The Socialist 8 June 2011
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News in brief
A 'good dictatorship'
While pro-democracy opponents of Bahrain's monarchy languish in the country's notorious police cells, F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone (23rd richest person in the UK) has given the green light to restage the cancelled Bahrain grand prix later this year.
This should come as no surprise from a man who once said: "A good dictator is better for a country than a democracy."
"Good" is not a term that applies to Bahrain's despots. The feudal monarchy of the al-Khalifa family has crushed internal dissent using 1,200 Saudi soldiers.
Anyone deemed a conspirator has been 'disappeared' into windowless police dungeons. Some dissenters face ludicrous show trials, charged with crimes that carry the death penalty.
Many have been persecuted and driven out of the country by the Sunni ruling class, who are now increasing sectarian repression against the country's Shia majority population.
Shia protesters who attended pro-democracy rallies before the regime's crackdown in March are now considered by the monarchy to be 'treasonous pawns' of Iran's rulers.
So why has Ecclestone reinstated the grand prix? 'Nothing to do with money,' he says. But it has.
The restaged event will guarantee F1 its $40 million fee from the Bahrain government.
A few F1 drivers have voiced concerns about holding the event in a violently dictatorial country. None of the racing teams were in favour of going back to Bahrain, but only because of personal safety concerns and the lengthening of the race season.
The Treasury expects tens of thousands of low paid public sector workers to opt out of their pension schemes if the government increases their contributions.
If this happens then it will be a spectacular own goal for the government as the so-called pensions gap between money being paid into the schemes and money paid out will widen as fewer people contribute.
The Treasury contends that staying in the schemes would be "economically rational". But not when most public sector workers face a third year of pay freezes while inflation is running at 5%.
In fact, having to stump up more money, for additional years, and then to receive a lower pension is completely irrational!
Fuel not food
As soaring world food prices drive millions more people into absolute poverty and increase hunger, more and more agricultural land, especially in Africa, is being used to produce profitable biofuel crops.
Some of the biggest culprits are UK companies. And biofuels are far from being the 'green alternative' to fossil based fuels.
In fact, the destruction of forests to clear land for planting such crops actually increases the release of carbon emissions into the atmosphere. According to the Institute of European Environmental Policy carbon released from deforestation linked to biofuels could exceed carbon savings by 35% in 2011 rising to 60% in 2018.
In this issue
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party women
International socialist news and analysis
Young people fighting back
Socialist Party news and analysis