Posts Tagged ‘Sputnik’

Miriam Margolyes Defends Labour and Jeremy Corbyn against Anti-Semitism Smears in Radio Times

April 16, 2019

Next week’s Radio Times for 20th-26th April 2019 has a long interview with veteran thesp Miriam Margolyes.  It’s partly publicity for her forthcoming documentary, Miriam’s Dead Good Adventure, in which she explores death and how people cope with it. This includes venturing into the kind of territory Louis Theroux explored in his Weird Weekends all those years ago, when he explored the weirder margins of American society. In her case, Margolyes meets a group, who believe they can use orgasmic energy to stave off death forever, making them immortal. Needless to say, she doesn’t believe a word of it.

Most interestingly, Margolyes discusses the anti-Semitism allegations against the Labour party and Jeremy Corbyn, making it very clear that she doesn’t believe in them either. She condemns the Israeli oppression of the Palestinians, and describes how her view have led to her being vilified by pro-Israel groups and individuals, like Maureen Lipman. And like Jackie Walker, another Jewish anti-Zionist lady of mature years, she was radicalised through her opposition to apartheid in South Africa. This section of the interview runs

A Labour Party member, she has firm opinions about anti-Semitism accusations directed at the party. “Jeremy Corbyn, who is an excellent constituency representative, a serious person, is not an anti-Semite. I don’t think there is the extent of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party that people seem to imply,” she says. “I think it’s to do with trying to stop Corbyn from being prime minister”. She is also critical of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. “It’s just a fact that the Israelis have behaved appallingly, they continue to do so, and people are dying. I am ashamed, as a Jew, of what’s been done in my my name. I can’t bear it. And for that I’m vilified and people won’t come to see the plays I’m in. I’ve become, as it were a kind of minuscule Vanessa Redgrave when she was vilified for her political position. But I am right. I have no doubt about that whatever”.

I wonder how it feels to be separated from your own community. “It hurts me,” she says. “I’m so Jewish, and so happy to be Jewish. And the schism between me and Maureen Lipman, which is the manifestation of this chasm, causes me pain.”

Lipman is a very public supporter of Israel. IN 2015 she demonstrated with pro-Israeli groups outside a production of a pro-Palestinian play in London. “She feels that I am a wicked traitor to my people,” says Margolyes. “And I feel that she’s a fool.” The two appeared together in a 1989 British Telecom commercial spoofing Jewish domestic life, now Margolyes admits it would be difficult if they met in the street. “I hope I would be civil. I’m sad because I admire Maureen, and I have known her for a long time. She’s been a friend, and now it’s not possible any more. I expect she might be said, too. But she said don’t communicate with me again and I haven’t.”

She says she feels compelled to stand against injustice in the world. “For me, it’s the same sort of cause as apartheid. I was marching on South Africa House when I was young and, unfortunately, it’s now my own people I’ve got to march against. That’s painful, but I won’t pretend. If you can’t tell the truth when you’re 77, when are you going to tell it?”

Jewish Opposition to Zionism as Anti-Semitism

Over a decade ago she was one of a number of public figures, who condemned the Israeli bombardment of Gaza, and she made her Jewishness very plain then too. She stated that she was a ‘proud Jew, and an ashamed Jew’. She says in the interview that she doesn’t believe in God, but she loves Jewish life, the cooking, culture and community. She shares her happiness with her Jewish identity with many of the other Jewish critics of Israel, both Torah-observant and secular/ atheist, who have also been vilified for their stance against the Israeli oppression and ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Arabs. People like Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein, Martin Odoni and many others. And many Jewish critics of Israel find it utterly ridiculous, even anti-Semitic, that they should be considered traitors by their community, because they’d don’t support a foreign country that they weren’t born in. Greenstein, David Rosenberg, and the Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe, have made the point that until recently the majority of the Jewish people rejected Zionism, partly because they were afraid that it would lead to accusations that Jews’ loyalties were divided between their homeland and that of the Jewish state. Indeed, at the beginning of the Zionist project, Zionism was strongly associated with anti-Semitism because of the number of real Jew-haters, who wanted to expel their Jewish populations to some other country, and the establishment of a Jewish state would be perfect for this purpose. The majority of Jews wished to stay in their native homelands and be accepted as equal citizens with their gentile fellow countrymen and women. The establishment of the state of Israel has indeed led to diaspora Jews being accused of being more loyal to Israel than their home countries, not least because Benjamin Netanyahu actually declared that the Jewish people and Israel are synonymous and identical. All Jews, everywhere, are citizens of Israel. The Palestinians, however, are not. Which is why activists like Tony Greenstein make it very clear that Israel isn’t a democracy, as it is not a state of its citizens but of a single, privileged ethnic group.

