Extinction Rebellion

From 11am, Monday 15th April, London and all over the world.

331 groups in 49 different countries so far.

We are facing an unprecedented global emergency. Life on Earth is in crisis: scientists agree we have entered a period of abrupt climate breakdown, and we are in the midst of a mass extinction of our own making.

ACT NOW

https://extinctionrebellion.org.uk

 

2020 astrology – the end of an era and new beginnings

Astrology for 2020 – three major conjunctions

“For many reasons, 2019-20 and the years that follow will confront the world economy with reality”, astrologer Roy Gillett in ‘Economy, Ecology and Kindness’ (2009).

Thoughts from other astrologers here and here. Conjunctions occur when planets reach the same point in the sky, as seen from the Earth. Astrologically, according to the planets involved, they signify the end of one cycle and the beginning of another. It is unusual to have three conjunctions involving three of the five outer planets in the same year.

Saturn-Pluto conjunction in Capricorn, building during 2019, exact on 12th January 2020 and continuing during 2020 and beyond

At the time of writing this piece (January 2019), Saturn in Capricorn has recently moved significantly closer to Pluto for the first time, within about 8 degrees. Correspondingly, warnings of recession are being made by many experienced commentators in the world of global finance and the interconnected crises of capitalism, democracy and ecology appear to be accelerating. During April and May 2019, the conjunction will be within 3 degrees of exact, before easing off then building to January 2020.

Using the western tropical zodiac, the conjunction falls in Capricorn, hence the worlds of economics and politics and other Capricornian themes (hard reality, organization, limitation, integrity) are the focus of a profound transformation. Along with countless other astrologers, I have previously blogged about Pluto in Capricorn (2008-2024) and Saturn teaming up with Pluto in 2020 is a crucial focus of that process. As extensively researched and documented by Richard Tarnas:

“The successive alignments of the Saturn-Pluto cycle coincided with especially challenging historical periods marked by a pervasive quality of intense contraction; eras of international crisis and conflict, empowerment of reactionary forces and totalitarian impulses, organized violence and oppression, all sometimes marked by lasting traumatic effects. An atmosphere of gravity and tension tended to accompany these three to four year periods, as did a widespread sense of epochal closure; “the end of an era,” “the end of innocence,” the destruction of an earlier mode of life that in retrospect may seem to have been marked by widespread indulgence, decadence, naivite, denial, and inflation. Profound transformation was a dominant theme” Richard Tarnas, Cosmos And Psyche

The astrological charts of Donald Trump, the USA and China are all clearly impacted by Saturn-Pluto in 2020. The Cancerian Moon of the UK chart is already being hit with Brexit and other crises.

Jupiter-Pluto conjunction in Capricorn throughout 2020, exact on 4th April, 30th June and 12th November

Unlike Saturn-Pluto, the second conjunction of 2020 is potentially much more optimistic and creative, although not without a dark side. At its best, Jupiter-Pluto is all about positive healing and re-generation. It signifies upbeat new beginnings, here likely in relation to the broken Capricornian worlds of economics and politics. Many huge drives for success, improvement and achievement in the pursuit of excellence are likely to be launched at this time. Taking genuine responsibility is a key theme but a reforming zeal and obsession with power could be problematic. The old may have to be eliminated as organizations and bureaucracies dig deep into their roots, bringing hidden or secret aspects of reality to light. At its best (think Gandhi or maybe even Bill Gates, who were born with Jupiter-Pluto) this conjunction can sow the seeds for healing the world. The currently scheduled date for the next USA election is 3rd November, immediately followed by the final pass of Jupiter-Pluto.

Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in Aquarius, exact on 21st December 2020

Many western astrologers have had their eye on this one for a long time. The general historic importance of Jupiter-Saturn cycles has long been observed. Since the 1840s, all the Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions (except a few in the early 1980s) have been occurring in the Earth signs Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn. Falling in the first degree of Aquarius, an Air sign. the late 2020 conjunction marks a significant long-term shift towards fairer social attitudes. The change of conjunctions from Earth to Air indicates moves away from, for example, fossil fuels and materialism. In their place come an emphasis on new ideas, information, technology, equality for all and respecting our environment. The decentralized political structures indicated here are very different to the regeneration of corporate power indicated by Jupiter-Pluto above. Perhaps they will combine, or just simply co-exist.

Many thanks to Roy Gillett of the UK Astrological Association for fully drawing my attention to the significance of the 2020 triple conjunctions, both through his talks and his book ‘Economy, Ecology and Kindness’. Also to Julian Venables for banging on (and on!) to me about the importance of the new Jupiter-Saturn cycle a few years ago. I recommend an extraordinary book by Professor Richard Tarnas – Cosmos And Psyche. which (amongst other things) masterfully documents Saturn-Pluto correlations with countless traumatic periods throughout modern global history, ranging from the beginning of World War One to the events of 911 and many more.

