Posts Tagged ‘‘I’ Newspaper’

The Experiences of Enslaved Africans in the Past and Today

January 24, 2022

One of the extremely positive features of Sean Stillwell’s Slavery and Slaving in African History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2014) is that includes short descriptions and quotations from slaves, slavers and slave masters in Africa describing their careers and situation. There was a striking variety of slave systems in Africa. In some societies, slaves were acquired for use and soldiers and could rise to high social rank through their connections to powerful chiefs., One of these was the Sokoto royal slave Dan Rimi Nuhu. The book states

‘At the end of the nineteenth century, during a civil was in Kano (located in what is now northern Nigeria) Emirate of the Sokoto Caliphate, Dan Rimi Nuhu, a powerful royal slave official, soldier, and titleholder, crowned the rebel pretender, Yusufu, as emir. Nuhu had long supported Yusufu’s cause and claim. Nuhu was a well-known and powerful slave i8n the palace, but he had joined the war camp of Yusufu early on in the struggle. When Nuhu arrived on horseback, Yusufu said, “Our trip is successful, our trip is successful since Nuhu has joined us, he has joined our camp!” Thereafter, Nuhu transformed Yusufu’s military camp into the proper seat of a rival emir. He gave Yusufu the royal regalia and insisted that he follow Kano court protocol. With Nuhu’s support the rebels later took the Kano throne. Afterward, the royal slaves and their families who supported the new emir gained a substantial amount of power.’ ( pp.89-90).

Others were not so well treated.

‘Msatulwa Mwachitete grew up in Chitete, located in central East Africa, to the west of Lake Malawai, in the house of his father, who had twelve wives. Their home was attacked numerous times by Mkomas of the Inamwanga, who regularly carried off women and children into slavery after setting fire to surrounding villages. During one such attack, Msatulwa was captured, along with his mother and brother. He was taken some distance from his home and given as a slave to Mitano. Msatulwa was forced to grind corn, cut firewood, cook, hoe fields, and fetch water, but was eventually given to another person, who treated him better. In the end Msatulwa found his way home after running away.’

Horrifically, slavery isn’t a thing of the past. The Islamists that have seized power in one part of Libya after the overthrow of Colonel Gaddafy have reopened the slave markets, selling the Black migrants who have travelled north in the hope of reaching Europe. Slave markets have also reopened in Uganda. The book also gives the testimony of Ahok Ahok, an enslaved Dinka woman, given to Anti-Slavery International. She was captured and forced into slavery during the Sudanese civil war in the ’90s.

‘Our family was captured about six years ago [i.e., about 1994] when we were already fleeing north and had crossed into the North into Kordofan. I was captured with my son, Akai, and my two daughters, this one called Abuk … who was about eight at the time, and a younger one, about two. We were taken by a tribe called Humr [i.e. Misseriya Humr], who split the three of us up. The man who took me subsequently sold me on to some other nomads to look after cattle, for about 130 Sudanese Pounds. I had to look after their cows and spent about six years with them before I managed to escape to Makaringa village…. Meanwhile my three children had been taken by others. For six years, until I reached Makaringa village, I had no news of them. When I reached the village, my son Akai heard where I was and joined me there. He is with us at this CEAWC centre. We then contacted the Dinka Committee and they were able to find my daughter Abuk, who had been renamed Khadija. She had initially been put to work looking after livestock, but had got into trouble when some animals had escaped – she was too little to look after them. After that she was employed as a domestic servant. She hardly speaks any Dinka language now, only Arabic… I still have no news of my youngest daughter and am still hoping to find her.’ (211-2).

The book also gives the names of some of the African organisations set up to help slaves. These include Timidria in Niger, the Dinka Committee in Sudan; El Hor (Free Man), set up in the 1970s by former slaves in Mauretania; and SOS-Esclaves, set up in 1995. These organisations face continuing difficulties to fight slavery and improve conditions for former slaves, as shown by an additional piece of testimony:

‘It is uphill work…. Some of their members have been imprisoned. Seeking help through the courts is usually useless. Sharia courts maintain that slavery is legal. Since no laws have been passed, laying down penalties for enslavement or detailing the rights of slaves, other courts and local officials maintain that they have jurisdiction if slaves bring cases for custody of their children or try to establish their right to remain on the land they farm. Former owners may claim the property even of freed slaves when they die.’ (213).

