Africa

Book on Vanished Jewish Communities of the Holocaust

Shmuel Spector, The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, 3 vols. (New York University Press, 2001). 

I found this book in the latest Postscript catalogue for April 2020. The blurb for it goes

Profiling more than 6,500 Jewish communities, with over 600 photographs, 17 pages of maps, a chronology and glossary, these volumes are the product of three decades of work at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Remembrance Authority of Israel. The alphabetically arranged entries provide details of the history, people and customs of communities, large and small, that thrived throughout much of Europe, north Africa and the Middle East during the early part of the 20th century, but were changed irrevocably by the Holocaust.

The price is beyond most people’s pockets. It was £173.00, but Postscript are offering it at £75. It might, however, be available from an academic library.

I’ve absolutely no problem with this book whatsoever. The college where I did my undergraduate degree, the College of St. Paul and St. Mary, which became part of the University of Gloucestershire, hosted an exhibitions of photos of the shtetl Jewish communities of eastern Europe. There is, however, a moral problem with Yad Vashem. While it’s entirely correct to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust, critics of the museum have complained that it acts to sanitise some of the world’s worst political leaders when they turn up on an official visit to make a deal. These have included real Nazis and anti-Semites, people responsible for horrific crimes against humanity, authoritarians with absolutely no regard for the value of human life. But these people suddenly become worthy friends of Israel and its people by the simple act of making a visit to Yad Vashem as part of their itinerary and laying a wreath or making some other gesture of mourning.

The activity of Yad Vashem in researching and documenting the Jewish communities destroyed by the Holocaust in Europe also has a counterpart among the Palestinians. They are also active doing the same for the Palestinian communities destroyed during the Nakba, the term they use for their violent ethnic cleansing at the foundation of Israel. In contrast to the victims of the Jewish genocide, I very much doubt that any western publisher will bring out a book on these lost communities.

Because if they did, the Israel lobby and someone like the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and the Board of Deputies of British Jews would almost certainly accuse them of anti-Semitism.

Pluralistic: 19 Mar 2020

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 20/03/2020 - 3:05am in

Today's links

  1. The worst Democrat in Congress just lost his job: Dan Lipinski primaried by the amazing Marie Newman.
  2. Canada Reads documentary on Radicalized: The Great Canadian Book debate is indefinitely postponed, but here's an hour on my book!
  3. Africa's Facebook modders are world leaders: Technological self-determination through adversarial interoperability.
  4. Imagineering in a Box: Interdisciplinary theme park design lessons from Khan Academy and Disney.
  5. Data is the New Toxic Waste: It was never "the new oil."
  6. How to structure a fair covid bailout: Stimulus, not private jets.
  7. Fox News is a suicide cult: Telling your elderly viewers to perform tribal loyalty by engaging in high-risk behaviors is a career-limiting move.
  8. Grocery supply chains are resilient: One less thing to worry about.
  9. Magic in the time of coronavirus: Never let a good crisis go to waste, card-trick edition.
  10. This day in history: 2010, 2019
  11. Colophon: Recent publications, current writing projects, upcoming appearances, current reading


The worst Democrat in Congress just lost his job (permalink)

Congress's worst Democrat is Dan Lipinski, a corrupt, anti-abortion, corporatist, gunhumping asshole in a safe seat that he inherited from his father in 2004, who handed it to him after nominations had closed, bypassing the semblance of democracy.

https://theintercept.com/2018/01/29/dan-lipinski-illinois-3rd-district-marie-newman/

He's a homophobic bigot who opposed the $15 minimum wage and allowed the rail-barons who fund his campaign to dismantle safety regulations.

He was primaried by Marie Newman (I'm a donor!) whose campaign was vicious sabotaged by the DNC.

https://theintercept.com/2019/04/26/dccc-blacklist-marie-newman-dan-lipinski/

Despite this, Marie Newman successfully primaried this piece of shit.

Like AOC's seat, Newman's is a very safe one, meaning she's all but guaranteed to go to Congress in November.


Canada Reads documentary on Radicalized (permalink)

The Canada Reads national book prize is indefinitely postponed, thanks to covid. In lieu of the televised debates originally scheduled for this week, the CBC is airing one-hour specials on each book, including mine, Radicalized.

https://www.cbc.ca/listen/live-radio/1-6-canada-reads/clip/15766247-canada-reads-2020-special-episode-radicalized-by-cory-doctorow

If you're jonesing for The Great Canadian Book Debate, you can fill the gap with the whole series:

https://www.cbc.ca/listen/live-radio/1-6-canada-reads


Africa's Facebook modders are world leaders (permalink)

In most of Africa, the most popular app by far is WhatsApp, and unofficial WhatsApp mods – including one that started life as a Syrian alternative at the height of its civil war – are offering local tools for local contexts.

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2020/03/african-whatsapp-modders-are-masters-worldwide-adversarial-interoperability

"Nothing about us without us" has been a rallying cry for many movements, most recently the disability rights movement. Coders working for a Silicon Valley Big Tech firm shouldn't have the last work on how apps work for people half a world away.

The big WhatsApp mods accommodate lots of local needs: larger groups and filesizes, better privacy protection, multiple accounts on a single device.

But it's also hard to find reliable mods, because FB used legal threats to shut down the largest, most popular one.

Ironically, this has driven peer-to-peer app sharing, where people you trust will directly send the app from their phone to yours, assuring you that they haven't detected any spyware. That's just great.

What would be even better is if local coders could dismantle FB's digital colonialism and market their improved apps directly, come out of the shadows without fear of retaliation by distant juggernauts who want to capture "the next billion users" and own their digital lives.

The history of Adversarial Interoperability is full of users modifying their tools to improve them. Before John Deere was a monopolistic copyright troll, it used to send engineers out to farms to collect and integrate farmers' mods into its products.

https://securityledger.com/2019/03/opinion-my-grandfathers-john-deere-would-support-our-right-to-repair/

Every human being should have the right of technological self-determination: the right to decide which tools they use, and to change how those tools work to suit their own needs.


Imagineering in a Box (permalink)

Imagineering in a Box is a joint project from Khan Academy, Pixar and Disney Imagineering. It's a series of interactive lessons and lectures on designing themed spaces, rides to go in those spaces, and animatronics to go in those rides.

https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/hass-storytelling/imagineering-in-a-box

It's interdisciplinary: land design is meant to be undertaken with physical materials, ride design uses art and math, and animatronic design is robotics – mechanical engineering and software development.


Data is the New Toxic Waste (permalink)

In a new article for Kaspersky, I argue that data was never "the new oil" – instead, it was always the new toxic waste: "pluripotent, immortal – and impossible to contain."

https://www.kaspersky.com/blog/secure-futures-magazine/data-new-toxic-waste/34184/

Data breaches are inevitable (any data you collect will probably leak; any data you retain will definitely leak) and cumulative (your company's data breach can be combined with each subsequent attack to revictimize your customers). Identity thieves benefit enormously from cheap storage, and they collect, store and recombine every scrap of leaked data. Merging multiple data sets allows for reidentification of "anonymized" data, and it's impossible to predict which sets will leak in the future.

These nondeterministic harms have so far protected data-collectors from liability, but that can't last. Toxic waste also has nondeterministic harms (we never know which bit of effluent will kill which person), but we still punish firms that leak it.

Waiting until the laws change to purge your data is a bad bet – by then, it may be too late. All the data your company collects and retains represents an unquantifiable, potentially unlimited source of downstream liability.

What's more, you probably aren't doing anything useful with it. The companies that make the most grandiose claims about data analytics are either selling analytics or data (or both). These claims are sales literature, not peer-reviewed citations to empirical research.

Data is cheap to collect and store – if you don't have to pay for the chaos it sows when it leaks. And some day, we will make data-hoarders pay.


