Archive for the ‘Languages’ Category

Astronomer Percival Lowell’s View of a Peaceful Mars

October 20, 2021

Percival Lowell is the American astronomer most associated with the notorious and unfortunately entirely illusory Martian canals. The Italian astronomer Schiaparelli first saw what he called canali in the 19th century, but the Italian can mean both ‘canals’ and ‘channels’. Lowell also believed that they were canals dug by a global Martian civilisation, who used them to bring water from the poles to irrigate their desert planet. For them to achieve this, the highly advanced Martians had finally succeeded in banning war. I found this quotation from the great astronomer in Patrick Moore’s and David A. Hardy’s The New Challenge of the Stars (London: Mitchell Beazley in association with Sidgwick and Jackson Limited 1977), with the authors’ own comments looking forward to a similarly peaceful human colonisation of the Red Planet.

Perhaps we may look back to the words of Percival Lowell, written in 1906. He may have been wrong in his interpretation of the so-called Martian canals, but at least he put forward an idealistic view of the attitude of his ‘Martians’, whom, he believed, had outlawed warfare and had united in order to make the est of their arid world. There could be no conflict upon Mars. In Lowell’s words: ‘War is a survival among us from savage times, and affects now chiefly the boyish and unthinking element of the nation. The wisest realize that there are better ways of practising heroism and more certain ends of ensuring the survival of the fittest. It is something people outgrow.’ Let us hope that we, too, have outgrown it before we set up the first place on the red deserts of Mars.(P. 18).

Okay, the Social Darwinism is grotty, but of its time. And unfortunately humanity has not outgrown its capacity for violence and war, with the 20th century one of the worst periods. But it is an inspiring vision. The late, great comedian Bill Hicks used to end his gigs with a similar vision: If the world spent on peace all the money it now spends on arms, we could end hunger. Not one person would starve, and colonise space in peace forever.

That day can’t come too soon.

Disgusted by Pro-Starmer Local Party Delegates to Conference

October 14, 2021

As I said earlier this evening, I was at an online meeting of my local constituency Labour party tonight. I was very impressed by Karin Smyth, our local MP, and her report on Sajid Javid’s health and social care bill, and what she and the Labour party are doing to prevent private healthcare firms sitting on the new commissioning boards the Tories wish to set up and the compulsory outside tendering. Smyth is a supporter of grotty, sectarian, squalid Starmer, but I believe she is sincere in her defence of the NHS and am impressed by how hard she works for her constituents.

But I don’t believe Starmer is, and if the choice comes between embracing the Tories’ privatisation and not getting his overprivileged, aristo, millionaire posterior in 10 Downing Street or winning the approval of the Tory press, the Stormfront Stalin will sacrifice the NHS to the private healthcare parasites and throw any Labour MP who attempts to defend it under the bus.

But I was less than impressed by what the local party’s delegate to conference had to say. They’d voted for nearly all of the motions put at conference. This included the Green New Deal. But it also included them voting for David Evans as General Secretary, the decision to raise the proportion of MPs required for a leadership candidate, and in fact nearly all of Starmer’s notions to knobble party democracy. They also voted for the implementation of the E.H.R.C. report into Labour anti-Semitism.

And then in the questions the local delegate or liaison from Unison, whose scab leadership endorsed all these scummy notions, announced that she also endorsed the implementation of the E.H.R.C. report. She had been indifferent of the anti-Semitism issue until she had attended a very powerful training session, which alerted her to the abuse our Jewish brothers and sisters got from the Left.

This was too much. I was sick of the sectarian anti-Semitism promoted at these workshops, and the way she had swallowed it hook like and sinker.

