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People may be thinking that London under Occupation may be a little over the top to describe the situation for Londoners living under Olympic rule for the next 18 days, but that is in many way an understatement. Between the rights of corporate sponsorship, the occupation by security and armed forces, and a government that is hell-bent on prioritising the needs of sponsors and security concerns over the rights of citizens for freedom of speech and the right to live in peace, the term “under occupation” is an excellent description of the situation.

From the perspective of the population having the Olympic Games in London comes at a rather high cost. This is not only referring to access to tickets where few, if any, were set aside for those living in the boroughs (Newham, Waltham Forest, Hackney and Tower Hamlets) surrounding the main stadium. These boroughs are composed of mostly poor and working class people with large percentages of people of colour; they are incredibly racially and ethnically diverse boroughs.

Tickets were sold by bidding in a lottery which meant that locals could not afford to bid and win tickets. Moreover, given the fact that  tickets are literally impossible to get and that there are large numbers of empty seats for venues which many people would love to get, one can only assume that these are in the hands of corporate sponsors whose workers were not interested in the seats. Supposedly, the locals’ gains would arise from the construction jobs (that didn’t work out) and now the many retail and part-time jobs the Olympics would provide. For all the talk about gains by small shopkeepers due to suspension of Sunday trading laws, in most cases this means that their families (they are often family owned and run shops) would need to work the extra hours. Also, they were unable to sell anything connected with the Olympics not obtained from corporate sponsors. No replications of Olympic materials could be sold unless they were able (at high cost) to open accounts with official sellers.

However, the general problem with the Olympics affects us on a daily level;  this is due to the bombardment of corporate advertising, the creation of an up-market mall (where most locals can only look but not afford to purchase; certainly Prada is not hiring us), the introduction of special Olympic lanes where Olympic bigwigs can be ferried to and from events, overcrowded public transport, the militarisation of the city both due to the use of military and private security forces, the placement of SAMs in residential areas, the aircraft carrier stationed in the Thames and the pre-emptive arrests of  graffiti artists, the arrests of protestors and the denial of protest permits. In a city where the poor and working class are facing cuts in benefits, the introduction of forced labour as part of welfare reform, job losses (being replaced by part-time low paid jobs), and service cuts (libraries, after-school clubs, cultural centres, education cuts, police department cuts), corporate sponsors were granted complete access and tax breaks as part of the deal for the Olympics being brought to the country.

Cross-posted at Voices on the Square: http://www.voicesonthesquare.com/...

According to the Financial Times (“A need-go-know guide to London 2012,” 27/08/12, p. 3 ) the costs alone of the Olympic venues start with £40m for a temporary Basketball arena (they are hoping to sell the materials onwards to Brazil), £87m for the Velodrome, £251m for the Aquatics Centre, £295m for the media and broadcast centre, £428m for the Olympic stadium and  £935m for the Olympic Village (this will be reconfigured by a Qatari based consortium into 2,800 properties, some of which will be sold for housing for key workers and the rest to create a gentrified area complete with luxury mall; nothing for the desperately needed social housing in the area of Newham).  The Olympics were originally set to cost £2.4bn, but it is now estimated that they will cost £9.3bn. According to Al Jazeera, the latest government figures on the costs of the 2012 London Olympics have now risen to $14.5bn of public sector money, and expectations that it could be far higher. Of that current amount, $860m alone will be for Olympic security and this includes the use of 18,200 soldiers to help with security for the games. Interestingly, according to the Financial Times, the public budget for the Olympics was provided by a combination of lottery (£2.2bn), central government (£6.2 bn) and the Greater London Assembly and the London Development Agency (£0.9 bn).  British companies won contracts amounting to £7.3 bn and there have been 8.8m event tickets sold. In terms of human presence, there are 10,500 athletes, 70,000 volunteers (hopefully real volunteers, not poor people forced into service) and 21,000 journalists.  This is a huge amount of money that is being made available for this event in a country where they are trying to force disabled people off of disability benefit to save money.
crippen_edit
The economic benefits of the Olympics look like they may restricted to the corporate sponsors than anyone else.  But there is even more interesting news and that is from a business perspective; it seems that London’s top hotels and restaurants seem to find themselves with vacancies. This may be due to the fact that they have upped prices so much, that they cannot find people stupid enough to pay for them; 23% vacancy rates are nothing to sniff at (http://www.bighospitality.co.uk/...; http://www.guardian.co.uk/...) especially in an economy which is currently continuing along in recession. In fact, it has shrunk by 0.7% between April and June … which of course they have absurdly blamed on the Jubilee (the extra bank holiday) and bad weather, and of course, Europe,  rather than their economic policies. Since they had claimed that the former would be a boost, I am a bit confused again.

