Archive for the ‘Nazis’ Category

Message from We Own It about Their New Website and Campaign Against Channel 4 Privatisation

June 14, 2022

I got this email from anti-privatisation campaign group We Own It informing me about their new website and their continuing campaign against the government’s proposed sell-off of Channel 4.

‘Dear David,

What do Armando Iannucci, the Archbishop of York and Siobhán McSweeney from Derry Girls all have in common?

They’re all taking a stand against Nadine Dorries’ plan to privatise Channel 4.

They’re not the only ones. 27 independent production companies, actor Jon Pointing, comedian Jack Rooke, and the Bishops of Ripon and Leeds are taking a stand too.

They’ve come together today to send a message to the divided Conservative Party: Channel 4 ain’t broke. Don’t fix it. Conserve it.

Thanks to donations from hundreds of you, today we were able to launch an ambitious new campaign which hit the front page of the Yorkshire Post, the Evening Standard, the Independent, the National and local papers across the country.

Check out the beautiful new website and share it to spread the word! We need YOU to make this big launch even bigger! This is a campaign we can win.

Share the new campaign on Twitter

Share on Facebook

Check out the website and forward the link by email to friends and family

THANK YOU so much for showing this government where you stand.

Cat, Alice, Johnbosco, Matthew, Jack and Kate – the We Own It team

PS Thanks so much to everyone who took part in the day of action for the NHS on Saturday. You were all over the press for that campaign as well!’

I very much support this campaign, not least because Bristol is one one of the various cities in which the broadcaster is located. I’m afraid that if the government privatises the station it will have to close down its offices or studios in Bristol and the other towns, and that these local broadcasting industries will be severely damaged. A little while ago I wrote to my local Labour MP, Karin Smyth, to express my fears about the loss of local broadcasting in Bristol. She very kindly wrote back stating that she also was going to oppose Channel 4’s privatisation.

I think the channel has declined in quality since the 1980s and 1990s, but it has been a vital part of British broadcasting and cinema. There have been a stream of British films made either by, or with the participation of Channel 4 films. And when it was first launched in the 1980s, it offered a genuine alternative to mainstream broadcasting. It showed Indian films in a slot entitled ‘All India Goldies’ as well as an adaptation of the Indian national epic, the Mahabharata. It also provided excellent opera coverage, and really did much to bring it to a genuinely popular audience. It also gave Britain the wit and wisdom of the journalist and TV critic, Clive James, who had his own show on a Sunday night. James published a trio of books of his TV criticism, as well as his travel journalism and an autobiography, Unreliable Memoirs. His writing could be hysterically funny, as when he covered the extremely excitable remarks of over-the-top sports commenters. In one of his articles he described how one of the cars broke down or crashed during a race ‘and Murray Walker exploded’. At other times, when discussing the horrors of the Holocaust and the surviving Nazi and Fascist leaders like Albert Speer, Baldur von Schirach and Oswald Mosley, who turned up on British television, he was deadly serious and scathing. As he also was when writing about Stalin’s famine and purges and Mao’s China. He interviewed a number of great personalities on his show, including a very young Victoria Wood and the late, great Peter Cook. For fantasy enthusiasts, there was The Storyteller, a series of tales adapted from folk stories, narrated by John Hurt, with puppet creatures, including the Storyteller’s dog, created and operated by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. Henson and Frank Oz were the geniuses behind the Muppets. They also made the fantasy movie The Dark Crystal, in which every character is a non-human creature. In the 1990s Henson’s Creature Shop also created the various aliens in the Australian-American SF series Farscape. I am very much afraid that if Channel 4 is privatised, then this history and pool of great broadcasting talent and skills will be permanently lost.

And it will be lost not because there’s anything wrong with Channel 4, but because the Tories’ backers, like one Rupert Murdoch, want British state broadcasting to end so their own cruddy networks can move in and take its place.

Maria MacLachlan Refutes the Allegation that ‘TERFs’ Are Right-Wing

May 27, 2022

Maria MacLachlan is a gender critical feminist, who posts critiques of the trans movement and their arguments on her Peak Trans YouTube channel. In the video below, she attacks and refutes the accusation that TERFs – ‘Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists’ – are right-wing. This accusation includes the claim from angry and abusive trans activists that gender critical feminists are Nazis and White supremacists. This is, as MacLachlan shows,, utter nonsense. She gives a list of the Nazis crimes against humanity, such as their persecution of Jews and Gypsies and the sterilisation of the handicapped, to show that ‘TERFs’ don’t stand for any of that. It’s an example of the Genetic Fallacy, the logical fallacy that says that something must be wrong simply because of who says it. She gives as an example of this Piers Morgan. Morgan says some appalling things, but people may also agree with other statements he make if they look at them. The fact that something is said by Morgan neither makes it right or wrong, and it has to be judged on its merits. She obviously isn’t a fan of Morgan, who is shown telling the world on his TV programme that he’s only three feet from the thickest people in the world. But she does praise him for attacking and refuting one of the monstrous allegations made against J.K. Rowling by the trans activists.

The Genetic Fallacy would also include denunciations of vegetarianism and animal rights because the Nazis also believed in them. It seems that Hitler tried, not always successfully, to follow a veggie lifestyle for the last six or seven years of his life, and before then was serious about it. The Nazis also passed legislation promoting animal welfare, including banning vivisection. As the notorious case of the vile Dr Mengele shows, however, they had absolutely no qualms about experimenting on humans. But clearly saying that vegetarianism and animal welfare is wrong simply because these views were shared by racist, genocidal maniacs like Hitler and the Nazis is nonsense.

She then goes on to discuss one of the other smears against gender critical feminists – guilt by association. A few years ago a number of them spoke at a conference organised by the American right-wing organisation, the Heritage Foundation. MacLachlan states very clearly that she’s looked at the Foundation’s website, which contains a large number of their videos, which she finds absolutely appalling. But she doesn’t blame the feminists for appearing with them, as they were probably denied a platform by left-wing organisation. And the Heritage Foundation is one of the most influential organisations not just in America, but in the world.

She also goes on to refute the accusation that over here, the Conservative party are opposed to trans activism, showing various Tory politicos, who backed the Gender Recognition Act. These included Maria Miller, Nicky Morgan, Penny Mordaunt and Tweezer. She does, though, recognise that today’s Conservative cabinet – she posted this a year ago, but it was still Johnson – are very different. She also points out the difference between feminist and Conservative views on sex and gender. Both recognise that sex is real and biological, and that these form the basis for sex roles in society. But the Tories believe that these gender roles are innate and must be respected – men must be masculine, women feminine – while feminists also they believe they are socially constructed and must be challenged. There is nothing wrong with being a feminine man or a masculine woman.