These training sessions are biased. Starmer has handed them to the Zionist Jewish Labour Movement, the sister of the Israeli Labour party. The JLM was formerly Paole Zion and was dying on its anti-Arab tuckus before it suddenly got a massive influx of money from person or persons unknown. It does not represent Labour’s Jews. You don’t have to be Jewish or even a party member to join it, as you do for Jewish Voice for Labour. It conflates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism and is one of the major organisations behind the witch hunt against putative anti-Semites. And an amazing, incredible number of these seem to be secular or Torah-observant Jews. I say ‘incredible’ because I don’t believe a damn word of it. Not after reading the blogs, testimony and comments on mine and Mike’s blogs from the great Jewish peeps who’ve been a victim of this utterly damnable witch hunt. And also the same from genuinely anti-racist gentiles, like Mike himself, who have always been staunch opponent of real anti-Semitism and Nazism. Some of these people, Jews and gentiles, have suffered real anti-Semitic hate crimes, including violence and assault, either because they were Jews or marched against them as friends and allies. Mike was smeared and purged simply for saying that Ken Livingstone was historically correct about Adolf Hitler’s wretched support for Zionism in the Ha’avara Agreement. This made him an anti-Semite despite the fact that when Mike was at College, he gladly took part in a performance organised by one of his Jewish friends commemorating the Holocaust. He was one of the readers reading out the names of just some of those murdered. I have on my bookshelf a book, in German, he sent me, about the Nazi Sicherheitsdienst and its role in the persecution of political prisoners and the Holocaust. It lists some of the names of those butchered, maps showing the locations of the various concentration camps and pogroms and the stats for the numbers of innocents murdered at these various locales. And in answer to the Holocaust Deniers, yes, 6 million did die.

But this comes to nothing. The JLM and related organisations like the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and Labour Friends of Israel, the GnasherJew troll farm and all the scummy rest specialise in going through peoples’ social media posts looking for whatever they can use to twist so that it sound anti-Semitic. That’s how they got self-respecting, anti-racist Jews like Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein, as well as Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, Graham Bash and many, many more. Men and women whose only crime has to criticise Israeli for its barbarous persecution of the Palestinians. Disgust which they also share with anti-racist Zionists – there are a few – and Israelis.

I am utterly disgusted by this and do intend to challenge this in my local party. Whatever Starrmer wants, his vicious, sectarian anti-Semitism is still an issue some of us intend to keep on fighting.

No pasaran to Blairite social Fascism and anti-Semitism!

Anton Petrov Explains New Advances in Artificial Cells

October 9, 2021

Anton Petrov is a science vlogger on YouTube. Always greetings his viewers with ‘Hello, wonderful person’, he mostly talks about recent advances in space exploration and astronomy. But occasionally he branches out into the other sciences. In this fascinating video, he talks about a recent development in the creation of artificial cells. These are tiny objects that mimic some of the functions of real cells. This new advance is the creation of a process that mimics the energy transfer within real, biological cells. He talks about how artificial cells are formed. They’re microscopically small with a tiny hole. This may allow them to be used as a method for delivering medicines more efficiently into the body. It may also allow them to be used a artificial white blood cells, in which they capture bacteria and viruses through the holes and keep them there.

Of course, we’re a very long way away from that level of technology, but it all reminds me of the artificial humans and animals – replicants – in Ridley Scott’s SF classic Blade Runner, based on Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? It’s also similar to the original robots in Karel Capek’s seminal SF play, R.U.R., or Rossum’s Universal Robots. This was the play which introduced the word robot to the English language. It’s Czech for ‘hard work’ or ‘drudgery’. It was also one of the first to portray a robotic revolt. The robots in the play are more like Scott’s replicants than modern robots. They are formed from an artificial substance which mimics biology, so that part of the process in the manufacture of the robots are mills spinning miles of artificial nerves.

A recent item on robots on one of the Beeb’s programmes – it may have been The One Show said that it might be a thousand years before we can create something like a replicant. But watching this video, I do wonder.

Blairite Anti-Semite: Labour Investigating Another Pro-Palestinian Jew on Vacuous Charges

October 7, 2021

This is what Smeeth’s and Hodge’s gaslighting at the Labour conference was intended to protect: Stalin and the Blairites’ continued sectarian anti-Semitic persecution of decent, self-respecting Jews. The Jews they’re smearing as self-hating and anti-Semitic because they’re socialists and/or support the Palestinians. Zelo Street has put up a piece today reporting that Heather Mendick, an active member of Hackney and Shoreditch Labour party is now being investigated for actions that  “may reasonably be seen to involve antisemitic actions, stereotypes and sentiments”. Mendick is herself Jewish, and the real reason for her investigation may not be un-adjacent to her position as co-secretary of Hackney Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

