Posts Tagged ‘Councillors’

Chris Hedges: RT Target Because Gives Platform to Anti-Imperialist, Anti-Capitalist Critics

November 15, 2017

Yesterday, RT America was forced to register as a foreign agent under FARA, the Foreign Agents’ Registration Act, a piece of legislation that dates from the 1930s, and which was set up to regulate foreign lobbyists and propaganda outlets.

The move has been condemned by Alexandra Ellerbeck, the North American co-ordinator of the Committee for the Protection of Journalists.

Compelling RT to register under FARA is a bad idea. This is a shift in how the law has been applied in recent decades, so we have little information about how its reporting requirements might affect individual journalists. We’re uncomfortable with governments deciding what constitutes journalism or propaganda.

The presenter then interviews Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and dissident, Chris Hedges, the presenter of RT America’s On Contact. Hedges states that the head of American national intelligence said that RT was a threat, not because it broadcast Russian propaganda, but because it gave a platform to anti-imperial, anti-capitalist voices, and covered issues and movements that the country’s elites would rather not be covered, such as the Occupy movement, Black Lives Matter, and fracking.

As for the question whether Americans should have a choice in their media, Hedges states that it would be true, if America had a functioning media which actually did its job and covered dissent. But it doesn’t. The media has been taken over by corporate interests, including the most retrograde of those in the form of the Koch brothers.

He also points out that this move is a major threat to press and political freedom generally. The elites, which he describes as kleptocrats, are resorting to censorship because they now realise that they have no arguments to support neoliberalism. They are desperate to suppress the reporting of the growing inequality, which has produced such an uprising in both the Democrat and Republican parties. And so they are trying to suppress the reporting of the growing poverty in America as foreign propaganda, and claim that the increasing dissent and discontent is due to foreign interference.

This is going on at the same time that Google and other internet companies have developed algorithms to take searchers away from left-wing and dissenting news sites.

He notes that the organisations that are charged with protecting the freedom of the press have largely ignored this issue and have not objected to RT America’s registration under FARA. But he warns that this will only be the beginning of a greater assault on press and media freedom.

Once the elites have finished suppressing marginal, alternative media and journalists that they have pushed to the sidelines, such as himself, they will move on to the mainstream media.

This isn’t just about RT America. The British government and Theresa May has also started baying about how Russia is interfering in British politics. Here the main issue seems to be Brexit at the moment. May seems to be trying to use the Russians as a scapegoat for her own failure to secure any kind of deal with the EU.

Other alternative news programmes, that have nothing to do with Russia, are also being hit by Google’s algorithms. These are shows like The Young Turks, the David Pakman Show, Sam Seder’s Majority Report, and Democracy Now! And left-wing British bloggers like Mike over at Vox Political have also suffered problems with some of their material mysteriously vanishing from Facebook, or people finding it difficult to log on. One of the commenters to this site posted that she had had difficulty getting on to Mike’s page in response to an article I put up about how I found it impossible to get onto Mike’s site on Saturday, when he wrote a reply demolishing the claims of a Tory councillor that Journalists’ reporting of the immense harm done by the government’s policies to the disabled was ‘inflammatory nonsense’.

John Kampfner wrote a book about ten years or so ago, Freedom for Sale, about how governments all over the world, including Blair’s, were cracking down on freedom of speech. He considered it part of a deal they had made with their peoples. They would give them prosperity, but the other side of the bargain was that they would not tolerate any criticism. Now, ten or so years later, that bargain has gone. These governments are not bringing prosperity. Quite the opposite. Poverty has expanded massively under the Tories. But they are continuing to clamp down on freedom of speech and the press.

All in the name of protecting us from the Russians. Or terrorists like ISIS. Or anyone else they can use as a handy pretext for regulating and narrowing media freedom even more.

