May Moves Closer to a ‘Ministry of Truth’ for Cabinet Unit to Rebut ‘Fake News’

January 22, 2018

The Tories’ movement towards authoritarianism and dictatorship goes on. Mike today put up a story about Theresa May, our unfunny comedy prime minister, wanting to set up a ‘rapid response unit’ in the cabinet office to rebut ‘fake news’ on social media. Mike on his blog raises the obvious question about who will trust such a unit, when the Tories have been responsible for spreading so much fake news themselves. He illustrates this with a piece from the Canary, in which Victoria Atkins, the Undersecretary of State for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, by Niamh Eastwood of the drug charity, Release, for the lies Atkins had told about British drug policy and drug treatment.

And this is really just one instance of so many, many others. The Tories lie inveterately and constantly. Another example that comes readily to mind this week is Boris Johnson, once again reviving his lie that the money saved from being in the EU will go to the NHS. It’s been shown repeatedly that we won’t save the £350 million he claims, and when England did vote against EU membership last year, Johnson then went back on the promise, and blustered about how it was just an example of the kind of thing the money could be spent on. But in actually fact wasn’t. He’s revived this lie once before, and last week dragged it back up again.

May’s proposal also shows the massive insecurity the Tories now have. Despite having the overwhelming support of the British press and broadcasting, with the BBC apparently staffed by members of their party and producing constant pro-Tory propaganda through presenters and editors like Laura Kuenssberg, the Tories still feel they have to crack down on a threat from social media.

It’s because people are rejecting established news sources, like the press and the BBC, because they’ve been caught out lying too often. The Tories and their collaborators in the mainstream media have done their level best to vilify and smear the Labour party, and specifically Jeremy Corbyn and Momentum. If you believe them, Corbyn and the true Labour moderates – most definitely not the Thatcherite entryists that came in with Blair – are a load of anti-Semites and Trotskyites. But few people are buying that. Corbyn gained a considerable amount of support on social media, much of which was spontaneous, just as Bernie Sanders did over in the US. The Tories have been unable to compete with this, and so they want to shut it down. Mike’s article on this piece of news concludes

This is not an attempt to ensure a “fact-based public debate”.

It is a bid to hijack the news and turn it into Tory propaganda.

Who are you going to believe if you aren’t given a choice?

Tories hate the freedom of speech employed by the social media. They see this as their opportunity to end it. And they think the people are too stupid to realise they’ll be filling our newspapers and other news media with lies.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/01/22/whos-going-to-trust-theresa-may-to-tackle-fake-news-when-her-tories-are-responsible-for-so-much-of-it/

Absolutely. And May’s proposal is a real danger to free speech and freedom of opinion in Britain. It comes close to the ‘Ministry of Truth’ in Orwell’s 1984, or the rigid state control of the media in Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Soviet Russia. Perhaps the functionary Tweezer intends to put in charge of this new unit will be called ‘the Minister for Public Enlightenment’, like Goebbels?

This comes after the various attempts by Thatcherite administrations to set up secret courts. These are closed hearings, where, for reasons of national security, the accused may not know what crimes they are charged with, nor have the evidence against them disclosed to themselves or their lawyers. Blair tried to introduce them, and David Cameron and Nick Clegg passed legislation setting them up. Again, it’s a justice system very much like the Kafkaesque travesties of the Communist and Fascist totalitarians of the last century.

And this has to be stopped. This is another infringement by the Tories on freedom of speech and conscience. If it goes ahead, whatever May or her spokespeople will bluster and say to the contrary, it will be another attempt to dictate to the people of this country what they can believe politically. By a weak, terrified Tory prime minister, and the corrupt, mendacious party and corporate class she serves.

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Opening Scene of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

January 22, 2018

And now for something a bit positive and optimistic, before I start blogging about the grim, serious stuff later. I found the opening scene to last year’s Luc Besson SF film, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets over on YouTube. Besson was the director of the SF epic, The Fifth Element way back in the 1990s. This clip from Valerian shows the development of something, which looks remarkably like the International Space Station, into a massive, orbital space complex. I like it because it shows a succession of human nations coming through the airlocks, followed by a variety of alien races, to greet each other in peace and friendship. The musical backing is David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’, appropriately enough, though the scenes of people and aliens shaking hands in welcome reminds me more of the line from Louis Armstrong’s ‘Wonderful World’: ‘I see friends shakin’ hands, sayin’ ‘How do you do?” This was used at the end of the BBC TV version of the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy back in the 1980s.

