Archive for the ‘The Press’ Category

Boris Johnson’s Cure for Depression – Go Back to Work!

July 21, 2019

Boris Johnson and his legion of deep thinkers ponder mental health.

Just as Johnson has ignorant views on foreign nations and their leaders, so, it should come as no surprise, that he also has stupid and ignorant views on depression and mental illness. Yesterday Mike put up another article, based on a piece by Poorna Bell in i News, about Johnson’s latest piece in the Torygraph, in which he informs that disgusting rag’s readers about his ideas for tackling this serious health problem. And it really isn’t anything worth considering. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. His views on its solution aren’t just ignorant, they’re actually dangerous.

BoJo believes that depression can not only be effectively tackled, the cure would also help the economy and save money, all at the same time. So what is this wonder cure? Simples. He wants the depressed to go back to work. Because it worked for Winston Churchill during his ‘Black Dog’ episodes. According to the sage of Henley on Thames, or wherever it is he’s MP, it was through work Churchill ‘pitchforked off’ his depression. He goes on to write that what is true for Churchill is also to a certain extent true for the rest of us – that we derive a large extent of our self-esteem from our work. He goes on to say that it is being engrossed in our daily tasks that we derive an all-important sense of satisfaction.

Mike shrewdly remarks that if hard work’s so good at curing depression, then why has Boris himself never tried it? He admits its a low blow to claim that the man, who would be PM is mentally ill, but his views are an offence against people, who really have been diagnosed with these problems. He therefore asks

As this man may soon be the UK’s prime minister, why has nobody demanded that he undergo a mental health check?

Boris Johnson’s comment about mental illness raises one revealing question

Bell, the writer of the original article on which Mike’s is based, also isn’t impressed. She lost her husband to depression, and makes the point that it isn’t that people with depression don’t want to work, it’s that they can’t.

We’ve heard this kind of nonsense before. When the Tories first got nearly nine years or so ago, they and a number of mental health charities were advocating this approach. Tom Pride, Johnny Void and a number of other left-wing blogs, including Mike, tore it to pieces. They especially attacked the directors of the mental health charities making these claims, pointing out that they really had no understanding of depression and other forms of mental illness before, and their personal connections to industry and right-wing think tanks.

It’s the advice given out by fit types, who have never suffered any form of anxiety or depression, and so have absolutely zero understanding of it. To them, it’s just feeling a bit down. But never mind, you can pull yourself out of it, if you want to! Those people usually tell you how they were left feeling very depressed once, but they were able to come out of it by putting their mind to it.

And they’re wrong.

Depression isn’t like feeling ‘a bit down’. It is, as one scientist, Lewis Wolpert, called it A Malignant Sadness, which was the title of the book he wrote about his experience with it after losing his mother. And you can’t pull yourself out of it. Those with it try, and fail, and the failure makes them feel worse. Or at least, that was my experience when I came down with it nearly three decades ago.

Johnson’s comments are also those of someone, who has never had to take a job he didn’t want or like in his life. As an Old Etonian, he could always rely on his wealth and connections to open doors for him, just like his fellow old school chum David Cameron was invited to work for the royal family. Johnson worked first as a journalist, then became editor of the Spectator, and finally a professional politician with an eye on the top job. I dare say all these jobs have their stresses and problems. But he has never been forced to take a menial, poorly paid job simply to put a roof over his head and/or food on the table. He has never been in a zero-hours or short-term contract, nor had to worry about any other kind of job precarity. And whatever else they were, his jobs weren’t boring.

When I had my breakdown, I was in an extremely boring job. I had nothing to distract me from the fears and anxieties I had at the time. And so, while I can’t claim the job caused the breakdown, it didn’t help and made my mental health worse.

And I’m sure I’m not alone by a very, very long chalk.

At the time I was working in an office, as very junior staff. And job hierarchy is very much part of the problem. Way back in the 1990s the Beeb’s flagship science programme, Horizon, covered the problem of stress. Using the civil service records going back to the First World War or so, they showed that while the people at the top of the civil service were also under pressure, it was the people at the bottom of the pile who suffered from stress-related illnesses. And the crucial reason why they did, and they’re seniors didn’t, was simply because their seniors were in a position of leadership. They had control, whereas the staff at the bottom didn’t. One former, high ranking civil servant said that when he joined, it was like the whole world was opening up to him.

Which exactly describes Johnson’s position and mentality.

He could always count on a very good position, even if it wasn’t one of leadership. As an Etonian, he immensely privileged and has access to a world of opportunity very much not granted to you and I. And it shows. He’s always enjoyed good mental health, even if that doesn’t hold true for commonsense, intelligence and simple common decency. He has never, ever in his life suffered the anxieties and stresses of the powerless, the people most likely to suffer from depression and anxiety.

He doesn’t understand their predicament. Neither do his readers, or the rest of the Tory party and its degraded, mendacious press.

He isn’t interested in making genuinely sick people well. He’s only interested in finding ways to get people back into poorly paid, insecure work. Or if not that, then simply off the benefits the poor and sick need to survive.

And this means that if he gets in, we can expect the wretched workfare, benefit sanctions and work disability tests to continue. Because it’s all justified in getting people back to work, as that will cure them.

Except it doesn’t. Mike has put on his blog time and again case after case in which the DWP declared a severely ill person ‘fit to work’. And quite often they tried to justify this by saying that working ‘would bring positive benefits to their self-esteem’ or some other similar sniveling rubbish. Like the case where the DWP passed someone as fit to go back to work, who was being treated for cancer in the spine. This person was in no way fit to go back, but the assessor decided they should because ‘it would give them something to look forward to.’