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Miqdad Al-Nuaimi, Israel, ISIS and Anti-Semitism

May 4, 2016

In last post I discussed how Mike had put up news of the suspension of two more Labour politicians, Miqdad Al-Nuaimi, a councillor in Newport, and Terry Kelly, a councillor in Renfrewshire, following accusations of anti-Semitism. I’ve also discussed the particular allegations made against Kelly, and suggested that this may be a case of him clumsily making perfectly reasonable points, that, depending on context, may otherwise be completely unremarkable.

The same may well be true of Miqdad Al-Nuaimi. Al-Nuaimi is accused of making tweets comparing Israel to Nazi Germany, and making connections between Israel and ISIS. Now, it should be reasonable to compare Israel to Nazi Germany, no matter how offensive this comparison may seem, because there are similar attitudes to race in both countries. Israel was founded as ethno-religious state specifically for the Jewish people. There is therefore a certain similarity to Nazi Germany, which similarly granted ethnic Germans only full civil and political rights. There are a series of racist laws, which deliberately discriminate against the Palestinians. Furthermore, Netanyahu has stated that he will not allow the Arabs or their descendants, who fled Israel in 1947, to return to their ancestral homes, as this would dilute the ethnic composition of Israel as a Jewish state. And Israel is pursuing a policy designed to squeeze the few remaining Palestinians out of their homelands. So Israel is also similar to Nazi Germany and other racist regimes in seeking to purge itself of those it considers to be racially or ethnically undesirable.

Back in the 1920s, there was also an extreme nationalist group, the Maximalists, who wished to create a political-social system in Israel similar to that Fascist Italy. And a few years ago, the IDF had to do some apologising after it was caught giving its squaddies pamphlets telling them that Jews were genetically superior to everyone else. The idea of innate ethnic biological superiority is a classic racial nationalist doctrine. So it’s fair to point out that there is a Fascist element in the nation’s history, and in the ideology of parts of its armed forces.

Israel is also a democracy, whereas Nazi Germany most certainly was not. But that still doesn’t mean that it’s entirely illegitimate to compare the country to the Nazis. The systematic discrimination of the Palestinians has been compared to apartheid in South Africa. And the Broederbond, the Afrikaaner nationalist organisation that formed the core of the National Party, was influenced by the Nazis. So again, it should be possible to talk about a similarity to Nazi Germany, or at least to Nazi-influenced apartheid South Africa, in this respect as well. Just as it should also be possible to discuss the Fascist shadow in Hindu nationalism through the influence of Mussolini’s Fascists on the RSSS, the paramilitary arm of Modi’s BJP, the Hindu Nationalist Party in India, without being necessarily anti-Hindu or anti-Indian.

As for Israel and ISIS, this is the subject of a lot of conspiracy theorising on the Net. If you want to see this stuff, you can always Google it or find it on Youtube. I haven’t looked at it, because it seems completely bonkers. But that doesn’t mean that it may not be true. States do covertly fund seemingly opposing terrorist or militant organisation, in order to destroy a common enemy. For example, General Petraeus a few years ago recommended that America fund al-Qaeda in Syria to overthrow Assad. This is the same al-Qaeda that committed 9/11. The Americans also gave the nod to Saddam Hussein just before Gulf War I that he could invade Kuwait unopposed. And when he did, they counterattacked. Just because it’s unlikely, doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen, or make anyone prejudiced for suggesting that it has.

So here again, in the case of Miqdad Al-Nuaimi, I would suggest that his tweets and views are not necessarily anti-Semitic, and may even be quite reasonable, depending on what was said.

Alexander Cockburn and the Row Over the Israel Lobby

May 4, 2016

As I said in a previous piece I put up this evening, Mike has reported the suspension of two more Labour MPs for supposed anti-Semitism. They’re the Newport Councillor Miqdad Al-Nuaimi, and Terry Kelly, a councillor for Renfrewshire. Mr Kelly is supposed to have discussed the ‘Jewish lobby’ in the US, claiming that it influenced foreign policy and rigged the Oscars. See the article: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/05/04/anti-semitism-row-labour-suspends-two-more/