Maureen Lipman’s Attack on Ed Miliband

As for Maureen Lipman, she’s a great actor, but she has boiled her brain on this issue. She’s claimed to have left the Labour party because of Corbyn. She didn’t. She left it a few years ago when Ed Miliband, who’s Jewish, became leader. Miliband made some mild policy departures from a rigidly pro-Israel line, so Lipman threw a strop and left, ranting about how the party was now anti-Semitic. She wasn’t the only one. As Mike and the other left-wing bloggers have pointed out, the anti-Semitism smears date from this time, long before Corbyn became leader. Which makes utter nonsense of the claim that Corbyn, one of the most anti-racist and determined opponents of anti-Semitism, is a Jew-hater.

Other Victims of Witchhunt Silenced by Media

It’s refreshing that the Radio Times should give space to Margolyes’ views, and I’m sorry that she, too, is suffering vilification and smears for her opposition to Israel that other critics and activists, both Jewish and non-Jewish, are also receiving. But unfortunately the media, including the Beeb, is still determined to repeat these smears and libels. Those abused, like Mike, may be able to correct these attacks through IPSO, but it’s very difficult for the victims to take their attackers to court for libel. This is largely because of the huge costs involved, but also because there are time limits on libel actions and the newspapers do everything they can to stall and stonewall them until they run out of time. And I have yet to see any part of the lamestream media invite those, who have been smeared as anti-Semites, onto their programmes to defend themselves. The noble exception to this have been the new, alternative broadcasters like RT and Novara Media. George Galloway has had Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein on his show, Sputnik, on RT to make their case and describe their experience of victimisation in the anti-Semitic witchhunt. But the Beeb, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and others have yet to do so. Meanwhile Laura Kuenssberg and the other liars of the BBBC newsroom have been free to continue their promotion of the lies and smears against Corbyn and his supporters without any criticism or dissent whatsoever, urged on by the rest of the mendacious right-wing media and Jewish establishment.

I’m pleased Margolyes has been able to present the other side of the argument in the RT, and would like other anti-Israel activists also to have the opportunity to explain their position and rebut the anti-Semitism smears. But the majority are ordinary people, like Mike, Greenstein, Walker, Odoni, Wadsworth and Chilson, who aren’t already media figures and so are denied a proper, sympathetic platform. And so the lies and smears continue.

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Ken Livingstone: The Establishment Is Terrified of A Socialist Getting in 10 Downing Street

June 2, 2018

This is a short clip from RT’s Sputnik programme of Red Ken in conversation with his old Labour comrade, George Galloway, and his main woman Gayatri. They’re discussing the prospects of Jeremy Corbyn and whether he can defeat the Tories in the next election.

The clip begins with Red Ken saying that Corbyn will fight on to the end, as they both know, because they’re like him and rebelled against the Labour leadership on the same issues. Livingstone says that he wishes a documentary-maker would come and make a film about all those rebellions, and see how many of them were right. Jeremy voted against war after war, and against the imposition of taxes on the poor. He then says that the establishment is terrified of a Socialist getting into 10 Downing Street.

Galloway then asks LIvingstone if he thinks this could really happen. He says that the Tories are ‘all at sea’, that Brexit is a mess, as is the economy, but the Tories are now4 points ahead in the polls. And Galloway’s afraid that if the Tories get in again, not only will Britain be broke, it’ll be broken. The Scots will almost certainly vote for independence, and even he – Galloway – couldn’t vote against it in those circumstances.

