Squatters turn oligarch's empty London property into homeless shelter
Vast £15m home bought by Russian Andrey Goncharenko, who wants to add a pool and leisure centre, is housing about 25 people
By Diane Taylor

There must be loads of properties like this in Kensington. 2,000 homes have been destroyed in the Grenfell fire - if ever there was a need to repossess the idle luxury flats of speculators it’s now. 

anonymous asked:

What's happened in the life of Bex that so much has changed? It's as if politics and the success of Voltron has taken all the fun out of everything. What happened with all the interaction and bantering back and forth with fans online? Political atmosphere? The downside to Voltron haters? What happened to the Bex that enjoyed all the fans? It's just not what it was anymore. I would hate to think that politics and the Voltron issues drive you away. Not good


Check your privilege. Hell knows I am.

And if you don’t want to see it just stop following me until he gets removed from office.

acaramela  asked:

Hey can I ask you something and this is a thoroughly ignorant question but I'm Latina and I grew up learning that Castro killed his own people and that he just was a terrible dictator. I even have friends from around the region that support this and say that Castro and communism are responsible for the suffering of the Cuban people. Could you explain to me why this isn't the case? I just can't find any other reliable sources to inform myself. Thank you.

im sorry this is long, but read the whole thing, its all important information

First, Cuba isn’t a one-man or military dictatorship. A lot of people don’t know this, especially in countries allied with America, but Cuba is highly democratic, and even takes measures to stop corruption in politics. For example, elected representatives are paid workers’ wages, so there is no monetary incentive to run for office, all voting is by secret ballot, votes are counted in public, voting is voluntary, elected representatives can be recalled at any time, women make up 48.9% of the Cuban government (a hell of a lot more than the US which can’t even break 20% in its Congress), it is illegal to spend any money on political campaigns to advertise for particular candidates, and candidates’ biographies and their reasons for standing are posted on public notice boards so everyone has equal exposure.

The nomination and election of local candidates for office is done in public meetings, with return meetings happening every 6 months. There are limitations in higher levels of the government, where voters must choose to either accept or reject a single nominee, but as far as i know, the principles of recall and community nomination still hold true.

You can read more about Cuban democracy here:

Why Cuba Still Matters // Representative Government in Socialist Cuba // Cuban Democracy Fact Sheet // How to Visit a Socialist Country // 

As for the specific claim that Castro is a dictator, its on very shaky grounds (to say the least). Its true, of course, that Fidel and Raul have been the only presidents of Cuba since the revolution. However, the presidency isn’t chosen like it is in America, directly (well, its not even direct in America, but thats another topic). The presidency is chosen through the elected parliament (national assembly).

Delegates to the National Assembly are elected every 5 years, half nominated from municipalities and half nominated by mass organizations (like trade unions, women’s orgs, cultural orgs, etc.). Each nominee must receive at least 50% of the vote. All in all, there are 612 delegates, and 48.9% are women. 

The National Assembly votes on who belongs to the Council of State, which appoints the ministers, Presidency, and Vice Presidency. And following a 2011 Congress of the Communist Party, senior elected officials can only serve two terms (10 years) in office. That means in 2018, Raul Castro will step down and a new President will be chosen.

We should also talk about what exactly “dictatorship” means. All societies are dictatorial for some and free for others, because all states are institutions of class rule. Cuba, while I don’t believe it has a socialist economy (and thus not a socialist government) has absolutely shown what can be done with the support of the mass power of the people, and drawn a line between it as a free and independent country and imperialists.

So how is Cuba in service of its people? It raised literacy from 60-70% to 96% in two years- today 100% of Cubans are literate. It has a massive amount of doctors per capita and has lower rates of infant mortality, HIV, and malnutrition than the US. They have state subsidized SRS and HRT, some of the best current LGBT rights in the Caribbean, despite their historical struggles with homophobia. They are the most sustainable country in the world, despite the embargo. 

(The Embargo is absolutely devastating to the Cuban economy, too. Never let a discussion of Cuba’s economy go on without discussing the impact of the embargo)

Still, compare those achievements to Haiti. A country that has been and still is politically and economically crippled by US and French imperialism, which suffers under a neocolonial elite, which is paid starvation wages to make Levis and other commodities for the US, which receives little to no aid when natural disasters hit (which are exacerbated by the ecological devastation of the island).

What is really responsible for the suffering of the people, not just in Cuba, but in Haiti and all countries in the global south? Is it really the ideology of socialism that fights for greater rights and the accessibility to basic needs? Or is it capitalist-imperialism, which strangles Cuba with economic blockades, and parasitically leeches off of its neighbors?