As for people meeting and becoming friends with alien races, that was one of the elements that made Star Trek so popular. It showed that, despite our current problems, humanity would survive, flourish and go on to explore the universe. And that meant all humanity, with people of different races, Black, Asian, and Russians from the other side of the-then current ideological divide, and aliens, like Spock. Gene Roddenberry in his vision for the show stated that he didn’t want there to be an alien race we couldn’t possible deal with. And so in The Next Generation they created the Borg, which originally humanity couldn’t deal with. You either fought them, ran away, or were assimilated.

Alien invasion, or some other insidious threat from beyond the stars is a staple of SF, and has been ever since H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. But there’s another aspect to humanity’s fascination with aliens which counterbalances this. That apart from enemies, we will also make new friends. It’s the driving psychological motive behind the various UFO contactee encounters in the 1950s, when people claimed that they’d been taken aboard alien spacecraft by benevolent space brothers, to be given a message of peace and cosmic brotherhood. And it’s also why there have been any number of SF stories and paintings set in space bars, like the Cantina sequence in Star Wars.

And in this clip here, I particularly like the bit where the human shaking hands with one of the aliens is left with slime on his hand. It’s just a bit gross, but it is funny.

I wanted to see Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets when it came out last year, but unfortunately circumstances got in the way. I heard that it flopped. One reason for this, apparently, was because it came from a French comic strip, which no-one in America had ever heard of. I’m not sure if that’s the reason, and sometimes perfectly good films fall flat at the box office for no discernible reason at all, except that they didn’t appeal at that moment. Anyway, I want to get hold of it on DVD so that I can judge for myself whether it’s any good, rather than just take what the critics said.

The Painter of Cyberspace: The Art of Jurgen Ziewe

January 20, 2018

Earlier this week there was a piece in the press announcing that the Turner Prize Committee had decided to go public early about which artworks and artist they were considering. I have strong feeling, like many people, about the Turner Prize. Many of the works seem simply designed to shock, with nothing more substantial underneath. Those that aren’t, are simply banal. It’s highbrow kitsch, which says nothing while claiming that it actually does. And I think modern fine art has reached a dead end. it’s anti-art, which constantly raves about Duchamps’ urinal nailed to a piece of canvas. Duchamps did it to make the point that whatever the artist claimed to be art, was art. It’s over a century old, and the joke’s well past it’s sell-by date. It was always an adolescent, childish prank anyway. To some of these art experts, it’s a hallowed artistic statement that must not be blasphemed in any way. You remember those Chinese guys, who were arrested when they jumped up and down on Tracey Emin’s ‘My Bed’? The same two were planning to urinate in Duchamps’ urinal. Which I feel is in keeping with the piece itself, but the mere thought horrified the keepers of official art.

The real artistic boundaries are being pushed, in my opinion, not by the fine artists, or at least, not by those fine artists currently pushed by the very small clique that defines what ‘official’ art is, like Nicholas Serota. Rather, they’re being pushed by commercial artists and film makers, often inspired by the worlds of Fantasy and SF, using computer graphics. One of the foremost of these, in my opinion, is the German artist Jurgen Ziewe. Ziewe lives over here, and has an English wife. And we are fortunate to have such a talented artist. I do wonder what will happen to other talented EU migrants like him after Brexit, who can’t stay in this country because they aren’t married. We’re going to lose a lot of very talented people.

Ziewe uses computer graphics, including Virtual models of humans and objects, and fractals, to create prismatic, Virtual, interior worlds full of robots, strange creatures, synthetic humans, fairies, wizards, witches, priestesses and temples. He started out making cards showing dolphins under cosmic skies. He’s a very spiritual guy, in a New Age-y sense, and his work is inspired by concepts from Theosophy and C.G. Jung. Here’s some of the picture from Nigel Suckling’s book about his art, New Territories: The Computer Visions of Jurgen Ziewe (Paper Tiger, 1997).

