Terrorism

“MAGA maggots” and my fifteen minutes

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 21/02/2018 - 7:44am in

One of the more disgusting aspects of contemporary political and media culture is the practice of forming on-line hit squads to go after innocent victims when they dare to complain in ways that discomfit right-wing politicians or discredit right-wing causes.

The latest example is the concerted attacks on the student survivors of the Parkland massacre who are organizing – with admirable skill and self-restraint – to demand more effective gun control laws. I’m on record as a skeptic about how much good politically practicable gun control can actually do under U.S. conditions, but there’s no doubt that making it harder for juveniles to access AR-15s and similar weapons could help moderate the carnage in schools. (That’s a small part of the total gun-violence problem, but still worth addressing.)

In any case, it does my heart good to see these young folks stepping in to the public arena with so much energy and such a sharp eye for political efficacy. You don’t have to entirely agree with them to unreservedly admire them. If it had been my friends who were killed, and if I’d spent hours hiding in a closet wondering whether I would survive, I doubt that I could master their self-possession.

So naturally they’re under attack: from various Twitter randos, but also from CNN contributor and former Congressman Jack Kingston, who tried to tag them as “leftist” and even “antifa.” (An interesting echo of the shooter himself, who identified “antifa” as one of the targets of his rage.) Equally naturally, Donald Trump, Jr. (aka Fredo) has joined the party, linking to various stories that try to make a scandal of the fact that one of the students is the son of an FBI agent. (Bet you didn’t know that was a disgrace.)

Trump fans seem to be concerned that the shooter’s right-wing political commitments (anti-gay, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, anti-black, liberal-hating, gun-loving, wearing a MAGA cap) might become part of the discussion. In that they have largely succeeded: the massacre is being talked about in terms of gun policy rather than in terms of controlling right-wing terrorism.

I reacted to an early Tweet in this genre by labeling the attackers “MAGA maggots, feeding on the corpses of the dead.” I wouldn’t call that label polite, but I would defend its accuracy. Decent people don’t mock, and tell lies about, survivors of a massacre, just because those survivors hold uncomfortable political opinions. And I think it’s fair to say that the problem is not symmetric: at least, I haven’t seen supporters of DACA, or of generous immigration policies in general, attacking the victims in the criminal cases the nativists have tried to use to stir up fear of immigrants.

Then the alt-right Daily Caller and the UK tabloid Daily Mail (no, I think I’ll pass on giving them links) weighed in, attacking me for having applied the label to “Trump supporters” or “conservatives” generally, rather than to those who earned it by smearing the Parkland students. At least the Daily Caller guy took the trouble to ask me for comment, though he cheated by reporting the shooter’s alt-right politics as merely my opinion rather than linking to the facts I’d supplied. The nameless, faceless scribe for the Daily Mail, which turns out in this case to be even a lower-quality outlet, didn’t even bother to ask for comment. And of course they managed to find an old, and quite ugly-looking, photo, though my current one is on the NYU website.

I’m happy to report that I’ve received only five pieces of hate email and one nasty phone call, none containing actual threats; I wasn’t even aware of the Daily Mail story until a friend clued me in. It’s annoying – but no worse than that – that so many people know what they think I said, and so few know what I said.  And of course I welcome any right-wing rage that gets deflected from the Parkway students to me. Still, the incident as a whole leaves rather a bad taste.

 

 

The Defining Year Was 1991: The Demise of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 06/02/2018 - 9:30pm in

by Marcus Papadopoulos, via Global Research Whilst there are no golden ages, it is abundantly clear that the world today is in a very unhealthy state. From Eastern Europe to North Africa to the Middle East, countries, in recent years, have been severely destabilised, resulting in carnage and the destruction of hundreds of thousands of lives. And at the heart of that destabilisation is American and British foreign policy. But how have we arrived at this situation in the world today? And what are the roots of America and Britain’s ‘humanitarian intervention’? A lot of people answer the above questions by citing the illegal American and British invasion of Iraq. Well, they are emphatically wrong. What we are seeing today in, for example, Syria, has its origins in 1991. Because that year was a turning-point in geo-politics. It was the year that saw the dismemberment of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Yugoslavia was the first step in a series of Western interventions in the …

Mike Libelled as Holocaust-Denier by Sunset Times

Yesterday, the newspaper dubbed by Private Eye the Sunset Times went ahead and smeared Mike as an anti-Semite and Holocaust-denier. Mike was mentioned in yet another scaremongering article about how Labour under Corbyn was welcoming back the hard left and anti-Semites. There was a photograph at the top of the article of a few of those so accused, including Mike, along with Jeremy Corbyn. The others were professional politicians, such as the Black activist Lee Jaspers.