In Great Britain, the use of hollowing-out policies (introduced in the US under Bush) has been introduced as part of the austerity measures to destroy the state sector; as such, services that used to be performed by the state sector  (like secretaries working for the police) are no longer done by civil servants, but rather private companies. This is affecting not only the NHS and local council provision, but also policing and the military. The number of police officers is at an all-time low due to cutbacks (down 10,000), but volunteer special policemen numbers are up 10.4% to 20,343; this is at the same time that they are being called on to do an increasing number of things, like help with the Olympics security. It is interesting in that most right-wing governments are usually aware that if they are going to introduce draconian economic measures on their populations, having the police and army on your side could prove extremely useful  if inevitable problems arise (as they have in Greece and Spain for example); this may be a case of arrogance on the part of the government or again they simply think that the British poor, working and middle classes are so beaten down that nothing could get them angry enough to resist the destruction of their social welfare state; divide and rule is proving a useful tool in alienating  private sector workers from the demands of public trade unions given that the former have already suffered substantially in terms of the attacks on their pensions.

I.     Commercialism and Branding

For those unaware of what happens when your city is “lucky” enough to win the Olympic Games, there are immediate rules that guarantee sponsors exclusive access to advertising and sales at the Olympics. In fact, you cannot “win” the Olympics without agreeing to these rules.  These sponsors contribute money to the Olympics and get a lot of money back in return; Coke for example has contributed anywhere from £53-75m pounds, in return they get exclusive sale of their products at the Olympics and exclusive advertising rights during the Olympic games.
ronaldmcdonaldolympicflame_edit

“Corporations can legally become associated with the London 2012 Games in two ways: First, multinational firms may seek exclusive marketing rights through The Olympic Partner program (TOP). The other option is through agreements with the LOCOG, the local British organization. But plenty of non-sponsors will attempt to correlate their brand with the Games, which is widely known as ambush marketing—something the IOC and LOCOG take very seriously.

The Olympic Marks and Imagery Usage Handbook defines ambush marketing as “a planned attempt by a third party to associate itself directly or indirectly with the Olympic Games to gain the recognition and benefits associated with being an Olympic Marketing Partner.” To suppress this type of activity, the IOC established comprehensive guidelines and has engaged in several initiatives to enforce them. For instance, the IOC requires that the host city—London, in this case—takes special measures to control ambush marketing during the course of the Games in and around Olympic venues “in order to preserve the Olympic brand.”

When London was first appointed as the host city for the 2012 Games, the government passed a new law, the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 (the Act), to supplement the existing laws relating to intellectual property in the UK.  Together with the Olympic Symbol (Protection) Act of 1995, these laws protect the sponsors and partners from unauthorized advertising. […] To ensure that local businesses comply with the trading and advertising laws and to protect the Olympic brand and sponsors, nearly 300 Olympic enforcement officers will patrol around venues before and during the games. But local, non-sponsor businesses aren’t the only ones who have to abide by strict rules. Even the paying partners who have privileges and rights have to comply with certain guidelines.  (http://www.forbes.com/...)”

There are several different types of Olympic advertisers depending on how much they spend, but in addition to exclusivity of sale and advertising, there is also the benefit of temporary tax “breaks” from UK corporate tax for foreign-based MNC sponsors and their workers (who are given a temporary UK income tax break.

This is happening in a country where austerity measures have been introduced by the government that are destroying jobs, the state sector and our social welfare state and that this is justified due to high levels of government debt; the decrease in corporate taxes and the elimination of the 50% tax on those with the highest income is reprehensible. But to add insult to injury, the fact that MNC Olympics sponsors had taxes on profits earned at the Olympics written off is not only pouring salt on the wounds of the majority, it is a demonstration that the needs of corporations and revenue of the Olympics takes priority over the needs of the citizens and proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the government’s term of “The People’s Olympics” is not just a joke for people to laugh about, but a slap in the face of those facing impoverishment and job loss. The idea of corporations, those that work for them and Olympic athletes not having to pay taxes for their profits or advertising contracts is simply disgusting.

“New tax rules ushered in as part of the winning Team GB bid include ‘a temporary exemption from UK Corporation Tax and UK Income Tax for certain non-resident companies’.

The legislation is written to include ‘partner’ organisations such as McDonald’s and Visa. Both, along with other ‘partners’, look set to make a tax-free fortune. The former will a monopoly on vending branded food and the latter a total monopoly on venue and ticket payment methods.

The new legislation also exempts all foreign nationals working on the games in the UK from paying income tax on any earnings. Thousands will be exempt from taxation from competitors to media workers (including journalists, technicians and producers) to representatives of official Games bodies and technical officials (including judges, referees and classifiers) along with the athletes themselves (http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/...x).”

An incredibly successful campaign started by 38 Degrees was launched in response to this article targeting companies that were tax avoiding due to their sponsorship of the Olympics Games.

