Friday, August 30, 2013

Use political crisis over Syria to drive out ConDems

The governing parties’ surprise defeat in last night’s vote on Syria is just as much a reflection of the immense distrust of the political class across the board as it is a general desire to prevent another in a long line of military adventures.

Even if the government announced that today was Friday, not everyone would be inclined to accept that, so deep is the scepticism after decades of being lied to on a variety of subjects from Iraq to the financial crisis.
A sketchy, half-baked dossier hurried out before the parliamentary debate, claiming that the Assad regime in Syria was more than likely behind the use of chemical weapons, was never going to win over doubters.

This was especially so after a number of senior military figures, including former head of the army General Dannatt, ridiculed the idea that missile attacks would deter future attacks while they could easily lead to an uncontrollable international conflict.

Prime minister Cameron assumed public opinion would rally behind a bellicose British response. Well, enough Tory MPs got the opposite message from their constituents and went on to wreck his government’s majority.

Cameron should have paid more attention to the right-wing Daily Telegraph. On Wednesday, an online poll was running at over 70% against military intervention in the shape of submarine-launched missiles. With the nationalist Ukip also declaring its opposition, it was clear that opposition to an attack was building across all classes.

That’s why Labour leader Ed Miliband retreated from total support for the government on Tuesday to producing an amendment that, as he put it in the Commons yesterday, offered a “sequential roadmap” that ended up with, er, the same military intervention that Cameron was proposing.  The only difference was that his plan would take a bit longer to arrive at the destination.

That was too much even for the usually loyal Jim Fitzpatrick to stomach. The Poplar and Limehouse MP told the Commons:  "In terms of the Opposition amendment - it's fair to say it's more honest and open and structured. But, from my reading, it essentially endorses the same principle - 'If we can address certain issues, if certain conditions are met, military action can happen'. I don't believe that it should under any circumstances."

Fitzpatrick then promptly resigned from the shadow cabinet before he was sacked. For alleged anti-war MP Diane Abbott, there were no problems for her in backing Labour’s pro-intervention amendment. However, at least another 30 Labour MPs were either absent or did not take part in the vote, including the anti-war MP Jeremy Corbyn.

The refusal to accept at face value what politicians say is one thing; hypocrisy when it comes to selecting enemies is another.  For example, thousands have been killed in Egypt by the army and police over recent weeks. Military rule is re-entrenched. Not a peep from Washington, from Cameron, from Miliband.

The Israeli government has a free hand to build settlements on Palestinian land and to occupy territories in defiance of the United Nations. Regimes like the Saudis can run feudal regimes complete with amputations and beheadings, yet Washington just can’t lend these states enough support.

Assad’s regime is truly a brutal one, but Washington has turned a blind eye to previous massacres, notably at Hama in 1982.  Even now, as it prefers to launch missiles without the UK’s participation, it prefers Assad to the jihadists and others who have hijacked the initial popular uprising against the government.

Yet, with or without the use of chemical weapons, or the sanction of the United Nations, we have to oppose military intervention on principle. The Syrians have the right to self-determine their own future.

Cameron’s credibility and authority is now on the line in a big way. Never before have Tory MPs felt so relaxed in defying their government in the lobbies. The weakness of the ConDem government is there for all to see following the Syria vote debacle.

The emerging political crisis could well drive on the development of movement to bring down the ConDems. That creates an opportunity to discuss what should follow because, as sure as night follows day, bringing Labour back would not constitute an alternative in any meaningful way.

Paul Feldman
Communications editor

Thursday, August 29, 2013

US shale gas bubble is ready to burst

"If we don't back this technology, we will miss a massive opportunity to help families with their bills and make our country more competitive." David Cameron. “Cuadrilla's never said it [shale] will bring down prices…We don't think it will bring down prices.” Cuadrilla spokesperson.

So what exactly are the economics of a shale gas boom? Let's look at what is happening in the US, where the fracking industry is much further down the road. An article by Nicole Foss in the "Automatic Earth" column of Business Insider says:

 "The shale gas bubble is a perfect example of the irrationality of markets, the power of perverse short-term incentives, the driving force of momentum-chasing, the dominance of perception over reality in determining prices, and the determination for a herd to stampede over a cliff all at once.