These slaves are not going to get any help from the western advocates of Postcolonial and Critical Race Theory, because these disciplines are exclusively focused on White racism and the horrors of White colonialism. I’ve mentioned that feminists in India and the Middle East have been bitterly critical about the refusal of the activists and scholars supporting these forms of Critical Theory to criticise the treatment of women and LGBTQ folk in these countries. Indeed, Indian progressives have attacked these postmodern ideologies for giving support to the most reactionary elements of these societies on the grounds that, as they are part of these societies’ traditional structures and not the product of western colonialism, they are exempt from criticism. And you could see the attitude in a speech given by Barbara Barnaby, the head of the British branch of Black Lives Matter to a fringe meeting of the Labour party last summer. She criticised the resurgence of slavery in Libya, because this was a product of Blair’s colonialism. But she didn’t condemn it elsewhere in Africa, where it is the product of indigenous forces. Her demand that Britain and the other European countries was based on the abuse of the peoples of the global south during colonialism, but made no mention or criticism of the tyranny, corruption and poverty of African rulers and regimes that is behind much of the migration to Europe.

This isn’t, as Kate Maltby tried to claim in the I a few years ago, an attempt to avoid being diverted from the campaign for equality and social justice in the west into criticism and activism against non-European slavery. It is the product of a profoundly racist ideology that sees slavery and other human rights abuses as only worth fighting if they are committed by Whites.

Barnaby, Black Lives Matter and similar organisations may have the best intentions, but their exclusive focus of White racism is actively hindering real anti-racism and campaigns to eradicate modern slavery.

Anti-Trans Rights Activist Kellie-Jay Keen Asks Why We Aren’t Kneeling for Women

January 10, 2022

This is probably going to be a very controversial post, as it is about a highly controversial woman, Kellie-Jay Keen, and a very controversial issue, Asian grooming gangs. Kellie-Jay Keen is a woman’s rights activist, who contends that transpeople aren’t the members of the sex they transition to, and should be excluded from biologically natural women’s spaces, changing rooms, toilets, bathrooms and women’s sports, because of the dangers they pose, Last week she posted this video asking why people weren’t kneeling for abused girls and women, as they have kneeled and marched for issues like Black Lives Matter. She talks about someone she can’t name making a video about the abused girls in Rotherham, whose abusers were allowed to continue assaulting and exploiting them for twenty years because they were Pakistani and the authorities were afraid of starting race riots and destroying community cohesion. She states that someone she can’t name is making a film about this, in which the abused girls and women present their own stories and testimony. Despite the film-maker being an unperson, subject to cancellation, she has no time for any kind of purity considerations and urges people, whatever their ideological and political alignment, to watch the film. From the hints and information elsewhere, it looks like this film is being made by Tommy Robinson, aka Stephen Yaxley Lennon, former leader of the English Defence League, Pegida UK and someone, who could be fairly described as a racist, islamophobic thug.

Robinson is a formerly member of the BNP. He has, I believe, been jailed for assault and convicted of mortgage fraud. He has intimidated his critics by turning up on their doorstep or that of their close relatives in the middle of the night with his fellow thugs demanding a word. He did this to Mike Stuchbery, an Australian academic and teacher, whom he falsely claimed was a paedophile. As a result Mike has lost his job and is now working on the continent. He also falsely claimed that the Syrian victim of racist bullying in school was really the perpetrator, for which he was sued for libel. He has posted a series of videos commenting on the trials of various Asian men accused of grooming and rape outside the courthouses were they were being tried, making it very clear he believed the men were guilty. This is against the strict rules governing the reporting of such trials. It may even assist the guilty to get off, as they may claim that they were subjected to a mistrial due to Robinson’s biased videos.

Keen herself, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to be racist at all. She talks freely about White paedophiles and abusers such as clergy and scout leaders. She also describes how, when she was studying theology at university, she was sent to interview a White family where the mother and eldest daughter were prostitutes and the youngest was being pressured into it. The eldest daughter was 15, the youngest 13. The husband and father told her that they were all ‘on the game’, but she was too naive and ignorant at the time to know what this meant. And so she let this abuse get past her unstopped.

The issue of Pakistani grooming gangs preying on White girls is a real one, and despite recent revelations and action it seems there is still cause for concern. The Lotus Eaters mentioned on one of their videos about ‘Diversity Failing Girls’, that the police in certain cities are not recording the ethnicity of the abusers in many cases. The issue is being played down, almost certainly because of racial sensibilities.

