Radio

‘I’ Newspaper: ‘Have I Got News For You More Trusted than News’

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 22/09/2018 - 8:58pm in

Yesterday, Friday 21st September 2018, the I carried a story by Adam Sherwin, which reported that according to its two stars, Paul Merton and Ian Hislop, people see the satirical panel game as more reliable than the news itself. The article said

Have I Got News For You is a more trusted source of news for viewers than official bulletins, the show’s stars have claimed.

Team captains Ian Hislop and Paul Merton said the long-running satirical series now plays a vital role in challenging “fake news”.

Hislop said: “One of the most cheering things about Have I Got News For You is quite a lot of people get their information from us, which should be terrifying in a properly functioning society.

“I walked in through the door of this hotel today and a man came up and said, ‘I absolutely love Have I Got News For You’ and I said, ‘That’s really nice of you’. He said, ‘I’m from Israel… It’s the only sensible news we get’. And you just think, ‘Oh’.

The Private Eye editor added: “We’ve a very big fan base among immigrants and people from backgrounds where they can’t believe you’re allowed to be this rude, which is a thrill compared to the countries they come from.”

Meron said: “That’s certainly part of the element of its longevity is thatpeople come to it for the news.” (p. 5).

Now I prefer to watch Have I Got News For You rather than the news because I get so irritated with the Beeb and its very strong bias against the Labour party and particularly Jeremy Corbyn. And Hislop’s right that in a properly functioning society it would be alarming that more people are tuning into a comedy show for the news rather than the news itself.

But we don’t live in a properly functioning society. We live in a society dominated by very right-wing politics, almost uniformly promoted by the media. And it’s very much because of this that alternative news sources, particularly on the internet, have been growing at the expense of the mainstream broadcasters and print publishers.

But Private Eye and Have I Got News For You have also not been averse to spreading ‘fake news’. I stopped watching Have I Got News For You and reading the Eye a little while ago because I got sick and tired of their anti-Labour, anti-Corbyn bias and their promotion of the lies justifying current British foreign policy: that Putin is going to take over the whole of Ukraine and is a threat to NATO, and that we should stand solidly behind the rebels in Syria. Even though those same rebels are Islamists, of the same stripe that launched 9/11 and have been campaigning against every secular, nationalist or socialist regimes in the Middle East. And have been aided in this by the West, which saw them as a useful force against Communism and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. And now that they’ve shown themselves to be a real threat to peace in the region, they’re being supported again for simple reasons of global geopolitics and the greed of western multinationals and the oil industry.

But you don’t read about this in Private Eye, or see it on Have I Got News For You.

I’ve gone back to reading the Eye and watching HIGNFY, because they’re funny, interesting and do provide an oppositional voice. But they are still themselves unreliable, and have their own, hidden biases, which need to be guarded against. This goes beyond the simple attitude that HIGNFY is a comedy show, and so shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Both the show and the Eye are still part of the media establishment, and so share some of their assumptions and prejudices.

Self-Taught Engineer Successfully Flies aboard Steam Rocket

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 22/09/2018 - 3:17am in

And now, before the serious stuff, something completely different, as Monty Python used to say. This is a short video I found on YouTube from the Inside Edition channel. It’s their report on the successful flight of a steam-powered rocket, built and crewed by ‘Mad’ Mike Hughes. Hughes is a limousine driver and a self-taught engineer. His reason for building the vehicle is, er, eccentric: he wanted to see if the Earth was flat.

The video was posted on 18th March 2018, and shows Hughes and his rocket taking off in the Mojave desert in the south-western US. It climbed to an altitude of 1,850 feet before finally returning to Earth, its descent slowed by two parachutes. Hughes had spent ten years building it, and the video shows stills of early versions of the rocket.

Hughes’ landing was rough, however. The video describes it as a crash. A rescue team got him out of the cockpit, but he complained that his back was broken. When the news crew caught him with him to talk, ironically just outside a courthouse where he’d been giving a ticket for speeding, Hughes’ claimed that he might have a compressed vertebra.

The video ends by reassuring its viewers that, yes, the Earth is indeed flat.

