Sunday, October 30, 2011

Film of the Year: Midnight in Paris

Well, there’s still two months ago, but I very much doubt if I’ll see a new film as good - or as downright enjoyable- as Woody Allen’s wonderful ‘Midnight in Paris’ before the end of the year.

The film is funny, charming (about how many of today's films can you say that?) and thought-provoking, a classic piece of movie magic from a master film-maker. If you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend you get down to your local cinema asap as you’re in for a real treat.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Justice for the Farepak victims! Please sign the FVC petition!

It's five years since the collapse of Farepak.

The Guardian reports:

The Farepak Victims Committee (FVC) will mark the fifth anniversary by launching an online petition to demand the remaining £36.9m is repaid and those responsible are held to account. The group needs 100,000 signatures to prompt a discussion in the House of Commons.

Louise McDaid, chair of the FVC, said: "Surely we deserve some answers as to why, five years on, we have still not received justice."

There's another good report on the campaign over at the BBC website.

"The government have a responsibility to ensure that people's money is protected", she (Louise McDaid) told BBC radio's Good Morning Scotland programme.

"If they can protect the banks, then they can protect ordinary working people."

The FVC petition says:

The Farepak Victims Committee call on the Government to: 1. Bring those responsible to account; 2. Fully compensate Farepak Victims; 3. Put in place financial regulations that ensure that this never happens again.

You can sign the FVC petition here.   Please try and spare a minute or so to support this very worthy cause. And tell your friends about it too. Many thanks!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Travel Supplement: Off the bitten track: Yorkshire- the dramatic county that helped inspire Bram Stoker.

This piece of mine on the delights of North Yorkshire, appears in the Mail on Sunday.

Bram Stoker, author of classic horror novel Dracula, spent a summer holiday in Whitby, where he discovered the name for his vampire. Neil Clark follows suit.

'It is a most noble ruin, of immense size, and full of beautiful and romantic bits.'

This was how Bram Stoker described the magnificent Whitby Abbey in his classic horror novel Dracula.

But on a glorious morning, with beams of sunlight shining through the ancient building's many apertures, it was hard for my wife and me to imagine bloodthirsty vampires at this idyllic spot.

The Abbey is perched on a cliff 200ft above the North Sea, and wandering around its ruins was one of the highlights of our hugely enjoyable three-night stay in North Yorkshire.

You can read the whole article here.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Muammar Gaddafi, June 7, 1942 – Oct 20, 2011

TO his followers he was Brotherly Leader and Guide Of The Revolution, a man who transformed Libya into the most prosperous country in Africa and provided free education and health care for his people.

To his opponents he was the “mad dog of the Middle East”, a dangerous and unpredictable dictator who supplied weapons to the IRA and other terrorist groups and whose government was behind the horrific bombing of a Pan Am passenger jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988.……..

This time last year, Gaddafi must have been confident of seeing out his final years in power in the luxury lifestyle to which he was accustomed. But the so-called Arab spring, which began in Tunisia in January and which spread to neighbouring Libya soon afterwards, was to prove his downfall.

Although many Libyans stayed loyal to him, Gaddafi could not have expected the scale of popular revolt against his rule or that the Western powers he regarded as his new allies would decide to intervene militarily on the rebels’ behalf.

You can read the whole of my Daily Express piece on the late Libyan leader, here. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Oh Dear. How Sad. Never Mind. Liam Fox resigns from the government

‘Liam Fox is a serious loss- to Cameron and the country’ laments neo-con commentator Janet Daley.

Well, Dr Fox is indeed 'a serious loss to the country'- if you’d like Britain to be involved in a war with Syria and/or Iran.

But for the 99.9% of people who don’t want us involved in any more illegal wars, the departure from the government of this out-and-out warmonger is surely a cause for great celebration.

P.S. I’ve written before on how Janet ‘Obama will not win the Presidency’ Daley was a master of political predictions. Here’s another classic.