"The perception of a gas glut has driven prices so low that none of the participants are making money (at least not by producing gas) or creating value. We see a familiar story of excessive debt, and the hollowing out of productive companies dead set on pursuing a mirage."

Financial journalist Wolf Richter describes the economics of fracking as “horrid”. Drilling is, he says, “destroying capital at an astonishing  rate” and drillers are left with a mountain of debt just as production declines.

Arthur Berman, a petroleum geologist, says that in the Eagle Ford shale in Texas, gas output per well declines so fast that to keep production at the same level they must drill almost 1,000 new wells a year, each costing between $10-$12bn. "I add all these things up and it starts to approach the amount of money needed to bail out the banking industry. Where is that money going to come from?” he asks.

A bit of research into the official figures underlines the reality.  In 1990, there were 269,790 natural gas wells in the United States (on and offshore) producing 1,938,977 million cubic feet of gas, that is 7.18 million cubic feet per well.

By 2011 there were 514,637 wells producing 2,536,889 million cubic feet, that is 4.92 million cubic feet per well. If each thousand new wells drilled cost Berman's estimate of $10bn dollars, that means a total investment of around $245 billon.

The price of gas to US residential users was at its highest in 2008 at $20.77 per thousand cubic feet when the boom was already underway. The price at the end of 2012 was $12.62 dollars per thousand cubic feet. That is higher than before the start of the gas boom - in January 1981 it was $3.94 as the graph shows.

What we have is the anatomy of a classic bubble but the Obama administration is oblivious, rubbing its hands at the short-term gains in increased tax revenue, just as George Osborne is hoping to do.

And when the bubble bursts? They will be astounded when companies collapse and enforced mergers take place. Capitalist economists and governments never expect the collapse - they live in a fantasy land where, whatever happened in the past, the future is rosy.

And whilst "drilling is burning capital at an astonishing rate", we are told that it is impossible to raise the investment for renewable energy to replace fossil fuels.

The question is, are we going to allow the frackers/wreckers to destroy large areas of Britain, putting people's health and homes at risk, just to inflate a bubble with no long-term economic benefit, no long-term energy benefit, and a disastrous effect on climate?

Judging by the response at Balcombe and the creation of dozen of local anti-fracking groups, the answer is a resound “No”!

Penny Cole
Environment editor

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Why we should oppose any attack on Syria

Desperate acts by unpopular regimes have the capacity to spiral out of control. And we’re not talking just talking about the Assad dictatorship in Syria but also the plans by the US and Britain to launch missile attacks on Damascus.

As they build their surveillance states at home, while driving down living conditions of the majority, president Obama and prime minister Cameron are gambling on a diversion which could well backfire.

Polls show the majority of Americans and British citizens opposed to military intervention in a brutal civil war. Iran and Russia are warning that attacks on Syria in response to alleged use of chemical weapons could further destabilise the region.

With Putin’s Russia and Iran heavily committed to backing the Assad regime, any action by the US backed by Britain, France and Germany will have unpredictable consequences. Madness indeed.

While there is talk of re-calling parliament to give military action a democratic veneer, the ConDem government has already indicated that it “has to reserve the right to act immediately”. To that end, the National Security Committee is meeting tomorrow.

The supposed reason is of course the “discovery” of chemical agents. While chemical weapons may well be used by the Syrian regime, how bombing Assad’s forces can really put an end to this is of course not stated. Just as in Iraq in 2001, UN weapons inspectors are still scrambling to investigate the nature and source of chemical weapons.

But US Secretary of State John Kerry claims that the evidence is “screaming at us” as he and the US military with the support of Cameron and Hague feverishly gather together their coalition of the willing.

Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Tony Blair has called on the West to “stop wringing its hands” and intervene against the Syrian government. “Peace envoy” (can there be a greater misnomer?) Blair has been hard at work touring super-yachts in the Mediterranean and private-jetting around St Tropez and Sardinia.

Blair – just like US secretary of state John Kerry - says that the new government in Egypt should be supported “in stabilising the country” by continuing to provide $1.3bn of US military aid. “Stabilising”? “Restoring democracy”? A strange word for the military regime’s murder of some 1,000 Muslim Brotherhood supporters.

Blair notoriously helped to launch the illegal UK-US attack on Iraq on the grounds that Saddam Hussein had secret “weapons of mass destruction”. That never-proven pretext turned out to be just that – a psychological operation to blur the issues and provide a “humanitarian” cover for a brutal war that caused hundreds of thousands civilian deaths.

