Posts Tagged ‘Healthcare’

‘I’ Columnist Wants MPs to Defend Palestinians After Joining Anti-Semitism Smears against Labour

November 28, 2018

The I’s Yasmin Alibhai-Brown is one of the few Fleet Street columnists, who I respect. She writes about racism, but acknowledges that it is not confined to Whites hating Blacks, but affects people of all races and colours. She’s also a genuinely moderate Muslim, fiercely critical of the bigots and preachers of hate in her religion, and condemns the White, non-Muslim politicians who pander to them in the hope of garnering votes.

Tweezer’s Denial of Asylum to Asia Bibi, Pakistani Persecuted Christian

A few weeks ago, she attacked Tweezer for refusing sanctuary to Asia Bibi, the Christian Pakistani woman acquitted of blasphemy in Pakistan. Other companies have offered to take Bibi in, but not May, who feared that it would upset this country’s Muslims. Alibhai-Brown then described the case, showing how dubious the accusation was, and the prejudice and hatred Pakistani Christians face. She also stated that the country was also unsafe for Shi’a Muslims like herself. Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, had intended it to be a secular state with separation between state and mosque. But this had swiftly been overturned, most notoriously by the military dictator General Zia ul-Haqq, who ruled the place in the 1970s. Everything she said was correct. The Beeb has also screened documentaries about the arrests of people in Pakistan for blasphemy. It’s a crime that carries the death penalty, and Bibi has spent over a decade on death row. Most of those accused, however, are Muslims, and it looks very much like the majority of accusations are false, being used as a weapon in family and clan disputes. In the case of Bibi, she was accused of blasphemy by a group of women with whom she was working. They sent her to fetch water for them to drink. She stopped to take a drink herself, so they accused her of ‘polluting’ it before going to accuse her of blasphemy. Everything about it says to me that this is all about caste. Islam in Pakistan has a caste system like India, though not as severe. Many of Pakistan’s Christians are sheikhs, one of the lowest castes, working as bonded labourers in the brick kilns. It looks like Bibi was one of these low caste workers, and the Muslims for whom she fetched the water were outraged at her taking a drink from it because they believed that the touch of a low caste person polluted it. Just like high caste Indians at one time would throw away their food if even the shadow of one of the Dalits, the Untouchables, fell on it.

There’s more to be said about the case, but Alibhai-Brown was right to attack the vicious, murderous bigotry behind the accusation and Tweezer’s own cowardice in refusing to give Bibi asylum. I’d go further, and say that while there is a danger that the preachers of hate in British Islam would try to capitalize on Bibi being given asylum, that’s no evidence for not admitting her to Britain. And it also shows Tweezer’s low view of British Islam, if she thought the intolerance of bigoted minority was worth capitulating to. Not all Muslims are fanatics and bigots by any means, but Tweezer’s refusal to take in Asia Bibi suggests that she feels that nevertheless, enough of them are. It’s a decision which would delight the Islamophobes, who believe that all Muslims are a threat to traditional British religious freedom, and that liberal governments are too afraid to confront them.

Alibhai-Brown on Israel’s Persecution of the Palestinians

In yesterday’s I for the 27th November 2018, Alibhai-Brown tackled the plight of the Palestinians and their oppression under the Israelis in an article entitled ‘The Holy Land needs some goodwill: Plight of the Palestinians should be remembered by all’, on page 15. She began the article by stating that Christmas is the time when devout Christians turn their minds to the places where Christ lived, preached and died, and that there is a massive tourist industry in the Holy Land. It is a country which contains sites sacred to all three of the Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and that for centuries the religions coexisted in peace.

This is true no longer, as Israel increases its dominance. She states that Bethlehem has been turned into an open air prison, and that last year Palestinian Muslims were denied entrance to the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, the third holiest site in Islam. Netanyahu’s oppression of the Palestinians is supported by Donald Trump and American Christian fanatics, whose decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem shows that Muslim Arabs mean nothing to him and his government.

Shalhoub-Kavorkian and Dimbleby on Oppressed Palestine

She then goes on to quote Professor Nadera Shalhoub-Kavorkian of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, on the routine brutality and second class status of the Palestinians. The prof. wrote

Violence is central to the political logic of the Israeli state and its occupation of Jerusalem. Enacted in the hundreds of daily acts of harassment perpetuated by heavily armed soldiers, police, settlers, and undercover security personnel belonging to the state of Israel, much of the violence occurs routinely and it goes largely unnoticed by the rest of the world.

Palestinians, native to and residing in Jerusalem, are categorized by Israeli law as ‘permanent residents’ or as foreign residents who hate to prove to the Ministry of Interior that their ‘centre of life’ – where they live, go to school, get medical care and pay for utilities are all taking place in Jerusalem.

She then moves on to discuss a ‘poignant’ book on Palestine, published by Jonathan Dimbleby, now the presenter of Question Time in 1980. This was when he was the maker of foreign documentaries, and the book was accompanied with photographs by Sir Donald McCullin. The book apparently shows the great diversity of Palestinian life and culture as well as moving tales of dispossession and pain. Re-reading it now, she realized how much worse their plight had become. She quotes the book as saying

The struggle is still presented in a woefully lopsided fashion: a small embattled, occasionally obstinate but usually admirable democratic state (Israel) under challenge from a despicable, occasionally pathetic, but usually brutal gang of desperadoes (the PLO).

