TRUMP IS THE BIGGEST THREAT TO WORLD PEACE SINCE WWII

By: Michaell Lange,

London, 26/02/17 –

Firstly, when Trump challenged the main stream media, I thought it was a good thing. The media is too powerful and don’t like to be challenged. The media protect their interests and must be challenged. So, criticism coming from an American president was the perfect match. There is no doubt that fake news is a huge problem throughout the media spectrum, and it was clear that the media, especially in America, did everything they could to destroy Trumps campaign. It didn’t work. The media was in fact, pivotal for Trumps victory. They were the victims of their own rating ambition. But, the way Trump has carried out his anti-media campaign went from what should’ve been positive criticism, to an outright full force attack. That’s not only bad for democracy, it’s highly dangerous!

Secondly, I thought he was going to challenge the so called establishment, and in doing so it would be normal to see the entire structure of the system shaking to the core. But, Trumps speech at CPAC is so far, the clearest evidence that Trump has decided to live in his own echo chamber by allowing in only people he likes. He completely disregards everyone else who don’t agree with him. Moreover, his plans for America Army is toxic and can drag the world back to the Cold War. That’s also not good for America!

Thirdly, when Trump had his Ban on citizens from seven muslims countries overturned by a federal judge, he should’ve appealed and followed the legal process of justice, instead, he attacked one of the core foundations of the Nation, by referring to the Judge as “the so called judge”. To any American citizen who praise their Constitutional rights, this should be enough to realise that Donald Trump isn’t really worried about their citizens rights and the Rule of Law.

Now, Trump announces he is doing another thing he promised during his elections campaign. He said during the CPAC, he believes in Peace by strength (a concept that never worked), and that he will make “American Military, bigger, better and stronger like never before”. He also said “it will be one of the greatest military buildups in American history”. The fact is, American military power is already the biggest military force the world has ever seen. The second best is centuries behind. But, his speech at CPAC has made me think about Vladimir Putin. The guy whom the West like to refer to as “the crazy guy”, “the dictator”, “the dangerous man” etc. I watched Trumps speech imagining what would be the reaction of the West if that exact speech was coming from the mouth of Vladimir Putin, under the ovation of the Russian people? Imagine Putin saying he will make Russia win again and no one will dare to mess with Russia again. Imagine that?

On the other hand, I was waiting for Vladimir Putins reaction to Trumps speech, and like most of us, I was waiting for something strong as like many of you, I also believe Putin has indeed a couple os loose screws in his head, though he’s far from being stupid. But, there was nothing from the man itself. The only response coming from Russia was from a concerned Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, saying that an American military buildup could restart the cold war, and that’s very true. It is also true that a replay of an arms race will again, ends with no winners.

What also concerns me is the efficacy of Trump’s “Peace by Strength”. In fact, an American military buildup will not make America greater or safer again. The risks of total armageddon during the cold war should have been a lesson for Donald Trump. More military power does not mean more security. Buildup the military, specially the nuclear power, will increase the chances of accidental war as well as nuclear terrorism. It will make nuclear countries to feel even more nervous, and it will be used as justification for other countries to develop their own nuclear weapons. It’s a mad idea! And, there is another big problem. Money! The US total debt stands as a colossus $66 trillion Dollars, or $809 thousand Dollars per family, which in return has only $10 thousand Dollars in savings per family. Where the money will come from Mr President? That’s a question only an adviser with balls can dare to ask Mr Trump. I don’t think Mexico will pay for that too.

I can’t stop looking back in time, more precisely to the beginning of the 20th century and draw parallels to what is happening today. Nationalism rising rapidly all around the world especially in America and Europe. The Arms race that will follow a buildup of American military. The Political and Military Alliances between Russia and China to face NATO. The conflicts in North Africa as well as the Ukraine crisis can be compared to the conflicts in the Balkans, and a possible collapse of the European Union could be the catalyst for total disaster. Frankly, we are heading that way!

In the 1930s when Hitler came to power, the Germans saw him as their saviour, just like millions of Americans see Trump today. The Germans had no idea that in 10 years time, their saviour would be dead and their country would be devastated by war and hated by the world. The Brits and millions of Americans would never believe Brexit and Trump had any chance to happen. The Germans would never thought their saviour could bring so much devastation to the world and to themselves. In fact, the Germans believed Hitler would be good to all German people. If you think I am comparing Trump to Hitler, that is exactly what I am doing. The potencial to world disaster under Trumps seems just as equal. There is a lot of similarities between Trumps atitude to Hitler and Mussolinis. They share the same mix of selfishness and egocentrism which is characteristics of all dictators. Like Hitler, Trump negotiates by intimidation. The violence is different of course, but the time is different too. However, the rhetoric is the same. The thing is, the less we believe that very bad things can happen again, the bigger is the chance it will happen again. Its important to consider that the comparison between Hitler and Trump must be regarded to their moment in time. Therefore, the comparison here is limited to the rise of Hitler and not to the end of his regime. Hitler cannot change his past, but Trump can still change his future.

It seems that American government is following exactly everything they criticise about authoritarian governments. The arrest of Journalists during Trumps inauguration, the censure of CNN, BBC, NYT and other, from White House as well as the rhetoric promoted by Trump in just over a Month in power, is very similar of those of dictators we criticise so much. The White House never looked so similar to the Kremlin. Perhaps similar to an early Hitler or Mussolini, ruthless dictators nevertheless. Trump is dividing America and the world. He is creating a lot of tension and division in just over a month of his first term. This cannot be good for America. His ultra nationalistic approach and attack on immigrants and religion, has created chaos around the world. This is not the American way! Trump could have been the American president of the century, but he blew everything in just over a month. God knows what he is going to do in the next 4 years. God Bless America! and God Bless us all!