Then there was another accusation of TERF fascism by trans activists, based on a sticker by the National Front. These real Fascists urged people not to be ‘gender offenders’ and to support the traditional family. She criticises the trans activists, who claimed that this showed that gender critical feminists were fascists such as the transgender actor Annie Wallace. The sticker’s demand for a return to the traditional family, with the man as head, clearly conflicts with feminist views on gender roles. Incidentally, Conservatives have also used the Nazis to smear gay rights supporters and activists because of the strong element of homoeroticism in the Nazi party despite their persecution of homosexuals.

At the end of the video, she describes the tactics that trans activists use to silence and intimidate their critics to show where some of the real intolerance comes from. These include no-platforming, mass demonstrations intended to shout down but not engage with any of the opposing arguments, and violence and abuse.

I’m putting this video up, not because I wish to see trans people persecuted and discriminated against, but simply to dispel one of the most frequent accusations: that gender critical feminists are somehow all prejudiced Tories or worse. As MacLachlan’s video states, they are feminists worried about the threat to women’s rights, privacy and dignity posed by the trans movement. I am also very much aware that not all trans people share the same views as some of the strident and intolerant individuals who appear in the video. I very much accept that many, probably the majority, simply want to get on with their lives in peace. But there are parts of the contemporary trans movement as it has developed over the past ten years which are a threat, particularly to women, children and the mentally and emotionally vulnerable, which have to be challenged and fought.

Riley Claims Rowling Abused for Opposition to Anti-Semitism, Not Trans

May 23, 2022

I really do wonder what goes on in the mind of Countdown numbers person Rachel Riley. Yes, she’s another fanatical supporter of Israel who can’t tell the difference between anti-Zionism – which is opposition to an ideology – and anti-Semitism, which is simply racial hatred of Jews. But her hatred of anti-Zionists, or indeed, of any critic of Israel’s barbarous treatment of the Palestinians, has now grown so fervent that sometimes she speaks utter nonsense. As when she accused the Durham Miner’s band of being some kind of SS Nazi organisation because they played Hava Nagila at the close of the miners’ gala, just as they did every year. Even a brief knowledge of real Fascism and Nazism is enough to dispel that. One of the first things Hitler did was smash the trade unions, replacing them with a much weaker, pro-management substitute, the Deutsche Arbeitsfront. Mussolini tried to win over the established socialist trade unions after banning the socialist parties. When he couldn’t, he banned them and made it compulsory for Italian workers to join the Fascist trade unions. The black trade unions which formed part of the MSI, the Italian neo-Fascist party after the war, were anti-socialist and supplied blackleg labour during strikes. In Britain, the opposition to Oswald Mosley and the BUF included the Communists and trade unions, as well, of course, of self-respecting Jews and Irish. And Ken Livingstone, in his 1987 Livingstone’s Labour, describes how bog-standard, ordinary mineworkers and the unions objected to the employment of former Nazis by the Coal Board after they offered their services to British intelligence.

Examining some of her statements, I find myself using the same advice Private Eye gave its readers when reviewing the books written by Jacob Rees-Mogg’s esteemed pater. You read it very carefully, and then turned it round 180o, and bingo! You’d reached the right conclusion.

Last week Riley raised her head to claim that J.K. Rowling had suffered horrendous abuse and vilification, not because she didn’t believe that transwomen were women, but because she was opposed to ‘Corbyn and anti-Semitism’. Well, it’s true that she did issue various statements over the net attacking Corbyn as an anti-Semite. She also accused Mike of being an anti-Semite and a Holocaust denier. All this told me is that, whatever her strengths as a novelist, she was credulous in this regard and believed everything she read in the papers.

Rowling has come under fire for many of her views. The anti-immigration Alex Belfield types attacked her for defending asylum-seekers and the channel migrants. They demanded that if she was that in favour of them, she should put a few up in her multi-million pound mansion. They can’t make the same accusation of Benedict Cumberbatch, of course, because he has indeed taken one of them in.

But most of the abuse Rowling’s suffered came from a tweet she made a few years ago, in which she told her trans readers that they should dress how they want, sleep with whoever would have them, live their best lives, but that transwomen weren’t women. Not a hateful statement at all, as far as I can see. But because of this she was immediately accused of hating transpeople and wanting to kill them. Since then there were moves to exclude her from the documentary marking 20 years since the Harry Potter movies, and trans activists telling the world to read her books but ignore the fact that she wrote them. In all of this, I haven’t seen any evidence of anti-Semitism from her trans critics and opponents. In fact, I don’t recall seeing any evidence of anti-Semitism from trans rights activists at all. Rather the opposite. Maria MacLachlan, who posts her gender critical videos on the Peak Trans channel on YouTube, has one in which she refutes the accusation that ‘TERFs’ – Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists – are right-wing. Among the tweets she shows which make this accusation is one that says that ‘Terfs are Nazis, literal Nazis’. Which is utter nonsense. Many, if not most, gender critical feminists come from the radical left and are utterly opposed to racism, which includes anti-Semitism and Jew hatred. As for the trans rights activists, in all of their abuse I don’t think I’ve seen one that mentions Jews, let alone expresses anti-Semitism views. As far as I can make out, Rowling’s trans opponents are simply opposed to her refusal to accept their dogma that transwomen are women. And I have to say that her criticisms of Corbyn and the Labour were so long ago that I’d forgotten them until Riley reminded me of them.

Riley’s talking nonsense. I don’t know if she made this ridiculous accusation because her hatred of Corbyn has now become so intense and obsessive that he’s living rent-free in her head, or whether Starmer’s position as head of the Labour party is now so shaky that she’s somehow afraid Corbyn will come back. But she’s talking arrant bilge regardless, bilge which deserves to be refuted along with her other prejudiced statements about the Labour left.