The Fairy Queen

Picnic In Cyberspace

Journey of a Virtual Traveller

Apart from Ziewe, other artists working in film and television have also been using the concepts of computer graphics. One of the features of the BBC TV version of the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that most impressed me in the late ’70s or early 1980s were the, ahem, computer graphics for the pieces of information provided by the Book. In fact, they were hand drawn, because the computers at the time simply weren’t up to the task of creating pictures that detailed. But the art produced as ‘computer graphics’, was superb, and those, who watched the show were deeply impressed. As an example, here’s a piece from YouTube of the Book describing Vogon poetry.

Further examples can be seen in pop videos. Like this one from the American electro-pop band, Information Society, which uses scrolling alphanumerics to suggest passage through cyberspace in a computer game, made for their track, ‘The Prize’.

Other artistic explorations of medically or cybernetically enhanced vision can be seen in the films Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick and the last of trilogy, entitled simply Riddick. Richard Riddick, the anti-hero in these movies, is a violent criminal, a murderer, who somehow ends up doing the right thing. While in slam for his crimes, he paid the prison doctor 20 menthol cigarettes to have his eyes surgically altered, ‘polished’, so that he could see in the dark. In these flicks, we so bits of the action through his eyes. The scene in Pitch Black, where he sees the predatory aliens pouring out of their underground lairs after the marooned crew of a crashed colony spacecraft, is awesomely beautiful. This is the trailer for the movie.

And this is the trailer for The Chronicles of Riddick.

In this movie, the Necromongers use visioners, cybernetically adapted humans, to seek and visually examine areas that are difficult or impossible for normal human eyes to see clearly. And the brief scenes, in which the audience is shown what they see, are also stunning.

But this is low, commercial art, and so unlikely to find any praise by the High Art people, no matter how popular it is, or how technically sophisticated and visually inspired. The best comment on this kind of artistic snobbery comes from the American SF/Fantasy artist and book illustrator, Bob Eggleton.

Being a commercial artist is itself a kind of pigeonhole in the art world, but it is not a label that troubles him. ‘Commercialism for the sake of commercialism is not a sin. What I hate is commercialism packaged as fine art. That’s what Abstract Expressionism about, you’re buying into a trend much of the time. There’s nothing wrong with any kind of art, provided the artist believes in what they’re doing.’

From Nigel Suckling, with introduction by Gregory Benford, Alien Horizons: The Fantastic Art of Bob Eggleton (Paper Tiger, 1995) page 83.

And the YBAs, such as Damian Hirst, Tracey Emin and Chris Offili, were very commercial, as was Salvador Dali long before them. This was pointed out on a programme on the great surrealist on Radio 4 several years ago by Malcolm MacLaren, the genius – well, he obviously thought he was – behind the Sex Pistols.

And here’s Eggleton’s picture of Great Cthulhu, painted for Weird Tales magazine, for all the Lovecraft fans out there.

I realised I’ve digressed a little way from the central topic of this post, the fantastic computer art of Jurgen Ziewe. But these are related issues, showing the way computers, robots, space and high technology – the stuff of Science Fiction – is pushing artistic boundaries in ways that the official fine art of Conceptualism really isn’t doing. I’m also exploring a few ideas here for a much longer article, or series of articles, I intend to do on this sometime.

Mike’s Hearing before Labour Disputes Tribunal: a Show-trial and Travesty of Justice

January 20, 2018

The following comments below are mine only and do not necessarily reflect the views of Mike Sivier or his blog, Vox Political.

Mike this week put up a long blog post describing the results of his hearing for alleged anti-Semitism before the Labour Disputes Committee. It was not encouraging, and shows how these committees are nothing but Kafkaesque travesties of justice, designed to protect the mendacious and intolerant, and persecute their ideological adversaries.

To recap, last year Mike put up a series of posts on his blog defending some of the Labour and Momentum supporters, who had been accused of anti-Semitism, such as Jackie Walker and Ken Livingstone. Livingstone was historically correct when he said that Hitler initially collaborated with the Zionists to send Jews to the nascent Jewish colony in Palestine. It was part of the Ha’avara agreement, which is mentioned in mainstream textbooks and on websites connected with the Holocaust Museum at Yad Vashem in Israel. You can find mementoes, such as medal, struck by the Nazis in commemoration of the agreement and the visit by a Nazi to the colony over at Tony Greenstein’s website.