Disgusting!

Boris is a menace to the disabled poor, as is his wretched party. Get them out, and a Labour party, led by Corbyn, in!

 

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Labour to Help Working Poor in First Term

July 18, 2019

On a more optimist note, yesterday’s I also carried a report on page 8 by Harriet Line, ‘Labour ‘would end in-work poverty by end of first term’. This ran

Labour will eliminate the “modern-day scourge” of in-work poverty by the end of the party’s first full term back  in office, John McDonnell is to promise. 

The shadow Chancellor will pledge to make structural changes to the economy, ensure public services are free at the point of use and provide a strong social safety net to tackle the issue if his party enters government.

Mr McDonnell is to set out his party’s plans in a speech at the launch of the Resolution Foundation’s Living Standards Audit this morning.

He will say:”Behind the concept of social mobility is the belief that poverty is OK as long as some people are given the opportunity to climb out of it, leaving the others behind.

“I reject that completely, and want to see a society with higher living standards for everyone as well as one in which nobody lacks the means to survive or has to choose between life’s essentials.”

“Without any one of these three elements, we will not be able to achieve the sustained eradication of poverty, the dramatic narrowing of inequality, and the transformation of people’s lives that will be the central purpose of the next Labour government.

“The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) said last year that ‘in-work poverty is the problem of our times’.

“I am committing today to ending this modern-day scourge, to eliminating in-work poverty by the end of Labour’s first full parliamentary term.”

The JRF executive director, Claire Ainsley, commended Labour’s “significant ambition” as being “the right thing to do”.

She added: “Delivering this commitment should be the No 1 focus for political leaders after Brexit.”

Now expect this to be attacked by the Tories, Lib Dems and Blairites. And I don’t doubt that they’re playing up about anti-Semitism in the Labour party again to try to drown out this message. It’s the precise thing they, and their masters in business, really don’t want people to hear.

All of these groups are Thatcherites to the core, and Thatcherism accepted the Neoliberal doctrine, derived from 19th century laissez-faire economics, that wages should be as low as possible. She also believed in making life harder for the unemployed in order to force them to take care of themselves, and this has been extended to other groups, like the working poor. Their poverty and poor conditions are supposed to be justified by lowering labour expenses in business, thus allowing them to become more profitable and enriching managers, proprietors and shareholders. And the constant refrain of Tories in response to complaints about low wages is that if you don’t like it, you can get another, better job elsewhere. Because the free market will supposedly also act to make employers try to remain competitive by offering the best terms and conditions to their workers. Even when the same market forces are expected to act against that very thing.

It’s Labour’s determination under Corbyn to end in-work poverty, to empower workers, giving them proper wages and restoring the welfare state after its decimation by forty years of Thatcherism, that the Tories, Lib Dems and Blairites find so threatening. And Margaret Hodge let this hidden agenda behind her faction’s attack on Corbyn and his supporters out the bag a few weeks ago.

She condemned Corbyn and his supporters for offering the working class ‘bribes’, like the above, which they could never fulfill.

Which shows that Hodge and her fellows are simply died in the wool Thatcherite entryists, who have no place in a genuinely socialist, Labour party.

As for the ability of Labour to bring this about, it reminds me of a story about a young American farm boy and the Progressive Party back in the 1920 and ’30s. The Progressive Party aimed at improving conditions in rural America, where there was and is much massive poverty. Among their policies, the Party promised to build roads to every farm. The story goes that a group out in the American countryside was discussing this. They turned to a local farm boy, whom they knew was a supporter of the Progressives, and asked him if he really believed the Progressives could actually do it. The lad replied, ‘If my dog can tree it, I’ll have it’.

And Labour can end in-work poverty, despite the threats and screams from the right. 

Britain to Gets Its Own Reichsarbeitdienst for the Environment?

July 18, 2019

Yesterday’s I for Wednesday, 18th July 2019 carried an article by Stephanie Soh, ‘How young and old could help a National Nature Service’ on page 26 reported that the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission and the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts has suggested that a special Nature Service should be set up. This would be a form of National Service, in which school leavers and young people would be sent out to work on farms and the environment. The article runs

Imagine signing up for national service, and you probably picture yourself doing rifle practice, cleaning graffiti off a wall or helping elderly people in you community. But what about picking up a shovel to farm fruit and vegetables?

A “National Nature Service” – a voluntary scheme that would involve people aged 18 to 25 taking up agricultural work in rural communities – has been suggested by the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission, and set up by the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragements of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce).

Arguing that “farming is a force for change”, it says that the sector has the potential to boost Britain’s economy and help to mitigate climate change through sustainable practices. But to do this, it needs manpower. In exchange for their work, young people would be able to do their bit for the environment, gain new experiences and reconnect with nature.

The commission suggests in its report Our Future in the Land that “aspects of the service could form part of an accredited learning scheme or apprenticeship”. It could be target at young poeple from disadvantaged communities, as well as retirees who have “time and resources to do the work”.

Grants could fund projects that would provide free bed and board to participants. With many young people struggling to find paid work, with many expected to serve internships to get a foothold in their careers, some might question why they would consider working for free on farms.

But with climate change a problem for communities everywhere, and teenagers increasingly engaged in the issue, perhaps it’s not such as far-flung ideas that they might want to volunteer for a scheme that helps them find solutions for it.