Defending Palestine and Anti-Semitism Smears

She is very aware that simply discussing the plight of the Palestinians is met by accusations of anti-Semitism. She writes

Now the reporting of Israeli injustices brings on instant accusations of anti-Semitism.

Unfortunately, she also swallows the line that Israel was created in response to the horrors of the Holocaust in Nazi Germany. It wasn’t. Jewish colonization began long before, after the Balfour Declaration during the First World War. She states that Israel exists and must exist as a safe homeland, before going to make the point that the horrors of the Nazis’ persecution don’t give Israel the right to break international laws and violate the human rights ‘of those whose land was taken to create their homeland’.

Pro-Palestinian Pilgrimage to Jerusalem

The article then goes on to discuss the book, Walking to Jerusalem, by Justin Butcher, a playwright and activist, whose launch she attended. This is the record of a pilgrimage made by hundreds of ordinary people, who went on foot to Jerusalem, funded by a small charity, the Amos Trust. The pilgrims arrived just before the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, in order to ‘change the record of a hundred years of injustice to the Palestinian people.’ She states that the marchers included Jews, which should surprise no-one, who knows how very many Jews are critical of Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians and the crimes committed in their name by Netanyahu’s thugs.

She also notes that over 200 Gazans were killed by Israeli forces, some of whom were medical workers and journalists. Settlers were stealing more land and homes. Although some Israelis were also wounded and killed, and too many live in fear, this was an unequal clash.

Alibhai-Brown’s Call for the Public to Contact their MPs

She concludes the article

Maybe one thing we can all do this Christmas is to ask our MPs to be more openly critical of Israel and do what the walkers did – support peaceful Palestinian men, women and children who have for so long been denied rights, livelihoods and dignity. Sometimes goodwill is the best present.

Alibhai-Brown and the Anti-Semitism Smears against the Labour Party

It’s a good article, but marred by Alibhai-Brown’s own behaviour towards Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party. When the Israel lobby and Conservative media and Jewish establishment once again attacked Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour for not signing up to the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, Alibhai-Brown was one of the hacks denouncing the Labour party as full of anti-Semites. But this article suggests she know how false at least some of those allegations must have been. But there is no retraction. The Fleet Street Groupthink about the Labour party, and the bias of the I’s editor and proprietor apparently appear to be too strong.

She also must realise that with the Israel lobby holding power in both the Tories and the Labour party through their ‘Friends of Israel’ groups, and the Jewish Labour Movement in the Labour party, any chance of MPs stepping out of line to risk their careers defending the Palestinians is remote. Not while there’s a chance that someone at the Israeli embassy will pick up where Shai Masot left off and start deciding that they’re a person, who shouldn’t be in the next cabinet. And although the media may claim that the affair’s all over, their haste to do so shows that the conspiracy – and the accusations of anti-Semitism against people like Mike who correctly called it that – has had the desired effect. MPs aren’t going to risk being sidelined or thrown out as anti-Semites if they dare confront the lobby.

The Israel Lobby and the Suppression of Pro-Palestinian Reporting

As for Dimbleby and his book, I very much doubt there’s much chance of anyone at the Beeb now being so courageous in criticizing Israel. Ten years ago Peter Oborne made his documentary on the Israel lobby for Channel 4’s Despatches. This showed not just the extent of the lobby in the parliamentary parties, but also how they bullied and intimidated journalists with accusations of anti-Semitism. This included Graoniad editor Alan Rusbridger, and several very well respected Beeb journos, who dared to describe the atrocities committed by Israel and the massacres by its allies, the Lebanese Christian phalange, in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. These accusations were found by the broadcasting regulatory bodies to be without foundation. But that tactic is still being used by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the other thugs and bully-boys in the Israel lobby.

And this tactics will continue to be made, unless more people stand up to it. Corbyn and his supporters aren’t anti-Semites, but they were smeared as such simply because they defended the Palestinians. The Israelis are afraid that there just might be a foreign prime minister, who doesn’t defer to them, and won’t tolerate their persecution of the indigenous Arabs. Alibhai-Brown must surely realise this, but she joined their attacks on Corbyn and Labour anyway.

And those attacks on Corbyn and politicians like him will continue, unless journos like Alibhai-Brown practice what they preach and actively support and defend him and other Israel-critical politicos in their columns against such mendacious and false accusation of anti-Semitism.

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Channel 4 Report into Italian Hipster Fascists

March 5, 2018

After the Fascistic policies and behaviour of the Israeli state and its advocates over here, there’s the return of Fascism proper to Europe. I found this Channel 4 report into the Italian Fascist party, CasaPound, on YouTube. CasaPound is a miniscule Fascist party, which takes its name from the American Modernist poet and Fascist, Ezra Pound. Casa is Italian for ‘house’, so I suppose you could translate the party’s name as ‘Pound House’ or ‘House of Pound’. They seem to have been founded by an extreme right-wing rock singer, shown growling out his wretched songs at one of his concerts. The party holds rallies, at which their squadristi respond with the Roman salute. And the iconography of Italian Fascism – the Fasces – the bundle of sticks with the axe projecting from it – and Mussolini’s ghastly fizzog are everywhere.