The responses to the campaign on the part of the targeted multinational corporate sponsors are telling as every corporation responded.  All 14 multi-national corporations (MNCs) (including Coca Cola, Proctor and Gamble, Dow Chemicals, and McDonalds) that were targeted by 38 Degrees, have waived their Olympic sponsor tax break or explained that they were not eligible (http://www.marketingmagazine.co.uk/...; http://www.tax-news.com/...).
The seriousness with which exclusivity of advertising is taken by the Olympics committee can be demonstrated in a row which erupted last week when the chair of The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), Lord Seb Coe, announced mistakenly that people who were wearing the wrongly branded clothing could be denied entry to the Olympics Games irrespective of their holding tickets to the various events (http://www.guardian.co.uk/...;http://www.dailymail.co.uk/...). Having images of barefoot and bare-chested people at Olympic events going through my head upon hearing the story when it erupted, it was of little consolation that Seb was actually wrong about this absurd position. What actually concerned me was that clearly Seb Coe did not see a problem with the position he had taken on this issue; Seb has history of making absurd comments on things on which he has little or no information specifically when these relate to corporate sponsorship.
corporatetubemap_edit
One of the most contentious corporate sponsorships is actually Dow Chemical and a campaign has been waged on several fronts protesting their choice as an Olympic sponsor.

Last week, 6 protestors were arrested after a fake medal ceremony in Trafalger Square where green custard was poured on fake representatives of Olympics corporate sponsors BP, Dow and Rio Tinto that were chosen as the worst Olympics sponsors;  clearly performances criticising Olympic sponsors are not deemed amusing .  

Anger at the acceptance of sponsorship by a MNC in an Olympics in which supposedly ethical and environmental considerations are constantly talked about is not a small inconsistency. Opposition to Dow derives not only from the catastrophe in Bhopal  in which there are lawsuits still underway.  Raising the issue of Bhopal has run the gamut from petitions, to an exhibition to a staged die-in by members of the Bhopal Medical Appeal on July 26th.

The use of Agent Orange in Vietnam (of which there are estimated 4.8 m victims, many of them children) had also been raised to question Dow’s sponsorship of the Olympic Games. Seb Coe once again demonstrates his ignorance in response to an appeal concerning Dow by the Vietnam Women’s Union, as John Pilger reports:

“In his reply, Coe describes Agent Orange as "a highly emotional issue" whose development and use "was made by the US government [which] has rightly led the process of addressing the many issues that have resulted." He refers to a "constructive dialogue" between the US and Vietnamese governments "to resolve issues." They are "best placed to manage the reconciliation of these two countries." When I read this, I was reminded of the weasel letters that are a specialty of the Foreign Office in London in denying the evidence of crimes of state and corporate power, such as the lucrative export of terrible weapons. The former Iraq Desk Officer, Mark Higson, called this sophistry "a culture of lying." (http://www.opednews.com/...l)”
As Pilger points out, there has been no constructive dialogue between the US and Vietnam on the use of Agent Orange, no recompense paid to the Vietnamese victims, no war-crimes tribunal for the use of chemical weapons that not only destroyed people’s lives over generations, but defoliated the rice bowl of Asia and poisoned the land and water tables. Really, the people that write PR should certainly be bothered to check their facts before letting Seb makes statements that are so blatantly inaccurate.  When Seb Coe says things of this nature to justify the inclusion of sponsorship for one of the MNCs that manufactured dioxin for use by the US government, the terms ethical behaviour and environmental concerns are demonstrated as lies; it is money that is relevant and all other concerns not even of secondary importance.

II.    Olympic Security and the Militarisation of London

A seriously disturbing thing has been the whole discussion on Olympic security which has several equally unpleasant components. In many senses the level of concern about London Olympic security is part and parcel of the legacy of the “war on terror” that has been used to justify so much of the attack on civil liberties and the strengthening of the power of the security forces both public and private (reading  the Government’s security preparations for the Olympics is rather instructive). ”Security” is a big industry these days and Olympic security provides a perfect excuse for the suspension of civil liberties and the payment of big money. We are all hoping this will all go away after the Olympics like the government promises; but one must take into consideration the numbers of CCTV cameras all over Great Britain which record our every action and pray that the abnormal does not once again become “the normal.”

A.    G4S

In March 2011, consistent with the whole neoliberal approach that defines recent British government policy, the government hired G4S to cover Olympics security.  G4S is a private security concern with a questionable (let’s call this understatement) human rights record to handle security. It is a multinational corporation operating in a number of countries. In the UK, G4S runs 3 immigrant detention centres to house illegal immigrants before deportation (often taking quite some time to complete); it has received 700 complaints, including allegations of assault and racism.  There is the additional “issue” of  the death of an Angolan deportee, Jimmy Mubenga, in 2010 in their custody after being restrained by G4S agents in a BA flight (for more detail on their history, see: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/...). They also run security in Britain’s private  prisons and there is the story of the loss of the master keys leaving prisoners locked up for 24 hours in their cells in 2011; there are also more problems with which they have been associated in their running of security in private prisons.

Then there is their relationship with the Israeli government (http://www.whoprofits.org/...;http://stopthewall.org/...), Israeli settlers to whom they provide security for illegal settlements on the West Bank and the abuse of Palestinian prisoners.

Putting aside for this moment the obvious point about the privatisation of security, the choice of this company which has a notorious history combined with grotesque failures, is pretty impressive.

Part II of the G4S story is that they were unable to fulfil their contract which is an interesting story on its own.
 

