Posts Tagged ‘oligarchs’

MPs Told that Russia Has Infiltrated Britain

March 13, 2020

Boris Johnson still hasn’t published the report into Russian influence in the UK, probably because it would be highly embarrassing for his party. He and many of the other leading Tories have very close relationships with Russian oligarchs from whom they have received very handsome donations. Mike and Zelo Street have blogged about the strange non-appearance of the report. However, according to the I, MPs were told that Putin had extended his influence into this country. The article by David Connett, ‘Kremlin has infiltrated Britain, MPs told’, in this Tuesday’s I for 10th March 2020, runs

MPs have been told that Russia hired British politicians and consultants to help advance its criminal interests and to “go after” Vladimir Putin’s enemies in London, it was reported last night.

MPs on the parliamentary intelligence and security committee were told by businessmen and anti-corruption campaigner Bill Browder that Moscow had “infiltrated” Britain by using well-rewarded “British intermediaries”.

The information was submitted to MPs who drew up the Russia report suppressed by Boris Johnson, The Guardian newspaper reported.

The Browder evidence was submitted in secret to the committee which carried out a two-year investigation into how the Kremlin is seeking to influence UK politics. Its 50-page report was ready for release last November, before the election. No 10 cleared the document after the election but it is not clear when it will be published.

Clearly it’s very embarrassing for Tories. But remember – they’re the party of patriotic Brits, and it’s Corbyn and the Labour Party who were selling out this country to the Russians. Or the Czechs. Or Hamas, and indeed anyone else they could use to smear him.

Private Eye Attacks Hypocrisy of Non-Dom Tax Dodging Press Barons

January 29, 2020

Five years ago in 2015 the then leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, outraged the press barons in Fleet Street by suggesting the abolition of non-dom tax status for people actually living in the UK. This frightened them, as many of them, such as Evgeny Lebedev, the owner of the I and Evening Standard, David and Frederick Barclay, the weirdo owners of the Torygraph, and Heil owner Viscount Rothermere, also avoid paying British tax through non-dom status. There was therefore a flurry of articles in their papers scorning Miliband’s suggestion and declaring that if it came in, it would bankrupt Britain by forcing all the millionaires in London and elsewhere to flee the country. And the papers certainly did not tell their readers that there was more than a bit of self-interest behind their attacks on Miliband.

Private Eye, which, according to editor Ian Hislop, skewers humbug, therefore published an article in their ‘In the Back’ section, ‘Street of Sham’ in the issue for 17th to 30th April 2015 attacking this fine display of gross hypocrisy. The piece ran

So consuming was the Tory press’s rage at Ed Milibands’s plan to make Russian oligarchs and gulf petro-billionaires in London liable for the same taxes as British citizens, its hacks forgot to declare their interest.

“London backlash over Ed’s non-dom attack,” boomed the front-page of the London Evening Standard, as if a mob had descended on Labour HQ to defend London’s much-loved oligarchs and hedge-fund managers. “Attacking non-doms could backfire on us,” continued an editorial inside. Sarah Sands, the Standard’s Uriah Heepish editor, did not risk her career by saying who the “us” included – namely her boss, Standard proprietor Evgeny Lebedev, the Russian who last year dodged the Eye’s repeated questions over his own domicile.

Silence infected the Telegraph too, where not one of the reporters who warned that Labour’s “cataclysmic” decision would drive away “tens of thousands of entrepreneurs and business leaders” mentioned that their owners, the weirdo Barclay twins, reside in Monaco and the Channel Islands to avoid British tax.

Instead they quoted James Hender, head of private wealth at Saffery Champness accountants, who warned that the rich may leave. The Telegraph didn’t tell its readers that Hender boasts of his long experience ensuring that “the most tax efficient strategies are adopted for non-UK situs assets” for his non-dom clients.

It was the same at the Mail, which failed to declare that its owner, 4th Viscount Rothermere, is treated by the tax authorities as a non-dom. And at Sky, political editor Faisal Islam reported that “Baltic Exchange boss Jeremy Penn slams Labour non-dom plans” without declaring that his owner, Rupert Murdoch, does not pay UK tax and that Penn acts for super-rich shipping owners.

Jolyon Maugham QC, who has advised Labour and the Tories on tax reform, tells the Eye that any reader silly enough to believe the Tory press and tax avoidance industry should look at what they said in 2008, when Labour introduced the first levies on non-doms.

Back then the Mail then said the central London property market would crash as non-doms sold up and moved to Switzerland. In fact, between Labour introducing the levy and 2014, prime central London property prices rose 41 percent. At the end of 2014, Knightsbridge estate agent W.A. Ellis said 54 percent of sales were to overseas buyers.

The Mail was equally certain the City would suffer. On 8 February 2008 it cried that the levy “risks the City’s future”. The British Banking Association warned of “a devastating blow”. The Telegraph of 12 February 2008 said that “the country’s wealthiest individuals are being bombarded with leaflets and letters explaining how easy it would be to relocate to Switzerland, Monaco and a host of other countries”. Not to be outdone, Mike Warburton, senior tax partner at accountants Grant Thornton, said the levy was the “final straw”.

If a word of this had been true, there would be no non-doms left for Milband to tax. As it is, there are 115,000 because, as Maugham says, London remains a “very nice place to live, if you’re wealthy. And that won’t change.” Or as the Financial Times put it: “The many advantages of London as a financial centre do not dissolve simply because of a change in a hitherto generous tax treatment of resident non-domiciles.”

The pink ‘un has only recently realised the iniquity of the non-dom rule, with an editorial last month calling for its abolition. Editor Lionel Barber modestly claims some credit for Miliband’s stance. But as editor for almost a decade, why was he so late to the party? Surely not because, until 2013, FT owner Pearson was run by US-born Dame Marjorie Scardino, who would certainly have qualified for non-dom status and whose London flat, the Eye revealed, was owned via an offshore company?