I haven’t mentioned the 2020 eclipses, retrograde Mars in Aries or even Uranus in Taurus (further emphasis on radical changes in relation to global finance and ecology) – the above is a deliberately brief and general summary. We may have to wait until Pluto enters Aquarius in 2023-24 for the real revolutions.  Good luck to all – I think we need it!

Consultations and readings available at https://www.timburnessastrologer.co.uk

Postcapitalism by Paul Mason

Most people would agree that capitalism is not working too well these days – to put it very mildly! Author Paul Mason takes us on a journey from the origins of modern capitalism through to the current crisis we are in. At the end he offers some possible solutions in great detail, some of them based on underlying social trends that are already emerging.

The first half of the book is heavy going in places, although readers more at home with economic theory might have a different view. I found myself struggling to take in the detailed analysis of the likes of Kondratieff, Schumpeter and the relevance of Marx. Gradually the author ties the theory in with where we are now and what may be ahead. Mason suggests that we are at the point of “The exhaustion of capitalism’s 250 year old tendency to create new markets where old ones die out”. The length of several cycles, such as the one just mentioned which corresponds to a complete cycle of Pluto, was interesting to me as an astrologer. Amongst other interconnected topics, the effects of automation in factories and the how neoliberal capitalism dealt with the 2008 financial crash are explored. Most neoliberal capitalist countries are now left with ridiculous unsustainable debts.

The emergence of the information economy and the networked individual are seen as crucial to the postcapitalist future. “A networked lifestyle and consciousness, at odds with hierarchies of capitalism”. The implications of this are examined in the last few chapters, covering climate change, the population explosion and just about every other major problem you can think of. A basic income is suggested. Many of the ideas will be familiar to those who have read the likes of Andrew Simms of the new economics foundation. The reader is left feeling that there may be some hope for the future.

Sanctuary Group’s new chairman, PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) and corporate Britain

Jonathan Lander and David Bennett of Sanctuary Group

New Chair Jonathan Lander (ex-PwC) and David Bennett, Chief Executive of Sanctuary

As the Sanctuary Housing Facebook page continues to regularly delete large numbers of complaints (many of them serious and long-standing, others complaining of Sanctuary Housing Association’s general incompetence and/or fascist tendencies in one way or another) all appears to be well at the top of the corporate world of Sanctuary Group.

Last month it was announced that Jonathan Lander, a former senior partner with internationally huge accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), is the new group Chair. Smiles from Mr. Lander and Chief Executive David Bennett in the press release, it’s all jolly good news. Bennett said: “Sanctuary is known for its exemplary governance (many tenants will be asking what planet he’s on – the organization on the front line is often a total shambles at best) and these new appointments ensure the group board continues to have the skills and experience required to oversee our complex organisation.”

PoundSignUKLander said he was “enthusiastic” about working with Bennett and the board “to deliver customer-focused services that represent real value for money”. There’s a good few thousand elderly, disabled and vulnerable people who are being badly ripped-off (or who have been abused in other ways) by Sanctuary who might have something to say about that last comment. Please see other blogs here for many personal accounts, details and newspaper reports of overcharging, nationwide abuse and neglect, cheating, bullying, lies, bad services, incompetent contractors and substandard properties left to rot for years.

On 2nd October, there was further shuffling at Sanctuary with the appointment of Elwyn Roberts (also ex-PwC) as the new Chair of the Sanctuary Audit Committee. Steve Wood, head of Sanctuary Care resigned the following day, Sanctuary now has him listed as Director of Property.

pwclogoPwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers), “independent” auditors to Sanctuary Housing Association and just about every other big company in the UK and America

As can be seen in Sanctuary Group’s financial statement for 2013-2014, PwC are Sanctuary’s independent auditors. Hang on a bit… two ex-PwC men are now at the very top of Sanctuary, Lander having been a senior partner until 2008. Exactly how independent is that? (KPMG, another government-linked massive firm, have since become Sanctuary Group’s auditors… Tim, 2017)

Elwyn Roberts, also ex-PwC, new Chair of Audit Committee

Elwyn Roberts, also ex-PwC, new Chair of Sanctuary’s Audit Committee

PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) is one of the Big Four accountancy firms who between them carry out around 90% of all audits for FTSE 350 companies. They are absolutely massive in the UK (see pwc.co.uk), America and internationally. “In the 2014 financial year, PwC firms provided services to 417 companies in the Fortune Global 500 and 462 in the FT Global 500… For the year ending 30 June 2014, PwC’s gross revenues were US$34 billion, up 6%.” (see pwc.com). However, in 2011 they were heavily criticized by the House of Lords for not drawing attention to the risks that led up to the banking meltdown in 2008:- “It may be that the Big Four carried out their duties properly in the strictly legal sense, but we have to conclude that, in the wider sense, they did not do so.” PwC were particularly singled out for not drawing attention to the risks of the Northern Rock business model.