I’m actually saluting this bloke, because he’s obviously really clever and has done something I’d love to do myself: build a low power rocket that could hold a man or woman and send them up to a reasonable height. Way back in the 1990s I had a paper printed in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society arguing for the construction and flight of such vehicles as a new leisure industry. I based this on the use of hang-gliders, paragliding and microlight aircraft as hobby aviation. People fly them because they want to enjoy the experience of powered flight, not because they actually want to go from A to B. In the same way, I feel, human-carrying rockets could be built and flown to give ordinary people something of the experience of astronauts going into space aboard real rockets, like the Space Shuttle or the Russian Soyuz craft. But obviously without having to spend millions on a ticket to space.

Steam, or hot water rockets, have been around since the 19th century. The first modern hot water rocket was patented in Britain in 1824 by the American inventor, Jacob Perkins (1766-1849). The American Rocket Research Institute, based in California, and founded in 1943, established a special centre for the research and construction of hot water rockets, the Perkins Centre, named after him. The Institute runs a number of training programmes for students and aspiring rocket engineers. The rockets developed could carry payloads up to 5,000 feet.

After the War, the German rocket scientist, Eugen Sanger, and his wife Irene Sanger-Bredt, carried out research into hot water rockets to see whether they could work assisting heavily loaded aircraft into the air. The main US researcher in the area was Bob Truax.

The rocket engines developed by the RRI ranged from senior student college engineering projects with a thrust of 700 lbs per second to the Thunderbolt II constructed by Truax Engineering, which had a thrust of 16,000 lbs per second.
The photo below shows the STEAM-HI III hot water rocket being installed at the Perkins Safety Test Centre in 1963.

This photo shows Truax Engineering’s Thunderbolt rocket and its static test firing in 1973.

See ‘The Rocket Research Institute, 1943-1993: 50 Years of Rocket Safety, Engineering and Space Education Programs’, George S. James and Charles J. Piper, in Jung, Philippe, ed., History of Rocketry and Astronautics, AAS History Series, Vol. 22; IAA History Symposia, vol. 14 (American Astronautical Society: San Diego 1998), pp. 343-400.

And the Earth is very, very definitely round. As it has been known to be by educated European since the 9th century, and by the Greek astronomers long before that. All that stuff about how people in the Middle Ages believed the world was flat and that if you sailed far enough west you’d fall off was basically invented in the 19th century by Washington Irving. The Church Fathers knew and accepted that it was round. St. Augustine said so in one of his works, and argued that when the Bible spoke of the world as flat, it was an instance of God using the beliefs of the time to make His moral message intelligible to the people then alive.

I’ve no idea where the modern delusion that the world’s flat comes from. Well, actually, I do – it seems to have started a year ago in 2017 with the comments of a rapper on American radio. But before then I thought the idea was very definitely dead and buried. In Britain, the Flat Earth Society had dwindled to a single member. This was actually a physicist, who believed that the Earth was round. He used the Society to argue against dogmatism in science. And I thought he had packed finally packed it in, leaving the number of Flat Earthers in Britain at zero.

Now it seems that there are any number of eccentrics, who believe the world is really flat. They’re completely wrong about that, including Hughes.

But Hughes did something superb in building his own, human-carrying rocket

Fresh audio product

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 21/09/2018 - 6:28am in

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Radio, socialism

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link):

September 20, 2018 Two socialist women run for office and win: Margaret Corvid, city council, Plymouth, England, and Julia Salazar, New York state senate, Brooklyn

Private Eye’s Response to Reader Shows Support for Anti-Semitic Smear Campaign

I’ve posted many pieces of my blog from Private Eye criticizing the Tories and Tony Blair. Yesterday I put up a couple of pieces, one of which was about the magazine’s cover in 1998 which showed Blair watching a bank of monitors and demanding a leftie be thrown out of the Labour party. However, today’s Private Eye for 21 September – 4 October 2018 carries a story on page 13 which seems to suggest that the satirical magazine is firmly behind the anti-Semitism smear campaign against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters.

It’s a response to a letter they had in their last issue from a reader, Dorothy Macedo, who was outraged at the false accusations of anti-Semitism. The Eye writes

Eye 1478 featured a letter from Dorothy Macedo cancelling her subscription and saying: “Accusing someone of being anti-Semitic isn’t funny. (This is particularly true when there is no evidence, just accusations.) By repeating the sort of crude smears favoured by the Daily Mail, Private Eye has crossed a line.