How to structure a fair covid bailout (permalink)

It's a foregone conclusions that there will be a bailout. My first worry is that it will be inflationary, because production has ground to a halt. More dollars chasing fewer goods — not good.

https://pluralistic.net/2020/03/18/diy-tp/#covid-stimulus

But there's another risk, which is that it will just go to the finance sector, who will use it to buy private jets and political influence, repeating the 2008 pattern.

https://mattstoller.substack.com/p/how-to-structure-the-coronavirus

Financialization is how the economy got so fragile in the first place. Leveraged buyouts, debt-loading, payoffs for layoffs, looting corporate cash reserves, selling assets and spiking executive competition made companies brittle. As Matt Stoller writes, financialization's goal "is to eliminate production in favor of scalable profitable things like brands, patents, and tax loopholes, because producers – engineers, artists, workers – are cost centers."

Bush/Obama had huge leverage over corporations during their bailout, but they squandered it by making companies subservient to finance, instead of public priorities, workers' rights, or a fair deal for customers.

We must not repeat that blunder. Any company that gets a covid bailout should:

  • be permanently banned from buybacks, and banned from dividends for 5 years. Companies need to restore their financial cushions.
  • have their share price zeroed. Shareholders aren't getting a bailout. They "took the risk and upside, they should get the downside too."
  • have limits on executive comp. Tax dollars shouldn't make execs who presided over failure into millionaires.
  • a ban on lobbying, limits on PR – you can't spend public handouts to lobby for more public handouts
  • no M&A activity for 5 years. We're bailing you out so you can run a productive business, not become an acquisition target.

This crisis is different than 2008. It's worse. Let's not make the response worse, as well.

(Image: Bernie Durfee, CC BY-SA)


Fox News is a suicide cult (permalink)

Throughout the crisis, Fox News has been dutifully fulfilling its role as a state new organ for the Trump admin. When Trump's narrative was "no big deal," the network engaged in denial and urged its viewers to engage in high-risk conduct to perform their tribal loyalty.

TV news viewers are much older than the median American. Fox viewers are much older than the median TV new viewer. Old people are at the highest risk of covid complications. Linear increases in patient age yield exponential increases in mortality.

Fox has since changed its orthodoxy to match the president's new narrative. But it's too late. Many viewers will cling to their original denial in order to protect themselves from feeling like dupes.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/media/on-fox-news-suddenly-a-very-different-tune-about-the-coronavirus/2020/03/16/7a7637cc-678f-11ea-9923-57073adce27c_story.html

Others are already incubating – and passing on the virus.

Fox News just murdered a substantial portion of its viewership.

https://ritholtz.com/2020/03/foxnews-clearpresentdanger/

But don't get smug. The Fox viewers' risky conduct will have spread the virus further, infecting people far beyond the circle of denialists.

And their cases and the cases of those they infected will contribute to the overwhelming of the health-care system.

People who have car-wrecks or burst appendices or complex births or other emergency hospitalizations will die as a result.

Fox didn't cause the pandemic, and its viewers aren't solely responsible for its spread. But their ideology and conduct made it much, much worse.


Grocery supply chains are resilient (permalink)

If you – like me – have been worried about empty US grocery shelves, it appears that you can rest easy (or easier).

US food distributors' warehouses are at 200-500% nominal, comparable to pre-Thanksgiving.

https://www.npr.org/2020/03/18/817920400/empty-grocery-shelves-are-alarming-but-theyre-not-permanent

They saw this coming and stocked up.

Food production is also still very healthy.

The shortages appear temporary, driven by logistics bottlenecks that will ease with time, assuming the labor force for grocers/warehousers/shippers remains healthy and available.

(Image: Lyza, CC BY-SA)


Magic in the time of coronavirus (permalink)

I really dote on the "social magic" of Andy at The Jerx, a one-on-one style of conjuring and mentalism that often plays out over weeks and months. He's been doing a series of performing tricks during coronavirus, and the latest instalment is great.

http://www.thejerx.com/blog/2020/3/19/magic-in-the-time-of-coronavirus-part-3

"I have this trick I'm working on but I've run out of people to perform it on in person. Can you hop on Skype for a few minutes?"

This implies that you could do the trick in person, and you can use it to do something you couldn't do in person.

"The window of the Skype frame makes switching and ditching and that sort of thing incredibly easy. You don't need a pocket index, you can have stuff just sitting on your computer desk off frame."


This day in history (permalink)

#10yrsago Peter Watts found guilty www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=1186

#10yrsago Icelandic Pirates soar: citizenship for Snowden? https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2015/03/icelandic-pirate-partys-rapid-rise-may-result-in-citizenship-for-snowden/

#1yrago Uber used spyware to surveil and poach drivers from Australian rival service Gocatch https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-18/uber-used-secret-spyware-to-try-and-crush-australian-start-up/10901120

#1yrago Kickstarter employees want to unionize under OPEIU and have formed Kickstarter United to make that happen https://www.theverge.com/2019/3/19/18254995/kickstarter-unionizing-union-representation-inclusivity-transparency-tech-us-crowdfunding

#1yrago The European Copyright Directive: What Is It, and Why Has It Drawn More Controversy Than Any Other Directive In EU History? https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2019/03/european-copyright-directive-what-it-and-why-has-it-drawn-more-controversy-any

#1yrago Matt Taibbi finally makes sense of the Pentagon's trillions in off-books "budgetary irregularities" https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/pentagon-budget-mystery-807276/

#1yrago New Zealand's domestic spies, obsessed with illegally surveilling environmental activists, missed a heavily armed right-wing terrorist https://consortiumnews.com/2019/03/15/misguided-spying-and-the-new-zealand-massacre/


Colophon (permalink)

Today's top sources: Disney Parks Blog (https://disneyparks.disney.go.com), Naked Capitalism (https://nakedcapitalism.com/).

Currently writing: I've just finished rewrites on a short story, "The Canadian Miracle," for MIT Tech Review. It's a story set in the world of my next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel about truth and reconciliation. I've also just completed "Baby Twitter," a piece of design fiction also set in The Lost Cause's prehistory, for a British think-tank. I'm getting geared up to start work on the novel next.

Currently reading: Just started Lauren Beukes's forthcoming Afterland: it's Y the Last Man plus plus, and two chapters in, it's amazeballs. Last month, I finished Andrea Bernstein's "American Oligarchs"; it's a magnificent history of the Kushner and Trump families, showing how they cheated, stole and lied their way into power. I'm getting really into Anna Weiner's memoir about tech, "Uncanny Valley." I just loaded Matt Stoller's "Goliath" onto my underwater MP3 player and I'm listening to it as I swim laps.

Latest podcast: The Masque of the Red Death and Punch Brothers Punch https://craphound.com/podcast/2020/03/16/the-masque-of-the-red-death-and-punch-brothers-punch/

Upcoming books: "Poesy the Monster Slayer" (Jul 2020), a picture book about monsters, bedtime, gender, and kicking ass. Pre-order here: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781626723627?utm_source=socialmedia&utm_medium=socialpost&utm_term=na-poesycorypreorder&utm_content=na-preorder-buynow&utm_campaign=9781626723627

(we're having a launch for it in Burbank on July 11 at Dark Delicacies and you can get me AND Poesy to sign it and Dark Del will ship it to the monster kids in your life in time for the release date).

"Attack Surface": The third Little Brother book, Oct 20, 2020. https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250757531

"Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new introduction by Edward Snowden: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583

Pluralistic: 18 Mar 2020

Today's links

  1. Ethiopian factory sports Jack Ma quotes: Global trade currents are shifting fast.
  2. Charter orders all workers to keep showing up: Even the 15% of its workforce who could work from home.
  3. MAGA firefighters dismiss coronavirus as Democrat hoax: And/or a Chinese bioweapon.
  4. Flatter Me, a compliments card game: Kickstarting now.
  5. American Airlines blew billions, now it wants a bailout: Socializing losses, privatizing gains.
  6. John Green's mutual aid manifesto: The only way through is together.
  7. How to split a single ventilator for four patients: Peer-reviewed simulations.
  8. Bigoted Republican Congressjerk votes against coronavirus relief because it might cover same-sex partnerships: Rep Andy Biggs wants to send us all to meet Jesus.
  9. Epidemiology and public health in 14 minutes: An epidemiologist and an sf writer make an outstanding science communications team.
  10. 3D printed ventilator hero got a patent threat: Human rights vs property rights.
  11. If nothing is for sale, how will covid stimulus work? Can you fix a supply shock with stimulus?
  12. How to make your own toilet paper: A craft for your isolated kiddos.
  13. Plague precautions from 1665: No feasting, but you can tipple in a bar until 9PM.
  14. This day in history: 2005, 2010, 2015, 2019
  15. Colophon: Recent publications, current writing projects, upcoming appearances, current reading


Ethiopian factory sports Jack Ma quotes (permalink)

This pic was taken by researchers from Caribou Data at a textiles factory in Ethiopia. Every curtain on every window bore silk-screened quotes from Jack Ma's book (the name of the factory has been redacted to preserve the owner's privacy).

