Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

May’s Grubby Deal with the DUP Has Undone Decades of Work in Ulster

July 5, 2017

Yesterday, Mike also put up a piece reporting that talks between Sinn Fein and the DUP about a new power-sharing agreement for Northern Ireland have broken down, resulting in acrimonious recriminations being hurled between the two parties. To illustrate it, there’s a photo of Michelle O’Neill, the leader of Sinn Fein, and Arlene Foster, the DUP’s leader together. The two are pointedly looking away from each other and it looks like they can’t stand even being in the same room.

The immediate cause of the breakdown in talks is failure to reach an agreement regarding protection for Gaelic-speaker in Northern Ireland, as well as the DUP’s intransigent opposition to gay marriage.

But Mike also points out that the ultimate cause is that May has unfairly favoured one side – the DUP – over the other in order to shore up her crumbling position in Westminster. And in so doing, she has undone the decades of work that has produced peace in the Six Counties.

In upsetting this delicate balance of power, Mike states that she has shown herself to be pathetic amateur rather than the serious professional she posed as. And he asks how long it will take to put her mistake right again.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/07/04/theresa-may-has-set-back-decades-of-work-for-peace-in-northern-ireland/

Some idea of the sheer irrational hatred the Unionists have for the Gaelic language can be gauged by a bizarre story that appeared in Private Eye a decade or more ago. One of their politicos had made a complaint to one of the local bus companies after a tour bus went past with what he thought was a message in Erse on the side.

Except it wasn’t. It was French.

As for homosexuality, Paisley himself led a campaign against its legalisation in Ulster under the slogan ‘SUS’ – ‘Save Ulster from Sodomy’, as if he feared that as soon as the legalisation of same-sex attraction between consenting adults would result in Ulster being flooded by gays from across the world.

Some of the practical benefits peace has brought to the province were also on display on television last night. Bus Wars followed a group of tour guides in Northern Ireland as they fought with their rivals to get the tourists on to their tour buses. These guys spoke glowingly about their love of telling foreign visitors about their country. Among the passengers on one of the buses, which included Americans, were a pair of Scots girls, who raved about Ulster and its people. The tour guides commented on artistic points of interest on paramilitary murals painted on the sides of houses, and the notorious peace wall in the Shankill Road, set up to proven the Nationalists and Loyalists from attacking each other.

While those signs of the Troubles are obvious, they also pointed out with pride the hidden signs of peace. The exterior of Queen’s University in Belfast is covered with a multi-coloured glass façade. The guide asked his passengers what that meant. They replied that it was because Ulster was enjoying peace. ‘That’s right,’ he said, ‘No more bombs.’

And The One Show the other day also interviewed Colm Meaney about his latest flick, in which he plays Martin McGuinness in a play about a fictitious car journey he made with Ian Paisley, played by Ralph Spall, in which the two were forced to work out their differences to bring about peace in Ulster. Meaney is a veteran actor, who’s been in any number of TV shows and movies, from Dixon of Dock Green onwards. But to Science Fiction he’s probably best known as Chief O’Brien from Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space 9. Meaney said that what attracted him to the film was that it was also very funny, and that McGuinness and Paisley became so close they were known as ‘the Chuckle Brothers’. Some of the comedy in the movie was shown by a clip from the film, where the chauffeur asks the two politicos who they are. McGuinness introduces Paisley as the leader of the Free Presbyterian Church. Paisley in his introduction states that McGuinness is an officer in the IRA. To which McGuinness leans over and says, ‘Allegedly’.

The fact that this movie has been made shows how important the peace agreement has been in ending much of the paramilitary violence in Ulster, while the episode of Bus Wars also showed the reverse of the political situation there. That due to the peace agreement, this is a place which welcomes visitors from abroad, and is a place where workers in the tour industry can speak with pride about their country from a broad, inclusive perspective free of sectarianism.

Ulster still is a very divided community, and the political situation is very tense. These two shows together show how much is at stake, how much will be lost if May’s partisan deal with the DUP shatters the strained peace agreement. It’s a deal May should never have made. But she could correct it easily – by stepping down and leaving the way open for a Labour government.

Vote for Corbyn to Stop the Work Capability Tests

June 8, 2017

This is the text of another of my table-top pamphlets, this time against the notorious Work Capability Tests. These were also introduced by New Labour at the behest of Unum and other private healthcare providers.

These are not objective tests to assess who is well enough to support themselves. They are simply a callous, bureaucratic mechanism for throwing people with disability off the benefits they need to support themselves. These have included severely disabled people, including terminal cancer patients in comas!

This iniquitous system has been retained and expanded by the Tories – David Cameron and his Lib Dem lackey, Nick Clegg, and now Theresa May.

It is killing people. As I’ve mentioned far too many times before, about 600 + people have died in misery and despair after having their benefit withdrawn due to these tests. Stilloaks, Johnny Void, Mike at Vox Political and DPAC have put together lists and videos putting names to faces, to show the human reality of these statistics – whose mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters were killed thanks to the Thatcherite insistence of cutting down on welfare.

The number of people, who have died after having been assessed as ‘fit for work’ is well above ten thousand, though the true figure may never be known. Mike and the other disability activists, who tried to get the figures were blocked by IDS and the DWP at every turn when they tried to get them.

Jeremy Corbyn has also promised to end workfare.

So vote for him. Don’t let the Tories kill more disabled people under the pretence of saving money.