Mike was aware that the article was coming, and had more than an inkling that it wasn’t going to be sympathetic. He had been contacted on Saturday by Gabriel Pogrund, one of the Sunset Times’ hacks, who told him they were writing a story about the suspensions from the Labour Party for anti-Semitism, and wanted Mike’s view. So Mike told him, making it clear that he was very definitely not anti-Semitic and that the false allegations against him were made by the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, and politically motivated. So Mike recorded the interview, and has put up his version of it on his blog.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/02/03/the-sunday-times-wanted-me-to-talk-about-labours-antisemitism-investigation-so-i-did/

As far as the Times article went, they needn’t have bothered to call Mike at all. None of that appeared in the final article. What did appear were a few, very selective quotes, ripped out their context, which suggested that Mike believed that Blair was surrounded by a clique of Jewish advisers, and doubted whether millions of Jews were killed during the Holocaust, or only thousands. It was material straight from the gutter pens or keyboards of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism or the Jewish Labour Movement, formerly Paole Zion.

As Mike, myself and very many others have pointed out, ad nauseam, Mike is very definitely not an anti-Semite nor does he deny or minimise the Holocaust. I’ve mentioned on this blog many times before that he and I had an uncle of Jewish heritage, with whom we used to go on holiday with our family when we were children. Mike when he was at College was asked by a Jewish friend of his to read out some of the names of the people butchered by the Nazis during the Shoah as part of her commemoration of the atrocity. I’ve a German book on my shelf on the Nazi terror apparatus, including the Holocaust, which Mike bought for me on a trip to Berlin. This is a piece of thoroughly respectable scholarship, which discusses the Holocaust and the numbers of people murdered in the various areas of the Reich during the Nazi occupation. The book was published to accompany an exhibition on the Nazis’ apparatus of state terror following excavation and building work on the SS’ headquarters in Berlin. It was published by the German government, and so is a work of serious, and often moving scholarship, as it contains photos and some potted biographies of the Nazis’ victims. It is very definitely not something that would delight or give comfort to real anti-Semites and Holocaust-deniers like those in the Alternative fuer Deutschland, the National Democrats or the banned British Nazi youth group, National Action.

Mike points out that the comment about not knowing whether thousands or millions died in the Holocaust actually came from a reply he gave to a question about the SWP. Someone in the Socialist Workers’ Party had said a few years ago that thousands died in the Holocaust, and Mike was asked why they said that. Mike didn’t know, as he’s not and never has been a member of the SWP. Mike made that clear in his answer. But the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, being the lying frauds they are, took that one sentence out of context to make it appear that Mike denied that six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis.

Mike, understandably, was upset by this gross libel, and has written a letter of complaint to the Sunset Times.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/02/04/my-complaint-to-the-sunday-times-about-its-libellous-article/

Mike has also written to ITV to complain about Robert Peston, after Peston described him as ‘vile’ on his programme, Peston on Sunday. This shows the amount of research Peston and his crew did. They didn’t contact Mike, or check the facts. They simply took what was said in the Times as completely true, and just repeated the libel with a bit of abuse thrown in.

I am not surprised that the Times decided to smear Mike in the article, though I am very, very disappointed. Throughout the past week it seems that it, the Torygraph and the other right-wing rags have been running scare stories pushing the idea that the Labour party is seething with anti-Semitism. On Saturday, for example, the ‘Opinion Matrix’ column of the I newspaper, which republishes extracts from the rest of the press, contained a snippet from the Times about the subject. This not only promoted the idea that Labour under Corbyn was full of anti-Semitic hate, but went on to say that if nothing was done about it, Jews would increasingly be put off the party.

In fact, if you look at what’s actually going on, the reverse is true. An increasing number of Jewish people are becoming alienated, not from the Labour party, but from the state of Israel and the Conservative Jewish establishment that supports it. An increasing number of Jewish American young people are now bitterly critical of Israel, including those who have suffered real anti-Semitic abuse themselves. And although over 70 per cent of British Jews say that the state of Israel is important to their sense of identity, critics of Israel like Tony Greenstein have also argued that this may well decline. Zionism was always a marginal movement within Judaism, and the vast majority of diaspora Jews wanted to live in the homelands of their birth as free, equal citizens with their gentile fellow countrymen and women. Support of Israel became a major plank of right-wing ideology in America as psychological compensation for that nation’s loss of the Vietnam War. Since then the country has benefited massively from considerable American and Western aid and a very largely uncritical stance by the mainstream media to the atrocities Israeli security forces have committed against the indigenous Palestinians, and the institutional racism of the Israeli state itself.