The Daily Mail’s owner, Lord Rothermere, is a particularly flagrant tax dodger in this regarded. The current Rothermere inherited the status from his father, who really was not resident in the UK. He lived in Paris. But Rothermere junior appears very much to have made Britain his permanent or at least primary residence. He has a parking space in London, and the Eye reported a few years ago he was extensively renovating his stately home in the West Country.

The non-dom tax status, offshore banking and other ways used by the corporate and super rich to avoid tax are part of the reason for the increasing impoverishment of everyone else. They aren’t paying their fair share of the tax burden, but receiving massive tax handouts instead. Thus the NHS and other important services are deprived of money. The tax burden is then passed onto ordinary, working people. This reduction in taxes for the rich used to be justified under Thatcher with the argument that the money the rich saved would somehow trickle down to the rest of us. This hasn’t worked. It doesn’t encourage the rich to open any more businesses or employ more people. The money just sits in their accounts earning more interest.

It also doesn’t the rich closing businesses and laying people off either. This was shown a year or so ago in America, when one of the corporate recipients of the Republicans’ tax cuts closed a branch or a factory, laying hundreds of workers off.

And the purchase of London property by foreigners is also a further cause of poverty. Ordinary people in the Smoke can’t afford to buy homes as rich foreigners – not asylum seekers or migrants – push property prices up far out of their reach. Some of these homes are simply left empty as an investment in what is known as ‘land banking’. This has a knock-on effect for the rest of the UK. Here in Bristol property prices have also risen to extremely highly levels through Londoners forced out of the capital relocating to the city. And in turn, some Bristolians are looking for cheaper homes elsewhere in places like Wales.

London still is a ‘very nice place to live, if you’re wealthy’, but the tax cuts which make Britain so comfortable for the global rich are causing poverty, misery and homelessness for everyone else.

And this is applauded and cheered by hypocritical press magnates and editors.

Establishment Media Bias and the Cheltenham Literary Festival

September 23, 2019

Someone really ought to do a study of the way the big literary festivals – Haye-on-Wye, Cheltenham and the others – select the books and media celebs they want to push and the way they try to manipulate public opinion towards the establishment consensus. Because, believe me, it is there.

In a couple of weeks’ time, right at the beginning of October, it’ll be the Cheltenham Literary Festival. As it’s booklet of coming events tells you, it’s been proudly going for 70 years. I think it was set up, or given a great deal of assistance when it was set up, by Alan Hancock, who owned a secondhand bookshop on Cheltenham’s Promenade. It was a fascinating place, where you could acquire some really fascinating, valuable academic books cheaply. But it had the same internal layout as the fictional setting of the 1990’s Channel 4 comedy, Black Books, but without Dylan Moran, Bill Bailey or Tamsin Grieg.

The festival’s overall literary stance is, very roughly, broadsheet papers + BBC, especially Radio 4. It pretty much shows what’s captured the attention of the newspaper literary pages and the BBC news team, several of whom naturally have books coming out, and who are appearing. In past years I’ve seen John Simpson, Simon Hoggart, Quentin Letts, Giles Brandreth and John Humphreys talk or appear on panels. This year they’ve got, amongst others, Emily Maitlis and Humphrey’s again.

Much of the Festival’s content is innocuous enough, even praiseworthy from a left-wing perspective. For example, there are a number of authors talking about their books about empowering women and ethnic minorities. These include Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinene talking about their book, Slay in Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible, which is what it says: a guide for Black girls. Other topics and books discussed are on how empowered Black men are, and various feminist works about how gynaecological problems should be discussed openly, and the changing nature of the female muse. Rather than being passive creatures, modern muses are active, liberated women conquering business, sports, the arts and science. There’s also a piece on the future of masculinity, titled ‘Will Boys Still Be Boys’, which asks what will happen to boys now that the idea that there is a natural realm of masculinity, such as superiority and aggression, has been disproved. The concern with ethnic minority authors has always been there, or at least since the 1990s. Then, and in the early part of this century, a frequent theme of the Festival was ‘crossing continents’, which gave a platform to prominent literary authors from outside Europe and the West. It also gave space to Black and Asian literature from the UK. I can remember too, how one of the events staged at the Festival was a celebration of Black British poetry, much of it in Caribbean Patois.

The Festival also caters for more popular tastes. In the past it had speaking the Fantasy author, Terry Pratchett, along with the approved, heavyweight literary types. It has events for children’s books, and this year features such media celebrities as Francis Rossi from Status Quo and Paul Merton. So, something for everyone, or so it seems.

But nevertheless, the Establishment bias is there, especially as so many of the speakers, like Maitlis and Humphreys, are drawn from the mainstream media. Back in the 1990s the Festival was sponsored by the Independent. Now it’s sponsored by the Times, the Murdoch rag whose sister paper, the Sunset Times, has spent so much time smearing Corbyn and his supporters as Communist infiltrators or vicious anti-Semites. Maitlis and Humphreys are BBC news team, and so, almost by definition, they’re Conservative propagandists. Especially as Humphreys is retiring, and has given interviews and written pieces for the Heil. Any chance of hearing something from the Cheltenham Festival about the current political situation that doesn’t conform to what the Establishment wants you to hear, or is prepared to tolerate? Answers on a postcard, please. Here’s a couple of examples. One of the topics under discussion is ‘Populism’. I don’t know what they’re planning to include in it, but from previous discussions of this in the media, I’m prepared to bet that they’ll talk about Trump, possibly Boris Johnson, the rise of extreme right-wing movements in Europe and elsewhere in the world, like Marine Le Pen former Front National in France, the AfD in Germany, Orban and so on in Hungary, Bolsonaro in Brazil and the Five Star Movement in Italy. All of whom are definitely populists. But they’ll also probably include Corbyn and Momentum, because Corbyn is genuinely left-wing, challenges the Thatcherite neoliberal consensus and will empower the masses. All of which threatens the Establishment. There are also individual politicians speaking this year, but the only one I found from the Left was Jess Philips. Who isn’t remotely left-wing in the traditional sense, though she is an outspoken feminist.