She was insensitively sent the email accusing her of anti-Semitism on Erev Rosh Hashanah, the ten days of repentance observed by Jews before the festival of Yom Kippur. Last week’s Private Eye contained a number of replies from readers to my letter in the previous issue attacking Labour for their accusation that I’m an anti-Semite. One of the letters was from a Jewish woman, who found their printing of my letter insensitive during one of her faith’s festivals. This is not something I have any control over. I was just responding to a false accusation by a malicious party bureaucracy. A party bureaucracy, who, it seems, themselves have absolutely no sensitivity about causing distress to Jews during a solemn holiday. Mendick states that  “This was done in the name of … making the party welcoming for Jewish people. In making this claim, the Labour Party is excluding me from the category of ‘Jewish People’”. Absolutely. One of the most vile aspects of the particular smearing of decent Jews, is that the accusation causes strain and suspicion with other members of the community. Jackie Walker states that the false smear against her caused problems with her partner’s family. Her partner was Jewish, as is Walker.

Mendick has been accused because her twitter account appeared in a report compiled by the Community Security Trust. She says “In August 2019, my Twitter account was listed in the Community and Security Trust’s report Engine Of Hate. The report’s authors do not discuss my account except generically but they do state that looking in detail at my Twitter feed they found no anti-Semitic material”. In fact, only 12 of the 36 twitter accounts the CST examined contained anti-Semitic material. Mendick states “The group has needlessly defamed 24 individuals. It hasn’t retracted or apologised. And it appears unwilling to do so …The thought occurs that the CST may have selected some of its targets, knowing they did not have the means to go to law in order to defend themselves”. She further remarks that some of those smeared “are left to try and defend themselves as best they can, fearful of being attacked online, or worse, tracked down and attacked physically, while those who hang on the CST’s every word as if it were unvarnished fact compound the smear”. Absolutely. Jackie Walker has said that her daughters have stopped her looking at her email, because so much of it contains abuse and death threats.

As for the CST, they are, from what I’ve gathered, little more than a bunch of thugs in uniform. They were set up to defend Jews and Jewish buildings and monuments, like synagogues and cemeteries, from assault and vandalism. If they’d kept to that, then I wouldn’t have any problem with them. Jews have been assaulted by anti-Semites, and homes, synagogues and cemeteries vandalised. But they don’t confine themselves to that. They’ve been employed as stewards for Zionist rallies, and have abused and assaulted pro-Palestinian counterprotesters. According to the estimable Tony Greenstein, they’ve separated Muslim and Jewish protesters, ’cause heaven forbid that Jews and Muslims should march in peace and friendship against the persecution meted out by Israel. They’ve also assaulted women and punched an elderly rabbi in the mouth at one rally. But they’ve got the backing of officialdom and are supposedly trained by Mossad in self-defence, so behaving like a mob of White, gentile Fascists is perfectly OK.

I’ve written in a previous article that the CST ought to be wound up. They behave like a gang of out-of-control thugs, and act as a precedent for other groups and ethnicities demanding their own private police forces. Some of us remember the noxious ‘Muslim Patrol’ set up by Anjem Chaudhury, who marched up and down threatening non-Muslims in the streets outside his mosque. These included people drinking alcohol and a man wearing makeup. Chaudhury’s an Islamist, who ran an outfit in Belgium, ‘Shariah 4 Belgium’, that wanted a Muslim-only enclave in that country governed by Islamic rule and with Arabic as its official language. Chaudhury was jailed for supporting terrorists and his wretched Muslim Patrol closed down by the rozzers. The trouble is, you can’t reasonably stop Muslims having their own volunteer police forces while permitting Zionist Jews to have theirs. Muslims are at far greater risk of abuse and violence than Jews, except for Orthodox Jews because of their distinctive clothing.

As for Ms Mendick being investigated simply because she was mentioned in the CST’s wretched report, this is very much like the historic witch hunts, where the mere accusation was taken as proof. Except that you probably had a greater chance of acquittal in the Middle Ages. It’s more like Pemberton Billing in the years just after the First World War and his wretched ‘little black book’. Billing was a bigot, who claimed to have a book containing the names of 50,000 ‘devotees of Sodom and Lesbia’. These gays were a security threat, because they were open to being blackmailed into spying by Germany. But it looks like he was also simply just a massive homophobe. He was constantly accusing people of homosexuality, which was then illegal, and being sued for libel as a consequence. Once such trial collapsed when he loudly claimed that the judge, too, was in his wretched little black book.