The researchers told me that 72 hours after Alibaba moved into Rwanda, every coffee farmer using the platform had sold out of their inventory.

It's a potent and visually arresting reminder of how global trade currents are shifting.


Charter orders all workers to keep showing up (permalink)

My local monopoly ISP is Charter. They're terrible in every single way. What's more, my city, Burbank, owns 100GB fiber that runs under my home's foundation slab, but I can't access it because of Charter's deal with the city. In addition to delivering slow-as-molasses connectivity at nosebleed prices (and relentlessly advertising upsells, dozens every week, print and digital), the company is also forcing all workers to show up in person during the pandemic – even those who could work from home.

They basically forced Nick Wheeler, an engineer who complained about this, to resign, calling his short, measured complaint about the policy "irresponsible," accusing him of "inciting fear."

https://techcrunch.com/2020/03/16/charter-coronavirus-work-home/

Charter gives its workers a single annual week's worth of sick-leave. Workers have to use that leave time if they are worried about contracting or transmitting coronavirus. Medical advice for coronavirus infections is to self-isolate for two weeks, though.

Even other telcos (AT&T, Comcast) are asking workers to work from home. Charter CEO Tom Rutledge has doubled down on his infect-the-world policy, because "While back office and management functions can be performed remotely, they are more effective from the office."

Charter is a tremendous beneficiary of public largesse. It gets access to our rights-of-way, something they couldn't hope to afford at market rates. It received billions in tax-cuts (which it squandered on stock buybacks). The company got Net Neutrality dismantled, and is given monopolies wherever it operates.

This largesse is predicated on the idea that Charter views itself as a steward and can be trusted with monopoly self-regulation. If you had any doubt that the company can't be trusted to pour piss out of a boot with instructions printed on the heel, this should dispel it forever.

What I'm saying is, if you ever have a Charter exec in your home, count the spoons before you let him leave.


MAGA firefighters dismiss coronavirus as Democrat hoax (permalink)

"IAFF Union Firefighters for Trump" is a 27,000 member Facebook group of first responders who split from their union over its endorsement of Biden; Trump himself has endorsed the group.

Today, it is full of firefighters and EMTs who say that coronavirus is no big deal.

Some of the group's members are posting evidence to the contrary from their working experience, talking about the devastation they're witnessing firsthand. Their colleagues reply with poop emojis and "Trump2020."

https://www.propublica.org/article/facebook-firefighters-corona#179168

The group is infected with the conspiracy theory that coronvirus is a panic cooked up by Democrats to discredit Trump, or that it's a Chinese bioweapon, an idea that Trump and his Congressional and Senate supporters have tacitly (or explicitly) endorsed.

This is especially worrying as EMTs and firefighters are at high risk of contracting coronovirus. If they don't take the risk seriously, they could spread it to vulnerable people, or reduce emergency capacity while they are quarantined (they also risk their own health).

Group founder Kelly Hallman told Propublica that "There's never been this much hoopla given to the other things. They're doing it to crash the economy and make Trump look bad…If you had to point a finger at why the leftist media and the left in general has a smile on their face about this, it's the Dow. My wife and kids are scared, believing what they're seeing on TV. I'm telling them it's not as bad as the media makes out."


Flatter Me, a compliments card game (permalink)

Flatter Me is Ami Baio's latest kickstarted card-game: "a two-player game for all ages with 250 unique compliments to play with friends, family, and partners."

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/amibaio/flatter-me-a-compliment-battle-card-game

Its creator Ami Baio specialises in games that turn on kindness and connection; her last project was "You Don't Know Me."

https://youthinkyouknowme.cards/

A $20 pledge gets you one Flatter Me deck, $35 gets a two-pack. The cards are also designed to be given as gifts: "given to friends who need a boost, tucked into cards or gift bags, or left for friends to find."

Baio is seeking $12k in pre-orders and is delivers in Oct.


American Airlines blew billions, now it wants a bailout (permalink)

Since 2014, American Airlines has accumulated a $30B debt. It did so while paying its shareholders $15B through stock buybacks, and while raising prices on fliers, nickel-and-diming on bag charges and other extras. Now its industry group – whose members spent 96% of their free cash-flow on buybacks – is seeking a $50B coronavirus bailout, with no strings attached. That's 300% more than the industry got after 9/11.

This is shareholder capitalism working as intended. As Matt Levine writes, "it is optimized to extract money for shareholders when things go well and minimize the amount of shareholder money that is at risk when things go very wrong."

http://link.mail.bloombergbusiness.com/join/4wm/moneystuff-signup

But as Tim Wu writes, bailouts should come with strings attached. The airlines engineered this situation for themselves. If we let them socialized their losses and privatize their gains (again), they'll do it again (again).

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/16/opinion/airlines-bailout.html

  • "Change fees should be capped at $50 and baggage fees tied to some ratio of costs. The change fees don't just irritate; they are a drag on the broader economy, making the transport system less flexible and discouraging otherwise efficient changes to travel plans."
  • "We should end the airlines' pursuit of smaller and smaller seats, which are not only uncomfortable and even physically harmful, but also foster in-flight rage and make the job of flight attendants nigh unbearable."
  • "Finally, we have allowed too much common ownership, permitting large shareholders to take a stake in each of the major airlines, creating incentives to collude instead of compete."

As Naomi Klein has reminded us, the Shock Doctrine (can) cut both ways: the Great Depression catalyzed transformative change and the New Deal. Let's not permit this disaster be seized by the people responsible for it.

https://pluralistic.net/2020/03/17/pluralistic-17-mar-2020/#disaster-socialism


John Green's mutual aid manifesto (permalink)

This video from John Green is a tonic: a reminder that humanity has a shared destiny and that cooperation is the human condition. and that mutual aid is key.

"The only way out is through, and the only way through is together."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dh23nwxpfe8


How to split a single ventilator for four patients (permalink)

In 2008, Greg Neyman and Charlene Babcock Irvin published "A Single Ventilator for Multiple Simulated Patients to Meet Disaster Surge" in the peer-reviewed Society for Academic Emergency Medicine journal.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1197/j.aem.2006.05.009

In this video, Dr Babcock demonstrates how to split a single ventilator to safely and effectively treat up to four patients.

As she points out, there have been no studies of this, but it has been (temporarily) used successfully in the field.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uClq978oohY


Bigoted Republican Congressjerk votes against coronavirus relief because it might cover same-sex partnerships (permalink)

You may not get paid leave during the coronavirus crisis in part because
Rep Andy Biggs (R-AZ) voted against it because his homophobia was more salient than his empathy.

https://theintercept.com/2020/03/17/coronavirus-stimulus-bill-andy-biggs/

He claimed (wrongly) that this was novel federal legislation in that it included domestic partnerships.

He was objecting to the provision of assistance to family members, including "biological, foster, or adopted child, a stepchild, a child of a domestic partner."

As Lee Fang writes, "The exact same legislative text around domestic partnerships and committed relationships is found in several bills in Congress, including paid sick leave legislation proposed as far back as 2015."

Biggs also lied and said that he objected to coronavirus relief because it would repeal the Hyde Amendment ("Two provisions that have nothing to do with the coronavirus are basically thrown into this thing. That's par for the course for the left").

The bill does not repeal the Hyde Amendment.

The Republican Party, folks. The party of death and poverty and tragedy and hate. Remember that in November.


Epidemiology and public health in 14 minutes (permalink)

Epidemiologist Dr. Ross Kauffman and sf writer Tobias Buckell teamed up to produce this short video explaining the costs of a runaway coronavirus epidemic to explain the need for drastic measures to their local Ohio town council.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqgINxGQB5w

It's a spectacular piece of science communications: grave without being alarmist, calm and measured, informative and plainspoken. It's a really important piece of video and I hope you'll watch it.


