The Socialist 20 January 2021 |
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News in Brief
Monopoly man with axe dancing on money bags, 1% super-rich austerity inequality, photo torbakhopper (Creative Commons) (Click to enlarge)
At the same time as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation published its 2020 report showing that Britain's poor got poorer due to furloughing and job losses, etc, while the rich prospered - Boris Johnson reshuffled his government and appointed Kwasi Kwarteng as the new business secretary.
Kwarteng is notorious for co-authoring a 2012 pamphlet - 'Britannia Unchained' - along with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Home Secretary Priti Patel and International Trade Secretary Liz Truss, which accused British workers of being "among the worst idlers in the world" and said that "too many people in Britain prefer a lie-in to hard work". In 2013 he argued for lowering the minimum wage in some areas and for regional public sector pay because they were 'crowding out' private employers.
Kwarteng has tried to allay workers' fears by saying he'll protect workers rights post-Brexit. But already its reported that the government is looking to end the weak 48-hour maximum working week law. All part of its 'Singapore on Thames' cheap labour vision for the country.
Brexit Broadcasting Corporation
It's a case of Lucifer replacing Satan. The previously flagged-up frontrunner to become BBC Chairman - ex-editor of the Daily 'Torygraph' Charles Moore - is standing aside for 'family reasons' and instead, Boris Johnson has appointed former Goldman Sachs banker and Tory donor Richard Sharp to oversee the Beeb's output.
Appointing Sharp - a right-wing Brexiteer who was chums with current Chancellor Rishi Sunak at Goldman Sachs - will undoubtedly cheer members of the reactionary European Research Group of Tory MPs. Already, he has referred to the apparent 'Remainer bias' of panellists of the BBC's Question Time during the 2016 EU Referendum campaign. This is an odd example to illustrate the liberal-lefty BBC, as leading xenophobe Nigel Farage seemed to have a permanent seat on the programme!
Profitable flight path
The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has fined giant US aircraft manufacturer Boeing $2.5 billion for "fraudulent and deceptive conduct" ie lying and covering-up, to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the US air safety regulator. This follows two fatal crashes of Boeing's 737 Max 8 plane, the first in October 2018 and the second five months later, killing 346 passengers and crew.
Crash investigations revealed that central to these disasters was the 737 Max's flawed anti-stall software device that the flight crew were unaware of, and which pitched the aircraft into fatal nosedives.
Boeing blamed two former employees for deceiving the FAA over the safety of its anti-stall software. However, the DoJ found Boeing had chosen "the path of profit over candour by concealing material information."
Lawyers representing victims families of the Ethiopian Airlines crash expressed anger that "a corporation pays billions of dollars to avoid liability while stonewalling and fighting the families in court."
But why isn't the FAA in the dock too? Its decade-long policy allowed Boeing and other airline manufacturers to self-certify compliance with safety regulations. Astonishingly, the FAAs 53-page report that formed the basis of the 737 Max training guidelines for pilots noted "no specific flight characteristics", despite the plane's novel anti-stall software. It illustrates the cosy relationship between government and corporate capitalism.