Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Self-Taught Engineer Successfully Flies aboard Steam Rocket

September 21, 2018

And now, before the serious stuff, something completely different, as Monty Python used to say. This is a short video I found on YouTube from the Inside Edition channel. It’s their report on the successful flight of a steam-powered rocket, built and crewed by ‘Mad’ Mike Hughes. Hughes is a limousine driver and a self-taught engineer. His reason for building the vehicle is, er, eccentric: he wanted to see if the Earth was flat.

The video was posted on 18th March 2018, and shows Hughes and his rocket taking off in the Mojave desert in the south-western US. It climbed to an altitude of 1,850 feet before finally returning to Earth, its descent slowed by two parachutes. Hughes had spent ten years building it, and the video shows stills of early versions of the rocket.

Hughes’ landing was rough, however. The video describes it as a crash. A rescue team got him out of the cockpit, but he complained that his back was broken. When the news crew caught him with him to talk, ironically just outside a courthouse where he’d been giving a ticket for speeding, Hughes’ claimed that he might have a compressed vertebra.

The video ends by reassuring its viewers that, yes, the Earth is indeed flat.

I’m actually saluting this bloke, because he’s obviously really clever and has done something I’d love to do myself: build a low power rocket that could hold a man or woman and send them up to a reasonable height. Way back in the 1990s I had a paper printed in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society arguing for the construction and flight of such vehicles as a new leisure industry. I based this on the use of hang-gliders, paragliding and microlight aircraft as hobby aviation. People fly them because they want to enjoy the experience of powered flight, not because they actually want to go from A to B. In the same way, I feel, human-carrying rockets could be built and flown to give ordinary people something of the experience of astronauts going into space aboard real rockets, like the Space Shuttle or the Russian Soyuz craft. But obviously without having to spend millions on a ticket to space.

Steam, or hot water rockets, have been around since the 19th century. The first modern hot water rocket was patented in Britain in 1824 by the American inventor, Jacob Perkins (1766-1849). The American Rocket Research Institute, based in California, and founded in 1943, established a special centre for the research and construction of hot water rockets, the Perkins Centre, named after him. The Institute runs a number of training programmes for students and aspiring rocket engineers. The rockets developed could carry payloads up to 5,000 feet.

After the War, the German rocket scientist, Eugen Sanger, and his wife Irene Sanger-Bredt, carried out research into hot water rockets to see whether they could work assisting heavily loaded aircraft into the air. The main US researcher in the area was Bob Truax.

The rocket engines developed by the RRI ranged from senior student college engineering projects with a thrust of 700 lbs per second to the Thunderbolt II constructed by Truax Engineering, which had a thrust of 16,000 lbs per second.
The photo below shows the STEAM-HI III hot water rocket being installed at the Perkins Safety Test Centre in 1963.

This photo shows Truax Engineering’s Thunderbolt rocket and its static test firing in 1973.

See ‘The Rocket Research Institute, 1943-1993: 50 Years of Rocket Safety, Engineering and Space Education Programs’, George S. James and Charles J. Piper, in Jung, Philippe, ed., History of Rocketry and Astronautics, AAS History Series, Vol. 22; IAA History Symposia, vol. 14 (American Astronautical Society: San Diego 1998), pp. 343-400.

And the Earth is very, very definitely round. As it has been known to be by educated European since the 9th century, and by the Greek astronomers long before that. All that stuff about how people in the Middle Ages believed the world was flat and that if you sailed far enough west you’d fall off was basically invented in the 19th century by Washington Irving. The Church Fathers knew and accepted that it was round. St. Augustine said so in one of his works, and argued that when the Bible spoke of the world as flat, it was an instance of God using the beliefs of the time to make His moral message intelligible to the people then alive.

I’ve no idea where the modern delusion that the world’s flat comes from. Well, actually, I do – it seems to have started a year ago in 2017 with the comments of a rapper on American radio. But before then I thought the idea was very definitely dead and buried. In Britain, the Flat Earth Society had dwindled to a single member. This was actually a physicist, who believed that the Earth was round. He used the Society to argue against dogmatism in science. And I thought he had packed finally packed it in, leaving the number of Flat Earthers in Britain at zero.

Now it seems that there are any number of eccentrics, who believe the world is really flat. They’re completely wrong about that, including Hughes.

But Hughes did something superb in building his own, human-carrying rocket

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Jimmy Dore and Secular Talk Tear Apart anti-Corbyn Smears about Bankers

September 20, 2018

Mike on Pollard’s Smears

On Monday, Mike put up a piece attacking the latest anti-Semitism smear against Jeremy Corbyn by the hard-right editor of the Jewish Chronicle, Stephen Pollard. Corbyn had made a video describing how the banks were propping up the Tory government, because they protected and supported them at the expense of ordinary working people. Ten years ago the banks caused the massive crash, which led to the Tories pushing their austerity programme, which is cutting services and pushing ordinary folks into poverty. But while millions of people, including nurses and other vital workers and employees are finding it difficult to make ends meet, the chief of Morgan Stanley last year gave himself a 21.5 million pound bonus, and the banks together have given themselves 15 billion pounds in bonuses. Corbyn concluded his piece by saying that when these people called Labour a danger and a threat, they were right: Labour is a threat to a rigged system. The party now has well over half a million members, and will work for the many, not the few, and Socialist Voice. They pointed out that it was Pollard, rather than Corbyn, who was the anti-Semite. Corbyn said nothing about bankers being Jewish. Pollard did. Therefore, it’s Pollard who believes the anti-Semitic lie that all bankers are Jewish.

