Literature

Satirist Would Cast Stuffed Animal to Play Boris Johnson

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 04/12/2019 - 6:35am in

Here’s a funny story from yesterday’s I to provide some light relief, though it’s still about our comedy prime minister. And yes, I know it’s ad hominem, but it’s still funny. According to the article ‘PM could be played by stuffed animal’ by Alex Green, the satirist Armando Iannucci declared that he would make this casting choice at the British Independent Film Awards. Most of the article was really about the decision to cast Dev Patel as the hero in Iannucci’s colour-blind version of Dickens’ novel, The Personal History of David Copperfield. Iannucci said that he made the casting decision as a statement of Britishness, which ‘is open and generous and eccentric and funny, rather than closed and isolationist and withdrawn, which is the language we are hearing at the moment in certain other quarters.’

But of our comedy Prime Minister, the writer and creator of comedies like The Thick Of It, The Day Today and The Death of Stalin said, according to the newspaper, ‘I would probably use…stuffed animals. The smaller the better. The animal that shits the most.” This precisely shows how much Johnson is esteemed by the creator of those TV series and film. And as Johnson continues to show how inept, greedy and treacherous he really is, so more people are going to agree with Iannucci.

‘I’ Newspaper: Tories Selling Off Mental Health care to Americans

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 04/12/2019 - 5:41am in

And it’s a disaster.

This is another story from yesterday’s I, this time written by Ian Birrell. It’s titled ‘NHYS for sale? Our mental health services are’ with the subtitle ‘Fatcat US operators already have their claws into our psychiatric services’. It’s a comprehensive discussion how big American private medical companies are acquiring British healthcare companies and NHS contracts, and how patients are suffering through the deplorably bad care they provide.

Birrell begins with Jeremy Corbyn’s statement last week that the documents of the negotiations between Trump and Johnson showed that the NHS were being sold off to private American companies. Birrell denied this, and instead stated that not even Boris would dare sell off the NHS went it is so highly valued by the British public. He then moved on to the strenuous denials by the Tories that they were planning any such thing, before attacking them in turn as lies when it came to mental health. He wrote

Yet hang on a second. One key slice of the NHS is already lying in a distressed state on the operating table, where it has been chopped up for profit-hungry private firms. And giant US health corporations, along with hedge funds and private equity firms, are already here and bleeding dry this profitable of the corner of the NHS – with often disastrous consequences for some of our most desperate patients. Sadly, no one seems to care much since it is “only” the mental health sector – for so long the neglected Cinderella service.

Yet in recent years a small cluster of fatcats have got their claws into Britain’s psychiatric services, exploiting the struggles of the health service to cope with surging demand. These operators have grabbed nearly £2bn of business, providing almost one quarter of NHS mental health beds and soaking up close to half the total spend on child and adolescent mental health services.

This means they own many NHS-funded units holding people, such as teenage girls who self-harm and adults with suicidal thoughts, along with hundreds of people with autism and learning disabilities scandalously locked up due to lack of support in their local communities. These firms benefit as overloaded mental health services and risk-averse officials send more and more troubled citizens into secure units. It is a lucrative business when it costs up to £730,000 per patient a year. Bosses can pocket millions – but many frontline workers earn little more than minimum wage and the use of agency staff is routine, despite the need to develop patient relationships.

Acadia, a Tennessee-based health giant, spent £1.3bn buying the Priory Group and now boasts of earning more than £188m in just three months from British public services. “Demand for independent-sector beds has grown significantly as a result of the NHS reducing its bed capacity and increasing hospitalisation rates,” said its last annual report.

Operating profits at Cygnet, owned by another huge US firm, have surged to £45.2m due to deals with 228 NHS purchasing bodies after it bought a rival group last year. Another outfit called Elysium, backed by private equity through a Luxembourg firm, only launched three years ago, but is already earning revenues of £62.2m from at least 55 units.

But a study by the Rightful Lives campaign group has found these three firms alone own 13 of the 16 mental health settings judged “inadequate” by the Care Quality Commission watchdog, since it found some teeth after the furore over abusive detention of people with autism and learning disabilities exploded a year ago. Cygnet runs eight of these “inadequate” units, although its US boss is reportedly the richest chief executive in the hospital industry, who collected more than £39m in one year from pay, bonuses and stock. Priory and Cygnet also owned hospitals exposed by disturbing undercover television documentaries over the past year.