Livingstone replies by saying that the economy is indeed in a terrible state. Growth is negligible, there are jobs being created, but they’re low paid, insecure with no pension rights, and this is the worst economic situation they’ve seen in their lifetime. But there is a chance for Labour to get in. Before the last general election, they were predicting a Labour wipeout of more than 100 seats lost. But instead Corbyn led them to the biggest electoral gains since 1945, and they came within two per cent of beating the Tories. This was despite 81 of his MPs trying to unseat him. He says that Corbyn was able to make these gains despite the establishment running the smear stories about him supporting terrorism, or giving information to Czech spies, because once their in the election period, the TV has to give equal space to them. And Corbyn talked about issues, like low pay, and unemployment, which really connected with people. The same issues that fuelled the rise of Trump.

The clip ends with Leninspart predicting that the campaign against Corbyn will now become even nastier. There’ll be even more lies and smears, just as earlier Galloway remarked on how they’re now trying to get rid of Corbyn using salami tactics. But once the country gets into the election period, it’ll be different.

Steve Topple: The BBC Is No Longer Fit for Purpose

April 19, 2018

This is another interesting video I found on YouTube. It’s from RT’s Sputnik programme, hosted by George Galloway and his co-host, Gayatri. This is a clip from a longer interview with Steve Topple from The Canary, a website dedicated to supporting Jeremy Corbyn. Galloway and Topple talk about how the Canary’s increasing success and popularity is paralleled by an increasing number of the British public becoming disillusioned with the established media, and particularly the BBC. Galloway suggests that the last straw for many was possibly when the Beeb ignored the latest developments from Porton Down in the Skripal poisoning, including Boris Johnson, and it was left to Sky News, of all people, to report them. Which is something neither Galloway nor Topple thought they’d ever say or think. Topple states that if the BBC was a private broadcaster, then it could do whatever it liked. But its the public broadcaster, and so he doesn’t want to pay for its rubbish and nonsense.

Topple’s right about more people turning to alternative news sources, because they don’t trust the mainstream media. It isn’t just the Canary to which people are looking for their news. They’re getting it from a whole range of blogs and vlogs, like Mike over at Vox Political, Tom at Another Angry Voice, the Disability News Service, DPAC and many other groups and individuals. I don’t want the BBC to be privatised, but at the moment its status as the established, state broadcaster is part of the means by which it seeks to pass its very biased reporting as truthful. It’s the state broadcaster, and is required by its charter to be impartial. Thus, whatever it says on the news, is somehow to be regarded as authoritative.

Of course, it isn’t impartial by any means. It’s reporting of the Labour party, and particularly its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has been massively biased. Any number of people have complained, only to get pompous letters back in reply repeating the same platitudes that the Beeb is impartial, and how dare you suggest they aren’t.

But thanks to the internet, an increasing number of people are coming to realise how biased the mainstream media is, including the Beeb. It’s why governments and big corporations are trying to crack down on alternative news sources under the pretext of rooting out ‘fake news’. And why more people are taking their news from sites like the Canary and Mike’s, despite the media’s best attempts to vilify Corbyn.

Tony Greenstein Interviewed by George Galloway

February 28, 2018

The very anti-racist, anti-Fascist Jewish critic of Israel, Tony Greenstein, put up a piece on his blog on Sunday about his interview on RT’s ‘Sputnik’ programme with George Galloway and his cohost, Gayatri. Greenstein is another, who has been expelled from the Labour party and smeared as an anti-Semite, because he has dared to step out of line and criticise Israel for its maltreatment of the Palestinians.

In the interview, Galloway asks how it is that Greenstein, who is not only Jewish, but the son of a rabbi, could ever be accused of anti-Semitism. Greenstein replies by telling him how he first became aware of the Palestinians’ conditions, and that they, not the Israelis, were right. It was while he was at school in Liverpool. He went to the King David Jewish school, and one day the school decided it was going to stage a debate on the issue of Israel and the Palestinians. No-one else wanted to argue the Palestinians’ case, so Greenstein decided to do it to play devil’s advocate. It was while he was researching it that he came to conclude that the Palestinians were entirely justified in their cause.

As for being smeared as an anti-Semite, Greenstein makes the point that those making these smears – the CAA and the Jewish Labour Movement – aren’t interested in genuine anti-Semitism. They are people completely without any morals, cynically using the accusation to silence decent people and their criticism of Israeli racism and apartheid. This is the only way they can defend Israel, as the facts themselves demonstrate how the Palestinians are oppressed and being ethnically cleansed from the ancestral lands.