Many thanks to the Eye reader who pointed out that Ms Macedo crops up on Facebook as one of the team members involved in running the Worthing and Adur chapter of Labour’s hard-left Momentum movement. The official stance of Momentum HQ is that there’s actually lots of anti-Semitism in the Labour party – the group claimed in April that it’s “more widespread in the Labour party than many of us had understood”, and that “accusations of anti-Semitism should not and cannot be dismissed simply as right-wing smears.” Just fancy that!

There are a number of features about the Eye’s reply that need criticizing. Firstly, there’s the sneering attitude to Macedo herself as a member of Momentum, which they characterize as hard left. Momentum isn’t, not by a long chalk. It’s very traditional labour as I’ve stated over and again, ad nauseam. It favours a mixed economy, renationalization of the NHS, strong welfare state and unions, and decent wages, job conditions and security for working people. It’s members are not ‘Trots’ nor ‘Stalinists’ or whatever else the right wants to smear them as. But Private Eye has consistently repeated the right-wing claim that Corbyn is far left, despite this being refuted by MPs like George Galloway. I stopped reading the Eye for a little while because I was sick and tired of these persistent smears. As well as casual comments, the Eye ran a series of cartoons, ‘Focus on Fact’, which attacked the Labour leader for events in the 1980s.

As for the claims about anti-Semitism being far more widespread in the Labour party than previously believed, this appears to be the attitude of Momentum’s leader, Jon Lansman, and his fellows. I don’t believe it’s held by Momentum’s base, and certainly isn’t held by Jewish Voice for Labour. Their members said at the counterrally they held against the demo against Corbyn by the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and the Jewish Leadership Council and Board of Deputies that genuine anti-Semitism in the Labour party was probably much smaller, and made it clear that while it probably existed, it was something they personally had not encountered. These sentiments have been echoed by some of the Jewish commenters and supporters of Mike’s blog. But they made those comments YouTube, while Tony Greenstein’s criticism of Lansman and his apparent belief in the anti-Semitism claims are at his website. And so presumably have not been seen or consulted by the Eye and its contributors, who appear not to be entirely conversant with social media.

Besides, as Tony Greenstein, Mike, Martin Odoni, David Rosenberg and so very many other people have pointed out, the genuinely left-wing Jews, who support Corbyn, like Jewish Voice for Labour, the Jewish Socialist Group and Jewdas, are ‘the wrong kind of Jews’. They are not part of the Jewish establishment, which appears to be solidly Zionist and Tory, and which actively despises them. And the Israel lobby bitterly attacks and smears them, calling them ‘kapos’, self-hating, anti-Semitic and even denying that they are Jewish at all. That’s clearly seen in the video I put up the other day of Jackie Walker calmly and politely refuting Jonathan Hoffman’s claims. When Hoffman finds that she has an answer for his questions, he tells her that she isn’t a Jew. Which gets a very appropriate response from Walker, who is properly roundly applauded by the audience.

The right’s distinction between the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ kind of Jews is anti-Semitic, as Mike and the others have also pointed out. The Nazis made that distinction, as did Hitler’s hero, the anti-Semitic mayor of Vienna, Karl von Luegerer. And the Israel lobby does it too, and expresses its hatred of the ‘wrong’ kind of Jews in language that, if it came from a gentile, would be unequivocally condemned as anti-Semitic.

But the Eye appears to have followed the rest of the press in ignoring Corbyn’s Jewish supporters. They, apparently, don’t exist. As far as the lamestream media goes, they’re ‘unpersons’, the name Orwell gave to the people written out of official history in 1984. Just like Stalin and his faction rewrote Russian and Soviet history to erase the individuals they despised and had killed.

It seems very clear from this that the Eye has not investigated whether the claims of anti-Semitism leveled by the Blairites and the Israel lobby are true, and it seems very clear that the magazine has absolutely no intention of doing so. It seems very content to regurgitate the standard, establishment narrative.

But thousands of people have been smeared as anti-Semites, including Mike. This is a real issue, and needs to be exposed. It is absolutely scandalous that decent, anti-racist people, who are very definitely not anti-Semites, should be libeled as such. And its especially odious when applied to Jews and others, who have suffered racially motivated abuse and violence, and who have lost family members in the Nazi concentration camps.