Pollard and a number of other gullible bigots immediately blew their tops and decided that when Corbyn talked about ‘bankers’, he was really using dogwhistles to express his hatred of the Jews.

Pollard’s comment was immediately ripped apart on Twitter by David Rosenberg, Another Angry Voice, Kerry-Ann Mendoza, Chelley Ryan, Curious Chak, Martin Frowd, Revolution Breeze, and The MANY versus the Few.

After being torn to shreds, Pollard issued a non-apology. He sort-of admitted that his comments may have been way off beam, but that was what happened when anti-Semitism was allowed to flourish: you saw everything through its prism.

Mike pointed out that this changed nothing, that Pollard still held anti-Semitic views in that he considered bankers to be synonymous with Jews, and that he had claimed that Corbyn was an anti-Semite, even though he stated that he had no evidence to support it.

So the left-wing twitterati returned to the job of tearing bloody chunks out of him, metaphorically speaking. Vote Labour to save the NHS, Audrey, Kerry-Ann Mendoza, and Hajo Meyer’s Violin. They pointed out that Pollard hadn’t apologized and was still showing his own anti-Semitic prejudices. Another Angry Voice tweeted a speech by Marie van de Zyle at a ‘Say No to Anti-Semitism’ event in Manchester, which was a pack of lies from one end to the other. Kerry-Ann Mendoza also tweeted about how she had been accused of anti-Semitism at an event. She described how IDF soldiers kidnap and torture Palestinian children. So she was accused of using the anti-Semitic trope that Jews eat babies. Sara tweeted that she wished to send a message of solidarity to Corbyn, and Tom London said that the schism between the two sides of the Jewish community could be mended if they were prepared to meet in good faith.

Mike concluded his article by stating it was worth a try.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/09/17/accidental-anti-semitism-of-jewish-chronicle-editor-shows-the-lie-at-the-heart-of-recent-accusations/

Secular Talk and The Jimmy Dore Show

The accusations have crossed the Atlantic. They were repeated in the American Jewish newspapers, the Forward. And the American progressive news shows Secular Talk and the Jimmy Dore Show weighed in to rip Pollard and the other fanatics claiming Corbyn was an anti-Semite apart.

Both Secular Talk, fronted by Kyle Kulinski, and Jimmy Dore and his guests, Ron Placone and Steffi Zamorano, play Corbyn’s speech. Kulinski hows some of the twitter comments from ordinary Jews smearing Corbyn as an anti-Semite. He states that this is what happens to Progressives. Like they tried smearing Bernie Sanders as a sexist and racist, but they couldn’t smear him as an anti-Semite, because he was Jewish. But this didn’t apply in Corbyn’s case. He points out that they’re doing it to the BDS movement. And they’re only using the anti-Semitism smear because they have no real arguments against what he says.

Jimmy Dore and his friends say the same thing, though they take square aim at Stephen Pollard. One of the tweets they show asks how it is that the Jewish Chronicle in London and the Forward in New York say exactly the same thing, on the same day. It’s a good question. The answer is probably that both newspapers are running the same stories because they’re collaborating with the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs, which has been exposed as organizing the campaign of anti-Semitic smearing against pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist activists. Dore makes the same point as Kulinski, that these tweets don’t show that Corbyn is an anti-Semite because he never mentioned the Jews. All he mentioned was Morgan Stanley. Which doesn’t have a Jewish name. But it does show how Pollard and the other tweeters do believe the anti-Semitic lie that all bankers are Jewish.

Dore also makes the point that this attempts to stop any criticism of the banks, or income inequality or indeed any left-wing issues, because if you do so, you’re an anti-Semite. It’s crying wolf.

And worse, it reduces the value of real accusations of anti-Semitism. Because if you accuse Jeremy Corbyn of anti-Semitism, who stands up for working people, then obviously anti-Semitism can’t be a bad thing. Just like the attacks on Bernie Sanders undermine real accusations of sexism, because if he’s sexist and works for ordinary people, then similarly sexism can’t be all bad.

Here are the videos.

The Jimmy Dore Show.

Secular Talk

I am not at all surprised that they tried attacking Corbyn on the grounds that talking about bankers must be left-wing code for Jews. I’ve seen it done before on Kathy Shaidle’s extreme right-wing blog, Five Feet of Fury. Shaidle’s from the other side of the Atlantic, but her blog is aimed at Conservatives in America, Canada and Britain. She used the accusation to attack American and Canadian critics of the banksters, who cause the crash. I suppose it was only a matter of time before Conservatives and the Israel lobby over here used the same smear.

