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Opportunities lost - if Boston gets the Olympics

It's a question being asked more and more about the Olympics. $20billion? Is it really worth it? For three weeks? Yeah, it's a lot! What could we get for that money? Jobs, health care, elderly care, roads, education, homeless shelters, affordable housing... NoBostonOlympics videos of Bostonians talking back about lost opportunities, lack of transparency in the bid, thumbs down to Boston2024....

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Lest we forget - Dow, the company the IOC likes to do business with

Lest we forget - Dow, the company the IOC likes to do business with....

'Lawyers with the organization EarthRights International spent 15 years trying to make Dow Chemical pay to clean up the contamination of the soil and groundwater around the old factory site. In the summer of 2014, a US district court in New York ruled that the company did not have to pay for cleanup work -- on grounds that the project manager who was in charge of plant construction and waste disposal had only been employed by the Indian subsidiary.'

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London2012 - the miracle of hotels in Stratford

Popular London2012 miracle stories keep cropping up, often in an academic context. Recent examples were provided at the ongoing UEL seminars held at the LLDC headquarters in the poshly named Montfichet Road at Stratford City. The upmarket de Montfichet was a Norman baron who founded Langthorne Abbey in Stratford back in the early 12th Century. Another classy name thrown up by recent events to inject an estate agent inspired aristocratic ambience in the E20 zone is Chobham Manor, the new address of the former rather down at heel Clays Lane.

Among recent purveyors of Olympic miracles in East London were two representatives of local boroughs. One, a business research manager from Newham, a Doctor no less, recounted how sport participation in the borough had been boosted by the Olympics, a report strangely at variance with recent findings which showed the Olympic borough was the least active in the whole of England. Another miracle she reported was there had been a legacy of 'shopping improvements' arising from London2012. When it was pointed out that this particular miracle related to the aforementioned Stratford City, a project unconnected with the Olympics, she declined to comment further saying she had no expertise in miracles of regeneration.

Another miracle jobber at the same event came all the way from neighbouring Hackney, where he works for the council to promote business, to tell of the wondrous emergence of business hubs which had been found near to the recently developed railway stations on the reopened and extended East London Line, now renamed the Overground on account of the fact that most of it is above the ground. This miracle of the hubs had only occurred because the Olympics had brought about the redevelopment of this Overground line. The council man was considerably dismayed when it was mentioned that the development of the railway had nothing to do with the Olympics and after some scratching on a note pad agreed that this was indeed correct, but he still insisted that the railway would not have re-emerged as quickly without the impetus provided by the miraculous year of 2012, a suggestion vigorously disputed from the floor.

Undeterred, the man from Hackney produced another miraculous event, the Radio One music festival on Hackney Marshes, which had attracted great multitudes to the borough and which Hackney wished to repeat, another event which owed its existence to the wondrous Olympic year of 2012. He refused to be put off by the naysayer in his audience who pointed out that this event had roused the ire of the many sportsmen and women of East London, supported by their national associations, who had been unable to use the Marshes for their traditional activities of hitting and kicking round objects over specially laid out pitches both because the Marshes had been fenced off unnecessarily for many weeks and because it had then been severely damaged by the multitudes and their vehicles who had only been on the Marshes for a few hours. Indeed this impact had mirrored the extraordinary damage done by the Olympics to a large area of land over many years and to those living and working there for a mere few weeks of sport. The devoted believer considered all this disruption had been worthwhile even though the anger of the national sports associations for football, rugby and cricket, who had provided money for the Marshes to be used for sport, had meant there was no chance of a repeat festival in the immediate future.

The council man from Hackney also claimed another miracle from within the Olympic Park, where he said excellent opportunities for employment of local people were being created even though it was again pointed out thousands of jobs done by local people had been lost by the removal of companies from the Park and few of the new jobs to be created at the Tech Hub at the former Media Centre would go to local people. At which point he fell silent.

Earlier, at another event in the same sequence of seminars, a noble lord, the Lord Harris, ventured into the Montfichet headquarters to declare there had been a great and miraculous legacy of new stadiums built in the Olympic Park. The noble lord had chaired a specially selected committee of the House of noble Lords into the legacy of the events in East London, a matter which has been frequently investigated for the benefit of the poor of this part of London. He felt it was unnecessary, and indeed impossible, to consider what might have happened if the recent miraculous events had not happened, which made it difficult to consider the merits of the events as there was nothing to compare them with.

The noble Lord was also imprecise about the miraculous gains, as for example in his brief report on the miracle of sports participation in which he failed to mention the decline in participation by the target 16 to 25 years age group. He was somewhat taken aback when this was pointed out and that the event had been sponsored by sellers of fizzy drinks and fatty foods whose products were often consumed by members of this very age group and that research showed an unhealthy lifestyle was more to blame for obesity than a lack of participation in sport. He had the grace to laugh when he was asked how the miraculous stadiums counted as a legacy even though they had already been paid for and they had actually cost more than they should have and when many had been knocked down as they would never be used again, while the Olympic stadium was now a football stadium which the Olympic Minister had said we did not need as we already had a football stadium at Wembley.