You’d have thought that the Eye, which claims to be determined to show up falsehoods and wrongdoing in politics, business and the unions, would have been keen to investigate this scandal. But it seems the reverse is true. They either can’t be bothered to investigate whether they are, or are quite happy to see innocent people libeled if it brings down Corbyn.

I have been tempted to write a letter of polite criticism to the Eye inquiring why they haven’t investigated or criticized this massive injustice. But I haven’t. I don’t think I’d get a proper reply, and am afraid that I’d simply be setting myself up for attack and smear myself, as Mike has been.

I like Private Eye, but find this piece and its complete silence over the anti-Semitism smears absolutely disgusting. My sympathies here are resolutely with Dorothy Macedo, whose comments were absolutely correct. But it seems clear that no-one will ever change the Eye’s editorial policy on this issue. In this, the magazine seems to share all the prejudices and is part of the mass groupthink as the rest of the lamestream media.

Private Eye on New Labour’s Support for Private Sponsorship at Party Conference

New Labour’s desperation to obtain and please donors and sponsors from private industry is clearly displayed in this old snippet from Private Eye’s edition for Friday, 2nd October 1998. Entitled ‘The Lobby Party Conference’, it runs

Clear proof of Labour’s commitment to cash-for-access comes in a memorandum from party organizer Chris Lane to “all MPs and MEPs in the South-East Region and any staff or guests accompanying you to party conference in Blackpool.”

Lane urges the MPs: “Please make a priority in your conference diaries for Thursday evening for a reception sponsored by Seeboard PLC. This is a generously-sponsored event, on condition that we enable the company to maintain contact with regional MPs and MEPs.” In other words: come and talk to the bosses of privatized Seeboard which supplies electricity to the south-east, or the party doesn’t get the sponsoring money. If that’s not cash for access, what is?

The reception was due to take place at Yates Wine Lodge, Blackpool, on 1 October. The subject of pay awards for the fat cats of the electricity industry was not high on the agenda. (p. 5).

Lane’s letter is a very clear example of the corporativism that has corrupted politics both in this country and America, where private companies donate and sponsor the political parties and individual politicians. The result is that those parties and politicos, once in power, work for their donors and not for their constituents. It’s why less than 20 per cent of Americans feel their government works for them. And a few years ago, Harvard University published a report that concluded that because of this, America was no longer a functioning democracy but an oligarchy.

You can read how far Blair took the policy in George Monbiot’s Captive State, which describes how Blair’s New Labour passed legislation that enriched the corporate donors at the expense of public services and small businesses, like farmers and local shops. And Blair also rewarded the donors by giving them or their senior management positions in government.

But this cosy relationship between private industry and the Labour party is threatened by Jeremy Corbyn and his policies of reviving the traditional Labour policy of a mixed economy, strong welfare state, workers’ rights, strong unions and a proper, nationalized NHS.

Blair’s policy was to court private industry and Tory voters at the expense of ignoring the wishes of ordinary party members and Labour’s traditional, working class electorate. He and the rest of his coterie arrogantly assumed that the working class would continue voting for them because there was nowhere else they could go. The result was widespread disaffection with New Labour. Many members left the party, and the number of people voting for Labour actually went down. The party won elections because even more people were sick and tired of the Tories.

This has been massively reversed under Jeremy Corbyn. Millions have joined the Labour party since he became its leader, and its now the largest Socialist party in western Europe.

Which is why the Tories, the Blairites, the Israel lobby and the mainstream media are so desperate to destroy Corbyn’s leadership and even the party itself. It’s why Corbyn and his supporters have been and are being smeared as Trotskyites, Stalinists, Communists and the Hard Left as well as anti-Semites. It’s why the Blairites in parliament have tried coups, and threatened to split the party. And why Blair crawled out of whatever vile hole he’s been living in since he left office ten years ago to warn that the Hard Left had taken over the Labour party, and that ‘moderates’ – meaning far right Thatcherite entryists like himself – should leave and join a new, ‘centrist’ party. Which sounded very much like ‘Unite for Change’, which seems set up to carry on the old, corporatist politics of Blair’s New Labour.