BRAZILIAN POLITICS: A SHORT OVERVIEW

BY: Michaell Lange,

London, 01/09/16 –

Brazilian politics have come to a dramatic new low this week when the democratic elected President Dilma Rousseff, was impeached by the Senate for allegedly crime of responsibility. She was accused of manipulating figures to hide deficits on government budgets though, most of Brazilian Presidents, as well as state governors, have done the same in the past and were never prosecuted for any wrong doing. It’s a fact. Manipulate figures to hide holes in the budget is a common practice in all levels of Brazilian government and Dilma Rousseff was not an exception. But this is the least of the problems. Most of the Senators and federal deputies participating in this impeachment process have been accused of much more serious crimes.

National and international media, have also been reporting confusing and misleading views about what is really going on in Brazil. An Sky News correspondent reporting from Washington has said on TV that the Impeachment is part of a clean up on Brazilian politics when it is actually the opposite. A twit outlined it perfectly: “Imagine a country where the biggest anti-corruption operation in its history ended up with all the accused taking power?” That is a fact! Some Brazilian news papers the day after the impeachment said in the first page “A new chapter” and “Viva Democracy”. Similarities to the day after the military coup in 1964 was disturbing to say the least.

The whole political crises started with the reelection of Dilma Rousseff as Brazilian President in October 2014. She defeated Aécio Neves from the PSDB party which formed a coalition with other right wing parties to try to put an end on a 13 years of leftist government; first elected in 2003 with Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva from the Brazilian labour party, the PT. During the 8 years of Lula´s presidency, Brazil grew like never before. Social inclusion and other social programs have pulled over 30 million Brazilians from extreme poverty. By the end of his second mandate his approval rate were over 80%. His charm and charisma made Lula a global figure. For the next presidencial election he appointed a successful technocrat from his government, a friend, and also militant that has fought with the rebels during the military regime between 1964 and 1985. Dilma Rousseff, was arrested and tortured by the military regime. She survived 20 years of military dictatorship and guerrilla warfare that killed many of her friends. She is also a cancer survival. She was Minister of Mines and Energy and Chief of Staff in Lula´s government. But until 2011 she has never been elected. Dilma was an experienced technocrat, but she was not a politician. She haven’t even a fraction of Lula´s charisma, but she was the first woman to be elected president of the 7th biggest economy in the world. Lula was so powerful that it is said that if he had appointed a homeless he would probably be elected. While Lula became a global figure, Dilma decided to concentrate inwards. As Brazil was taken by a serious of corruption scandals involving mainly her own party, she gave freedom for the Federal Police and the supreme court to investigate and arrest anybody, close to her or not. Some of PTs senior members such as the ex-Minister José Dirceu and the national president of PT, José Genoíno were both found guilt of corruption and sent to prison. No such thing has ever happened in Brazil before! The scandals of corruption has weakened the labour party though. The slow down of Chinese economy also put an end on Brazils economic boom. Dilma Rousseff also started to show weaknesses in leadership. Despite her true patriotism and sensitivity regarding social issues, she was not competente enough or a leader as such, and that’s a fact. She was a horrible speaker and communicator. Comedians targeted her for her countless gaffes. Differently from her predecessor Lula, she was unable to work and make alliances with the opposition. The fact that she was a woman, also made it difficult to deal with an extreme conservative and sexist Brazilian right wing politicians. The right wing in Brazil are formed mainly by the evangelical bench, the military bench (also know as the bullet bench), and the ruralists. When they united against Dilma Rousseff her fate was set, and the country was going to pay the price for this political struggle.

The opposition, led by Aécio Neves from PSDB, thought that PT was finished and had no chance to win the next presidential election that was held in October 2014. In fact, if the opposition had a better candidate than the playboy Aécio Neves, they would almost certainly have won the election, but they messed up big time and lost the election by a small margin.

The Federal Police investigations were by then, starting to catch up with many of the opposition leaders and their political parties, including Aécio Neves. The so called OPERAÇÃO LAVA JATO or OPERATION CAR WASH, the same Federal Police operation that led to the arrest of José Dirceu and José Genoíno from PT for corruption, were now focused on a pile of evidence of corruption and money laundering involving most of the top members of the opposition parties. Most of the accusations were down to millions of pounds received by political parties and politicians under the carpet from big corporations in exchange of multibillionaire government contracts. Nevertheless, some of these politicians were involved in far serious crimes. Perhaps the most serious case became known as the “helicoca”. In 2013 an investigation carried out by the Brazilian Federal Police to combat narcotraffic led to the arrest of a helicopter with half a ton of pure cocaine in a farm in the State of Espirito Santo. The helicopter was found to belong to Zezé Perrella, a Senator and very close friend and political ally of Aécio Neves, the right wing candidate for president which is also known for his addictions to drugs and playboy life style. The media (mostly controlled by right wing politicians), gave very little coverage to the case and at the end, nobody was formally accused or prosecuted. The helicopter was returned to its owner, the pilot which was a Mr Perrella employee, were released without charge and the drug disappeared in thin air. Another case involving a supporter for the impeachment was the former Governor for the State of São Paulo and former Mayor of the city of São Paulo,  Paulo Maluff, also a close ally of Aécio Neves. He has been sentenced to 2 years in prison by the French justice for money laundering and countless accusations of corruption. Eduardo Cunha, the president of the Brazilian Chamber of Deputy and currently suspended for corruption and money laundering accusations, was also an articulator of the impeachment and voted to remove Dilma this week despite his conditions with the Law. The president of the national Senate, Renan Calheiros, has also been accused of corruption and money laundering and countless accusations of corruption. In total, over 60% of all Senators and Deputies who voted for the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff are either under the Federal Police investigation, or have already been found guilty of corruption and other crimes. Even Michel Temer, the successor of Dilma Rousseff has been under Federal Police investigation. The Brazilian Federal Police has strong evidence against all of the accused and the OPERATION CAR WASH was closing in on them very fast before the impeachment. But now with Dilma out, everything changed.