I have heard a stream of horror stories from despairing families and former patients involving solitary confinement, forcible injections, abuse and overuse of restraint, during investigations into this area. Some were detained in NHS psychiatric units. But most involve privately run units. People such as Megan, who was sectioned for self-harm, suicidal thoughts and later found to be suffering post-traumatic stress from childhood traumas. She was in four clinics – but in one run by the Priory, aged just 16, she was even held stark naked for one month to prevent self-harm until her parents delivered a “safe suit”. “It was the most degrading time of my life,” she told me. The firm was fined £300,000 earlier this year for failings after the suicide of a 14-year-old girl at the same unit.

Despite the ample demonstration that private healthcare doesn’t work and is just simple profiteering, Birrell is at pains to say that he has nothing against the involvement of the private sector in state healthcare. He just wants it to be better regulated. He ends his piece with these two paragraphs

Unlike many voters, I have no problems with private providers in healthcare if the service remains free at the point of use, especially after seeing their role in European systems with superior patient outcomes to our own health service. But seeing these mental-health firms has shaken my faith.

Clearly all private operators need to be effectively regulated, especially when providing sensitive frontline services. Sadly, it seems our politicians on all sides prefer to posture over whether the NHS is really for sale to “mega-corporations” while ignoring those that have already arrived and are pocketing vast sums while offering inadequate services to so many despairing citizens. Once again, we see how little Westminster really cares.

Actually, I think these paragraphs say much about the I and the political ‘centrism’ it supports. The NHS has been privatised piecemeal since the days of Thatcher, who was prevented from privatising it outright by a cabinet revolt. Blair’s government did much to hand it over to private firms, though much had already been done in this direction by the Private Finance Initiative introduced by the Tories and Peter Lilley. The Conservatives haven’t reversed the policy of privatisation, and are instead ramping it up even further.

The result is massively poor performance. Jacky Davis and Ray Tallis argue very strongly in their book on the privatisation of the NHS, NHS-SOS, that on their own private healthcare can’t compete with state. The service provided will always be inferior, as the profit-motive doesn’t work when it comes to the long-term sick or those with acute conditions. Private hospitals have fewer beds than state hospitals. And those who cannot afford healthcare are simply left to sicken and die. A few years ago the private healthcare system in America nearly collapsed. It’s why the American healthcare giants are so keen to acquire pieces of ours.

Yes, continental healthcare which often does involve the private sector can perform better than ours. But that’s because our National Health Service has always received comparatively less funding than theirs. It’s been the case, sadly, since the NHS was set up. On the other hand, our healthcare results are far, far better than Americas and were comparable to those on the continent. Until the Tories took over, and decided to cut things back and privatise even more.

But Birrell cannot criticise private medicine, because privatisation is still part of ‘Centrist’ political dogma. Moreover, the press is now owned by immensely rich men, often with commercial interests in other sectors of the economy. As a result, the supposedly liberal I and Guardian continue to flog Centrist economics even though these are so well-past their sale-by date that they’ve been dubbed ‘zombie economics’.

As for Corbyn, I believe very strong that rather than playing political football with the issue of NHS privatisation, he’s very aware of what’s going on and how it is failing Britain’s sick and ill. That’s why he wants to end it and renationalise the NHS. Birrell tries desperately to avoid that conclusion, because like all Centrists he wants the NHS privatisation to continue thanks to the Thatcherite dogma he’s imbibed and promotes.

But Thatcherism has had its day. It is bringing nothing but misery, deprivation and death. It’s time the Tories were out, Jeremy Corbyn was in, and the NHS renationalised. 

Now!

Private Eye’s Demolition of Cameron’s Book about His Government

Way back at the beginning of October, our former comedy Prime Minister, David Cameron, decided to give us all the benefit of his view of his time in No. 10 with the publication of his book, For The Record by William Collins. The review of it in Private Eye was not kind. Reading it, it appears that Cameron was deeply concerned to present a rosy, highly optimistic view of his years as Prime Minister. His was a government that gave Britain prosperity and growth, and had improved conditions in the NHS. The current, wretched economic and political situation is all due to everyone else, not him. It’s entirely false, as the Eye’s review made abundantly clear, citing Cameron’s book again and again as it he tries to claim success in tackling an issue, only to show the present grim reality and how Johnson actually made it all worse with Brexit.

The review, titled ‘Shed tears’, in the magazine’s issue for 4th – 17th October, runs

John Wilkes Booth’s assassination of Abraham Lincoln at a Washington theatre inspired the quip: “Apart from that, Mrs, Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?” David Cameron’s autobiography leaves the reader asking: “Apart from Brexit, Mr Cameron, how did you enjoy being prime minister?”