Despite these setbacks other devotees were determined that miracles had indeed occurred and fixed on how a number of hotels had been built and had miraculously survived in the vicinity of Stratford. The noble lord concurred with this report and noted that hotels had also been built in the vicinity of Brent Cross but had not survived, proof if any was needed of how miraculous the events in Stratford had really been.

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London2012 fails to 'Inspire a Generation' in Newham

London 2012 is still not inspiring people in the host borough of Newham to take up sport. A recent report from UKActive showed that the borough was home to the least active population in England. A second host Borough, Barking and Dagenham, came second in the list. UKActive also highlighted the unsurprising finding that participation was lowest in the poorest parts of the county. But not only is poverty a marker for lower rates of activity so, perhaps surprisingly, is youth. Far from inspiring sport participation among the 'target' age group of 16-25 year olds the period after the Games witnessed an actual decline in activity in this age group.

Oddly enough sport participation is not necessarily accompanied by a decline in obesity, a benefit usually claimed by those advocating for sport. As Australian researchers have noted it is diet and lifestyle rather than sport participation which is at the heart of tackling obesity. Obesity among children in Australia rose even as level of participation rose, hardly helped by the Olympics promotion of fizzy drinks and burgers particularly to young people.

Of course the message about 'participation' has got slightly confused in recent times with Lord Sir Seb claiming that the London Anniversary Games of 2013 would inspire the "next generation of track and field fans". But then the expansion of sports fandom is really what the Olympics is about. Watching Olympic sport on tv and eating and drinking Olympics sponsored food and drink helps keep the IOC in business.

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Police 'assisted' Olympic blacklisters

Police denials that they were involved in briefing the blacklisting agency, the Consulting Association, have taken another knock with the leaking of minutes of a meeting of representatives of construction companies in 2008 at which a Detective Chief Inspector Gordon Mills was present. Allegations about the activities of the Association and blacklisting of workers on the Olympics site had been denied by the ODA leading to criticism by the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Select Committee. Both the Information Commissioner's Office and the Independent Police Complaints Commission had insisted they have evidence of police involvement with the blacklisting organisation but the police had claimed there was no evidence of this. The leaked minutes report that Mills said he was there to 'liaise with industry'. The police have failed to respond to Freedom of Information requests for documents relating to the activities of the former National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit (Netcu) of which Mills was an officer saying they do not have any information about his meetings with the Consulting Agency.

The Chair of the Commons Select Committee had said the ODA were either 'deceived, gullible or negligent'. Plainly the police were among those doing the deceiving.

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2 years con

Britain’s Personal Best, which aimed to build on the Olympic Games by encouraging people to excel in athletic, educational or creative challenges. Given £997,960 in April 2013 by the Big Lottery Fund, it claimed it would sign up 120,000 people to take on challenges in their community – but was wound up within months after failing to meet all the milestones the Big Lottery Fund had set.

I'll just leave this here, it's from Cameron’s Big Society in tatters as charity watchdog launches investigation into claims of Government funding misuse in today's Indy.

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Rio - Favela do Metrô may not have been paradise...

While the world's football fans and media ooh and aah over the football action those living in favelas in Brazil's host cities continue to face eviction and the demolition of their homes for both the World Cup and the Olympics, sometimes just to make way for a parking lot as with the Favela do Metrô-Mangueira near to the famous Maracanã stadium. Families have ended up 75 kilometres away at Cosmos while others who were squatting in the half demolished favela were violently ejected and left homeless.

And the parking lot? It's just rubble, waiting for a developer to make a killing.


light at the end of the tunnel

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bailout bonus bonanza

Boosted by their bailouts, LendLease and 'London and Continental Railways' (aka the Department for Transport) are building big in Stratford City. Diamondgeezer recently deconstructed Glasshouse Gardens, linking at the end to the promotional brochure[PDF] - My Guide Stratford.

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pussy whipped putin

Having contrived to get themselves horse-whipped by some of Putin's cossacks yesterday, Pussy Riot's Sochi 2014 themed video for Putin Will Teach You to Love the Motherland is out there already. The lyrics with helpful annotations can be found on The New Republic.

Meanwhile, two members of the Ukranian Olympic team just quit, abandoning Sochi "in solidarity with fighters on the Maidan barricades" (via @markmackinnon).

There was also some discussion punted into the long grass of 'Agenda 2020' at this morning's IOC press conference about Ukranian team members wishes to wear black armbands in recognition of the Euromaidan death toll (via @andymiah).

But of course the Olympics aren't political!

Update; 20/2/2014 17:30
Maria Alyokhina of Pussy Riot on the Olympics’ Deceptive Face

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