That situation is now changing, and the Israeli right is starting to panic. The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism was founded in 2014 by people, who were aghast to discover that Israel’s bombardment of Gaza had disgusted ordinary Brits. As I’ve said here, over and over again, the organisation is a pro-Israel pressure group. It has precious little interest in real anti-Semitism. It’s patrons are nearly all Tories, and there is little condemnation of anti-Semitism in that party, or indeed, of the real, vicious anti-Semites of the Far Right. It appears to exist solely to attack left-wing critics of Israel. Which it does through the well-worn Zionist tactic of smearing them as anti-Semites.

Corbyn isn’t anti-Israel. One of the commenters to this blog pointed out that he does support Israel. But he also supports the Palestinians, and that terrifies the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, the Jewish Labour Movement and their friends in the Israeli Right, who wish to continue the Palestinians’ oppression and ethnic cleansing. They are very strongly allied to the Blairites, and so both groups are determined to silence Israel’s critics on the left, including and especially Jews, by smearing them as anti-Semites.

Mike is clearly one of those targeted. He’s been asked by journos about his document, the Livingstone Presumption, which he sent to the Labour party to defend Ken Livingstone against the smear against him. This shows just how much the liars and frauds of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and the Jewish Labour Movement fear him as a blogger, as well as the Tories and their lapdogs in the lamestream media.

Don’t believe the mainstream media about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. They are lying, and they have lied and smeared Mike. Go and read what he has to say instead.

Intellectuals cheer as US moves towards global war in Syria

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 06/02/2018 - 3:03am in

image/jpeg iconrex tillerson.jpg

Despite years of unqualified failure, nation's liberal intelligentsia announces full support as US redoubles its efforts in its catastrophic "war on terror"

According to one Iraqi who met George Bush just before the war, the president was intrigued to learn, apparently for the first time, that Iraq is inhabited by two sorts of Muslims, Sunni and Shia, with deep differences between them.

Patrick Cockburn, The Rise of Islamic State.

read more

Vox Political Points Out that the Advisory Boards of the Samaritans and the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism Are Stuffed Full of Tories

Mike published this very important article today, which throws the witch-hunt against the critics of Israel and the Israel lobby in the Labour party in a very harsh light. The Disability News Service revealed over a month ago in December that the Department of Health had refused to recognise that disabled benefit claimants were one of the groups at high risk of committing suicide. When this was pointed out to the Samaritans, the charity flatly refused to condemn the government.

Now the charity is facing controversy, not only for its failure to do so, but because of the probable reason why. Its board of management is stuffed full of Tories. Seven of its eleven members belong to the wretched party.
And it’s very likely the board of the faux anti-racist organisation, the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, is the same. He hasn’t been able to find out who their board members are, but their patrons include the following true blue members of the corporate elite anti-working class hate squad: Eric Pickles, Matthew Offord, Mike Freer, Bob Blackman and Baron Ahmad. The others include a couple of Labour members and a crossbench peer.

This explains, no doubt, why the woefully misnamed organisation has attacked 40 Labour MPs, and only two Tories.

And Mike goes on to ask the question how many other charities have been similarly infiltrated by the Nasty Party. This is going to be a problem, as for an organisation to have charitable status, it has to be apolitical. And the Samaritans and the Campaign Against Anti-Israelism, sorry, Anti-Semitism, are all too political with the make-up of their governing organs.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/02/02/samaritans-advisory-board-crammed-with-tories-so-is-the-campaign-against-antisemitism-who-else/

This issue – of Tory, or corporate domination of charities, has been raised before. A few years ago Johnny Void posted on his blog how one mental health charity was vigorously promoting the mendacious, unscientific rubbish that work is good for those with psychological problems – take the advice of someone who’s been there: it ain’t – not least because their directors included a corporate shill, who was behind the policy and who looked forward to the charity getting lots of government contracts to administer their scheme.

It doesn’t surprise me one iota that the Tories dominate the Samaritans. I dare say that the gentlemen involved genuinely wish to stop people taking their own lives. As do very many others not connected with the Tory party. But they get on the board, because they’re the establishment, and establishment contacts are always good for private organisations, whether industry or charities.