“A confidential report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) warned about concerns over security 10 months ago, leading Games organisers Locog to increase the number of security guards to be supplied by G4S from 2,000 to 10,400 while the value of the contract more than trebled from £86 million to £284 million (http://www.independent.co.uk/...).”
Reading through various accounts of allegations of responsibility for the insufficient numbers recruited and turning up for work, the cause of the difficulties in fulfilling their contract seems to be a combination of increased demands by the UK government in terms of numbers needed, the company’s insistence that while they trained sufficient numbers (reportedly 20,000 were accredited and trained to cover 10,400 posts), there was a failure on the part of the workers to turn up. The last is disputed by workers who claim that there was a lack of information from the firm telling these recruits where and when they were needed.

One additional point that has been raised is the pay rates for recruited workers: it is unclear who set the wage rates at £8.50/hour. The company insists it was the government that set the wage levels and the government insists that it budgeted for £9-12/hour depending on seniority and level of responsibility. The company insists that it was the government that pointed out the obvious that if you pay workers less, you get a higher profit. The question is whether that constitutes government advice or pointing out the obvious to a company that is in the business of providing labour (http://www.bbc.co.uk/...). I find it odd, that they would not understand one of the basic rules of capitalism. You make more profit if you pay workers less (heck, that was obvious to Adam Smith in 1776), but the other part of the equation is if the job is really crappy, you may not get people to take the jobs irrespective of the level of desperation of the working class. Perhaps that is why the government is working so hard to lower the levels of unemployment benefits and introducing forced labour for the long-term unemployed. Removing as many possibilities of survival without having to work for wages that barely compensate effort and free training is clearly a problematic that must be solved if the flexible labour market that the ConDems are trying to consolidate can be a success.
dalekpolice_edit
An obvious question arises that no one seems to have discussed is whether this was a classic scenario which often occurs in a bad jobs market. The company claims to have recruited and trained 20,000 workers to cover 10,400 positions. Given that the jobs only last 18 days at a pretty basic pay for unpleasant work, one wonders if people knew that too many were recruited and trained, decided to cut their losses and try to find a job that they knew they could get and which lasted for a longer period. I was speaking to the cabbie driving me to escape the Olympic who told me a story about a woman that was applying for a job as a sales clerk at a low level retail firm specialising in baby clothes. After spending £400 for cab fares for various interviews and going through the training, it turned out that there were 25 different people recruited for a single job.  After spending her savings trying to obtain a part-time minimum wage job, she simply gave up in disgust.

The last question that has yet to be answered by the government is how much G4S will lose from its contract for failing to provide what it promised. We are still waiting to hear clarification from the government about this little thing.

B.    The British Military to the Rescue?! Of whom?!

The use of the British military as a component of Olympics security forces was planned in the beginnings; but they were supposed to be supplementary services for G4S and involved in very specific roles for London security (like manning the missiles that they placed in residential areas of London and on the attack helicopters and in the air in Typhoon fighters to shoot down invading Martians over residential areas of London). The fear that G4S would now run around willy-nilly and recruit just anyone to fulfil their security contract has prompted the government to draft in large numbers of British military forces as the main component of security.  Many of these members of the armed forces were back in the country as part of a break from tours of duty overseas in Afghanistan.

“[…] British officials said they’d activate another 1,200 military personnel to fill the shortfall, bringing the total of British troops who will work the Olympics to 18,200. For comparison, Britain deploys about 9,500 in Afghanistan (http://www.stripes.com/...).”
Having a choice of a private security firm with a dubious human rights record and the British armed forces to do security for the Olympic Games is truly being caught between a rock and a hard place. Does the consolation of the latter being forced to uphold the Geneva conventions make things better?! But there is an additional concern. On the day in which it was stated that there would be an increased military presence to cover for the failings of G4S, the following story (treated as unrelated) was also released raising increased violence on the part of soldiers returning home from war zones:
“One in eight soldiers has attacked someone after coming home from a combat deployment, according to a Ministry of Defence funded study of 13,000 personnel.
The study by Dr Deirdre MacManus, at The Kings Centre for Military Health Research, found an association between soldiers' experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, and violent behaviour at home.
A survey of around 5,000 Iraq veterans found that nearly 581 were involved in assaults, domestic abuse, and other violence soon after returning to the UK (http://www.bbc.co.uk/...).”
Given this report, perhaps it is better that these people are given support and assistance rather than being sent in as security at the Olympic Games? I surely cannot be the only person thinking that this may not be a good idea.

C.    The Militarisation of London

Finally, there is the militarisation of London itself due to surface-to-air missiles being located in some residential areas, attack helicopters on standby, the aircraft carrier and other warships being stationed in the Thames in London, and the use of spy drones.  As an understatement this has disturbed many.
missilesmarypoppins_edit
In the midst of all the insanity of the Olympics security plans, the one that disturbs me the most is the stationing ofSAMs in 6 areas of London. Two of these are on top of populated housing blocks in the middle of residential areas. I am certainly not the only person truly concerned by this piece of insanity; a whole campaign built around stopping the placement of the London Missiles was organised. A lawsuit was filed trying to prevent the installation of missiles by residents of the Fred Wigg tower (just up the street from where I live) by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) making the obvious point that the introduction of these missiles literally turned these places into military targets if there was actually a terrorist attack and raised whether this was a violation of their human rights to live peacefully and securely.  