When Dilma Rousseff was suspended by the Senate Chamber earlier this year, her interim Michel Temer, now permanent successor, was quickly to create his own new cabinet which included 8 Ministers under investigation for corruption and money laundering. It is also composed entirely by white men. All of them, including the President, now enjoy parliamentary immunity against any previous accusations or investigation by OPERATION CAR WASH. It means that even if the Federal Police found them guilty of any crime, none of them will be prosecuted or arrested. Moreover, immediately after been sworn in as the new Brazilian President, Michel Temer started to work with his new cabinet to change Oil exploration rules introduced by Former president Lula, which gives the state Oil giant Petrobras, superior powers to control the Oil industry in the country. The new President is planing to give more freedom over the Oil exploration in Brazil to international firms and  to start plans to privatise Petrobras. The urgency in which he was dealing with this subject has raised some eyebrows. He also started almost immediately, to cut workers’ rights, giving more freedom to employers to fire employees. He is rolling back many of social polices and programmes introduced by Lula including the finance of athletes. Michel Temer also ended the Ministry of Culture.

The impeachment of Dilma Rousseff most certainly put an end to OPERATION CAR WASH. The top people being investigated by the Federal Police are now in Michel Temers cabinet and protected by Parliamentary immunity. The impeachment also dumped the democratic election of 2014. It actually, overturned the result. It turned democracy in its head as the people in power today are exactly the ones who lost the election back in 2014. Despite all the evidence, they still deny the coup d’état. If it’s not a coup, it’s hard to know what that would it be. As the people protested at Paulista Avenue against the impeachment, a woman was shot in the eye by a rubber bullet from the military police. She lost the left eye. A big protest set for this coming Sunday (4) was outlawed by Michel Temer who also ordered the army to “maintain security” on the streets. It seems it’s not just a coup, it’s increasingly more likely to be a declaration of war against Brazilian people.

 

EMPLOYMENT RIGHTS: FIRMS ARE EXPLOITING SELF-EMPLOYMENT CONTRACTS. THIS MUST STOP!

By: Michaell Lange,

London, 14/08/16 –

The Court of Justice is about to expose what has been claimed to be a scandalous employment rights’ exploitation. Delivery and minicab firms throughout the UK have been accused of denying their drivers of basic working rights such as minimum wage, sick pay and holidays, by imposing self-employment contracts upon them. This would stop these companies from complying with would otherwise, be their obligations.

It became normal practice throughout this industry. Delivery and minicab drivers have been working as self-employed sub-contractors when in most cases, the atributes of their jobs are similar or equal to those stated as workers and employees. Nevertheless, Hundreds of thousands of drivers are working with little or no employment rights at all. A spokesman from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), told The Guardian newspaper last week that, “An individual’s employment status is determined by the reality of the working relationship and not the type of contract they have signed”. If that is the case, almost all minicab and delivery drivers working in the UK on the bases of a self-employment contract, should have their employment status upgraded to worker or employee. “Individuals cannot opt out of the rights they are owed, nor can an employer decide not to afford individuals those rights. Employers cannot simply opt out of the National Living Wage (NLW) by defining their staff as self-employed.” (The Guardian)

How it works

If you are looking to become a delivery/minicab driver, you will be asked with few exceptions, to sign a contract with one of many operators in the country. You will need to have a full UK driving license and a PCO license (if you want to carry passengers). You will then, be given a van, a motorbike or a car, depending on the type of the job you are signing up for. It works on a rental contract. A XDA or PDA will also be provided so you can receive details of jobs you are going to do. You will also be given uniform, ID badge and a call sign. Once you are ready to go, you will receive jobs, but only from the company you have signed up for. You are not allowed to work for anybody else. Do it privately or pick up a passenger without pre-booking and you will be breaking the Law. As a private hire driver, you are only allowed to pickup passengers with pre-bookings. Your company (not you), will decide which driver will get a particular job as well as, how much you will be paid for it. Unless you are a car owner, you will be using a company car, usually with the company logo on it, an uniform and equipment. They will have total control over how many jobs and how much they will pay you every day. Your responsibility is to be available for work as long as possible. You are required to work at least 12 hours a day. The courier company charge a commission fee on each job you do which can be up to 60%, plus car rental and insurance. Any damage to the car or equipment and you will be charged for it. You also have to pay for any traffic related incidents like penalty charges, punctured tyres, broken windscreen, windows and fuel. All time lost on repairs, services and recovery, are at your cost. You are not entitle to receive sick pay, overtime, or holiday.

You have to log in to the company’s system at the start of your shift and wait for the first job to come in. Once you have a job, you must do it, although, some companies allow up to 25 seconds on ASAP jobs for the driver to accept or refuse it. However, refusing a job can put you in serious trouble with the company, and if you keep refusing jobs you will be made inactive. So for instance, if you live in Richmond and you are in central London waiting for a job towards home after your 12 hour shift and you are given a job going to Stansted, you are expected to do it, even if you have to drive 30 miles empty back home.