The trouble is, this is a Nazi idea. Hitler set up a Reichsarbeitsdienst, ‘imperial work service’, which was a system of compulsory voluntary work. Young people were sent off to work in agriculture for a set period. It was based on earlier voluntary work schemes set up by the Weimar government to deal with unemployment. The Nazis then took it over and massively expanded it. Again, it was used by the Nazis to claim that they had solved unemployment.

And this looks almost exactly the same, except that it’s being suggested in a country that is still just about democratic.

I’ve blogged before about the similar to the various ‘welfare to work’ schemes set up by the Tories and the Lib Dems to the Nazi Reichsarbeitsdienst, how they also claimed to be helping people tackle unemployment, while really they’re about massaging the unemployment figures and providing cheap labour to Tory and Lib Dem donors in industry and the charity section. Now the authorities have narrowed any difference between these schemes and their Nazi predecessor even further with this.

There are still some ideological differences. Part of the reasons the Nazis set up the Reichsarbeitsdienst is because they saw themselves as a peasant party, defending the rights and way of life of small farmers. Thus they enacted a series of policies which were intended to regenerate agriculture, and provide help and security for the peasants. At the same time young people were expected to work out their time on farms, they were also expected to absorb the farmers’ healthy peasant, volkisch values. As against the malign influence of the towns and urban culture, which were hotbeds of socialism and cosmopolitanism created and fostered by the Jews.

There doesn’t seem to be any anti-Semitic, ultra-nationalist overtones to the scheme just yet, but this may well change if the Tories or, Heaven forbid!, the Brexit party ever get into government.

And there’s another different with the Nazi scheme. The Nazis intended the service to be part of their plan to create a classless German society, a true volksgemainschaft, or people’s community. As such Hitler gave a speech to the Reichsarbeitsdienst in which he said that there wouldn’t be a member of the political or industrial elite that hadn’t risen from their ranks.

But with a government dominated by old Etonians and other public schoolchildren, I can’t see that happening any time soon. None of the other ‘voluntary’ schemes have shown themselves better at getting the underprivileged and unemployed back into work, and I very much doubt this one will either.

Boris Johnson Cynically Tries to Appeal to Gay Community

July 14, 2019

Boris Johnson and supporters.

This weekend and last has been the occasion for gay communities across the world to hold their annual Pride celebrations. Yesterday Bristol’s gays held a march, before going on to hold a pop concert up on Durdham Downs. I think last weekend was Pride Day in America, as it also was in London. According to Points West down here, Bristol Pride was a huge success, with thousands of people enjoying the occasion celebrating diversity. I’ve no doubt this was also the case in America and London. But one person, who was definitely not welcome at the party was Boris Johnson when he tried to use it for a bit of electioneering.

Johnson put out the following Tweet

Salute all those celebrating today. I have fond memories of my pink Stetson march as Mayor! Britain leads the world in LGBT+ equality and I’ll continue to champion the cause if I am lucky enough to become our country’s Prime Minister.

This was grossly hypocritical, as Johnson has been a massive homophobe. As Britain’s gay community and their supporters well knew, and weren’t going to let Johnson forget it.

Chloe tweeted back

you called gay men ‘tank-top wearing bum boys’ and compared same-sex marriage to a person marrying a dog, didn’t attend london pride 2011-2015, allowed gay marriage ban in bermuda, and have a homophobe running your leadership campaign – so fuck your salute and fuck you too.

Amy Ashenden also tweeted

The UK is far from leading the world on LGBT+ equality and YOU are a homophobe! Don’t think we don’t see through your attempt to look pro-LGBT in time for leadership election.

Other tweeters told Johnson precisely where he could stick his salutes. Jack D remarked

So, how about you take this tweet…and shove it so far up your back passage it comes to rest next to all your other ideas. Bigot.

Quite.

Mike remarked in his piece about it that this was far from being an isolated incident, and that Johnson had very many times expressed views that could cause him embarrassment were he to become Prime Minister, stating

And you can bet that, if he becomes PM after July 23, that is exactly what will happen. And with a clown as prime minister, you can be sure the whole world will be laughing at us…

… Even people who are usually afraid of clowns.

Boris Johnson caught out over London Pride – if he becomes PM this could happen daily

Now it’s possible that Johnson could have changed his mind on gay rights. When Tony Blair first introduced civil partnerships and then gay marriage, polls were quoted showing that 75% of the British public were against it. Since then the number of people, who are against gay marriage has apparently fallen to 50% or below. And having grown up in the 1970s and ’80s, I can understand why some people have trouble coming to terms with it. Although homosexuality had been decriminalised by Labour’s then Home Secretary, Roy Jenkins, c. 1967, there was still massive hatred against gays. John Hurt risked his career playing Quentin Crisp, the gay rights activist and personality, in the BBC drama The Naked Civil Servant. I can remember listening amazed one lunchtime at school when one of the older lads told us that the previous night’s edition of Whicker’s World had shown a gay wedding in Las Vegas. Attitudes were beginning to change in the 1980s thanks to campaigners like Peter Tatchell and ‘out’ pop stars and celebrities like Boy George, Mark Almond, Jimmy Summerville, and bands like Bronski Beat and the Communards. The ‘8os also saw Labour controlled local councils attacked by the right-wing press and media for funding gay organisations and festivals, along with attempts to tackle other forms of prejudice, like racism. This was when Thatcher tried to pass legislation banning schools from teaching that homosexuality was natural, and there were real fears that this would be just the prelude to the Tories rounding up gays and imprisoning them in concentration camps like the Nazis. And as Thatcher was friends with the Chilean Fascist dictator, General Pinochet, the Union of Conservative Students was supporting apartheid South Africa and demanding the hanging of Nelson Mandela and adoption of racial nationalism and there was a very strong strain of Fascism and intolerance in the party, this was not an unreasonable fear.