“I liked it,” he declares, and so should we. At 800 pages, this account of his generally tedious career – apart from Brexit – is only 200 pages shorter than Churchill’s Second World War memoirs. Indeed, Dave may have originally matched Winston, for the Mail reported his publishers cut 100,000 words from the manuscript.

The verbose special pleading William Collins so sadistically allowed to survive tries to anesthetise readers into accepting that – apart from Brexit – they should applaud his playing at being prime minister too.

When Cameron stood for leader of the Conservative Party in 2005, he recalls, “Everyone said that I was too young. That I had no ministerial experience.” Instead of worrying that a gentleman amateur would lead the country to perdition, we should have rejoiced. “However new and inexperienced” he was, young Cameron saw himself “inheriting the mantle of great leaders like Peel, Disraeli, Salisbury and Baldwin.”

In 2010, with the world in crisis, he followed his illustrious predecessors and produced one of the “most stable and I would argue, most successful governments anywhere in Europe”. That Brexit has subsequently produced a paralysed parliament, culture war without end in England, the highest support for Welsh independence ever recorded, a revitalised Scottish National Party and a clear and present danger to the peace in Ireland must be someone else’s fault.

Only Ukraine is a less stable European country now. Not that Cameron can admit it. The Brexit referendum was “a sore confronted”, he says, as if he were a doctor who had healed wounds rather than a quack who had opened them. His greatest regret is for himself, not his country. “I lament my political career ending so fast,” he sighs. Brexit ensured that he went from private citizen to national leader to private citizen again in 15 years. “I was a former prime minister and a retired MP at the age of 49.”

He shouldn’t despair. His work experience on the British now completed, Cameron could be ready to hold down a real job should one come his way.

As for his supposed successes, in his own terms he would have a point – were it not for Brexit. “When I became prime minister my central task was turn the economy around,” he says. Now the British Chambers of Commerce reports that companies are living through the longest decline in investment in 17 years. He left Downing Street in 2016 “with the economy growing faster than any other in the G7”, Cameron continues, showing that whatever else he learnt at Eton, it wasn’t humility. The UK is now bottom of the G7 growth table, while the governor of the Bank of England is warning a crash out could shrink GDP by 5.5 per cent.

By the time Brexit forced his resignation, “hospital infections, mixed-sex wards and year-long waits for operations were off the front pages.” In the very week his book appeared, patients were preparing as best they could for a no deal Brexit cutting off drug supplies, while NHS trusts were wondering what would happen to the 8 percent of health and social care staff they recruit from the EU.

“It was clear to me that reasserting Britain’s global status would be one of our biggest missions in government,” Cameron says of the premiership, while failing to add that the Britain he left was both a warning and laughing stock to the rest of the world.

Regrets? Come off it. “One of the core ideas of my politics,” Cameron tells those readers who survive the long march through his pages,m “is that our best days are ahead of us and not behind us, I don’t think Brexit should alter it.” The bloody fool does not realise his best days are behind him  and he (and the rest of us) have nothing to show for them – apart from Brexit.

It’s not the comprehensive demolition that Cameron’s mendacious book deserves. It hasn’t just been Brexit that’s caused mass poverty, starvation, despair and misery to Britain. It was the policies he and his government both inherited from New Labour, and ramped up and added a few of their own. He continued the Thatcherite policy of the destruction of the welfare state and the privatisation of the NHS, as well as the wage freeze and pushing zero-hours and short term contracts. As well as allowing firms to make their workers nominally self-employed, so they don’t have to give them things like sick pay, holidays or maternity leave. Thanks to his policies, as continued by Tweezer and then Boris, a quarter of a million people have to rely on food banks for their daily bread, 14 million people are in poverty and an estimated number of 130,000 people have died after being found ‘fit for work’ by the DWP.

As for the tone of lofty self-assurance with which Cameron makes his assertions, that can only come from someone, who has enjoyed immense privilege throughout his life, and never suffered uncertainty due to the advantages bestowed by his background. He got a job at Buckingham Palace, remember, because they actually rang him up and asked for him. Thatcher’s former Personal Private Secretary, Matthew Parris, in his book Great Parliamentary Scandals observes that MPs, contrary to received wisdom, are not polished all rounders. Rather they are more likely to be the lonely boy at school. They have huge, but fragile egos due to the respect the public gives them tempered with the humiliation they receive at the hands of the whips and the awareness of how little power they really have. All the decisions are made by the Prime Minister. Parris’ own career as a cabinet minister came to a sharp end when he sent a rude reply to a letter sent to the former Prime Minister. Clearly, Cameron himself has never suffered, or appears not to have, from any kind of personal or professional uncertainty. He’s always been supremely confident in his own ability, choices and decisions. It’s this arrogance that has caused so much suffering to the country and its working people. But he certainly hasn’t suffered the consequences. Instead of trying to do something about the mess he created with Brexit, he left it for others to do so. And we’re still grappling with that problem nearly four years later.