Al-Jazeera on the First Test Flight of India’s Space Shuttle

September 19, 2018

In this short clip, just over two minutes long, from Al-Jazeera, posted two years ago in 2016, Tariq Bezley reports on the first test flight by the Indian Space Agency of their space shuttle. The shuttle was launched into space on top of a rocket fired from India’s launch facility north of Chenai. The craft separated from the rocket at an altitude of 70 km and re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere, which heated it up to 2,000 degrees.

A female scientist speaking for the Observer Research Foundation, Rajeswari P Rajagopalan talks on the video about how it was necessary to test the shuttle’s heat shield.

Besley states that so far only the US, USSR, Japan and Europe have launched reusable shuttles. He states that NASA’s Space Shuttle flew 135 missions in 30 years before it was finally decommissioned. It has been replaced by the US air forces X-37B test vehicle. This unmanned vehicle was on its third mission, and had been up there for a year. However, the secrecy surrounding its missions have provoked speculation that it is a spy satellite, or is being tested to deliver weapons from space.

He then goes on to discuss the Dreamchaser, the spaceplane being developed by the private Sierra Nevada firm to service the International Space Station. Its first flight is planned for 2019. India’s space shuttle is in a much earlier stage of development, and it’s estimated that it’ll be 10 or 15 years before it is ready to fly.

Besley also discusses how India successfully put a spacecraft in orbit around Mars in 2014, becoming the first Asian nation to do so.

Rajagopan states that China has flourishing military space programme, which is a direct challenge to India, and India has to respond if it is not to be left lagging behind.

Further tests will be carried out on the Indian spacecraft, including on the supersonic scramjet engine which the Indians hope will one day power the spaceplane. The Indians say that their Mars mission cost a tenth of that of other missions to the Red Planet. Besley concludes that if their space shuttle can achieve the same savings, space travel will become much more affordable for all.

A number of countries have developed plans for different spaceplanes. The Russians had their own version of the Space Shuttle, Buran, which looked exactly like the American. It has been mothballed since the Fall of the USSR and has never flown. The French designed a small spaceplane, Hermes, which was to go on top of their Ariane rocket in the 1990s. This was very much like the American Dynosoar spaceplane proposed in the 1950s, but never actually built. The Germans also designed a spaceplane, Sanger, named after one of their leading rocket scientists. This would consist of two craft, a larger plane acting as a first stage, which would piggy-back a second plane into orbit.
And then there was the British HOTOL project of the 1980s which also used airbreathing ramjet engines to take the plane into space. This was never completed because of problems with those same engines. The technology has since been perfected, and a new British spaceplane, Skylon, has been developed. It has been forecast that it will come into service sometime in the next few years, possibly flying from spaceport launch sites in Cornwall or Scotland.

The video shows how sophisticated India’s space programme is, and I’ve no doubt that their entry into space will lower launch costs significantly. While the American shuttle was an amazing piece of engineering, it was massively expensive. It only became competitive as a launch vehicle against Ariane and the other rockets because it was heavily subsidized by the American government.

I look forward to the development of India’s spaceplane and that country joining the US and Russia in launching manned space missions. Perhaps if more countries develop reusable spacecraft, humanity will at last enter a real age of crewed space exploration and colonization.

Radio 4 Programme Tonight Wondering What Happened to Star Trek’s Optimistic Vision of the Future

June 9, 2018

This is one for the Trekkers. On Radio 4 tonight at 8.00 pm, 9th June 2018, Dr. Kevin Fong will be presenting a programme on the Archive hour discussing what happened to the optimistic vision of the future in Star Trek. The blurb for it on page 189 of the Radio Times runs

8.00 Archive on 4: Star Trek – The Undiscovered Future

The first episode of Star Trek aired in 1966. Space medic and broadcaster Kevin Fog asks what happened to the progressive and optimistic vision of the future that the iconic television series promised him.

Mars as Communist Utopia in Pre-Revolutionary Russian SF

June 7, 2018

I thought this might interest all the SF fans out there. One of the books I’ve started reading is Lost Mars: The Golden Age of the Red Planet, edited by Mark Ashley (London: The British Library 2018). It’s a collection of SF stories written about the Red Planet from the 19th century to just before the Mariner and then Viking probes in the ’60s and ’70s showed that rather than being a living planet with canals, vegetation and civilised beings, it was a dead world more like the Moon. It’s a companion volume to another book of early SF stories from about the same period, Moonrise: The Golden Age of Lunar Adventures, also edited by Mike Ashley. The Martian book contains stories by H.G. Wells, Ray Bradbury – from The Martian Chronicles, natch – Marion Zimmer Bradley, E.C. Tubb, Walter M. Miller, and the great novelist of dystopias and bug-eyed psychopaths, J.G. Ballard. It also contains pieces by now all but forgotten Victorian and early Twentieth writers of Scientific Romances, W.S. Lach-Szyrma, George C. Wallis, P. Schuyler Miller and Stanley G. Weinbaum.