Way back in the 1990s I worked for a few weeks for a charity for elderly in Bristol as a voluntary worker. I walked out one Wednesday evening and handed in my resignation because I didn’t like the way my supervisor spoke to me as if I was a mere underling and incompetent. I was later told by a friend that a lot of ordinary charity workers were doing exactly what I did. The charities have a policy of recruiting their management from industry. And these managers are used to kicking around paid staff. They don’t know how to treat ordinary people, who are devoting their time and energy gratis. And so they have a high staff turnover, because people are sick of getting abuse from management for work they’re doing literally out of the kindness of their hearts.

As for the Campaign Against Anti-Israelism, sorry, Ant-Semitism, this has never been against anti-Semitism per se. As Mike’s pointed out very many times on his blog, citing Jewish academic experts on anti-Semitism, that it is about hatred of Jews as Jews. That’s how the ant-Semites, who coined the word themselves defined it in the 19th century. The word was invented by Wilhelm Marr, the founder of the Bund Antisemiten in late 19th century Germany. And he made it clear it was hatred of Jews for biological, racial reasons. It didn’t matter to him whether they were observant, religious Jews, or members of another faith, or whatever. What mattered to these proto-Nazis was that they were racially Jews.

But it does matter to the Israelis and their supporters and puppets in fake organisations against anti-Semitism, like the Campaign and the Jewish Labour Movement, formerly Paole Zion. They’ve tried to expand the definition of anti-Semitism so that it specifically includes criticism of Israel. In the case of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, it’s because the charity was set up in 2014 after its founder was shocked to discover that Israel’s bombardment of Gaza was reviled and condemned by the majority of severely normal Brits. The standard Israeli response ever since the 1970s and no doubt many decades before that, is to smear any critic of Israel as an anti-Semite. They have to be, ’cause it’s the only Jewish state. Thus very decent gentiles have been smeared, who have campaign ardently against racism, including the abuse and maltreatment of Jews. And Jews have been particularly singled out for such smears, in terms which would be anti-Semitic themselves if they were uttered by non-Jews. It’s because Zionism was always a minority position amongst most Jews, and the last thing these bigots and race hucksters want is for more people to wake up and see that an increasing number of Jews, including young people, who’ve suffered anti-Semitic abuse and violence themselves, despise Israel for its maltreatment and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.

The Blairites were keen to make those accusations, because Tony Blair received much of his funding from the Israel lobby through Lord Levy. They’re now worried because Momentum and the real Labour moderates are in the ascendant, and so are trying to use any stick to beat them. And the Tories have been madly pro-Israel since Thatcher.

Lurking somewhere in the Tory support for Israel there’s a nasty whiff of bog-standard British imperialism. Whatever the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, AIPAC or the other pro-Israel groups say to the contrary, Israel is a White settler society. Its leader stated very clearly that this was the case, before decolonisation made imperialism unacceptable. Then they started lying about how it was movement of national liberation against the occupying Arabs. The vast majority of Zionist settlers were Jews from Europe and America. Ashkenazi Jews are still the dominant class in Israel today. And they despised the Mizrahim, Jewish Arabs, or Arab Jews, as racially and culturally inferior. They were segregated in different schools, in case their oriental manners and attitudes contaminated respectable White settlers, and given the dirtiest, poorest paid work to do. Discrimination against them was and is widespread.

While the British Empire is very much a thing of the past, some Tories seem to hanker for the days when Britain could and did conquer and colonise other nations. Way back when the war in Afghanistan was just starting, there was an article by right-wing historian Niall Ferguson in the Heil which made this very clear. It started reasonably enough by defending the Allied invasion as a response to 9/11, but ended with Ferguson looking forward to the Americans settling the country. It was, at least to this reader, a naked apologia for imperialism. Sheer undisguised imperialism, not dressed up as nation building, or the neo-colonialism of the trade tariffs and IMF recommendations to struggling developing nations. But real colonialism.

Mike’s right. It’s time to bring the curtain down on the Tory domination of charities. The Tory connection to the Samaritans has done disabled people immense harm and injustice by preventing the organisation recognising and condemning the way Tory welfare policies are driving disabled people to suicide.

And the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism is strongly political. As well as not condemning the Tories, it also has little to say about the real Fascist groups, who do want to exterminate or harm Jewish Brits. But that’s not why it was set up. It was set up to defend Israel from criticism. And it’s frightened of Corbyn because he’s pro-Palestinian. But not, as I understand, anti-Israel, though you will never hear that from this pack of liars, bigots and frauds. They’re part of the true-blue, official, Conservative Jewish establishment.