It is not anti-Semitic to point this out. But it annoyed and terrified the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, a badly misnamed Zionist organisation, that was formed in 2014 to counter public opposition to Israel after the bombardment of Gaza. To do this, they followed the standard Zionist tactic of spuriously connecting this to anti-Semitism. So does the Jewish Labour Movement, which decided that Jackie Walker was an anti-Semite last year, because she didn’t go along with their tortured definition of anti-Semitism, which also connects it to opposition or criticism of Israel.

Mike wrote a pamphlet about this, and sent it off the Labour party. Then some little snitch decided to complain and accuse him, in turn, of anti-Semitism.

Tony Greenstein, the very Jewish anti-racist, Socialist and anti-Zionist, posted a little snippet on his blog showing this to be unJewish. Medieval Jewish law was firmly against Jews informing on other Jews to the authorities. Okay, Mike’s a gentile, but very many of those accused of anti-Semitism by this squalid organisations are god-fearing, Torah observant, or secular, self-respecting Jews. And this issue affects gentiles as well as Jews. Greenstein came out with the Jewish dictum prohibiting informing. It’s in Biblical Hebrew or perhaps Talmudic Aramaic, so it sounds very grand. But it essentially boils down to ‘snitches get stitches’. As you’d expect from when it was written. The Middle Ages were a period of terrible persecution for the Jews, and the authorities would find any excuse to terrorise Jewish communities.

Mike was called in to a disputes hearing to answer the charge. And here it becomes very Kafkaesque. In Kafka’s great novels The Trial and The Castle, the hero is arrested and tried. But he does not know who his accuser is, nor what the charges against him are. It was a terrible prefiguration of the perversions of justice in Nazi Germany and the Fascist states, and Stalin’s Russia. As well as the secret courts Blair, Cameron and Clegg, and Tweezer want to set up in this country.

It’s also unBritish. And I mean this in an inclusive sense, as part of the core British values that should protect all Brits, regardless of creed and ethnicity. Under British law, you are innocent until proven guilty. Unlike the continent, where you are guilty until proven innocent. You are also supposed to know who you are accuser is, so you and your lawyer can cross-examine them and you can defend yourself. This has been the case ever since Magna Carta and the Middle Ages. Under medieval law, you could only be tried if there was an accuser. So quite often county sheriffs would round up the local neerdowells and crims, lock them up in their castles, and then appeal for someone to come forward and accuse them of a crime, so that they could be tried.

Then there were the accusations themselves. Mike stated that it was clear that they had not read his pamphlet or articles, but just relied on the accusation, which was simply quotes ripped out of context. One of these numbskulls asked Mike why he called the JLM, formerly Paole Zion, a Zionist organisation. Mike replied quite truthfully because that’s how they define themselves in their constitution and their mission statements, and quoted them. On another point, he was asked why he made a particular statement, and could he not understand how that could be interpreted as anti-Semitic. So Mike pointed out that the answer was to be found elsewhere in the text. Hadn’t the official read it. Well no, actually he hadn’t. He’d been told only to read the bits highlighted. This raises the question of who gave him this instruction. It sounds like a deliberate move to find Mike guilty by stopping his interrogators reading the evidence to the contrary.

Mike’s case then went to Labour’s constitutional committee. Jon Lansmann, one of the leading lights in Momentum, who does not know Mike, argued strongly in his favour. Others wanted Mike passed along to another committee, so that he could be expelled. Another suggestion was that he should be given a warning, and made to do a training day with Paole Zion, I mean, er, the Jewish Labour Movement. Mike rejected this, because he’s innocent and does not want to do anything that may indicate that he accepts that he is guilty. As more Mike saying that Paole Zion, or the Jewish Labour Movement, does not represent Jews – this is a fair comment. The Jewish Labour Movement accepts gentiles as members. Moreover, many Jews, including an increasing number in America, are becoming increasingly estranged and hostile to Israel because of the barbarous and inhuman way it treats the Palestinians. This includes young Jews, who have been on the heritage tours the Israelis organisation for Jewish Americans, and those who have personally suffered anti-Semitic abuse or worse. So with gentile members, and the opposition of many Jews to its support of Israel, it’s a fair question whether it does represent Jews, or whether it exists to defend Israel disguised as representing them.

