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News in brief
A ten-foot high statue of former US president Ronald Reagan has been unveiled outside the US embassy in Grosvenor Square, London to cement US/British relations.
But in the 1980s Reagan mirrored Britain's Margaret Thatcher as a rabid cold war warrior whose 'voodoo economics' enriched the capitalist class at the expense of the working class.
Reagan's administration set about destroying welfare, job security and the trade unions. In 1981, in revenge for them striking, Reagan sacked the entire 11,000 members of Patco, the air traffic controllers union, and hauled its leaders off to jail, literally in chains.
Reagan used high interest rates to engineer an economic recession and create an army of unemployed in order to squeeze wages. Homelessness soared as did the prison population.
By 1987 Reagan had delivered the richest 1% of the population a net tax saving of 25%, while the poorest tenth of workers saw 20% more of their incomes swallowed in taxes.
He boasted of reducing federal spending but his rearmament programme, to face down the "evil empire" of the USSR, more than doubled the government's deficit from $73 billion in 1980 to $155 billion in 1989.
He, along with George Bush senior, illegally secured arms for the US-backed Contra death squads in Nicaragua to overthrow the left-leaning Sandinista regime. Neither was prosecuted.
It is expected that mega-profitable British Gas (BG) will sting its hard-pressed customers with another massive price hike this autumn. A rise of 20% on its gas tariff and 9% on electricity is anticipated. This follows the 19% for gas and 10% for electricity increase from Scottish Power earlier this year.
Last year BG clocked record profits of £742 million and saw fit to increase prices to its 16 million customers by nearly 8% at the start of the coldest winter for 100 years
These rip-off prices come at a time when living standards for most people, apart from the super-rich, are experiencing the severest peacetime fall in living memory.
As usual the utilities giants blame 'international wholesale gas prices' for the increases, despite owning substantial stakes in gas production fields. Recently, BG's parent company Centrica announced it was mothballing one of the UK's largest offshore gas fields rather than pay its taxes.
As part of its £34 million spending cuts, Labour run Southwark council in south London has withdrawn funding for the Pumphouse Heritage Museum and Nature Reserve in Rotherhithe, forcing it to close.
For two decades, the wetlands centre, has provided history, geography and ecology programmes for about 120,000 schoolchildren and therapy for up to 40,000 care home patients and dementia sufferers.
The museum and nature reserve closed on 12 June, the day it unveiled a blue plaque from the council recognising "outstanding services to schools, older and young people from 1989"!
In The Socialist 6 July 2011:
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