Mr Greenstein’s article is at http://azvsas.blogspot.co.uk/2018/02/did-you-hear-one-about-jewish-man-who.html
The piece doesn’t just contain his own account and remarks about the interview, but also a video of the interview itself.

This piece also demonstrates why I’m very happy to get much of my news from YouTube. Mike posted up a piece last week asking his readers if they were happy getting their news from YouTube instead of the mainstream broadcasters, because of the issue of bias on the latter. I do watch the mainstream news, but I prefer to get my information from the various alternative news networks on YouTube and the Net, because I heartily dislike the pro-Tory bias of the Beeb and the rest of the mainstream media. And also because the programmes on these alternative channels, like RT, have more interesting things to say than the mainstream. They have a different, deeper analysis into free market capitalism as the cause of poverty, criticise the imperialism which is now being disguised as humanitarianism in the ‘War on Terror’. And in the case of Greenstein, actually allow somebody onto TV to refute the smears against him by Ian McNicol’s corrupt apparatchiks and the Israel lobby.

Somehow I doubt Mike or anyone else libelled as an anti-Semite is going to enjoy the same courtesy from Andrew Marr, just as they will very definitely not be invited to appear in the pages of the Sunday Times, Torygraph, Heil or Scum to argue their cases.

I realise that Galloway is not everyone’s favourite politico, but his interview with Greenstein shows very clearly why we need alternative media sources like RT, while the mainstream media do nothing but pump out right-wing lies and smears.

George Galloway Interviews on China and Tax Dodging by the Rich

December 6, 2017

This is a very interesting edition of Sputnik, one of the programmes on RT, hosted by media bete noir George Galloway, and a young Asian lady simply called Gayatri. Sputnik was, of course, the first satellite put into Earth orbit by the Russians. The name means ‘fellow traveller’ in Russian, and has come to mean an artificial satellite ever since.

In the first half of the programme, Galloway and Gayatri interview Jeanne-Marie Gescher, a British sinologist, who has been studying China ever since the notorious Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. Gescher has written a book about the country and its transformation, and describes how she was just about the only western person flying into China after the massacre, when all the other westerners were trying to get out. This, however, gave her a head start of a couple of years over the other academics researching China, when she was one of the very few westerners actually in the country. Galloway talks about President Xi’s party congress, and makes the point that most of it was about ‘socialism with a Chinese face’, rather than economics. He and Gescher also discuss the role of a strong central authority in governing and forming China, ever since its foundation all those millennia ago. They make the point that the role of a strong central authority is so much at the core of the country’s character and government, that it has been said that without it China is like sand. Gescher states that ever since the ancient shamans led the earliest ancestors of the Chinese to settle down, there has been a tension between two philosophies towards government and the natural order. One is that the natural world is too complex for people to understand, and so government is best carried out by a single ‘son of Heaven’ – the official title of the Chinese emperor – who governs autocratically. The other recommends instead that the world be subject to a structured investigation. This is not democratic, but it is wider than the concentration of power in a single autocratic figure. Gescher also describes the way China has repeatedly fragmented over the ages, only to come back together as a single, unitary empire again, with a quote from The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, one of the great classics of Chinese literature. To people of a certain age, the book is best known as the basis for the Chinese swashbuckling tale broadcast by the Beeb in the ’70s, The Water Margin.

They also discuss Donald Trump’s apparent volte-face last week. Before he went to China, he was full of anger at the Chinese and there was much resentment in the American media about perceived Chinese mistreatment. Trump was going to tear them off a strip about it. After he got there, however, and met the President, he ended up praising the country. Gescher states that this has shown the Chinese that Trump ‘flip-flops’. This will worry them, as there is nothing more dangerous than a leader, who so capriciously changes position.

Next on the show is Professor Steve Keen, who has also written a book demolishing economics. Keen’s a former economics professor at Kingston University, though at the end of the interview he states that he has left academia to go his own way via Patreon. Keen, Gayatri and Galloway discuss the infamous Paradise Papers and the tax dodging by the very rich. Keen himself isn’t shocked by the way the super-rich like Bono, Lewis Hamilton and the Queen have deprived the treasury of their taxes. He seems to accept that it’s just part of the pathology of the very rich. He states that they’re terrified of anyone else getting their hands on their money, and so pay enormous fees to people, who tell them how they can legally avoid paying cash.