They also accused him of anti-Semitism when he talked about a conspiracy involving the Israelis. Was this, they asked, referring to all the stupid, murderous Nazi lies about a worldwide conspiracy by Jews to control and exterminate the White race? No, replied Mike, this was about Shai Masot at the Israeli embassy being filmed by Al-Jazeera discussing how they wanted various Tory MPs removed from office. This is a conspiracy, and it is odious and disgusting that the Zionists should try to make discussion of it off-limits, by accusing those who do of anti-Semitism through connecting it to historic lies about them. But it’s also very, very much par for the course for Zionists.

Mike has also commented on the ant-gentile racism of the comments he was subjected to by the Campaign Against Anti-Zionism. Many of them made needling, niggling comments about gentiles. This was probably done to provoke an anti-Semitic reaction, so they could go running to the authorities screaming ‘See, we were right! He is an anti-Semite!’ It’s the actions of the bully in school, who hits you just before the teacher comes into the room. When you retaliate, the bully screams out ‘Miss! He hit me!’ in order to get you into trouble. But it wouldn’t surprise me at all if these Zionists really didn’t believe that their Hebrew ancestry made them superior to everyone else. A few years ago, the IDF found itself in hot water and having to apologise to the world after they published a pamphlet claiming that Jews were racially superior to gentiles. But what do you expect from a White colonial settler state, where only Jews, and preferably only full-blooded Jews, can become full citizens. When it was suggested a few decades ago that people, who were only half-Jewish, but who had converted to Judaism and made the profession of faith, could become citizens, the Jewish Right in the country was horrified.

This seems to be the attitude of the Campaign Against Anti-Zionism, and it is directly opposed to mainstream Halaskah – Jewish Enlightenment – Judaism. They have been keen to play down and remove any notion that their ancestry as God’s chosen people make them in any way superior to others. Rather, it means that Jews are God’s servant nation. Moses Mendelsohn, one of the founders of the Jewish Enlightenment in the 18th century and the grandfather of the composer, Felix, dreamed of uniting Jews and Christians in a single, Platonist monotheistic faith. It’s impossible, as the religions are too different, although some Christians remained on the fringes of the Jewish community as late as the 4th century, when some historians believe that the split between Jews and Christians finally occurred. And absolutely none of the Jewish people I, Mike or any of my family have met, have ever experienced any kind of racial animus from their Jewish friends. Far from it. Dad remembers with affection the kindness he was shown by his Jewish mates in the army.

At the moment Mike’s left in the air, while the inquisitors in the Labour party ponder what to do with him. I wonder who did make the complaint. It looks like someone connected with the Campaign Against Anti-Zionism, I mean, er, the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, but it could equally well be the Blairites or the Jewish Labour Movement. Blair was heavily involved with the Israel Lobby. He was supported by the Labour Friends of Israel, while one of his staunchest supporters, Lord Levy, supplied him with money from Jewish Zionist businesspeople in Britain, money that made him independent of the trade unions and which ultimately allowed him to attack them. Does anyone remember when he was threatening to cut trade union ties just before he took power?

This all seems to be another tactic of the Blairites and Zionists. The American socialist journalist, Chris Hedges, remarked in one of his speeches attacking Israel for its maltreatment of the Palestinians about how they infiltrated groups like the one he was speaking to, to pass on reports to Zionist organisations and the Israeli embassy. But the situation was being reverse. Those, who skulked in darkness were being dragged into the light.

So should these anonymous snitches, liars and false accusers. Back in ancient Rome, those who made a wrongful accusation against someone had the letter ‘K’ for ‘Kalumniator’ – libeller – branded on their forehead. This is how it should be with these people.

What is frustrating is that there seems to be no-one to complain to about this kangaroo court. The Blairites presently in control of the Labour party aren’t interested, and have effectively closed off any chance Mike has of defending himself. And the press don’t want to know. They hate Corbyn and Momentum with a passion, and have used every opportunity to smear him and them as anti-Semites. Because Corbyn wants to do something for working people, and has sided with the Palestinians in their struggle. While also making it very clear that he isn’t automatically against Israel, as was pointed out by a commenter on here. And with the Blairites losing power, and the Tories losing patience with May, you can expect more of these vile smears in the future.