New Politics’ Review of Frank Wolff’s History of the Russian/Polish Jewish Bund

May 11, 2022

I went on Google the other night to see if there were any books available on the history of the Bund, the majority Jewish socialist party of the former Russian empire and later Poland. I doubt very many people know about it apart from historians of the Jewish communities in those countries. I was therefore surprised to find that there are quite a few, in both English and Yiddish. However, one of the most informative and concise summaries of the Bund’s history is in Marvin S. Zuckerman’s review, ‘The Soul of the Bund’, of Frank Wolff’s Yiddish Revolutionaries in Migration: The Transnational History of the Jewish Labour Bund  translated by Loren Balhorn and Jan-Peter Herrmann, Haymarket Books, Chicago, 2022, paperback, 532 pp in New Politics, a magazine for the democratic Left. The review begins with a quote from Wolff’s book from Daniel Cohn-Bendit, who describes how the discovered the history of the Bund through a book about Marek Edelman, a member of the Bund and hero of the Warsaw uprising. In the book, Edelman talks about the Bund, and Cohn-Bendit states that both the Stalinists and Zionists have tried to erase it from memory. Then the review continues thus:

‘Books and monographs have been published about the Bund, in Yiddish and English, German and Polish, and in other languages. Nevertheless, Cohn-Bendit’s remarks remain relevant. To fill the still-existing broad gap in  knowledge of the Bund, before describing Frank Wolff’s book about the Bund, here are some facts that will give some notion of the “forgotten history” of the Bund.

The Bund was the first modern Jewish political party in the Russian Empire, as well as the largest social democratic movement in the entire empire. On the eve of the Second World War, it was also the strongest Jewish party in Poland.

In its early years (it was founded in 1897) the Bund achieved considerable success, attracting 40,000 supporters by 1906, making it the largest socialist group in the Russian Empire. From mid-1903 to mid-1904 the Bund held 429 political meetings, 45 demonstrations, and 41 political strikes; it issued 305 pamphlets, of which 23 dealt with the pogroms and self-defense. In 1904 the number of Bundist political prisoners reached 4,500.

In the 1930s, one hundred thousand Jewish workers belonged to Bundist unions, meaning that one-quarter of all unionized workers in Poland were led by the Bund, giving them enormous power. The Bund held the overwhelming majority in the national council of Jewish Trade Unions, which, at the end of 1921, comprised seven unions with 205 branches, and 46,000 members, and, in 1939, 14 unions with 498 branches and approximately 99,000 members.

Together with the left Labor Zionists, the Bund administered a network of secular Yiddish schools. At its peak, in the late 1920s, its TSYSHO (Tsentrale Yidishe Shul Organizatsye or Central Yiddish School Organization) maintained 219 institutions with 24,000 students, spread across 100 locations, including 467 kindergartens, 114 elementary schools, 6 high schools, 52 evening schools, and a pedagogical institute in Vilnius.

The Bund also maintained a youth organization, Tsukunft, which numbered 15,000 members on the eve of WW II, and a children’s organization, SKIF, blending scout activities, sports events, and politics; a women’s organization, YAF; and a sports organization, Morgnshtern, the largest such organization in all of Poland, Jewish or Polish.

In 1938, in the municipal elections in 89 Polish cities and towns, the Bund won 55% of the votes cast, more than all the other Jewish parties put together. The Bund thus became communal spokesmen and aggressive advocates of financial aid to all Jewish institutions, including yeshivas and religious institutions.

Most importantly, and as it relates to Frank Wolff’s book, being a member of the Bund meant you lived your life through the Bund—it was your union, your education, your church.’

The review then goes on to describe how the Bund was at the forefront of resistance to the Holocaust, and as Social Democrats, who believed in establishing socialism democratically, they were firmly opposed to the Communists. It also describes their attitude and struggle with the Zionists:

‘The Bund struggled with the Zionist movement for the hearts and minds of the Polish Jews. Looking back, one wonders how the Bund could have maintained that “There where we live (and have lived for hundreds of years), that is our country.” One forgets how chimerical the Zionist dream of a Jewish state in Palestine was. Herzl’s dictum that Palestine was “A land without people for a people without a land” was simply not true. Palestine was peopled by over 1 million Palestinians. In 1914, for example, Palestine’s non-Jews outnumbered Jews by 8 to 1.

The Bund argued that 3.2 million Polish Jews, and the other millions in Eastern Europe, would not pull up and move to Palestine. In any case, the Turks, and later the British, were not permitting Jews to enter. The practical and immediate thing to do was for the Jews in their millions to fight for their civil rights and for social democracy in the lands in which they were living, not dream of emigrating to Palestine.

It is tragically true that annihilation was the fate that befell the Polish and other East European Jews, but that same fate would have befallen the Jews of Palestine if the British army had not stopped the advance eastward of the German army with the British victory at El Alamein, Egypt. The Yishuv in Palestine would have been exterminated and with it would have perished the dream of a Jewish state in Palestine.’

The review describes the book as a social and cultural history, describing the Bund’s tactics in reaching the Jewish masses on one hand and fighting for their civil rights, against their exploitation and attacks on them by real anti-Semites. After the party’s suppression in Poland, the book follows its members as they emigrated abroad to New York and Buenos Aires.

But the Bund, although now long gone as an organisation, still exerts a powerful influence. There’s a quote from the book about Daniel Katz’s analysis of Bernie Sanders first run for the Democratic presidential nomination. Katz believed that Bernie was motivated not just by socialism – he was a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, but specifically Yiddish socialism and its tradition of fighting oppression, and especially Bund’s transnational appeal. It was this tradition that was able to enthuse and inspire millions of young Americans. The quote concludes

‘The history of the Bund as a party may have come to an end, but the effects of it cultural and political work and their unifying humanitarian yet activist spirit described here continue to matter today.’

The full review can be read at: https://newpol.org/review_of_yiddish_revolutionaries_in_migration/?msclkid=37292abbd14d11ecacf172187342a816

Bernie would have been an awesome president, and broken the mould of American politics. He genuinely seemed to understand and care about the real problems of American working people. During one of his campaign rallies in a southern community, he was approached by a woman in tears wondering how she was going to support her family. Bernie comforted her as she poured our her concerns. One supportive commenter pointed out how amazing it was that a secular Jew from the north could reach out and appeal to a southern Christian. But that’s because he genuinely championed them against the corporatist political establishment.

It’s a massive shame that Bernie didn’t win, just like Jeremy Corbyn lost over here. Because the two of them in power together would have transformed British and American politics for the better.