In most cases, the first job is quickly allocated, but during half-terms and school holidays it can take up to an hour. During summer, specially during July and August, some drivers might work 12 hours shift and do as little as 3 or 4 jobs. The costs on insurance and rent remains the same throughout the year. January is also a very quite month. During these periods, a van and minicab driver, working 12 hours a day, six days a week might get up to £450 pounds before costs. Costs are usually: Rent: £100/170 pounds; Insurance: £55/70 pounds; fuel: £100 pounds and Tax. That is per week, considering you have no traffic related incidents. It is not unusual to see drivers working on a loss during down periods. Even during pick times it is getting harder and harder for drivers to breakeven. This is where companies benefit from self-employment contracts, as they have no obligations such as sick pay, holiday and minimum wage towards their drivers. Drivers on the other hand, have no rights and have to bare all the costs. Companies can also hire as many drivers as they please as they have no added costs in doing so. It increases availability and consequently  increases their revenue. However, for the drivers it means more competition, less jobs and consequently less revenue. The car rent paid by the drivers usually pays all the costs the company would have with the car, and that’s including the leasing contracts. At the end of the leasing contract the company will have a car which can be sold for a clean profit. The drivers that actually paid the lease by paying car rental every week, gets nothing in return.

After the introduction of UBER in 2013, and the arrival of private equity firms to control many of the big companies, job prices are going down to attract more costumers. They are also charging more from drivers to work for them. Lowering the prices is a good thing to attract more costumers, but in some cases drivers are paying the full cost of these changes while companies will not lose any revenue by lowering prices. Some companies for instance, are giving up to 30% discount to passengers during off pick, but this 30% discount is entirely paid by the driver. Commission are also up. Cash jobs used to be commission free. Now there is a 20% commission on it. In many cases the driver has a 50% cut on his payment at the start of a job, and that’s even before they pay for car rent, insurance and fuel. In these cases, drivers will be left with almost nothing at the end of the job. There are many cases where after 70 to 80 hour worth of driving in a week, your average payment can be as little as £4 pounds per hour, much lower than the legal minimum wage. Anyone earning £4 pounds a hour in London will be fighting to survive. So for example: on a cash job from SW1 London to Heathrow, the  driver used to be paid an average of £70 pounds. Today, the driver has to pay 20% commission to the company he/she works for, plus 30% discount given by the company and charged from the driver. That means, the driver will now be paid £35 pounds before car rent, insurance, Fuel and tax, if there is no traffic related incidents. At the end of the job you will be left with as little as £10 pounds. But, this is not all. Once you drop off a passenger at the airport, you can either drive back to central London empty, or wait for a job at the airport which can take at least 2 hours as you are placed in a queue system. Either way, the driver will lose money by driving back to town empty, or waste at least 2 hours waiting for another job at the airport. It became a no win situation made worse by a self-employment contract that gives little or no rights to drivers and no obligations from the company you work for.

What we have noticed as result of these new corporate strategies, is that companies are increasing their revenue while drivers (the only source of revenue for most of courier companies) are experiencing a sharp drop of up to 50% on their earnings. In the other hand, to keep their heads above the water, drivers have been forced to work longer hours, which in return, increases availability and improve even more the company’s results. There are many reports of drivers working over 100 hours a week  just to make ends meet. It is utterly unfair and extremely dangerous for everybody including costumers.

Big courier companies have been able to get away with it for years, but now it seems drivers had enough. There are countless court cases against courier and minicab companies going through the courts at the moment. If the Courts decide these drivers should be treated as workers or employees, companies throughout the country will have to pay compensation as well as upgrade their drivers status from self-employed to workers status. That means they will have to pay the same rights as any worker should have in the first place. It will change the industry as a whole and stop companies from abuse the system for their own benefit. The future of thousands of families throughout the UK are depending on how the Courts will rule these cases. If justice is to be above money, drivers must have some money back and the culture of abuse should stop immediately. Justice must be done for professional drivers.

 

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/aug/14/deliveroo-told-it-must-pay-workers-minimum-wage?CMP=twt_gu

 

BRITISH REFERENDUM ON THE EUROPEAN UNION (OPINION)

By: Michaell Lange,

London, 10/06/16 –

 

Yesterday I posted my vote on the British Referendum on European Union. Like many of us I was confused and extremely disappointed by the way both sides of the campaign have been conducting their arguments to the public. It is no surprise that the trust on politicians is so low. The fact is, we cannot trust them! So I decided to do my own research and make a decision based on my feelings and experience. I have a degree in International Relations and Politics and this helped me to separate the truth from the false, at least as far as my eyes can see.

The first thing I have done was to go back to the bases of the European Union. What was the main reason for Europe to unite and create such a huge and complicated institution that we know today as The European Union? How did we get to the point we are today and what would be the real arguments to remain or to leave the EU? Is it better in or out?

There is no easy answer for the referendum question, but we can work out how interests are dividing businesses, political parties and the people of Britain. How interests are played out to the public by the media, and for whose interests? My suggestion is: Don’t trust politicians and the media. Trust your own feelings and make sure your decision will not come back to bite you. You maybe going to find a conclusion complete the opposite of mine, but that’s the beauty of democracy . After all, it will be your conclusion, your decision and not a third part decision based on third part interests sold to you cheaply. Do not sell your conclusion!

Like most of you, I am also worried. I am worried about the future of this country and about the future of my family. I also think we are all missing the point here. Most of the campaign on both sides are spending too much time on the economy and immigration issues when in my eyes these issues are not totally dependent on whether we are in or out of the European Union. In fact, China and the United States are the two main concerns regarding the state of the economy in the entire world including Europe and Britain. What they do and don’t can bring the whole system into crisis. Even the Euro Zone crisis was not caused just by the pit falls of the European Union, it came from abroad with no boarders or regulations being able to stop it. Immigration is also linked to international forces we can’t always control. The Euro Zone crisis brought a lot of Europeans with free movement into this country, that’s a fact. But wouldn’t they come anyway if we were out of the EU? Of course they would! People have moved around the globe for thousands of years and for thousands of reasons. The only difference is that the people working here legally today would be here otherwise illegally, but they would probably be here any way just as much as they are in the US and Germany because these countries are doing better. Leave the EU might double the number of illegal immigrants living in Britain, but it’s still just a possibility. In addition, there are thousands of Chinese, Indians, Africans, South Americans, Australians, Russians, Americans and people from all over the world living in Britain today, legally or illegally and none of them are part of the European Union. So, who would be there to stop the Portuguese, the Spanish, the French, and the Italians? Can we blame the immigration issue on the EU only?