This strikes me as much the same phenomenon. Decent people are being deliberately smeared by individuals with no real evidence for an ultra-nationalist end. And the mere accusation is being taken as proof, even when there isn’t any.

The majority of people being falsely accused are Jewish. This seems to me to be sectarian anti-Semitism. And its being rightly called as such by the Labour left. People in the video I put up the other day on The World Transformed talk on Starmer’s attack on democracy in the Labour party mentioned not just the purges generally, but the purges of Jewish members specifically. Despite the fact that Starmer’s wife is Jewish, and his children are being brought up in that faith, the Labour leadership and bureaucracy are so anti-Semitic in this sense that I wonder if a new nickname for Keef isn’t called for.

Instead or as well as ‘Stalin’, it struck me that ‘Stormfront’ would also be fitting after the American neo-Nazi website.

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2021/10/labour-party-goes-all-1984.html

Man Arrested Outside Conference for Placard Denouncing Priti Patel – A Sign of Real Fascism to Come?

October 6, 2021

Mike’s just put up a short piece this afternoon commenting on the fact that a protester was arrested by the rozzers for holding a placard up outside the Tory party conference calling Priti Patel and nasty name. No, it wasn’t anything racist or personally vicious. It was just a comment on her politics. The placard just said ‘Priti Fascist’. Nadia Whittome has posted this Tweet aptly summing up Patel’s policies:

To summarise her conference speech, Priti Patel wants to:

– push back boats of refugees, risking lives

– make our asylum system even harsher

– further criminalise peaceful protesters

– penalise people with drug addiction issues.

A brutal, authoritarian vision for our country.

As Mike says, the demonstrator was right. Patel is a Fascist. Quite so, but she’s not as far down the line to real goose-stepping Nazism as some would like. Yesterday mad right-wing YouTube Alex Belfield in one of his videos reported that the French cops had shot at the channel migrants with rubber bullets. He felt we should be doing the same, and mocked the lefty snowflakes who would complain if we did. Simon Webb of History Debunked put up a piece stating that the Polish army had been stationed at their border to repel unwanted migrants after 1,000 had tried to enter the country illegally. Why can’t we do the same, he opined.

I think there are a number of reasons why such highly authoritarian behaviour is more acceptable in Poland but not over here. England hasn’t been conquered since William the Conqueror and the Normans in 1066. Britain went on from the sixteenth century onwards to conquer an empire in the Americas, Africa and Asia. Even after decolonisation, we see ourselves as historically the conquerors and imperial rulers, not as the subjects. It’s because of this history that demands for action against racism and the remains of colonialist attitudes have been successful.

Poland doesn’t have that history. Following the reign of Jan Sobieski, who defeated the Turks at the siege of Vienna in the 17th century, Poland was conquered and divided between Prussia, Austria and Russia. The Russians had a policy of russification. Polish was not taught in schools. If it was, it was taught as a foreign language. The country only gained its independence following the First World War. It was conquered again by the Nazis during the Second World and its people subjected to horrific atrocities. Poles, like all Slavs, were regarded as subhuman. They were rounded up to be used as slave labourers and racist laws put in place to prevent them marrying or having sexual relations with Aryan Germans. At the same time, the SS looked for Aryan bloodlines in the Polish population. Children with blonde hair were stolen and given to German Nazis to raise because of their assumed Aryan racial heritage. Polish villages were razed ready for German occupation and settlement. After the war Hitler planned to destroy their educational system and professional and intellectual classes and reduce them, along with the other Slavonic peoples like Russians, Ukrainians and Belorussians, to peasant farmers producing agricultural goods for the German settlers and overlords. After the Jews, the Poles formed the largest proportion of Nazi victims in the concentration camps.