Stop the Work Capability Test –
Before More People Die

by David Sivier

One of the very worst policies introduced by various governments as part of their campaigns to dismantle the welfare state over the past decade has been the Work Capability Test. This was introduced by New Labour in October 2008 along with a new benefit for the disabled and long-term sick, the Employment Support Allowance, which replaced Incapacity Benefit. The Work Capability Test is intended to show if the person claiming benefit really cannot work. It consists of questionnaire, in which boxes are to be ticked in answer to particular questions about the claimant’s health and disability. 2Ten of these tests were on the claimant’s physical health, and another ten are on their ‘mental, cognitive and intellectual’ fitness. There may also be a brief physical examination. The tests are performed by medical doctors working on behalf of a government outsourcing company. This was given to the French company, Atos, but the company was forced to terminate its contract a year early in 2014 following public anger at the system’s incompetence and maladministration. The contract was then given to an American company, Maximus. The tests may be repeated as often as the JobCentre Plus decides. If the disabled person scores low in the tests, they are judged fit for work. They lose their ESA and are told to apply for Jobseeker’s Allowance.

The tests are based on a monograph, The Scientific and Conceptual Basis of Incapacity Beneft, by Gordon Waddell and Mansel Aylward, of 2005 and a succeeding work, Is Work Good for Your Health and Wellbeing? By Gordon Waddell and Kim Burton. They were also strongly influenced by a 2001 New Labour conference, in which Aylward was a contributor, Malingering and Illness Deception. These led in turn to the publication of a Green Paper in 2006, A New Deal for Welfare: empowering people to work – an independent assessment of the arguments for the proposed Incapacity Benefit reform. Both Waddell and Aylward were professors at the Unum Provident Centre for Psychosocial and Disability Research at Cardiff University, which was funded by the American insurance giant from 2004-9. The Work Capability Test uses a form of Bio-Psychosocial model of assessment, developed in America by Unum Provident. This model of assessment is considered to have been devised by George Engel in 1977. In 2006 a paper produced by Professor Christopher Butler and his colleagues attacked the model as ‘wanting’ and inadequate. Waddell and Aylward’s 2006 paper has also been attacked and discredited by Emeritus Professor Alison Ravetz.

Unum, and pseudo-medical testing actually became part of the disability benefits system twelve years or so prior to the Waddell and Aylward’s paper, in 1993, when the-then Conservative Health Secretary, Peter Lilley, introduced tougher testing designed to evaluate whether claimants were totally incapable of work. They had previously been awarded benefit if they were unable to do their job. Lilley considered that this approach was to open to sentimental interference by doctors, and so set up an ‘Incapacity benefit medical valuation group’, whose members included Dr John Le Cascio, the second vice-president of Unum Corporation. Lo Cascio had recently been seconded to its British branch, Unum Ltd, based in Dorking in Surrey. In 1994 Lo Cascio was appointed to train the British doctors charged with carrying out the tests by the Benefits Agency Medical Services. New Labour claimed that the purpose of the Work Capability Tests has been ‘to get people back into work’. This was always a misleading claim. New Labour had a ten-year plan to remove one million people from the 2.8 million receiving disability benefits. Their Secretary of State for Health declared ‘We know that being in work can be good for your wellbeing’, echoing the title of the paper by Waddell and Burton. 13 Years before that, Lilley introduced the tests with the aim of cutting £2 billion from the benefits bill.

And Unum itself regarded the benefit cuts as a great commercial opportunity. In their report in 1994, Chairman Ward E. Graffam was enthusiastic about ‘exciting developments in Britain’, saying ‘the impending changes to the State ill-health benefits system heralded in the November 1993 Budget will create unique sales opportunities across the entire disability market and we will be launching a concerted effort to harness the potential in these.’

Atos immediately decided that three-quarters of those in receipt of benefit were fit for work.16 Between the introduction of the tests in October 2008 and February 2012, the Department for Work and Pensions made over 1.36 million decisions on whether to award ESA following the administration of the tests on claimants. It declared 794,000 sick and disabled people ‘fit for work’. From the very beginning, the tests were criticised as being vastly inaccurate, and the treatment of claimants under it as cruel and degrading. ‘We Are
Spartacus’, a network of disability researchers and campaigners, denounced the way claimants were ‘wrongly assessed, humiliated and badly treated’. In response to repeated requests by disability campaigners, the DWP finally released the figures for the number of people dying over 11 months in 2011 while in receipt of ESA. 10,600 people in total had died. Of these, 1,300 had died after being taken off benefit following the decision that they were ‘fit to work’. Some of the people, who have died, committed suicide in despair at having their income terminated. One of these was a 47 year old man, who took a drug overdose. Others experienced a deterioration in their mental health due to the stress of assessment. Between 2008 and 2014, there were 600,000 appeals. This constitutes a third of all assessments, and in 2012-13 there were 465,000 appeals, with a success rate of 39 per cent. In some areas, lawyers had a success rate of over 80 per cent overturning decision by Atos against the claimant receiving benefits. 60 per cent of those, who had successfully appealed had scored zero. That is, Atos had declared them entirely fit for work. In 2013, however, the Conservative government took the decision to end legal aid for claims for welfare payment, which meant that fewer people would be able to afford to take the government to court.