3D printed ventilator hero got a patent threat (permalink)

Remember the heartwarming story of the Italian makers who volunteered to fix their hospital's busted ventilators with 3D printed parts that they designed and produced on the spot?

https://pluralistic.net/2020/03/16/tiktoks-secrets/#3dp-breathfree

It turns out that these makers weren't just saving lives, they were also taking a legal risk. That's because when they asked the manufacturer for help with the project, the manufacturer countered by threatening to sue them for patent infringement.

https://it.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-manca-la-valvola-per-uno-strumento-di-rianimazione-e-noi-la-stampiamo-in-3d-accade-nellospedale-di-chiari-brescia/

The part they printed cost them 1 euro, while replacing the system would cost a reported EUR10,000.

In a heartfelt, and soul-searching post, one of the people behind the project says he won't try to distribute the files he created.

https://www.facebook.com/Ing.Cristian.Fracassi/posts/10222339428782713

I can't help but wonder if he's hoping to mollify the corporation whose threats he ignored to help save lives.

Postscript: If you're pondering the issues of open source/homebrew respirator design, check out this excellent thread on the material constraints and challenges of med-tech.

https://twitter.com/turzaak/status/1239544498553860096


If nothing is for sale, how will covid stimulus work? (permalink)

I'm a believer in Modern Monetary Theory and the idea that state deficit spending is not intrinsically inflationary – only when the state is trying to procure things the private sector wants, so they get into a bidding war.

https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2019/4/16/18251646/modern-monetary-theory-new-moment-explained

In theory, the covid contraction is a great candidate for MMT stimulus. If people are stockpiling cash and thus eliminating their discretionary spending (40% of US GDP!), then the state can procure the discretionary items without triggering inflation.

Or there could be a hybrid, such as distributing vouchers to the public, redeemable for discretionary purchases – instead of bailing out aviation, we could buy people plane tickets, for example.

But that runs into a big problem: there's another reason people aren't making discretionary purchases, which is that those goods and services aren't available (manufacture has been disrupted by social distancing) or aren't safe (flying is incompatible with social distancing).

In this case, it seems to me that stimulus spending runs the risk of being inflationary (when everyone tries to redeem their plane ticket vouchers at once) or useless (people throw away their vouchers). Stimulus + supply shock = ??

That's not to rule out stimulus altogether, but it does suggest that the stimulus needs to be targeted, especially considering the size of the bailout that Wall Street is bandying about: trillions, in a matter of days.

https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/the-coronavirus-calls-for-wartime-economic-thinking

The GOP is calling for a $1,000/person bailout, but as Yves Smith says, this isn't much when it comes to the immediate expenses that affected people need to cover, like rent, mortgage, and, of course, treating covid-related illness without insurance.

https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2020/03/why-sending-1000-checks-to-everyone-wont-solve-the-coronavirus

Maybe, instead, help to cover mortgage and rent, along with anti-eviction/foreclosure rules; help with utilities, expanded food aid, and swift Medicare for All. Then, once the crisis is passed, a big stimulus package – for people, not banks – that gets us buying stuff again?

TBH, I don't know. It's weird to feel skeptical of stimulus, given how valuable demand-side relief would have been over the past decade+. Obviously we don't want another 2008 plute bonanza giveaway, but we also don't want to inject ever more money to chase ever-fewer goods.


How to make your own toilet paper (permalink)

Making toilet paper at home is a pretty on-the-nose craft to try with your covid-isolated kiddos. You need newsprint, leaves/grass (as a cellulosic binder) and baby oil.

https://www.ehow.com/how_4514690_make-toilet-paper.html

Soak the paper until ink is mostly gone, slowly boil with leaves/grass, simmer 1h, bring to boil for 30m, adding water and skimming foam. Remove, ladle out excess water. Mix 4tbsps of baby oil in with pulp. Scoop pulp onto a towel, press with a rolling pin.

Gently beat out lumps with a rubber mallet, add another towel on top. Cover with a board and add weights. Wait 30m. Flip over, remove towel and leave to dry in sun. Cut into strips and use (sparingly).


Plague precautions from 1665 (permalink)

ORDERS CONCEIVED AND PUBLISHED BY THE LORD MAYOR AND ALDERMEN OF THE CITY OF LONDON CONCERNING THE INFECTION OF THE PLAGUE, 1665

https://brucesterling.tumblr.com/post/612917764072636416/orders-conceived-and-published-by-the-lord-mayor

Every parish needs examiners. Refuse duty and you go to prison: "persons of good sort and credit chosen and appointed by the alderman, his deputy, and common council of every ward, by the name of examiners, to continue in that office the space of two months at least."

Examiners must "inquire and learn from time to time what houses in every parish be visited, and what persons be sick, and of what diseases…[I]f they find any person sick of the infection, to give order to the constable that the house be shut up."

Infected homs get 24/7 surveillance two watchmen: "these watchmen have a special care that no person go in or out of such infected houses whereof they have the charge, upon pain of severe punishment."

They'll also get you groceries and lock up your shop.

Women "of honest reputation" are appointed by physicians as "searchers" to inspect the dead and determine cause of death. Searchers are helped by newly appointed "able and discreet chirurgeons," charged with ensuring that "a true report made of the disease."

Nurse-keepers have to be quarantined for 28 days after their patients die.

If plague is found in a house, the whole household is locked in for 28 days. Prior to sequestration, their personal effects have to be aired, treated with fire, and then perfumed. Anyone known to have visited a plague house is locked down for 28 days, along with their household, with the same airing, flaming and perfuming business.

Plague-dead may only be buried after sunset and before sunrise, with no mourners in attendance. No sermons or eulogies allowed. Graves must be 6 feet deep. All funerals are banned. Personal effects of the plague-dead must be destroyed, not given away or sold.

Public notice: "Every house visited be marked with a red cross of a foot long in the middle of the door.. and with these usual printed words… 'Lord, have mercy upon us,' to be set close over the same cross, there to continue until lawful opening of the same house."

Cab drivers can continue as normal, but if they carry someone thought to have plague they have to retire their hackney-coaches for 5-6 days and give them a thorough airing.

[[I sense that this may be a weak spot in the whole plan]]

There's also new sanitation rules requiring regular sweepings and rakings of "filth" from the streets, with all the human waste being dumped far from the city and not in local gardens. Smelly or rotten food-sales are banned.

Cops are charged with sweeping up and punishing beggars, who are banned from the streets.

No live entertainment: "all plays, bear-baitings, games, singing of ballads, buckler-play, or such-like causes of assemblies of people be utterly prohibited."

All restaurants are closed. Feasting is banned.

Bars are OK, but under suspicion, and must close by 9PM. The rule covers "tippling in taverns, ale-houses, coffee-houses, and cellars."

[[Again, this seems like a weak spot]]


This day in history (permalink)

#15yrsago Andre Norton, RIP https://web.archive.org/web/20050318045717/http://www.cnn.com/2005/SHOWBIZ/books/03/17/obit.norton.ap/index.html

#15yrsago Orrin Hatch is head of new IP subcommitee https://www.technewsworld.com/story/41548.html

#10yrsago Is the UK record industry arrogant or stupid? https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2010/mar/18/digital-economy-bill-calculated-loss

#10yrsago Entertainment industry sours on term "pirate" — too sexy https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2010/03/piracy-sounds-too-sexy-say-rightsholders/

#10yrsago YouTube: Viacom secretly posted its videos even as they sued us for not taking down Viacom videos https://youtube.googleblog.com/2010/03/broadcast-yourself.html

#10yrsago Michael Lewis's THE BIG SHORT, visiting the econopocalypse through the lens of LIAR'S POKER https://boingboing.net/2010/03/18/michael-lewiss-the-b.html

#5yrsago Insider view of the cash-for-gold ripoff https://www.laphamsquarterly.org/swindle-fraud/we-buy-broken-gold

#5yrsago Terry Pratchett's advice to booksellers https://www.thebookseller.com/blogs/advice-booksellers

#1yrago Facebook's year-old "improvements" to the newsfeed have elevated enraging Fox News posts to the service's dominant form https://www.niemanlab.org/2019/03/one-year-in-facebooks-big-algorithm-change-has-spurred-an-angry-fox-news-dominated-and-very-engaged-news-feed/

#1yrago Electronic Health Records: a murderous, publicly subsidized, $13B/year grift by way of shitty software https://khn.org/news/death-by-a-thousand-clicks/


Colophon (permalink)

Today's top sources: Mitch Wagner (http://mitchwagner.com/blog/), Kottke (https://kottke.org), Laurent Stanevich (https://twitter.com/LairBob), Naked Capitalism (https://www.nakedcapitalism.com), Slashdot (https://slashdot.org).