It was David Cameron, who tried to change this and modernise the party, the same way Blair had modernised Labour. The Tories were to be thoroughly anti-racist, putting up Black and Asian candidates, cutting links to the Monday Club and expelling those with links to the Far Right. They were also now to be pro-gay. The party started fielding openly gay candidates, whereas in the past it had many closeted gays. Many of these were extremely anti-gay themselves, and there were a number of very high profile resignations when these Tories were outed. I can remember one of the new, openly gay Tory politicos confessing that his favourite band were The Scissor Sisters. As this fellow was very much an aristo, I wondered if the band really were his favourite, or if he had been advised to say they were in order to appear down with the kids. Like various Tories claimed to like the Spice Girls when they were riding high in the charts.

But there seems to be a very strong element of homophobia in the Tory party, just as the racists still exist despite Cameron’s purges. And they’re even stronger in UKIP and Fuhrage’s Brexit Party. The internet author Moggsmates released a number of tweets from Johnson’s and Rees-Mogg’s supporters’ groups revealing just how racist the pair’s respective supporters were. And I don’t doubt that they hold similar horrendous views about gays.

The gay community is very wise to reject Johnson’s cynical attempt to marshal their support. And all Britons, whatever their sexuality, should realise from this just how unprincipled and cynical Johnson is in his electioneering.

Douglas Murphy on the Corporate Elite, Environmental Collapse

July 14, 2019

In my last post, I reviewed Douglas Murphy’s Last Futures: Nature, Technology and the End of Architecture (London: Verso 2016). This is about the rise and fall of Modernist architecture. This style, whose antecedents can be traced back to the Great Exhibition and the Crystal Palace, and which was strongly influenced by architects and thinkers as widely different as Le Corbusier and Buckminster Fuller, was an attempt to create cheap, available buildings to cater for the needs of the future, as it was predicted in the 1950s and ’60s. This was an optimistic period that looked forward to economic growth, increasing standards of living, beneficial technological innovation, and, crucially, the ability of the state to plan effectively for people’s needs. This was a future that looked forward to a future, which automation would mean that people only worked for three days each week. The rest of the time, people would voluntarily go back into education to develop themselves. As Buckminster Fuller enthusiastically proclaimed that ‘within a century the word “worker” will have no current meaning’.

As automation eliminates physical drudgery, we will spend more time in the future in intellectual activity. The great industry of tomorrow will be the university, and everyone will be going to school’. (p. 27).

Fuller was one of the pioneers of the nascent environmentalist movement, and coined the term ‘spaceship Earth’ to describe the loneliness and fragility of our planet and its ecosystem.

Other influences on Modernist architecture were Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, about the devastating effect pollution, and particularly the insecticide DDT was having on wildlife. and the Club of Rome’s Limits to Growth. Silent Spring’s title referred to the massive decline in America’s bird population caused by crop spraying with the insecticide. Limits to Growth was based on an attempt to use computers to model the performance of the world economy and the effect this would have on the environment. It assumed that resources were only finite and a growing global population. The intention was to test various changes in policy and see what effects this would have in the near to mid-future. The results were extremely ominous. The first run found that

If the present growth trends in world population, industrialisation, pollution, food production, and resource depletion continue unchanged, the limits to growth on the planet will be reached sometime within the next one hundred years. The most probably result will be a rather suddent and uncontrollable decline in both population and industrial capacity. (p. 176).

This prediction of collapse was constant in subsequent runs, despite the changes in factors. Sometimes the collapse was sharper. One variation meant that it would be put off for fifty years. Another left some resources still in existence after the collapse for some kind of civilisation to continue. But all the models predicted disaster.

Moreover, technological innovation was unable to prevent the collapse. The authors of the experiment stated that technological optimism was the most common and most dangerous reaction to their findings, because it tended to solve some of the symptoms of the problems while leaving the actually causes untouched. The only real solution was to halt population growth, reduce the consumption of resources, switch capital investment from industry to education, combat pollution, improve agriculture and extend the productive life of capital.

While this is extremely restrictive, nevertheless the authors of the report believed that there was still room for optimism, because it allowed what many would consider the most desirable and satisfying human pursuits – education, art, music, religion, basic scientific research, athletics and social interaction, to continue.The book was highly influential, and discussed by powerful figures like Kurt Waldheim, the UN Secretary General in 1973, and President Giscard d’Estaing of France.  It was also widely criticised. Its critics complained that the model was too simplistic, and the authors themselves acknowledged that the model was rudimentary. It was also asserted that capitalism would find solutions to these problems, and industry would switch to a different, more productive direction. And also humanity would in time find solutions, both social and technological, to the problems.

However, Murphy goes on to comment that despite criticisms and attempts to move industrial society away from its current disastrous direction, the book’s predictions appear to hold true. He writes

Despite the massive emotional and political investment in moving the world away from its destructive course and onto more sustainable paths, none of the great many harbingers of doom from the period managed to shift capitalism off its growth-led and industrially intensive direction. There may be no need to defend the primitive systems of Limits to Growth and its ‘world model’ of 1972, but in recent years it has become a common sight to see the graph of the ‘standard model’ catastrophe with actual data from the subsequent forty years superimposed upon it. When this is done the graphs match almost perfectly, right up to around the present day, which is the point where the collapse is due to begin. (p. 180, my emphasis).