Old Advert in Private Eye with Very Clear Message to Blair

I know this is coarse, rude and therefore not at all adult, but I thought the advert below was still very relevant to today’s political situation. I found it on page 30 of Private Eye’s edition for 4th-17th February 2005. I haven’t reproduced all of the advert. The piece I’ve not copied contained details of how to pay for the shirts, and as I don’t know if the company still exists, I don’t really want to see people potentially wasting their money ordering stuff from a firm that may have vanished over a decade ago.

I think it’s obvious that the shirts and their slogan were aimed squarely at Tories bitter at Blair’s government and New Labour. However, it’s still relevant, because only a few weeks ago Blair stuck his head up from wherever he’s been skulking since leaving office and turning the Middle East into a bloody, smoking battlefield. As you will remember, he emerged to tell the media that the far Left had taken over the Labour party, and it may not be possible for ‘moderates’ to retake it. He therefore urged people to consider supporting a new, centrist party. This new, centrist party is presumably Unite For Change, the new party that’s been set up by what looks very much like people connected to Blair and New Labour donors. Blair appears to have been hoping that the ‘moderate’ Labour MPs – in reality, Blair’s supporters and therefore, like him, extreme-rightwing Thatcherite entryists – would leave the party to join this new outfit.

In fact, as John McDonnell has pointed out, Corbyn and his supporters are the real moderates. Corbyn’s proposals for renationalizing the NHS, giving workers better rights, reviving the welfare state, the nationalization of the railways and the partial renationalization of the electricity grid are traditional, centrist, Old Labour policies. These stressed a mixed economy, the nationalization of the utilities to serve the interests of the British public, not their owners or private investors, strong unions to protect working people, and a proper welfare state to support the poor and the disabled. They aren’t the policies of Trotskyites, Stalinists, Communists and the Hard Left, or whoever else Joan Ryan, the Blairites, Tories and the lamestream media feel they can use to smear Corbyn and his supporters.

As for Blair’s new centrist party, no-one is interested in it, it has precious few members, and its only policy so far seems to be that it wants Britain to remain in the EU. But apart from that, it seems simply to be a rehash of New Labour, where the party raised most of its money from rich, millionaire donors, who the party then did its best to please by adopting legislation that suited them, but not Britain’s working people, and placing the same donors or their senior management in positions of government.

I believe this country would definitely be better off if we remained in the EU. But Blair’s new centrist party has absolutely nothing to offer ordinary people except more poverty, more job insecurity, more welfare cuts, more privatization and the destruction of the NHS as it is sold off to private healthcare firms. Just as Thatcher, Major, Blair, and Cameron wanted, and which May is continuing.

The message is coarse, rude and nasty, but in a Britain in which 4.5 million children are in poverty, and a quarter of million people are using food banks to save themselves from starvation, it’s all too appropriate. It’s just a pity there isn’t a similar set of shirts now for May and the Tories.

The Causes of the 2008 Financial Crisis and the Signs of a Crisis to Come

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 14/09/2018 - 10:00am in

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Radio

“Economist Mariana Mazzucato, author of the new book “The Value of Everything: Making and Taking in the Global Economy” digs into the nuts and bolts of what cause the 2008 financial crisis. She also explains how there are troubling signs of another crisis to come sooner than we’d hope.”

Who Creates Value in an Economy?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 13/09/2018 - 10:00am in

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Radio

“Economist Mariana Mazzucato, argues that the reason is that economic policy continues to be informed by neoliberal ideology and its academic cousin, “public choice” theory, rather than by historical experience.” Listen

Surveillance: Rogoff & Mazzucato On The Next Crisis

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 12/09/2018 - 10:00am in

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Radio

“We start off on a segment from our TV show with Ken Rogoff, Harvard Professor & Former IMF Chief Economist, and Mariana Mazzucato, University College London Professor & Author of “The Value of Everything.” “

Economy Wrongly Rewards Value Extractors Vs Creators

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 11/09/2018 - 10:00am in

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Radio

Mariana Mazzucato discusses her new book “The Value of Everything: Making and Taking in the Global Economy.” Hosted by Pimm Fox and Lisa Abramowicz. Listen

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