Cameron’s was the start of a series of Tory governments that have actually left this country far worse than Tony Blair’s administration. Blair was determined to sell off the NHS, but he kept it well funded and he had some success in tackling poverty. It was the Tories who massively expanded the use of food banks instead of giving the disabled, unemployed and poor the state support they needed.

Cameron’s book is therefore one mass of self-delusion and lies. As have all the statements about how well the country is doing from his successors. Don’t vote for them. Vote for Corbyn instead.

 

Tories Go Goebbels and Threaten Channel 4 after Humiliation on Climate Change Debate

One of the defining features of every dictatorship has been rigid control of the press. In the former USSR and Soviet bloc until Gorbachev, the media was owned and controlled by the state, and it dutifully followed the party line. The leader was praised, and his opponents were vilified. Before being rounded up, imprisoned and shot, of course. It was exactly the same in Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. The newspapers there were privately owned, but even so had to follow the party line. In Germany, this was set by Josef Goebbels, the infamous ‘Minister for Public Enlightenment’. The Tories also have an intolerant attitude to the media. Most of the newspapers are owned by proprietors, who support the Tories and so have a strong Tory bias. The Tories therefore expect the press and media to follow their line. When they don’t, they start flinging around accusations of bias. When it’s state-owned companies, like the Beeb, they start making threats of ending the license fee or privatising the corporation, as I remember them doing so in the 1990s. With private broadcasters they threaten to remove their broadcasting license. Thatcher did this to London Weekend Television in the 1980s following the company’s documentary, ‘Death of the Rock’. This showed that the SAS team that killed an IRA terror squad in Gibraltar had acted as a death squad. The terrorists had been under army surveillance during their entire journey through Spain, and could have been picked up at any point with minimal bloodshed. The programme concluded that they had been deliberately executed. Thatcher went berserk at this demonstration of British lawlessness, and withdrew LWT’s broadcasting license. It was replaced instead by Carlton, no doubt named after the infamous Tory club.

And the Tories were making the same threats yesterday to Channel 4, after the programme humiliated Johnson in its leaders’ debate over climate change. Johnson has now resorted to Tweezer’s tactic of running away from possible tough or hostile interviews. He refused to turn up to be grilled by Andrew Neil on his show on the Beeb, which has embarrassed our state broadcaster, as they got Corbyn on his show by falsely telling him that they would be interviewing Boris this week, and that it had all been agreed with the Tories when it hadn’t. Fearing a repeat of last Friday’s leader debates, when Britain’s oafish Trump junior was properly shown to be a blustering moron, Johnson scarpered again. Channel 4 therefore took the decision to go ahead with the debate, but put in a melting ice sculpture to represent the BoJob.

Realising that a Conservative non-appearance didn’t look good, the Tories decided to send Boris’ father and Michael Gove, his best mate. Who weren’t allowed on the programme for the simple reason, as Channel 4’s news editor Ben de Pear pointed out, that as lovely and charming as they were, they weren’t the party’s leader. Gove started lying about how he turned up at Channel 4, but was turned away because Corbyn and Sturgeon didn’t want to debate a Conservative. This was disproved by Robert Peston, who tweeted

Classic Vote Leave tactics this whole ‘Gove turns up’ while CCHQ complains to regulator Ofcom about Ch4 barring him. It is all about proving to supporters that the London media establishment are against them (don’t laugh) while trying to intimidate all broadcasters.

Unable to get their own way, the Tories have complained about the debate to Ofcom, claiming that the channel has broken its legal requirement to be impartial and that the refusal to admit Gove and Stanley Johnson was a partisan stunt. They also told Buzzfeed News that if they’re re-elected, they would review Channel 4’s broadcasting license.

Sunny Hundal pointed out the sheer hypocrisy behind this.

If Corbyn had threatened Channel 4’s license over climate change debate, every newspaper in Britain would rightly be calling it ‘Stalinist’. Yet the press is silent and BBC is treating it as a legit story.