One of the responses to the predictions of environmental collapse was the proposal that special biospheres – enclosed buildings enclosing parts of the natural environment – should be built to protect some areas from destruction. One example of such a project is the Biosphere 2 experiment of the 1990s, in which a group of eight volunteers attempted to live inside such an enclosed artificial ecosystem for three years.

In his conclusion, Murphy points out the difference between the ’60s prediction of the benefits of automation and those of today, writing

Back then, automation was seen almost universally as a rising tide that would set people free from drudgery, but now, the mass automation of intellectual work promised by the algorithms of the technology industry seems much more likely to raise the drawbridge between the wealthy and the masses even further. Instead of people working a few days a week and fulfilling themselves with creative leisure at other times, it appears more likely that people will become more tightly squeezed into the last remaining jobs whose empathy and emotional labour the robots cannot synthesise.

And instead of enclosed cities, in which all citizens can live in harmony with nature, he predicts these will instead become the sole preserve of the rich.

Finally, instead of living in giant structures balancing the energy needs of cities with the natural world around them, it seems more likely that the lack of action on carbon dioxide emissions, combined with rising inequality across human society, will lead instead to the creation of climate enclaves, fortified cities for the super rich, self-sufficient in energy and food yet totally barricaded off from those outside who will be left to fend for themselves – the ultimate in Slotendijk’s bubbles. (p. 221).

When I read the above passage remarking on the apparent accuracy of the predictions in Limits to Growth, I thought of all the figures in big business and right-wing politics telling us that there’s no need to worry and we can carry on polluting and destroying the planet – the Koch brothers, the Republicans in America and Conservatives and Lib Dems over here, the oil and fracking companies, the newspapers pushing climate denial, like the Daily Heil and the Spectator, Nigel Farage and the Brexit party, Mick Hume and the wretched Spiked magazine and all the rest. And my reaction was the same as Charlton Heston’s in the 1968 Planet of the Apes, when he finally finds out that he is not on an alien world, but on an Earth after humanity has virtually destroyed itself in a nuclear war.

I really hope that the predictions are wrong, and that this isn’t the high point of our civilisation and that there won’t be any collapse. I’m sure that there are plenty of good objections to Limits to Growth.

But we still need to combat the environmental crisis, and kick out the corrupt politicians, who are taking the money from polluting industries and allowing the destruction of the Earth’s precious environment and the squandering of its resources. We need an end to Republican, Conservative governments and the political parties that aid, like the two-faced Lib Dems, and the election of genuinely Green, socialist governments under leaders like Jeremy Corbyn.

 

Britain Aims for Communications Contract for Moon Space Station

July 14, 2019

Yesterday’s I, for Saturday 13th July 2019, also carried from encouraging space news in an article page 13, ‘UK seeks to play key mission role’ by Jamie Harris. This reported that Britain is trying to get the communications contract for a space station around the Moon. The article ran

Britain hopes to provide essential communication between the Moon and scientists back on Earth as multinational plans to build a new space station get under way.

The UK Space Agency is bidding for a slice of key activity on the proposed Lunar Orbital Platform – Gateway, which is intended to serve as laboratory and short-term accommodation post for astronauts.

In November, the next round of funding decisions will be determined by the European Space Agency, of which Britain is a member.

Guildford-based SSTL is bidding to be technology provider for communications, allowing astronauts and rovers on the Moon to send data.

Sue Horne, the head of space exploration at the UK Space Agency, said: “We’d like to do the communications system and the refuelling element. On the refuelling, it is probably fifty-fifty. We have a much better chance of getting the communications.”

News that the space authorities are considering building a lunar space station were revealed last week by the head of Human Resources for the British Space Agency in Swindon on The One Show. The show was doing an item on women in space, presented by Carol Vorderman. It was part of the season of features celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the moon landings. The programme discussed women’s contribution to the American space programme. It was a female engineer, who devised the rocket fuel that allowed the Americans to launch their first space probe, Explorer 1, successfully. It was a female nutritionist, who came up with the idea that astronauts should eat good, nutrious, tasty and varied meals. That’s obviously important, because for people working in isolated, dangerous environments, like the poles, meal times can become the highlight of the day and they’re important in keeping up morale. The programme also mentioned that the number of female employees at NASA has grown from a handful when it began, to 40 per cent now.

The HR head added that the British space programme was set to expand, and stated that there were plans to build a lunar space station. Which is why the British equivalent of NASA, based in Swindon, was expanding. And they were looking for all kinds of people, not just scientists and engineers.

So, with luck, there could be some fascinating and inspiring careers in space research for some people! 

The item did not, however, mention some other instances where women, including those from ethnic minorities, were involved in the American space programme. Like the ladies, who trained as Mercury astronauts before the Agency decided that they weren’t going to send women into space, or the group of Black female mathematicians, who did the calculations for the Moon landings. These ladies must have been absolutely brilliant, because the maths behind space travel can be terrifyingly hard. Let’s face it: it is rocket science! But I guess these pieces were left out as there have already been a number of books and features about them already. There has even been a female about the Black lady mathematicians.

I’m extremely encouraged by the news that humanity is planning to return to the Moon, fifty years after Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and co. set foot, and I really hope that this time Britain will be there also in some capacity.