I fully appreciate the reasons why. Crime by Blacks and Asians has been subject to considerably biased reporting in the past by the racist, right-wing press in order to stoke up hostility and resentment. And the danger that the real far right, apart from Robinson, will use anti-White hate crime to boost their own popularity is very real. Way back at the turn of the century racial incidents against Whites formed the majority of such crimes. Independent and I journo Yasmin Alibhai-Brown were a report about this for the-then Committee for Racial Equality and the issue was being discussed in the press and media. However, Nick Griffin and his storm troopers in the BNP also turned up and launched a campaign to encourage White schoolchildren to imagine they were the victims of racial abuse and discrimination. The BNP became much more popular, winning seats on local councils, culminating in an infamous edition of Newsnight which included Griffin as a panel guest. The wretched party and its fortunes plummeted following a massive backlash by severely normal Brits, and I think the BNP is now more or less extinct, along with other similar parties. There is a real danger that the exploitation of the issue of Pakistani grooming gangs and other anti-White racism by people like Robinson could lead to a resurgence of real Fascism in this country.

But I also believe that part of the problem is the institutional attitude towards racism in this country. The various anti-racist organisations in this country were set up to deal with the real, vicious racism and discrimination directed against people of colour. I think they therefore find it extremely difficult to tackle anti-White racism. Thus a few years ago three BAME racists, two Asian and one Black, objected to anti-White incidents being recorded as hate crimes. One of them said explicitly that he didn’t think it was right, because anti-racism was created to protect Blacks and Asians. And there was a furore in 2017 when Labour MP, Naz Shah, liked and retweeted a message stating that the Rotherham victims should shut up in the interests of diversity. Shah later deleted her tweet and disliked the post. Nevertheless, I think her actions show the reluctance some members of the Black and Asian communities feel about acknowledging such crimes. Another of these is Diane Abbott. She was asked about the issue of racism by other ethnic groups apart from Whites by, if I remember rightly, an Asian gent. He was told that it shouldn’t be tackled because ‘they’ would use it to divide and rule.

This is the wrong approach. I believe anti-White racism can and should be integrated into the general, mainstream anti-racism movement, and that people would be as willing to march for the White victims of racism as they would for Black, Asian and other ethnic minorities. There’s little doubt that one of the most powerful motives behind the Brexit vote was anti-immigrant sentiment, but not all Brexiteers were racists. Many of them were left-wing anti-racists, and one of the complaints they made was that the media ignored pro-Brexit marches which included Black and Asian demonstrators. I also remember reading an article in the Independent years ago in which one of their reporters went to see if UKIP really was as racist as it was claimed. He found a small shop selling anti-EU merchandise, including T-shirts showing a British bulldog with a torn EU flag in its mouth. But to his surprise the couple running the shop weren’t White skinheads, but a pair of Ugandan Asians, who were grateful to this country for taking them in.

I believe that the size of the historical Black population in Britain has been exaggerated, but it was there. There were Black and Asian MPs before the election of Diane Abbott, Bernie Grant and Paul Boateng in the 1980s. And even if the majority of the Black and Asian community has only been here since Windrush, this is still three generations. They’re British, and deserve to be treated as such. Which in my view means that as well as being protected from racism and discrimination, it should also be exposed without fear or prejudice when it occurs in their communities. I realise that this won’t be easy and will require tact and sensitivity, but I do believe that Blacks and Asians will march in support of White victims just as Whites have marched to support Blacks and Asians. The slogan ‘Black and White, unite and fight’ must cover everyone, including Whites, subject to racist abuse, violence, and injustice.

In my view it is only by doing so that we can truly combat racism as a whole and keep it from being exploited by people like Robinson.

Thought Slime on the Worst Political Cartoonists In America

October 2, 2021

Here’s an interesting little video from the Thought Slime channel on YouTube, in which he tears about the peeps he considers to be the worst political cartoonists. He starts with Garrison, a Libertarian, whom he dubs ‘the Labeller’, because he labels his pictures just in case you don’t recognise the people he’s drawn. He’s also a massive fan of Donald Trump, portraying him as a superhuman colossus saving America from the forces of the left. He then goes on to attack a Conservative cartoonist, who started out being a very capable draughtsman, but whose art has now become so stylised you won’t recognise anybody he’s drawn and so have to read the labels and titles. Despite being a liberal himself, Thought Slime criticises a left-wing cartoonist, Rall, for his attack on the late Roger Ebert. Ebert was a film critic, and Rall takes issue with him because Ebert was a fan of Citizen Kane. Citizen Kane, directed by cinematic legend and connoisseur of Danish lager, Orson Welles, is an acknowledged masterpiece. So why does Rall hate it? Because it’s boring! And so Ebert is caricatured for defending a cinematic classic.