But enough’s enough. This has got to stop. The finest elements of British legal tradition are against such kangaroo courts. I want to know who accused Mike, and I want a proper hearing, where he is told what the charges against him are, rather than vague waffle about ‘anti-Semitism’, by people who’ve actually read everything he’s written. And are actually able to take what he says on board, rather than lie in their official report that his answer were vague – they weren’t – and he didn’t seem to understand that what he’d written could be considered anti-Semitic. No, he dealt with that at the kangaroo hearing as well. More lies from people determined to find him guilty. I wonder what their names are, so an accusation can be made against them.

Until those, who make such libellous smears against the critics of Israel, both gentile and Jewish, are dragged into the light, and forced to defend themselves before those righteous individuals they’ve besmirched, disciplinary hearings like Mike’s will always be kangaroo courts. It is not Corbyn who’s a Stalinist, but these grotty Blairites and Zionist Fascists.

No, Tweezer! It’s Not Labour that’s Attacking Investment, but Tory Privatisation

January 20, 2018

More lies from Theresa May, the lying head of a mendacious, corrupt, odious party. Mike put up another piece earlier this week commenting on a foam-flecked rant by Tweezer against the Labour party. She began this tirade by claiming that Labour had turned its back on investment. This was presumably out of fear of Labour’s very popular policies about renationalising the Health Service, the electricity industry and the railways.

But Labour hasn’t turned its back on investment. Far from it. Labour has proposed an investment bank for Britain – something that is recognised by many economists as being badly needed. It was one of Neil Kinnock’s policies in 1987, before he lost the election and decided that becoming ‘Tory lite’ was the winning electoral strategy.

The Korean economist, Ha-Joon Chang, who teaches at Cambridge, has pointed out that privatisation doesn’t work. Most of the British privatised industries were snapped up by foreign companies. And these companies, as he points out, aren’t interested in investing. We are there competitors. They are interested in acquiring our industries purely to make a profit for their countries, not ours. Mike pointed this out in his blog piece on the matter, stating that 10 of the 25 railway companies were owned by foreign interests, many of them nationalised. So nationalised industry is all right, according to Tweezer, so long as we don’t have it.

The same point is made by Stewart Lansley and Joanna Mack in their book, Breadline Britain: the Rise of Mass Poverty (Oneworld 2015). They write

The privatisation, from the 1980s, of the former publicly owned utilities is another example of the extractive process at work, and one that hs brought a huge bonanza for corporate and financial executives at the expense of staff, taxpayers and consumers. Seventy-two state-own enterprises we4re sold between 1983 and 1991 alone, with the political promise that the public-to-private transfer would raise efficiency, productivity and investment in the to the benefit of all. Yet such gains have proved elusive. With most of those who landed shares on privatisation selling up swiftly, the promised shareholding democracy failed to materialise. In the most comprehensive study of the British privatisation process, the Italian academic Massimo Florio, in his book The Great Divistiture, has concluded that privatisation failed to boost efficiency and has led to a ‘substantial regressive effect on the distribution of incomes and wealth in the United Kingdom’. Despite delivering little in the way of unproved performance, privatisation has brought great hikes in managerial pay, profits and shareholder returns paid for by staff lay-offs, the erosion of pay and security, taxpayer losses and higher prices.
(P. 195).

They then go on to discuss how privatisation has led to rising prices, especially in the electricity and water industries.

In most instances, privatisation has led to steady rises in bills, such as for energy and water. Electricity prices are estimated to be between ten and twenty per cent higher than they would have been without privatisation, contributing to the rise in fuel poverty of several years. Between 2002 and 2011, energy and water bills rose forty-five and twenty-one percent respectively in real terms, while median incomes stagnated and those of the poorest tenth fell by eleven percent. The winners have been largely a mix of executives and wealth investors, whole most of the costs – in job security, pay among the least well-skilled, and rising utility bills – have been borne by the poorest half of the population. ‘In this sense, privatisation was an integral part of a series of policies that created a social rift unequalled anywhere else in Europe’, Florio concluded.
(pp. 156-7)

They then go on to discuss the particular instance of the water industry.