Currently writing: I've just finished rewrites on a short story, "The Canadian Miracle," for MIT Tech Review. It's a story set in the world of my next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel about truth and reconciliation. I've also just completed "Baby Twitter," a piece of design fiction also set in The Lost Cause's prehistory, for a British think-tank. I'm getting geared up to start work on the novel next.

Currently reading: Just started Lauren Beukes's forthcoming Afterland: it's Y the Last Man plus plus, and two chapters in, it's amazeballs. Last month, I finished Andrea Bernstein's "American Oligarchs"; it's a magnificent history of the Kushner and Trump families, showing how they cheated, stole and lied their way into power. I'm getting really into Anna Weiner's memoir about tech, "Uncanny Valley." I just loaded Matt Stoller's "Goliath" onto my underwater MP3 player and I'm listening to it as I swim laps.

Latest podcast: The Masque of the Red Death and Punch Brothers Punch https://craphound.com/podcast/2020/03/16/the-masque-of-the-red-death-and-punch-brothers-punch/

Upcoming books: "Poesy the Monster Slayer" (Jul 2020), a picture book about monsters, bedtime, gender, and kicking ass. Pre-order here: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781626723627?utm_source=socialmedia&utm_medium=socialpost&utm_term=na-poesycorypreorder&utm_content=na-preorder-buynow&utm_campaign=9781626723627

(we're having a launch for it in Burbank on July 11 at Dark Delicacies and you can get me AND Poesy to sign it and Dark Del will ship it to the monster kids in your life in time for the release date).

"Attack Surface": The third Little Brother book, Oct 20, 2020. https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250757531

"Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new introduction by Edward Snowden: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583

This Week in The Guardian #4

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 16/03/2020 - 2:00am in

Every week, on a Sunday, we like to highlight three or four stories that go full-Guardian, but don’t require an entire article of refutation. We encourage reader-participation here, so if you come across something you feel should be included in the next edition either post a link below, or send us an e-mail. “Hounded by …

Tony Greenstein Review of Book on Zionism’s Alliance with Anti-Semites and Nazis

Tony Greenstein has frequently stated that Zionism is the Jewish form of anti-Semitism. This is so, because Zionism accepts and adopts the anti-Semitic assumption that Jews and gentiles are fundamentally, irreconcilably different and incompatible. Jews will never be accepted in non-Jewish society, and so must have their own country. He has also pointed out, over and over again, that in order to achieve this aim, Zionists have allied themselves with real anti-Semites, people and regimes who support Zionism purely for the racist goal of cleansing their countries of Jews. This is how it is that the Nazis made a pact, the Ha’avara Agreement, with the Zionist settlers in Palestine, to smuggle German Jews there during the British Mandate. It is why the Zionist Jewish newspaper in Germany, the Judischer Rundschau, enthusiastically welcomed Hitler’s vile Nuremberg laws, telling their readers that the Nazis shared their views that Jews and (gentile) Germans were racially different, and that they should wear their yellow stars with pride. It is why the Zionist leader in Hungary during the War, Rudolf Kasztner, made a deal with the Nazis that allowed hundreds of thousands of Jews to be deported to the death camps so that some might be sent to Israel. And after the War, Israel employed former Nazis, such as the SS officer Otto Skorzeny, who had committed horrific atrocities and massacres of Jews, as spies.

But Israel has very carefully manipulated history to present the opposite idea. Instead, Zionism poses as the protector and saviour of the world’s Jews. In the 1970s it rescued Jewish communities from persecution in Africa, particularly Ethiopia. Any mention of Zionism’s alliances with real, murderous anti-Semites is very carefully suppressed by the mainstream media and political establishment. Those who dare to speak out are smeared and vilified as anti-Semites themselves. This happened with Ken Livingstone, who dared to say, quite correctly, that Hitler initially supported Zionism. It happened with Mike of Vox Political, after he sent the Labour Party a text, The Livingstone Delusion, showing that the Trotskyite newt-fancier was historically correct. Both Leninspart and Mike were then publicly accused of anti-Semitism and expelled from the party.

But people are still speaking out and denouncing Israel and Zionism for their crimes against the Jewish people. Last Wednesday, 11th March 2020, the mighty Tony Greenstein reviewed a book by Stanley Heller, Zionist Betrayal of the Jews, from Herzl to Netanyahu. Tellingly, it’s self-published, but is available from the Middle East Crisis Committee of Woodbridge, Connecticut. It’s a long review, with Greenstein selecting only a few of the most notorious instances of this sordid history of collaboration and betrayal. And it begins with this meme.

The review first appeared in the Weekly Worker. It includes Ben Gurion’s indifference to the plight of Jews fleeing Nazi Germany for safety in Britain and America. He made it clear that he’d rather half of the Jewish emigrants were murdered, if a proportion would go to Palestine. Then there’s Zionism’s founder, Theodor Herzl, and his own acceptance of anti-Semitism. He notes that the smear campaign against those within the Labour Party, who are critics of Israel, like Ken Livingstone, has zero evidence supporting them. Which is the majority of victims are anti-Zionist Jews, like Greenstein himself. The papers that loudly supported Charlie Hebdo when it was the victim of a vicious islamist attack, loudly proclaiming freedom of speech and the right to offend, kept very quiet when it came to Leninspart and the other victims of the witch hunt. Leninspart lost his job with LBC, who had no qualms about employing Katie Hopkins, who mixes with and loudly supports real Fascists. Greenstein also states that it builds on Lenni Brenner’s 51 Documents – Zionism Collaboration with the Nazis and the same author’s Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, although it doesn’t share that author’s own views of the relationship between the two.

The book explodes the myth that Herzl was converted to Zionism by the Dreyfus affair. In fact, he secretly believed Captain Dreyfus was guilty, and was instead influenced by Karl Luegerer, the anti-Semitic mayor of Vienna, who also influenced Hitler. Greenstein’s review also covers Herzl’s meeting with the Tsarist minister, von Plehve, responsible for a pogrom in Kishinev. Jabotinsky met Petlyura, the White Russian leader, responsible for the murder of 50,000 Jews. Jabotinsky’s supporters later collaborated with the anti-Semitic regime in Poland which followed the death of Joszef Pilsudski, and the Italian Fascists. Instead of the Zionists, the only Jewish organisation that fought anti-Semitism in Poland was the Bund. The Stern Gang, the notorious Jewish terrorist group in Israel’s war of independence against Britain, was also quite content to see the Nazis imprison Jews in ghettos across Poland. He also discusses the indifference of American Jewry to what was being done against their coreligionists in Europe under the Nazis. The Zionist leaders of American Jewry did not want Jews to find safety anywhere except Palestine, and actively campaigned against those Jewish organisations that did. They even wrote to Roosevelt demanding the deportation of two Jewish leaders as ‘worse than Hitler’ for this reason.

The book also describes how Israel supported Latin American Fascist regimes. They recognised the Bolivian Fascist regime and the military junta that preceded it, supplying civilian and military aid, even though it was not recognised by American president Jimmy Carter and was sheltering the Nazi war criminal, Klaus Barbie – the infamous ‘Butcher of Lyons’. Israel also had good relations with Paraguay, whose dictator, Alfredo Stroessner, admired the Nazis and welcomed Mengele as a guest. The response of the Israeli ambassador to Paraguay, when asked about this, was that Israel wasn’t looking for the notorious Auschwitz human vivisectionist, even though the West German government was.