The other topic is about what should be done with Putin. Now let’s not delude ourselves, Putin is a corrupt thug, and under him Russia has become once again a very autocratic state. Political and religious dissidents, including journalists, are being attacked, jailed and in some cases murdered. Among the religious groups he’s decided are a threat to Mother Russia are the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I’m not a member of the denomination, and find their doorstep campaigning as irritating as everyone else. But they are certainly not a dangerous cult or terrorist organisation. And they have stood up to tyrants. They were persecuted by the Nazis during the Third Reich, with their members imprisoned in the concentration camps, including a 17 year old boy, because they wouldn’t accept Hitler as a secular messiah. For which I respect for them. The Arkhiplut has enriched himself, and rewarded his cronies with company directorships, while assassinating the oligarchs, who haven’t toed his line. And I still remember the genocidal butchery he unleashed in Chechnya nearly two decades ago, because they had the temerity to break away.

But geopolitically, I don’t regard Putin as a military threat. In terms of foreign policy it seems that Putin is interested solely in preserving the safety of his country from western encirclement. Hence the invasion of the Ukraine to protect the Russian minority there. If he really wanted to conquer the country, rather than the Donbass, his tanks would be in Kiev by now. I’ve blogged before about how Gorbachev was promised by the West that in return for allowing the former eastern European satellites to break away from the USSR, they would remain neutral and not become members of NATO. That’s been violated. They’ve all become members, and there are NATO military bases now on Russia’s doorstep. The Maidan Revolution of 2012 which overthrew the previous, pro-Russian president of Ukraine was stage managed by the American state department and the National Endowment for Democracy under Hillary Clinton and Victoria Nuland. There’s evidence that the antagonism against Putin’s regime comes from western multinationals, who feel aggrieved at not being able to seize Russian companies as promised by Putin’s predecessor, the corrupt, drunken buffoon Boris Yeltsin. Putin also seems to be quite genuine in his belief in a multipolar world, in which his country, as well as others like China, are also superpowers. But the Americans are interested only in maintaining their position as the world’s only superpower through ‘full spectrum dominance’: that is, absolute military superiority. The US’ military budget supersedes both the Russian and that of the four other major global countries combined. Arguably, Russia ain’t the global threat. America and NATO are.

Festivals like that of Cheltenham are important. They’re business arrangements, of course. They exist to sell books. But they also encourage literacy, and allow the public to come face to face with the people, who inform and entertain them through the written word. Although here the books’ pages of Private Eye complained years ago that the Festival and others like it gave more space to celebrities from television, sport, music and other areas, rather than people, whose primary living was from writing. But the information we are given is shaped by the media – by the papers and broadcasters, who give the public the news, and the publishers, who decide which books on which subjects to publish. And then there’s the bias of the individual festivals themselves. And in the case of Cheltenham, it is very establishment. It’s liberal in terms of feminism and multiculturalism, but other conservative, and increasing Conservative, in others. It’s through events like Cheltenham that the media tries to create and support the establishment consensus.

But that consensus is rightly breaking down, as increasingly more people become aware that it is only creating mass poverty. The Establishment’s refusal to tolerate other, competing opinions – their demonisation of Corbyn and his supporters as Communists, Trotskyites and Nazis, for example – is leading to further alienation and disaffection. Working people don’t find their voices and concerns reflected in the media. Which is why they’re turning to the online alternatives. But Festivals like Cheltenham carry on promoting the same establishment agenda, with the odd voice from the opposition, just like the Beeb’s Question Time. And this is going to change any time soon, not with lyingt rags like the Times sponsoring it.

Facebook Bans Israeli Company for Interfering in Elections Around the World

May 18, 2019

Here’s another very interesting piece from Mike over at Vox Political. The social media giant, Facebook, has banned the Archmides Group, an Israeli company based in Tel Aviv, because it was trying to manipulate elections in Africa, Asia and Latin America by posting propaganda and setting up fake accounts. It took down 265 Facebook and Instagram accounts, pages, groups and events, followed by 2.8 million Facebook accounts, because they were judged or disseminated manipulative content.

Mike asks the obvious questions. Like whether this means that the Israelis have been trying to influence politics in this country, whether other countries, like Russia, are also doing the same, and whether Facebook itself can be trusted. It hosts ‘dark advertising’, which is targeted as specific individuals. This makes it hard to follow for anyone but the specified recipient, and so can be used by political parties to hide how much they are spending on electoral campaigns.

And Mike wonders if the Tories realised that their support of globalisation would mean that they would be allowing other countries to influence elections right here?

Israeli company banned from Facebook after interfering with elections around the world

This is another instance where, unfortunately, I’m not remotely surprised. It seems that the Israeli state has no scruples whatsoever in its dealings with other nations. From the 1970s onwards it formed alliances with extremely repressive, Fascist states around the world. This included not only apartheid South Africa, which shocked many Israelis, but also the Fascist regimes in Latin America. Like Guatemala, where Israeli experts showed the Fascist government how to isolate and imprison the indigenous peoples in special villages in its genocidal war against the Mayan Indians. They supported the horrific regimes of Nicaragua and El Salvador, as well as General Pinochet in Chile. Even though the bloody butcher also tortured and murdered Jews in his roundup of Left wing activists.

And they’re still doing pretty much the same today, supporting the far right regimes in Poland, Hungary, the Baltic States and Ukraine, because these regimes buy their guns and armaments. Right at the same time those same regimes are celebrating Nazi collaborators, or pushing anti-Semitic propaganda. Like the Polish Law and Justice Party, which has passed legislation prohibiting discussion of Polish collaboration in the Holocaust.

As for the Tories allowing foreign influence in our elections, frankly, they really don’t care. You think of all the Russian oligarchs that are funding the Tory party. And the way the Tories were very keen to shut down any further discussion of Israeli influence in the party after al-Jazeera expose Shai Masot. Not that Blair was much different. Under international law, allied countries may not spy on each other. However, the Israelis have been caught several times doing so in Britain. They did it under Thatcher, who went berserk and threatened them with closing down their embassy. They duly caved in. When they did it again under Blair, he issued a feeble reprimand, but did nothing. Possibly because Blair was receiving donations from Zionist businessmen he’d met through the Israeli embassy.