However, the very worst political cartoonist of all, according to Thought Slime, is Yaacov Kirschen. Kirschen is a fanatical Jewish Zionist, whose cartoons seem to consist of the same poorly drawn character, who is probably a self-insert, commenting on the news. And his comments tend to be about how anyone who doesn’t support Israel, or dares to criticise it, is a vicious anti-Semite. And this really is everyone. He even accuses Netanyahu’s right-wing nationalist Likud party. How much of a Judaeonazi is Kirschen?

We don’t have cartoonists like Kirschen, at least not in the mainstream press. What we do have is the Israel lobby trying to suppress mainstream criticism of Israel and its unflattering portrayal in cartoons. A few years ago Gerald Scarfe was accused of anti-Semitism by the Israeli ambassador because of a cartoon attacking the wall the Israelis are building to keep out the Palestinians that appeared in the I. Scarfe’s cartoon showed the Israeli’s using the Palestinian’s blood as mortar. Considering the brutality of the Israeli occupation and ethnic cleansing, it’s a fair comment. But the Israeli ambassador immediately decided that it was an anti-Semitic trope playing on the Blood Libel. Er, no. The Blood Libel is the vicious accusation that Jews murder Christians to use their blood in the matzo bread eaten at Passover. It’s a myth that has spawned countless pogroms and anti-Jewish violence down history. But Scarfe’s cartoon doesn’t portray the Blood Libel. The matzoh bread doesn’t appear, nor is there any reference to Passover and the cartoon isn’t about Jews, but the Israeli state. Nevertheless, the I responded by capitulating and apologising.

It did the same over another cartoon attacking Israeli anti-Palestinian violence. This came after IDF troopers had fired on Palestinians breaking through the fence separating Gaza from Israel. Those they killed were largely unarmed civilians, including a doctor. The cartoon showed Netanyahu having a cosy fireside chat with an American head of state, while inside the fire burned the shot medical lady. Again the Israeli embassy went berserk and screamed ‘anti-Semitism’. This time they ludicrously claimed that the fire represented the gas ovens of the Holocaust. It very obviously didn’t, but truth doesn’t matter to the Israeli state and its defenders. And again the I caved and apologised.

I found Thought Slime’s video interesting because of its criticism of Kirschen and his miserable pro-Israel scribblings as the worst political cartoonist. We don’t have anyone like Kirschen in Britain, at least, not that I know of. But I wish someone would stand up to the Zionist bully-boys trying to censor reasonable and legitimate criticism of Israel in cartoon art.

No, Corbyn Didn’t Nearly Destroy Labour, But Starmer Is

October 2, 2021

Despite Starmer’s less than stellar performance at the Labour party conference, Britain’s wretched press continues to regard him as the saviour of the Labour party. Yesterday’s I had their columnist Stephen Bush opining that the bargain basement Stalin had put Labour’s house in order. There was also a piece by Ayesha Hazarika, another Blairite Labour MP, giving readers the benefit of what she would like to say to Keef. And on Wednesday the Depress quoted Stalin as telling his audience, or possibly just the Depress, that Corbyn nearly destroyed the Labour party.

This is untrue. Corbyn didn’t destroy the Labour party. Under his leadership its membership expanded until it became the largest socialist party in Europe and it outstripped the Tories’, who had up to them been the larger party. These members paid membership fees, and so the party’s finances were very healthy. And his policies were and are massively popular with electorate. They wanted the renationalisation of the utilities, an end and reversal of the privatisation of the NHS, a strong welfare state and strong trade unions, proper rights at work and strong trade unions that actually protect working people. But these policies are anathema to the Thatcherite establishment, and particularly the Blairites who are trying to turn the Labour party in Conservatives .2.

And so the press and media vilification began. This initially just concentrated on calling him a Communist or Trotskyite, which was taken up by people who really don’t know what either of those actually are. But this didn’t actually make much of a dent in his support. Far more damaging was the accusation from the Zionist establishment of the Jewish community – the Board of Deputies, Chief Rabbinate and press – that he was a vicious anti-Semite because he spoke out in favour of the Palestinians. This was eagerly taken up by the wider British establishment, and used as a weapon by Corbyn’s enemies in the Labour party to undermine him. They did so by smearing and expelling his supporters.

Meanwhile the Blairites in Labour plotted a series of coups, ostentatiously resigning from his shadow cabinet live on television, and gave interviews to the press attacking him at every opportunity. The Blairite bureaucracy actively conspired to throw the 2017 and 2019 elections, and actively withheld from their leader the extent of real anti-Semitism in Labour in order to further blacken him. They also bullied and abused Black and ethnic minority MPs and activists like Diane Abbott and there is, thanks to them, a rise in Islamophobia in the party.