Both books are also interesting, not just for the short stories collected in them, but also for Ashley’s introduction, where he traces the literary history of stories about these worlds. In the case of the Moon, this goes all the way back to the Roman satirist, Lucian of Samosata, and his Vera Historia. This is a fantasy about a group of Roman sailors, whose ship is flung into space by a massive waterspout, to find themselves captured by a squadron of Vulturemen soldiers from the Moon, who are planning an invasion of the Sun.

The history of literary speculation about Mars and Martian civilisation, is no less interesting, but somewhat shorter. It really only begins in the late 19th century, when telescopes had been developed capable of showing some details of the Martian surface, and in particular the canali, which the Italian astronomer Schiaparelli believed he had seen. The Italian word can mean ‘channels’ as well as ‘canal’, and Schiaparelli himself did not describe them as artificial. Nevertheless, other astronomers, like Percival Lowell of Flagstaff, Arizona, believed they were. Other astronomers were far more sceptical, but this set off the wave of novels and short stories set on an inhabited Mars, like Edgar Rice Burrough’s famous John Carter stories. I remember the Marvel adaptation of some these, or at least using the same character, which appeared as backing stories in Star Wars comic way back in the 1970s.

It’s also interesting, and to contemporary readers somewhat strange, that before H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds, the vast majority of these stories about Mars assumed that the Martians would not only be far more scientifically and technologically advanced, but they would also be more socially and spiritually as well. Just like the Aetherius Society, a UFO new religious movement founded by George King in the 1950s, claims that Jesus was really as Venusian, and now lives on that world along with Aetherius, the being from whom they believe they receive telepathic messages, so there were a couple of short stories in which Christ was a Martian. These were Charles Cole’s Visitors From Mars, of 1901, and Wallace Dowding’s The Man From Mars of 1910.

Other utopias set on the Red Planet were more secular. In Unveiling a Parallel, by Alice Ilgenfritz Jones and Ella Merchant, of 1893, the Martians are handsome and intelligent, and their women totally liberated. Another feminist utopia was also depicted by the Australian writer Mary Moore-Bentley in her A Woman of Mars of 1901.

And in Russia, the writer Alexander Bogdanov made Mars a Communist utopia. Ashley writes

While the planetary romance theme was developing there were other explorations of Martian culture. The Red Planet became an obvious setting for a communist state in Krasnaia Zvesda (‘Red Star’, 1908) and its sequel Inzhener Menni (‘Engineer Menni’, 1912) by Alexander Bogdanov. Although reasonably well known in Russia, especially at the time of the revolution in 1917, and notoriously because of its reference to free love on Mars, it was not translated into English until 1984. Kim Stanley Robinson claimed it served as an influence for his own novel, Red Mars (1992), the first of his trilogy about terraforming the planet. Although the emphasis in Bodganov’s stories is on the benefits of socialism, he took trouble to make the science as realistic as possible. The egg-shaped rocket to Mars is powered by atomic energy. His Mars is Schiaparellian, with canals that have forests planted along their full length, explaining why they are visible from Earth. He also went to great lengths to explain how the topography of Mars, and the fact that it was twice as old as Earth, allowed social evolution to develop gradually and more effectively, with planet-wide communication and thus a single language. (Pp. 11-12).

So five years before the Revolution, Mars really was the ‘Red Planet’ in Russian literature. I’m not surprised it wasn’t translated into English until the 1980s. British publishers and censors probably disliked it as a piece of Communist propaganda, quite apart from Anglophone western Puritanism and the whole issue of free love. No naughtiness allowed on the side of the Iron Curtain, not even when it’s set on Mars. Russian cinema also produced one of the first SF films, also set on Mars. This was Aelita (1922), in which Russian cosmonauts travel to the Red Planet to start a revolution, though at the end it’s revealed that it’s all been a dream.

Meanwhile, Mars as a planet of mystery continues in the French SF series, Missions, shown at 10.00 Thursdays on BBC 4. This has French spationauts and their American rivals landing on the Red Planet, only to find a mysterious altar constructed from lost Atlantean materials described by the Romans, and Vladimir Komarov, a Soviet cosmonaut, who has been turned into something more than human with three strands of DNA. In reality, Komarov died when the parachutes on his spacecraft failed to open when it re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere. Tragically, Komarov knew it was a deathtrap, but went anyway because Khrushchev wanted another Russian space achievement to show up the Americans, and Komarov did not want his friend, and first man in space, Yuri Gagarin to go. It’s a tragic, shameful waste of human life on what was a purely political stunt, and Komarov is, because of his desire to save his friend, one of the great heroes of the space age.

But Missions shows not only how much people really want us to travel to Mars – to explore and colonise – it also shows how the Red Planet still remains the source of wonder and speculation about alien civilisations, civilisations that may not be hostile monsters intent on invading the Earth ‘for no very good reason’, as Douglas Adams described the motives of those aliens, who wanted to take over the universie in The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. One of the French spationauts, Jeanne, has dreamed of going to Mars since being shown it through a telescope by her father when she was a little girl. Electromagnetic scans of the area, when developed, give a picture of her face, and ‘Komarov’ tells her he has been waiting millions of years for her, and she is the true link between Mars and Earth.