In fact, as I’ve posted several pieces about the subject, it’s perfectly reasonable to talk about the Israel lobby and its very strong influence on American foreign policy without necessarily being either an anti-Semite or even anti-Israel. One of those, who does so is the veteran radical academic and scholar of linguistics, Noam Chomsky. Chomsky has said in an interview that one of the right-wing organisations in the America tried to uncover something with which they could smear him a decade or so ago. They were disappointed. After digging around, they found that personally, Chomsky was actually very boring, living in bourgeois American domesticity with his family, and mowing his lawn on Sundays. They therefore had to content themselves with making a sneering remark about his linguistic theories, like he hadn’t properly understood the role of such and such in his transformational grammar. Or some such asinine remark.

Ten years ago there was massive controversy over in the US when Mearsheimer and Walt published their study, The Israel Lobby, in 2006. Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard professor whom the radical journo Alexander Cockburn described as America’s most manic Zionist, went off on a rant and compared it to the anti-Semitic conspiracy text, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. He was joined by Eliot Cohen in the Washington Post. Cockburn discusses the furore in the chapter ‘The Row Over the Israel Lobby’, in his and Jeffrey St Clair’s End Times: The Death of the Fourth Estate. He points out that the book and its conclusions are entirely unremarkable and not remotely anti-Semitic. He begins the chapter thus:

This spring of 2006 a sometimes-comic debate has simmering [sic] in the American press, focused on the question of whether there is an Israeli Lobby, and if so, just how powerful is it?

I would have thought that to ask whether there’s an Israeli Lobby here is a bit like asking whether there’s a Statue of Liberty in New York Harbour and a White House located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C. For the past sixty years, the Lobby has been as fixed a part of the American scene as either of the other two monuments, and not infrequently exercising as much if not more influence on the onward march of history.

The late Steve Smith, brother-in-law of Teddy Kennedy and a powerful figure in the Democratic Party for several decades, liked to tell the story of how a group of four Jewish businessmen got together two million dollars in cash and gave it to Harry Truman when he was in desperate need of money amidst his presidential campaign in 1948. Truman went on to become president and to express his gratitude to his Zionist backers.

Since those days the Democratic Party has long been hospitable to and supported by rich Zionists. In 2002, for example, Haim Saban, the Israel-American who funds the Saban Center at the Brooking Institute and is a big contributor to AIPAC, gave $12.3 million to the Democratic Party. In 2001, the magazine Mother Jones listed on its website the 400 leading contributors to the 2000 national elections. Seven of the first 10 were Jewish, as were 12 of the top 20 and 125 of the top 250. Given this, all prudent candidates have gone to amazing lengths to satisfy their demands. There have been famous disputes, as between President Jimmy Carter and Menachem Begin, and famous vendettas, as when the Lobby destroyed the political careers of Representative Paul Findley and of Senator Charles Percy because they were deemed to be anti-Israel.

None of this history is particularly controversial, and there have been plenty of well-documented accounts of the activities of the Israel Lobby down the years, from Alfred Lilienthal’s 1978 study, The Zionist Connection, to former U.S. Rep. Paul Findley’s 1985 book They Dare To Speak Out to Dangerous Liaison: The Inside Story of the U.S. Israeli Covert relationship, written by my brother and sister-in-law, Andrew and Leslie Cockburn, and published in 1991. (pp.319-20)

Looking at Mearsheimer’s and Walt’s book, Cockburn stated that it’s actually unremarkable and really rather boring.

In fact, the paper by Mearsheimer and Walt is extremely dull. The long version runs to 81 pages, no less than 40 pages of which are footnotes. I settled down to read it with eager anticipation but soon found myself looking hopefully for the end. There’s nothing in the paper that any moderately well-read student of the topic wouldn’t have known long ago, but the paper has the merit of stating rather blandly some home truths which are somehow still regarded as too dangerous to state publicly in respectable circles in the United States. (P. 322.)

Of the denunciations of the book as anti-Semitic, Cockburn states that they’re actually funny, as the Lobby does exist, the authors weren’t ant-Semites, and even the Washington Post and New York Times have pointed out that the book had a point.