Now Corbyn did make some serious mistakes. I’ve heard it said that he should have purged the party bureaucracy of the Blairites, as was expected when he took over as leader. He didn’t, and so made a rod for his own back. But the most important was that he took the anti-Semitism accusations in good faith. Instead of defending his supporters from the spurious charges, Corbyn threw them under the bus in a policy of appeasement. This didn’t work and ended, as Tony Greenstein predicted it would, with Corbyn himself being personally attacked and ousted.

But Starmer’s leadership has been disastrous. After publicly embracing Corbyn’s policies, he started betraying them and the party’s left-wing membership almost as soon as he got the leadership. He broke all his election promises and blithely carried on the purge of left-wing members, all on the pretext that they were terrible anti-Semites. Even when the vast majority of those accused have been decent, self-respecting Jews. People, especially Blacks, Muslims and ethnic minorities, are leaving his racist Labour party in droves. In contrast to his attacks on the left, he has said little against Boris Johnson’s corrupt, inept government. Before last week most Brits didn’t know what he stood for. Now he’s come out laid his Blairite vision of Labour policy before the country. But this hasn’t increased his popularity either. Yesterday Tory vlogger Michael Heaver put up a video showing that Labour was still behind the Tories in the polls, and in fact their popularity had fallen slightly by a point during the conference. And among working class voters the Tories were massively ahead. Well, the Blairites were never interested in working class voters. They wanted middle class voters, and as a result, Blairite Labour is paying the price.

With supporters and members abandoning the party, its finances are in crisis and it is near bankruptcy. Starmer is trying recruit people, who aren’t traditionally Labour (meaning presumably Tories) as members and MPs, but they’re not coming forward. BFAWU, one of the founding unions, has disaffiliated and if more follow it will tear the historic guts out of the party. And under Starmer the party lost a swathe of local authorities and by-elections, thanks to his refusal to respect the Brexit vote in the referendum. Labour is on the point of collapse, but he’s been talking up what few victories he’s had as if they were splendid and overwhelming whereas in fact Labour barely held on to the contested seats.

But nevertheless, the Tory press are trying to delude this country that he’s made the party electable again and that somewhere down the line they’ll be in power.

Here’s Heavers video about the Labour poll results.

Daily Mail Estimates Libel Trial Against Mike Could Cost Riley £1 Million

May 16, 2021

As well as the I, the Heil also wrote a piece about Mike’s appeal court victory yesterday. It was briefly on the net, but I haven’t been able to find it today. So I’m afraid you’ll have to rely on what I can remember about the piece.

As well as reporting the basic details of the case, the Heil’s article also featured the opinions of a lawyer specialising in libel cases. He guessed that Riley had already spent £60-70,000 on suing Mike, and if she took this to trial this could end up costing her £1 million. The lowest cost for such a trial is £500,000, according to the expert, and most start at £1 million.

Zelo Street has also put up a great article about Mike’s case and the latest victory. The Sage of Crewe notes that Riley’s case is undermined somewhat by the fact that she hasn’t gone after the author of the original articles Mike also drew on for his. Shaun Lawson, the author, lives in Uruguay, and Riley and her team estimated that he didn’t have enough assets to justify suing him as they would not recover their losses. This conflicts with a statement from Mark Lawson, Riley’s lawyer, that this wasn’t about money.

The article also notes that Riley’s case against the barrister, Jane Heybroek, for retweeting a comment by Shaun Lawson linked to one of his articles, collapsed after Riley had spent £80,000 on it and was unable to show that that the tweet had caused her any reputational damage. See Zelo Street: Rachel Riley’s Court Case Conundrum (zelo-street.blogspot.com).

It therefore looks like any further action Riley carries on against Mike could be extremely expensive for her.

‘I’ Reports Mike’s Appeal Case Victory

May 15, 2021

The I newspaper has published an article on Mike’s victory in the courts yesterday appealing against a judge’s decision to have his defence against Rachel Riley’s libel action struck out. The article’s on the net, and can be read at Rachel Riley loses latest round of libel case with blogger Mike Sivier over claims she ‘harassed’ a teenager (msn.com)

The article, entitled ‘Rachel Riley loses latest round of libel case with blogger Mike Sivier over claims she ‘harassed’ a teenager’ begins

TV presenter Rachel Riley has lost the latest round of a libel case with a political blogger over an article which claimed she engaged in a “campaign of online abuse and harassment” against a teenager on Twitter.