Galloway is shocked, however, and makes the ironic point that the Queen, in her case, is actually avoiding paying tax to herself. Which is true. He also wonders about the mentality of the rich, who will spend their money on colossally expensive items like luxury super-yachts. Keen states he knows someone, who has actually bought one. This man had a 120-ft yacht, but turned it in for a 140 foot vessel, complete with space for a grand piano. He states that this comes from the sheer greed and sense of entitlement of the rich.

He then talks about the various fake holding companies and offshore accounts that the rich use in order to avoid paying tax in the country where they really make their money. He’s actually been to the Cayman Islands, and seen the office block, where so many multinational companies legally have their headquarters. He states that he read so many of the brass plaques on the building’s walls before he gave up. But it was all a scam. There was no-one in the building. It was all very much a legal fiction.

Keen himself has recommended his own way to stop this. At the moment, the tax on profits allows the rich to dodge paying tax by allowing them to cast their companies as subsidiaries working for a parent organisation somewhere else in the world. To stop them doing that, Keen recommends that there should be a tax on transactions instead, which would bring money back into the treasury and which couldn’t be avoided by setting up fake parent companies.

He also has a very different view of taxation than other economists. He argues that the point of taxation isn’t to pay for government services. Governments, by their nature, create money. They pump it into the economy. What taxation does is take it out of the economy, so you don’t have runaway inflation.

Talking about his decision to leave academia, Keen states that it was forced on him by the government’s effective privatisation of higher education. This has turned students into ‘informed consumers of higher education’. However, the league tables concentrate on the Russell Group, and so the new universities that were created post 1992 are starved of funding. This has led him to break with the university, and start crowdfunding his work. He states that he has a great bunch of people funding him through Patreon, and that he’s learned a lot from them. He is also critical of university tenure, because it creates a very conformist mindset. It’s not supposed to. It’s supposed to do the opposite, but he states that by the time professors have done all the things needed to gain tenure, they are afraid of stepping out of line.

The programme ends with Galloway and Gayatri reading out some of the Tweets they have received on the shows contents. Several people remark that, whatever Trump says, America very much needs China to avoid collapsing. And others are about the Queen and the rest of the rich dodging tax.

This is interesting, as it shows that Galloway is a very good interviewer. I also find it quite a nostalgic experience, as it reminds me of what quality television on BBC 2 used to be like in the 1970s and 1980s. No fancy graphics, just the programme’s host or hosts in the studio and his or her guests, talking. You can see the same approach used by Tariq Ali on his TV show. And while it is talk, it’s very much informed talk by experts, that isn’t dumbed down and reduced to soundbites by programme editors afraid that too much pop videos have left people with an attention-span no longer than a gnat’s.

Keen’s perspective on the rich and their sheer avarice is interesting, as is his proposed solution. I’m also struck by his innovative attitude to taxation. I’ve read similar things like it on Mike’s blog, where he has reblogged material from the Mainly Macro economist. As has the Angry Yorkshireman, Tom Clarke. This looks like a positive approach to the dismal science that will break the Tory orthodoxy about taxation and paying for the welfare state.

Max Blumenthal on the Real News Talking about the Nutters, Frauds and Fascists behind ‘Russiagate’

November 20, 2017

This is another example of the quality investigative journalism coming out of the alternative news media, which shows up the extremely biased reporting of the mainstream news.