The reporter is shown round their headquarters by a woman. On one wall, when you go in, are the names of various prominent Fascists, written in different colours and sizes. The reporter’s guide tells him that they have this put there, as their counterpart to the Roman household gods that guarded their homes. One of the names on the wall is that of the notorious British Fascist, Oswald Mosley. The building also acts as a hostel, putting up the homeless – but only if you’re Italian. By which, presumably, they mean ‘White Italian’. The party also runs food banks and provides free medical care, such as health check-ups and electro-cardiograms. Again, only for Whites. As the woman explains in the video, only full Whites can be members of the organisation. A White person married to an immigrant cannot be a member, each of whom pays a subscription to the organisation. Along with the names of prominent, infamous Fascists, there’s also their flags and insignia, including that of the infamous Golden Dawn, responsible for the beatings and murder of immigrants and leftists in Greece.

The reporter comments that the place is very military, like a barracks. And it almost goes without saying that Casapound is viciously anti-immigrant. There’s a clip of a rally at which one of their speakers states he wants two ships in the Mediterranean to intercept the migrant vessels and send them back to Libya. The reporter also makes the point that they are trying to exploit the death of a young girl for their political gain. It’s not certain whether the girl died of a drug overdose, or was murdered, but three immigrants were arrested in connection with her death after her dismembered body was found deposited in two suitcases. The next day, a man with very extreme right-wing views opened fire and killed six migrants. The stormtroopers of CasaPound state very clearly that they don’t want immigrants coming to Italy bringing drugs and crime, and that if they had been in power, the girl would still be alive.

At the moment, CasaPound are politically negligible. They need to get three per cent of the vote before they get anywhere the Italian parliament, and there are many other Fascist parties. But the video does show the return of the blatantly Fascist right into Italian politics, even though it’s currently at the fringes.

The video’s important, not just for showing the re-emergence of proper Fascism in Italy, but because it also shows and confirms some of the observations the American radical journalist, Chris Hedges, has made about the way Fascism returns after the liberal elite abandon the working class. Hedges stated that the new Fascism in America took the form of complete little worlds, in which a person could become completely immersed. He was talking about the religious right, and the megachurches, which provide a more-or-less complete environment separate from the secular world outside. CasaPound offers much the same. It’s a lifestyle, as much as a political party.

As well as watching the emergence of Fascism in America, Hedges himself saw it appear during the civil war in Yugoslavia. He states that when the liberal elite abandon the working class to pursue neoliberal policies, which benefit only the business elite, the working class not only turn against them, but against the liberal values of multiculturalism, anti-racism, feminism, gay rights and so on. And again, you can see that here. The welfare services provided by CasaPound for the racially pure show this clearly. Healthcare has been cut, so that many Italians cannot get a doctor. So CasaPound provides one. The party’s squadristi state that the Communist party used to do this, but they don’t appear in the communities any longer. And so their place has been filled instead by CasaPound. Again, the organisation is providing a total social environment, including welfare support, that the state and the supposed parties of the Left have retreated from under the assault of neoliberal free trade dogma. This also affected the Communist Party in Italy, which in the 1980s began to explore other paths to power rather than the methods dictated by Russian experience. In doing so, they became much less radical, despite their Marxist ideology. I can remember the Financial Times in the 1990s stating that they were no more left-wing than the SDP in Britain, the right-wing Labour splinter group that amalgamated with the Liberals to form the Lib Dems.

I don’t know how much of a threat Fascism actually poses in Italy. It’s certainly there, at the margins. But CasaPound are nowhere near as powerful as the Alternative fuer Deutschland, who are also real Nazis with a bitter hatred of Jews and immigrants, and which have just managed to get themselves into the Bundestag. At the moment the major populist force in Italy seems to be Beppe Grillo’s 5 Star Party. But this does indicate the way the country could move, if something is not done to bring down the rise in xenophobia and anti-immigrant hostility on one hand, and destroy the neoliberalism that is impoverishing people across the world, and creating such anxieties on the other.

Books on Afro-American and Afro-Caribbean Archaeology

December 30, 2017

A few months ago I got through the post the 2017 archaeology catalogue for Eurospan University Presses. Amongst some of the fascinating books listed were several on the archaeology of Black communities in America and the Caribbean. As you’ll see, they’re at prices well beyond what ordinary readers can afford. They’re really available only to the rich and academic libraries. If you’ve got access to one near you, then I recommend you try to borrow it from there. Some universities do lend to members of the public in the summer holidays when most of the students have gone home. It might also be possible to get it on interlibrary loan, although this can also mean a long wait and isn’t cheap either. The last time I enquired about it at Bristol, I was told the price was £5 per book. Which means that if you want to borrow more than one, it can become very expensive very quickly. Dam’ Tories and their cuts! I don’t know, but it may also be that some of these books may be available in PDF form over the Net at a cheaper rate. This isn’t mentioned in the catalogue, but it might be so. Alternatively, you could see if there are secondhand copies on Amazon. On the other hand, it might be worth waiting to see if a paperback edition comes out, which may be cheaper.

Here are the books I found interesting, and the blurbs for them in the catalogue.

Archaeologies of African American Life in the Upper Mid-Atlantic, edited by Michael J. Gall & Richard F. Veit
9780817319656 Hardback £74.50

Provides insights into the archaeology and cultural history of African-American life from a collection of sites in the northeastern US. This volume explores the archaeology of African-American life and cultures in the Upper Mid-Atlantic region, suing sites dating from the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries.

University of Alabama Press.

Before the Pioneers: Indians, Settlers, Slaves and the Founding of Miami, Andre F. Krank, 9780813054513, hardback £18.50

Formed seemingly out of steel, glass, and concrete with millions of residents from around the globe, Miami has ancient roots that can be hard to imagine today. This work takes readers back through forgotten eras to the stories of the people who shaped the land along the Miami River long before most modern histories of the city begin.