Like the current pretext of chemical weapons, it was a blatant propaganda lie by the Blair, Bush and their allies to bring “democracy”, aka regime change through bombing and make Iraq “safe” for corporate exploitation. Never mind that more a decade later, Iraq has still not recovered from that war and is wracked by internal conflict.

It is well-known that the United States and Saudi Arabia have been supplying the anti-Assad forces in Syria with tanks and weaponry. But the imminent missile and drone attacks, backed up by military aircraft, will be crossing a major line.

So where is Her Majesty’s opposition on this vital question? Even less critical than the Conservatives’ own backbenchers, shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander says: "I'm not ruling out the possibility that Labour could support the government [even without a UN resolution, he made clear], but I'm certainly not prepared to write the government a blank cheque."

So that’s alright then. Just give Labour time and they will write that cheque.  

Obama-Cameron’s race to bomb Syria come what may has nothing to do with protecting the Syrian people, or even their distaste of chemical or weapons of mass destruction. After all, the US is the only country to have used atomic weapons on an undefended population and also defoliated large parts of Vietnam with chemicals, maiming hundreds of thousands of civilians in the process.

So arrange the following in any order you feel like: hypocrisy, double standards, neo-imperialism, military adventurism, warmongering, military-corporate complex. Then you’ll know why we should oppose attacks on Syria.

Corinna Lotz
A World to Win secretary

Friday, August 23, 2013

Salute Bradley Manning, victim of the secret state

The front pages are full of a statement by Bradley Manning that he will try now to live as a woman, reconciling what he explains has been a lifelong personal difficulty. They lasciviously reprint the picture that was introduced into his trial.

But if his lawyers thought that would win the sympathy of the court they were truly whistling in the dark. The US state was always planning to make an example of Manning, just as they would do with Edward Snowden if they could get their hands on the ex-NSA computer specialist.

Now Manning faces 35 years in a military prison, and daily challenges one fears are too horrible to imagine. This is a brutal world where a gentle person like him is condemned for decisions made "out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in", as he said in his statement to the court (which got one tenth the coverage of his more recent statement).

Manning joined up agreeing with the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq but when he was reading secret military reports on a daily basis he realised that, as he eloquently put it, "we have forgotten our humanity”. His statement added:

"Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability.
 "In our zeal to kill the enemy, we internally debated the definition of torture. We held individuals at Guantanamo for years without due process. We inexplicably turned a blind eye to torture and executions by the Iraqi government. And we stomached countless other acts in the name of our war on terror.
 "Our nation has had similar dark moments for the virtues of democracy—the Trail of Tears [forced relocation of native Americans], the Dred Scott decision [1857 Supreme Court ruling that African Americans could not be US citizens], McCarthyism, the Japanese-American internment camps — to name a few. I am confident that many of our actions since 9/11 will one day be viewed in a similar light."

He concludes: "If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society."

And his lawyer, Lt.Col David Coombs, did not mince his words either, saying that a country in which “you are faced with a death-penalty offence” for the simple act of disclosing information to a journalist “is not the America that I would hope that we live in.”

Manning joins an honourable list of US citizens prepared to risk everything to expose their country's secret state, which breaks every law –  American and international – in its pursuit of “national” – aka corporate – interests. 

- Daniel Ellsberg, a military analyst who released "The Pentagon Papers" that showed that the US State Department knew the US could not win the war in Vietnam and carried on knowing there would be thousands more casualties.

- Philip Agee, former CIA agent who exposed the agency's active support of murderous regimes in South America, that sent oppositionists to torture and death.

-         Jesselyn Radack, Department of Justice official sacked and then hounded out of her next job because she told Newsweek the department lied about the interrogation of John Walker Lindh, a US citizen captured in Afghanistan.

And that is to name only a few - there is a list of whistleblowers going back to the 18th century here which shows that there are always women and men ready to risk their lives and freedom to expose illegal actions by so-called democratic states.

Manning may be ridiculed by those who have no human feeling, but we salute his courage and look forward to the day when the prison gates are opened and he is set free.

Penny Cole

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Kafka's nightmare goes global

We are all potential “terrorists” now, at least in the eyes of the state. Why else would the police want to stop 61,000 people at entry points into Britain during the last year under the infamous schedule 7 of the anti-terror laws of 2000.