In America, Unum Provident was fined $31.7 million in a class action lawsuit in California in 2003 for running ‘disability denial factories’. Two years later in 2005, John Garamendi, the California Department Insurance Commissioner, fined the company $15 million, declaring ‘Unum Provident is an outlaw company. It is a company that has operated in an illegal fashion for years’. The insurance commissioners of 48 American states had made a settlement with the company by 2006 that required it to review 200,000 claims and pay a $15 million fine. In 2008 the American Association of Justice declared that the company was the second most discredited insurance provider in America.

Despite public anger at Atos’ conduct of the Work Capability Test for ESA, the government in 2012 awarded the company another contract, worth over £400 million, for assessing whether disabled people were suitable for the Personal Independence Payment that was scheduled to replace the Disability Living Allowance in 2013. The Disability Living Allowance provided the handicapped with up to £130 per week to help them look after themselves. This was mostly awarded to help people cook, wash, and assist those with mobility problems. In the three years from April 2013 to 2016, this is to be phased out and replaced with the PIP, which is designed to get people back into work. The government was determined to cut spending on the PIP by twenty per cent during these three years, after the number claiming DLA rose by 30 per cent to 3.2 million people between 2002 and 2011. This was expected to throw 500,000 people off disability benefit.

As with their administration of the ESA fitness to work tests, Atos has proved to be less than efficient in its administration of the PIP. Those applying for the benefit may have to wait months before being notified that they are entitled. The cancer charity, MacMillan Cancer Support, stated that there were serious delays in the approval of payments. As well as leaving the terminally ill without this benefit, it also meant that they were unable to claim other vital benefits with which PIP was linked. As a result, some were forced in their desperation to take out loans from payday loan companies, which have a truly exorbitant interest rate. The number of problems with ESA dealt with by Citizens Advice rose by 54 per cent from 2011 to 2012, when the bureaux dealt with 450,000 of them.

Paul Farmer, the head of the mental health charity, Mind, criticised the tests for failing to consider the effects of mental health on people’s ability to work. In an interview with the Guardian in 2012, he said

The system is based on assumptions that claimants need to be forced back to work, rather than supported on their own terms, and that those not well enough to go back to work are somehow perceived as scroungers. These attitudes only serve to further damage individuals’ mental health and increase the time until they may be ready to return to work.

Richard Hawkes, the chief executive of Scope, another disability charity, stated that the tests ‘should be more than an exercise in getting people of benefits. It should make sure disabled people get the specialist, tailored and flexible support they need to find and keep a job.’ The House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee condemned the tests, stating that the system was so flawed it needed to be completely overhauled.

Guy Standing in his A Precariat Charter states that governments have been able to cut benefits for the disabled far more than for other groups, because they are a minority and so there is likely to be fewer objections to their treatment and lost votes. He also recommends that any firm hired by the government to provide services for the disabled should be bound by three commitments. The first should be to the disabled themselves; the second should be to the government; and the third should be to the whole of society, as the rest of us could be next. The employment contract awarded to such outsourcing firms should include penalty clauses requiring them to compensate the disabled claimant directly when they do not award them the correct benefits. This compensation should be much more than the benefits the disabled person did not receive. They should also be penalised for their mistakes. This would be a start, but it is not enough. The problem lies not with the companies administering the tests, but with the whole system of tests itself. The cause of the problem is attitude of successive governments, from John Major’s Conservatives, through Blair and Brown’s New Labour and then the Conservative-led governments of David Cameron, that the disabled should automatically have their benefits reduced, regardless of the poverty and hardship involved. The goal should be to provide benefits to support the poor and disabled, rather than cuts intended to reduce the tax burden for the rich. The Work Capability Test and the poverty and stress it inflicts should be stopped. Now.

Young Folks, If You Want a Future, Vote Labour

May 9, 2017

Mike today has put up a post citing a report that young people are far more left-wing than their elders. According to Guardian writer Alan Firth, if a third more young people vote, it would mean Labour would win handily on June 8th.

He makes the obvious point: that if you’re young and aren’t rich, you have NO future under the Tories. And if you don’t vote, you are effecting also giving your vote to them.

So register to vote.

The Tories have tried to make it more difficult, by changing the rules, but he gives the internet address which will allow you to register to vote. This is

https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

The deadline in 22 May.

He concludes

Don’t forget – there’s nobody stupider than someone who could have avoided trouble but didn’t, because they couldn’t be bothered.

See http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/05/09/if-youre-young-and-you-want-a-future-register-to-vote-and-vote-labour/

Ken Surin’s List of Theresa ‘Goody-Two Shoes’ May’s Lies and Attacks on the Poor and the Welfare State

May 9, 2017

More from a contributor to Counterpunch, though this time it isn’t about the lies, smears and bullying of the Israel lobby.

Ken Surin is a British academic, who now lives and teaches in America. He’s written a list of articles attacking Theresa May for her lies, U-turns and her attacks on the poor, working people and the welfare state. And her plans to sell off whatever remains of the NHS to private American healthcare companies as part of a Brexit deal.

He calls her ‘Goody-Two Shoes’, because that’s how May described herself: she says she was a ‘goody-two shoes’ in school.

Her first U-turn affected him personally. He lost his right to vote in 2002 when Blair decided that Brits who had been away for more than 15 years shouldn’t have the right to vote in British elections. May then declared that if she got in, she’d repeal it. Now that she’s in power, she hasn’t. She’s a liar. But then, what do you expect from the Tories?