UPDATE: In case you haven't already seen it, there’s a great piece on the Fox/Werritty scandal- and the serious issues it raises- by former diplomat Craig Murray in the Mail on Sunday

The real reason Liam Fox had to resign was not a grubby little money scandal about firms funding Adam Werritty as he jetted round the world with the Defence Secretary. It was much more important, and much worse, than that.......

Let us hope that Fox’s fall will remind future Defence Secretaries that there is only one country whose interests they should seek to defend – and that is this one.

As Sheila from Wiltshire says in the comments underneath Craig Murray's piece:

Sounds like treachery to me - both of them should be arraigned by the courts and dealt with accordingly. No special treatment for posh criminals.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Letter of the Week: Len Gibney on Europe’s state-owned railways

This great letter, entitled 'Europe is on right track when it comes to the train', appeared in the Daily Express.

I’ve travelled by rail extensively in Europe and find trains there cheap and efficient. State operators find ways to fill public needs. Subsidies are used but fares are kept low. It’s not all bonues and profit for directors as it is here, it’s more a necessary public service.

I think anyone who travels regularly on European trains would agree with Len Gibney. Yet Europe’s wonderful railways are under threat from neo-liberal fanatics in the EU Commission, who propose a Single European Railway Area and the end to all government subsidies.

Their proposals must be defeated.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

We are the 99%: the people fight back against neoliberalism

In the U.S.

Declaration of the Occupation of New York City

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, let all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge that
- the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members;
- our system must protect our rights, and upon its corruption it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights and of their neighbors;
- a democratic government derives its just power from the people, no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power.

We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments.
- They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
- They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.

More here.  hat tip: Media Lens message board.
Meanwhile, exciting things are happening in Chile too.

What a great quote from Camila Vallejo, the young student leader (photo above) at the forefront of Chile's anti-neoliberal protests:

"For years, Chilean youth have been consumed by a neo-liberal model that highlights personal achievement and consumerism; it is all about mine, mine, mine. There is not a lot of empathy for the other,"

All over the world, people are fighting back this ultra-selfish economic model, which only benefits the tiny minority. Whether its end will come in 2011, 2012 or 2013, the days of neoliberalism are well and truly numbered.

UPDATE: Protests in London too over our neoliberal government's appalling NHS plans.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Russia and China deserve praise for UN veto

This piece of mine appears in today's First Post. 

Neil Clark: Anyone who wishes for a peaceful world should welcome this double veto against UN sanctions

AMERICA is 'outraged'. Britain and France are pretty miffed too. The vetoing by China and Russia of a European-sponsored UN resolution which threatened sanctions against Syria if President Bashar Assad's violent crackdown on protestors did not stop, has been met with angry denunciations by the self-appointed leaders of the 'international community'…………

The reality is that the Chinese and Russian veto is good news - not just for Syrians - but for the whole world.
You can read the whole piece here.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

NATO massacre of Libyan civilians in Sirte

Take a look at  this.

And I thought that the NATO mission was supposed to be about ‘protecting' Libyan civilians.

Whoever would have thought it- another 'humanitarian’ NATO intervention that was anything but.

And another war, started in March, which was based on lies.

UPDATE: On the subject of NATO ‘saving lives’ in Libya, don’t miss this great piece by Michel Chossudovsky.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The Coalition’s NHS changes ‘to cause irreparable harm’ say doctors.

The BBC reports:

The overhaul of the NHS in England will cause irreparable harm, according to leading public health doctors.

In a letter to peers, who will debate the changes next week, nearly 400 public health experts said the changes must be rejected as they represented a risk to patient care and safety.

The doctors suggested it would fragment services, possibly threatening vaccination and screening campaigns.

The revelation that such influential members of the public health community have put their names to the letter comes on the day Health Secretary Andrew Lansley is to address the Conservative Party conference.

More on this story here.  Bravo to the 400 public health experts for speaking out.  And let's hope that peers listen to their views and reject a truly appalling bill for which there is no democratic mandate.