That’s the equivalent of the population of the town of Lowestoft or a full stadium when Arsenal play at home. This amounts to state intimidation on a scale that the notorious Stasi of East Germany or the KGB of the former Soviet Union would salute.

There’s no other explanation for the detention of David Miranda, a Brazilian citizen whose only “crime” was to be the partner of and assistant to Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist who has helped publicise the material leaked by US whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Miranda says he was forced to hand over passwords and other information while at Heathrow or face arrest. All his electronic equipment was confiscated by the police, who got clearance from Downing Street for their action. And no doubt the ConDems told the American authorities, who have plans to put Snowden in jail.

Snowden’s “crime”? To reveal that the National Security Agency had created an unlawful, secret surveillance programme on a scale so immense that it put everyone under suspicion. And, naturally, the British end of the operation, GCHQ at Cheltenham, collaborated all the way.

To imply that revealing this is tantamount to an “act of terrorism”, as the US and British authorities do, is to create a world where the state can make anything a crime at the stroke of a pen. In Franz Kafka’s frightening novel The Trial, a man is arrested by an inaccessible authority and is never able to establish the nature of the charges.

Nearly 90 years after the book’s publication, Kafka’s nightmare has gone global.

Thus The Guardian was visited by no less an eminence than the cabinet secretary himself. Sir Jeremy Heywood was despatched by David Cameron and Nick Clegg to instruct the newspaper to hand over computer files containing Snowden’s leaked material.

Since when has the country’s most senior civil servant been a messenger boy for the secret state? After the newspaper refused, two spooks from GCHQ oversaw the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian’s basement.

Where’s the outcry? Who will protect our liberties? Labour? Parliament? You must be joking. Labour enacted the very legislation used to hold Miranda and the other 61,000. Blair’s governments created a surveillance state framework that the ConDems are busily using.

So not a peep from Ed Miliband about freedom of the press. As for parliament, its committee charged with intelligence oversight is, as libertarian Simon Jenkins puts it, “a charade, a patsy of the secrecy lobby”. The very same committee, you will recall, recently announced that GCHQ was not breaking the law in spying on our communications.

In any case, oversight is an over-used term. In the US, Congressional committees charged with checking on the NSA were repeatedly lied to or misled. They couldn’t get to the bottom of things even if they wanted to. That was one of the reasons that prompted Snowden to blow the whistle on the secret Prism programme.

The emergence of secret, unaccountable, security-surveillance states on both sides of the Atlantic over the last two decades is part of a wider process of change in the way we are ruled. Corporate-driven globalisation has resulted in a market-oriented state that in turn has lost legitimacy in the eyes of large numbers of people, particularly since the global crisis that began in 2007.

Like all states, the capitalist type needs constant justification for its raison d’être. An elusive external enemy that their policies helped create and which can never be defeated – aka global terrorism – answers the need.

And at the same time it creates the perfect cover for spying on dissent of any kind. The state’s claims to be protecting us are therefore useless as well as spurious. What we should ask is: who will protect us from the state?

Paul Feldman
Communications editor

Monday, August 19, 2013

US-UK security state strikes back

The outrageous detention of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald’s partner for nine hours at Heathrow airport yesterday gives a new meaning to the “special relationship” between Britain and the United States.

This was clearly a joint operation of overt intimidation by the burgeoning Anglo-US security state against the partner of a journalist who has helped expose the covert operations of GCHQ in Britain and the NSA in America.

David Miranda was held incommunicado for the maximum nine hours allowed under the Terrorism 2000 Act. His property – including his mobile phone – was taken from him and he was not allowed legal representation.

Under schedule seven of the Terrorism Act 2000, the police can detain people at British border points with or without probable cause. The detained person does not have the right to a lawyer and it is a criminal offence to refuse to answer questions, whether or not a lawyer is present.

Greenwald only knew of the arrest three hours into the interrogation when a “security official” – who only gave his number 203654 – called him at 5.30am on the east coast of the US.

His partner who is a Brazilian citizen was in transit from Berlin to Rio when seized. Neither Brazilian officials nor Guardian lawyers were allowed access to him.

It was a blatant act of revenge by the US and UK authorities to punish anyone associated with whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations about Prism, the mass snooping programme on US, British citizens and others around the world.