The Internationale in Yiddish

May 7, 2022

This comes from Fenkow’s channel on YouTube, and is sung by Karsten Troyke. Unfortunately, it is all in Yiddish, and although the explanatory piece on the song’s YouTube page gives the lyrics in Hebrew and Latin letters, there’s no English translation. But I’m putting it up anyway because it’s another reminder that Jews formed a vital part of the international Marxist and socialist working class movement. This is, however, very much contrary to the current Blairite leadership of the Labour party, to whom such brothers and sisters are ‘the wrong kind of Jews’. Indeed, while Corbyn was in power one wretched female Labour politico declared that socialism was anti-Semitic, because it was anti-capitalist. She therefore expressed the same anti-Semitic identification of Jews with capitalism and business that Hitler and the Nazis did. And the Blairite purge of socialists and critics of Israel is chiefly directed against Jews. Four-fifths of those expelled are Jewish, with Jewish groups supportive of Corbyn and socialism, like Jewdas and Jewish Voice for Labour, particularly attacked. As for the attack on Marxists and socialists, Tony Benn observed decades ago that once the witch hunters had finished with the Marxists, they’d start on the socialists. And this is happening to decent people ,whether they’re Jews or not.

Jewish socialists have always been a part of the Labour party alongside their non-Jewish brothers and sisters. It is grossly anti-Semitic to throw them out. They, and everyone else who has been falsely smeared and purged, should be reinstated with an apology.

Jewish Left-Wing Song – March of the Jobless Corps/ Arbetslozer Marsh

May 4, 2022

More Jewish music from the left. This comes from the Klezmer group of Daniel Kahn and the Painted Bird, one the Oriente Musik YouTube channel. It bitterly attacks the corporate rich and the culpability for mass unemployment in America. It talks about how the factories have been closed down, ‘there’s no manufacturing in the land’, workers are being made made hungry and homeless, living in tents and subsisting on bread and water while lazy CEOs guzzle fine wine. It also attacks useless unions, for taking the dues from the workers but not standing up for them, so all their work goes in making goods for the rich. This is repeated in Yiddish, and the final verse ends with an optimistic look for a new, just land where everyone has work.

The video shows the band marching and dancing through abandoned factories, meeting solitary workers doing carpentry or working at a sewing machine, before people finally come together for a stately traditional Jewish dance.

It’s an excellent riposte to the racist nonsense that Jews are all rich businessmen, somehow responsible for the evils of modern capitalism. This is the real, murderous anti-Semitic conspiracy theory pushed by Hitler and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Unfortunately, the Blairites in the Labour party didn’t get the message. Remember a few years back when Jezza was leading the party, and one of the female MPs appeared on Radio 4 to blithely declare that socialism was anti-Semitic because it attacked capitalism, which was somehow synonymous with Judaism? That was torn to shreds by the Corbynist left, as it should have been by any decent person who knows their history. Because Hitler and the wretched Protocols also claimed that ‘Marxist socialism’ was also controlled by Jews to enslave Aryans. And Corbyn was supported in the party by a strong Jewish contingent, like Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi and Jewish Voice for Labour, who stood for Jewish working people, who like their gentile comrades were worried about deteriorating working conditions, the destruction of the welfare state, cuts to public services and the privatisation of the NHS. Who wondered how they would pay for the social care their elderly parents and relatives needed, and support their families with the wage freeze.

But there also was in Britain are real ‘Jobless Corps’ – the National Union of the Unemployed, which I think was set up by the Communist Party. As part of their protest, they staged a kind of invasion of the Ritz hotel in London. They went in and ordered a meal. Of course, as working people they weren’t welcome in such an exclusive establishment. They replied by pointing out that plenty of the rich also went down and had their meals in cafes in the working class parts of the capital. They called this ‘slumming it’, but the protesters said they were perfectly welcome there, just as they should be in the Ritz.

We’re supposed to have the lowest unemployment rate for years, but I don’t trust official figures. They’ve been fiddle too often. One of the problems is that they only count people receiving benefit. This obviously doesn’t include the masses who’ve been thrown off thanks to the sanctions system. And it doesn’t count the underemployed, like the poor souls on zero hours contracts, who are effectively unemployed when their employers don’t need ’em.

Perhaps we need a revival of the idea of unemployed workers’ unions, that will attack current neoliberal capitalism and the Thatcherites and Reaganites who are doing their best to prop it up to deprive ordinary people of properly paying work for their own profits.

Barry Norman’s 1977 Review of Star Wars

April 29, 2022

Here’s a blast from the past to cheer up fans of Star Wars and who miss the genial, avuncular tones of film critic Barry Norman on their TV screens. I found this little snippet from Film 1977 on YouTube, in which Norman looks at, and actually likes, Star Wars. He states that it has become the biggest grossing film in history, as it was when it first came out, although it’s since been overtaken by Titanic and Avatar. The film contained the right mixture of romantic adventure, including the knights of the round table and Science Fiction. Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi is described as a kind of elderly Sir Galahad with the film also starring Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher. But, adds Norman, the real stars are likely to be the two robots, R2D2 and C3PO. He also mentions how the film was already becoming a merchandising phenomenon. The action figures wouldn’t be out by Christmas, but a whole range of other toys, including ray guns, would. He quotes one Fox executive as saying that it’s not a film but an industry.

The film’s success took writer and director George Lucas and producer Gary Kurtz by surprise. Lucas spent years writing and re-writing the script before it was ready for shooting, and the film was initially rejected by two studios. Even more amazing is that it was shot on the low budget of £6 million – which was obviously worth a lot more in 1977 than it is now – and that the special effects and many of the live action sequences were created by British special effects technicians at Elstree. But none of the film’s massive profits will be coming back to them, unfortunately.

Before Star Wars, Lucas was best known for his film American Graffiti, but the seeds of Star Wars are in an earlier film he made as a 27 year old graduate film student, THX1138. And now, two films later, at the age of 32, Lucas is so rich he need never work again. But there’s no point being jealous, says Norman, adding ‘Damn him!’ He nevertheless concludes that Lucas is a good director who deserves his success.

The review rather surprised me, as I can remember Bazza complaining in the 1980s that there wasn’t a cinema for adults, and Star Wars, while a family flick, was aimed at children. The review surprised me even further with the statement that Lucas is a good director. I think he was, at least in the first trilogy. Unfortunately the first of the prequels, The Phantom Menace, caused some people to drastically revise their opinion of Lucas as a director. Mark Kermode, reviewing it for BBC radio, declared that Lucas ‘couldn’t direct traffic’, which is far too harsh. I’m not a fan of the The Phantom Menace, which is rather too juvenile for my tastes. But it definitely wasn’t the Nazi propaganda flick poet and critic Tom Paulin claimed it was in a bug-eyed bonkers segment for the Beeb’s Late Review. And watching the next two prequels on DVD, I found that they recaptured some of the wonder and excitement I’d had watching the original trilogy as a child in the ’70s and ’80s.