University of Florida Press.

Honoring Ancestors in Sacred Space: The Archaeology of an Eighteenth Century African Bahamian Cemetery, Grace Turner, 9781683400202, hardback £79.50.

Throughout life, black Africans in the Bahamas possessed material items of various degrees of importance to them and within their culture. St. Matthews was a cemetery in Nassau at the water’s edge – or sometimes slightly below. This project emerged from archaeological excavations at this site to identify and recover materials associated with the interned before the area was completely redeveloped.

University Press of Florida.

The Rosewood Massacre: An archaeology and History of Intersectional Violence, Edward Gonzalez Tennant. 9780813056784, £84.95.

Investigates the 1923 massacre that devastated the predominantly African American community of Rosewood, Florida. The author draws on cutting edge GIS technology, census data, artefacts from excavations, and archaeological theory to explore the local circumstances and broader socio-political power structures that led to the massacre.

University Press of Florida.

Simplicity, Equality and Slavery: An Archaeology of Quakerism in the British Virgin Islands, 1740-1780, John M. Chenoweth, 9781683400110 hardback, £79.50.

Inspired by the Quaker ideals of simplicity, equality, and peace, a group of White planters formed a community in the British Virgin Islands during the eighteenth century. Here, the author examines how the community navigated the contradictions of Quakerism and plantation ownership.

University Press of Florida.

These books sound very interesting. There have been a lot of research into the homes and communities of Black Americans over the past couple of decades. They’ve been excavated in New York, and also the slave communities owned by the Founding Fathers, like Benjamin Franklin. In the case of excavating cemeteries, it’s obviously a particularly sensitive area, and the archaeologists involved have obviously had to be particularly careful in their negotiations of the host Black community and the surviving relatives of the deceased. As you should when excavating any human remains.

From what I gather from reading elsewhere, cemeteries and burial grounds are of particular importance in Afro-Caribbean culture, where it’s associated not only with personal heritage and family history and identity but also occupation of the land.

I remember correctly, the 1923 Rosewood massacre was White supremacist pogrom against the Black community in Rosewood, their politicians and their White supporters and allies. This was before McCarthyism, when the American Left was still very strong, and the Republican party the more left-wing of the two main political parties. The town’s mayor was Black, and the town council included Socialists. Even the Republicans issued a statement condemning the treatment of the poor, the corrupt corporate politics keeping them there, and declaring healthcare and education a right. Obviously the Conservatives and the Klan really couldn’t tolerate that, and stirred up resentment until it boiled over into organised violence.

As for the Quaker plantation in the British Virgin Islands, the Quakers very early denounced and condemned slavery as fundamentally opposed to their principles. John Fox, the sect’s founder, denounced and by their laws no member could own slaves. Nevertheless, the acceptance of slavery was so deeply ingrained in European society, that its rejection was not easy for many to accept. And although they were condemned from owning or dealing in slaves, some Quakers did make their cash through supplying the slave ships. If you want to know more about the Quakers, their ideals in this period, then I recommend you read David Dabydeen’s history of the Quakers in the 17th and 18th centuries, Sugar and Slaves.

Jimmy Dore and Abby Martin Discuss Whether Rachel Maddow Is A Danger to Journalism: Part 1

November 19, 2017

It’s isn’t just Rachel Maddow. They go on to talk about how the whole of the American mainstream media, including MSNBC, has been corrupted by corporate power, and now reflects nothing but establishment propaganda. Just like the corporatist, Clintonite wing of the Democrats. They also talk about the terror Black and Latino neighbourhoods are living in, thanks to Trump, ICE and the anti-immigrant rhetoric. They conclude by discussing how whole neighbourhoods in Houston and elsewhere in Texas have been gutted by Hurricane Harvey, but aren’t receiving any help, because they’re working class areas and only the business and affluent centres are prioritised. And the immense environmental damage that has been caused by Big Oil, but which goes unchallenged and undocumented, because Big Oil owns everything in those areas, right down to schools and hospitals.

Abby Martin is the courageous and fiercely intelligent host of The Empire Files on TeleSur English and previously, RT. This series unflinchingly exposes what the American military-industrial complex is doing across the world through coups, ‘regime change’ and foreign wars and military interventions. Including the real situation in Israel, where the Israelis have subjected the indigenous Palestinians to nearly 70 years of massacres, brutality and ethnic cleansing.

She also shows how ordinary Americans are being exploited at home, as big business seeks to strip them of welfare, workers’ rights and shift the tax burden on to them, while further destroying any affordable healthcare provision and privatising the public schools. She was so much a threat to the American establishment, that half the report concocted to show that RT was just a propaganda operation being used by Putin to destabilise America was about Martin personally.

I’ve already put up a three-part blog post about a previous 30-minute long segment from the Jimmy Dore Show, in which he and Martin discuss her work and the crimes of American imperialism. I think this segment may have been part of the same interview, but the two have been edited and split into separate parts.

The two begin by discussing how MSNBC, the formerly liberal network, is now just the mirror image of the right-wing Fox Network. Martin is particularly unimpressed by the way MSNBC tried to discredit Bill Binney by calling him a ‘conspiracy theorist’. Bill Binney was the NSA official, who constructed the ‘Thin Spread’ mass surveillance software keeping tabs on people’s electronic information and communications. He’s been praised by Edward Snowden, one of the other whistleblowers on the use of mass surveillance software by the intelligence agencies. They then talk about the lies and propaganda about RT, and how the government is trying to shut it down by having it register as a foreign agent. Martin states that MSNBC is now just the other arm of Fox News, but just parrots Democrat propaganda.