An economic disaster in the Euro Zone would probably see levels of mass migration from Europe into Britain similar to those seen from Syria into Europe today, and this is regardless of whether Britain is in or out of the EU. When people feel threaten they move to a safer place whatever and wherever it is. So as long as the world is balanced and people are not forced out of their lands by bombs and famine, mass migration can be avoided. Britain is a vital player in maintaining this balance in the EU as well as throughout of the world. Whether we can play this role better in or out of the EU is a question we all must ask ourselves before voting on the referendum in just 10 days time. Building walls, closing boarders, sending the army or any other radical method offered by radicals today, have been tried before by old radicals and failed, and they will continue to fail until governments realise that it’s impossible to stop millions of people from fleeing wars to save their lives. It would be a crime against humanity anyway. The point here is that neither immigration nor the economy can be totally controlled by our government. Another important point to take into consideration is this: Some of our Laws and regulations are made by Brussels, but how better our government would do? The Liberals said they would not touch the University fees. The Labours wanted to tax our houses, and the Conservatives, well, the Conservatives said they would lead Turkey into the EU, and now they say otherwise.

The media claims the Conservative party is divided. Well, in my view their strategy is a win-win situation. If we vote out, David Cameron will step down and give way to Mr Boris Johnson. If we remain in the EU, David Cameron was always right. How would  Tories lose it? On the other hand, the Labour Party and the Liberals find themselves working for the Tories whatever way you look at it.

For us, the people, the problems with politics are the same. They lie just as much as they need to convince us to believe them. We should question what our politicians are doing with the power they already have. Are they doing a good job? Can we trust them? If you have any doubt, ask this question to Fire Fighters, Junior Doctors, Teachers, Tube Drivers, Black Cab Drivers, TATA Steel workers, University students, Disable people, the elderly, the soldiers. Ask them if we can trust our politicians and listen to what they have to say.   So why should I listen to politicians’ claims that we are losing sovereignty and decision making powers when they are unable to prove they can do a better job with the power they already have in their hands? They can’t blame everything on Europe all the time.

However, my main concern in leaving the EU is Peace. Peace in Europe is the bases of everything else in the lives of Europeans. Without Peace, there is no economy, no growth, no jobs, no integration, no holidays in Spain and Portugal, and no immigration control. Peace was the main reason behind the creation of the EU, and that idea stands firm today. Nazis and fascist groups are still strongly operating underground all over Europe including here in Britain. The way the EU stands today would be almost impossible for these radical groups to rise to power and cause another war in Europe, it’s been successful in that task for more than 70 years.  However, if the EU collapses as a result of Brexit (British Exit), the idea of 27 countries in Europe going their own ways, facing economic depression and unemployment, it would certainly create the perfect storm for such groups to rise up to power again. Russia would be looking to Europe with a lot of interests. We already know the consequences of this recipe. Who can guarantee that the British exit will not create such catastrophic situation? I prefer to believe in possibilities than just blindly believe in what I wish for the future, and the EU meltdown is a real possibility.

The reality is that, if I had a couple of million pounds invested in the EU, with the Brexit looming ahead, I would be very concerned about the future of my investments. I would be looking for a safer place to keep my money until the uncertainty goes away. It is almost certain that the price of gold will rise sharply just before the referendum, like after 9/11. People always tend to find a safer place for their money during difficult times. Thus, if every investor feels afraid of losing their investments, they will move away from the Euro zone causing the collapse of the Euro and a chain reaction with disastrous consequences. Of course it would be the worst case scenario, but who can guarantee it will not happened? I also like to start any analysis from the worst case scenario.  Personally, I believe that Britain would be probably better off out of the EU. Nevertheless, it’s the consequences of the exit, and how these consequences may affect the whole EU structure and eventually the balance of Peace, that concerns me the most.

Even if we leave the EU we will still need to change the way the EU operates because right now, it is not functioning the way it should. When the EU does not functions well our economy is affected. Be part of the decision making is vital to push for changes. Isolation in the 21st century is as ludicrous as the Trump Wall. The economy and the rest of the world are pretty much working as one single unity, and I believe Britain cannot have more control of its economy just by leaving the EU. The TATA Steel saga is one big evidence of that. Decisions about the future of thousands of British steel workers were decided in India. The decision of Arab countries to force the price of oil down in the past years caused thousands of job losses in Scotland. Be out of the EU would have made no difference in these cases. It seems to me that if we leave the EU, the concerns we have today such as immigration and the state of the economy, will continue to exist, but then there will be no turning back.

It is widely known that the older generation of Britain is more Europe skeptical and therefore, more likely to vote leave. My concern is this: My son is three and half years old and his generation is more likely to live the full consequences of the decisions made by the older generation today. Are we taking the future and the wishes of the young Brits into consideration when deciding whether to vote to remain or to leave the EU? or, are we thinking so selfishly and only taking into account what we feel about Europe today? The young Brits are most likely to vote to remain, so isn’t it the case for the old Brits to think and listen to the wishes of the young people about where they want Britain to be in the future? Some of the old people of Britain thinking about vote leave will see very little of how their votes will affect the future generations. My son is more likely to live the consequences of a Brexit his entire life. I decided to vote for the young people. I decided to vote for my son. I decided to vote for Peace in Europe. I decided to vote to remain. Good Luck Britain!