After the War Poland was again under Russian domination as a satellite of the USSR. Stalin was brutal in his treatment of them and the other subjects of his new empire. Anyone who had been to the West was rounded up and massacred or sent to the gulags. There is also the infamous Katyn massacre. Initially blamed on the Nazis, this was the slaughter of Polish troopers by the KGB preparatory to the Soviet conquest. Stalin also deliberately held his troops back from liberating Warsaw so that the Nazis could finish putting down the uprising there.

Given this experience of foreign rule and conquest, I’m not surprised that the Polish government, which is extremely right-wing, reacted with such intolerance towards illegal immigration. Which, of course, doesn’t make it right.

My fear is that, with everything else the Tories are doing to erode and destroy British democracy, the approval of the use of such military force will lead, but by bit, to the establishment of real Fascism in Britain.

As for the arrest of someone simply for holding up a placard calling her one, I fail to see how that constitutes any kind of offence. He wasn’t violent nor did the placard incite anyone to violence. I don’t even think you can call it libellous, as people with intolerant, authoritarian personalities are called Fascists and Nazis all the time. This is shown very well in Godwin’s Law, the saying that every debate on the internet will always end with someone from one side or the other comparing their opponent to the Nazis. Unless someone made a serious claim that someone was a real member of a Nazi group, like the NF, BNP, British Movement, Column 88 or such like, I really wouldn’t have thought it qualifies as libel. And I certainly concur with Mike. In the case of Priti Patel it’s fair comment.

It seems to me that the arrest of this man for nothing more than expressing a reasonable opinion on a viciously intolerant Tory minister is itself an act of Fascism.

Zelo Street Mugs Mad Nads Dorries with Reality over Liverpool Council and Beeb

October 5, 2021

Great piece today by Tim Fenton, the sage of Crewe, demolishing some of the massive untruths told by Nadine Dorries, our new Culture Secretary. He starts off by reminding us all the Nads is no stranger to telling porkies. In 2006 she wrote a piece for Conservative Home containing the remarkable fact that every member of Liverpool council in 1955 was Tory. Did I say fact just then? Well, it was in the sense of Donald Trumps ‘alternative facts’. The real composition of Liverpool council at that year’s elections was 53 Tories to 65 Labour. She also said that there were eight MPs for the city at the time, all of whom were Tory. This is another falsehood. Liverpool had nine MPs, three of whom were Labour.

Now she is telling falsehoods about the BBC. The Corporation, she insists, must take action over breaches of impartiality. But former Groan editor Alan Rusbridger points out that Ofcom have found zero breaches of impartiality. He then says he has too much respect for her to accuse her of lying, and hopes she will produce some hard evidence to back up her assertions.

Steve Barnett of the University of Westminster also put the correct figures for the proportion of Beeb staff who went to private school. Nads has said that it’s 50 per cent. The actual figure is 11.5 per cent of all staff, and 17.5 per cent of the leadership

Zelo Street also quotes Peter Walker, again of the Groan, who said that Nads complained that those criticising her appointment as culture secretary were mainly people who benefited from nepotism. She also believes that the ‘groupthink’ at the Beeb excludes northerners and people from the working class. As the Street points out, this is a bit rich coming from the woman who employed two of her daughters at taxpayers’ expense. He also compares the Tory cabinet with the backgrounds of two of the Beeb’s favourite personalities:

“Meanwhile, the Tory cabinet is two-thirds privately educated, the BBC’s leading news anchor (Huw Edwards) was state-educated and his parents weren’t employed by the Corporation, and its leading sports presenter (Gary Lineker) began his working life helping his late Dad Barry – who ran a fruit and veg stall on Leicester Market.”

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2021/10/nadine-dorries-bbc-and-reality.html

In actual fact, I think the Beeb is biased. The Kushners pointed out in their great book, Who Needs the Cuts?, that the Beeb uncritically assumed that Austerity was justified and gave ample space to those economists and politicians who supported it. Dissenting voices, especially from the trade unions and other groups, were excluded or, if they did appear, shouted down. Analysis from the media monitoring groups at Edinburgh and Glasgow unis found that Conservative ministers and figures from industry and the City were far more likely to appear on the news than Labour politicos and trade unionists. And the Beeb showed massive bias in its treatment of Jeremy Corbyn, in which it supported the actions of the Thatcherite plotters and staunchly pushed the lie that the party was institutionally anti-Semitic. As, of course, did the rest of the media. If Ofcom didn’t find any breaches of impartiality there, then it probably doesn’t say much about the organisation’s own lack of bias. But whatever, the watchdog hasn’t found any bias against the Tories.