Ten of the twenty-three privatised local and region water companies are now foreign owned with a further eight bought by private equity groups. In 2007 Thames Water was taken over by a private consortium of investors, mostly from overseas. Since then, as revealed in a study by John Allen and Michael Pryke at the Open University, the consortium has engineered the company’s finances to ensure that dividends to investors have exceeded net profits paid for by borrowing, a practice now common across the industry. By offsetting interest charges on the loan, the company will pay no corporation tax for the next five to six years. As the academics concluded: ‘A mound of leveraged debt has been used to benefit investors at the expense of households and their rising water bills.’
(P. 157).

They also point out that Britain’s pro-privatisation policy is in market contrast to that of other nations in the EU and America.

It is a similar story across other privatised sectors from the railways to care homes. The fixation with private ownership tis also now increasingly out of step with other countries, which have been unwinding their own privatisation programmes in response to the way the utilities have been exploited for private gain. Eighty-six cities – throughout the US and across Europe – have taken water back into a form of public ownership.
(Pp. 157-8)

Even in America, where foreign investors are not allowed to take over utility companies, privatisation has not brought greater investment into these companies, and particularly the electricity industry, as the American author of Zombie Economics points out.

Lansley and Mack then go on to discuss the noxious case of the Private Equity Firms, which bought up care homes as a nice little investment. Their debt manipulation shenanigans caused many of these to collapse.

So when Tweezer went off on her rant against Labour the other day, this is what she was really defending: the exploitation of British consumers and taxpayers by foreign investors; management and shareholders boosting their pay and dividends by raising prices, and squeezing their workers as much as possible, while dodging tax.

Privatisation isn’t working. Let’s go back to Atlee and nationalise the utilities. And kick out Theresa, the Tories and their lies.

Boris Lies Again about Brexit Money Going to NHS

January 20, 2018

Mike also put up a piece commenting on the revival by Boris Johnson of the old ‘Leave’ campaign lie that the £350 million they falsely claimed we paid to the EU would go to the NHS. Of course, when England voted to leave the EU, this didn’t happen. Caught out, Boris huffed about how he and the rest of the ‘Leave’ campaign team never actually claimed it would be spent on the NHS. No! The Health Service was just an example of the kind of things the money could be spent on.

The Tories are definitely not going to spend that amount of money on the Health Service. Ever since Thatcher – and long before – they’ve despised it with a passion. They’re deliberately underfunding it, and making working conditions within it more unattractive, so that they can run it down in favour of private healthcare, culminating in its privatisation and movement to a private health insurance-based system like America. This ain’t an accident. American private health firms have been advising both the Tories and the Blairites, as they want a piece of the healthcare industry now occupied by the NHS. And Thatcher, Major, Blair, Cameron and Theresa have been all to eager to help them.

A month or so ago, Boris opened his yap once again to repeat the lie. So Mike and a thousand others corrected him on social media, including Twitter.

And now he’s done it again. That £350 million figure, Bojo raved, would have to be revised upwards massively, because it would be inaccurate.

Yeah, right.

Everyone else has pointed out what a devastating effect this will have on our economy. The financial sector, on which the Tories and Blairites depend, will be devastated, and the tariff wall protecting the EU will mean that it will be difficult for us to sell our products there. And Barack Obama told us that we would be far back in the line in negotiations with foreign countries after Brexit. Indeed, if you read Lobster, it was the Americans, who told us to enter the EU in the first place. This incidentally bears out General de Gaulle’s suspicions about Britain acting as ‘Trojan horse’ for US interests.

Faced with this devastating news, Bojo lies again. Is he capable of saying anything which isn’t stupid, racist, offensive or a downright lie? And why are we tolerating this mendacious incompetent in Parliament?