Israel is a brutal, Fascist, manipulative state. But proper exposure of just how nefarious it is, is prevented through threats and accusations of anti-Semitism. It’s high time this was stopped, and Israel really shown for what it is. Especially as it is using the Eurovision Song Contest to brighten its foul image.

Andrew Neil’s ‘This Week’ BBC Show Axed

February 18, 2019

Last week was not a good one for Andrew Neil, the presenter of the Beeb’s politics shows ‘This Week’ and ‘The Daily Politics’. It was reported on ITV News on Friday that his show, ‘This Week’, was being axed. The article about it in this weekend’s I for 16-17th February 2019, by Keiran Southern on page 16, entitled, ”This Week’ ends as Neil quits his late-night show’ read

The BBC’s long-running politics show This Week is to end after presenter Andrew Neil announced he was stepping down.

The BBC1 show, which airs on Thursdays after Question Time, will be taken off air this summer when its current series ends, the corporation said.

Neil has fronted the show since it began in 2003 and regular guests include the former Tory MP, Michael Portillo, and Shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott.

Fran Unsworth, BBC’s director of news, said: “We couldn’t imagine This Week without the inimitable Andrew Neil, one of Britain’s best political interviewers. After 16 years, Andrew is bowing out of late-night presenting on the show, at the top of his game.”

Neil will continue to present Politics Live on Thursdays, Ms Unsworth added, and the BBC wants to keep the 69-7ear-old “at the heart” of its political coverage.

This Week is known for its informal look at politics, while Ms Abbott and Mr Portillo formed an unlikely TV double act, despite being on opposite sides of the political divide.

The announcement comes amid uncertainty surrounding the BBC’s news output – it is under pressure to cut £80m from its budgets and to attract younger audiences.

Earlier this week, BBC journalists wrote to the broadcaster’s director-general to oppose the decision to shorten its News At Ten programme after it emerged it would be cut by 10 minutes to make way for youth programming and Question Time.

Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen and other foreign correspondents have asked Lord Tony Hall to reconsider.

Last year, Sunday Politics, hosted by Sarah Smith, was axed and replaced by Politics Live, which airs Monday to Friday.

Other people, who are sick to death of the Beeb’s right-wing Tory bias, including Andrew Neil, are actually quite delighted and amused. The good fellow at Crewe, who does the Zelo Street blog, posted a piece on it on Friday, whose title said it all ‘Andrew Neil Nearly Out the Door’. He noted that despite Hall defending Neil over his ‘crazy cat woman’ remark to the Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr, the cancellation of one of Neil’s vehicles shows that the comment and the outrage it sparked has had an effect.

The deputy political editor of the Heil on Sunday, Harry Cole, was furious, tweeting

“A bloody outrage. Will only give succour to Corbynistas and sad sacks like Jukes and Carole who are modern equivalent of green ink dickheads who pester management. Since when did boss class start listening to loons before the viewers? Bring back #ThisWeek and make @afneil DG”. Which brought forth the reply from Peter Jukes

Harry Cole defending Andrew Neil, and desperately trying not to look like a member of the boss class.

Rather more damaging to Brillo and his supposed impartiality was another photo Carold Cadwalladr unearthed, showing Neil in the company of the former Ulster Unionist MP, David Burnside, who was formerly the PR man to Cambridge Analytica shareholder, Tchenguiz, who was in his turn the publicity man for Dmitryo Firtash, a Ukrainian oligarch wanted by the FBI. And Nigel Farage, now desperately trying to claw his way back into British politics with his wretched Brexit Party.

Zelo Street also noted that this was in addition to the discomfort Neil was bringing the Beeb with his continued association with the Spectator, now increasingly Alt Right, which specializes in climate change denial, pro-Brexit propaganda, and vicious islamophobia from pundits like Douglas Murray. As well as the snobbery and elitism of James Delingpole and anti-Semitism and Fascist propaganda from their other long-running contributor, Taki. Who a few weeks ago embarrassed the magazine by praising the Greek neo-Nazi group, Golden Dawn, as just ‘patriotic Greeks’, who were just a bit rough around the edges. Like when one of them murdered left-wing journalist, perhaps, or when the attack and demolish market stalls belonging to illegal immigrants and attack and beat asylum seekers from Africa and the Middle East.

The Zelo Street article concluded

In any case, Andrew Neil should be grateful that he’s been allowed more or less free rein to reinvent himself as a broadcast journalist after falling out with Rupert Murdoch. Now he’s got more dosh than he knows what to do with, it’s time to yield to youth.

He’s at the top of his game? Good. Then he may be remembered well. Time to go.

See: http://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/02/brillo-almost-out-of-bbc-door.html

Unsworth’s cancellation of his show, rather than handing it over to someone else to present, also says something about the show’s audience. It’s viewers are clearly people, who want it to be helmed by an older White man, whose backgrounds is very much in establishment, centre-right journalism: Neil was editor of the Sunday Times and The Economist. And Zelo Street has quoted other journos at the Spectator that he is another Thatcher cultist, who wishes Maggie was still around running the country. Presumably it’s the same kind of audience that avidly supports John Humphries on Radio 4’s Today programme, another massively overpaid, right-wing White man of mature years. Which would indicate that the audience for these two is also largely made up of right-wing, very establishment White men who are middle-aged to elderly.

It seems to me that Neil’s show needn’t be axed, but could easily be handed over to someone else, someone younger, who was rather more impartial, or at least less publicly biased. It struck me that the team on the Beeb’s breakfast news could probably do it, Charlie Stayt, Naga Manchetti and Louis Minchin. And the rise of the new left-wing media on the internet has show what very incisive minds there are well outside of the establishment media. Like Novara Media’s Ash Sarkar, and The Canary’s Kerry-Ann Mendoza and Steve Topple. They’re all young, Sarkar and Mendoza are both BAME, while Topple definitely had a countercultural appearance with his Mohican coiffure. But they’re all very shrewd reports, who keenly analysed and dissected the news. And their example shows that out there is a vast pool of talent, which is currently being ignored by the current media political establishment.