And woe betide anyone one, no matter how anti-racist, whether Jew or non-Jew, who dares to break their party line. It won’t matter how many scars their victims have had fighting the storm troopers of the BNP or National Action. It doesn’t matter if the Jews they pick on are Torah-observant or secular, but self-respecting. Nor if they themselves have been abused and beaten by the real anti-Semitic thugs. Simply for condemning Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians automatically means that they’re all anti-Semites in the twisted thinking of these frauds and their political allies.

It’s time to end this charade. Get the Tories out of charities, and get the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism’s charitable status revoked. They aren’t a charity: they’re a party-political pressure group, and should be condemned as such.

Oprah Winfrey: The Corporate Democrat’s Choice to be the Next Presidential Candidate

The corporatist, Clintonite wing of the Democrats has looked at the success of Donald Trump, and drawn precisely the wrong lesson from it. They concluded that after a millionaire reality TV star won the Republican nomination and then the presidency, what they had to do was field their own millionaire TV star as a candidate. And in this instance, they’ve decided that this candidate might be Oprah Winfrey. The idea’s gone over well too in the press on this side of the Atlantic. The ‘Opinion Matrix’ column in the ‘I’ newspaper quoted two newspapers raving about what a wonderful idea this would be.

In this clip from The Jimmy Dore Show, Dore and his co-host, Ron Placone, talk about why Oprah would be a terrible candidate. There’s a lot in there, but essentially the argument is very simple.

They quote a long article from the Guardian, one of the few newspapers, which doesn’t think it’s a good idea to choose Oprah. This points out that the problems afflicting ordinary working Americans come from the very nature of free market capitalism. People are becoming poorer and more insecure because of the destruction of what remained of the American welfare net, outsourcing, privatisation, low wages and job insecurity. All of these need to be tackled.

But this is precisely what Oprah will not do. She’s another neoliberal, who believes that it’s not the system that needs to be changed, but you. If you look inside yourself, you can improve your place in society, and rise up to be anything you want. It’s a reassuring message for some people, as it tells them that America is still the land of opportunity. Even though it isn’t, and hasn’t been for a very long time. Way back in the 1990s there was little difference between social mobility in the UK and the US. An article commenting on this in the Financial Times made this point, and argued that what gave American society its attractive power was the myth that it was, that ordinary people could still move up to be president, or a company director, or whatever. This is now no longer true, and in fact there’s greater social mobility in Europe.

This explains why Oprah’s so attractive to the corporate elites. She’s a black woman, so if she got the presidency, it would be a symbolically liberal gesture. Just like Killary and her team were arguing that the election of Clinton would be a victory for all women. Even though Clinton has done and would do nothing for America’s working people, and especially not women, who do the lowest paid work. It was all identity politics, with Killary claiming to be the outsider because she was a woman. Even though she’s in the pocket of Wall Street and other corporations, and as thoroughly corporate and corrupt as any of them. But if you didn’t back her, and instead chose Bernie, who actually stood for policies that will benefit America’s working people, you were automatically smeared as a ‘misogynist’. This included women voters, who, La Clinton declared, were only doing what their husbands and boyfriends told them.

The same’s going to be the case with Oprah Winfrey. It’s more identity politics, even though identity politics didn’t work with Clinton, and they probably won’t work with Oprah. Winfrey offers ordinary working Americans nothing, which is presumably why the corporate press in Britain was raving about what a good candidate she is. All the billionaires now owning papers, who don’t pay tax in this country, are presumably salivating at the thought of another president, who’ll do just what business leaders tell them.

As for what effect her presidency will have on Black Americans, you only have to look at Barack Obama to see that this prospects aren’t good. Despite all the racist screaming from the Republicans that Obama was an anti-White racist, who was planning to exterminate White Americans, Obama in many ways was a completely unremarkable, corporate politico. And he did precious little to solve the various problems facing Black communities in America. Oprah will be exactly the same, only the poverty will be worse. Economists have looked at the decline in the household wealth of working Americans. This has declined drastically. But the decline in White household wealth is nowhere as severe as that experienced by Black families. It’s been estimated that in a few years, their average household wealth will be $8.

Oprah has nothing to say to that. Absolutely nothing. Except that people should look inside themselves, believe in themselves, work hard and then magically their dreams will come true.

Except we live in a harsh, cruel neoliberal corporate hell, rather than the dream reality held out by corporate shills like Killary.

And domestic poverty isn’t the only reason why Oprah would be an awful president. She’s another hawk in foreign policy. In this clip from the Sam Seder’s Majority Report, they comment on a piece in her show where she promotes the invasion of Iraq, repeating the lie that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.