EU Tells Tweezer Unwelcome Fact, So Bojo Spout Nonsense as Distraction

January 20, 2018

More spin and misdirection from the Tories. Yesterday, Mike put up a piece commenting on Bojo’s bizarre utterance about building a channel bridge. He doesn’t like the Chunnel, you see, and thought that a bridge would be much better. This drew down a barrage of criticism from everyone, who had any connection or knew anything about the shipping industry. 500 ships go through the straights of Dover daily, and so the construction of the bridge, if not the structure itself, would cause massive disruption to international shipping. This was pointed out by one of the shipping associations.

The idea’s a complete non-starter.

But as Mike points out, it looks like a clever piece of misdirection on the Tories’ part. Tweezer had been told earlier that day by the EU that Brexit would mean the financial sector leaving London. This is absolutely true. The EU financial regulatory body has packed up and moved to Paris, another international financial organisation has sought pastures new overseas, and Frankfurt ‘Manhattan’ Am Main is doing its level best to encourage financial houses to relocate there.

But the Tories, and Blairite Labour, are handsomely support by the financial sector, and govern on their behalf. One Tory industrialist, who actually came from manufacturing, has said that he couldn’t get Thatcher to understand that a strong pound damaged British exports abroad. And under Blair we were told that British manufacturing was finished, and we shall concentrate on getting jobs and supporting the financial and service sectors. Deanne Julius, who was given a high-ranking post at the Bank of England after working in various American banks, actually said that we should concentrate on servicing American industry. Which shows you which way the Americans think the ‘Special Relationship’ goes.

Bojo is known for uttering nonsense, and saying things that are stupid and controversial. It seems the Tories have weaponised this. And so when the EU told Tweezer the unwelcome news, which would upset her backers in the financial sector, someone it seems prodded Bojo to make a stupid comment. Thus the bilge about a Channel Bridge, which got everyone talking about that, rather than the boring, but very real threat, that the City of London was going to be decimated by Brexit.

And I expect that as more unpleasant news comes out about the effects of Brexit, we can expect more stupidity from Bojo to take the heat away from his party, and the mistress he barely supports.

Flying Saucer Art from 60s and 70s Comics

January 20, 2018

More fun SF art. This selection of covers for UFO and Flying Saucer comics, most of which seem to have been published by Gold Key, comes from the book Saucer Attack by Eric and Leif Nesheim, published by General Publishing Press in 1997. Subtitle, ‘Popular Culture in the Age of flying Saucers’, the book looks at the books, films, toys, TV series, hymns, pulp magazine short stories, comics, and, of course, the Mars Attacks bubblegum cards, which appeared following Kenneth Arnold’s sighting in 1947 of the unknown aircraft, which flew ‘like saucers skipped across water’. The SF pulp published in the 1920s to early 40s also depict strange, saucer-like alien and human spaceships, showing the pop cultural influences on the UFO phenomenon and its imagery as it would develop later.

The text at the bottom of the page reads

Sci-Fi and UFO storylines struggled as the -60s wore on. Some managed to survive- like UFO Flying Saucers, which lasted into the mid-70s with several reprint issues that featured earlier stories.

The scanned image on this page is probably too small for most of our to read comfortably. To make it larger, click on the image.

Automatica 4K: Nigel Stanford Rocks Out with Robots

January 19, 2018

This is awesome. It’s another video of robots playing rock music. I’ve put up a number of videos of the German robot band, Compressorhead, and Kraftwerk, when they decided that they were going to have android versions of themselves stand in for them in a concert during their track, ‘The Model’. In this video, musician Nigel Stanford plays bass guitar while a group of robot arms around him play piano, guitar and drums. One of them is also equipped with a cutting torch, which cuts out the band’s logo, before finally going into full, guitar-smashing, piano-wrecking, room-trashing destructive mode at the end. Thus proving that robot rockers can turn it all the way up to 11.

Musical Satire: Gauking Heads

January 17, 2018

This is another satirical song from Dutch Wogan over on YouTube. In it, he impersonates cabinet minister David Gauke singing a very pointed version of Talking Heads’ ‘Once In A Lifetime’. Gauke was one of those, who changed department in the cabinet last week. The song includes the lines ‘a new department every week’, and there is a definitely a hidden meaning when Gauke gets to the question, ‘Well, how did I get here?’ It also notes that Gauke is yet another Tory cabinet minister, who definitely doesn’t want to pay his workers, and so offers his staff instead ‘unpaid training jobs’. Enjoy!