Zelo Street concluded

‘Tory commitment to free speech does not include dissent. Who’s being Stalinist now?’

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/11/tories-threaten-to-curtail-free-speech.html

The Tories don’t like freedom of speech at all. They withdrew LWT’s broadcasting license after ‘Death on the Rock’, and had a Panorama documentary how the party had an overlapping membership with the BNP, National Front and other Fascists, ‘Maggie’s Militant Tendency’ suppressed. And during their coalition government with the Lib Dems, they passed legislation providing for a system of secret courts. If the government decides it is necessary for reasons of national security, the accused may be tried in courts from which the press and public are banned. They may not know the identity of their accusers, nor the crimes of which they are accused or the evidence against them. It a system from the pages of Kafka’s The Trial and The Castle, and is the same as the perverted judicial systems of Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Russia. And Cameron also wanted to make street demonstrations more difficult by passing legislation that would restrict the right to march and demonstrate under the pretence of protecting local residents from ‘nuisance’.

With this latest threat to Channel 4, the Tories have shown themselves not only cowards and bullies, but an active threat to freedom of speech. Get them out, and Labour in!

Video of British Scientist Eric Laithwaite Explaining Principle of Magnetic Levitation (Maglev)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 30/11/2019 - 6:58am in

This is a fascinating film from Imperial College London. Shot in 1975, it shows great British scientist/engineer Eric Laithwaite explaining how a maglev train would work. He begins with first principles, simply showing how magnets act upon each other with bar magnets. Magnets with the same poles facing each other repel, and he demonstrates how this can be used to suspend one magnet above another. This can be done with ring magnets, but usually something has to hold them in place, like the solid glass tube in this video. But ordinary magnets don’t generated enough lift to raise heavy objects off the ground. He then moves on to electromagnets and how these can also be made to move aluminium objects along them when using AC current. The electromagnets can be flattened out to produce a kind of river – the ‘Magnetic River’ of the film’s title – along which an aluminium sheet can be propelled at great speed. He then shows how the same principle could be used to drive a train by placing a model on the maglev track.

Laithwaite was working on making maglev trains a reality when the project was cancelled due to the budget cuts of the late 70s. The idea has since been taken up by German and other, foreign engineers. It has been seen by visionary scientists and SF writers like Arthur C. Clarke as the solution to current transport problems through the great speed that these trains could in theory attain without friction from wheels touching the tracks. They would also be clean and green through being powered by electricity, preferably solar power, rather than the burning of coal or other hydrocarbons. See the discussion about them in Clarke’s Profiles of the Future.

Laithwaite is one of the great scientists most people have never heard of. In the 1990s he got caught up in developing anti-gravity based on his experiments with gyroscopes. His claim that he had discovered a new principle of anti-gravity propulsion was not accepted by the scientific community. I’ve got the impression that the furor that aroused has caused his earlier, solid work to be unfairly overlooked.

I realise the video’s long at just over 18 minutes, but it’s worth persevering with if you’re interested in the subject. Before computer graphics came in, this is pretty much what science broadcasting was like when I was a schoolboy. It was simply the scientist, engineer or presenter standing in front of the camera talking with the machine or other object in front of them, and using simple diagrams or illustrations. And I’m really impressed with the way Laithwaite is able to explain a sophisticated piece of engineering in ordinary, non-technical language. As one of the commenters says on the YouTube page for this, he would have been a great science teacher.

He isn’t quite on his own here. Helping him with the equipment is his mysterious assistant, Barry, who helps set the apparatus up and loads the sheets of aluminium and then the model train on the maglev tracks, but who never speaks.

It’s a very basic presentation compared to some of the films on today’s popular science television, and it’s not clear if it was intended for broadcast. But it was experts like Dr. Laithwaite who brought science to ordinary people and inspired a new generation witih its wonder when I was young.

Today the government is concerned about the lack of young people choosing to study STEM subjects. Perhaps if broadcasters were able to find a few more experts with ability to explain science with the simplicity of some of those, who graced our TVs then, people able to convey real enthusiasm for the subject, and weren’t afraid of putting more popular science programmes on TV, there would be more school and university students taking up these subjects.

 

 

Ordinary British Jews Condemn Chief Rabbi’s Attack on Corbyn

Yesterday Mike put up a great piece yesterday reporting that after Tory Chief Rabbi and friend of Johnson and Netanyahu Ephraim Mirvis had taken to the pages of the Times to smear the Labour party once again, British Jews from right across society, from ordinary Brits to the noted actor Miriam Margolyes, had take to social media to condemn Mirvis’ comments. One of the first was an open letter which was circulating on the Net, which read:

Dear Chief Rabbi, you have shamed your office today and rendered the Jewish people even more vulnerable to real antisemitism by reinforcing the fake, media-induced antisemitism that you recklessly impute to Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party.