David Forsdick, appearing on behalf of the MoD argued:

"The MoD, intelligence agencies and the Metropolitan Police do not consider there is any credible threat to the Fred Wigg Tower from terrorism (http://www.bbc.co.uk/...).”
Let me repeat that statement: he argued that the credibility of the threat of these buildings becoming military targets was not sufficient to warrant concern. Moreover, that this had been signed off by the Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, home Secretary Teresa May and the Defence Secretary (not certain whether this is the current one Phillip Hammond or the previous one Liam Fox) in “Defence of the Realm” is not particularly comforting as none of these people live anywhere near where these missiles are being deployed and quite honestly given the way they treat the poor and working class in Great Britain, they are the last people I would trust to cover our interests. If the threat is not credible, why the hell would anyone think that putting missiles on the top of residential blocks is a good idea?
missilesfredwigg_edit
The ruling on the part of the judge was rather interesting. On the one hand, he argued that there was not only sufficient consultation of residents, but what occurred was “immaculate” and that the military was under no obligation to do that anyhow. But the second point was more disconcerting, the judge, Mr Justice Hadden-Cave stated that the tenants had not understood correctly the situation. That is typical, clearly the stupid and uneducated working class simply are too unsophisticated to understand the notion of deterrance! What Mr Justice Hadden-Cave does not understand is that we most certainly do understand the notion of deterrance; however, we simply do not want them stationed on the roofs of our apartment buildings … perhaps they can put them in Westminster or in Mayfair where the rich live?! Perhaps the rich and famous can understand the need for deterrance more than the working class?

D.    Civil Liberties

To end our odyssey into the nightmare of security measures of the London Olympics, we need to address the impact on our civil and human rights. We have already mentioned the arrests of protestors following the fake awarding of medals to the worst of the Olympic sponsors.  There is the additional question of the policy of pre-emptive arrests by the Metropolitan and Transport Police. Announced on June 2nd, Scotland Yard has said that they are planning to pre-emptively arrest those that are planning “criminal activity” at the Olympics, specifically groups of thieves and pickpockets. However, the police said that this would not be used against lawful demonstrators asking them to notify them beforehand to protect their right to protest.

But that raises an interesting point which relates to the pre-emptive arrests of 4 graffiti artists to prevent damages to the city.  One of those arrested, Darren Cullen, actually has done work legally for Adidas, one of the Olympic sponsors and for other major corporations.  Mr Cullen also tries to get graffiti artists to work legally. Yet somehow he has been pre-emptively arrested, bailed, and forbidden from having spray paint cans, using public transport and going within a mile of the Olympics venues:

“These arrests come in light of Wednesday’s court ruling by Lord Justice Richards and Mr Justice Openshaw said that police pre-emptive strikes for Prince William’s wedding a year ago were not unlawful. Human rights activists have voiced concerns about what affect this ruling will have on Games security.

All four have been released on bail, with restrictions forbidding them from holding any spray paint, riding any of the public trains around London, or being within a mile of any Olympic Games venues (http://www.tntmagazine.com/...). “

While the Metropolitan police have insisted that they will not stop legal protestors from stating their grievances using pre-emptive arrests, the arrests at Trafalgar Square and the extension of a banning order for two years prohibiting Simon Moore from going within 100 yards of the Olympic torch relay, the games themselves or anything relating to the diamond jubilee. The extension of Mr Moore’s banning order really belies the police’s claim that they will not infringe upon freedom of protest. Moore was originally arrested for blocking access to a building site while opposing the placement of an Olympic practice basketball court in Leyton marshes in April 2012. So, they won’t pre-emptively arrest you, they will arrest you after the fact and extend banning conditions against you.

Finally, remember the point about not stopping your right to protest when the police announced their pre-emptive arrest policy? Well, letting the authorities know when we are planning a protest is clearly insufficient to guarantee your right to protest; quelle surprise!  The borough of Tower Hamlets had refused the Counter Olympics Network the right to make speeches at the end of the march scheduled for the 28th of July resulting in Tower Hamlets council being threatened with being taken to court. Themarch was able to go ahead as scheduled (with the final release of information on July 26th, two days before the demonstration (http://counterolympicsnetwork.wordpress.com/...), but the whole point of the council doing this is to disrupt the ability of organisers to coherently organise protests; the tactic of first giving permission, then taking it away the right to have speeches, then cancelling the demo and finally allowing it under pressure is all part of the game to prevent people from getting out large numbers as protestors do not know what will happen. Welcome to the games, they take all forms in Great Britain these days!

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (25+ / 0-)

    "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

    by NY brit expat on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 03:00:07 PM PDT

  •  Apologies for the length, once I started (12+ / 0-)

    researching the topic, it just kept on getting bigger. I had to eliminate discussions of the use of super-exploited labour in the capitalist periphery to make Team GB Olympic uniforms by Adidas and a discussion on toxic waste underneath where the stadium has been built (it was underneath a housing project torn down for the Olympics) as it was simply too much information

    "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

    by NY brit expat on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 03:14:58 PM PDT

  •  How many lower cost housing units and the (7+ / 0-)

    people that lived in them were removed from the area to either build the Olympic village or to pretty up the place?