Israeli Education Minister Condemns Jewish Intermarriage as ‘Second Holocaust’

July 14, 2019

Here’s another item that shows just how vile the Israeli state is. Last Thursday’s I, for 11th July 2019, reported that Rafi Peretz, the Israeli education minister, had managed to upset Jewish America by condemning intermarriage between Jews and gentiles as a ‘Holocaust’. The article on page 24, by Bel Trew, ran

Israel’s new education minister has likened intermarriage among diaspora Jews to the Holocaust, sparking uproar and accusations of racism.

A spokesman for Rafi Peretz, who is a former chief rabbi of Israeli’s army, confirmed that he said that “assimilation is like the Holocaust” in a cabinet meeting on 1 July.

Mr Peretz suggested that the rate of intermarriage among the American Jewish community was “like a second Holocaust” after ministers discussed the increase in marriage between Jews and non-Jews in the US, the US-based news website Axios reported yesterday.

The inflammatory comments have piled pressure on relations between Israel’s Orthodox community and the more liberal streams within America’s large Jewish population.

Jonathan Greenblatt, head of the Anti-Defamation League, a US-based pro-Israel organisation, said: “It is inconceivable to use the term ‘Holocaust’ to describe Jews choosing to marry non-Jews. This… does little other than inflame and offend.”

Jay Ruderman, the president of the Ruderman Family Foundation – a US-based Jewish organisation that aims to strengthen the relationship between Israel and the US – said it was “irresponsible and disrepectful to talk about US Jews without talking with them”.

Okay, very many Jews are worried about the rate of intermarriage in their communities. The rate of intermarriage for Jewish men has been estimated as 75%, although the rate for Jewish women is much lower. This has led to some Jews worrying about the extinction of the Jewish people.

And Peretz is by no means alone amongst the Israeli state and its organisations in his attitude towards it. Civil marriage is not recognised in Israel, thus preventing marriage between Jews and non-Jews as equal partners. There is also considerable opposition to it. Tony Greenstein a while ago put up a piece about this, commenting on the outcry that occurred when a Jewish presenter on Israeli television married an Arab. Books about romances between Jewish women and Arab men are banned from the Israeli school curriculum, and there are religious organisations set up to deter Jews from marrying Arabs. These frequently cooperate with municipal authorities and police departments. Apparently Israeli television even carried a helpline at one time for a Jewish organisation that helps Jewish women get out of marriages or relationship with Arabs.

And this fear of racial intermixing is one of the reasons, I suspect, why various Israeli rabbis, secular authorities and pro-Israel groups in the West have been loudly claiming that there is rising tide of anti-Semitism here comparable to the 1930s. According to these fanatics, it’s all due to the socialist Left and Islam. For their safety, European Jews should head to Israel.

Some of this propaganda – which is all it is, there’s no truth behind any of it – is to solve demographic problems within Israel itself. The Jewish and Arab populations are near parity, and as the Arabs generally are more fertile than Jews, the Arab population could pass the Israel soon. Demography is destiny, and so the Israeli state is appealing for more colonists from Europe. Or rather, attempting to frighten them into emigrating by lying about their gentile fellows.

But I also believe part of this is also an attempt by the Zionists to preserve a pure Jewish race by isolating it from contact with gentiles and their shiksas. That’s the Yiddish term for gentile women. It’s not a compliment, as it comes from the Hebrew for ‘whore’, according to Tony Greenstein. The Zionists would like diaspora Jews to move to Israel, where they would be insulated from the temptation to marry and have children with gentiles.

And one method of doing that is to frighten them about the rise of anti-Semitism – but only from the Left and Muslims. The real anti-Semites on the Right are their allies, as they admire and support Israel as the kind of ethno-nationalist state they would like to make their own nations. And so we see the Zionist witch-hunters loudly denouncing genuine opponents of anti-Semitism and racism, like Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters, while defending genuinely Fascist regimes as ‘good friends of Israel’, as the Jewish Chronicle’s editor, Stephen Pollard, has done for Poland’s Law and Justice Party.

Liberal America YouTuber David Pakman Abused for Being Jewish and Smeared as an Anti-Semite

July 12, 2019

David Pakman is an American YouTube broadcaster and journo, who reports and comments on the news from a generally left-wing, liberal perspective. He’s not a socialist, but because he is highly critical of conservatism, he comes gets mountains of splenetic abuse from the Right. His method of dealing with this is to turn some of the worst into a regular feature on his show. In ‘Hatriot Mail’ a voice artist reads out, in the kind of educated, ‘classy’ tones usually received for discussions of the great works of American political writing, the angry letters he and his co-hosts have received for comic effect. These letters are generally ill-spelled, ungrammatical, stream of consciousness rants by demi-literates. As examples of how deranged, uneducated and moronic the fanatics of the American Right are, they’re hilarious. But the abuse they contain is horrendous. There are attacks on Pakman’s and his co-host’s masculinity, ranging from just calling them wimps and ‘soyboys’ to outright homophobic abuse. Pakman isn’t gay, neither, as far as I know, are his producers and co-hosts. Not that this would be anyone’s business but their own if they were. But nevertheless, the Hatriots rant about how gay they are. Pakman is also Jewish, and was born in Argentina, a fair bit of the abuse he receives is bitterly racist and anti-Semitic. But, because he’s a liberal, he’s also attacked for being a socialist, which to some of the authors of these vile screeds means he must be an anti-Semite himself, as the Nazis were socialist. Because they said so. Pakman himself has refuted that historical distortion, pointing out that by that logic, the Democratic Republic of North Korea is therefore a democracy, along with other examples of nations and organisations claiming to be something that they really aren’t.