As for Rachel Maddow, one of the lead presenters on MSNBC, and a staunch supporter of Killary and the corporatist Democrats, Martin states that she’s a careerist hack. However, she and the other hacks with her realised that they have to double down and try to explain away why Killary lost to Trump. But they’re so trapped in the elitist bubble, that they have absolutely no idea. One of the reasons Clinton lost was because she didn’t bother going to certain states, like Wisconsin. Martin and Dore joke about whether it was Putin, who stopped her going there. Did he steal her map, hack into her computer and wipe the entry for it?

They then move on to the question of the future of journalism. Martin states that journalism has always been antithetical to business, this is why it’s been corrupted by government and folded into big business conglomerates through mergers. It’s why Martin herself joined RT. She talks about how it was a long time before she realised how compromised journalism actually was, however. She talks about how she went on tour with John Kerry. But journalism hasn’t just been corrupted by the Democrats, nor the Republicans. She states that the future of journalism lies with us, referring to alternative media and the power of the internet. She states that now we don’t need to get a press handout from Monsanto to talk about what they’re doing, or get a statement from the government: they can just talk to the government’s victims.

She then goes on to talk about ‘fake news’, and how this is being hijacked by the establishment to close down alternative media. Bill Kristol, one of the founders of the Neocons and the head of the Project for the New American Century, has said that he’s going to set up a thinktank to combat ‘fake news’. She and Dore also talk about how the alternative media are being forced to brand themselves to survive, so they have to set up Patreon accounts so people can fund them. But she has a lot of hope for citizen journalism. There is just a need to invest in it, and to follow those journalists we admire. We have to create our own networks. The Intercept, which has done some good work, was forced to rely on a billionaire, and now they have to go begging for money.

Martin then turns to Project Censored, which she praises as a very good, worthwhile alternative to mainstream journalist training. She advises aspiring journos not to go to journalism school, as they will just get into debt up to their behinds, and will be hit over the head with how to be journalists. Only to get a job as an unpaid intern at the end of it. Project Censored, on the other hand, takes in anyone, and you can go in at different levels – as a researcher, or writer, for example. Every year they published the five most censored stories. One of these is that there are 3,000 towns in America, whose water has a higher lead content than that of Flint in Michigan. She and Dore then discuss the alternative, drinking bottled water. Martin refuses to drink most of these brands, because they’re all owned by Nestle. Nestle owns the majority of water bottling plants. They just suck out the aquifers of local towns, which get nothing in return, except for a councillor, who’s on their payroll. And this is apart from the slave labour involved in their chocolate. She states that there is now only one party, and that she has always advised against voting for the lesser of two evils.

Continued in Part 2.

Secular Talk: Trump’s Rise Is the Product of a Broken Media

February 28, 2016

In this piece from Secular Talk, Kyle Kulinski gives his reasons why he believes there’s an 80 per cent chance that Donald Trump will become president. It’s because the media does not do its job. It gives the Nazi chump airtime, and does not challenge his many factual assertions, most of which are outright lies, nor the outrageous policies he says he supports such as waterboarding, torture, the targeting of civilians in the war against terror. Instead, it concentrates on the details where he is ‘politically incorrect’, such as when he attacks journalists. he also states that the supposed neutrality of the media actually works to bias them in favour of the right, as they treat all statements as merely differences of opinion. So even though the Democrats are right more than the Republicans, especially on issues such as Climate Change, the media does not challenge the Republicans on their failings, and so in effect supports them. He also states that the media are so afraid of being accused, as they have for three decades now, of liberal bias, that they ask soft questions to conservatives and much harder questions to liberal and Democrats. For example, when Anderson Cooper interviewed Ted Cruz or whoever the other night, Cooper was asking him such easy softballs as whether he sings to his wife and what musicals he liked. Bernie Sanders, however, gets asked tough questions on how he differs from Latin American dictators and if healthcare would be rationed under his system. Even Hillary Clinton gets asked much tougher questions, like when she’ll release transcripts of her speeches to Wall Street. Now Kulinski certainly wants her to release them, but the broader point is that she’s asked harder questions than those lobbed to the Republicans.

It’s a massive failing of the media. He states that Trump is winning through confidence and repetition. He makes a point, they repeat it, but don’t try to apply the same criticisms to Trump that he makes of his opponents. For example, Trump will accuse Ted Cruz of being a liar. The media focus on that as a horrendous allegation. They repeat it. But they don’t do the same, and report how many times Trump has lied. Similarly, Trump states that he’s not taking money from the corporate donors. But the mainstream media is silent on the fact that the only reason Trump isn’t taking money from them, is because they turned him down. And it’s only the New Media that’s holding Trump to account for his monstrous policies, like advocating torture ‘even if it doesn’t work'(!) and targeting civilians – which are war crimes. He states that if the mainstream media pointed this out, and cited the international treaties Trump would be violating, showing that it makes America look bad, and took a day, or three days on these issues, then it would be all over for the Corporate Clown. But they don’t. They let him get away with it, and so he effectively frames the narrative, taking control of what’s being discussed.