As for the claim that Castro killed “his own people”… the phrasing of this (and of course this isn’t your fault, anti-communists always phrase stuff like this) makes it seem like its better if politicians kill others in imperialist war. Killing “your own people” is somehow far worse than killing the people of countries you want to invade or control. Castro and Che did kill people, yes Cubans. But again, we have to look at the class forces involved. Who were those fleeing? Who were being killed? Historical records show most were rich, white Cuban plantation owners or otherwise of the middle and upper classes, who backed the former military dictator Batista:

All weekend a Cuban exile contingent of right-wing ‘gusanos’ have been gathered on Calle Ocho street in Miami’s “Little Havana” to celebrate the death of Fidel Castro. However the hatred was always mutual; as Fidel characterized the first 1960’s waves of wealthy white parasitic former land owners who were part of the Batista dictatorship he overthrew as “gusanos” (worms), based on their reactionary politics, intransigent support for the blockade, and desire to team up with the CIA to carry out terrorist attacks all across post-revolutionary Cuba. (Note, not all exiles fall into this category, especially more recent arrivals).

The zenith of gusano interference was the 1961 U.S.-backed Bay of Pigs invasion, which Cuba’s government defeated, and afterwards Fidel pointed out the wealth of many of the 1,100 exile soldiers that his troops captured (and later released back to the U.S. in exchange for baby formula). Within those 1,100 soldiers were: 100 plantation owners, 67 landlords of apartment buildings, 35 factory owners, 112 businessmen, 179 living off inheritances, and 194 ex-soldiers of Batista.

Over the decades since that time, the aging gusano contingent in South Florida has proven to be perhaps the most corrupt group (on a per-capita basis) in American politics—which is saying something. In their dying off ranks you can find Batista’s old BRAC secret police goons, ex Cuban mafia, CIA contract killers, and former oligarchs of vast latifundias. As essentially Miami is still controlled by the remnants of Batista’s dictatorship and their off-spring, a regime which killed 20,000 Cubans and tortured tens of thousands more.

(from here)

Almost all (and i only say almost because i don’t know of any who were not) of those executed were members of Batista’s army, informants, rich landowners who backed Batista, etc. And, contrary to the idea that these were executions against the people, they were actually popularly sanctioned:

Serving in the post as commander of La Cabaña, Guevara reviewed the appeals of those convicted during the revolutionary tribunal process.[9] The tribunals were conducted by 2–3 army officers, an assessor, and a respected local citizen.[105] On some occasions the penalty delivered by the tribunal was death by firing squad.[106] Raúl Gómez Treto, senior legal advisor to the Cuban Ministry of Justice, has argued that the death penalty was justified in order to prevent citizens themselves from taking justice into their own hands, as happened twenty years earlier in the anti-Machado rebellion.[107] Biographers note that in January 1959, the Cuban public was in a “lynching mood”,[108] and point to a survey at the time showing 93% public approval for the tribunal process.[9]Moreover, a January 22, 1959, Universal Newsreel broadcast in the United States and narrated by Ed Herlihy, featured Fidel Castro asking an estimated one million Cubans whether they approved of the executions, and was met with a roaring “¡Si!” (yes).[109] With thousands of Cubans estimated to have been killed at the hands of Batista’s collaborators,[110][111] and many of the war criminals sentenced to death accused of torture and physical atrocities,[9] the newly empowered government carried out executions, punctuated by cries from the crowds of “¡paredón!” ([to the] wall!),[100]

thats from wikipedia, no less

Always remember- all states are the power of one class over another. Whether that class is the working class by itself (or in alliance with a progressive and anti-imperialist bourgeoisie as in Cuba), or whether it is a reactionary or imperialist bourgeoisie armed against the working class of the world (as in the US)- states are not just democracies or dictatorships- but institutions of class power. Its interesting how we call Cuba a dictatorship when the rich landowners flee or face persecution or god-forbid *gasp* their land is redistributed to campesinos! But the United States, which has the largest (mostly black and brown) prison population in the world (both by number and per capita), which is established on stolen land, and which regularly exercises its power to interfere in and mess with other countries independence, is seen as “free.”

Here are some more resources on Cuba:

[Documentary] Cuba: Defending Socialism, Resisting Imperialism // 20 Reasons to Support Cuba // Cuba: A Revolution in Motion // Cuba and its Neighbors: Democracy in Motion // Work and Democracy in Socialist Cuba // The Sugarmill: The Socio Economic Complex of Sugar in Cuba 1760-1860 // Cuba and the US Empire: A Chronological History // A Hidden History of the Cuban Revolution // Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War // The World Economic and Social Crisis // The Economic War Against Cuba // Race in Cuba //


John Oliver: Trump’s Russia scandal has the intrigue of Watergate, except everyone is incompetent

John Oliver has a new shorthand for President Donald Trump’s ongoing, multilayered Russia scandal: “Stupid Watergate.”