These figures also undermine mad right-wing YouTuber Alex Belfield’s own attacks on the Beeb. Belfield claims he was forced out of the Beeb through a mixture of jealousy – certain star broadcasters were envious he got more listeners than they did – and contempt for his background. Belfield says he’s a working class lad from a pit village. As opposed to his former colleagues at the Beeb, who were all middle class and university educated. Well, they may have been. Not having gone to private school doesn’t necessarily mean that you are working class. Many of the peeps who are state educated are lower middle class. And possessing a university education doesn’t necessarily exclude members of the working class. Way back in the early 80s the student grant was still around to support students from poorer backgrounds. That’s been ended, but higher education has been massively expanded to include 45 per cent plus of the population. Which must surely include members of the working class.

But since before the days of David Cameron the Tories have been trying to pose as the real representatives of the working class, as against the university educated, left-wing elites. Tweezer opened her first cabinet meeting by saying that none of them were members of the elite. In fact, damn near every single one of them was a millionaire. As for attacks on university education, there’s a massive streak of anti-intellectualism amidst the parties of the right. The attacks on university education are there to inspire prejudice against anything a university group might say criticising Tory policy. But it ain’t just universities that the Tories hate. Some of us also remember the remark of a Tory MP about opera: ‘What’s opera? A fat Italian, singing in Italian, dressed as a woman.’ Well yes, a fair number of the great operas were written by Italians in Italian. But not all are exclusively sung by Italians of a certain weight, despite Pavarotti. And I don’t think all of them involve crossdressing. But it shows the prejudice of a certain type of Tory towards high art.

But once again, the Tories have been caught lying again. And unfortunately, once again it’s no surprise. It’s a pity Keef Stalin is trying to copy them in his leadership of Labour.

Articles on Bristol’s Jewish Community

September 11, 2021

I found a couple of very interesting articles on Bristol’s Jewish community in Max Barnes’ Bristol A-Z: Fascinating Stories of Bristol through the ages, published by the Bristol Evening Post c. 1970. Bristol has had a Jewish community for centuries. There was a Jewish quarter in the city in the Middle Ages. Way back in the 90s a miqveh, a Jewish ritual bath, with the Hebrew inscription, ‘Zacklim’, ‘flowing’, was found on Jacob’s Wells’ Road. They were expelled by Edward I along with the rest of England’s Jews, but returned after Oliver Cromwell once again opened the doors to Jewish immigrants. They were certainly present in the 18th century, when one Bristolian, looking for a doctor, said that he had no objection to a Jewish doctor, provided he claimed to believe in Christianity. In the 1820s one outraged commenter complained that the city’s corporation included not just Anglicans, but also Protestant non-Conformists and even Jews! There was also a very imposing synagogue in Park Row. This had giant Hebrew characters over its entrance and seemed to be cut into the very rock of St. Michael’s Hill. I haven’t seen it recently, so I wonder whether it’s still around, or if it’s simply the case that more recent building work has covered up the Hebrew inscription.

The article ‘Jews’ in the book runs

The first Jews settled in a confined area between St John’s Gate and St. Gile’s Gate. As Jews they were banned from living inside the walled town itself.

Their sole business was money lending. Like Jews down through the ages they suffered a lot of persecution. Once their houses were pillaged and burned by a mob led by William Giffard, a man who had had many financial dealings with the Jews and in 1275 took this brutal course to destroy the records and clear his debts.

Another Jew who refused to pay heavy ransom money to King John was hauled off to Bristol castle.

The king’s torturers pulled out one of his molar teeth each day. He had lost seven teeth before he paid up.

I think it was the poor man’s daughter who persuaded him to pay the money before he lost all his teeth. I think money lending was the only trade Jews in this country could legally pursue. Giffard’s pogrom against them was, I think, part of a number of anti-Semitic attacks and riots led by members of the aristocracy. The real reason behind them was that aristocracy at the time was in debt to Jewish moneylenders, and this was their way of getting out of it.