He also states that he’s not surprised the Tories have got a 17 point lead over Labour. They’ve been undermined by the antics of the Blairites, the Zionist lobby’s maligning him as a anti-Semite, because he’s a member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the loss of northern working class voters to UKIP, and, most significantly, the massive right-wing bias of the media.

A study by the LSE showed that on average, only 11 per cent of newspaper articles accurately reflected Labour policies. And in the case of the Daily Heil and Express, that ratio falls to zero.

He states that May is simply an opportunist, as shown by the way she voted Remain in the Brexit referendum, but to stay in power has turned her party into ‘UKIP-lite’.

And then he gives the following list of some her lies and U-turns.

The Tories were fined £70,000 last month by the Electoral Commission for failing to declare more than £275,000 in election-spending in the 2015 election. A dozen police forces have passed files relating to these expenses to the Crown Prosecution Service.

The CPS had intended to decide by the end of May if there were to be prosecutions for these violations, but an election in 2017 would probably take the wind out of attempts to prosecute 20 Tory MPs (or thereabouts) for their fraudulent activity in the 2015 election– “that’s history now”, many are likely to say.

If May called an early election for this reason, it would only demonstrate the flexibility of her principles.

May’s most recent budget dissolved into chaos when an increase in national insurance for the self-employed broke a 2015 election manifesto pledge. The ensuing public outcry panicked May and her colleagues into a U-turn, and the proposed increase was rescinded.

Since 2010 the Tories have promised to increase spending on the National Health Service every year, and that funding for schools would increase per student. In its report card after the most recent budget, The Independent said:

The public sector has been another loser. The NHS, which was in the black in 2010, faced a £1.85 billion deficit in 2016, the largest deficit in its history. As a result, waiting times are up, and the NHS is facing, what the British Red Cross have described as a ‘humanitarian crisis.’ Conditions in the NHS have led to an exodus of doctors. A third of Accident and Emergency doctors left the UK to work abroad between 2010 and 2015. There is a similar pattern in education, where 10,000 teachers left the profession in Cameron’s first term. In both sectors, real terms cuts in spending has increased workloads to a point where many professionals are no longer willing to continue.

Running down public services has hit some groups much harder than others. Austerity has hit women’s incomes twice as hard as men’s. Cuts to lone parent benefits since 2010, for example, have fallen disproportionality on women, for the simple reason that women make up 90 per cent of lone parents. At the same time, as women tend to be low earners they have benefited far less from tax cuts than men.

This is followed by a list of motions she has voted for, in which she has consistently supported the rich, and attacked the poor.

As home secretary, May introduced laws forcing internet service providers to help the UK’s spy agencies hack into computers.

Despite moving her party to the right so it can campaign as UKIP lite, May’s record on immigration when she was home secretary prior to becoming prime minister would certainly not please UKIP voters. May vowed to cut net immigration down to the “tens of thousands”, only to have it increase to a record high of 330,000.

May voted for the notorious “bedroom tax”, which reduced housing benefit for social-housing tenants deemed to have unoccupied bedrooms.

She voted against raising welfare benefits so they remained in line with inflation.

She voted against paying higher benefits over longer periods for those unable to work because of illness or disability.

She voted for making local councils reduce the amount spent on helping those in financial need pay their council taxes.

She voted for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits.

She voted against smoking bans and the hunting ban.

She voted for increasing the rate of the highly regressive Value Added Tax (VAT)

She voted against increasing the tax rate applied to income over £150,000.

She voted against a banker’s bonus tax.

While she voted for the bedroom tax to be imposed on people in social housing, May voted against the mansion tax, i.e. the annual tax on the value of expensive homes.

She voted for more restrictions on trade union activity.

May voted against restricting the provision of services to private patients by the NHS.

She voted for raising England’s undergraduate tuition fees to £9,000 per year.

She has always voted for academy (i.e. private) schools.

While all the above has been transpiring, a massive upwards transfer of wealth from lower-tiered income earners to the top has been occurring. According to the Social Market Foundation, in the UK:

… the average wealth of the best-off one-fifth of families rose by 64 per cent between 2005 and 2012-13.

However, the SMF found the poorest 20 per cent are less financially secure than they were in 2005, with their net wealth falling by 57 per cent and levels of debt and use of overdrafts increasing. Homeowners have raced ahead of people in rented accommodation….

The Equality Trust, citing 2014 data from the Office for National Statistics, said the majority of the UK population (66%) hold no positive financial assets at all, while the remaining 34% hold £9trillion in such assets.

He also cites a report that May wishes to sell off the NHS by the Independent.

The Independent has just reported that May, who is desperate for trade deals to replace those made under the auspices of the EU, which will of course no longer exist after Brexit, is willing, as part of a deal with Trump, to sell-off the NHS to those most villainous of business enterprises, the American “healthcare” corporations.

Surin states that ‘this is class war by another name’, a sentiment expressed by Owen Jones in his book Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class.

Surin says about May herself

Going solely by the immense distance between what she professes in public and how she votes, Theresa May is an absolutely bare-faced phony. Her voting record, displayed above, confirms her fundamental and vital support for Tory austerity policy.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/05/08/with-theresa-goody-two-shoes-may-what-you-see-on-tv-wont-be-what-you-get/

Don’t be deceived by the media and the Tories. May will kill off the welfare state and the NHS, just as Margaret Thatcher wanted and the Tories and Blairites have been conspiring to do over the past forty years.