Hussein didn’t have any weapons of mass destruction. There was no connection between him and Osama bin Laden. It was a Likudnik and Neocon lie to invade Iraq, steal their oil and plunder their state industries. The result has been chaos and mass death, carried out not just by Sunni insurgents, but also by the mercenaries under General McChristal, who was running death squads against the Shi’a.

If Oprah gets in, there’ll be more wars in the Middle East and elsewhere, as the American military machine keeps demanding more conflict and more funding.

Now I’ve nothing against Oprah Winfrey personally. She’s glamorous, intelligent and a genial TV host. But that’s all she is. In terms of policies, she offers absolutely nothing to ordinary Americans, except more corporatism, bigger profits for the rich, and more poverty and exploitation for the poor, including and especially Black Americans. And as far as foreign policy goes, she’s a danger to world peace. The Iraq invasion destroyed one of the most successful secular states in the Middle East, where women were safe to hold jobs outside the home, into a sectarian bloodbath. All for the profit of multinational corporations.

But I don’t doubt that if ordinary Americans don’t vote for her, the Democrat propaganda machine will vilify them, just as they smeared everyone who voted for Bernie against Killary. If you don’t vote Oprah, they’ll scream, you’ll be a racist and a misogynist. And no doubt Blacks will be told that they’re all ‘Uncle Toms’ and ‘housen****ers doing what Massah tells them. All while the Black, female candidate doesn’t care a jot about doing anything practical to help working Americans with their real problems, but just promotes the neoliberal myth of American social mobility. While seeing that the corporate rich get even richer, of course.

Congratulations to Kim Kardashian

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 09/01/2018 - 3:04pm in

From the World Economic Forum: Kim Kardashian is an unlikely champion of statistics, but a tweet from the reality TV star in January 2017 contained a startling figure that has been named International Statistic of the Year. She shared a table showing a range of violent or unexpected ways people meet their deaths annually in […]

India Unveils Their Robocop

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 07/01/2018 - 10:22pm in

And it’s less than impressive. In Paul Verhoeven’s violent and satirical film, the Robocop of the title was a cop, Murphy, who had been set up by the company now owning the Detroit police force, Omni-Consumer Products, to be gunned down by hoodlums so that he could be re-engineered into a ruthless crime-fighting cyborgs. Of course, Murphy then rediscovered his true, human identity through a dream his human handlers were too slow to suppress. Furious, he then went off to wage his war to bring the men, who attacked him to justice and overthrow the corrupt and ambitious corporate intriguer, who had authorised the whole illegal programme and was now trying to overthrow the wise and kindly paternalistic company head.

It was violent and like Verhoeven’s later Starship Troopers, sharply satirical, with fake adverts for slickly insincere medical companies and sadistic home and car security devices running alongside a depiction of a city rapidly running out of control, overrun by gangs and terrorists. An exaggerated image of Reagan’s America.

This robot, by contrast, is much more staid and limited. The first part of this video starts more or less like a rock promo, with the machine trundling forward to a pop soundtrack. It has now legs, and consists of a human-like torso with arms and a head, supported on a pillar-like extension, widening at the base. There are clearly wheels inside, allowing it to move. It’s Indian inventors are clearly proud of it, as well they should, but its applications are strictly limited. It’s to help in only certain types of crime, and, er, traffic direction. But it does have a touchscreen and keypad to get you in touch with real cops for more serious offences. The company spokesman states that it’s not intended to put real people out of work. Which is a relief, given the grinding poverty in India itself, and over here.

However, this whole invention does remind of yet another story from the hallowed pages of 2000 AD. Remember Abelard Snazz, the Man With the High-Rise Head? The Double-Decker Dome genius problem solver, with two sets of eyes, one above the other on his enormous forehead? Snazz was an interstellar problem-solver, called upon by planets to find solutions for pressing issues. And whatever he did, always made the situation worse. Much worse. In his first outing, he was called upon by the authorities of a world suffering a massive crimewave. He solved that by building an arm of police robots. Who were too successful. Not only did they eradicate crime by arresting all the criminals, they start arresting ordinary people for completely imaginary offences. Like wearing brown shoes as a crime against fashion.

How do you deal with out of control robot cops? Easy. Snazz then builds an army of robotic crooks, to keep the robot cops occupied solving real crimes. These have the stereotyped striped jumpers, masks and hats, worn by all thieves in comics of a certain vintage.

However, there’s a problem with this. Human bystanders are being injured in the conflict between the robo-crims and the robocops. So how does Snazz solve this conundrum? He has another drink of his favourite tipple, the Syrian sentient milkshake, before designing an army of robotic innocent bystanders, who cry out electronically for the cops’ help as the robo-crims commit their skullduggery.