DAVID VERSUS GOLIATH IN A BATTLE FOR THE FUTURE OF ADDISON LEE

A master piece by: Mark Morahan

London, 26/05/16 –
David versus Goliath in a battle for the future of Addison Lee.

This is no Fairy Tale!
The ‘Goliath’ a $178 billion organisation called Carlyle Group versus ‘David’ a bunch of London minicab drivers from Addison Lee earning £6 per hour and now forced to work 60 to 80 hours per week to make ends meet. No contest you would think but read on and you may be surprised.
Our story starts back in 2013 when Goliath purchased Addison Lee from the wilily old founder John Griffin for £300 million. Goliath congratulated himself that he had taken Irishman Griffin ‘to the cleaners’ by getting the company for a knock down price. Goliath licked his lips as he thought of all that profit he would make by selling the company for $800 million. Griffin, to his credit, bore Goliath no ill will for being persuaded to sell his company so cheaply. He accepted he was only a simple cab driver and no match for expensively suited high finance Goliath executives.
What is now certain that Goliath, who was much too big to travel in normal cars and needed a chauffeured Mercedes, had never heard of ‘Uber’. The rest of the private equity community laughed with glee as Goliath discovered that this was not the best time to be selling a cab company. Goliath spat with fury as he was forced to cancel the sale.
The good people at Addison Lee kept on working hard, providing a great service and grew the business by 7%. That was not good enough for the very hungry Goliath who wanted money, big money, otherwise his investors would get annoyed. Goliath pushed open the doors of Addison Lee and announced that he would now be running things. We all know that Goliath did not become the biggest in the land by being stupid, he could smell where the money was but how could he get his hands on it? Thinking for a while he came up with a simple but brilliant plan ‘let’s increase the charges to the drivers’. Up went the weekly car rental and commission taken on every job. This stroke of genius was a fabulous success and £25 million that would have been paid to the 4,000 drivers, was to be put too much better use, shareholder dividends. Goliath sat back smugly, knowing that his investors would be yet again be kneeling in front of him paying homage to his brilliance.
Understandably the drivers were a little upset at having to work longer and longer hours to try to cover the bare essentials of living in one of the most expensive cities in the world. They pleaded ‘we have given loyal service, we love this company and now were earning less than the minimum wage, that is not right’. Goliath laughed and said ‘you’re all on self-employed contracts so you have no rights. If you don’t like it leave’.
Many drivers, with tears in their eyes, did leave the place they loved. Others scared by the size of Goliath hid away but one driver called David dared to challenge the Goliath by saying ‘this is our company, we helped build it and are proud to work here, you have no right to be destroying it.” Summoning all his courage, David then shouted ‘IT IS YOU WHO SHOULD LEAVE’ Now Goliath got very annoyed grabbed David, pulled his car keys away so he could not escape in his Galaxy and threw him violently into the dungeon called unemployment. ‘That what’s happens to anybody who challenges me’ roared Goliath with such ferocity that all the other drivers ran for cover in case they too were locked in the damp dark dungeon and would not be able to feed their families.

But then a strange thing happened, the little drivers looked at each other and knew they had to rescue David. They were very frightened but as they looked around their courage grew for they knew they had right on their side. More and more came out from hiding and were soon joined by staff from the offices who cheered the little drivers on. Soon Goliath was surrounded in the boardroom of Addison Lee. The drivers and staff said as one ‘We have come to take our company back’. Goliath roared with laughter and then thundered ‘Get back to work, it is I which owns this company’. He was so loud that he could be heard all the way to the garage in Stanhope Street where the unused Galaxies and Prius crashed into each as the roar of anger reverberated around its concrete walls.
But still the drivers did not move and as Goliath caught one to throw them into the dungeon the other drivers and staff wrestled him back. Soon Goliath started to tire and he knew that he could not win. The drivers and staff cheered as they threw Goliath out the front door banished to Berkley Square where his angry investors lay in wait for him.
The good people at Addison Lee were happy to go to work and cheered as they were once again voted the best minicab company in the country.
The drivers and staff of Addison Lee are shouting loud and clear, ‘Carlyle, we want our company back’. What’s not a fairy tale is that Carlyle cannot win this battle. Its management style is arrogant and straight from the 19th century. Sacking people for demonstrating because they have had their income forcibly reduced, is not acceptable in this country.
The assets of Addison Lee are not the cars, vans, offices or computers, it is the people. Without them the company is valueless. It is the professionalism of drivers and staff which keeps our accounts happy. Who owns the shares has no bearing when contracts are renewed.
The reality is that Carlyle wish to sell Addison Lee. That will only happen if the staff and drivers cooperate. No purchaser will ever buy Addison Lee in the condition it is now.
A formal notice will soon be served on Carlyle which will legally oblige them to inform any potential purchasers that the drivers and staff will not tolerate being owned by any organisation which does not put the interests of all stakeholders (staff, drivers and shareholders) at the forefront of its strategy.
Without co-operation Carlyle would have to give the company away for virtually nothing. For assisting the sale of Addison Lee the staff and drivers will be rewarded with 25% of the shareholding which will be is to be divided equally between all staff and drivers.
If Carlyle do not accept those conditions, the staff and drivers of Addison Lee will do everything in its power to confront Carlyle to counter its dictatorial attitude and total disregard for peoples basic human rights.
They will not win.

LETTER TO ADDISON LEE’S DRIVERS

By: Michaell Lange,

London, 25/05/16 –

I just woke up feeling the hungover from yesterday’s (24) events. It was a long and tense day. I woke up at 4am as usual, for a 5am pick up and worked until 9:30 when I logged off and made my way to Regent’s Park where we gathered for the demonstration before driving down to Berkeley Square for a 12 noon protest outside Carlyle Group’s office. The atmosphere was great. It is good to see when people get united for a common cause, and I was feeling really proud to be part of that. Some of the drivers were applauding the drivers arriving at the gathering point. These are brave men and women I respect dearly!