Yes, it’s weird. But different. And it shows that Mars is continuing to inspire other forms of SF, where the Martians aren’t invaders – or at least, not so far-but benevolent guides waiting for us to come to them and make the next leap in our development. Just like Bogdanov in 1912 imagined that they would be ahead of us, and so have created a true Communist utopia.

CBS Series on Jack Parsons, Rocket Scientist and Occultist

May 29, 2018

I found this trailer the other day on YouTube for a forthcoming TV series on CBS about one of the weirder figures in the history of American rocketry, Jack Parsons. The series is called Strange Angel, which was the title of a biography of Parsons that came out way back in the 1990s or thereabouts.

Parsons was one of the founders of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the 1930s and ’40s, when it was little more than a piece of waste ground in the Californian desert. He was one of the pioneers at the very beginning of American rocket research, when it was still very much the province of the early rocket societies, like the American Rocket Society over the other side of the Atlantic, and the British Interplanetary Society here in Britain. As the trailer shows, this was the period when the early visionaries launched very small, experimental rockets, all the while dreaming of the day when larger machines would carry people to the Moon, the planets and beyond. Parsons also had a very practical approach to experimenting. Instead of worrying very much about complex theories of chemical reactions, he simply mixed various types of explosives together and then tested them to see which worked best.

And as the trailer also shows, Parsons was deeply into the occult. He was a follower of Aleister Crowley’s ritual magic. I think he also ran a boarding house, which only accepted guests, who were atheists or otherwise rebels against American religion and society. And one the people, who stayed there was the future head of the Church of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard. According to the very definitely unauthorised biography of Hubbard, Barefaced Messiah, Hubbard took Parsons in completely. Parsons believed that Hubbard was a man of extreme occult talent, and the two started performing rituals together out in the desert. One of these was to bring about the birth of the Antichrist. Or something. And just as Hubbard was performing these weird rituals with Parsons, he was also sleeping with his girlfriend. In the end, he ran off with her and several thousands of dollars of Parsons’ money, which he’d promised Parsons he’d use to buy a fleet of three yachts. Parsons managed to get some of his money back, but told Hubbard he could his girlfriend. Hubbard himself produced his own version of the story, claiming that he had rescued the girl from a group of Nazi Communists. Or Communist Nazis. Hubbard died a few years later, when he dropped some of the explosives he was experimenting with on the floor of his garage and blew himself up.

I don’t condone the occult, but Parsons is very definitely one of the most fascinating figures of that period of rocket research, and it’s easy to see why he was chosen to be the subject of this drama series. Quite how faithful it’ll be to real life is going to be an interesting question. And it will be very interesting to see if it mentions anything about his relationship with Hubbard, as I’ve no doubt that the Church of Scientology would be very sensitive about that.

However, as it’s on CBS, there’s going to be little chance that those of us on this side of the Pond will be able to see it. Oh well, perhaps it’ll come out on DVD.

Ken Livingstone Talks about his Resignation from the Labour Party due to Anti-Semitism Smears

May 24, 2018

On Monday, Ken Livingstone resigned from the Labour party. He had been suspended from the party following the smears that he was an anti-Semite and had claimed that Hitler was a Zionist. This was completely untrue. As Red Ken goes on to say in the interview with RT, he never claimed that Hitler was a Zionist, only that he briefly supported Zionism. It is abundantly clear if you read Livingstone’s 1987 book, Livingstone’s Labour, that a racist of any stripe is the very last thing the former head of the GLC is. He makes it very clear that he is firmly opposed to anti-Semitism as well as anti-Black and anti-Irish racism, and details with the disgust and outrage the way the British state recruited Nazis, including those responsible for pogroms against the Jews and the Holocaust, as agents in the Cold War struggle against Communism. The claim that Livingstone said Hitler was a Zionist is an invention of John Mann, the Blairites and the Israel lobby, and repeated ad nauseam, ad infinitum, by the Conservative press and media in order to smear and discredit him. And they are still doing it. Deborah Orr, one of the wretched columnists in the I newspaper, claimed that he had said the Hitler was a Zionist, which shows how much she, and her editor, care about factual reporting. Mike has also covered on his blog how the Israel lobby continue to point to an interview Red Ken gave on Sky as showing that he was anti-Semitic. Which also shows they haven’t bothered to watch it, as in the interview Ken thoroughly refutes the allegations and shoots down those making them.

In this interview, Livingstone answers the question why it has taken him so long to resign. He replies that his instinct has always been to fight on to the end, whether it was against Thatcher or Tony Blair. But he chose to resign now because the controversy and lies surrounding him were becoming too much of a distraction. He was suspended two years ago in 2016. After a year, there was another three day hearing, which couldn’t refute the charges against him, and so extended the suspension for another year. He wanted to take his accusers to court, but was told by his lawyer that it would take at least two years to get there. He considered that it was too much of a distraction from Labour’s real programme under Corbyn, which he makes very clear has a real chance of winning.