“It is not clear what is really going on here yet, although one possibility is that this all amounts to what I’m going to call ‘Stupid Watergate,’” Oliver said on Sunday’s Last Week Tonight. “A potential scandal with all the intrigue of Watergate, except everyone involved is really bad at everything. And the relevant question isn’t so much, ‘What did the president know and when did he know it?’ as it is, ‘Is the president physically capable of knowing things at all?’”

By Oliver’s telling, every single phase of the Trump-Russia scandal has been brought on by a dumb mistake. He walked through some of the key players of the scandal, all of whom have been the target of questions about whether Trump’s team worked with — — and covered up working with — Russian officials to support Russian interests and manipulate the 2016 election with hacked Democratic emails.

Take Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Most recently, he was brought into the Russia scandal when it was revealed that he misled Congress under oath, telling senators he had no communications with Russian officials when he had in fact talked with Russia’s ambassador twice last year.

But here’s the thing: Sessions wasn’t even asked during the confirmation hearing if he had spoken with Russians. During his hearing, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) asked, “If there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do?” Sessions replied, “I’m not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign, and I did not have communications with the Russians.”

“That was an unforced error,” Oliver said. “He wasn’t even asked whether he’d met with the Russians. He just implicated himself out of the blue, which should have been immediately suspicious. If you ask someone how their weekend was, and they say, ‘Well, I definitely wasn’t masturbating into the Slurpee machine at the 7-Eleven,’ you check the fucking security cameras at the 7-Eleven, and you don’t act surprised.”

Other Trump surrogates have also come under fire, including former Trump campaign operative Carter Page. When asked whether he had met with the Russian ambassador in Cleveland during the Republican National Convention, Page responded, “I’m not going to deny that I talked with him. I will say that I never met him anywhere outside of Cleveland. … I may have met him. Possibly. And it might have been in Cleveland.”

Or consider former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. When asked if Trump had financial relationships with Russian oligarchs, Manafort said, “That’s … that’s what he said. I … that’s … what I said. That’s … obviously what our position is.”

“Holy shit,” Oliver said. “That was so unconvincing it probably set off an unplugged polygraph machine just hidden in a closet somewhere.”

To top it all off, Trump’s apparent tactic to distract everyone over the weekend was to claimwith absolutely zero evidence that President Barack Obama ordered a wiretap of Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign — an idea that may have come from an article published by the conspiracy-laden website Breitbart News.

“I think we can now officially declare that Trump has a worse media diet than the Son of Sam killer,” Oliver said. “And he got all his news from a talking dog who told him to murder.”

What all of this amounts to, Oliver argued, is one of the most incompetent cover-ups — if there is really a cover-up — in the history of presidential scandals. It is, in other words, “Stupid Watergate.”

“anti state” people who claim the fact that socialists and anarchists were the ones fighting against child labor and deadly working conditions is “historical revisionism” ironically are eating up actual revisionism embraced by state sanctioned education to erase anticapitalism as a factor in early worker’s rights and civil rights activism.

capitalists oligarchs didn’t give you rights, they did and do actively fight against them.

although, this is not at all surprising coming from people who draw a line between the state and ruling class that never existed.

Trump’s business network reached alleged Russian mobsters

To expand his real estate developments over the years, Donald Trump, his company and partners repeatedly turned to wealthy Russians and oligarchs from former Soviet republics — several allegedly connected to organized crime, according to a USA TODAY review of court cases, government and legal documents and an interview with a former federal prosecutor.

The president and his companies have been linked to at least 10 wealthy former Soviet businessmen with alleged ties to criminal organizations or money laundering.

Among them:

• A partner in the firm that developed the Trump SoHo Hotel in New York is a twice-convicted felon who spent a year in prison for stabbing a man and later scouted for Trump investments in Russia.

•  An investor in the SoHo project was accused by Belgian authorities in 2011 in a $55 million money-laundering scheme.