As for Bazza, his retirement from the show and death a few years ago has, in my opinion, left a hole in the Beeb’s film criticism. Yes, Kermode and Mayo are good on Radio 2, and Kermode’s series a few years ago on the essential elements and plot structures of various film genres was very good. The Beeb did try bringing in Jonathan Ross and then a couple of female presenters, one of whom I believe was Claudia Winkleman, to replace Bazza on Film –. Ross was responsible for the Incredibly Strange Film Show on Channel 4, in which he reviewed some truly bizarre and transgressive movies. At least one of these was by John Waters, the man responsible for Hairspray amongst other assaults on the cinematic sensibilities of the mainstream American public. I was afraid when Wossy took over that he’d drag the show downmarket. But he didn’t. He was knowledgeable and intelligent, offering reasoned criticism and insight. Nevertheless, neither he nor the two ladies could match Norman and his quiet, genial tones giving his opinion on that year’s films. Bazza was so popular, in fact, that 2000AD sent him up as an alien film critic, Barry Abnormal, in the story ‘DR and Quinch Go To Hollywood’. This was about a pair of alien juvenile delinquents trying to make a movie from a script they’d stolen from an alcoholic writer after he’d passed out and they thought he was dead. The film stars Marlon, a parody of a certain late Mr Brando. Marlon is illiterate, but his acting is so powerful, as well as the fact that no-one can understand a word he says, that people so far haven’t actually figured that out. Marlon dies, crushed by an enormous pile of oranges after trying to take one from the bottom of the pile. Which Dr and Quinch film and release as ‘Mind the Oranges, Marlon!’

It’s good to see Barry Norman giving his surprisingly positive views about Star Wars, 45 years, and many films, as well as countless books, comics and toys later. Star Wars is, I believe, very firmly a part of modern popular culture, as shown by the way it’s casually discussed by the characters in the film Clerks and the Channel 4 TV series, Spaced. And Norman himself, though having departed our screens years ago, is still fondly remembered by fans of his series, even if we didn’t always agree with him.

And why not?

Sultan and Khan Attack the Islamic Preachers of Jihad and Slavery

April 12, 2022

One of the books I’ve been reading recently was Jonathan A.C. Brown’s Slavery and Islam. I did so partly to see whether there was any truth in the accusation by the islamophobic right that the Muslim grooming gangs were rooted in Muslim sex slavery. They aren’t. They’re just evil men with a racist attitude to Whites, who wanted to rape and degrade young girls. Brown states in his introduction that his book was a response to the shock he and the overwhelming majority of Muslims the world over felt when ISIS revived sex slavery. His book is also partly an attempt to answer the question why, if slavery is such a monstrous crime, did it take so long for Christians, Muslims and other religions and philosophies to ban it. His conclusion is that slavery wasn’t condemned but regulated by religions like Christianity and Islam because it was too much a part of everyday life for previous civilisations to consider outlawing it. Not even rationalist philosophers like Aristotle argued against it, because they felt it was too indispensable. Aristotle apparently said that it could only be banned ‘when looms drive themselves’. Brown therefore concludes that abolitionism arose in the west when a series of social and technological changes showed that society could still survive and prosper economically without slavery. Part of his argument is that it survived so long in Islam because Muslim slavery was more benign than western chattel slavery and even the western treatment of free workers. It was heavily regulated, slaves had rights, most could expect to be manumitted in 8-10 years and female slave concubines could rise to become powerful women, the mothers of Ottoman emperors and caliphs.

Brown’s a White American convert to Islam and a professor of the religion at one of the American universities. He amasses a wealth of information and sources to prove his point. At the same time, it strikes me that he’s producing a biased account of Islamic slavery intended to impress the reader with its comparative mildness. Others have produce much more critical studies to Islamic slavery. The White European and American victims of the Barbary pirates complained of constant beating by their masters. They were given meagre rations and expected to make money for their masters. They lived in particular fear of being pressed into the pirates’ galleys. As oarsmen they were kept chained to their benched night and day, fed little and deprived of sleep. Many were driven to ‘strange ecstasies’ – madness. Another fear was that, if their relatives and friends back home could not raise the money to ransom them, their masters would sell them on to the big Ottoman slave market at Constantinople, and they would be lost among the enslaved masses of the Ottoman empire for ever.

Nevertheless, despite the book’s bias, Brown chronicles the process of abolition in the Islamic world and the attempts by Muslims themselves to abolish slavery. Sometimes this was by sincere reformers, who felt that Muhammed had intended slavery to be banned eventually, but circumstances prevented him from doing so in his own time. Sometimes the bans were simply for reasons of diplomatic expediency. Islamic states and rulers wanted to make treaties with western nations. These wanted to ban slavery around the globe, and so their Islamic partners did so. Brown notes the existence of radical Muslim groups we haven’t heard about in the West, because their radicalism is that of left-wing opponents of racism, sexism and homophobia in the West. These include movements like the Progressive Muslims.

But unfortunately, despite the hard work put in by Islamic abolitionists, the fanatics are coming back to preach aggressive jihad and the enslavement of the kufar.

Harris Sultan and Nuriyeh Khan are two ex-Muslim atheists with their own channel on YouTube, which attacks religion in general and Islam in particular. They are very concerned about the rising intolerance in the Islamic world, like Pakistan where people have been murdered on the mere accusation that they have committed blasphemy. A few days ago they discussed a recent case in which a schoolteacher was murdered by three of her pupils, because one of them apparently had a dream in which the teacher blasphemed against Islam. It’s sheer, mindless fanaticism, though there’s also the suspicion that there may have been more mundane motives for the killing. They’ve also attacked similar trends among extreme right-wing Hindus in India and also among the Sikhs. and recently they’ve put up a couple of videos showing Muslim preachers calling for or defending aggressive jihad and the enslavement of non-Muslims.