Trump is also extremely vulnerable when it comes to his stance on international trade. He claims he’s against the outsourcing of American jobs, but his ties are made in China. So the question can be asked how he can challenge outsourcing, when he can’t stop himself from doing it.

Kulinski states that the Republican mainstream establishment will back some of the more moderate candidates. Their favourite at the moment is Marco Rubio, but he doesn’t give much for their chances. Several of the mainstream Republican favourites have the backing of talk radio personalities like Rush Limbaugh. They are not going to carry the popular vote, as increasingly very few are listening to right-wing talk radio. Most people probably have never heard of Limbaugh, at least not those voting for Trump. Besides which, Marco Rubio also has a very stilted, robotic delivery, which puts off voters.

And so it looks like, in Kulinski’s words, we may have to get used to saying ‘President Trump’. A chilling prospect.

And part of the blame for this lies in a media that’s paralysed by the fear of being accused of liberal bias, does not check facts or pull Republicans up on their falsehoods, and prefers to concentrate on the election as a kind of horserace, focussing on personalities, rather than policies. And so they’ve allowed American politics to be pulled so far to the right by the Republicans, that it borders on Fascism. And so Trump has an all-too-real possibility of entering the White House.

American Fascist Arguments: Capitalism Threatened by Socialism

February 22, 2015

The American Right attacks any kind of state intervention, however mild and beneficial, as ‘Socialism’, which is automatically conflated with Communism. You can see that very clearly in the way Obama has been attacked by Repugs, and especially the Tea Party, as a Communist, simply for supporting the extension of state medical aid. A number of bloggers and political commentators have pointed out that in many respects, Obama is a fairly standard type of American politico, with the usual connections to Wall Street.

When Libertarians are confronted with the fact that their small-state economics don’t actually the work, there’s a tendency for them to argue that this is because there is still some government intervention, which is Socialism. This line of argument goes all the way back to the 1930s. I found this piece of American Fascist argument attacking American industry for becoming ‘socialist’ in Robert Brady’s The Structure of German Fascism:

America, the world’s greatest industrial nation, industrialized itself under private capitalism for use and for profit. .. America’s suffering started only when capitalism took sick. Like a sick horse, the decrepit economic system on the back of which we are now crawling along is not Capitalism himself, but a Capitalism loaded down with Socialism … What have socialistic experiments ever achieved except deficits or failure? … If capitalists and capitalism are blight to humanity, then Egypt should be a happy spot. But the happiest event which has befallen Egypt in many centuries came with the British ‘imperialism’ and ‘capitalism’ which built the Assuan Dam… If capitalism is ‘greed’ and a blight to humanity, then why are the savage and miserable lands which have no capitalism not blessed? … Why is the standard of living of the whole people in any land raised in proportion to the success and development of its capitalistic enterprises? … As Bernard Shaw put it: ‘compulsory labour with death the final punishment, is the keystone of socialism.’… The National Republic, Dec. 1933, under the heading The Failure of Socialism states: ‘Persons socialistically inclined often point to the present world-wide depression as “a failure of the capitalist system” … but the present world-wide breakdown would more properly be charged to a collapse of the socialist system. Every important power in the western world to-day, except in the United States, is under either socialist parliamentary control, or that dictatorship to which socialism leads as in Italy, Poland, Germany and Russia.

Elizabeth Dilling, The Red Network (Caspar co., Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1934, pp. 92-3).

George Bernard Shaw is a favourite source of quotations for the Right on the brutal nature of Socialism because Shaw had some disgusting, brutal ideas. He was like H.G. Wells and many other members of the chattering classes at the time an enthusiastic supporter of eugenics. There’s a quote by either him or Wells about sending those of unfit heredity to the extermination chamber. These horrific comments today are, it shouldn’t need to be said, as shocking to Socialist as they are to everyone else, and very, very few if any Socialists today share his views. In fact, the opposite is much more likely to be the case.

As for the introduction of capitalism into the Middle East ultimately benefiting the people there, this is highly debatable. Islamist movements like the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the FLM in Algeria, al-Qaeda and the Islamic State are partly ultra-traditionalist protests against capitalism. Iran’s Islamic Revolution broke out due to the massive social and economic dislocation produced by the country’s industrialisation. Similarly the introduction of capitalism and modernisation in Egypt under Mehmet Ali had the effect not creating more freedom for the average Egyptian, but of decreasing it. It massively extended the pasha’s power, and led to a massive tax burden on the mass of the Egyptian peasantry to support Mehmet Ali’s reforms.

One of the contributing factors to the Islamic revolution and the outbreak of the civil war in Algeria was the failure of both socialism and capitalism. The Algerian Nationalists had been able to hold to power for decades, following the country’s liberation from France, by supplying economic growth and a rising standard of living. This failed in the 1980s, and the regime began selling off state industries and cutting back. The result was a decline still further in living standards. The FLM gained popular support by appearing to offer a programme that would restore prosperity through the implementation of Islamic law, which was held to be neither capitalist nor socialist. The Islamic regime in Iran is also very strongly anti-socialist, even if over half of the economy is owned by the state and much of the rest of by the bonyads, the Shi’ah charitable foundations.

In short, the above passage shows just how old and a false the arguments about modern capitalism being corrupted by Socialism are. This hasn’t stopped them being repeated ad nauseam despite the plentiful evidence to the contrary.