• Three owners of Trump condos in Florida and Manhattan were accused in federal indictments of belonging to a Russian-American organized crime group and working for a major international crime boss based in Russia.

the origin of keith’s hippos?

ok y’all so I watched this movie called Okja today (No big spoilers below don’t worry). The only reason I heard about it was because it’s by one of my fav directors, Bong Joon-ho, who also directed Snowpiercer (that movie about the train endlessly going around the inhospitable icy world which contains all the human survivors and has become a oligarchical hell, and Chris Evans is in it). 

anyway, the movie starts off in Korea with a Korean girl named Mija taking care of her “super pig” Okja. These super pigs look a lot like hippos. Mija lives in the wilderness in a small house with her grandpa and her parents are dead. You see where I’m going with this. Immediately I’m like “….Keith is that you”

like, it’s a super pig, but it’s basically a hippo, and she’s super cute & Mija loves her

and so I’m thinkin about Keith and hippos and THEN who does appear on the screen but STEVEN FUCKIN YEUN HIMSELF (in a balaclava for a while but cmon i watched every season of The Walking Dead up until Glenn’s untimely demise, i’d know that face anywhere)

so, yeah, Steven Yeun aka Keith’s voice is in this movie about a girl and her basically-hippo and man oh man is it great, he’s great & why yes he does pet the hippo, and why yes i did screenshot it

and it says [in english] because he also speaks Korean & acts as translator for Mija

he really takes the translating seriously. really. (it says “translations are sacred”)

his character is also just. really cute and great, he gets excited about everything and is a pacifist but also a badass who can put people in a non-lethal chokehold (and he does in the movie, and immediately apologizes for it and pats the unconscious person awkwardly)

Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention his character’s name.


tldr; go watch okja and cry with me about steven yeun’s perfection and keith’s love of hippos and also the entire movie bc it’s uhhh tragic af

anonymous asked:

I was wondering as to what you think the governmental/societal rulership is of the various TES races? I like to believe the Bosmer people are more of a "matriarchy" and the Dunmer, while being "matrilineal", I would say it is more of a "thearchy". I do have other speculations but I would like to hear your thoughts of the 10 common races. Thank you for your time!

Let me preface with: neither races nor the provinces in which they cluster are monolithic. It’s totally possible to have multiple forms of government going on based on in one region. That said, based on my readings of lore, here’s my quick notes on what I think is the case in general. 

Alinor - For what little we know of most of its history, Alinor had a High Monarch. During the 4th era, it seems to be ruled by a council. Locally, the oldest and noblest families rule over ‘lesser’ families. 

Black Marsh - Individual tribes, all under the control of the Hist. It seems that for the most part the Hist are content to remain in the background, but do sometimes take a more direct control over their people. 

Elsweyr - Tribes and city-states, first many, later two big ones. The Mane is kind of like the Pope. 

Hammerfell - City states, nominally but not functionally under the control of a High King. 

High Rock - City states with various protection agreements and alliances from time to time, but just as often in conflict with eachother. 

Morrowind - Prior to the Red Year, nominally a theocracy with then ALMSIVI at the head, but most of the day-to-day governance being conducted by the Great Houses and their client minor houses. Following the Red Year, the council of Great Houses seems to have taken all control, with the Temple being reduced to a primarily religious institution.

Skyrim - a non-hereditary High Monarch chosen by an oligarchical Moot. Jarls report to the King, Thanes report to the Jarl. Seems vaguely feudal, but without the whole hereditary servitude thing.

Valenwood - while they have a Camoran monarch, it seem to be a ceremonial position and more important to the outside world than your average Bosmer. They’ve got the Silvenar and Green Lady as another centralized government force, this time backed by religion. On the local level, they seem to have be lead by some combination of tribal chiefs and Spinners.

Cyrodiil (TESIV style)- The province is divided into Counties, each ruled over by a Count/Countess. Unlike Skyrim, the ruler doesn’t seem to have direct reports. The Emperor is head of the province, but likely doesn’t have time to govern it much.

The Empire in general - The Emperor/ess is the ruler of the Empire, backed up by an Elder Council and “Provisional Governors” as needed. The power (and likely the makeup) of the Elder Council varies greatly depending on the state of the empire and the Emperor/ess at its head. Whether a territory gets the personal supervision of a Provincial Governor seems to depend on how much grief it has given the Empire. 

In order to make a joke I’m trying to think of a position outrageous enough that a tankie wouldn’t be willing to endorse it, but honestly there’s basically nothing left after “defend this nationalist, imperialist oligarch and his murderous quasi-fascist friend against socialist organizations made up primarily of members of an oppressed ethnic minority"

Grenfell council 'accidentally reveals' names of the borough's vacant property owners as fire survivors remain homeless
Kensington council has accidentally revealed the names of wealthy homeowners whose properties lie vacant in the same borough where survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire remain homeless.

A Ukrainian oligarch, an Emirati sheikh and billionaire businesspeople among those registered as owning the nearly 2,000 unoccupied residences.

Confiscate these properties and give them to the people who actually NEED them!!!