Ms Riley, 35, the numbers expert on Channel 4’s Countdown, sued political blogger Mike Sivier after he published an article on his website Vox Political in January 2019 with the headline: “Serial abuser Rachel Riley to receive ‘extra protection’ – on grounds that she is receiving abuse”.

Mr Sivier defended what he published, arguing that it was “substantially true”, honest opinion, and a matter of public interest.

In January, a High Court judge ruled in favour of Ms Riley and dismissed Mr Sivier’s defences; Mrs Justice Collins Rice said he had “no prospect” of succeeding at a trial.

But three judges at the Court of Appeal, in central London, overturned the ruling on Friday and said Mr Sivier’s public interest defence should be heard in court.

Looking at the article, it appears to me to be a fair report of the case, rather than explicitly pro-Riley, as many of the news reports of her various libel actions against her opponents have been. It’ll be interesting to see if other papers have also reported on Mike’s appeal victory, and the effect the unbiased reporting of Riley’s conduct has on her public perception.

Archaeologists Find More Skulls in Aztec Tower in Mexico City.

December 15, 2020

Yesterday’s I for the 14th December 2020 also carried the news that archaeologists had discovered even more skulls, which formed part of a tower built with the remains of the heads of victims sacrificed to the Aztec god Huitzilopochtli. The article on page 33, titled ‘Tower of skulls found at Aztec dig’, runs

Dozen more skulls have been found by archaeologists digging at an Aztec temple beneath the centre of Mexico City.

The 119 skulls made up part of a tower of heads of sacrificed humans kept as a trophy by the pre-Columbian civilisation. A five-year dig beneath old buildings near the city’s Templo Mayor ruins has so far revealed 603 skulls.

The latest are thought to be part of a skull rack from a temple dedicated to teh Aztec god of the sun, war and human sacrifice. Known as the Huey Tzompantli, it stood on the corner of the chapel of Huitzilophchtli, the patron of the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan. The Aztecs dominated large parts of central Mexico from the 14th to the 16th centuries.

Their empire was overthrown by invaders led by the Spanish conquistador, Hernan Cortes, who captured Tenochtitlan in 1521.

The piece included this photo showing the skulls encased in the tower’s walls.

The Aztecs were one of the world’s great civilisations, no question, and its destruction by the Conquistadors and the decimation of the Amerindian peoples by slavery and disease is one of the great crimes of western imperialism. But they were aggressive, warlike and cruel. They believed that the sun god, Tezcatlipochtl, depended on a constant supply of human blood to sustain him. Hence, while other peoples made treaties with their neighbours trying to make peace, the Aztecs did the opposite. They made a treaty with two of their neighbouring civilisations for perpetual war in order to supply the sacrificial victims their religion required. Their architecture reflected the bloodthirstiness of their religion. Some of their great buildings have carvings of the flayed skins of their enemies, which were hung on poles and worn by the priests. So horrific are some of their monuments, that when the British Museum held a special exhibition on them, ‘Empire of Blood’ a few years ago, the Independent’s arts journo, Philip Hensher, compared them to Auschwitz and said he wanted nothing to do with it. It sounds like an overreaction, but as I’ve hard it said that about 30,000 people a year were sacrificed in their temples, and that these deaths were celebrated in their architecture and sculpture, which Hensher also found unattractive, describing it as ‘blocky’, you can see his point. Some western archaeologists have also said that the destruction of their religion was no loss to humanity. I was reading a book on the archaeology of death around the world, and the author described the horrors of the Aztec sacrificial cult. He said very clearly that no matter how bad Christianity was, it was far better than the religion it replaced.

Proposed Thatcher Idol to Be Attacked by Manic Egg Throwers – ‘I’ Newspaper

December 2, 2020

Ho ho! Here’s a bit a fun news, also from yesterday’s I, for Tuesday, 1st December 2020. Grantham, the home town of Margaret Thatcher, of late and reviled memory, wants to be put up a statue to their most famous daughter. Of course, it’s massively expensive – the article quotes a price tag of £100,000 – and so a slap in the face of people struggling through the Covid lockdown. The council’s well aware that it’s controversial, and are going to put it on a high plinth to stop vandalism. Some hope! The good peeps on the ‘net have started organising an egg-throwing contest against it. The article by Jane Clinton, ‘Hundreds plan to throw eggs at new Thatcher statue’, runs

More than 1,000 people have signed up to attend an “egg throwing contest” at the £100,000 unveiling ceremony of a statue of Margaret Thatcher.