The book also a chapter on Israel’s current collaboration with contemporary anti-Semitic regimes, like that of Viktor Orban in Hungary, who looks back to Admiral Horthy’s dictatorship from the 1920s till late in World War II. It has also praised the Lithuanian leader Saulis Skvernelis, despite the fact that Lithuanian schools celebrate as heroes the Nazi-allied nationalists, who collaborated in the murder of 95% of the country’s Jewish population. Israel also had warm relations with Austria’s neo-Nazi Hans Christian Strache, Modi and his wretched Hindu nationalists and their supply of arms to the Ukrainian neo-Nazi Azov Battalion.

And not surprisingly, Israel also enjoys a very close relationship with Donald Trump, who said that the Nazis are Charlottesville had ‘good people’ on their side, and selected Pastor Ted Hagee of Christians United for Israel, to preside over the opening of the first American embassy to Israel in Jerusalem. This is despite Hagee believing that Hitler himself was a ‘half-breed Jew’. To be fair, I’ve known people, who also believe Hitler was half-Jewish, who definitely weren’t anti-Semites. There is evidence that Hitler may have been partly of Jewish descent through his grandmother, who had been a domestic servant in a Jewish home and who may have borne the son of her employers’ illegitimate child.

Greenstein concludes

In short, when Zionists talk about ‘anti-Semitism’, it is a camouflage to hide their own collaboration with genuine anti-Semites.

Heller has done us a great service in writing this all too short book. I can heartily recommend it as an hors d’oeuvres. However it is only a taster. The full story of Zionist collaboration with anti-Semites, the Nazis included, will take up a much larger volume.

See: http://azvsas.blogspot.com/2020/03/the-truth-that-labour-dare-not-speak.html

This adds more evidence showing that it is the critics of Israel, who had history on their side during the Labour anti-Semitism witch hunt. The people like Leninspart, Mike and Greenstein himself, who dared to say that Israel collaborated with the Nazis. The real anti-Semites here are therefore Zionism and its supporters – the Board of Deputies, Chief Rabbinate and organisations like the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, which try to suppress real genuine history and smear entirely decent, non- and anti-racist people, including self-respecting Jews, as anti-Semites.

it can therefore reasonably be said that Israel and Zionism are an anti-Semitic endeavour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2020’s Plague of Locusts: Updates on Africa and Pakistan (and China)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 02/03/2020 - 6:25am in

The plague of locusts in Africa (and Pakistan) is getting worse, and threatens millions with starvation. Solutions are pesticides, biopesticides (but, sadly, not ducks). China's role is interesting.

A Plague of Locusts, Failed States, and Climate Change

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 18/02/2020 - 8:25am in

How locusts swarm, create food insecurity, and how climate change means more swarms, absent state intervention.

A Conservative Accusation of Liberal Bias at the Beeb

Robin Aitken, Can We Trust the BBC (London: Continuum 2007).

Robin Aitken is a former BBC journalist, and this book published 13 years ago argues that the BBC, rather than being unbiased, is really stuffed full of lefties and the broadcaster and its news and politics programmes have a very strong left-wing, anti-Conservative bias. Under Lord Reith, the BBC upheld certain core British values. Its news was genuinely unbiased, giving equal time to the government and opposition. It also stood for essential institutions and such as the monarchy, the constitution, the British Empire and Christianity at home, and peace through the League of Nations abroad.

This changed radically between 1960 and 1980 as the BBC joined those wishing to attack and demolish the old class-bound institutions. Now the BBC stands for passionate anti-racism, ‘human rights’, internationalism and is suspicious of traditional British national identity and strongly pro-EU. It is also feminist, secular and ‘allergic to established authority whether in the form of the Crown, the courts, the police or the churches.’ This has jeopardised the ideal at the heart of the Corporation, that it should be fair-minded and non-partisan.

Aitken does marshal an array of evidence to support his contention. This includes his own experience working for BBC Scotland, which he claims was very left-wing with a staff and management that bitterly hated Margaret Thatcher and made sure that the dismantlement of the old, nationalised industries like shipbuilding was properly lamented, but did not promote it as ‘creative destruction’ as it should, nor the emergence of the wonderful new information industry north of the border. A later chapter, ‘Testimonies’, consists of quotations from other, anonymous rightists, describing how the Beeb is biased and bewailing their isolated position as the few Conservative voices in the Corporation. He is particularly critical of the former director-general, John Birt. Birt was recruited in the 1990s from ITV. He was a member of the Labour Party, who brought with him many of his colleagues from the commercial channel, who also shared his politics and hatred of the Tories. He goes on to list the leading figures from the Left, who he claims are responsible for this bias. These include Andrew Marr, the former editor of the Independent, and the left-wing, atheist journo and activist, Polly Toynbee.

Aitken also tackles individual topics and cases of biased reporting. This includes how the BBC promoted the Labour Party and the EU before Labour’s landslide victory in the 1997 general election. The Conservatives were presented as deeply split on the issue and largely hostile to EU membership. The EU itself was presented positively, and the Labour Party as being united in favour of membership, even though it was as split as the Tories on the issue. Another chapter argues that the Beeb was wrong in challenging the government’s case for the Iraq Invasion. He claims that in a poll the overwhelming majority of Iraqis supported the invasion. The government did not ‘sex up’ the ‘dodgy dossier’ in order to present a false case for war, and it was wrong for the Beeb to claim that Blair’s government had.

The chapter ‘The Despised Tribes’ argues that there are certain ethnic or religious groups, who were outside the range of sympathy extended to other, more favoured groups. These include White South Africans, the Israeli Likud Party, Serb Nationalists under Milosevic, the Italian Northern League, Le Pen and the Front National in France, the Vlaams Blok in Belgium, American ‘Christian Fundamentalists’, conservative Roman Catholics, UKIP ‘and other groups who have failed to enlist the sympathies of media progressives’. These include the Orange Order and Ulster Protestants. He then claims that the Beeb is biased towards Irish Republicans, who have successfully exploited left-wing British guilt over historic wrongs against the Roman Catholic population. He then goes on to claim that Pat Finucane, a lawyer killed in the Troubles, was no mere ‘human rights’ lawyer but a senior figure in the IRA.

The chapter, ‘The Moral Maze’ is an extensive critique of a Panorama documentary claiming that the Roman Catholic condemnation of premarital sex and contraception was causing needless suffering in the Developing World through the procreation of unwanted children and the spread of AIDs by unprotected sex. This is contradicted by UN evidence, which shows that the African countries with the lowest incidence of AIDS are those with the highest Catholic populations. The Catholic doctrine of abstinence, he argues, works because reliance on condoms gives the mistaken impression that they offer total protection against disease and pregnancy, and only encourages sexual activity. Condoms cannot offer complete protection, and are only effective in preventing 85 per cent of pregnancies. The programme was deliberately biased against the Roman Catholic church and the papacy because it was made from the viewpoint of various groups with an explicit bias against the Church and its teaching on sexuality.

Aitken’s evidence is impressive, and I do accept part of his argument. I believe that the Beeb is indeed in favour of feminism, multiculturalism and human rights. I also believe that, the few remaining examples of the Beeb’s religious programming notwithstanding, the Corporation is largely hostile to Christianity in ways that would be unthinkable if applied to other religions, such as Islam. However, I don’t believe that the promotion of anti-racism and anti-sexism is wrong. And groups like the Northern League, Front National and other extreme right-wing political and religious groups, including UKIP, really are unacceptable because of their racism and should not be given a sympathetic platform. Their exclusion from the range of acceptable political and religious views is no bad thing.

But the book also ignores the copious documentation from the various media study units at Cardiff, Glasgow and Edinburgh universities of massive BBC Conservative bias. Jacky Davis and Raymond Tallis have a chapter in their book on the gradual, slo-mo privatisation of the NHS, NHS – SOS, on the way the media has promoted the Tories’ and New Labour’s project of selling off the health service. And this includes the Beeb.  The Corporation was hostile to Labour after Thatcher’s victory, promoting the SDP splinter group against the parent party in the 1983 election, as well as the Tories. This pro-Tory bias returned with a vengeance after the 2010 Tory victory and the establishment of austerity. Barry and Savile Kushner show in their book, Who Needs the Cuts, how the Beeb excludes or shouts down anyone who dares to question the need for cuts to welfare spending. Tories, economists and financiers are also favoured as guests on news shows. They are twice as likely to appear to comment on the news as Labour politicians and trade unionists.