In 2012, the Accountancy and Actuarial Discipline Board (AADB) of the UK fined PwC a record £1.4m for “very serious” misconduct  over its audit of JP Morgan Securities. At the time it was the heaviest fine ever given to a professional accountancy firm in the UK. Some comments on the above article:- “Auditors are so conflicted in their relationship with clients it is a joke.”, “Add at least one zero to the fine and it might start to be meaningful.”, “The elites are just letting themselves off… Theft!!”.

Corrupt and wrong, too big, too greedy. And, as revealed in The Great Tax Robbery: How Britain Became a Tax Haven For Fat Cats and Big Business by former tax-inspector Richard Brooks, unlikely to change. When the government (and opposition) considers any change in financial law, it consults PwC as part of the process.

Current questioning of PwC integrity in recent over-estimation of Tesco profits by £250 million 

Or rather a lot in PwC's case

Or rather a lot in PwC’s case

Right now, the integrity of PwC is once again being questioned in an ongoing investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority. “PwC has been Tesco’s auditor for over 30 years. For that service, Tesco paid PwC £10.4m in the last financial year – plus another £3.6m for other consultancy work. Of the 10 directors on the supermarket’s board… two are ex-PwC… Mark Armour, a non-executive director, and Ken Hanna, chair of the company’s own audit committee.”

Sanctuary Group – an exempt registered charity rip-off and everything that is wrong with greedy and hypocritical corporate Britain today

Craig Moule, Finance Director

Sanctuary Group is very fond of telling the world how successful it is, particularly financially. “The 95,000-home landlord has reported one of the highest levels of gearing – borrowing in relation to assets held – in the sector…  ‘in line’ with the landlord’s business plan and treasury policy. The landlord reported a surplus of £42.6m, down from £54.5m, from a turnover of £592.3m and built 1,481 new homes during the year.” (Inside Housing 1.10.14) There had been earlier reports of a £72 million surplus last year but this apparently included assets from the takeover of Cosmopolitan, which I believe have since been discounted. No doubt PwC are doing their job, legitimately or otherwise. (KPMG, another government-linked massive firm, have since become Sanctuary Group’s auditors… Tim, 2017)

SanctuaryGroup

 

The privitization of housing stock has happened quietly over the last thirty years and more. Large housing associations have become greedy money-making machines. All Sanctuary care about is money and building their property empire, make no mistake. They are right in there at the heart of the government, the financial establishment and even the Church of England. Local councils also seem to be quick to support Sanctuary, rather than those suffering as a result of their countless bad practices – in fact Sanctuary seem to be good at buying off all sorts of people. The publicity machine is often grotesquely dishonest. Sanctuary are a classic example of the amoral screw-you capitalism that has gradually taken hold over the last 10-15 years and longer. They do some good, offer some good services and help some people and communities – one would hope so with the millions of pounds they have and 11,000 staff. However, if more Sanctuary tenants were middle-class – with money to defend themselves (few Sanctuary tenants now qualify for legal aid) and/or with better education and/or more self-respect – Sanctuary would not last 5 minutes. There would be an outrage, as there should be right now.

PoundSignUKTo anyone out there who has been genuinely helped by Sanctuary – great stuff, you might be wondering what the fuss is about. All things considered though, this shambolic, scandalous, useless, uncaring, arrogant, rip-off corporate monstrosity of a company should be shut down immediately.

Fully supported by the government, Sanctuary’s tax-free, registered charity, “business model” stinks. Sanctuary are the lowest of the very low for making massive profits while continuing to abuse and exploit many poor and vulnerable people in our society. 

(Chief Executive David Bennett was made a CBE for services to social housing in the 2015 New Year’s Honours list – an absolute disgrace.)

The Sanctuary Group Board

Jonathan Lander

Jonathan Lander

John Doughty

John Doughty

Dr Gareth Tuckwell

Dr Gareth Tuckwell

Nick Baldwin, Group Chair

Nick Baldwin, Group Chair

Robert McComb

Robert McComb

Elwyn Roberts

Elwyn Roberts

On the Sanctuary Housing Group website, you will find pictures and brief biographies of Directors and Executives with lots of letters after their name. Naturally, I would not wish to show any of the Sanctuary Board members (David Bennett, Craig Moule, Ian McDermott, John Doughty, Jonathan Lander, Liz Meek, Nick Baldwin – oooh, LOTS of letters after his name, that must be why he’s the Group Chair, Robert McComb, Thelma Stober, Elwyn Roberts, Dr. Gareth Tuckwell – even more!) or other Executives and Operatons Directors (Amanda Gonsalves, Peter Martin, Nathan Warren, Sophie Atkinson, Steve Wood, Simon Clark, Gordon Laurie, Dennis Evans, Chris Munday – wait a minute, according to the website Chris hasn’t got any letters after his name! OMG!) any disrespect. I myself am Tim Burness L.A.Y.N.A.M. – Letters After Your Name Are Meaningless.