Miranda did not represent any terrorist threat, and the authorities knew that. His arrest was purely to punish his partner Greenwald for analysing the data released by Snowden, who remains in Russia on temporary asylum to escape arrest by the US authorities.

In enacting the Terrorism Act in 2000, New Labour Home Secretary David Blunkett flouted human rights and deeply enshrined principles, including the right to remain silent. When Blunkett was warned that it was a catch-all law, he notoriously poured scorn on human rights’ organisations.

In 2001 New Labour’s attorney general Lord Goldsmith, who approved the legal cover for the attack on Iraq, used the terror laws to detain asylum seekers for 10 days, despite judicial opposition.

In 2008, financial crime experts were shocked at the use of anti-terror laws to seize the assets of Icelandic banks, when Reykjavik-based Landsbanki Islands bank got into trouble.

In 2010, the Equality and Human Rights Commission expressed its concerns about the introduction of body scanners at ports of entry, again under the pretext of terrorism threats. It was alarmed about the infringement of the right to privacy and access and use of intimate body images,

The repeated use and abuse of the anti-terror laws by state forces has been so blatant that eminent experts such as David Anderson QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, felt obliged to admonish the police.

In 2011 he cautioned the police over the arrest of six North African street cleaners, which had been prompted by a canteen joke. During the Olympics, in June 2012 Anderson stated that you were just as likely to die of a bee sting as of a terror attack.

Snowden’s revelations, like those of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, are doing serious damage to the Obama administration and, with the help of the compliant British authorities, they are seeking to intimidate, smear, frame and generally harass anyone involved.  

Greenwald has courageously said that he will not be cowed. He deserves total support. While anti-terror legislation remains on the statute books it will be used by the state in whatever way it sees fit. An argument if there ever was one that a new democratic constitution for the 21st century that enshrines basic rights is an urgent necessity.

Corinna Lotz
A World to Win secretary

Friday, August 02, 2013

Immigrant checkpoints are naked state racism

Today is Roma Holocaust Memorial Day, marking the start of the liquidation by the Nazis of the “Gipsy” camp at Auschwitz on August 2 1944. Today is also being marked by racist, illegal state targeting of immigrants on the streets of Britain.  The parallels are clearly not exact, but the sentiments are.

At a time when most people are struggling to pay their bills, when wages have been driven down by zero hours and other slave-like “contracts”, when the ConDems are fighting for votes against the nationalist Ukip, it comes as little surprise that the Home Office has unleashed its dogs.

They may not be wearing brown shirts, but the UK Border Agency officials might as well be. Setting up checkpoints at key locations around London, Durham, Manchester, Wales and Somerset, they have patently targeted non-white citizens for identity checks.

This is racial profiling with a vengeance.  Stopping people on this basis  to ask them for their identity is patently unlawful, as is the Home Office boasting that they have caught “offenders” before people detained have even been charged.

Rule of law? Forget it! We’re the state and, hey, who cares.

This is how it begins. Find scapegoats and make them the target for society’s problems. The fact that the state long ago failed to process properly immigration and asylum claims, leading to a backlog of hundreds of thousands of cases, is ignored.

Wind it up, Lynton Crosby, the notorious adviser to the prime minister would have said, bringing all his wretched experience of running similar campaigns in Australia. Wind it up, says home secretary Theresa May, who is shutting down the incompetent UK Border Agency to take it in-house.

So send out vans around London with billboards on top declaring, “Go home or face arrest”. In the days when sponsorship is everything, I am surprised that the Home Office has not asked the British National Party or English Defence League  to pay for the campaign. They would be only too delighted.

While comedians have led the protests, mockery won’t be enough. The silence of Labour and the trade unions is shameful. Chris Bryant, Labour’s immigration spokesman, has only queried whether May’s tactics are legal – but not the whole campaign itself.

Labour figures like David Goodhart, Demos director and former editor of the Blairite Prospect magazine, actually lend their explicit support. Goodhart wrote this week that  the billboards “are necessary precisely because so few do face arrest thanks to today’s legal obstacles. But there is nothing inhuman or racist about encouraging them to come out with their hands up.”