One was an Indonesian preacher on Zakir Naik’s PeaceTV. Naik’s a Muslim anti-Christian polemicist. This delightful preacher told his congregation that in 50-60 years, Muslims would be strong enough to make war and invade the non-Muslim world. If non-Muslims allowed them to take over their countries without struggle, they would be allowed to keep their homes and property. If, however, they fought back, or continued with un-Islamic practices like nightclubs after they allowed Islam to take over their countries, they would be conquered by military force and enslaved.

The other day they put up another video of a female professor of Islam at one of Islam’s most prestigious universities, al-Uzzah, as recorded and translated by Memri TV. This woman attacked the treatment of the Palestinians by the Israelis. But she was in favour of Muslims enslaving non-Muslim women as sex slaves, because this would humiliate them. This particularly shocked Nuriyeh Khan. As a modern, liberated woman she found it deeply distressing and incomprehensible to hear another woman advocating such vile treatment of the members of her own sex. Sultan also made the point that the Israelis weren’t enslaving Palestinian women for sex. If they did, this would be a crime against humanity and would be condemned by the international community. This is probably true, but condemnations by the UN haven’t stopped the decades long process of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians by the Israeli state, the erection of a system of apartheid or the imprisonment and torture of Palestinian children.

To show what these policies meant in practice during Ottoman history, they show clips from a Hungarian TV series about Magyar, Serb and Croat girls, who are carried off into slavery by Ottoman raiders. These kill the girls’ fiances and husbands. At the slave market they are stripped and humiliated with their breasts and buttocks prodded by prospect male buyers. This is historically accurate. Under the sharia the only legitimate source of slaves was prisoners of war, and so Muslim states were engaged in warfare and raiding for slaves to supply the slave markets. And Brown states in his book that female slaves were treated like this.

Now this TV series raises a number of issues. There’s a bitter hatred of Muslims in Hungary and the Balkans. These countries were invaded and conquered by the Ottomans. The Turks only succeeded in conquering two-thirds of Hungary, and it was later reconquered by the Austrians, hence the Austro-Hungarian empire. But Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania and Greece, for example, spent five hundred years as provinces of the Ottomans. Most of the hatred, though, dates from atrocities committed by the Muslim forces during these nations’ wars of independence. A revolt on one of the Greek islands was put down with terrible massacres in the 1820s, after which 17,000 + Christian Greeks were enslaved. It should be noted too that the Christians were also capable of committing atrocities of their own against Muslims, but this received much less publicity in the west. During the Second World Bosnian Muslims united with the forces of Croatian Fascist leader Ante Pavelic to perpetrate appalling massacres on the Serbs. The Fascists wanted to have 1/3 of the Serbs converted to Roman Catholicism, a third forced in slavery and another third simply wiped out. Concentration camps like those for Jews in Nazi Germany were set up. Captured Serb women and children were thrown off mountains to kill them.

It was memory of these horrors that spurred the Serbs in their turn to commit horrific atrocities against Bosnian Muslims during the War in Yugoslavia in the 1990s. One of the paramilitary groups responsible, under a particular vicious brute called Arkan, had taken part a few years earlier in a re-enactment of the Battle of Kosovo Polje at the end of the fourteenth century in which the Ottoman forces defeated the Christian armies and conquered Serbia. However much based in fact the Hungarian TV series is, it worries me that it has the potential to inspire a similar genocidal hatred of Muslims. Hungary has attracted international criticism from the EU amongst other for refusing to admit Muslim asylum seekers. I also seem to recall that Serbia also refused to let the mass caravan of migrants from Syria and the Middle East pass through their country on the way to western Europe in 2012. But I might be wrong. At the moment Britain is going through a period of post-imperial guilt because of the enslavement of indigenous peoples during the empire. But I wonder how tolerant we would be, if we had not been the conquerors but the conquered.

But the Hungarian TV series also raises questions about TV series about the enslavement of Blacks in America and Europe, such as Alex Haley’s landmark book, Roots in the 1970s. Since then there have been a number of films, TV shows and documentaries about the enslavement of Blacks by westerners, such as Amistad and 12 Years A Slave. These are partly a response to the poverty, racism and marginalisation experienced by many western Black communities which it is argued have their basis in their enslavement. But if it is not only permissible but laudable to produce such historical dramas about transatlantic Black slavery, why shouldn’t series about the enslavement of Whites by Muslims also be shown? I doubt that any mainstream western European or American TV station would want to show such a series like the Hungarians because of the fear that it would promote islamophobia. But nevertheless, this occurred, and its legacy is felt in Orban’s Hungary and other parts of the Balkans.

But it’s also frightening to see that, after ISIS shocked decent people across the world, the preachers of hate in the Dar al-Islam by picking up their ideas and calling for jihad and sex slavery.

I wish the heirs of the great Islamic abolitionists every success in combating these intolerant fanatics, and the continuation of an international order marked by peace, respect and dignity for everyone, regardless of their colour or religion.

I haven’t posted the videos by Harris and Sultan here, because they make harsh comments about Islam as a whole. I’m not an atheist and genuinely don’t wish to upset Muslim readers of this blog. This is a time when the Conservatives are forcing working people of all religions into ever greater poverty. European Muslims are, in general, the most impoverished group after Blacks. See the book The Crisis in Islamic Civilisation. It shouldn’t matter what our individual religious faiths are or their absence thereof. We all need to stand together against genuine intolerance wherever it is found, and the Tories’ and neo-liberals to drive us further into poverty and despair.

If you want to see their videos, please look for them on YouTube. Their titles are

Sheikh Assim Al-Hakeem unveils the GRAND plan of Islam

Female Islamic scholar says Muslim men have a right to humiliate infidel women

Just remember, these monsters don’t speak for all Muslims.

Labour Witch-Hunters Put Me on the Naughty Step

April 9, 2022

I’ve been meaning to put up something about this ever since I got the wretched message from the Labour’s party’s wretched Disputes Team in the Governance and Legal Unit, but didn’t get round to doing so. As some of you may remember, I got a series of emails from the Disputes Team or whoever a little while ago telling me that I was being investigated for anti-Semitism because of a particular blog post. Naturally I argued very strongly against the accusation, and demanded to know the identity of my accusers as per natural justice in a British court of law. I was told they wouldn’t divulge that information, and Labour party investigations aren’t part of the British justice system. This is very true, as the principles of justice that are supposed to animate our legal system are completely foreign to it, as numerous people falsely accused of anti-Semitism can attest.