At which point, the whole situation is well out of anyone’s control, the maniac machines have well and truly taken over. Thanks to them the planet is absolutely uninhabitable for sane, humanoid life, and the planet and its inhabitants are forced to leave in an exodus of spacecraft. All the while blaming Snazz, who they manage to get rid of.

Every one of Snazz’s adventures ended this way, with his irate former clients shoving him out of an airlock, or forcing him down a giant Jacuzzi, or stranding him on top of a giant rubic’s cube, which it then takes him six million years to solve. Or falling into a Black Hole. The tales were hilarious, and written by Alan Moore when he could still write ha-ha, rather than turn to the serious issues, which have made him one of the foremost figures in British and American popular literature.

It’ll be a very long time before we have police robots anywhere near as efficient, or even as autonomous, as those of Robocop and Snazz. But there are serious issues. There’s a video by The Young Turks about how the authorities in one American city are using robots to harass rough sleepers. And a few years ago scientists around the world were alarmed by plans to develop automatic robot soldiers, which would kill a programmed, without conscience or mercy. Kevin Warwick, the head of robotics at Reading University, warns about such machines in his book, March of the Machines. On the top floor of his building, they’ve got a robot firefighter. It’s armed with a fire-extinguisher, and a neural net to help it recognise fires. But he points out, that all you need to do is replace the extinguisher with a gun, and programme it to recognise and kill people with blue eyes, and it will go off and execute its murderous work remorselessly. The threat is there, and genuine.

As was shown in the original Robocop movie. In that film, OCP turns to using cyborgs because the wholly robotic law enforcement machine suffers from a series of severe computer flaws. Most obviously when it fails to recognise that the board member, who has been waving a gun at it as part of a demonstration has actually complied with its wishes and put the gun down. It then shoots him multiple times before leaving him for dead.

We haven’t got there just yet, and the Indian robotic policeman ain’t heading in that direction. But the threat is there, nonetheless.

Declassified Irish Documents: MI5 Tried to Get UVF to Assassinate Charles Haughey

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 04/01/2018 - 2:43am in

There’s an interesting article in Counterpunch today by John Wight, which might add a new dimension to the government losing around 2,000 files from the National Archives last week. The files were supposed to have been taken out by Home Office civil servants, and covered a range of very sensitive incidents, from the notorious Zinoviev Letter, through to the assassination in the 1970s of the Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov, and the dirty war in Northern Ireland. Human Rights campaigners were alarmed in case this was an attempt to cover up human rights violations by the British state in Ulster in the long campaign against the IRA and related terror groups. The Zinoviev Letter, you will remember, was the forged letter by the British security services, which purported to be from Zinoviev, the head of Stalin’s Comintern, congratulating the Labour party on preparing to take over Britain in a revolution.

A number of Labour MPs have already made their feeling about the disappearance of the files clear, stating that this is another Orwellian attempt by the Tories to rewrite or obscure history.

It is, and this isn’t the first time the Tories have borrowed sensitive files to make sure they’re out of circulation. Anyone remember a similar incident a few years ago, when government documents similarly went missing from the archives, only for the minister responsible to claim that he had just ‘innocently’ taken them away to help him with a book he was writing? I didn’t believe that story then. The Tories have offered no excuse now, which does make you wonder what they’re trying to hide.

Some clue to this comes from Irish government documents from the 1980s that have been released under their 30-year rule. This includes a letter from the Protestant terrorist group, the UVF, to Charles Haughey, informing him that they were approached by an MI5 officer, who wished them to assassinate the Irish president. John Wight in his article about this in today’s Counterpunch writes

Said papers confirm that in 1987 the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), one of the oldest and most notorious of the various loyalist/Protestant paramilitary organizations that were engaged in sectarian violence in the province during the Troubles, wrote to the then Irish Prime Minister Charles Haughey in Dublin, informing him that in 1985 they were approached by Britain’s domestic intelligence service, MI5, with a request to assassinate him.

We learn that in the letter the UVF told Mr Haughey, “In 1985 we were approached by a MI5 officer attached to the NIO (Northern Ireland Office) and based in Lisburn, AlexJones was his supposed name. He asked us to execute you.” The letter subsequently goes on to allege that Britain’s MI5 supplied the group with information such as pictures of Haughey’s home, his private yacht, and details of the vehicles he travelled in.