When asked about whether the allegations have damaged Labour’s chances, for example, in Barnet, which has a high Jewish population, Red Ken said that of course people would be shocked when they hear that he said that Hitler was a Zionist, that it’s not anti-Semitic to hate Jews in Israel, or that Jews are Nazis, but he was struck by the number of Jews, who came up to him on the street to tell him that they knew what he said was true. This was that in 1933 Hitler and the Zionists made a deal to send some Jews to Israel. They didn’t like each other, but as a result, 60,000 Jews emigrated to Palestine. If they had stayed in Germany, they would have been murdered in the Holocaust. So it’s the lesser of two evils, according to Livingstone.

When the interviewer asks him if these allegations haven’t put a dent in Labour’s electoral chances, such as in Barnet, Livingstone tells him that half a dozen Jews have asked him on the street why he claimed that Hitler was a Zionist. And he’s told them that he never said that. Unfortunately, Livingstone never completes that reply due to a technical fault.

The interviewer then moves on to ask him if he really believes that Labour has a chance under Corbyn. Livingstone says clearly that everyone said that Labour would be wiped out during the next election. But in fact, Corbyn delivered the greatest increase in the Labour vote since the 1945 election, and they came within two per cent of the Tories. They could have gotten more, if the party had been united and MPs hadn’t been trying to unseat their leader. He states that Corbyn has excellent plans for massive public investment, improved service, creating new jobs and investing in high tech industries. That connected with people, and will connect with people at the next election.

The interview ends with the question of what Livingstone will do now that he’s retired from politics and whether he will return. Livingstone states that he retired from politics after he lost the election to Boris Johnson in 2012. Now he’s an old age pensioner and a house-husband, walking the kids and feeding the dog.

It’s a very, very good interview with Livingstone making it very clear that he definitely did not say what the liars in the Blairites, the Israel lobby and the press have accused him of. As for Jews telling Livingstone that they know he didn’t say those things, I can well believe this. Mike has put up innumerable pieces on his blog showing the support of many Jews and Jewish groups for Corbyn and the victims of the anti-Semitism smears, pointing out that there is absolutely no truth in them. Especially as so many of those libelled as anti-Semites are self-respecting Jews. The alliance between the Nazis and the Zionists is solid historical fact, and included in respected historical studies of the Holocaust, such as that of the Zionist historian, David Cesarani. It was called the Ha’avara agreement, and there’s a page on it on the site of the International Holocaust Museum in Israel. All you have to do is google it to find out that what Livingstone said was the truth.

Mike is disappointed with Ken’s decision to resign, as this also affects the legal chances of those, like him, who have been smeared trying to defend Livingstone. He writes

The shame of it is that certain people will take Mr Livingstone’s decision as an admission of guilt – and that he will not have the opportunity to put the record straight.

That means he is letting down others who have been put in the same situation (like This Writer).

I’m not backing down – and if Labour’s disciplinary panel find against me, I’ll happily sue the party because my good name is not a negotiable commodity.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/05/21/ken-livingstone-quits-labour-not-due-to-any-guilt-but-because-of-the-row-kicked-up-by-right-whingers/

It goes without saying that I’m backing Mike, and everybody else who has been foully smeared by these contemptible knaves, 100 per cent. While I understand why Livingstone has raised, I am afraid this will just serve to encourage the Blairites and the Israel lobby in their campaign against Corbyn and the true Labour moderates. They will not be placated by just taking down a few, sacrificial supporters, like Livingstone. Now that they’ve seen their campaign is effective, they will keep on and on. The best defence is attack, and the only way to tackle them is to meet them head on, and refute every one of their dam’ lies. They are not as secure as they think they are. The Blairites live in holy terror of the constituency parties deselecting them. The Israel lobby itself is becoming painfully aware that smears of anti-Semitism aren’t having the affect they used to have. And Jonathan Arkush’s own position as president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews is looking very rocky after his disgusting comments trying to cast the blame on the victims of the Gaza massacre, rather than the Israelis.

The Blairites and the Israel lobby are bullies. They are in a far weaker position than they wish to appear, and are responding by smears, lies and throwing their weight around. But you can stand up to bullies, and bring them down.

SF Short Film: Robots of Brixton

May 18, 2018

This is an interesting piece of what Beyoncé would call ‘Afrofuturism’ from the Dust channel on YouTube. Dust specialise in putting up short SF films, like the one above. This film, directed by Kibwe Tavares, imagines a kind of future Brixton, where all, or nearly all the people living there are robots. The film’s hero, a robot with Afro-Caribbean features, walks through the area, before relaxing with a robot friend, by toking what appears to be the robotic version of a bong.