At Berkeley Square everything was going accordingly to the plan. No violence, no threats or insulting shouting but instead, a loud and clear message that we are not happy with the way our beloved company Addison Lee has been managed by Carlyle Group. Everybody behaved in a proper manner. I was vigilant to any signs of trouble, but there weren’t any. From Berkeley Square we drove down to Parliament Square via Trafalgar Square. The protest at Parliament Square was mostly silence and lasted for about 20 minutes before we dispersed. Some drivers did sound their car’s horn before being advised not to do so. Although, it was nothing like the protest at Berkeley Sq. Some of the noise was actually coming from other vehicles either supporting us or complaining about us. Otherwise it was completely silent.

After the protests each driver went their own way, but things were about to turn nasty. I received a call from the driver’s liaison asking me to go to the office. I went to the representatives group on Telegram just to find out that two other representatives had also been called in. However one of our Reps have been allegedly told by Addlee officials that Addison Lee’s CEO were waiting to talk to us, so I felt optimistic about it.  Once we got to the office it felt like they were all over the place. It did look chaotic and those supposed to talk to us were clearly distressed. The atmosphere was so tense that I was still feeling sick the morning after. It was clear that the second demonstration struck the core of Addison Lee/Carlyle management. Incredibly, it was still not enough to make them willing to talk to us. Instead, they have done the last thing any serious and ethical company would ever do.

Since the beginning of this movement, I was totally aware that this struggle was going to get nasty. And yesterday it did. I cannot express more how proud I am for those who conquered their fears yesterday and came to the demonstration at Berkeley Sq to pacifically protest against what in my view, is an huge injustice and an attack against our values and pride we always had of Addison Lee.

After the demonstration yesterday, Carlyle/Addison Lee high management started what they think is the solution for the drivers revolt. One by one, representatives and other drivers, allegedly blacked-listed by the company for highlighting the unfairness of their activities, were unfairly targeted and sacked by Addison Lee. No previous contact were made, neither to negotiate or to resolve the dispute. No warnings or talks, just a direct and unjustifiable sack! It was in my view, a clear display of a centuries old tactic of beating people up into submission. But the world has moved away from those dark periods. Now, in the 21st century, some hedge funds and big corporations are using the same tactics to bring people, governments and in many cases, entire countries into submission. What they haven’t realised yet is that like during colonialism, those tactics failed and they will continue to fail today. Mahatma Gandhi, probably the biggest symbol of that resistance once said: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win”.

My fellow drivers, we have been through the phases where we have been ignored by them and laughed at by them. Now they are fighting us, and as Gandhi once said, now we will win it! We can’t ignore this fight! Like in any battle, those at the front line will be the first to be shot at, but these front liners should inspire others who will take their places, and the battle will continue to rage until a fair solution can be achieved. Me, together with some other fellow drivers were shot at yesterday. But we are still alive because in this battle they cannot kill us. Not even silence us. Fear is a human being thing I understand. I feel fear too. Like many of you, I have a family to provide for. But we cannot allow fear to take control of our lives and make us run away from those responsible for all this misery. They must be stopped! We must stand the ground and fight against this injustice. My family and your family deserve better! Addison Lee deserves better! Remember that we, the drivers, are the real Addison Lee! Those at the high management are just investors looking for their returns, which I also understand and it isn’t wrong. Let’s be clear here, we want people to invest in Addison Lee and maximise their return as much as possible. We want Addison Lee to be successful! What we reject is the idea that we have to pay for all the cost of those investments. We are happy to see investors interested in our company, but they also need to understand that without drivers, there is no return for their investments!

We should continue to be proud to work for Addison Lee as we should continue to offer our customers the best minicab service in the UK. However, we must fight off any potential investor who only see importance in their own return. Investors like Carlyle Group are destroying our brand and our livelihood for the benefit of themselves and we will not tolerate this kind of behaviour. We will continue to challenge Carlyle management until they return our money. They should know by now that the only way they can get their investment back, is by given back the money taken from Addison Lee drivers. If they continue to refuse to sit down and negotiate, I feel sorry for their shareholders because there will be no returns from their investments, there will be only losses. Moreover, Carlyle’s reputation is well on the line here, and that should be another good reason for them to resolve these problem as quick and wisely as possible. So far, Carlyle Group has shown a complete lack of such virtues. It is very unfortunate that we have to come this low and yet be refused access to Carlyle management. Let’s be clear, there is no other way, and there is no way back from here.

Best Regards!

 

 

THE BRAZILIAN THEATRE OF SHAME

By: Michaell Lange,

London, 19 /04/16 –

The Congress worked in exemplary fashion in recent weeks. They packed the plenary during last Sunday (17) session, a fact so rare as the total eclipse of the sun. They were all there in their fancy dresses, red noses and sharp tongues to vote massively for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff. The house was full. If they could, they would bring their families and friends, as if they were about to watch the theatrical show of the century, and indeed it was. With the exception of the truth and the Federal Constitution, no one missed the show. While the military patrolled arrogantly in their tanks on the streets of Brazil, the congressmen in ecstasy, unloaded all their hatred in the Courthouse of Congress. It was the show of the century, but it wasn’t pretty or exemplary. It was ugly, dirty, hateful, miserable, shameful, illegal, irresponsible, inappropriate, and of sadness so deep that turned comedy. They managed to raise absurdity to such a level that it became funny. And how not to laugh at situations such as the deputy who praised her husband as an example of citizen, just to find the next morning that he was arrested by federal police on charges of corruption? Like any comedy show, we laughed out loud at such absurdity!