David Bennett, Chief Executive

David Bennett, Chief Executive

Craig Moule

Craig Moule

Such impressive credentials! The author of a book called “A Question of Healing” who has been involved with the hospice movement, an Accredited Mediator, a woman who has worked to improve services for people with schizophrenia and for ex-offenders. Ah… oh dear, here comes the stench of Big Money – two ex-partners of PwC the massively powerful firm of accountants, an investment banker, an ex-Chief Executive of Powergen.

An investment banker? The head of an energy company? Can you hear those Corporate Rip-Off alarm bells ringing!?

Please see previous blog Are Sanctuary Housing Above The Law? and its 500+ comments for how bad this company can be.

I would absolutely refute any suggestion that I might have the view that, whether they realize it or not, these individuals are a money-grabbing, hypocritical bunch of fraudsters who front a totally corrupt and morally bankrupt organization. Any such suggestion that I might think this, or anything like it, made by anyone would leave me with no alternative but to invoke my Persistent, Cereal and Herbacious Complainants Procedure against them.

Yes, Sanctuary Housing Association does some good work – but nationwide neglect and abuse of tenants, including the elderly and vulnerable is no joke. An exempt rip-off registered charity that lies, cheats and bullies people is no joke. Bad services, incompetent contractors and substandard properties left to rot for years is no joke.

£72 million surplus last year. Shame on you, Sanctuary Group Board.

(The above figure was apparently later revised down to £54.5 million – they make around £40-50 million every year. Unbelievably, Chief Executive David Bennett was awarded a CBE for services to social housing in 2015.)

Liz Meek

Liz Meek

Thelma Stober

Thelma Stober

Ian McDermott

Ian McDermott

23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism

23Things Cambridge professor Hu-Joon Chang’s international bestseller is an accessible, balanced, warm and entertaining analysis of the myths of modern capitalism. Many books on the subject of what has gone wrong have been published since the crash of 2008, but “23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism” goes right to the very heart of the problems in plain language. It shows how the world really works.

Early on, the author makes it clear that this is not an anti-capitalist manifesto. “Being critical of free-market ideology is not the same thing as being against capitalism.” With countless examples from people’s everyday lives, aswell as the world of business and politics, different forms of capitalism are explored. Particular issues with the USA and UK model from the last thirty years feature prominently. To a certain extent, the chapter headings speak for themselves. “Thing 1 – There is no such thing as a free market” (government is always involved in setting rules and regulations to some degree), “Thing 2 – Companies should not be run in the interests of their owners” (running companies for the often short-term interests of shareholders risks destroying the entire system in the long-term), and so on.

Ha-JoonChangFor many, some of the observations in “23 Things…” may seem like common sense, but Chang can still be quite shocking as he slices right through widely accepted political and economic orthodoxies. In the conclusion he suggests ways to rebuild the world economy – build systems that acknowledge the limits of human rationality, ban complex financial products that don’t benefit society in the long run, build a system that brings out the best in people, take “making things” more seriously, “unfairly” favour developing countries – who have suffered badly as a result of free-market policies.

This is a great book that cuts through a lot of economic and political waffle like a knife.

The Future by Al Gore

TheFutureAlGoreThis is a powerful and brave book from the former American Vice President. Al Gore attempts nothing less than a current overview of the whole human condition and our situation on planet Earth, suggesting the choices we have to make and where they will lead us. He is neither overly optimistic nor overly pessimistic.

Gore carefully covers all the complicated big issues in plain language. The current crises of global capitalism and democracy are explored in great depth and from many angles – “Democracy and capitalism have both been hacked.” Interconnected topics include the dominance of corporate elites, the corruption of politics, internet security, the origins of mass marketing, the ethics of modern science, the harm done by excessive use of antibiotics, population issues, the inability of GDP to account for the true consequences of economic growth, the depletion of topsoil and water supplies, the pros and cons of the rise of China, and the politics of the denial of climate change.

AlGoreIn the conclusion, perhaps inevitably, Gore makes the case for America leading the way forward. I must admit that’s probably the only bit of this visionary volume that doesn’t quite ring true for me. But, as with just about all the suggestions in this book, his “priority goals” for America’s recovery make sense – limit the role of money in politics, and reform old laws that allow a small minority to stop legislative action in the U.S. Senate. “The world desperately needs leadership that is based on the deepest human values.” Al Gore deserves to be taken seriously. Here’s hoping this book makes at least a small difference to the mess we are in.