    And how many of those promises of better places to live made to people who had spent years and even lifetimes in those places were actually carried out?

    I ask because in Atlanta in 1996 there was a complete removal and teardown of a lot of lower income housing, new laws against the homeless, and many unmet promises made for a better situation for anyone displaced.

    It is better to see what is about to befall us and to resist than to retreat into the fantasies embraced by a nation of the blind.-Chris Hedges

    by Burned on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 03:24:35 PM PDT

    •  Actually, there was one area where the (7+ / 0-)

      public housing was taken down (Clays Housing Estate) which was a cooperative: http://en.wikipedia.org/.... That was the main casualty, as there is not much public housing left. All the area was ungentrified and much of the housing is still cheap except what was built for the Olympics which will probably become a gated community for at least a part of it.

      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

      by NY brit expat on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 03:34:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  You will probably see flames (10+ / 0-)

    on this one as the Olympics are sacrosanct...and would be if the sportsmanship evidenced by most of the competitors extended into the commercial sphere.
    My favour egregious excesses in policing are:
    Bronze: The baker who had to take down the five bagels in his shop window because they might have been taken as copyright infringement.
    Silver: The mass arrest of cyclists, including a thirteen year old.
    The gold medal for authoritarian repression goes to the Transport Police, who pre-emptively arrested a street artist who was banned from attending Olympic events, using the Tube, or even owning paint. This despite his actually doing work for Olympic sponsors.
    In the kind of society where policing and self-policing are a part of life, these incidents make a certain amount of sense. However, I thought we were better than that.

    "There's a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in". Leonard Cohen

    by northsylvania on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 03:25:02 PM PDT

  •  Post Is Packed With Dreadful Information! (7+ / 0-)

    Thanks Susan for all your hard work on this.  It is astounding how wretchedly both the International Olympic Committee and the Tory-Lib-Deb government are treating the common people of Britain with their totally elitist spectacle which make a mockery of the notion of international amateur games.

    Everything about these Olympics screams huge profits for the big corporations chosen as sponsors or partners or whatever at the cost of suffering by the common people.

    I understand that the IOC demanded, and the British government duly passed, a law that makes infringing the copyrights of the International Committee, i.e., the baker putting 5 bagels up in his window, subject to a 20,000 pound fine. So poor street vendors and shop-keepers are prohibited from profiting from the games, although all get to suffer the inconvenience of bad traffic jams, police and military surveillance, and "preventative" arrests.  

    I expect all the big shops in the area of the events have jacked their prices up too, so citizens and tourists alike get to pay more for everything they need to buy.

    It would be interesting to see how much the members of the Olympic Committee pay themselves for organizing this capitalist organism of  profits, both in regular salaries and in corrupt kick-backs from the various corporate sponsors.

    The information in your article, Susan, is simply infuriating!

    Convict Bush, Cheney and their torture cabal. Support universal health care,unions, WikiLeaks and Occupy Wall Street! Time for a totally new, democratic economic system. Turn the corporations into worker cooperatives!

    by Justina on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 03:51:41 PM PDT

    •  Justina, I cannot tell you how infuriating (7+ / 0-)

      this whole mess is ... and it is occurring at all levels. It is a rule that if you "win" the Olympics, laws must be passed protecting the Olympics symbols and profits due to them. This is an orgy of profit-making for the large multinational corporations; I cannot tell you how happy I am that 38 Degrees managed to get some of these corps to waive their rights to tax avoidance for the corps and their employees. Interestingly, they did not try to force this through for athletes, many of whom are making a nice mint on their advertising for the main sponsors (Usain Bolt has been appearing in Virgin adverts for a while now).

      So much of the information about how much the corps pay and how much they make is still hidden and I have no idea if it will be released as it is probably not available under UK freedom of information acts as it is multinational and relates to the Olympics. I am certain that we will never know how much members of the IOC earn in kick-backs; I wonder if we even know what their regular salaries + bonuses are?

      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

      by NY brit expat on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 04:04:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for helping me get rid of any last vestiges (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NY brit expat, Justina, northsylvania

        of sentimental involvement that always seems to linger when I see some of the athletes performing -- especially women athletes and those from small countries in unusual sports.  It really is the aristocrats using the common folk for their pleasure and profit. Your article was amazingly well researched and, at the same time, down to earth.

        Loved the cartoons and especially the story of the cabbie who was trying to get a part-time temporary job out of whole spectacle.  Brought the reality of the situation home.  Sometimes, even when you know something is decadent, it is hard not to slip into the spectacle onesself.  

        •  hey, what are friends for?! :D (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Justina, gooderservice, northsylvania

          The cabbie was telling me the story about this woman who had nothing to do with the Olympics, she was trying to get a job (probably due to the insistance of the job centres where people on benefit have to prove they are trying to get work or face mandatory work assignments) at a local retail store. He was telling this to me as he had taken her by cab to several job interviews and training and then she found out that there were 25 other people for the same job and they got a lot of free labour due to the "training" and realised she was wasting her time. I was speculating that this was one possible reason why G4S had trained a lot of people and so few showed up for the work, the pay is awful, they seem to have a communication problem and they trained far more people than they needed for a job lasting 18 days ... me thinks that many thought it was not worth the aggravation.

