By Paul Stuart in Britain:
27 July 2012
The Royal Dock complex, adjacent to London’s financial district at Canary Wharf, is hosting up to one hundred super yachts, including twenty of the world’s most opulent, as the Olympic Games begin.
Its transformation into a Monaco-style marina playground for the super rich is a telling rebuttal to all the official rhetoric about the “peoples’ games.”
East London’s Royal Docks, including the Royal Albert Dock, the Royal Victoria Dock and the King George V Dock, was once a centre of industry and trade employing hundreds of thousands of workers.
The games in general are dominated by the vast global social chasm. Buckingham Palace played host to an Olympic reception on Monday, where Queen Elizabeth and others received the Olympic committee. It is estimated the official functions alone will cost up to £100 million; in addition, numerous unofficial events will be held.
Accordingly, many have therefore brought their super yachts and will arrive at Olympic events in helicopters or speedboats along the Thames, which connects Windsor Castle and Hampton Court, the Bank of England, Houses of Parliament, Tower Bridge, and so on. Curator of the National Maritime Museum Robert Blyth made the telling comparison that “Historically, kings and queens would have travelled by river—the roads were rather uncomfortable and dangerous.”
Fully 30 miles of road lanes are reserved for Olympic VIPs and competitors. “Games Lanes” is their official title, but they have been dubbed Zil lanes—after the limousines used by Stalinist apparatchiks in Soviet Russia who travelled in lanes that were reserved for them.
To stray into one will cost a member of the public a £130 fine. In addition 1,300 sets of traffic lights will be changed to facilitate Olympic traffic.
The Olympic organisers and the government have bent over backwards to show sensitivity to the desire of the financial elite to avoid the general public, whose lives are already in a ruinous state in socially deprived areas of London.
As Camilla Storey, an executive for the co-ordinating of Olympic party events put it, “We will have the entire financial industry, everybody from the worlds of business, sport and entertainment, all coming together. That is a unique opportunity. Do these people want to be lost in the hubbub, immersed in the tourist crowds, or do they want to be watching it, waited on hand and foot, from the top of one of the world’s most exclusive yachts?”
London Underground cleaners walk out as Olympic games begin: here.
Brad Evans, Truthout in thje USA: “So, the Olympic Games are finally upon us. Whether we perceive this global extravaganza to be a triumphant social gathering which reveals all that is remarkable about the human spirit or yet another corporate feast of plenty, it nevertheless provides us with a pertinent moment to evaluate the operations of power in contemporary liberal societies. Not only does it illustrate how our post-industrial lifestyles are increasingly defined by ‘event-based’ experiences, it also shows how terror has become normalized in the current historical conjuncture. As securitization policies become more visible, the corporate militarization of public space appears routine. It is even to be applauded as a reasoned and rational choice”: here.
John Pilger, Truthout: “This is a story of two letters and two Britains. The first letter was written by Sebastion Coe, the former athlete who chairs the London Olympics Organizing Committee. He is now called Lord Coe. In the New Statesman of 21 June, I reported an urgent appeal to Coe by the Vietnam Women’s Union that he and his International Olympic Committee (IOC) colleagues reconsider their decision to accept sponsorship from Dow Chemical, one of the companies that manufactured dioxin, a poison used against the population of Vietnam”: here.
Beleaguered Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt narrowly avoided injuring bystanders today when a bell he was ringing flew off its handle during an Olympics celebration: here.
Long-suffering commuters heading towards east London for the start of the Olympics had to deal with more travelling problems today after further delays on the main line and Tube: here.
Britain: A decision to close three paediatric heart hospital units, made in early July following a National Health Services “Safe and Sustainable” review, will cost more children’s lives: here.