Several months later, on the 22nd March of this year, 2022, I got the following email from the Labour party. They decided that I had contravened the provisions on anti-Semitism and racism in the party, and that this was hampering the party’s fight against racism! But they haven’t expelled me. No, I’ve been issued with a formal warning, which will stay on my record for 18 months. Here’s the text of their message

Notice of Outcome of Investigation: Formal Warning

We are writing to inform you that the Labour Party (the Party) has concluded its investigation into the allegation that you had breached Chapter 2, Clause I.11 of the Party’s Rule Book (the Rules).

A panel of the National Executive Committee (the NEC Panel) met on 18 March 2022 and considered all of the evidence that the Party put to you and any evidence submitted by you in response.

Summary of the Findings of the NEC Panel

The NEC Panel found on the balance of probabilities, that you posted an article on your blog on 05 December 2020.

The NEC Panel concluded that your conduct was in breach of Chapter 2 Clause I.11 of the Rules. In particular, your conduct undermined the Labour Party’s ability to campaign against racism. In coming to this conclusion, the NEC Panel considered that your conduct contravened the provisions of the Code of Conduct: Antisemitism and other forms of racism.

Taking into account all relevant evidence the NEC Panel concluded that the appropriate outcome is to issue you with this Formal Warning pursuant to Chapter 2, Clause I.1.D.iii of the Rules.

The NEC Panel wishes to make clear that your conduct has fallen short of the high standards expected of Party members and to remind you of the importance of behaving consistently with the Rules and Codes of Conduct at all times.

This Formal Warning will remain on your Labour Party membership record for a period of 18 months. If you commit any further breach of the Rules during that period, an NEC Panel may take this Reminder of Conduct and the behaviour that led to it into account in dealing with that breach.

Consequently, any restrictions that the Party may have imposed on your membership rights pending the outcome of this investigation have now ended. This includes any administrative suspension of your membership that may have been in place.

Conduct Expected of Labour Party Members

The Party expects you, in common with all members, to engage in civil, measured discourse, online and offline.

It also expect members to conduct themselves in a manner that avoids any discrimination or harassment on grounds of race, religion or any other protected characteristic inside the party and in wider society and support, and not to undermine, the Labour Party’s ability to campaign against all forms of racism and prejudice.

Members of the Party agree not to engage in any conduct that is prejudicial or grossly detrimental to the Labour Party. This includes any conduct that demonstrates hostility or prejudice based on a protected characteristic; sexual harassment; bullying or intimidation; and unauthorised disclosure of confidential information.

Members must also comply with the provisions of the NEC’s Codes of Conduct, which are publicly available online here:

The Party urges you to read the NEC’s Codes of Conduct carefully and bear them in mind whenever you are involved in Labour Party activities and in discussion and debate, online and offline, about political issues and ideas.

Yours sincerely,

Disputes Team

Governance and Legal Unit

The Labour Party

c.c.

Labour South West’

I’ve been late posting anything up about this because my reaction to it is that of Catherine Tate’s schoolgirl Lauren: ‘Am I bovvered? Do I look bovvered? I ain’t bovvered’. I was expecting to be thrown out, as so many excellent people have been before me. Indeed, considering the calibre of people purged or accused of alleged anti-Semitism, like Mike, Martin Odoni, Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein, Mark Chilson, Marc Wadsworth, Asa Winstanley, Moshe Machover and far too many others, it’s almost a badge of honour to be included with them.

None of them are or have been in any way racist or anti-Semitic. And neither was the blog post that so offended someone that they felt they just had to complain about me. The post criticised Israel for its treatment of the Palestinians. This is the state of Israel, not Jews and not Israelis either. Through reading material by Jews critical of Israel, like Tony Greenstein’s and David Rosenberg’s blogs, as well as Ilan Pappe’s 12 Myths About Israel, as well as online presentations by the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem, it’s massively apparent that there are very many Jews and Israelis who despise the Israeli state’s decades long ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Arabs. The Jewish people have never been a homogenous, monolithic group. The Talmud, Judaism’s second holy book, contains the records of disputes over the Law by the sages and great rabbis of antiquity. Quite often these disputes ended with ‘and so they differed’. It’s no different today. There is a wide diversity in Jewish belief, observance and political and social attitudes, just as there is in every community. However, former president Netanyahu and the Israel lobby would like us all to believe that all Jews everywhere are citizens of Israel and passionately support it, to the extent that any criticism of the country is a terrible assault on their identity. Which isn’t necessarily the case. American Jewish young people are becoming increasingly less interested, even opposed, to Israel. One American Jewish vlogger put up a video stating that he found it ridiculous that he somehow had a right to settle in a country he’d never visited – he came from Anchorage, Alaska, while his Palestinian friend, who was born there, was forbidden to return. In fact, far from speaking for the majority of British Jews, organisations like the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Chief Rabbinate don’t speak for anyone except the United Synagogue, which is only one of a variety of Jewish denominations. But the Board and the Chief Rabbis were very vocal in the anti-Semitism smear campaign against the Labour party and specifically against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters. Despite the sectarian nature of their support, they did their level best to present themselves falsely as the true voice of British Jews, speaking for the majority.

As for the specific charges against me, I was accused of anti-Semitism because I said that before the Second World War Zionism was a minority position among European Jews. It was. Pappe’s book, and Tony Greenstein’s and David Rosenberg’s blogs have made it very clear that it was, quoting chapter and verse from scholarly studies of Jewish history. The majority of European Jews wished to remain proud citizens of the countries in which they were born, with equal rights and respect as their gentile fellow countrymen. Ditto for Jewish Americans. As late as 1969 one of the Jewish Zionist magazines lamented that there was little interested in Israel among Jewish Americans.

My anonymous accusers also disliked me stating that all ideologies should be open to examination and criticism. Well, they should. There is nothing anti-Semitic in that. It’s one of the cornerstones of real political freedom. Presumably this alarmed them because it means that Zionism should also be examined and criticised. Which is true. Zionism, as I’ve also pointed out, is a political ideology. It is not synonymous with Jews or Judaism. In fact for many years it was just the opposite. The return of the Jews to Israel was first proposed by Christians wishing to hasten Christ’s return, long before Theodor Herzl and Jewish Zionism. Even now the largest Zionist group in America is Pastor Ted Hagee’s Christians United for Israel. It was also supported by real anti-Semites, like Richard Wagner and the various European Fascist parties before the Second World War as a way of removing them from their countries.