Around 1,400 people said they would be at the “egg throwing contest” in Grantham, Lincolnshire, which was advertised on Facebook. Yesterday more than 8,000 people had responded to the event.

In an accompanying Facebook post the organiser of the event, Kasa Arif, said: “We have a special target… a beautiful statue of the Iron Lady.”

Members of South Kesteven District Council’s (SKDC) cabinet will be asked today to approve the £100,000 expenditure, with fundraising for the even potentially carried out by the public, businesses and others.

But Adam Brookes, a Market Deeping town councillor, said “There is no guarantee as to the level of outside funding that will be secured, leading SKDC funding any gap.”

Baroness Thatcher was born and brought up in Grantham. And while councillors say the £300,000 bronze statue, created by Douglas Jennings, will be a fitting tribute, many have been angered by the financial outlay during a time of hardship. The statue is to be placed on a 10ft-high plinth to prevent vandalism.

News of the unveiling ceremony has sparked hundreds of anty responses on social media.

Twitter user Sammy said: “If you have to put the statue on a 10ft plinth because everyone hates its may be consider not buying the statue.”

I contacted South Kesteven District Council for a comment.

I’ve called the statue an idol because, in my view, that’s precisely what it is. Thatcherism is now a cult, like that of Reagan in America. Their economics have failed massively, and free trade neoliberalism with its central dogma of privatisation and the destruction of the welfare state, workers’ rights and low wages, have wreaked incalculable harm and suffering on ordinary people everywhere in the world. It’s been rightly described as ‘zombie economics’, but it has made the 1 per cent colossally richer, and so the political and media class are pushing it with all their might. And no voice must be allowed to blaspheme against the woman Alan Bennett once described in his dulcet tones as ‘Our Lady of Monetarism’.

Over the decades many people and organisations have shown their hatred of Thatcher by refusing to put up monuments to her or defacing them when they were put up. I think Oxford Uni shocked the government and the political class in the ’90s by refusing to put up a statue of her, despite the fact that they a tradition of erecting statues and busts of former PMs. And then, later in the decade, a statue of Maggie did appear – I think it was at an art exhibition – it was beheaded by an angry member of the public. Which led Private Eye to compare it to the great poem about the shattered remains of similar monument from ancient Egypt, Shelley’s Ozymandias.

Well, they’re trying to protect it by putting it on a plinth, but as the old glam rock song goes, ‘You can’t stop the children of the revolution!’ Rock on!

‘I’ Newspaper: Police To Investigate British Mercenaries for War Crimes in 1980s

December 2, 2020

Very interesting piece in yesterday’s I for Tuesday, 1st December 2020 by Margaret Davis. Entitled ‘Investigation of 1980s ‘mercenaries’, it reports that the British mercenary company, the ‘Keenie-Meenies’ are being investigated by the fuzz for war crimes alleged to have been committed in Sri Lanka in the 1980s. The article reads

Police have launched an investigation into alleged war crimes by British mercenaries in Sr Lanka in the 1980s.

The Metropolitan Police confirmed a referral was made to the force in March. Officers from the War Crimes Team carried out a “scoping exercise”before an investigation was launched.

The force would not comment further on the inquirty, but it has been reported that a company called Keenie Meenie Services helped train a Sri Lankan police squad called the Space Task Force, which was later accused of serious human rights violations.

The investiative journalist Phil Miller, who has written a book about the firm, is currently in a legal battle with the Foreign Office to get files from the period released.

A spokesman from the Metropolitan Police said: “We can confirm that the Met’s War Crimes Team – part of its Counter Terrorism Command – received a referral in March concerning war crimes alleged to have been committed by British Mercenaries in Sri Lanka during the 1980s.

“The War Crimes Team…. have subsequently launched an investigation. We are not prepared to discuss any further details of what remains an active and ongoing police investigation into this matter.”

Phil Miller’s book has been reviewed in the parapolitics/ conspiracy magazine Lobster, and the ‘Keenie Meenies’ have been the subject of a number of their articles, I believe. They were set up in the 1970s and very well connected. I think the founder, or his son, is friends with one of the princes. They were sent into Sri Lanka as a way of covertly giving military aid to the Sri Lankan government in their war with Tamil Tigers without breaking international law. As for the government wishing to block release of the papers about them and their activities, this seems par for the course. Successive governments also blocked the release of official documents showing the mass murder, torture and abuse of indigenous Kenyans during the Mao Mao uprising. These are documented in the book Africa’s Secret Gulags. It was only a few years ago that these papers were released and the victims able to sue for compensation.