Of course the Beeb’s refusal to appoint someone else to present the show may also be partly based from their experience of what happened to Newsnight after Paxo left: its audience collapsed. But rather than cut back on current news reportage and analysis altogether, the Beeb could actually launch a replacement instead, presented by younger people and aimed at younger people. You know, all the millennials and younger, who are trying to make their voices heard in a political climate dominated by the old and middle-aged. The people a genuinely functioning democracy needs to get involved and interested in political debate.

But I’m sure this would be a step too far for the Beeb. You’d have the establishment media whining that the Corporation was dumbing down, that it was ‘Yoof TV’ after the various tasteless disasters in youth programming spawned in the 1990s by Janet Street-Porter and others of her ilk. As well as the more serious fact that the establishment is absolutely terrified of millennials and what the Victorians used to refer to as ‘the rising generation’ because they’re generally more left-wing than their elders in the political establishment. You know, all those pesky kids in America and Britain, who are backing Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn against the corporatists in the Democrat Party, Trump and the Republicans, and Tweezer, the Tories and the Blairites over here. Young people, who want socialism rather than the tired, destructive Neoliberalism of the past forty years.

But the political, media and industrial establishment is absolutely petrified of them and their views. They don’t want them to be heard. And so they’d rather axe one of Neil’s shows than hand it over to them. Which shows how paralyzed the Beeb is in trying to hang on to its aging, establishment audience at the expense of trying to bring on board young, and potentially radical talent.

Money Laundering: Will Jeremy Hunt End Up at the Bottom of the Black Sea like Iron Bella?

April 22, 2018

Much mirth was had on Friday night’s edition of Have I Got News For You when host Lee Mack inadvertently accused Jeremy Hunt of money laundering. The current minister in charge of privatising the NHS has bought a whole load of houses in Southampton to the tune of £50 million, but not declared it in the register of members’ interests. This breaks parliamentary rules, as Mike reported on his blog. Mack went a bit further, and frightened the Beeb’s lawyers and producers by inadvertently claiming that Hunt had been accused of money laundering. He hasn’t, as the producers and the lawyers told him through the microphone in his ear and by autocue. He then got frightened over whether it would be the programme or himself that could get sued for libel.

Hislop, however, was perfectly willing to repeat the accusation. He said that the legislation that Hunt had violated had been brought in specifically to deal with money laundering, and so that was what Hunt was doing. ‘Trust me on this. I never lose’. That last must have been said ironically, as Hislop and Private Eye have lost libel cases so often that it was a case for major celebration over a decade ago when he actually won one. Mack hurriedly repeated the statement that Hunt had not been charged with that offence, while Hislop said ‘But that’s what he’s been doing.’ Ah, the fun of watching arguments on panel games, and a host terrified of m’learned friends coming down on him.

But this also raises an interesting point. Amongst their various donors, the Tories have been taking money from Russian oligarchs. These men were very highly placed managers and apparatchiks under the old Soviet system. Hence they were able to buy up their particular industries and state enterprises, often at knockdown prices, when it was all privatised by Yeltsin. And there’s a conflict of interest here. When Putin came to power, he allowed them to retain their ownership on one condition: absolute loyalty to him. It’s been described by Russian dissidents and academics as ‘industrial feudalism’. Alexandra Politovskaya, the murdered Russian democracy activist said that as long as this system continues, there is no freedom, no democracy, just the strong man in the Kremlin.

Exactly true. So although the Tories want some kind of confrontation with Putin, including war, a sizable portion of their rich donors don’t.

But there’s also the possibility of personal danger to Hunt himself. Russia is a very corrupt society, and the Communist era was certainly no exception. The Russian journalist Arkady Vaksberg described just how corrupt Russian officialdom was in his book The Soviet Mafia. Vaksberg was a Jewish Bulgarian, who worked for TASS, the official Soviet news agency. Several times he risked censure and arrest for uncovering massive corruption within the Communist party. And it went all the way to the top, right to Brezhnev himself and his son-in-law. Vaksberg describes talking to exhausted, demoralised Soviet generals, who had spent days trying to arrange emergency transport for food into areas hit by famine. They then found out that all their efforts had been wasted. There was no famine. It all had been a scam by the local party chiefs and apparatchiks to misdirect funds and goods, and enrich themselves.

And money laundering was one of the many tricks the corrupt Communist chiefs were into. In one of the these scams, the embezzled money was laundered through the Soviet hotel chains on the Black Sea coast, run by a powerful Georgian lady nicknamed ‘Iron Bella’. Again, millions of roubles were involved. After this was busted wide open, and those responsible were sacked and led off to the gulags, Iron Bella mysteriously disappeared.

But everybody knew where she went. As they said in the Godfather, she sleeps with the fishes. The joke at the time went, ‘Nobody knows what happened to all those roubles, but everyone knows Iron Bella’s at the bottom of the Black Sea’. Quite.

If Hunt has been doing a bit of money laundering, an offence for which he has not been charged, and it comes from Russian oligarchs, then it might be advisable for him to avoid any coastal holidays for the time being.

Lobster Review of Pro-Jewish, Pro-Zionist Book Against Israel, and Against Israel Lobby In America: Part Two

April 8, 2018

Neumann then moves on to what Israel should do now in ensure its survival: it must leave the Occupied Territories.

‘with the acquisition of the
Occupied Territories in 1967,
Israel had a chance to make
handsome amends for the crimes
on which it was built. Saint-
lines or selfless optimism
were not required. Israel could
have sponsored and supported,
with true generosity, the
establishment of a sovereign
Palestinian state by backing
those amenable to reconciliation
and attacking those who were not.
This might not have been a just
settlement, but it would have
worked.’