In this clip, presenter Aaron Mate of the Real News Network talks to the author and journalist Max Blumenthal of AlterNet about a new, two-part series he’s made for the channel investigating the very shady figures behind the allegations that Russia has influenced a variety of left-wing movements in America through the use of bots in social media. Blumenthal states that most of these allegations overwhelmingly come from the Alliance for Securing Democracy. This outfit has claimed that Russia has influenced Black Lives Matter and the Take The Knee protests by NFL players following the lead of Colin Kaepernick. This organisation is responsible for the Hamilton 68 tracking software, which is used to trace the Russian bots. However, it won’t name or release the details of any of the websites that it supposedly tracks. Nevertheless, this organisation influenced Senator James Lankford to claim that the Take The Knee protests were the result of Russian propaganda. Blumenthal states that this is more or less the same allegation that was made against the Civil Rights Movements in the 1960s. Despite the complete absence of proof, the organisation has been uncritically cited as a reliable source by the mainstream news, including Scott Shane at the New York Times and Craig Tinberg at the Washington Post, as well as the Daily Beast. One of the main figures at the Alliance for Securing Democracy is Clint Watts, who has called for the government to quell ‘on-line rebellion’ and wants ‘nutritional labels’ put on websites to warn prospective browsers what their politics and links are. The Alliance for Securing Democracy is partly funded by the German Marshal Fund, which is one of the most respected think-tanks in Washington, and which is itself partly funded by the German government. The organisations and individuals now promoting ‘Russia-gate’ are also strongly funded by the Neocons.

Another major figure in these allegations is Aaron Weisburd. Weisburd has no training in Russia, and absolutely no expertise there either. He started his career as a self-declared defender of internet democracy by setting up the website, the Online Haaganah. This doxed – released the personal details – of Muslim and Palestinian web sites Weisburd decided was Islamist or anti-American. Along with the details of the webmasters, he’d also post the details of the websites’ IP providers, who would then come under attack by his fans. Blumenthal states that they are the same type of people as the Jewish Defence League, the violent wing of the Jewish anti-Islam movement. Weisburd has also put up on his site the writings of Daniel Pipes, another virulently anti-Islamic author.

But it hasn’t just been Muslims and Palestinians, who have been attacked by Weisburd and his slavering hordes. He’s also attacked other, left-wing sites, sometimes for the most trivial reasons. Like they showed the American flag upside down, or they dared to criticise George Bush.

Since setting up the website, Weisburd has gone on to take up a position at the George Washington Centre for Cyber and Homeland Security. It was Weisburd, who was brought in to design the Hamilton 68 software, which is being used as an effective blacklist of left-wing and dissenting websites. As well as doxing those he thinks are insufficiently patriotic, Weisburd has also posted up his own, violent fantasies about killing Glenn Greenwald, the editor of the Intercept. He also claimed that the Intercept was a vehicle for Russian propaganda, which Blumenthal states is just pure McCarthyism. Blumenthal also states that among the others pushing the story that Russia is attempting to distort American democracy through the Net are members of Hillary Clinton’s campaign team, including Laura Rosenberger and the former CIA director Michael Morell.

Returning to Clint Watts, Blumenthal states that he was formerly at an obscure and marginal think tank in Florida, the Foreign Policy Research Centre. This organisation was set up by a group of Austrian Fascists, who published eugenicist tracts and claimed that the peoples of the Developing World and non-Whites had lower IQs. They were fiercely in favour of the Cold War, and at one point denounced Stanley Kubrick’s satirical masterpiece, Dr. Strangelove, as Russian propaganda. Watts has also written a series of articles on his organisation’s cite and elsewhere urging the American government to spend taxpayers’ dollars to get Salafist Islamist terrorists to attack Russia and Iran. He also claimed that he had personally been attacked on-line by Russian bots. He has also spuriously claimed that RT and Sputnik were responsible for causing riots in Turkey. He has testified about this to Congress. When he released a transcript of this, which listed his sources, Blumenthal checked them. He states that in every single case it was either a lie, or a distortion or half-truth. As for Watts himself, he can’t speak Russian and has never produced any academic work on Russia. He’s simply not remotely a credible source.

I think some of this has been covered before by Counterpunch, or one of the other radical online news organisations. I can remember reading about how the allegations of Russian hacking and on-line interference was being promoted by the Clinton team, and promoted uncritically by the hacks at the New York Times and Washington Post. The same article also described how the allegations were also being produced and promoted by the Austrian eugenicists and Cold War Fascists.

It’s clear that these allegations are almost entirely insubstantial, and come from the extreme Right, as well as Hillary Clinton’s team in the Democrat Party. The last is trying to use Russia as a diversion and scapegoat for Killary losing the presidential election to Donald Trump. However, Hillary herself when she was in Obama’s cabinet showed every sign of wishing to increase tension with Russia and China. Her involvement in these allegations suggests that she’s genuinely hostile to Russia, and that she isn’t just making them because they just happen to be a convenient way of deflecting criticism from her.