This method of assault at least has the advantage of being funny, because there obviously is a Lobby – as noted above and because Mearsheimer and Walt aren’t anti-Semites any more than 99.9 per cent of others identifying the Lobby and criticizing its role. Partly as a reaction to Dershowitz and Cohen, the Washington Post and New York Times have now run a few pieces politely pointing out that the Israel Lobby has indeed exercised a chilling effect on the rational discussion of U.S. foreign policy. The tide it turning slightly. (P. 323).

Except in 21st century Britain, apparently. It looks very much like another case where someone has confused the Israel Lobby with ‘Jews’. In the case of the accusations against the Oscars, unfortunately there have always been stupid conspiracies about the Jewish influence in show business. Jews have been very prominent in American cinema, as has been pointed out by historians of the American film industry. They’ve stated, however, that this isn’t due to some dodgy conspiracy, but the simple fact that there much less prejudice against them in the entertainment and film industries than there were elsewhere. At times, there have been anti-Semitic accusations levelled because of this, as during the 1930s when Father Coughlin accused the Jewish film moguls of trying to destroy American culture. At other times, the situation has been much more complicated. Private Eye a few years ago ran a story about how the career of US entertainment journalist had been torpedoed after they ran an article, which described the large number of Jews in the film industry as a ‘Jewish mafia’. However, a Jewish author in a later article also used the same words to describe the strong Jewish presence in American cinema, with no complaints.

I very much doubt that there is any kind of Jewish conspiracy to rig the Oscars. But that shouldn’t stop any reasonable discussion of the possible influence of Jewish organisations, or organisations claiming to represent Jews, in such areas. This should be for the same reason that talking about the role of Evangelical Christians in promoting the Satanism scare a few years ago, or describing how, horrifically, many Christians in the Fascist countries during the War were all too willing to collaborate with the Nazis should necessarily make you anti-Christian.

These are very emotive, very controversial topics. Let’s show a bit of common sense and calm rationality before throwing accusations like anti-Semitism around, shall we?

Labour: Tory Councillors Reveal Plans to Privatise NHS

April 21, 2015

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Yesterday’s I newspaper also carried the story that a group of students had carried out a survey showing that Tory councillors were in favour of further cuts to the NHS, the introduction of charging and its partial privatisation.

The students identified themselves as members of the Labour Party. They surveyed 115 Tory councillors, and found that 26 backed charging for some NHS services; 12 supported the further expansion of the private sector into the NHS, and six wanted to cut the budget for the NHS.

The paper went on to quote a speech Ed Miliband was to make later that day to the Scottish TUC, stating that Cameron

‘poses a risk to the very fabric and foundation of our NHS… The Tory plans on the NHS are a double deceit. They are not being straight about their extreme plans to double the cuts to public services next year. And they are not being straight when they promise to protect the NHS, but cannot say where a penny of additional money will come from. This double deceit is a double danger to the NHS. They have extreme spending plans and they can’t tell us where the money is coming from.’

The paper reported that the Tories fought back by quoting another survey of 460 family doctors, showing 28 per cent planned to vote for the Tories, while only 13 per cent would vote Labour and 7 per cent Lib Dems. They also claimed that Labour’s remarks were untrue, as they had promised to increase funding to the NHS by £8bn.

Labour is quite correct about the Tories’ plans to privatise the NHS. There are 92 Tory and Lib Dem MPs, who either own or occupy senior positions in the private health care companies hoping to gain from the privatisation of the NHS and its further marketization. A string of Tory ministers, including the health secretary, Andrew Lansley, have said that they are in favour of the NHS’ privatisation. In fact Lansley spoke at the Tory party conference a few years ago on a presentation on increasing private enterprise in the NHS, sponsored by one of the private health care companies. One other Tory MP even admitted that if the Tories won a second term, the NHS would cease to exist within five years.

As for the claim that they will increase funding to the NHS by £8bn, the Tories most definitely have not said from where they intend to find the money. Nor did they make any mention of it at all until they started lagging behind Labour in the polls. It really does look like a ‘back of the envelope job’, a spurious promise that they have actually no intention of honouring.