American support for Israel following 1967 has made that possibility harder to achieve, and an exploration of this relationship is the subject of the book by James Petras. He dedicates the Power of Israel in the United States to Rachel Corrie, ‘US citizen and humanitarian internationalist volunteer in Palestine murdered by the Israeli military’. His style is that of the committed activist, in sharp contrast to the cool rigour of Neumann. There re times when his use of capitals, as in Terror Experts or Zionist Power Configuration, irritate. But while his writing is urgent, at times to the point of stridency, it is well sourced and invites the reader to inquire further into the areas he explores. Here is a flavour of the Petras style:

‘Through overseas networks the
Israeli state can directly inter-
vene and set the parameters to US
foreign aid in the Middle East.
The overseas networks play a major
role in shaping the internal debate
on US policy toward Israel.
Propaganda associating Israeli
repression of Palestinians as the
righteous response of the victims of
the Holocaust has been repeated
throughout the mass media. President
Ahmadinejad’s suggestion that
Holocaust victims might more properly
be compensated by land located in
Europe or in the countries that
victimised them was misreported, then
highly circulated to fuel, instead,
the notion of a rabid, anti-Semitic
Iran. From the height of the network
to the lawyers’ board-rooms, and the
doctors’ lounges, the pro-Israel
supporters of the network aggressively
attack as “anti-Semites” any critical
voices. Through local intimidation and
malicious intervention in the
professions, the zealots defend Israeli
policy and leaders, contribute money
organise voters, and run for office.
Once in office they tune in to Israel’s
policy needs.’

But hasn’t the United States always been subject to pressures exerted by those of its citizens with connections in other countries, be they links with Ireland or the countries of the former Eastern bloc? Petras accepts this, but answers:

‘The Cuban exiles in Miami
exercise significant influence
in both major parties. But in
no other case has linkage led
to the establishment of an
enduring hegemonic relationship:
an empire colonised by a
regional power, with the US
paying tribute to Israel, subject
to the ideological blinders of
its overseas colons, and launching
aggressive wars on its behalf.’

Who are these ‘overseas colons’? Petras has a very long line of ‘Israel Firsters’, people both inside Congress and electoral politics, and those unelected, such as Paul Wolfowitz and his friends in the Office of Special Plans driving the Iraq invasion, as well as many in the media. He tells us about the muscle asserted by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations
with its Daily Alert (www.dailyalert.org/) prepared by the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs; the American Jewish Committee; the Anti-Defamation League, and the Zionist Organisation of America.

Petras looks critically at the four principal US sources of financial support for Israel he lists as:

‘1. Wealthy, Jewish contributors
and powerful disciplined fund-
raising organisations. 2: The US
government – both Congress and
the Presidency. 3: The mass media,
particularly the
New York Times,
Hollywood and the major television
networks. 4: The trade union bosses
and the heads of pension funds.’

In addition there are well-organised fundamentalist Christian groups with close links to Israel. Petras also sees the emergence under President Yeltsin of the Russian oligarchs (most possessing Israeli passports and having major financial interests in that country) as in part being due to President Clinton’s closeness to the Zionist lobby in the United States.

At times Petras is a little breathless in his description of the activities of those close to Israel, especially the people against whom legal proceedings have been taken after spying for that country while holding important Washington positions. This seems to be a measure of his anger and frustration at his native country being drawn into conflicts that he believes do not serve its interests. While I prefer the cooler logic of Neumann I also recognise the value of an emeritus professor of sociology like Petras alerting his readers in matters they can then look into in their own way and about which they can reach their own conclusions.

If Attorney General Lord Goldsmith advises prosecutions over cash for honours we may learn something of the financial network to which Tony Blair’s Middle East ‘envoy’ seems so central, and then perhaps something of the extent to which the Israel lobby has been influential on the politics of New labour. Whether or not the Crown Prosecution Service gets to dig a little below the surface of our political life, Britain could use both a Neumann and a Petras
to provoke examination of the way our electoral politics is linked to the fortunes of Israel. We should not be distracted by controversy over the veil covering the faces of Muslim women: there are other forms of concealment requiring our more urgent attention.

(Pp. 40-2, Winter 2006/7).

What You Won’t See on the News: Trump Arming Nazi Azov Battalion in Ukraine

February 8, 2018

This is another piece of brilliant journalism, of the type that the lamestream media are trying to suppress as ‘fake news’ from the internet. This piece comes from The Real News Network, in which host Aaron Mate talks to Max Blumenthal about the Trump administration arming real neo-Nazis in the Ukraine, and Poland’s criminalisation of references to ‘Polish death camps’.

The Azov Battalion are a paramilitary militia, which grew out of the Patriot party. Their ideological leader is a street demagogue called Andrei Baletsky, and they are now part of his Social National Party. Whose names tells you exactly what they are – Nazis. Just like Hitler’s squad of murderous goons called themselves ‘National Socialist’. The group stands for ‘upholding the honour of the White race’. They at against race-mixing, and see themselves as part of the vanguard in the Ukraine in what they term a ‘reconquista’ – a reconquest of the White countries of Europe.

These thugs emerged in the Donbass in the east of Ukraine, fighting the pro-Russian separatists after the Maidan Revolution. The Russian and Russian-speaking separatists wished to secede as their language would not be recognised by the new, nationalist government. They have very strong support from the interior minister, and have been incorporated into the Ukrainian state national security apparatus. More recently, an special corps of the Battalion have been installed in the capital, Kiev, ‘to keep order’. They have begun to throw their weight around, and have disrupted a council meeting. Blumenthal states that this amounts to a coup against the current Ukrainian premier, Poroshenko. For some reason that Blumenthal doesn’t understand, Poroshenko’s position is weak, and he’s been attacked by the pro-Western politicos and activists.