I also blotted my copybook defending awkward historical facts, which had resulted in the witch-hunters accusing other Labour party members of anti-Semitism. Ken Livingstone was smeared and then thrown out as an anti-Semite, because the Commie newt-fancier dared to state that Hitler supported Zionism. This is factually correct. It was the short-lived Ha’avara Agreement, in which the Nazis covertly supported the smuggling of Jewish Germans to Palestine. It’s in mainstream histories of Nazism and the Jews, and is mentioned on the website of the Holocaust Museum at Yad Vashem. But it does not support the myth the Zionists have constructed to present themselves as devoid of any collaboration with the Nazis.

Now let’s dismantle the Labour party’s statement that, because of my blog post criticising Zionism, I am harming the party’s efforts to fight racism. The simple answer is ‘No’, to the point where recent events in the Labour party make this sound like a sick, unfunny joke. The majority of the witch-hunt’s victims have been self-respecting Jews like Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein, to the point that they comprise 4/5 of those purged. From this angle, it very much looks like it’s the witch hunters who are motivated by a sectarian anti-Jewish prejudice. Because peeps like Jackie and Tony ain’t the right kind of Jews. Marc Wadsworth, another victim, is Black and has campaigned tirelessly against racism. He got Stephen Lawrence’s family to meet Nelson Mandela, and in the ’80s worked with the Board to put in place legislation against real anti-Semitic attacks by the BNP in the East End. But they accused him of anti-Semitism and so had him purged.

At the moment, the Labour party is losing many of its Black and Asian members. Some of this is undoubtedly for the same reasons the party’s losing members generally: the party no longer represents the genuinely popular polices put forward by Jeremy Corbyn, policies that inspired so many to join the party that under Corbyn’s leadership it became the largest socialist party in Europe. But there’s also been a rise in anti-Black and anti-Asian racism in the Labour party as well as islamophobia under Starmer. Black and Asian MPs and activists like Diane Abbott were bullied and racially abused. One third of Muslim members say they have encountered islamophobia. But Starmer has done absolutely nothing about this. And the reason is simple:

He doesn’t care.

Starmer describes himself as ‘100 per cent Zionist’. The people he wishes to appease is the Israel lobby, and so avoid the same charges of anti-Semitism that brought down Corbyn. He does not seem to care about racism against Blacks or Asians or hostility and prejudice against Muslims. And the party’s attitude to what it considers to be anti-Semitic is highly partisan.

Starmer has been using fake charges of anti-Semitism to purge the Labour left, and so make the Blairite grip on it permanent and unchallengeable. Blair did something similar when he was in power. He ignored the left and traditional Labour voters in favour of middle class, Thatcherite swing voters. He assumed that traditional Labour voters and supporters would continue supporting the party because they had nowhere else to go. As a result, many Labour supporters stopped voting, so that even when he won elections, the percentage of people voting Labour actually declined. Some of the party’s working class supporters may have gone over to UKIP, whose supporters were largely older working class Whites who felt left behind and ignored by the existing parties.

And today there are a number of competing parties. A poll a few months ago found that there would be massive support for a new party led by Jeremy Corbyn. A number of left-wing organisations are considering allying to form a competing party, not to mention the Trades Union and Socialist Alliance, which has been around for years. And the Green Party is also growing in popularity. At the moment it’s only just behind Labour in the number of seats it holds on Bristol city council. I’m sure it’s similar in other cities up and down the country.

Starmer’s playing a very dangerous game with his purges, because rather than people keeping on voting and joining Labour because there’s nowhere else, they may very well join or set up rival parties.

This could destroy the Labour party, but I really doubt Starmer and his allies care, just as long as they retain control of the party. And it doesn’t matter how many decent people they purge and smear as anti-Semites, Communists, Trotskyites or whatever.

CIA Had Plans to Install Nazi Regime in Post-War Ukraine

April 2, 2022

According to magazine Newspunch, recently released declassified documents reveal a plot by the CIA to install a regime in Ukraine led by the followers of Stepan Bandera, a nationalist who fought against the Soviets as a member of the SS auxiliary regiment in the country. The article, headed ‘Declassified CIA Documents Reveal Agency Plans to ‘Nazify’ Ukraine’ states

The U.S. has had a hand in numerous projects intent on destabilizing Ukraine’s governments including two CIA programs that attempted to install Nazi leadership in the country.

A recent declassification of over 3,800 documents by the Central Intelligence Agency has revealed it operated two major programs intent on not only destabilizing Ukraine but ‘Nazifying’ it with followers of the World War II Ukrainian Nazi leader Stepan Bandera.

The documents, which were released in 2016, said that programs, spanning over four years, provided funding and equipment for such anti-Soviet Ukrainian resistance groups as the Ukrainian Supreme Liberation Council among a host of others.

The papers gave details of the AERODYNAMIC program which intended to destabilize Ukraine, using exile Ukrainian agents in the West who were infiltrated into the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

The purpose of Project AERODYNAMIC is to provide for the exploitation and expansion of the anti-Soviet Ukrainian resistance for cold war and hot war purposes,” the formerly top secret document dated July 13, 1953 says of the project.

Such groups as the Ukrainian Supreme Council of Liberation (UHVR) and its Ukrainian Insurgent Army (OUN), the Foreign Representation of the Ukrainian Supreme Council of Liberation (ZPUHVR) in Western Europe and the United States, and other organizations such as the OUN/B will be utilized,” the document continued.

The CIA documents show that under the AERODYNAMIC program the CIA operated an affiliate project codenamed CAPACHO.

According to the Signs of the Times magazine CAPACHO “took on more of a psychological warfare operation veneer,” with the CIA setting up a propaganda company in Manhattan that “catered to printing and publishing anti-Soviet ZPUHVR literature that would be smuggled into Ukraine.”

The AERODYNAMIC and CAPACHO projects continued in operation through the Richard Nixon administration during the 1970s.’

The article also states that in 2014, former US agent Scott Rickard told Russia today that US foreign aid agencies gave $5 billion of funding to the groups protesting against former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych was overthrown in February 2014 after indicating he intended to move closer to Russia instead of America and the EU.

See: https://newspunch.com/declassified-cia-documents-reveal-agency-plans-to-nazify-ukraine/?presentid=webnews&ocid=msedgdhp

This is very much the kind of material Lobster specialises in. Newspunch describes itself as going where the mainstream fears to tread, which definitely includes anything about covert western intelligence operations like this. If this is correct, then there’s a very long history of secret western meddling in the region.