Vote Labour, and vote for Corbyn.

The Origins of the Anti-Semitic Khazar Smear against the Jews

May 8, 2017

One of the smears against Jews is the accusation that they aren’t really descended from the ancient Israelites, but are really descended from the Khazars, a Turkish tribe in what is now southern Russia, who converted to Judaism in the early Middle Ages.

It’s an obscure, fringe theory, which very few people have probably heard about. It seems to have emerged as a particularly nasty offshoot of British Israelitism in the 1920s and ’30s. Donna Kossy devotes a few pages to it in her chapter on the Anglo-Israelites in her book, Kooks: A Guide to the Outer Limits of Human Belief (Portland, Oregon: Feral House 1994) 12-20.

Anglo-Israelitism, or British Israelitism, is the belief that the British peoples, and those descended from them in the Commonwealth and United States are the true descendants of the ancient Israelites of the Bible. The movement was started by John Wilson, who published Our Israelitish Origin in 1840. The idea was then taken up and publicised by Edward Hine. Wilson and Hine weren’t anti-Semites. They believed that the British were descended from the ten lost tribes of Israel, and that the Jews were therefore their brethren. Hine hoped that when the British realised their true descent from the lost tribes, they would join the Jews, who he believed were descended from Judah and Levi, in the Holy Land. The 12 tribes of Israel would be reunited, leading to Christ’s return in the Second Coming.

Kossy notes, however, that this theory was later used by anti-Semites and other racists to justify their hatred of other groups. Hine despised the various indigenous peoples, whose lands were invaded and conquered by the British, and felt they were on their way to extinction. These included Aboriginal Australians, the Maoris, and also the Irish, whom he identified with the Canaanites.

The foremost leader of British Israelitism in America was Howard B. Rand, who had been variously a lawyer, inventor and small businessman in Haverhill, Massachusetts. In 1928 he founded the Anglo-Saxon Federation of America, declaring himself to be its National Commissioner. Nine years later, in 1937, he founded Destiny Publications, to publish his writings about the movement. After the War he also tried to get himself elected as the Prohibition candidate for the office of Attorney General in Massachusetts.

Rand decided that the Jews were only descended from the southern kingdom of Judah, and stated that the Jewish exiles who returned from Babylon intermarried with Hittites and other gentile races. After the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD the Jewish nation, he believed, ceased to exist. Individual Jews, however, moved north and intermarried with the Khazars. Meanwhile, the Jews captured by the Assyrians moved west, becoming the Goths, and then the Germanic peoples of Britain, Scandinavia and Germany. (Pp. 14-15). Another writer who claimed that the Jews were really descended from the Khazars was Lothrop Stoddard, in his 1926 book, The Pedigree of Judah.

These ideas have since become a part of the various extreme right-wing movements that came to prominence in the 1990s through their confrontations with the federal authorities. Randy Weaver, who fought off the FBI for a week after they sought to arrest him on firearms charges, was a British Israelite, who believed that America was under the secret domination of the Jews, who formed the Zionist Occupation Government.

This bizarre anti-Semitic conspiracy theory comes from the view of the British Israelites that the Jews were pretending to be the true descendants of ancient Israel as part of their schemes for world domination. This is stated by one ‘Wm. Norman Saxon’, in his book, The Mask of Edom, published by Howard Rand’s Destiny Publications in 1985. (See Kossy, p. 16).

The idea that the Jews aren’t truly descended from ancient Israel, but are impostors descended from Khazars, and are plotting world domination is dangerous, ahistorical nonsense. And back in the 1990s there was real concern about the threat posed by the Militia movement in America, many of whose members believed strongly that the Zionist Occupation Government was a reality, and was determined to enslave and destroy the White race.

There is a people, the Karaim, whose name comes from the Hebrew word for ‘Readers’, living in the Crimea, Southern Ukraine and Lithuania, whose religion is Judaism, and who speak a Turkic language, that is, their language is related to Turkish and other, similar languages. As Jews, their language contains a large number of loans words from Hebrew, such as Adonai, ‘God’, sem, ‘name’, and guf, ‘body’. See Bernard Comrie, The Languages of the Soviet Union (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1981) 49. They are believed to be ‘a unique survival of Judaism as the official religion of the Khazar empire’. (Comrie, p. 47). Recognising their ethnic origins as remnants of the Khazar state certainly does not give any support whatsoever to the accusation that this applies to the Jewish people as a whole.

Lib Dem Deselected due to Anti-Semitism Allegations

May 6, 2017

Mike has also put up today a piece reporting that the national Labour party has suspended him following the smears that he is an anti-Semite propagated by the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, as reported in the local Welsh press. This is not only libel, but an infringement of the Local Government Act. Any attempt to influence a local election through the publications of smears and libels against a candidate is a criminal offence, as I understand it. Also guilty of libel is the local Tory MP, who voiced his opinion on Mike’s character after he was asked about the allegations without really knowing anything about them or their background. Mike has therefore asked the Dyfed-Powys police to investigate the organisations and people involved.

See http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/05/06/no-council-seat-for-vox-political-writer-because-of-politically-motivated-interference/

He wasn’t the only person, who saw their political ambitions derailed due to allegations of anti-Semitism. This week the I newspaper reported that a Lib Dem MP, David Ward had been deselected by Tim Farron as the candidate for Bradford East, following similar allegations. These were brought up in the House by Eric Pickles and then echoed by Theresa May.