In any democracy the people are sovereign, and it is the only institution allowed to elect mayors, governors, deputies, senators and the president. These, are not the owners of the state. They are just representatives who must respect and be faithful to the Federal Constitution above all. But, in Brazil, this concept of democracy seems to exist only on election day. Once elected, politicians become some kind of God with absolute and supernatural powers as well as unlimited authority. They are in fact, so they believe, sent by God! And speaking of God, he was slandered all day long by those false prophets and false religious leaders. They do everything to ensure they got the vote, and then, overnight, they become the landlords of the state. They do whatever they please without fear. After all, they were sent by God. When they work by themselves, the threat to the state is little, but when they work together, they become the biggest single threat to national security. The Sunday (17) was the greatest proof of that. The army took to the streets waiting for a possible invasion, perhaps led by Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, or even a surprise appearance of Bolívar himself. Yes, the Brazilian military mentality stopped evolving in the 1960s. The arguments are the same and the rhetoric of hatred as well. When they combine forces with false religious leaders, the whole world is in danger.

Nothing is impossible for an elected Brazilian politician. They have the power to drop lawsuits, to interfere in the course of justice, they abuse power and exercise powers that they do not have or at least they shouldn’t. The Federal Constitution is a mere inconvenient book which is only remembered with great caution, when it’s extremely necessary and even then, during last Sunday session, she wasn’t mentioned once. Clearly, its presence at that spurious session would not be appropriate in any way, shape or form. Instead, they exercise a parallel power that follows its own imaginary laws, based on their own codes and doctrines dictated by the Bible and military mentality. The Federal Constitution probably appears as the fourth or fifth position in the ranking of importance, behind even to personal interests of each public servant. At the congress, even the alleged Constitutional reason to justify the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, was only mentioned after the 400th deputy vote. Only then, the justification was mentioned.

After the shameful spectacle of last Sunday, one thing was clear. The Brazilian government is a farce! It’s a scam that has been exposed and solidified live on national television. Brazilians have been calling for years for the end to corruption. Last Sunday they received in exchange, a factional dictatorship of one political party, the PMDB Party, who now, controls all the state powers. Michel Temer from PMDB party, will be the new president as he is Dilma’s vice-president. The House of Representatives is chaired by a gangster called Eduardo Cunha, also a PMDB party member, and the Senate Chamber is presided by Renan Calheiros, another gangster from PMDB Party. If we can call it democracy, it would be very difficult to define what would be a dictatorship. Dictated democracy does not exist. It was created to camouflage the assault and handling the crime for the perpetuation of the powerful, by the powerful, for the powerful. The people are merely an inconvenient informality that occasionally can be used as a tool to defend or attack those who by any means, control the media and the justice in Brazil.

But in Brazil every day is celebration’s day, and last Sunday it wasn’t different. It’s not clear though what they were celebrating, or the cause of their celebration. After all, what could Brazil be celebrating after the most shameful show in Brazilian history being shown live on national television? How can there be a democratic system when the President is overthrown precisely by those who lost the last presidencial elections? What democracy allows war tanks to patrol the streets of a free and sovereign country in a clear display of force against any threat that could risk the success of the operation? Which form of democracy would allow a gangster such as Eduardo Cunha, or a convicted criminal such as Paulo Maluff, and many others accused of corruption, to vote out a president who has not been accused or convicted of any wrong doing? Brazilian democracy is most definitely a scam, and the Brazilian government is definitely a hoax. How can this country possibly work with these gangsters in power? It’s impossible!

The Sunday (17) proved that Brazil, or the two Brazils, are not governed but instead, ruled by a bunch of criminals. The people are divided. They support A or B without realising A and B are part of the same side. The same side that steals, deceives, corrupt, kills innocent people, and rape the nations assets in the name of this pseudo democracy they have now. It’s very strange and bizarre to look at it from here and see Brazilians treating other Brazilians as if they were strangers and invaders of their own country. This division is the perfect recipe for the perpetuation of social domination. It must end!

The partition of Brazilian people is a pathological evidence of the social disease that is killing Brazil today. They are suffering from a serious social disease in advanced stage that already cost them their vision, their sensitivity as well as their sense of what is right and wrong. Their memory was torn by some form of hypnosis making them unable to recognise their greatest enemy. It wasn’t the PT Party who suffered a blow, not Democracy either. Who suffered a catastrophic blow this past Sunday was the Brazilian people. Those hundreds of thousands of people who went to the streets in red protesting against the coup. Also, those millions of Brazilians who went to the streets in green and yellow to protest for democracy.

Brazilian politicians have shown their true faces and it’s ugly as it can possibly be. They spat at each others face, they shout and offended one another, they used foul language totally inappropriate to the place and the position they were elected for. They broke all the rules of decency and morality. They were shameful with no emotional control or any dignity. In fact, they were representing the very worst in Brazilian society. They behaved like true social garbage that needs to be fought against. There were absolutely nothing to justify the behaviour of the Army and Congressmen in the last Sunday session. They destroyed the morale, they placed the Federal Constitution in the rubbish bin and destroyed any shred of credibility the country had left. The world watched the Brazilian politic circus as a comedy show on Sundays night, and the people of Brazil were the biggest clowns thanks to these gentlemen that have proved once again, they are unable to represent Brazil in any way. They have made Brazil look like the most stupid place on Earth and the country will pay a big price for that. They should resign collectively and never run for public office again. Only then, Brazil will have a chance to restore their political dignity and recover from this dark moment in its history. But, I think it will be easier to make turkeys vote for Christmas than Brazilian politics give way to a all new generation of politicians. Shame on them!