Who said the following in the Assembly today?
"Supermarkets have a social responsibility to support local communities and producers"
"The relationship between supermarkets and farmers is purely a commercial one and the Assembly Government has no role to play in that."
The first quote comes from the "new look" Tory leader Nick Bourne while the second quote comes from Rhodri "no more clear red water" Morgan.
We've often joked that the Tories are now to the left of Labour in London. Now it seems the same is true in Wales.
Unrepentant Communist has an interesting post about Che Guevara's killer.
Cuban doctors working in Bolivia have saved the sight of the man who executed revolutionary leader Che Guevara in 1967, Cuban official media report. Mario Teran, a Bolivian army sergeant, shot dead Che Guevara after he was captured in Bolivia's eastern lowlands. Cuban media reported news of the surgery ahead of the 40th anniversary of Che's death on 9 October.
Mr Teran had cataracts removed under a Cuban programme to offer free eye treatment across Latin America. The operation on Mr Teran took place last year and was first revealed when his son wrote to a Bolivian newspaper to thank the Cuban doctors for restoring his father's sight.
But Cuban media took up the story at the weekend as the island prepares for commemorations to mark Che Guevara's death 40 years ago. "Four decades after Mario Teran attempted to destroy a dream and an idea, Che returns to win yet another battle," the Communist Party's official newspaper Granma proclaimed. "Now an old man, he [Teran] can once again appreciate the colours of the sky and the forest, enjoy the smiles of his grandchildren and watch football games." Wounded Che Guevara, who played a key role in the Cuban revolution of 1959, travelled to Bolivia in 1966 to start a socialist revolution. But in October 1967, the Bolivian army, with assistance from the CIA, captured Guevara and his remaining fighters.
Che Guevara, wounded in the fighting, was taken to a schoolhouse in the village of La Higuera on 8 October where the soldiers debated what to do with him. Mario Teran is reported to have drawn the short straw and been ordered to execute the captured guerrilla. Che Guevara was killed on 9 October and his body taken to a hospital in nearby Vallegrande, where his corpse was paraded before the world's media.
In 1997 his remains were discovered, exhumed and returned to Cuba, where he was reburied. Surely the fact that doctors from socialist Cuba helped improve the sight of Che's executioner, demonstrates most eloquently, that you may persecute socialism and reverse it in places, but you can not kill the ideas of socialism, which represent the most exalted aspirations of humanity, an exalted humanity which Che Guevara exemplified.
It's often said of Che that he survives as an icon because he died young and because he was photogenic, but I think it's more complex than that. Firstly Che achieved power through the Cuban revolution. He could have chewed on a cigar in the Ministry of Industry and grown fat and corrupt but he chose not to - he chose to spread the revolution. He stayed true to his socialist beliefs to the bitter end.
Secondly, he was as motivated by his emotions as much as by abstract theory. His most famous quote is "at the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that a true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love."
That love for others, rather than envy or hatred, should be our motivating force. And that's probably why the Cuban doctors restored that man's eyesight.
"I was a high-class muscleman for big business, for Wall Street and for the bankers. I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism"
That's how decorated US Marine Corps General Smedley Butler once defined his military role in his 1935 book War Is A Racket.
State armies have been used to further multinationals' goals in the past - whether the United Fruit Company-sponsored coup in Guatemala in 1954 or the various oil companies reaping the rewards of US invasion in Iraq today.
But now even this role is being privatised with PMCs (Private Military Companies) carrying out a dubious legal role in Iraq.
Last month's shootings of 11 Iraqi civilians by employees of Blackwater USA has cast a rare official spotlight on the activities of PMCs in Iraq.
The proliferation of PMCs since the Cold War is part of a new trend, in which private military contractors provide an attractive alternative to international corporations for a range of quasi-military services, from bodyguard and facilities protection, to the provision of military training and weapons to foreign armies.
Such services have often been required by multinationals such as ExxonMobil, Chevron, and De Beers in conflict zones that overlap with the extraction of oil, gas, diamonds and other raw materials.
In Colombia, British Petroleum hired the British private contractor Defence Systems Limited (DSL) to protect its oil rigs from left-wing guerrillas - a task that DSL fulfilled with the help of Colombian military officers linked to right-wing death squads.