And we have seen how the Beeb has pushed the anti-Labour agenda particularly vigorously over the past five years, as it sought to smear Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party as institutionally anti-Semitic at every opportunity. Quite apart from less sensational sneering and bias. The guests on Question Time have, for example, been packed with Tories and Kippers, to whom presenter Fiona Bruce has shown particular favour. This has got worse under Johnson, with the Beeb now making it official policy not to have equal representation of the supporters of the various political parties in the programme’s audience. Instead, the majority of the audience will consist of supporters of the party that holds power in that country. Which means that in England they will be stuffed with Tories. Numerous members of the BBC news teams are or were members of the Tory party, like Nick Robinson, and a number have left to pursue careers at No 10 helping Cameron, Tweezer and Boris.

The evidence of contemporary bias in favour of the Tories today is massive and overwhelming.

With the exception of particular issues, such as multiculturalism, feminism, a critical and sometimes hostile attitude towards the monarchy, and atheism/ secularism, the BBC is, and always has been, strongly pro-Tory. The Birt era represents only a brief interval between these periods of Tory bias, and I believe it is questionable how left-wing Birt was. Aitken admits that while he certainly was no Tory, he was in favour of free market economics.

This book is therefore very dated, and overtaken by the Beeb’s massive return to the Right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book on the Bloody Reality of the British Empire

John Newsinger, The Blood Never Dried: A People’s History of the British Empire (London: Bookmarks Publications 2006).

John Newsinger is the senior lecturer in Bath Spa University College’s school of History and Cultural Studies. He’s also a long-time contributor to the conspiracy/ parapolitics magazine Lobster. The book was written nearly a decade and a half ago as a rejoinder to the type of history the Tories would like taught in schools again, and which you see endless recited by the right-wing voices on the web, like ‘the Britisher’, that the British Empire was fundamentally a force for good, spreading peace, prosperity and sound government around the world. The book’s blurb runs

George Bush’s “war on terror” has inspired a forest of books about US imperialism. But what about Britain’s role in the world? The Blood Never Dried challenges the chorus of claims that British Empire was a kinder, gentler force in the world.

George Orwell once wrote that imperialism consists of the policeman and soldier holding the “native” down while the businessman goes through his pockets. But the violence of the empire has also been met by the struggle for freedom, from slaves in Jamaica to the war for independence in Kenya.

John Newsinger sets out to uncover this neglected history of repression and resistance at the heart of the British Empire. He also looks at why the declining British Empire has looked to an alliance with US imperialism. To the boast that “the sun never set on the British Empire”, the Chartist Ernest Jones replied, “And the blood never dried”. 

One of the new imperialists to whom Newsinger takes particular exception is the right-wing historian Niall Ferguson. Newsinger begins the book’s introduction by criticising Ferguson’s 2003 book, Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World, and its successor, Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire. Newsinger views these books as a celebration of imperialism as a duty that the powerful nations owe to their weaker brethren. One of the problem with these apologists for imperialism, he states, is their reluctance to acknowledge the extent that the empires they laud rested on the use of force and the perpetration of atrocities. Ferguson part an idyllic childhood, or part of it, in newly independent Kenya. But nowhere does he mention that the peace and security he enjoyed were created through the brutal suppression of the Mau Mau. He states that imperialism has two dimensions – one with the other, competing imperial powers, which have driven imperial expansion, two World Wars and a Cold War, and cost countless lives. And another with the peoples who are conquered and subjugated. It is this second relationship he is determined to explore. He sums up that relationship in the quote from Orwell’s Burmese Days.

Newsinger goes on to state that

It is the contention here that imperial occupation inevitably involved the use of violence and that, far from this being a glorious affair, it involved considerable brutality against people who were often virtually defenceless.

The 1964 film Zulu is a particular example of the type of imperial history that has been taught for too long. It celebrates the victory of a small group of British soldiers at Rourke’s Drift, but does not mention the mass slaughter of hundreds of Zulus afterwards. This was the reality of imperial warfare, of which Bush’s doctrine of ‘shock and awe’ is just a continuation. He makes the point that during the 19th and 20th centuries the British attacked, shelled and bombed city after city, leaving hundreds of casualties. These bombardments are no longer remembered, a fate exemplified by the Indonesian city of Surabaya, which we shelled in 1945. He contrasts this amnesia with what would have happened instead if it had been British cities attacked and destroyed.

He makes it clear that he is also concerned to celebrate and ‘glorify’ resistance to empire, from the slaves in the Caribbean, Indian rebels in the 1850s, the Irish republicans of the First World War, the Palestinian peasants fighting the British and the Zionist settlers in the 1930s, the Mau Mau in the 1950s and the Iraqi resistance today. He also describes how radicals and socialists in Britain protested in solidarity with these resistance movements. The Stop the War Coalition stands in this honourable tradition, and points to the comment, quoted in the above blurb, by the Chartist and Socialist Ernest Jones in the 1850s. Newsinger states ‘Anti-imperialists today stand in the tradition of Ernest Jones and William Morris, another socialist and fierce critic of the empire – a tradition to be proud of.’

As for the supporters of imperialism, they have to be asked how they would react if other countries had done to us what we did to them, such as Britain’s conduct during the Opium War? He writes

The British Empire, it is argued here, is indefensible, except on the premise that the conquered peoples were somehow lesser being than the British. What British people would regard as crimes if done to them, are somehow justified by supporters of the empire when done to others, indeed were actually done for their own good. This attitude is at the very best implicitly racist, and, of course, often explicitly so.

He also attacks the Labour party for its complicity in imperialism. There have been many individual anti-imperialist members of the Labour party, and although Blair dumped just about everything the Labour party stood for domestically, they were very much in the party’s tradition in their support for imperialism and the Iraq invasion. The Labour party’s supposed anti-imperialist tradition is, he states, a myth invented for the consumption of its members.

He also makes it clear that the book is also concerned with exploring Britain’s subordination to American imperialism. While he has very harsh words for Blair, describing his style as a combination of sincerity and dishonesty, the cabinet as ‘supine’ and Labour MPs as the most contemptible in the party’s history, this subordination isn’t actually his. It is institutional and systemic, and has been practised by both Tory and Labour governments despite early concerns by the British to maintain some kind of parity with the Americans. He then goes on to say that by opposing our own government, we are participating in the global fight against American imperialism. And the struggle against imperialism will go on as long as it and capitalism are with us.

This is controversial stuff. When Labour announced that they wanted to include the British empire in the school history curriculum, Sargon of Gasbag, the man who wrecked UKIP, produced a video attacking it. He claimed that Labour wanted to teach British children to hate themselves. The photo used as the book’s cover is also somewhat controversial, because it’s of a group of demonstrators surrounding the shot where Bernard McGuigan died. McGuigan was one of the 14 peaceful protesters shot dead by British soldiers in Derry/London Derry in Bloody Sunday in 1972. But no matter how controversial some might find it, it is a necessary corrective to the glorification of empire most Brits have been subjected to since childhood, and which the Tories and their corporate backers would like us to return.

The book has the following contents:

The Jamaican Rebellion and the Overthrow of Slavery, with individual sections on the sugar empire, years of revolution, overthrow of slavery, abolition and the Morant Bay rebellion of 1865.

The Irish Famine, the great hunger, evictions, John Mitchel and the famine, 1848 in Ireland, and Irish republicanism.

The Opium Wars, the trade in opium, the First Opium War, the Taiping rebellion and its suppression, the Second Opium War, and the Third Opium War.

The Great Indian Rebellion, 1857-58, the conquest of India, company rule, the rebellion, war and repression. The war at home, and the rebellion’s aftermath.

The Invasion of Egypt, 1882, Khedive Ismail and the bankers, demand for Egyptian self-rule, the Liberal response, the vast numbers of Egyptians killed, the Mahdi’s rebellion in the Sudan, and the reconquest of Egypt.