There’s another article on the Jewish author, Israel Zangwill, who also apparently was educated in Bristol. I doubt many people have heard of him today except experts in modern Jewish literature, but from reading the article he seems to have been a powerful force in the development of modern Jewish literature. The article says

Novelist and playwright (1864-1926) went to school in Bristol.

He was the son of a Russian Jewish refugee who escaped from Russia in 1848 from a death sentence for a military offence. Zangwill was known as a richly gifted but outspoken humanist. He was a champion of unpopular causes. His novel “Children of the Ghetto” was dramatised in 1899 and played in Yiddish and English in New York.

Imperial Russia had a policy of conscripting Jews into the army. It was used as a method of forced conversion, with Jewish troopers singled out for bullying and beating. I suspect that Zangwill’s father may have not taken the abuse, hence the death sentence for some kind of military offence. More recent victims of such maltreatment in the Russian army included Seventh Day Adventists and Pentecostalist Christians under Communism. I can’t remember which one, but one of these sects was persecuted because they’re pacifists who reject military service. And the Pentecostalists were subjected to the persecution under the guise of all kinds of stupid conspiracy theories. They’re abstainers, refusing to touch tobacco and alcohol, and as a result tended to be wealthier than ordinary Russians. As a result, there was a story propagated that accused them of receiving money from the CIA through a ship that landed annually at a secret location. It’s the same kind of stupid, murderous rumour about treachery as the source of secret wealth that has been used against our Jewish brothers and sisters.

Bristol’s Jewish community seems to have had a fascinating history, and its monuments are part of the city’s rich architectural heritage.

And real persecution and conspiracy theories are wrong and dangerous, whether levelled against Jews, Christians, Muslims or anyone. They are not things to be cynically used to expel left-wing peeps and non-Zionist Jews from Labour.

History Debunked on Black African Complicity at the Beginning of the European Slave Trade

September 7, 2021

This is another provocative video from History Debunked’s Simon Webb. In it he describes how the modern European trade in African slaves began in 1442 with the Portuguese explorer, Antao Goncalves and a Black slave, Adahu. Goncalves, whom Webb calls Anton, had been commissioned by the Portuguese king, Prince Henry ‘the Navigator’ to acquire seal skins and oil. Eager to ingratiate himself with his royal master, Goncalves raided west Africa for slaves. One of those captured was Adahu, who spoke Arabic. Adahu explained that he was a chief and if he was set free, he would help the Portuguese acquire as many slaves as they wanted as he knew the local slave markets. Goncalves took him back to Portugal, where he impressed the king, and he and Goncalves went into partnership slaving. Although the Portuguese had acquired slaves through seizing foreign vessels before, and the Arabs had imported Black slaves into the Iberian peninsula for centuries before the beginning of the European trade in Black slaves, this marked the beginning of the modern slave trade.

Webb also points out that both Europeans and Africans attempted to cheat each other. Europeans attempted to pass off broken or substandard goods, like broken muskets to their African partners, while Africans adulterated the gold they used to purchase goods from the Europeans. Webb points out that this isn’t a popular view now, as it conflicts with the image of Africans as helpless victims. But he argues that the simple logistics of operating a mass slave trade means that Europeans had to have African assistance. They simply couldn’t have enslaved and carried off the large numbers they did if they had carried on capturing them directly, as they earlier had done. He also states that it is similarly mistaken that it was Europeans who brought slavery to America. Both the Aztecs and Maya enslaved their enemies, while in modern Alaska the Haida and Tlingit did the same so that about a quarter of the indigenous population may have been slaves.

I’ve said before that Webb is a man of the right, and that some of his facts may need to be checked. But as far as I can tell, he is correct. Hugh Thomas describes how Goncalves captured Adahu in his The Slave Trade, who says on page 55:

“These new captives included a local chief, Adahu, who spoke Arabic. He negotiated his own release, and that of a boy from his own family, on the understanding that if he were taken back to where he had been found he would deliver some black slaves in exchange.”

Black African involvement in the transatlantic slave trade has been mentioned in museums and documentaries. The exhibition on the city’s involvement in the slave trade at Bristol’s city museum in the 1990s, entitled ‘A Respectable Trade’, included it, and there was a documentary about it in the same decade on Channel 4. More recently a programme on the history of that part of Canada and America also discussed slaving by the Tlingit and gave the same proportion of the enslaved indigenous population in that part of north America at the time.