The government blocking the release of these papers is the same government that’s trying to pass legislation to make British squaddies exempt from prosecution for war crimes, so that they can continue to kill, rape and maim innocents, or train those who do, in violation of natural justice and international law.

‘I’ Article on Companies Developing Technology to Cleanse Air of CO2

December 1, 2020

This is interesting. It might be another corporate puffpiece, but if it’s genuine then it does seem that some of the technology in SF novels about combating climate change might be coming true.

In its edition for Saturday, 28th Novewmber 2020, the newspaper ran this story ‘Conjuring a climate solution out of thin air’ by Maeleine Cuff, subtitled ‘Giant machines that can suck CO2 out of the atmosphere? This is no sci-fi’. It said

Scientists agree that global climate targets are slipping out of reach. To keep warming below 1.5 C – the “safe” climate threshold – the world will have to work out a way to remove 100 to 1,000 gigatons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere this century.

Enter direct air capture (DAC). It is an offshoot of carbon capture and storage, whereby pollution from factories and power plants is trapped and stored underground. DAC takes that one step further, focusing on pulling the gas directly from the air. That is a tougher ask, because CO2 in our air is at much lower concentrations than in the flue gases of a power plant. But DAC technology can scale, it could give humankind the power to control global pollution levels.

This month the Government pledged £1bn to the creation of four industrial carbon capture clusters, which will trap emissions from industry and pipe them out to sea for storage.

There are signs a breakthrough might be close. Swiss firm Climeworks has built a handful of DAC plants across Europe. Orca, under construction in Iceland, will be the world’s biggest facility when it opens next year, capable of removing four million tons of CO2 every year. Canadian rival Carbon Engineering, meanwhile, is building a plant that could suck away a mikllion tons a year.

Both use chemical reactions to bind CO2 molecules, drawing them away from the other gases that make up our air. The CO2 can then be pumped underground for storage or used with hydrogen to make low-carbon fuels.

In the UK, the captured CO2 is most likely to be pumped into spent oil and natural gas fields in the North Sea. There is little need to worry about it escaping once it has been stored, says Professor Stuart Haszeldine, an expert in carbon capture technologies at the University of Edinburgh. “We know how to do this,” he says. “We know what the engineering is. And most importantly we know how to behave and and remediate this if something does go a bit wrong.

Climeworks is partnering with Icelandic start-up Carbfix to store its CO2 safely in basalt rock, “Even if you have an earthquake or a volcanic eruption, it cannot come out again,” says Christoph Beuttler from Climeworks.

It is still early stages for DAC – there are only 15 plants in North America and Europe – and the tech remains very expensive.

Costs should come down, however, as efficiency improves. Climeworks thinks it can reduce the cost of extracting a ton of carbon dioxide from $1,000 to $100 within a decade. But DAC is never going to be a cheap option. “The fact is, it is going to be easier to decarbonise a lot industrial processes than it is to build an entire sector from a standing start,” says Dr Mark Workman, a carbon storage expert at Imperial College London.

There is also a fierce debate over who will pay for it. Most experts think governments will have to force the creation of a new market. That could be in the form of subsidy regime, or with legislation to force fossil-fuel producers to arrange for storage.

A hike in VAT to pay for the polution caused by goods and services has also been mooted, placing the cost on a public who, Dr Workman argues, are not prepared for the scale of such a challenge. “We are going to remove an invisible gas and store it in invisible storage sites. And we are going to be talking vast quantities of money – tens, if not hundreds of billions of pounds,” he says. “There is does need to be a much broader social dialogue about this.”

There was also a boxed article on the same page, ‘DAC in the UK’, which ran

In St Fergus on the east coast of Scotland, Pale Blue Dot Energy wants to build not only a carbon storage hub for Scotland but also the UK’s first direct air capture (DAC) system. It has teamed up with Canadian firm Carbon Engineering to get a DAC site up and running by 2026.

It faces a race to be the UK’s first DAC plant. Climeworks tells I the Government’s funding announcement means it is now looking at expanding into the UK too.

Stephen Baxter predicted this kind of technology in one of his ‘Xelee’ novels. Set centuries in the future, Earth is tackling the problem of global warming by freezing the Carbon Dioxide out of the atmosphere and turning them into giant balls of dry ice. The planet’s waste heat is also dumped into space by beams of giant lasers.

No-one’s talking about giant lasers just yet, the use of technology to scrub the atmosphere of Carbon Dioxide does seem to be close. It’s just that at the moment it’s too massively expensive to be practical on a large scale. Perhaps a new technological breakthrough will be needed before it becomes really affordable.