Andrew Neil picked over the issue last Sunday on his show with Baroness Warsi and Joe Sorene. From what I gather from their comments and the brief report about it in the I newspaper, this involved comments about the brutality of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. Warsi and Sorene got very offended about Ward’s statement that Israel is an apartheid state. They claimed that this was nasty and anti-Semitic, and there were other ways to talk about this issue. The I also reported that he had said that he would have fired rockets into Israel. Neil also said that, going through Ward’s comments, there was only one which he thought was anti-Semitic. This was when Ward stopped referring to the Israel and blamed the Jews.

I don’t really know the background to this, but this is how it very much appears to me at the moment. The comments about firing rockets into Israel sounds like a reference to the Israelis’ bombardment of Gaza. As Counterpunch pointed out, the Israelis deliberately attacked Gaza, or a Palestinian terrorist resident there, I’m not sure which, in order to provoke a retaliation. They then screamed very loudly that the Palestinians had broken the truce, and started shelling.

This reminds me very strongly of the kind cowardly bullying that many people have suffered in school. You know – the school bully punches you when the teacher’s not looking. You hit them back, and he or she starts wailing ‘You hit me – it’s your fault’, while cheered on by his gang of snitches. Only in the case of Israel and the Palestinians, it’s being done with bombs and guns. And teacher is the court of international opinion. The tactics and mentality behind it remain the same, however.

As for Israel being an apartheid state, it might offend the Israelis and their supporters to hear it, but that’s exactly what it is. Palestinians are being forced off their ancestral land and into small, increasingly squalid and cramped enclaves, just like the White settlers in apartheid South Africa also forced the indigenous Black peoples off their ancestral lands and into the Bantustans, the squalid ‘homelands’ situated in areas of poor soil that the Whites did not want. Palestinians have to go through checkpoint after checkpoint, enduring harsh security simply to move around as they pass from ‘Palestine’ to Israel. Israel similarly has pursued a decades-long policy of ethnic cleansing, forcing the Palestinians out of their lands as part of their policy of expansion. Finally, like the Blacks under apartheid, there is a separate pay scale for Jewish and Arab Israelis under the Hayadoth system.

Despite the declarations of Warsi and Sorene that there are ways of talking about these issues, that don’t involve the comparisons with South Africa, the whole point of these allegations is to close down the debate. Warsi and Sorene did not say what these ways of discussing the situation were. And it seems to me that the attacks on critics of Israel is to limit discussion in such a way to rule out any criticism of Israeli expansionism, or that the Palestinians may have just cause for resisting their brutalisation and dispossession.

As for Ward’s comments about ‘the Jews’, if he’s stating that Jewry as a whole is responsible for the atrocities against the Palestinians, he’s clearly wrong. However, the fault is not entirely his own. The Israeli government and the pro-Zionist establishment in Britain is also partly responsible. Netanyahu has tried to deflect criticism of his government’s treatment of the Palestinians by passing a law that officially designates Jews everywhere as Israelis. Thus, any criticism of Israel becomes an attack on the Jewish people as a whole. Of course, the very many Jewish opponents of Netanyahu and his thugs reject this straightforward identification. One Jewish anti-Zionist, who writes for Counterpunch stated that he found it ridiculous that the Israeli Law of Return allows him to ‘return’ to Israel despite the fact that he was born in Anchorage in Alaska, while Palestinians, who have been born in what is now Israel, are being expelled and deported as foreigners.

Even the Israeli government doesn’t, it seems, really believe that all Jews are equally Israelis. A month or so ago Counterpunch also put up another reporting on the many Jewish critics of Israel’s treatment of its indigenous Arabs, who have been stopped from entering the country when they tried to go there. So much for Israel as a pluralist state which respects freedom of opinion. All Jews are citizens of Israel … except those that aren’t.

This problem is compounded by the fact that the Zionist organisations seem to present themselves as the official voice of the Jewish people. If all a non-Jewish person hears is the Zionists loudly justifying their attacks on innocents in the name of Jews worldwide, then it probably isn’t surprising when they also confuse ‘Israel’ and ‘Zionist’ with ‘Jews’. That’s the whole point of the rhetoric.

It’s disgusting. Jews aren’t responsible for the brutalities inflicted on the Palestinians. Nor even the Israeli people, many of whom also question and oppose their government over this. The Israeli state is. But the Israeli state and its supporters abroad are trying to destroy this distinction, so that they can hide behind accusations of anti-Semitism directed at their critics.

And as we’ve seen, these critics include very many sincere, anti-racist campaigners and activists, both gentile and Jewish. Many of Israel’s Jewish critics have suffered real assault and abuse because of their ethnic and religious heritage. And I’ve no doubt whatsoever that many of their gentile comrades have also suffered abuse and intimidation because of their opposition to anti-Semitism and friendship with Jews.

Mike’s been a victim of the policy, as have so many other decent people. It looks like David Ward may have been another one. The real thugs and bullies in this case are the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, and mendacious politicians like the Blairites in Labour, and Eric Pickles and Theresa May in the Tories. These politicos are simply opportunists, caring nothing for the truth and merely wanting to make political capital from the smears and libels inflicted on women and men, who are their moral superiors in every sense.