However, I do think there is a very strong drive to place the blame for slavery solely on White Europeans. I don’t think many Black Brits are now aware how their ancestors were enslaved by other Africans and there does seem to be a reluctance to state just how massively some African princes did profit from the trade.

The Casual Criminalist Tackles the Weird Deaths of Brazilian Ufologists

July 4, 2021

Here’s a bit of high weirdness which sounds like something straight from The X-Files. In this video, host Simon Whistler discusses the strange events surrounding the deaths of two Brazilian men c. 1967. The two men were electronics technicians and were found dead on a mountain, their eyes covered by lead masks. Although described as masks, these were eye protectors or sunglasses, but made of solid lead. What killed them, and why were they wearing these weird face coverings? One suggestion is that the men had been smuggling electronics equipment into Brazil. They had gone to the mountain to meet the smugglers, who had killed them. Another explanation is that they were smuggling plutonium and had been killed by the smugglers. The problem with that is that although they had the equivalent of $10,000 in today’s money, it still wouldn’t be enough to buy a bit of plutonium.

The real explanation seems to be that they were members of a secret society, the Scientific Spiritualists, many of whose members were electronics technicians. The Scientific Spiritualists were dedicated to making contact with extraterrestrial and astral beings using electronics and drugs. The lead glasses were supposedly to protect their eyes from the brilliance given off by the angel they expected to call down. It has been suggested that they were killed by extraterrestrials after one of their jury-rigged gadgets destroyed an alien spaceship. This seems extremely unlikely, not least because it seems impossible that an alien race capable of sending a spacecraft across countless light years to Earth would make it so flimsy that a home-made device built by a couple of humans could destroy it.

Another explanation is that they were murdered by a hitman on behalf of the medium running the men’s spiritualist church. A prisoner already in jail for one crime confessed to killing them, saying that the medium was aware of the cash the two had on them and wanted the money for herself. However, the likeliest explanation, as put forward by Charles Bowen of Flying Saucer Review, and you know you’re in trouble, according to Whistler, when the most rational explanation comes from that magazine, is that the two went to the mountain seeking a UFO encounter and overdosed on the drugs they’d taken.

The case is one of the great, unsolved cases of ufology and a genuinely intriguing mystery, although it looks like Bowen had solved it. I think Whistler and his team have been behind a number of YouTube channels, mainly about science and engineering, if I recall correctly, and have now turned to crime. Whistler clearly struggles with the Brazilian names and bits of Portuguese, and finds the weird milieu of which they were a part hysterically funny. Which it is, although some people who take ufology more seriously might find this annoying.

Clannad: Caisleain Oir

May 28, 2021

Here’s another bit of folk music I really like. Back in the 1990s I was into the Irish folk/folk rock group Clannad. They come from Gweedore (Gaoth Dobhair) in Donegal in Eire. They first came to prominence over this side of the Irish Sea in the 1980s with the haunting theme for the ITV drama, Harry’s Game, about a British secret agent who infiltrates the IRA in Ulster. They then followed this up with the theme and incidental music for another ITV series, Robin of Sherwood. This was a pagan reworking of the Robin Hood legend, with Robin and his outlaws worshipping an ancient woodland spirit, Herne the Hunter. The programme starred Michael Praed and then Jason Connery as Robin, and was hit Saturday evening TV. Even now, nearly 40 years later, I think it’s better than the later versions that came after it, even if it did mess with the legend by introducing the pagan mysticism.

The song’s in a mixture of English and Gaelic, and apparently the band have also sung in Latin and Mohican. Despite trying to teach myself the language back in the 1990s, I can’t speak Gaelic at all and really don’t know what the Gaelic lyrics means. I just like it because it’s a beautiful, haunting piece of music. ITV or Channel 4 also made a documentary about them back in the 1990s. This revealed that they’d got the nickname ‘the Gaeltacht hippies’, which sort of boggles the mind. Surely, hippiedom can’t be that unique in Irish Gaelic culture!

I found the video over on An Ghaoth Anair’s channel on YouTube, who also provides a bit more information about the band.