Nigel Farage Interviewed by Evan Davies on Thatcher, NHS and Gay Kissing

February 14, 2015

Farage Drawing

Yesterday I blogged on a piece by Jon Stone in the Independent reporting that Nigel Farage was in favour of introducing the American healthcare system, where it was funded by insurance into the NHS. It looks as though Stone partly based his piece on this interview Farage gave to the Beeb’s Evan Davies on Newsnight a few nights ago.

In summary, Farage talks about how he had been a follower of Mrs Thatcher in the 1980s, and agreed with her about rolling back the state and cutting down the power of the trade unions. He also states that he’s been a lot of other things besides, like a Churchillian. He states he stands for a small state, deregulation and removing taxes.

On the subject of the NHS, he denies that he’s in favour of its privatisation. In answer to careful questioning for Davies, he states that everyone in the 1990s, even Tony Blair, was in favour of finding private solutions to the problem of the NHS. These have not worked. The outsourcing only accounts for 6 per cent of NHS work, and the health service has been saddled with massive debt through the Private Finance Initiative. He wishes to abolish this. He then goes on to say that the state and private enterprise should be kept separate, as mixing them in the NHS has not worked. He does, however, also state that as the population grows to 80, 90, 100 million, we will have to find new ways of financing it, including looking at an insurance-funded system. ‘Nothing should be set in stone’, says the Fuhrer.

On the subject of gay men kissing, Farage himself denies that he personally has any problem with it. On the other hand, many people do have a problem with it, and they shouldn’t be treated with the harsh disapproval that some give them now.

Slippery Farage

This interview actually shows just how slippery and specious Farage is. Much of what he said in this interview makes him and his party look benign and reasonable. He is absolutely right about the Private Finance Initiative. It hasn’t worked. All it has done is make the shareholders of the private contractors extremely rich while saddling them with massive debt. Even George Osborne recognised this. And made exactly the same promise.

Which is why you can’t trust him on this point.

Before the 2010 election, Osborne stated very clearly that the Private Finance Initiative was a disaster and said he would get rid of it. He hasn’t, and it’s gone on regardless, as has the Tories’ privatisation of the NHS.

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice … etc.

As for Margaret Thatcher, Farage has said repeatedly that his is a Thatcherite party. Of course, he doesn’t want to say this outright and unqualified on Newsnight, as it means that some of the Labour voters, who he hopes to win over, will immediately drop UKIP like a hot rock. So it’s heavily qualified with flannel about other people he respects, like Winston Churchill, whom he hopes have universal respect.

As for introducing an insurance based system into the NHS, he states that it’s partly done in France and the Netherlands to some extent. In fact, it’s the basis for the health care systems in much of Europe. A Swiss lady I know explained that in her country, medical care was funded partly by the state and partly through insurance contributions. Most people had a mixture of state/ private insurance. Only the very rich had completely private insurance, and only the poorest had completely state care. I think there was a similar system introduced in one of the American states on the East Coast, to the sneers and derision of much of the rest of America.

Now, if Farage wishes to introduce funding through insurance contributions, as in France and the Netherlands, then he still wants to privatise the NHS by opening it up to private health insurance companies.

Despite what Farage believes, or appears to believe, this will make treatment even more expensive. One fifth of Americans cannot afford their healthcare, because of the way insurance premiums have ballooned over the past decade. Farage clearly wants to introduce that into the UK.

And while he says he doesn’t want to privatise the NHS, he also made comments to the contrary. As has his deputy, Paul ‘Eddie Hitler’ Nuttall.

So I simply don’t believe him when he says he doesn’t want to privatise the NHS. It’s exactly what the Tories have said, even when they are doing their level best to sell it off.

As for gay men kissing, while he’s right that there are many people, who would feel uncomfortable about, Farage’s party goes far beyond simple disapproval. Much of the party is bitterly anti-gay, just as the party is also vehemently racist, despite what Farage claims. UKIP’s opponents have attacked the party because, despite it’s ostensibly softer, more reasonable approach, it threatens to legitimise bigotry and intolerance against ethnic minorities. And from this interview, it would also seem gays.

In short, don’t be taken in by the weasel words Farage has made in this interview. His is still a very intolerant party, and he still stands for the privatisation of the NHS, whatever he says.

The True Nature of American Healthcare

September 18, 2013

The Republicans over in America and the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives in Britain are doing all they can to undermine and discredit Britain’s NHS. The Coalition is introducing legislation which will eventually lead to its privatisation. The Republicans in America hope to discredit it as a way of attacking ‘Obamacare’. You can read in the Right-wing papers and magazines articles claiming that the American private health care system is far superior to the NHS. The poster below shows the true reality for an increasing number of Americans.

Haeg Medical Bill

Since the 1970s the cost of medical insurance in the US has massively inflated. About seven per cent of Americans are now unable to afford medical insurance. President Clinton expressed concern back in the 1990s when ten per cent of the American public couldn’t afford it. The costs of medical treatment is the single largest cause of bankruptcy in America. A friend of mine, who trained as a doctor, and whose family includes economists and financial workers told me that, contrary to the public propaganda, many American hospitals are already being effectively funded by the state as the fees charged cannot cover the true costs of treatment.

The above post comes from page 17 of Greg Palast’s expose of the corrupt, profiteering nature of the Bush presidency, its invasion of Iraq and attacks on the American welfare system, Armed Madhouse. it was used with permission of the Haeg family. America is a great nation and it has a great people. They’re enterprising and hard working. The neighbourliness and willingness to do something to help a tragically injured young woman is admirable. It shows the very best of the American character. We could do with more it.