The Canary on the Lies and Falsehoods in May’s Brexit Video, Featuring Part of Bristol That Didn’t

April 14, 2017

Mike’s also posted up a great video today from the Canary, the Corbyn-supporting site, which has fired off a few, very well aimed shots at Theresa May’s latest party-political video. In it, May does what Tories always do, and spouts off her checklist of lies about creating a better Britain after Brexit, giving record funding to the NHS, creating a more open, fairer Britain, giving people the opportunity to succeed on merit and tackling racial and gender discrimination.

This is all complete twaddle and double-talk. The Tories have cut the NHS and the welfare state to the bone, and are preparing the health service for complete privatisation, just as Thatcher wanted to do in the 1980s. As for being a meritocracy, social mobility stopped under Blair and New Labour, and nothing the Tories have done since has started it up again. If anything, there’s probably a downward mobility as more and more people succumb to poverty and debt through the Tories’ stagnant wages and cuts to the welfare state.

As for creating a more open Britain and ending racism and sexism, this is another lie that’s so grotesque it’s very much verging on a sick joke. Margaret Thatcher, despite being the first female prime minister, was never a feminist. Neither is May. While some of the worst offenders went off to UKIP, it’s probably fair to say that the Tory party still contains many, who share the Daily Heil’s belief that women are too expensive to be employed in business, and should stay at home to raise their children, rather than pursue a career.

The Tories also aren’t likely to want to end racism any time soon either. Rather than making Britain more open and tolerant, it’s done the opposite. The racists, who previously kept quiet, have seen it as an opportunity to come out of the woodwork and start spouting their hate and worse, attacking immigrants and people from ethnic minorities. The Tory press, from the Torygraph to the Heil and Express, has always denounced immigration. I can remember how they ranted about unassimilable immigrants in the 1980s. Cameron tried to present his party as now nice and multicultural, cutting ties with the Monday Club and expelling a few party officials with connections to the Nazi right, but they won’t have changed their fundamental attitude. The Tories are still very much the same party that sent vans around largely ethnic minority areas asking illegal immigrants to had themselves in and for people to inform on anybody they thought had entered the country illegal.

So those jolly peeps at the Canary have taken May’s video, and added their own subtitles outlining what she really means. Which, put briefly, is poverty for all, except her and her rich chums.

The video’s also interesting to people from Bristol, as it begins with shots of Windmill Hill in Totterdown. This is not the best place to shoot a video trying to claim that Brexit is a good thing, as the good people of Totterdown overwhelmingly voted against it. Something like 70 per cent of the people there voted to Remain. As did 62 per cent of the people of Bristol.

So the video starts off with a piece of egregious misrepresentation, and it all gets quickly worse from there.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/04/13/theresa-mays-brexit-plan-video-set-in-bristol-is-misleading-bristolians-explain-why/

Jimmy Dore on the Church Committee Hearings of 1975 Into CIA Corruption

January 15, 2017

This is another great video from the American comedian Jimmy Dore, in which he provides another piece of historical evidence to show why no-one should trust the CIA about anything, let alone the recent allegations of Russian hacking and a supposed dossier they’re using to blackmail Trump. Dore shows a short clip about the 1975 Church Committee, which was convened to investigate whether the CIA was interfering in foreign politics and spying on US citizens. And it concluded that the agency was.

Dore rightly points out that the CIA was out of control, it was interfering in the affairs of foreign states, and that this has continued since then. He cites the way Colin Powell stood up and lied about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq along with the president and the secretary of state.

The American government more recently has suppressed a report revealing that the CIA tortured and anally raped suspects being interrogated through ‘anal feeding’.

And he also rips into the mainstream news media, which supported these official lies and sacked those journos who told the truth. Chris Hedges, a Pulitzer prize winning journalist, was sacked from the New York Times because he told the truth: there were no weapons of mass distraction. Phil Donohue was also fired, because he also told the truth. Hacks like Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, who repeat and promote these lies, are rewarded.

He makes the point that it’s no wonder that no-one trusts the mainstream media, and that they’re going to the internet. There are almost no real journalists left, journalists, who actually bother to report the truth. He names these true journalists, who include Glen Greenwalt and The Intercept. As for NBC and MSNBC, which retail this rubbish, the companies that owns them has been identified as the worst company in its treatment of workers. He then states that this is the reason Rachel Maddow is paid $30,000 a day: to shut her up and stop her from pointing this out.

This is an angry, embittered tirade, and it’s entirely right. The CIA was and is out of control. Its leader, James Jesus Angleton, was convinced that Harold Wilson was a KGB agent. Over the years Lobster, the parapolitics magazine, has carried numerous stories about the lies and clandestine interference and political manipulation the CIA and the other intelligence agencies and their British counterparts have been responsible for. Larry O’Hara’s Notes from the Borderland is doing the same thing. And the same lies are being retailed by our news media.

Don’t trust them, nor the Beeb when it claims that it’s Reality Check team will objectively counter fake news. This is just more lies to support American military and corporate dominance.

Vox Political: Hospitals Overstretched, but Chief Nursing Officer Wants Beds Cut

January 7, 2017

Yesterday Mike also put up a story commenting on a tweet by Clive Peedell, of the NHS Action Party. Peedell was justifiably outraged by the attitude of the Chief Nursing Officer, Janet M. Cummings. At a time when the NHS is seriously overstretched because of a shortage of beds, Cummings decided that the number of Acute beds should be cut. Peedell stated that she should resign. Mike concurs, but asks if anyone knows the procedure for how to make the public’s feelings known about this.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/01/06/hospitals-warn-over-patient-numbers-while-nursing-officer-wants-bed-numbers-cut-contradiction/

Unfortunately, Cummings isn’t the only senior official within the NHS, who seems determined to destroy public healthcare. Back when Blair was P.M., the head of NHS strategy was Dr Penny Dash, who was as keen as Blair was to privatise the health service. In 2002 she wrote an article in the Graun about how the government should encourage consultants, surgeons

and indeed other groups of doctors, to form their own companies (or join existing private health providers) to sell their services back to the NHS.