A riot then breaks out, and robot riot police appear to crush it. This is intercut with scenes from the 1981 riots in Brixton, over which is dubbed a voice talking or reciting a piece about ending oppression. The film ends with shots of bodies on the ground, then and in this robotic present. And the quotation from Marx on a black screen: ‘History repeats itself, first as a tragedy, then as a farce’.

People of all races like and produce SF, and there are a number of very well respected Black SF writers, most notably Samuel R. Delaney, who’s been going since the 1960s and ’70s, and Olivia Butler, the author of Clay’s Ark and the Parable of the Sower. A few years ago a volume of SF by Black authors was published with the title Dark Matter, the title also referring to the all the invisible cosmic stuff that’s adding missing mass to the universe. Also in the 1990s over this side of the pond there appeared a book, written by a Black author, about an all-Black mission to save a space colony by turning them Black. This was to save them from a plague which affected only Whites. I can’t say I was impression by this piece, as it seemed to me to be as imperialistic as the White ideologies of civilising Blacks by giving them European civilisation. This seems to be less controversial, though still dealing with a sensitive subject. It is also part of the character of much SF since it first appeared in the 19th century as ‘the literature of warning’.

George Galloway: Torygraph Publishes Piece Speculating on Coup to Overthrow Corbyn

May 12, 2018

This is an excerpt from George Galloway’s Talk Radio Show, which I found on YouTube. He begins with talking about a conversation he had with James Whale, a fellow presenter, about the dangerous situation in the Middle East, where Israel is now facing an Arab, Russian and Iranian enemy. He pours scorn, however, on the juvenile scribblers, as Galloway sees it, who claimed that the missiles shot at the Golan Heights had entered Israel. Galloway states that the Golan Heights were illegally seized by Israel from Syria, and so are not part of Israel, no matter what the hacks say.

He then goes on to talk about Theresa May’s volte face, which has meant that victims of the Grenfell Tower fire will now be allowed onto the board investigating it. After that, he moves on to talking about how the Brexit negotiations are an appalling mess, and the whole affair something which all of us will have difficulty getting out of.

But the main subject of his ire is a piece published by Paul Carter in the Torygraph the day before, which may be 10th May 2018. The Torygraph had speculated on the possibility of a military coup against Corbyn. Galloway describes the article as chilling, and states that its author, Paul Carter, has no footprint in social media. The article claims that this coup would occur if the labour leader was elected to power and proceeded to enact to enact three particular policies. These were conducting a referendum to abolish the monarchy, taking us out of NATO, and taking us out of the western foreign policy consensus. Galloway himself wishes Corbyn would do all these, but the Labour leader will certainly not do any of them. The proximate cause of the Torygraph article is that it is 50 years since Mountbatten and the editor of the Mirror met to plan a coup against the Labour prime minister, Harold Wilson. Galloway states that Wilson was a political giant, who dominated the sixties and much of the seventies. He was right-wing Labour, a social democrat. But he had his house burgled and his mail intercepted because it was suspected that he was a Russian secret agent. If the coup had gone ahead, the country would probably be led by Mountbatten from the Despatch Box, probably from the House of Lords, unless he resigned and fought a bye-election. Not that such constitutional niceties would bother people, who had just overthrown their democratically elected leader.

He also makes the point that there were plans to intern 4,000 other leftists, including journalists, on the Shetland Islands. Galloway himself was too young at the time, but if they did launch a coup against Corbyn, this would be the last you’d hear of him for a long time, unless he managed to get onto Radio Free Shetland. He notes one expert, who has said that it would be much harder to launch a coup now that people have mobile phones and social media. It was easier fifty years ago when it was the editors of the newspapers to overthrow the government. But Corbyn would be wise to keep his mobile phone handy. If they did launch a coup, then millions would pour onto the streets to defended their elected leader? Or would they? Galloway leaves this as a matter of discussion for later in the programme. He says that eventually the plans for the coup were abandoned, because the conspirators thought better, including the government’s scientific advisor, Solly Zuckerman. But Galloway thinks this is false, and that they simply got cold feet.

Galloway then closes the segment with a piece about how popular the woman presenting the weather reports is becoming.

This is worrying, as it looks like a combination of smear piece and speculation by the Torygraph. Corbyn hasn’t any intention of trying to abolish the monarchy, taking us out of NATO or acting against the current foreign policy consensus, so it’s a smear to suggest that he might. The absence of any social media footprint for Paul Carter suggests that this is a pseudonym. And this in turn invites speculation that it’s someone from MI5 or another branch of the security services.

This wouldn’t be the first time MI5’s been acting against the government, if this is the case. The agency was convinced Wilson really was a KGB spy, and Stephen Dorril and Robin Ramsay, the editor of Lobster, have suggested that it was behind the smears circulating then about the Labour leader.