The UVF refused follow through on MI5’s request, telling Mr Haughey, “We have no love for you but we are not going to carry out work for the Dirty Tricks Department of the British.”

https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/01/03/britains-dirty-war-in-ireland-revisited/

In fact, MI5 and the British government probably weren’t the only ones making covert plans to overthrow the opposite side. Way back in the 1980s or ’90s, Lobster covered a piece in the Irish Republican newspaper, An Phoblacht, which claimed that there had been a scheme during Haughey’s premiership to stir up sectarian violence in order to provide a pretext for an invasion of Ulster from the Republic. The plan was that after rioting and sectarian violence, armed forces from the south would enter the Six Countries as a peace-keeping force. If this is also true, then nobody, on either side of the Irish border, ends up looking good. Or anything other than deeply duplicitous and murderous.

In fact, there is plenty of evidence that the British state was supplying intelligence to the loyalist terror gangs, so that they could assassinate leading Republicans, as Wight’s article goes on to discuss. And there is also evidence that secret SAS units were being embedded within regular army units in Northern Ireland to act as death squads. All of which makes it very clear that there’s much in the files that this Tory government would very, very much want to hide.

Mike has already suggested that a way to stop files going missing in the future would be for the National Archives to be run like a proper library: those borrowing books have a ticket, and it is known who has borrowed what, and that they must return it on time. I completely agree, but this is too efficient, and would prevent the government from having a convenient pretext with which to lose files when their contents prove inconvenient.

And the government’s behaviour in this respect is very much like the Russian authorities during the old Communist system. Foreign researchers were at liberty to use files in the Soviet archives. However, if you wanted something sensitive or incriminating, you’d be told that those files were out. Which sounds exactly like what has been going on here.

Update on Planned Book on Western Support for Fascist Dictators

Okay, a few months ago, Florence, one of the many great commenters on this blog, suggested I should write a book detailing the West’s support for the Fascist dictators that have plagued this planet and its people since the Cold War, as part of the campaign against the Soviet Union and Communism. She felt this was important, as many people on the left came to their political consciousness through campaign against such monsters as General Pinochet, and the institutionalised racist oppression of apartheid in South Africa. That has vanished, but class apartheid still remains, as explained by John Pilger in a recent interview on RT, and is still very much alive and used against the Palestinians in Israel. Florence wrote

In the early 70s I volunteered to help type up translation transcriptions of reports from torture victims of the “Shit” of Iran, as Private eye called him. (It was as evidence for Amnesty.) Its not something you can ever forget. When the revolution happened, it was simply new bosses at the same slaughter houses. This is another lesson learned; the violence required by a state to terrorise its own people seeps into the culture, and remains for generations (maybe longer, its too early to tell in most of the cases you cover in this interesting and evocative piece). The violence of the state becomes symmetrical in the revolution in many countries, Iran, Iraq, etc. that follows such repression.

(For this reason I also worry that, for example, the almost visceral hatred of the disabled (and other poor) in the UK bred by the eugenics of neoliberalism for decades will not be so easily dislodged with a change in government. )
I see that the experience of having lived through those times is no longer part of the wider political education of the younger members of the left. In Labour the excesses of the neoliberals all but wiped out that generation and the links. I talk sometimes to our younger members in the Labour party and they are fascinated – but totally clueless. I do try to point them at this blog for this very reason. They are oblivious to who Pinochet was, why it mattered to us then and now, the refuge given to that butcher by Thatcher, the entire history of the Chicago school etc. The traditional passing in of this history, personal history too, through social groups in the Labour party has all but broken down.

As a suggestion, perhaps you could edit your blogs into a book we could use in discussion groups? You would help us be that collective memory board for the newer (not just younger) activists. It would help tease out the older members stories of their personal part in the struggles at home and abroad, but more than that your pieces on the collision of religious and political also show the rich complexities of life.

I’ve started work on the book, and collected a number of the posts together in a series of chapters. These will be on:

Introduction and Florence’s request

General US/Western Interference

Pinochet Coup in Chile

Real Reasons for Iraq War

Russia and Ukraine

Gaddafi and Libya

Syria

British Recruitment Nazis, Exploitation of Guyana, planned internment of radicals.

Fake News and Domestic Propaganda, HIGNFY, Andrew Neil

I’ve still got to put them in some kind of narrative order, to they make a kind of progressive sense to the reader, rather than being simply jumbled up higgledy-piggledy. Once that’s done, I shall see about putting a cover to it, and sending it to Lulu, if anyone’s interested. Incidentally, my book Privatisation: Killing the NHS, should still be available from them, if anyone’s interested. I don’t know how many copies of this book I’ll sale, but I hope it helps do something to bring down this horrific, murderous wave of neoliberalism imperialism released by George Dubya and Blair, and extended by their successors.

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