What is disturbing is how seriously these allegations are being taken, including by people over this side of the Atlantic. When RT asked people outside Hillary’s book-signing event at the South Bank Centre ‘what went wrong?’, many of them answered that it was the Russians. And we’ve also seen Theresa May and the Tories criticise RT in Britain.

These allegations are simply another McCarthyite tactic designed to close down alternative news sources, and those websites that attack and criticise the neoliberal, corporatist establishment. This needs to be better known and called out. But I doubt very much that the mainstream media will do that, and certainly not the BBC over here.

Barack Obama and the Corporatist Democrats Attack Free Speech

December 5, 2016

It’s very clear that in the next few years under Trump, the treasured freedoms enshrined in the US Constitution and the civil rights women and people of colour have fought so hard for are going to come under sustained attack. In many ways, Trump will just be continuing the rise of an exclusive nationalism and an all-pervasive surveillance state that began under George Dubya as he launched his invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Unfortunately, it seems that the corporatist wing of the Democrat party, led by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, also wants to close down Americans’ freedom of speech and information by singling out dissenting journalists, news organisations and demanding a greater role for the state in telling you what information you should believe on the Web.

There were a couple of very important articles about threat to freedom of thought in last weekend’s Counterpunch. This followed an article on Thanksgiving by Craig Timberg in the Washington Post that claimed, on the authority of a group of media researchers, Propornot, that there were about 200 or so journalists, magazines, websites and organisations disseminating fake news intended to serve the Russians’ nefarious interests. Renee Parsons in her article discusses how the 200 websites identified by Timberg as outlets for Russian propaganda don’t actually show any evidence that they are acting on false information provided by Russian state media outlets like RT or Sputnik. And a careful reading of Timberg’s article also shows that, actually, RT and Sputnik haven’t invented any stories either. What they have done instead is identify items that the rest of the media ignored or paid little attention to, and made them more prominent. Or, to put it another way, they scooped the rest of the media.

As for Propornot itself, the organisation’s website states that it is “Your Friendly Neighborhood Propaganda Identification Service, Since 2016!” And the only person identified with it is the satirist and comedian Samantha Bee, who is the anchor on the news comedy show Full Frontal. Propornot are frightening, as they call on Barack Obama and Congress to investigate how the Russians manipulated information sources to upset the American political process. Which shows that it’s a body of Clintonian Democrats desperately trying to find suitable media scapegoats with the new, anti-Russian McCarthyism for her defeat by Donald Trump.

The site is even more malign, in that it appeals to the American public to identify not only those individuals and organisers echoing Russian propaganda, but also ‘sympathisers’. She states

If there is any doubt whether the Timberg article and Propornot itself is a partisan effort, the YYY implication is that anyone “echoing a Russian propaganda line” such as those who speak “how wonderful, powerful, innocent and righteous Russia and Russia’s friends are: Putin, Donald Trump, al-Bashar Assad, Syria, Iran, China, radical political parties” will be considered tools of Russia as compared with those who speak “how terrible, weak, aggressive, and corrupt the opponents of Russia are: the US, Obama, HRC, the EU, Angela Merkel, NATO, Ukraine, Jewish people, US allies, MSM and Democrats” will be considered enemies of the State. Anyone with such information is encouraged to ‘come tell us at Propornot about it.”

This came nearly two months after Obama made a speech to a political organisation about the internet, in which he made it clear that he wanted to set up some kind of official body to manage what they trust on the Web. She states

During a visit to the White House Frontiers Conference in Pittsburgh on October 13th, the President, known for his smooth, glib reassurances so successful at placating the public, suggested that “we are going to have to rebuild within this wild-wild-west-of-information flow some sort of curating function that people agree to” and that “democracy requires citizens to be able to sift through lies and distortions” and further that “those that we have to discard, because they just don’t have any basis in anything that’s actually happening in the world.” The President continued that “there has to be some sort of way in which we can sort through information that passes some basic truthiness tests.”