The promotion of the Azov Battalion as a part of Ukrainian state security has alarmed the Jewish community in Ukraine, as well as severely normal Ukrainians. The campaigner against anti-Semitism, Ephraim Zurov, has commented that Ukraine seems to have a greater number of statues to Jew killers than any other country. This includes the nationalist hero, Stepan Bandera, who was a Nazi collaborator in the Holocaust. Blumenthal describes with disgust the way Stepan Bandera boulevard leads to Baba Yar. This was the site of one of the most infamous massacres of Jews in the former Soviet Union during the Nazi occupation. It’s the subject of a poem of the same name by one of the great Soviet writers commemorating the atrocity and its victims.

And, like the Polish senate, the Ukrainian government has also passed legislation banning any ascription of the Nazi atrocities and persecution of the Jews to Ukrainians. As Blumenthal states, this is to wipe out of history the huge amount of collaboration with the Nazis in Poland and Ukraine.

Blumenthal notes the various liberal commenters, who assured us all that the Maidan revolution wasn’t full of Fascists. It was, and Blumenthal describes it as a right-wing coup.

And America is funding them. Trump has sent a shipment of grenade launchers to the Battalion, as well as US army personnel to train their troops. These troopers have been photographed wearing the Battalion’s uniform, which includes the Nazi Wolfsangel, a badge, whose lettering is very much in the style of the SS badge. There have been attempts by Congress to stop the supply of arms and military aid. Legislation specifically prohibiting the supply of arms to the Azov Battalion has been tabled, only to be pushed back for debate later. And while this occurred, Trump sent a consignment of rocket launchers from the arms manufacturer Raytheon over there. Blumenthal also wonders what else the US is funding. The Battalion’s corps, sent in to keep the people of Kiev down, has 600 members. Supplying them with coats alone costs $1.6 million. So he wonders just who’s paying for that.

And the Azov Battalion aren’t just a threat to Ukraine, but to other European countries. Blumenthal makes the point that they’re like ISIS and al-Qaeda in that they attract foreign fighters. One of these was a French Nazi, Montot, who took back with him a vast cache of arms which he was going to use to attack a soccer match and bomb synagogues.

As for the Polish government outlawing any connection between their country and the Holocaust, Blumenthal and Mate state that this has drawn criticism from a number of countries, including Israel. But last year Israel also signed a memorandum of understanding with Poland, which recognised the country’s need to distance itself from the crimes of the Nazi era. And Poland has been a very strong supporter of Israel. They’ve signed a deal to purchase $14 million of arms from an Israeli arms manufacturer. Blumenthal here makes the point that Israel has a long history of collaborating with anti-Semites, including the Nazis during the Holocaust. He also states that the Nazis right in Poland and the Israeli government have the same ideology. Just as the Poles are trying to cover up their complicity in the Holocaust, so the Israeli are trying to cover up their perpetration of the Nakba, the Palestinian term for their ethnic cleansing.

This is very definitely not something you’re going to read in the Times or any of the other mainstream papers. Remember when we were all told that the ‘Orange Revolution’ was pro-democracy, and was a spontaneous uprising by Ukrainians against their pro-Russia president? It was a pack of lies. The Revolution was organised by the CIA, the US state department, and the National Endowment for Democracy, which has been the NGO to which the US has outsourced is coups and changes of regime since the CIA got a bad reputation for it all during the 1970s. The whole affair was overseen by Obama and his secretary of state, Victoria Nuland.

But the media keeps repeating the lie, including Ian Hislop’s mighty organ, Private Eye. They’ve published several pieces in their ‘Letter from’ column from Ukraine, presenting the Revolution very much as the Ukrainian people fighting off evil pro-Putin oligarchs. The opposite is true. The Maidan Revolution was set up and controlled by pro-Western oligarchs and politicos, as a coup against their elected president.

The media’s unqualified acceptance of the lie that the new government isn’t at all Fascist is now so gross, that the long term critic of America foreign policy, William Blum, in the latest issue of his Anti-Empire Report has commented that the Nazis could walk down Kiev’s main street in full Nazi uniform, and the media would still tell us all there were no Nazis there.

It also shows how craven and mendacious the mainstream press and media is over here. While the Sunset Times, the Heil, Scum and Jewish Chronicle have libelled Mike and other decent anti-racists as anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers, manufacturing lies and smears against them because they had the audacity to talk about Israel’s own crimes against humanity and collaboration with the Nazis, they are silent on the real Fascist and Nazis seizing power in eastern Europe.

Or perhaps that’s the point. The Tories, Blairites and Israel lobby are terrified of Corbyn and his supporters, not because they’re anti-Semitic – they aren’t, and they know it – but because they represent genuine socialism and a commitment to real social justice for the Palestinians. In fact, Steve Pollard, the editor of the Jewish Chronicle, appeared in the page of the Guardian to deny that the Polish government was full of anti-Semites, because the current president is ‘a good friend to Israel’. Thus showing once again that the pro-Israel lobby will collaborate with real anti-Semites when it serves them. And so they have to be destroyed. But it also serves as a distraction from the way America is supplying and funding real Nazis in eastern Europe.

Ukrainian Demonstrators Demand Impeachment of President

December 4, 2017

Not Trump and America this time, but the Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko. This was put up by RT yesterday, showing a crowd, led by the Ukrainian opposition leader Mikhail Saakashvili marching behind a banner demanding Poroshenko’s impeachment.

The description of the clip’s contents states

Demonstrators gathered for a Mikhail Saakashvili-led protest to demand the impeachment of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, in Kiev on Sunday. People marched through the central streets of Kiev, holding banners and chanting slogans such as ‘Hail Ukraine! Hail the heroes!’, ‘Kiev, stand up!’. Saakashvili, who is now leader of the Ukrainian opposition ‘Movement of the New Forces’ addressed his supporters.