People were clearly angered by the UKBA checkpoints. Onlookers described their shock at the operations, with one member of the public saying it was akin to “Nazi Germany”.  Phil O’Shea told the Kilburn Times: “They appeared to be stopping and questioning every non-white person, many of whom were clearly ordinary Kensal Green residents going to work. When I queried what was going on, I was threatened with arrest for obstruction and was told to ‘crack on’.”

On the eve of last year’s Roma Holocaust Memorial day, United Nations Independent Expert on minority issues, Rita Izsák who is herself of Hungarian Roma origin, said not enough was being done to challenge “a rising tide of hostility and discrimination against Roma in Europe that shames societies.” She added:
“Genocide in Europe began by dehumanizing the other, blaming them for the problems of society, ridiculing their differences, excluding them and surrounding them within the walls of a ghetto, labelling them as evil, filthy and unworthy of the rights and opportunities afforded to others. Today in much of Europe, nearly 70 years after the Holocaust, many Roma experience all of the above on a daily basis.”  
We can add that many minorities in Britain justifiably feel the same way as the Roma, facing a hostile state and becoming a target for the mainstream parties who play on anti-immigration in search of a few grubby votes. We should totally reject this ugly state racism and, if you’re in London this evening, go along to Hyde Park to show your solidarity with the Roma.

Paul Feldman
Communications editor

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Zero hours shows how capitalism works for the 1%

Job anyone? Yes? Good! Wait by the door with your cap in you hand and we’ll call you when we need you. If we call you we’ll pay you. Maybe. A bit. Not much though, times are hard. We’re all in it together.

Better than being on benefits, isn’t it. This way we’re not obliged to give you a cent, a penny, a dime. And we don’t have to worry about all that expensive red tape, bureaucracy. Things like sick pay, holiday pay.

Buckingham Palace, the National Trust, and the Tate Galleries use the same zero hours approach to employment as Mike Ashley billionaire owner of Sports Direct and Newcastle United.  

Some 90%  - 20,000 of the people employed by Sports Direct - are on these contracts. The remainder are in line for big bonuses, if they keep their noses clean and don’t upset the boss.

But if you DO upset the boss and get sacked there’s always the Employment Tribunal. Or at least there was. Now they’ve changed the rules so you have to pay a fat fee to even think about lodging an appeal. Good people in the Coalition.

The percentage of employers in the UK with more than 100 staff offering zero-hours contracts jumped from 11% to 23% between 2004 and 2011.  

They include most workers in the care industry, and a high proportion working for hotel, catering and leisure companies. No customers means no shifts, no hours and no pay.

Austerity programmes cutting spending in the public sector meant that NHS trusts began to issue zero-hours contracts to professional staff and make them fight it out for shifts.

Radiologists, psychiatrists and heart specialists found themselves in staff "banks" that trusts could draw on when demand peaked.

This trend is part of a universal, worldwide downward pressure on jobs and real incomes resulting from the 2007-8 crash.

You can see it behind the news that the number of jobless in the eurozone fell for the first time in more than two years in June, but the unemployment rate stayed at a record 12.1%. 

The total number of unemployed people in the wider EU fell by 32,000 to 26.42 million. But just like in the United States, part-time, and no-time jobs are increasing.

Even so, the youth unemployment rate is now at 58.7% in Greece and 56.1% in Spain.

The US Federal Reserve has just announced that it will continue adding to the $2 trillion dollars of credit it has pumped into the economy since the crash. Jobs are increasing by 200,000 a month as a result yet are failing to close the gap of 8.7 million lost as a result of the crash.

But, as Daniel Alpert, former merchant and investment banker, turned financial consultant points out, over 69% of the jobs created in April-June 2013 and over 57% of all the jobs created in the first half of 2013 were in the three lowest wage sub-sectors of the economy.

About half of the jobs created during the first half of 2013, and a large majority of the jobs created in April-June, appear to have been part-time jobs that offer employees as little as one hour of work per week, and up to 35 hours of work.

And the number of people saying they are working part time because they can’t find full time work crept back up to 8.2 million – double pre-recession levels.

Alpert now specialises in bankruptcy and restructuring – “thinking outside the box” to provide “novel and workable solutions to unique financial challenges”.

He’s got a new book out next month: The Age of Oversupply: Overcoming the Greatest Challenge to the Global Economy.

Just can’t wait to find out what new ideas he has for the huge numbers of people made surplus to requirements by the crisis of capitalist production.


Gerry Gold

Economics editor