          "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

          by NY brit expat on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 05:38:35 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  This is an excellent post, NY brit expat. (6+ / 0-)

    And also pretty infuriating.  Los Angeles (1984) was, I believe, the beginning of corporate sponsorship and the the rewriting of the economic framework of the Olympics, or at least it became noticeably evident there.  Also, I believe Peter Uberroth developed the idea of the torch relay, which basically sold rights to carry the flame.  

    •  I had read that it was LA that was the (4+ / 0-)

      beginning of the corporate sponsorship, but did not have the time to do the research on it to confirm (I am careful about evidence); thanks, joanbrooker for confirming this piece of history. That was some legacy that LA gave the Olympics; I have an awful feeling that London's legacy will be irrational and human right's defying security ... I do not know which is worse at this point!

      Thank you for the kudos! :)

      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

      by NY brit expat on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 04:12:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  There were corporations behind the scenes prior (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NY brit expat, Justina, gooderservice

        to 1984, but LA was really the watershed moment. Montreal had been a disaster (financially), and LA (Uberroth) was the first to privately fund (selling media rights and sponsorships). It was a huge financial success and cemented a new commercial model for future Olympics.  However, LA was not elitist -- tickets were accessible (not at all expensive) and merchandise was sold everywhere and by everyone.  Neighboring areas near the stadium even rented out their driveways as car parks (and of course, in LA everyone drives).  It was really a wonderful time -- but in retrospect  a terrible legacy.  What goes on now is simply dreadful.  

        •  Thanks so much for the first-hand (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          joanbrooker, Justina, northsylvania

          information, so much is clearer to me now as I didn't have a handle on all of that; but it makes a lot of sense. London is in many senses representative of the worst of the Olympic experience, elitist, commercialised and based upon counter-terrorism of the post-911 period.

          "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

          by NY brit expat on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 05:24:10 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  you are not alone (7+ / 0-)

    most of these spectacles, probably not limited to the olympics, benefit the 1% and harm most other regular people.  

    salt lake city shut down schools in the middle of the winter/spring term and the university shut down also.  what do we have?  an old flame and a few plaques at the south end zone of the stadium.  

    i went out of town for 6 weeks instead of dealing with it.  

    •  I have managed to escape for this week (6+ / 0-)

      My worry is that the abnormal security measures introduced now will become normal and that will be the games legacy. The additional worry is that the displacements of normal tenants for the Olympics period may become permanent as cheaper housing is disappearing all over my area (I live in Waltham Forest right next to Newham) and houses are being divided up and rented by the room as part of the normal situation as there is insufficient housing for the poor and little or no protection for renters. The introduction of a gated community rather than using the Olympic village as public housing spells trouble for the community as this gated housing is attached to a luxury mall and 1 stop from The City. sigh!

      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

      by NY brit expat on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 04:09:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  none of the security measures stayed here (4+ / 0-)

        but of course it was the games right after 9/11.

        there is a nice oval out in west valley, and park city has some handy downhill facilities for ski jumping and stuff.  the university got the beefed up stadium and a lot of fort douglas, and the athlete's housing was converted into new student housing.  

        but they never could agree on an olympic legacy park and it was kind of funny.  the lds church would not donate the land they lent for the medal ceremonies (a downtown block with the temple in the background iirc).  advocates for the homeless would not let the SLOC use a park used by homeless.  so it ended up at the south end of the university stadium and we drive by it all the bloody time.  

        •  the Olympic village has already been (7+ / 0-)

          turned over to a Qatari consortium for redevelopment of housing (of which 30% is supposed to be for key workers) and the rest going to be luxury housing in a gated community; that was turned over to them at a loss to the taxpayers of several hundred million if I remember correctly.

          At this point, the UK has the largest number CCTV cameras pointed at its civilian population as a regular part of life in the country. Following the riots, demonstrations were not permitted in several of the Olympic boroughs, they were simply forbidden by the Home Secretary. This situation is no better between Labour and the Con-Dems ... the problem is that it can always get worse. The use of pre-emptive arrests, the use of missiles in residential areas w/o the formal introduction of martial law is extremely disturbing; add to that the games being played in certain boroughs about anti-olympics demos and well things are not really extremely democratic for a so-called democracy are they?

          "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

          by NY brit expat on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 04:36:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  If low income housing disappears after the Olympic (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NY brit expat, Justina, gooderservice

        I'm sure it is not just an adverse side effect but was planned all along. This seems to be the pattern for getting rid of the poor for more development everywhere (i.e., New Orleans).