The Tories have a long history of plotting the privatisation of the NHS, and lying about. In the mid-1980s Thatcher suppressed a Tory report arguing for its privatisation. One of the report’s authors, Wasserman, is an advisor to David Cameron on the NHS. Somehow I don’t think he’s changed his tune in the past thirty years or so.

In the 2010 election, the Tories promised that they would ringfence NHS funding and would not privatise it. They lied. For all their claims, NHS funding in real terms has fallen. See the stats Mike over at Vox Political has published on this. As for their lies, it’s so egregious that the Tories are embarrassed by the sheer number of broken promises. They have thus taken to removing the promises they made at the last election from their website.

They are liars, who cannot be trusted. If they get in power, that £8bn will mysteriously vanish, and the NHS will be privatised.

Vote them out on May 7th.

The Complete Guide to the Bigots, Racists, Islamophobes and Weirdoes in UKIP

March 21, 2015

The website Angry Meditations has put up this post, Your definitive guide to UKIP’s racists, sexists, homophobes, Islamophobes, anti-Semites, paedophiles, animal abusers, and violent bullies. listing every every racial and religious bigot, misogynist, paedophile, animal abuser and general weirdo in UKIP and their offensive statement and views, or their crimes against children and animals. And there’s a very long line of them, from the Fuhrage downwards.

They include not just the Purple Duce himself, but also senior party officials, such as Steve Crowther, Neil Hamilton, Matthew Richardson, Misty Thackeray, Christopher Monckton, Stuart Wheeler, and Winston Mackenzie; the party’s MP, Mark Reckless; their MEPs, Janice Atkinson, Diane James, Julia Reid, Stuart Agnew, Patrick O’Flynn, Roger Helmer, Bill Etheridge, Mike Hookem, Gerard Batten and Godfrey Bloom; their parliamentary candidates, Bill Walker, Donald Grewar, Przemek Skwircynski, John Rees-Evans, Dr Jonathon Munday, Martyn Ford, Lynton Yates, Rev. George Hargreaves, Ted Strike, Philip Rose, Julia Gasper, Kerry Smith, Mark Walker, David Evans and John White; local chairs and party secretaries, Steve Kendall, Pamela Preedy, Neil Whitear, Richard Crouch, David Challice, Peter Entwhistle, and Andy Lovie; local councillors, Trevor Shonk, Martyn Heale, Tiggs Keywood-Wainwright, Donna Edmunds, Chris Paine, Eric Kitson, Rozanne Duncan, David Silvester, and Dave Small; council candidates, Geoff Courtenay, Anne-Marie Crampton, John Lyndon Sullivan, Dean Perks, Iain McLaughlan, Paul Rimmer, Magnus Nielsen, David Wycherley, James Silverfox, Gary Port, William Henwood, Matt Pavey, Ronald Loebell, Heino Vockrodt and Keith Woods; ordinary UKIP members and affiliated groups and individuals, David William Griffiths, Jan Zolyniak, Douglas Denny, Timothy ‘Dusty’ Miller, Christian Soldiers of UKIP, Demetri Marchessini, Richard Desmond, Robert Jaroslaw Iwaszkiewicz, Bjorn Soder and Mike Read.

The article begins

As a historic election looms in Britain, a self-described anti-establishment party which wants to leave the EU and cull immigration is beginning to make waves. UKIP promises to restore lost British glory by renegotiating trade deals and placing restrictions on immigration, and insists that it is an inclusive, libertarian, non-racist party.

So, one would expect an exposé list like this to be full of candidates taking on the most powerful and greedy: Media elites, corporate CEOs, stockbrokers, bankers, and anybody else with significant money or influence. And yet, this “non-racist” party instead seems to be riddled with hate-filled bigots whose sole delight is targeting minorities and those with absolutely no power.