In Equatorial Guinea, the US company MPRI has helped the thuggish dictator Teodoro Obiang Nguema establish a coastguard to protect the oil exploration undertaken by ExxonMobil off its coast. MPRI has also provided military training to the Nigerian army, whose forces have been engaged in suppressing local tribal protests against the exploitation of their resources by international oil companies.
Not surprisingly, the need for PMCs has increased as a result of the 'war on terror', whose frontlines invariably intersect with areas containing raw materials and the routes of oil and gas pipelines.
From Georgia, Chechnya and Iraq and Azerbaijan to Afghanistan, PMCs from various countries are engaged in an array of activities that impact directly on the emerging 'great game' in the Middle East and Central Asia, whether it is protecting oil pipelines, training the Saudi national guard or providing security protection to the Afghan president.
Some PMCs, like Blackwater and MPRI, have amassed formidable military forces in their own right, whose members include top-ranking former military officers.
At the same time PMCs have themselves become like corporations. Where mercenaries and their recruiters were once regarded with contempt, PMCs have attempted to reverse the 'dogs of war' image with slick corporate packaging.
PMC execs such as the millionaire owner of Blackwater Erik Prince and Aegis director Tim Spicer like to use the rhetoric of the war on terror and talk about bringing stability and democracy to a troubled world.
But this agenda has also brought record profits to their own companies, not to mention other corporations that could not have gained access to Iraq without the support of private military companies.
In an age when the Western public is generally reluctant to fight wars of choice, PMCs constitute a new international force patrolling the frontiers of the 'war on terror' for whoever pays. Just as the East India Company once did, corporations will pay for their own armies to fight their own wars and bypass national governments altogether.
Adapted from The First Posthttp://
It's been labelled the School for Slaughter by its opponents. Its proponents call it the biggest ever investment in Wales.
Now a campaign to fight the establishment of a new military training centre in St Athan is gathering pace.
In January 2007, the London government announced the success of the St Athan and Metrix bid to establish a new military training academy.
In Wales, the first Minister Rhodri Morgan and the economic minister Andrew Davies sprayed champagne outside the Senedd in celebration. The local media gave the impression was that this was just about the best thing that had ever happened to Wales: £14 billion worth of contract and around 5,000 jobs.
But how will this military academy contribute to the Assembly's proud goal of achieving sustainable development? What exactly is Wales committing itself to when it signs up for the St Athan deal?
• A future based on militarism
• A commitment to military privatisation
• A welcome mat for the world’s largest missile manufacturer
What will be the impact of the academy on local quality of life – on traffic congestion, for example, and housing affordability? What will be the impact on Welsh education, and the social and political values that are taught to Welsh children and youth?
For those who are committed to a nuclear-free Wales, they should be aware that the Royal Navy’s Maritime Engineering School, which contains the Nuclear Systems Group, is projected to move from HMS Sultan to St Athan by 2017. The Nuclear Systems Group trains the Naval Officers responsible for operating the nuclear submarines that are the heart and soul of Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons system.
A fuller analysis of the issues is now available on the Cynefin y Werin website, , from where much of this article was shamelessly filched.
2,000 bilingual pamphlets have also just been printed to highlight the case against the military academy - to get a copy contact here.
Promoters of the St Athan Defence Training Academy claim the Academy is good for Wales because of the jobs it will create. When the Academy was announced in January 2007, the South Wales Echo described it as a “massive jobs bonanza.” Welsh politicians and media have claimed that the Academy will create as many as 5,550 on and off-site jobs, and that these will be “highly skilled jobs” in fields such as “mobile communications, IT, engineering, logistics, even photography.” Such claims, however, do not stand up to close scrutiny.
In reality, most of the jobs will come from re-locating trainers from other military bases that are being closed in England. There will be jobs for local people - minimum wage work in catering and security.
The PCS union, which represents the trainers, is fiercely opposed to this centralisation of services because it will be a massive Private Finance Initiative scheme that effectively privatised military training and threatens many jobs.
A recent mobilisation of campaigners saw 30 peaceniks gather outside the base and further action is being planned.
It appears Wales is leading the way in terms of job creation.
As part of the launch of a further £1.8 billion in EU grant aid for the West and Valleys, Danuta Hübner, the European Commissioner for Regional Policy, has congratulated the Welsh Assembly Government.