As for the coup they’re discussing, the plotting occurred later than the article claims. Mountbatten and the editor of the Mirror were making their plans in the mid-70s. And the Times was also looking forward to Wilson being toppled, though replaced by a civilian government of trusted members of the Labour party, like Shirley Williams, as well the Tories. These plots are discussed in Francis Wheen’s book, Strange Days Indeed: Paranoia in the 1970s, and by Ken Livinstone in his book Livingstone’s Labour. The date’s out, but otherwise everything that Galloway’s said about the proposed coup is correct. One of the reasons it failed is because one of the plotters approached Sandhurst, to ask if the old colonels there would help. They said they wouldn’t, and sent him away. Hurrah for Sandhurst!

Galloway says at the beginning of his discussion of the article that no-one else was talking about it. Which suggests that this is purely speculation and wishful thinking by the Weirdo Barclay Brothers and the paper’s managing director, Murdoch McLellan, and whoever is now the editor of this wretched rag. The paper’s been running articles attacking Corbyn, claiming that he’s an anti-Semite and so on, along with the Daily Mail. But this shows more than a hint of real desperation. For all the Tory and media talk about ‘peak Corbyn’, it seems they really afraid he’ll win the election. In which case, they want the troops to overthrow him. Not because they’re afraid he’ll do all the things they claim he will, but because his very mild socialist programme will cause the end of the Thatcherite consensus. The corporate rich could no longer look forward to a privatised NHS and railways, and parts of the electricity grid would also be renationalised, would which would also upset corporate profits. Not to mention that they could no longer rely on having a cowed, cheap workforce of the desperate on poverty wages, on zero hours contracts and kept in line by the threat of benefit sanctions and starvation.

This is all too much for the Torygraph and its scribblers. So they’ve started fantasising about the possibility of a coup. Just like the British stock exchange cheered the Fascists when they revolted against the Republican government at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War.

The Torygraph has just about gone full Fascist with this article. And its publication is more than a bit hypocritical for the Tories. Not after they went berserk and accused Hilary Mantel of encouraging terrorism when she published her short story, The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher. But this shows just how far Corbyn has rattled the Tories, and shown how some of them, at least as for the Torygraph itself, have started hankering after a coup to stop him.

More BBC Bias as Question Time Panel Tonight Almost All Right-Wingers

May 10, 2018

Mike over at Vox Political has put up a piece commenting on the selection of the members of tonight’s panel for Question Time (10th May 2018). You probably won’t be surprised to hear that it’s made up nearly exclusively of members of the right. It includes Alejandro Agag, a businessman; Esther McVey, Tory MP and murderer of the poor and disabled; Chuka Umunna, the Blairite Labour MP, and Chloe Westley from the Taxpayer’s Alliance. The only person, who is probably left-wing and therefore may have something sensible and interesting to say is the rapper Akala.

Mike goes on to remark that he understands the show’s producer is a member of the hard-right BBC Tory hierarchy, and so there’s absolutely no point hoping that the situation will improve in the future. Mike clearly finds it disgusting enough that McVile is on the show, let alone the rest of the right-wingers. He therefore recommends that instead of watching it, you may as well go out instead.

Intriguingly, he ends his post by saying that he’s going to be down the pub trying to do something constructive. This may possibly be planning the launch of a balanced debate show on social media.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/05/10/esther-mcvey-to-appear-on-question-time-so-lets-all-go-out-instead/

If a truly balanced political/ topical issues panel show like Question Time on TV, and Any Questions on the radio does get going, then it’s bound to worry the BBC even more. The mainstream media is worried now that increasingly more people are taking their news from social media, indeed of sitting down and watching the corporate, right-wing biased material they pump out. You can imagine just what kind of explosion will happen at the Beeb if they suddenly find that more people are watching the internet’s answer to those two shows: there will be more huffing and puffing in the media about how the consensus is being destroyed and politics more fragmented, because people are watching the parts of the internet they agree with. This, I think, is a particular problem for the Beeb, as it’s the national broadcaster and so likes to consider itself the former of the nation’s opinions. Just like the various pompous Tory broadsheets, the Times and Torygraph. The result of this will be more scare stories about fake news on social media. And if the panel show is on RT or another foreign-owned station, they’ll try and work up a scare about it being a source of evil foreign propaganda.

The presence on the panel of a member of the Taxpayer’s Alliance is another example of the Beeb’s Tory bias, as I got the impression that it’s basically a kind of ventriloquist dummy for the Conservatives. It’s supposed to be independent, but a friend of mine told me he’d looked at their leaders, and found that they were all members of the Tory party. Those that weren’t in jail for dodging taxes, that is. Thus, it isn’t even remotely independent in reality, but this doesn’t stop the Beeb pulling them regularly on news programmes and claiming that they’re an independent group. This is presumably in the same way that Laura Kuenssberg and the rest of the Beeb’s news team are unbiased. As unbiased as Nick Robinson when he edited out former SNP leader Alex Salmond’s full answer to his question when reporting on his speech about the Scots referendum.

The Beeb is increasingly showing its right-wing bias, despite the snotty answers it gives those who dare to write in to question this. And as it does, more people are going to log on to the alternative news sites. Mike’s suggestion that a truly balanced topical issues show like Question Time might be on the way on social media sounds very interesting, and just the thing we need to replace the Beeb’s own biased programming.