The legend at the bottom of the banner, Zamist’ Revolutsii, means ‘Instead of Revolution’. Obviously they want Poroshenko impeached, rather than overthrown. The video’s on YouTube at:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVO9Z3oTWEM

I assume this is a genuine, grass-roots demonstration by people, who are sick of the civil war and having a bunch of very open Nazis in government. But I don’t know. The original Maidan Revolution was very carefully staged by Barack Obama, Victoria Nuland, the CIA, National Endowment for Democracy and the Soros Foundation. For all I know, and I might be just a bit too paranoid here, this could be more astroturf international corporate meddling in the country’s politics in order to bring down a politician, who is either not as popular as they’d hoped, or otherwise out of their control. I’ve also got the distinct impression that Ukrainian politics is dominated by different oligarchs vying for power, so I’m not sure whether Saakashvili genuinely does represent the interests of ordinary working Ukrainians, or if this is just the case of another billionaire industrialist trying to take power.

TYT on Anti-Putin Journalist Stabbed in the Throat

October 25, 2017

This is another piece of news on the attack on free speech and a free press and media around the world. In this piece, Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian of The Young Turks comment on the stabbing of Tatiana Felgenhauer, an outspoken critic of Putin, by an apparent schizophrenic man, Boris Gritz. Felgenhauer was the deputy editor in chief and a presenter at an anti-Putin radio station, Ekho Moskvi, whose name translates as ‘Moscow Echo’. Gritz, who the pro-Putin media has claimed believed he was in telepathic contact with Felgenhauer, broke into the station’s headquarters, pepper-sprayed a guard, and then stabbed Felgenhauer in the throat. Gritz had previously emigrated to Israel, but shortly returned to Russia. Felgenhauer was rushed to hospital. She has survived, and is breathing through a tube.

Uygur and Kasparian find the claim that Gritz believed he was in mental contact with her far too convenient. They point to the immense number of journalists, who have been killed in highly suspicious circumstances, which suggests that they were murdered because of their criticism of the Arkhiplut. They were killed even when they were not actually opponents of Putin. Simply pointing out problems with Putin’s policies or other failures is enough. In Gritz’s case, the attack occurred two weeks after a pro-Putin news programme stated that Ekho Moskvi was an agent of America, and specifically named Felgenhauer.

And it’s not just journos that are being killed. After Trump was elected president, a whole slew of diplomats met with similar suspicious ends. One was simply walking down the street when a sofa, which was being lifted into position into an apartment above him, happened to fall and kill him. The poor fellow’s death made little impression with Trump, who seems to have shrugged it off. As for Gritz, Uygur speculates that, as the main suspect in what looks like an assassination will go the same way as Lee Harvey Oswald.

Kasparian also goes on to explain the reason she went off on a rant about the number of Americans a recent poll claimed believed that Donald Trump was right when he said he wanted to revoke the broadcasting licences of the news media that opposed him. She states its because all over the world journalists are hated by those in power, because they’re supposed to keep a check on the government and tell truth to power. She and Uygur make the point that freedom of speech is at the core of American constitutional freedoms, and is what makes America so great. But this freedom is under attack, both in Russia and in Trump’s America. They state that before he became president, it was okay for Trump to admire Putin. But now he’s in office, he needs to be told that the muzzling of the press and media is not how it’s done in America.

This is indeed another suspicious attack from a long line of very many similar attacks in Putin’s Russia. The Graoniad’s John Kampfner discusses the number of Russian journos, who have been beaten and murdered in his book on the way governments around the world are becoming increasingly autocratic, Freedom For Sale. And it really isn’t just journos, who are being assassinated. The victims also include leading dissenting politicians, like Aleksandra Politovskaya. She was a genuine pro-democracy activist and opponent of Putin, who was mysteriously shot dead in her apartment in Moscow. Her murderer has never been caught. And what made her death more suspicious was that her flat was in the same block as a cop bar on the ground floor.

Felgenhauer’s murder looks very much like a plot from Stuart Kaminsky’s Inspector Rostnikov novels, The Man Who Walked Like A Bear, A Fine Red Rain, Rostnikov’s Vacation and others. They’re crime thrillers, set in the last days of the Soviet Union. The hero, Rostnikov, is an honest cop, who’s been posted to a police department, whose own functions are largely ceremonial, because he has embarrassed the authorities by solving the kind of crimes they didn’t want solved. Rostnikov’s team includes a short pathologist and a man so humourless and inadvertently intimidating that he is nicknamed the ‘Vampire’. They go on to solve various murders, all of which appear to have a political dimension to them, as hidden factions within the Communist party try to settle their differences by setting up various pawns and patsies to assassinate their rivals. Or else stage incidents, which are carefully set up to lead Rostnikov and his team to those they want caught, but can’t be seen moving against themselves.

Kaminsky seems to have captured the politically fraught world of the Soviet police. The novels came out at about the same time as the thriller, Gorky Park, which was later filmed, about a soviet policeman investigating a serial killer in Moscow. And then there was the case of a real-life monster, arrested by another honest cop. The dedicated ‘tec this time was an Ingush, one of the small nations deported from their homes in the Caucasus to Siberia by Stalin. He caught a monster, who had raped, killed and eaten about 50-odd men and boys. The perp was able to get away with his crimes because he was a member of the Communist party.

But such crimes and assassinations aren’t confined to the Soviet past. There was a massive surge in gang violence in the days of chaos following Yeltsin’s privatisation of the Soviet economy. The mob moved out of the usual criminal activities – drugs, stolen goods and extortion – and tried to take over whole industries. Travelling through Siberia, Simon Reeve in his programme on contemporary Russia a few weeks ago commented on how the Russian mafia fought a series of battles with the authorities in one Siberian town in order to wrest control of the local, profit-making aluminium smelter. Reeve explained that Putin is genuinely immensely popular in Russia, despite his dictatorial nature, because he put a stop to the gang violence.

The price, however, is high. The oligarchs, who were given or bought their control of the great Russian monopoly industries, have done so at the cost of giving their complete support and loyalty to Putin. And Politovskaya herself said that so long as this system remains in place, there is no freedom, no democracy, ‘just the strong man in the Kremlin’.

A silovik (strong man), who is very much appeared by Donald Trump. Who would like to do to the press in America, what Putin has done in Russia.