But that’s not the point.

The point is that ordinary, decent folks should not need to go to the friends and neighbours because they can’t pay their medical bills. They should be able to count on the aid of the state to cover the costs when they are unable to do so.

Don’t be misled by the Conservative and Liberal propaganda. The Conservatives and Liberals wish to privatise the NHS and have extensive personal links with the companies seeking to profit from its abolition. If they continue with their reforms, you will see people over here denied medical treatment because they cannot afford it. And unlike this young woman and her family, they won’t have such great neighbours to help them out.

Source

Greg Palast, Armed Madhouse (London: Penguin 2006).

The Discreet Charm of Lord Coe

July 28, 2013

Lord Coe has been on TV a lot lately. It’s been a year since the London Olympics, and the BBC has been full of pieces on their sports programmes debating whether it has been successful in encouraging more Brits to take up sport. The Beeb’s opinion on this issue has been ‘yes… and no’. More people are taking up sport, and thanks to the Games more facilities have been built, and the area of east London on which the Games were held has been regenerated. On the other hand, some sports still have no funding, and not enough facilities are available everywhere. In fact Private Eye noted that many people, who wished to take up a sport, simply couldn’t because the Conservatives had closed and sold off many venues. Those that remained were massively oversubscribed.

Coe himself, because of his leading role in the Games’ management and promotion, has effectively become their public face. Many voters will no doubt consider voting for him simply because of his role in the Games, and the ‘feel-good’ factor their success has generated. So it’s worth reading Another Angry Voice’s article on Coe’s connection to a number of healthcare companies looking to profit from the privatisation of the NHS. It’s entitled ‘Lazy Lord Coe and Tory NHS Reforms’. Coe is lazy, as his voting record in parliament is extremely low. When he does appear, it’s to defend his own commercial interest by voting against amendments to preserve the NHS. The Angry One’s article states

‘Sebastian Coe is a lazy lord. He has occupied a place in the House of Lords since the year 2000, and since then he has bothered to participate in just 136 out of 1,714 votes, which works out at a feeble 7.9%.

It is interesting to note that of the 11 votes he has bothered to participate in over the last 24 months, 4 have been in support of Tory NHS reforms.

As you should know, the Tory Health and Social Care Bill and the keystone SI257 amendment (which compels NHS commissioners to tender virtually all services to the private sector and to accept the lowest bid, irrespective of other considerations such as patient safety, quality of service or long-term continuity of service provision) have been designed to carve the NHS open in order to allow the private sector to cherry-pick the most lucrative services.

In October 2011 Coe voted with the government three times in order to help the hugely controversial Health and Social Care Bill pass through the upper house, including a vote against allowing a specialist health select committee to scrutinise the bill properly before it became law.

In April 2013 Coe voted against a motion to overturn the secretive anti-democratic SI257 amendment on the grounds that it went against assurances that were made in both houses of parliament that “NHS commissioners would be free to commission services in the way they consider in the best interests of NHS patients”. So along with his fellow Tories, and all but one of the Lib Dem peers to vote, Sebastian Coe voted against NHS commissioners freedom to commission services in the best interests of patients.

One must wonder which interests Sebastian Coe places above the best interests of NHS patients?

Is there a possibility that it could be his own financial interests?’

He then supplies numerous evidence to show that this is very definitely the case.

The article is at http://anotherangryvoice.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/lazy-lord-coe-and-tory-nhs-reforms.html

It’s worth reading, especially if you’re inclined to believe that ‘he’s all right’ or a ‘good bloke’, because of what he did for the Games.

Private Eye on Private Equity’s Firms Mismanagement of Hinchingbrooke NHS Hospital

July 24, 2013

I found this article in the 22nd December-10 January 2013 issue of Private Eye. It reports and comments on the appalling mismanagement of Hinchingbrooke hospital in Cambridge. This was the first NHS hospital to be given to the private healthcare company, Circle Health, to run.

Circle Squared

The abrupt decision of the once irrepressible Ali Parsa to step down as chief executive of Circle Health has ben followed by an abrupt change of management style at Hinchingbrooke Hospital, the first NHS hospital to be run by a private company.

A film crew from Channel 4’s Cutting Edge programme who turned up recently at the Cambridgeshire hospital, expecting to continue work on a documentary Parsa had initiated, were abruptly escorted from the premises and told not to return.

Could the change in management style have anything to do with the fact that things had already been going seriously adrift at Hinchingbrooke, which Circle Holdings plc took over in February in a ten-year, £1bn deal?

Despite Parsa’a boasts about making huge savinigs, the hospital is already running a deficit of more than £4m, with no prospect of delivering profit for Circle’s private equity and hedge fund shareholders. If the Hinchingbrooke deficit hits £5m, the contract allows Circle to cut its losses and walk away.

Interim chief Steve Melton is no doubt exploring whether Circle can benefit from the PFI meltdown at Peterborough hospital, 24 miles up the A1. Hopes of any rescue for Peterborough City Hospital depend on it getting extra patients (and therefore funds) through its doors.

Circle has always been keen to close Hinchingbrooke’s small but costly A&E unit and would no doubt be happy for Peterborough to take over those urgent and complex cases, so that it could run the hospital more like one of its boutique private hospitals in Bath and Reading. But these services area also key to its financial viability’.

More proof, if any were needed, that private equity firms cannot and should not run NHS hospitals.