Here’s a couple of examples of that section of his programme from YouTube. The first clip, from 2016, contains two letters. The first of this ranting scrawls abuses Pakman for being Jewish and then libels him as a rapist. Oh, and it also claims that Donald Trump is superior to Hillary. In the second, the anti-Semitism is ramped up to full-scale conspiracy level. The writer shrieks that Pakman isn’t really concerned with Trump’s boorish, sexist attitude to women, or that Trump said that many Mexicans were rapists. No, the reason Pakman is against Trump, is because he’s Jewish, and Trump is a threat to Jewish supremacy in the US. That’s why Pakman also supports Hillary: her masters, according to this Nazi, are Jewish.

In the second clip, the letter accuses him of being Nazi and claims that across Europe and America the liberals and socialists are preparing to exterminate the Jews again, all while performing a sex act on their Muslim masters. It ends with the puerile insult ‘You smell!’ Which itself shows all too clearly the infantile level of the writer’s mind. Rather more seriously, it tells him to kill himself and his mother.

Pakman is really cool regarding that vile instruction. He states on the video that he won’t joke about it. Instead, he encourages and advises anyone, who is contemplating suicide to contact a helpline, whose number he gives.

While it’s great how Pakman has turned all this abuse around in his favour, so that his audience can have a hearty laugh at his abusers’ expense, to the point where Pakman is even selling ‘Hatriot Mail’ merchandise, like calendars, this segment of his show does show the poisonous racism and prejudice of part of the American Right. And the anti-Semitism and accusations of anti-Semitism aren’t confined to America, by any means.

Which is why I’ve put it up here.

Because I think it also describes the vile abuse Jewish supporters of the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn are going through. I’ve mentioned before the disgusting insults Jackie Walker has received ever since the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and the Jewish Labour Movement conspired to have her expelled from the Labour party, libeling her, with the full complicity of the British press and media, as an anti-Semite. She’s been told she should be lynched, be killed and her body dumped in a bin-bag among other abusive messages. This is despite the fact that she’s ethnically Jewish through her father, is Jewish by faith, her partner’s Jewish and her daughter attended a Jewish school. And that she has always, following the example of her parents, fought against racism. Tony Greenstein, another passionate opponent of every kind of racism and Fascism, also receives horrific abuse. Because he’s a Jewish critic of Israel, like Jackie, he’s had enraged Zionists call him a ‘traitor’ and say that they wish he and his family had been murdered by the Nazis. One Jewish American even assaulted him, for which he was arrested, not the assailant. And these are just two. Zelo Street put up another piece two weeks ago about the abuse Andrew Feinstein, a Jewish supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, received simply for responding to Telegraph journo Alison Pearson’s smear of the Labour leader. She had libeled him as “an appalling anti-Semite Marxist”. Feinstein’s mother was a Holocaust survivor, and 39 members of her family had been murdered in the Shoah. He himself had experienced anti-Semitism in South Africa. And he himself has lectured at Auschwitz on genocide prevention. Feinstein therefore said that he could ‘state categorically that Jeremy Corbyn is not an anti-Semite’.

This set off the odious David Collier, one of the main witch-hunters and smear artists, and Daniel Sugarman, one of the deadbeat hacks at the Jewish Chronicle, who then began vilifying Feinstein as an anti-Semite, against all the plentiful evidence against. Feinstein responded to the gruesome twosome by challenging them to a debate on anti-Semitism in the Labour party, Holocaust Remembrance and racism. He concluded his series of tweets with them with

 “The crazy cowardly reactionary assault on me has only made me more determined to use my family & political history to fight the weaponisation of antisemitism 4 reactionary political ends. I’ll always fight racism in all its forms. Thanks 4 all the support”.
And Zelo Street concluded its article on this squalid episode thus:
It’s sad that Jews who conclude independently that Jeremy Corbyn is not an anti-Semite find themselves under attack for their freely expressed political choice – and castigated for telling that their families were decimated at death camps like Auschwitz and Theresienstadt. And the talking up of seemingly random Twitter accounts as Corbyn-supporting activists is very poor journalism. It almost smacks of desperation.
See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/06/jewish-activist-attacked-for-supporting.html

It smacks of desperation because it is desperate. It’s the reaction of a couple of Zionist fanatics, whose only response to any refutation of their smears is to repeat them and smear their opponent, even when he obviously has an impeccable record of experiencing and combating racism and anti-Semitism. Which is why Feinstein, and Jews like Jackie and Tony are particularly abused and vilified. They are living denials of Zionism’s claim to absolute and uncritical support from the Jewish community, proof that other interpretations of Jewish faith, identity and political commitment are possible by self-respecting Jews.

And like the anti-Semitic abuse and the accusations of Nazism directed at David Pakman, they also show that the real Jew-hatred and prejudice comes from the Right, with the latter now used to discredit the Left. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Producer of Tonight’s Labour Anti-Semitism Documentary Is Racist, Islamophobic Murdoch Hack

July 10, 2019

Tonight the BBC is broadcasting a special edition of their flagship news documentary programme, Panorama, asking ‘Is Labour Anti-Semitic?’ I blogged about this last week when I read about it in the Radio Times. It looks like another establishment hatchet job designed to keep up the smears against Jeremy Corbyn, his followers and the wider Labour party. And this impression is strengthened further by the background of the producer of this programme, John Ware.