Perhaps this list is part of some big Lib Dem-Labour-Tory-BBC conspiracy to discredit the opposition and maintain the status quo. Or perhaps its evidence of a pervasive lack of compassion and a rife infestation of hatred.

Unfortunately, I have to update this list nearly every week, and it’s therefore divided into sections to make it easier to read.

It’s at https://angrymeditations.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/your-definitive-guide-to-ukips-violent-racists-sexists-homophobes-benefit-haters-anti-semites-islamophobes-and-extremists/ if you want to take a look at the list yourself and see the really disgusting ideas and actions of the people listed themselves.

And after reading that long list, you’re left wondering if there’s anyone, anyone at all in UKIP, who isn’t a raging bigot who hates just about marginalised group around, and who isn’t a threat to children and livestock.

The 16 Things the Mirror Learnt from Farage’s New Book

March 18, 2015

Today’s Daily Mirror also carried a story about Farage’s book. After reporting the hilarious reviews on Amazon in yesterday’s edition, they felt they had to buy a copy of it. The article begins

Yesterday, the internet piled on to write ‘hilarious’ reviews of Nigel Farage’s new book – and arguably it was our fault. So we bought a copy and actually read it.

Everyone’s got an opinion on Nigel Farage’s latest work. Amazon now has over 300 reviews – equally distributed between one and five star ratings, from his friends and foes.

But none of them seem to have actually READ it. You can tell because they don’t have the verified purchase tick.

We thought it was only fair if we bought the damn thing. See it as penance.

The 16 things they learnt were:

1. He credits YouTube for his rise!

2. It’s UKIP councillors who say the bad things, not the higher-ups.

3. Maybe women are a blind spot for him, he mentions boy (28) far more often than girl (6).

4. True to his brand values he mentions smoking 11 times and fags 4.

5. But is he really as keen on beer as he says?

6. He’s eaten at least three curries.

7. Farage mentions David Cameron 45 times.

8. Is Nigel obsessed with Nick Clegg?

9. He even opens the book with an anecdote about Clegg.

10. He bangs on about Europe a fair bit

11. But blimey – an odd turn here, he complains about HIV charity the Terrence Higgins Trust.

12. 31 mentions for immigration, 10 for racism.

13. Because it’s all about the ‘banter’ with Nigel.

14. He distances himself from Britain’s most famous fascist by pointing out that Mosley was pro-Europe.

At 15 the Mirror said they were ‘getting a bit bored by now’.

16. And finally, dedicates the whole book to his ‘long-suffering family’,

They conclude that he doesn’t apologise to the long suffering reader, and the Mirror apologises to their readers for wading through this stuff.

The article’s at http://www.mirror.co.uk/usvsth3m/bought-nigel-farages-new-book-5355449. Go there for the proof, and their appropriate comments on what they learned.

Among the points to emerge is the fact that Farage is very careful about his constructed image of a man, who likes his ciggies and beer. He wishes to appear as an easy-going, approachable bloke with whom you can banter.

He doesn’t like the Terence Higgins Trust, because they campaign for foreigners with AIDS to be treated free on the NHS. And of course, he puts a much lower premium on anti-racism than immigration.

As for Oswald Mosley supporting Europe, that’s true. However, Mosley’s conception of a united Europe was basically that of the Nazi party when they were trying to appeal to a common European culture that they were supposedly fighting to protect against the threat of Jews and Communists. It doesn’t have anything in common with the idea of the modern EU, no matter what UKIP and the Eurosceptics say to the contrary. And it also doesn’t stop Farage’s party of swivel-eyed loons having more in common with Fascism than they want people to realise. The Fascists and Hitler were aggressively anti-Socialist, anti-working class and anti-trade union, not excluding their incorporation of the unions into their corporate state. This was done to control them, and give Mussolini’s regime the façade of having more to it than merely his personal dictatorship.

As for the lower ranks of the party being responsible for embarrassing mistakes, this is just flannel and propaganda by Farage. He has said his fair share of embarrassing comments, such as his remarks on the privatisation of the NHS. The Kipper rank and file wanted him to shut up that time.