kuti for the first time. "Music is the weapon of the future," said Fela, another kind of prophet.

By then we all knew because of Gil that the revolution would not be televised. We knew about Detroit. We knew this ain't really life, this ain't nothing but a movie. A B-movie. We knew about Ronald Reagan ("mandate my ass"). We knew and were changed by what he knew. He changed our world. And we danced to those changes. We could not stand still. We had to move. We knew that voice, pitched low but light. Revolution was irresistible once you heard that. It was anger as seduction, and in between songs he would talk and talk in a way that you could listen to forever.

And we did.

And we will.


Anxiety keeps the super-rich safe from middle-class rage

The pay gap at the top should change the terms of political trade. But the squeezed middle must first learn to look up

by Peter Wilby

Why aren't we more angry? Why isn't blood running, metaphorically at least, in the streets? Evidence of how the rich prosper while everyone else struggles with inflation, public spending cuts and static wages arrives almost daily. The Institute for Fiscal Studies reports that last year incomes among the top 1% grew at the fastest rate in a decade. According to the Sunday Times Rich List, the top 1,000 are £60.2bn better off this year than in 2010, bringing their collective wealth close to the record pre-recession levels.

Now comes a report this week from the High Pay Commission, set up by the Labour pressure group Compass. It reveals that FTSE 100 chief executives are on average paid £4.2m annually, or 145 times the median wage – and on current trends will be paid £8m, or 214 times the median, by 2020. In the financial sector, even the CEO can seem modestly rewarded: this year, the top-paid banker at Barclays will get £14m, nearly four times the chief executive's earnings and 1,128 times more than the lowest-paid employee receives.

Meanwhile, once inflation is taken into account, most people's incomes are set to fall, after 15 years of virtual stagnation.


Nakba day: we waited 63 years for this

The remarkable bravery of refugees on Nakba day was the first act of a Palestinian summer

by Karma Nabulsi

It was the moment for which we had all been holding our breath for decades – for 63 years to be precise. Palestinians everywhere watched the unfolding scene transfixed and awed. The camera followed the movements of a small group of people advancing from the mass of protesters. They were carefully making their way down a hill towards the high fence that closed off the mined field separating Syria from its own occupied territory of the Golan that borders historic Palestine, now Israel.


The 'localist' assault on social housing

The localism bill sets the conditions for US-style mass private landlordism and a revolving door of housing need and insecurity

by Glyn Robbins

The localism bill, the legislative framework for the "big society", gets its third reading in parliament this week. Amid the furore over NHS privatisation, potentially far-reaching changes to planning, public services and particularly housing have had less attention. The Con-Dems are using the easy rhetoric of the golf club – cutting waste and bureaucracy, promoting individual freedom – as camouflage for an attack on the welfare state and the poor.


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