She said, “The Welsh Convergence ERDF programme 2007-2013 is even more ambitious than the 2000-2006 ERDF programme with 70 per cent of investment being earmarked for jobs and sustainable growth. This strategy is already working in Wales – parts of North Wales now have the highest employment rates in the entire EU."
Which begs the question - if we're creating all these jobs, why are we still one of the poorest parts of the EU?
That much is clear from the fact that much of Wales qualifies for the EU grant aid because it is below 75% of the average EU GDP.
Two answers spring to mind - one is that much of the job creation is low-paid and unskilled. The real boom in jobs in North Wales is among minimum wage workers, many of them migrant workers. The only boom has been for gangmasters, low-wage bosses and landlords who pack Poles into houses like sardines in a tin.
Second is that much of the EU aid is hoovered up by large institutions, consultants and government bodies with the resources to apply for these grants and the means to match fund them. Few community groups have such resources and most communities have little to show for the massive Objective One funding that was allegedly pumped into the area from 2000-6.
We're frequently reminded of the "West Lothian Question", the situation whereby Welsh and Scottish MPs are allowed to vote on issues relevant to West Bromwich but not West Lothian (as Tam Dalyell so succinctly put it back in 1979).
It's a question that's never been properly answered during the devolution debate and growing powers for the Assembly make it even more absurd that Welsh MPs can vote on health and education matters, for example, that affect English constituencies but don't impact on their own voters.
This is often cited by English nationalists, usually in opposition to devolution. But there is less publicity given to what could be termed "the Tryweryn question".
Back in pre-devolution days, Liverpool Corporation's desire for water (mainly to supply industries that are now long gone) led it to Tryweryn, near Bala. An Act of Parliament was needed to permit the damming of the valley and the drowning of a Welsh community, Capel Celyn.
35 of the 36 Welsh MPs voted against the move but it was passed with the help of English MPs who knew nothing about the community they were voting to destroy.
Not surprisingly, the symbolic nature of the drowning of Capel Celyn in the 1960s still resonates among nationally minded people in Wales.
The manifest injustice then should not be perpetuated now. Welsh MPs should not vote on issues solely for England. There is therefore a clear case for a reduction of Welsh MPs in Westminster because the bulk of decision making on day-to-day matters in Wales takes place in Cardiff.
The savings made by reducing the numbers of MPs should be put towards increasing the numbers of AMs who can therefore scrutinise and hold the Assembly government to account more fully.
We have half-and-half a democracy at the moment, with neither half functioning properly.
Thought the Tories were for you? Thought they'd changed and become cuddly and centrist now tie-less (not to say clue-less) Dave was in charge.
The Tories unveiled their big new thinking at today's conference - cuts in stamp duty that will effectively cut a couple of thousand quid off the cost of buying a house for anyone - whether hard-up first-time buyer or wealthy young City slickers. There will be less of a tax take that will be made up, the Nasty Party says, by clawing back Incapacity Benefit. So that's alright then.
The second big tax giveaway is one dear to the hearts of all wealthy Tories (and Labourites these days). It concerns Inheritance Tax - a tax that only applies to estates of more than £300,000 and then only at 40% tax.
As it stands, only 6% of people who die pay Inheritance Tax - the vast majority of those in the wealthier south-east of England. It's hardly going to be a vote winner in Wales.
That hasn't stopped our Tories getting in on the act. In the running for a double gold in the Order of the Brown Nose and Long-Service Stupidity Medal was Clwyd West MP David Jones:
“Inheritance Tax will, under a Conservative government, be paid only by millionaires. The one million pound threshold will mean that people of moderate means will now be able to pass their hard earned savings and their homes on to their families, who will not have to pay a punitive 40% tax.”
Firstly, millionaires employ accountants to ensure they don't pay any tax at all. Labour and Tory governments over the past 30 years have ensured that the UK is a very welcoming place for non-domiciled residents to live tax free.
Secondly, "people of moderate means" in Clwyd West or anywhere else in Wales rarely amass more than £300,000. As the system stands, someone leaving an estate of £500,000 would only pay £80,000 in taxes. Given that the bulk of most people's estates are houses, that have risen in value untaxed, that seems like a fair deal in our glaringly unequal society.