She continued

Freed from the stifling grip of the NHS, these would be able to perform procedures in either the NHS or private hospitals, and would be able to form businesses of their own, raise capital, invest in new technology, or join up with the suppliers of such, and then would be able to offer a ‘full service solution’ to failing NHS hospitals. This, she claimed, could be the development that Blair and Milburn really wanted. (See Stewart Player, ‘Ready for Market’, in Jacky Davis and Raymond Tallis, NHS-SOS, pp. 46-7). You won’t be surprised to learn that after leaving the Department of Health, Dash went off to work for McKinsey, the American private insurance giant. She played a leading role in producing the two ‘Darzi’ reports recommending limiting NHS provision in London, and the system of privately run polyclinics. (p. 60).

And then in 2006, there was the establishment of the National Leadership Network of 150 health policy makers, management consultants, NHS Trust and private healthcare executives, as well as medical professionals, leaders and regulators, to ‘provide collective leadership for the next phase of transformation, advise ministers on developing policies and promote shared values and behaviours.’ And one of the first documents they produced, recommending the introduction of privatised services shared between the NHS and private sector, was Strengthening Local Services: The Future of the Acute Hospital. It seems to me that Cummings is a product, one way or another, of that network.

Mike wrote an article earlier this week stating very clearly that there was a toxic culture at the top of the NHS. It started with Blair, and its grown and expanded with Cameron, May and the Conservatives, aided by the Lib Dems. The only person, who has shown they genuinely want to roll back the privatisation of the NHS to Jeremy Corbyn.

He needs our support.

And the others need to be kicked out.

Robots at the Philippe Plein Fashion Show in Milan

December 27, 2016

And Courtney Love, always assuming that she isn’t an android, of course.

I’ve got zero interest in fashion, but this is interesting as it’s stuff of Science Fiction today. I found this video of a fashion show in Milan for the designer Philippe Plein. This was based very much around robots. As you can see, Courtney Love and the models don’t come down a catwalk, but instead move along a conveyor. The music is provided by the German robot heavy metal band, Compressorhead, as well as a recording of Kraftwerk’s The Model, appropriately enough. Kraftwerk saw themselves as engineers of sound, and have performed with robots on stage themselves, or rather, with robotic versions of themselves, as well as cultivating a very robotic image themselves personally. A few years ago one of them published his autobiography, entitled I Was a Cyborg. As well as the robots of Compressorhead, there are big industrial robots moving about the stage filming the proceedings.

The Italian Futurists of the early 20th century would have really dug all of this. They were a militant artistic movement which celebrated war, masculinity, the new machine age and the speed of modern mass communication, like cinema newsreels, newspapers and radio. Their founder, the poet Marinetti, celebrated the motor car as ‘more beautiful than the Battle of the Samothrace’ in his Founding and Manifesto of Futurism, and declared that his movement ‘looked for the union of man and machine’. They dreamed of creating a world of biomechanical toys, designed ‘noise machines’ to be used in their musical concerts, and wrote pieces like The Agony of the Machine. One of their plays was about the love of locomotive for its driver. Plein’s fashion show clearly isn’t about aggressive masculinity, but feminine style. Nevertheless, the performance by the machines does take part in the spirit of Futurism as the art of the modern, industrial, machine age.

This fascinates me, as I think that there is room for the use of robots in serious art. Indeed, a feel that artists, musicians and choreographers have made all too little use of these devices in their performances. I know that at a time there was a vogue for people performing dances using forklift trucks to music. Many of these used to appear on children’s programmes, like the awesome Vision On. But this also shows that the artistic potential offered by machines really isn’t taken that seriously. These were amusing diversions for children, rather than serious art. But the potential to use them for high art is there, as the performance art and explorer of cyborgisation, Stelarc, has shown. His performances are, however, a bit too avant-garde for most people. I think, however, that it’s possible to use robots and cybernetics in traditional artistic forms, like music, drama and dance. A little while ago I blogged about a performance of Karel Capek’s robot play, R.U.R. in Prague, by an artistic group dedicated to exploring the implications of robots, using Lego robots. There are already machines like the British Robothespian, which act as guides in science museums. It should be possible to use robots like these in more serious artistic works. The only real problem with this, however, is the cost. These robots at the moment cost tens of thousands of pounds, which makes the use of more than two of them prohibitively expensive.

While I appreciate Plein’s artistic use of robots in his show, I also found them very slightly frightening. This points to a future, perhaps only a decade or so away, in which humans share the world with increasingly sophisticated machines with a great degree of autonomy. It is no longer a wholly human world, and people have to make their way amongst these sophisticated, and physically powerful devices. I don’t believe we’ll ever see a robot revolution, like R.U.R. or The Terminator, despite the pessimistic forecasts of Kevin Warwick in his March of the Machines. But this does seem to prefigure a future in which humanity has to share the planet with its mechanical creations, who have surpassed it in physical power.