The President’s statement does not adequately capture what democracy requires of its citizens and reads more like what George Orwell epitomized as ‘political speech’ deliberately meant to confuse and demean citizen awareness. What Obama failed to acknowledge is that every American has a right, an obligation as an engaged citizen to determine for themselves what is a lie, distortion or truth; that ‘fake news’ is in the eye of the beholder and what a citizen believes and what they do not believe is their business and requires no justification to the government or anyone else. Most importantly, it was the President’s obligation to say that with a tremendous divergence of opinion on the www, some of it wacky, some of it conspiratorial, some of it incredibly incisive and intelligent and important – all of it is protected by the First Amendment.

To briefly parse the President’s words, most of which are painfully obvious,

suggestions of a “curating function” as in some official government entity assigned for the purpose of “protecting” (“ added) the public interest and “some sort of way…sort through information that passes some truthiness test” are presented in the President’s usual folksy, innocuous dialectic used to serve the public pablum while a further shredding of their Constitutional rights slips by under their nose.

She states that this is a further attack on American’s Constitutional freedoms by Obama. Despite his election promises, Obama has not ended surveillance without warrant, restored habeas corpus and the prohibition against detention without trial, torture, and excessive secrecy of government branches. Moreover, the Constitution also explicitly forbids presidents from starting wars without the approval of Congress. This has also been violated by successive administrations, and Obama hasn’t restored this Constitutional provision either.

See: http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/12/02/obama-and-propornot/

Further information on Timberg and his witch-hunt is provided in the same issue by Pam and Russ Martens. They discuss the possible reasons for this article, including that discussed by Parsons, and first put forward by Max Blumenthal of AlterNet, that it’s the Democrats trying to blame the Russians for Killary losing the election. Other theories are that the mainstream media is also trying to ensure its survival in the age of the internet and alternative media by smearing its new media competitors. Glen Ford, the editor of the Black Agenda Report, one of the organisations smeared as a Russian propaganda outlet, has suggested that the corporatist Democrats are very close to Bezos, the owner of the Washington Post, and that had Hillary won the election, she would also have launched a similar attack on alternative news sources on the Net. The Martens also state that during his career, Timberg was the National Security deputy editor for the Washington Post, before taking up his current position as the paper’s technology editor. He has also made speeches about the facial recognition technology used for law enforcement, and interviewed the executive chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt, on the information revealed on the NSA’s programme of mass surveillance. This latter interview was done at the Cato Institute, a right-wing think tank, that was secretly part-owned for several decades by the Koch brothers.

The Martens themselves believe that this latest McCarthyite smear is an attack on the news organisations that ran stories from the WikiLeaks materials exposing the massive corporate corruption in the Democrat party. Both the Washington Post and New York Times did report that information from WikiLeaks revealed that a Citigroup executive, had made the decisions on who Obama should hire as key personnel during his first term. Citigroup was one of the massive banks that had to be bailed out during the 2008 crash. And both the Washington Post and New York Times editorial boards supported Killary’s presidential campaign.

See: http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/12/02/timbergs-tale-washington-post-reporter-spreads-blacklist-of-independent-journalist-sites/

Fortunately, Timberg’s article has met with widespread derision and ridicule, with many of the commenters on the online version of the article criticising it as a piece of shoddy, McCarthyite journalism. Regardless of the precise motives for the attack – and the various theories put forward above aren’t mutually exclusive – it’s clear that the Clintonite wing of the Democrats are just as keen as the Republicans to subvert the Constitution for their own backers in big business and the surveillance state. Obama and Clinton have shown that they are determined to maintain the infringements on the Constitution introduced by George Dubya, and, indeed, expand them to smear their own enemies.

And unfortunately, this mindset appears to be spreading to the Blairites over here. Mike last week reported that Tom Watson had made a rant, attacking websites producing false information. By which he meant the pro-Corbyn site, The Canary. Tony Blair modelled New Labour on Bill Clinton’s New Democrats. Watson’s comments seem to show that the Blairites in the Labour party also want to crack down on British websites that don’t follow the required New Labour line. Just as Blair himself used to organise ‘negative briefings’ against ministers, who were deemed ‘off-message’.

If America and Britain are to have healthy, functioning democracies, where the people genuinely have power and not a narrow clique of politicos acting for the benefit of the corporate elite, it will mean purging the Democrats in the US of the Clintonites, and the Blairites in the Labour party over here, as well as defeating the Republicans and Conservatives.