According to a recent post by The Skwawkbox, Ware is a former hack for the Scum and a number of other right-wing rags. He was behind another Panorama programme in 2015, before Corbyn won his first leadership election, attacking the Labour leader. This was so extreme that the Huffington Post, no friend of Corbyn itself, compared it to Fox News. Ware also has an unenviable record of attacking and demonising British Muslims, so much so that in 2006 critics were wondering whether Panorama would continue even as it was given its prime viewing slot on Monday evenings. In 2016 the Beeb was forced to apologise and pay damages to the former general manager of a pro-Palestinian charity after an edition of the programme the previous year had claimed it was a terrorist front.

In 2005 Ware was given an ‘Islamophobe of the Year’ award by the Islamic Human Rights Commission for a film he had made attacking the Muslim Council of Britain after the 7/7 bombings. He was nominated for the award again in 2015 for a Panorama programme portraying Muslims as a hostile ‘other’ and a threat to Britain. In another film for the Beeb in 2013, Ware not only attacked the Jihadis and Islamists he claimed were on Israel’s borders, but also attacked ultra-Orthodox Jews, who reject Zionism in an article for the Jewish Chronicle. This described them as ‘marooned on Judaism’s furthest shore’. As the Skwawkbox article points out, this branch of Judaism comprises 25% of the British Jewish population, and is expected to grow to 50% within the next 15 years. Ware’s 2013 documentary was accused of downplaying the scale of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, and of demonising an Arab Israeli activist.

The article also notes that he has written numerous pieces attacking Baroness Sayeeda Warsi. In one last December he claimed she had beaten a Muslim appointee with a stick. The Skwawkbox concluded

The BBC will present its Panorama programme as an impartial piece of investigative journalism – its impartiality obligations require it – and the rest of the ‘mainstream’ media will no doubt push it vigorously as such.

But viewers will be justified in questioning whether the background of the reporter at the core of the programme makes such framing credible.

See: https://skwawkbox.org/2019/07/07/the-background-of-the-man-behind-the-panorama-hatchet-job-or-jobs-on-labour-party/

For me, it looks very much like this is another piece of massively biased reporting by the Beeb, with a producer who is anything but impartial, intended both to defend Israel’s barbarous treatment of the Palestinians and prevent Corbyn, and a genuinely socialist Labour party working for ordinary people, into government.

Unison: Money from Tax Cuts for Rich Could Have Funded Social Care

July 9, 2019

Yesterday’s I, for 9th July 2019, carried a story on page 8 by Alex Jones, reporting that Unison had said that the money the Tories had given away to the rich in in tax cuts could have been spent on solving the social care crisis. The article, ‘Tax cuts for rich ‘could have gone to social care’ ran

Tax cuts for the rich in recent years have deprived the public of almost £14bn – money that would fund plans to end the social care crisis for two years, a study has suggested.

The trade union Unison said the Government’s decision to cut the top rate from 50p to 45p in 2013 had saved the richest taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds, while local authorities have been starved of funds and services cut, contributed to social care problems across the country.

Unison calculated that the savings for those with incomes of more than £1m a year have reduced payments to the Treasury by £13.98bn between 2013 and the current financial year.

The union said its analysis of HM Revenue & Customs statistics published last week shows the number of taxpayers earning more than £1m each year has risen from 15,000 to 21,000 since George Osborne introduced the tax cut.

Dave Prentis, Unison’s general secretary, said: “Instead of helping the rich line their pockets, the Government should be ploughing money into services which make a real difference in society”.

Absolutely – this is what the Tories always stand for: tax cuts to make the rich richer, and cuts to services to hit the poor. All in the name of a trickle-down economics, which has never worked and has been proven not to work.

But Boris and Hunt have started lying again, promising they’ll increase funding for a range of services, like the police. This is a sick joke. Numerous left-wing bloggers have pointed out that both these charlatans have consistently voted to cut public spending, privatise what they could, including the NHS, and reduce the welfare state. And they very keenly backed the savage reduction in police officers. Oh, they’ll promise any amount of public spending from the ‘magic money tree’ they claim doesn’t exist, except when the Tories need it, but the reality is very different. None of these promises are to be taken remotely seriously. On the other hand, Boris’ initial promise where he told the rich he’d cut their taxes even more, are definitely what he really intends.

As for the concern some Tories express over the crisis in social care, this won’t lead them to anything that’s really needed to correct it. A few weeks ago Points West, the local BBC news programme down here in Bristol, Gloucester, Somerset and Wiltshire, ran a story about the deplorable state of funding for social care in Somerset and the closure of many homes due to council cuts. A local Tory MP, one Fysh, raised the issue in parliament. This was also covered on the programme, and he was interviewed about it by anchor Dave Garmston. Garmston asked him what he believed should be done about it. Should people be encouraged to take out private insurance to cover it. Fysh said that one way would be to introduce a surcharge for people, who didn’t have such coverage, as this was done in some countries. What about raising taxes to fund it? Fysh’s reply was quick and dismissive: ‘Oh, let’s not go back to tax and spend.’

Bog standard attitude from a bog standard Tory: Wants to do something, or to be seen doing something about a crisis, but is resolutely against taxing the rich to help the poor. Like Johnson, Hunt and all the rest of them, whatever they may now be claiming in their desperation to look like acceptable candidates for occupancy of No. 10.