The Post-War Crisis, 1916-26, the Irish rebellion, 1919 Egyptian revolt, military rule in India, War in Iraq, and the 1925 Chinese revolution.

The Palestine Revolt, Zionism and imperialism, the British Mandate, the road to revolt, the great revolt, and the defeat and aftermath.

Quit India, India and the Labour Party, towards ‘Quit India’, the demand for the British to leave, the final judgement on British rule in India and the end of British rule.

The Suez Invasion: Losing the Middle East, Iranian oil, Egypt and the canal zone, Nasser and the road to war, collusion and invasion, aftermath, the Iraqi endgame.

Crushing the Mau Mau in Kenya, pacification, the Mau Mau revolt, war, repression, independence, the other rebellion: Southern Rhodesia.

Malaya and the Far East, the First Vietnam War, Indonesia 1945-6 – a forgotten intervention, the reoccupation of Malaya, the emergency and confrontation.

Britain and the American Empire, Labour and the American alliance, from Suez to Vietnam, British Gaullism, New Labour, and the Iraq invasion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bonkers Riley Accuses Children’s Poet Laureate of Anti-Semitism and Holocaust Denial!

How stupid and malign is Countdown numbers person Rachel Riley? This isn’t an academic question. As a fervent supporter of Israel, she has joined the rest of that lobby in Britain in libeling and smearing entirely innocent and decent people as anti-Semites, simply because they have made the mildest criticisms of Israel and its brutal and murderous policies towards the indigenous Palestinians. Now it seems she has surpassed herself. She has libeled the children’s Poet Laureate and Holocaust educator Michael Rosen as an anti-Semite and Holocaust denier just two months after he published a book about the relatives he lost in the Shoah.

Riley was following other stalwart defenders of Israel’s to impose apartheid and ethnic cleansing, who were angered at Mr Rosen and the left-wing film-maker, Ken Loach,  joining the anti-racism movement, Show Racism the Red Card, as judges for a schools competition this year. The two are due to select the most inspiring and creative designs created by young people on the subject of anti-racism. SRTRC’s chief executive, Ged Gebby, said they were both valued supporters of the organisation, and they were delighted to have them. They couldn’t think of two better people to have choosing the winners.

This was too much for the Zionist fanatics and smear merchants. One supposedly genuine hack, Sarah Ebner, responded on Twitter with

“Wow. Interesting choices to say the least.    I can’t understand why you would pick people who have had such problematic relationships with many in the Jewish community. There must be other possible judges out there. Racism AND Antisemitism both need to be ‘shown the red card’”

Rosen responded with a series of sharp tweets putting Ebner right:

“Can you tell me why I’m not suitable to judge a poetry competition about racism in football? Are you aware of what this looks like? Dubbing me as someone who has ‘a problematic relationship with many in the Jewish community’? What is ‘problematic’? Who are the ‘many’? What ‘relationship’? Who decides? Do you think your innuendo has any legal implications?”

“Along with HistoryWorks Cambridge I worked with 5000 school students and teachers on Holocaust Education last month. ‘Problematic’? Does it make me not suitable to judge a children’s poetry competition on racism and football?”

Another Tweeter, Roger Jarman, queried Ebner’s division of Britain’s Jewish community into ‘good’ and ‘bad’:

“And what is the ‘Jewish community’? Do all those who self identify as Jewish or are of Jewish heritage share common interests, views and ambitions? Or perhaps there is a smaller group of ‘good Jews’ with whom the ‘not so good Jews’ relate? And who decides who is ‘good’?”

Other Tweeters joined in, but unfortunately Ebner carried on sneering despite some of them telling her to stop digging.

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/02/michael-rosen-wrong-kind-of-jew.html

Meanwhile, the head of policy at the Community Security Trust, Dave Rich, attacked Ken Loach. Loach, he claimed, had said

antisemitism is an “understandable” reaction to Israel’s actions; whether the Holocaust happened “is there for us all to discuss”; antisemitism in Labour is “exaggerated or false”; & complained about “the generalised sense of guilt that everyone has about the Jews”.

Um, no. This was more of what the Israel lobby does. They take quotes out of context and twist them in order to misrepresent staunch anti-racists and opponents of anti-Semitism. Magpie Ranger on Twitter by linking to a piece in the Graoniad by Loach responding to attacks on him by Jonathan Freedland and other Zionist hacks in that paper. This was titled ‘Ken Loach: I give no legitimacy to Holocaust denial’ and began

‘The Holocaust is as real a historical event as the second world war itself, and it is contemptible to imply that I have anything in common with people like David Irving, writes Ken Loach.’

See: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/05/ken-loach-i-give-no-legitimacy-to-holocaust-denial

And then Rachel Riley decided to put her oar in, and tweeted.

‘The supposed anti-racism football charity #ShowRacismTheRedCard yet again unashamedly promotes deniers/proponents of anti-Jewish racism. 

I hope schools don’t touch this.’

This got a very swift response from the left-wing Jewish group, Jewdas and other Tweeters. One of the Jewish group’s Tweets was

‘Personally its not something we’d do but if you were planning on accusing a beloved childrens’ poet of Holocaust Denial, best not to do it DAYS after he releases a book about losing family in the Shoah.’

Quite. Because on 12th December, Mr Rosen published a book, The Missing, about his relatives who murdered in the Holocaust. He was particularly moved to write it by the fate of his grand-uncles, Oscar and Martin, who existed before the Second World War, but vanished during it. Rosen was interviewed by the Torygraph about his book, and said that he ‘was face to face with one of the most virulent forms of anti-Semitism’. Mr Rosen has also appeared before parliament to give information on the Holocaust as well not so long ago. It was while doing so that he managed to upset former Labour MP, Ian Austin, by putting him right about British involvement during the War. Austin thought that Britain stood alone. Rosen corrected him, stating quite rightly that we had the support of the Empire – Canada, India, the Caribbean, our African colonies, Australia and New Zealand. This was too much for Austin, who got shirty with him. But Rosen was quite right, and if we hadn’t had these nations’ support, we would have fallen to the Nazis in very short order like the other European nations.

Riley has since deleted her tweet, possibly realising, as Mike pointed out, that she had gone too far and that Mr Rosen, unlike most of her victims, actually has the money to spend on taking Riley to court. But the damage has been done. Unfortunately some people have been taken in by Riley, and really do believe that Mr Rosen is an anti-Semite, who denies the Holocaust.

Mike, however, has pointed out that there is a court case that could stop her making this false and libelous claims. These are the case he is fighting against her. She is suing him for libel because Mike dared on his blog to stand up for a girl Riley was bullying and had accused of anti-Semitism. Mike is fighting this false and malign accusation, but that requires money, and so Mike is once again asking for his supporters to dig into their pockets.

He writes

So allow me to repeat my appeal: if you want to see an end to this nonsense from a so-called TV celebrity who should know better, please support the CrowdJustice appeal for the funds I need to bring the case against me to court and to defeat her claims.

Such a loss would be a serious financial – and personal – setback for her. It is unlikely that Ms Riley would be able to present such questionable views to the public afterwards and expect a sympathetic reception.

And concludes

This is a witch-hunt. It will continue as long as privileged people like Ms Riley are allowed to go unchallenged when they attack people, simply for having views that she doesn’t like.

Riley attacks Jewish poet Rosen as anti-Semite Holocaust denier – weeks after he published book on the Holocaust

Riley and the rest of the Israel lobby despise Rosen and Loach because they are determined anti-racists, who have supported Jeremy Corbyn and criticised the witch hunt against him and his supporters. Loach also directed a play or a film some time again, which attacked Israel’s murderous oppression of the Palestinians.

As for the Community Security Trust, this is a volunteer police force that was set up to protect Jewish sites, like synagogues and cemeteries. They are supposed to be trained by Mossad members, and act as stewards for Zionist rallies. They have acted violently towards peaceful demonstrators, breaking apart and separating Jewish and Muslim demonstrators and assaulting them. In one instance, one of their thugs punched an elderly rabbi. But for some reason the government still thinks this bunch of paramilitary squadristi are an acceptable partner for the police force in defending the Jewish community.

Even when they are the people attacking Jews and their friends and supporters.

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