        •  There are several things coming together (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Justina, gooderservice, northsylvania

          at the same time:

          1) they are trying to get rid of the poor (especially people of colour) from the centre of london and that is why they are cutting the amount of housing benefit available;

          2) rents have been rising throughout London, this is the case for the centre and on the outskirts; they are rising out of line with income. Rent control was eliminated under Thatcher and landlords have no accountability for rent levels and repair of buildings;

          3) there is a housing shortage already of low-rent homes and cheap houses for sale; this is due to the sale of public housing under Thatcher and the lack of rent control. The current government is pushing sales of public housing which is woefully inadequate;

          3) in Newham where the Olympic village is located, they are creating a gated-community for the wealthy as part of a gentification exericse; it is 1 stop on the train to The City and a couple of stops on the DLR and the tube to Canary Wharf; the problem was the housing is crappy, so they built this gated community which is formed out of the Olympic village.

          "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

          by NY brit expat on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 05:44:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  legitimate worry (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Justina, NY brit expat
        ...houses are being divided up and rented by the room as part of the normal situation as there is insufficient housing for the poor and little or no protection for renters.
        In Earls Court, this is already the case. I paid more for a tiny room where the stove doubled as the nightstand as we do out here for an entire house. There were entire families living in a single room downstairs. If the ceilings are high enough, they put in a platform, so those families had a separate "bedroom".
        The other issue is that both landlords and the real estate companies are incredibly corrupt and to American eyes at least, incredibly unregulated. They get away with an incredible amount of dodgy practices, and this will only increase as the London councils encourage emigration through the looting of the poor.

        "There's a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in". Leonard Cohen

        by northsylvania on Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 01:19:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Great diary, X-pat. A most insulting display.. (5+ / 0-)

    of hubris given the expenditure involved while your economy is contracting .7%(people don't have the spending power or money in general to spur demand and these lousy jobs with lousy pay certainly do not help except for certain capital cash hoarding firms involved who will be long gone escaping paying taxes adding to that 32 trillion of tax free money in the Cayman islands among other shelters recently found, many human rights violators adding insult to injury) and public debt is being used for more austerity when we know the U.K could never go bankrupt because it issues the pound, but still, they want a pound of flesh.

    I can only imagine how much resentment this gives out; you would think that since you all became a Constitutional Monarchy precisely because of the resentment of the lavish spending and power of the crown that this kind of thing would go on. They point to Europe and the bank holiday instead of their ignorance.

    I love love love that Olympic graffiti piece of Ronald McDonald and it pisses me off they are arresting graffiti artists. I can't think of a more perfect description.

    Yeah, I'm not too into the Olympics, but it seems extra insulting this year. Your diary clarifies why in way too many ways for one comment. Thanks, X-pat!

    ‎A) "Bipartisan usually means that a larger-than-usual deception is being carried out." - George Carlin B) "The administration should be worried about the level of despair here." ~Markos Moulitsas at NN12

    by priceman on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 05:14:40 PM PDT

    •  The expenditure when we do not (4+ / 0-)

      have money to help the disabled, fix schools, save libraies and community centres, cover benefits for the poor is disgusting; add to that the tax breaks for corporate sponsors when they have been ranting about the government debt and deficit and we have outrageous.

      People are not happy and the fact that they are calling this the people's olympics is rubbing salt in the wounds! You begin to feel as though you are being pissed on, it is so outrageous. No one that I have talked to in London is particularly happy with all this garbage.

      I love the Ronald mcDonald graffitti, I am so happy that others love it as well.

      Thanks so much Priceman!! :)

      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

      by NY brit expat on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 05:48:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The real meaning of trickle down economics (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Justina, gooderservice, NY brit expat

        They're pissing on everyone.

        Perhaps they mean our SCOTUS version of people via corporate person-hood when they say the peoples' Olympics? Regardless, these kinds of metrics are inhumane and they don't measure up to a decent standard of living, morals, or consistency.

        Oh yes, I would love to have a print of that Ronald McDonald graffitti to spread the word.

        My pleasure! :-)

        ‎A) "Bipartisan usually means that a larger-than-usual deception is being carried out." - George Carlin B) "The administration should be worried about the level of despair here." ~Markos Moulitsas at NN12

        by priceman on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 06:02:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  It is a really (4+ / 0-)

    interesting emblem....this corporate orgy in the midst of deterioration due to corporate orgies.   I was very glad Chicago did not get chosen for the Olympics, though I know a lot of people here were upset.  The "Jobs!" illusion is just that, a chimera, and the thought of this security lockdown is nuts.  It was bad enough here during the recent G7 meetings.

  •  This article really deserves more attention --hope (4+ / 0-)

    more people check in later --hopefully they are not all out watching the Olympics!

  •  so much for the "Modern Era" of the Olympic (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Justina, northsylvania, NY brit expat

    movement (sic). NBC's explanation of the Torch as important despite its origin in the Berlin games of 1936 was quite amusingly apolitical.

    Präsidentenelf-maßschach"Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) "Ensanguining the skies...Falls the remorseful day".政治委员, 政委‽ Warning - some snark above ‽

    by annieli on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 05:54:47 PM PDT

  •  Yep, Bread and circuses for the masses. Fitting (0+ / 0-)

    that UK is a crumbling empire.

    "The word bipartisan means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out”. - George Carlin

    by Funkygal on Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 03:41:51 PM PDT

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