To interfere politically at this point in an election in a way that could affect the only party that could bring hope and social justice to this country is beyond contempt and renders you unfit for office.

As a Jew and a Labour Party supporter, I am proud to be part of a venture that I see as a continuity of so many of my Jewish forbears who have fought for social justice here and in Europe.

You talk about ‘the soul of the nation being at stake’ yet have you not noticed what has happened to that soul over the last nine years where: 1. The poor have been vilified 2. The ill have been attacked 3. The mentally ill have suffered 4. Inequality has soared. 5. Greed and financial rapaciousness has flourished 6. Austerity has been unnecessarily applied after a financial crisis brought about by an out of control finance sector that has benefited the wealthiest.

Where was your voice about the nation’s soul then?

Yet you inveigh against a decent and honest man who, even now, maintains integrity in the face of manifest manipulation, deceit and digital sleight of hand from the Tories.

You have shamed your office, the justice-loving tradition of the Jewish people and laid the grounds for future tensions in the most irresponsible way. You seem to lack the acuity of intellect to even spot the most obvious use of this bogus antisemitism as a political weapon.

Justin Schlossberg of the Media Reform Coalition called the antisemitism saga ‘a disinformation paradigm’ and made a detailed study of the issue. The great scholar, Norman Finkelstein, likewise, sees this a purely politically motivated attack.

How dare you, amateurishly intervene in this, betraying the great Jewish scholarly tradition of intellectual and analytical acumen embodied in the Talmud and the exegetics of the Chumash.

The letter is signed, “With profound sadness and considerable disgust.”

Labour supporter Hasan Patel retweeted a piece from Margolyes’ comments about the affair on Channel 4. The actor said

I don’t think people are looking at the real issue. In Rabbi Mirvis’ statement, the word ‘Israel’ does not appear and that to me is the heart of the problem. People are not anti-Semitic, they are anti-Zionist as I am myself. It doesn’t mean that I’m anti-Semitic. I fight anti-Semitism and prejudice wherever I find it and so does Jeremy Corbyn and I think that the Chief Rabbi whom I respect because of his position is just making a terrible mistake. It is completely wrong to listen to what people are saying about Jeremy Corbyn. I just don’t understand it. I don’t believe that Jeremy Corbyn is anti-Semitic. I’m sure that he’s handled it badly. Everybody makes mistakes and I’m sure he’s made mistakes. But he hasn’t become an anti-Semite, he doesn’t support anti-Semitism, he loathes it, as every right-thinking person does. And I just feel desperate that we are prepared to take on board as Prime Minister a shoddy liar like Boris Johnson. How can you believe a thing he says? The man is a complete falsehood from start to finish. He’s a blustering bully, and I think if you have to choose between the two for goodness’ sake choose Jeremy Corbyn.

Margolyes has been a long-term critic of Israel’s barbarity towards the Palestinians. Nearly a decade ago she condemned the bombardment of Gaza ‘as a proud Jew, and an ashamed Jew’. She came out as a lesbian a few years ago, and works with a Jewish organisation aimed at combating anti-gay prejudice in the Jewish community, Gay Yids.

Children’s Poet Laureate David Rosenberg attack Mirvis’ silence on Tory racism. He tweeted

Chief Rabbi has had nothing to say on Tories hostile environment and Windrush Scandal, nor on formal Tory links with antisemitic gov’ts in Poland and Hungary. Think he’s sitting on his moral compass.

And ordinary Jewish Brits were also angry that Mirvis was using their community identity to attack Corbyn. Dr. Simon Goodman tweeted

Today I’m feeling terrible that my religious identity is being used to argue that an obvious anti-racist is an . is awful and must always be fought, but it is simply not the case that or is antisemitic.

And Juliette Emery said

Off for today
I need to calm down, it’s not healthy to be this angry 😡
Too many lies and mendacious attempts to undermine the only leader I know that wants peace, equality and a fairer society for us all whilst protecting this planet we all call home

Sleep well

Mike comments that British people dislike being told what to think, and this seems especially true of Jews. Exactly! I got the impression that Jews see themselves as a people particularly given to debate and argument. It’s been that way ever since the Talmud recorded the debates and disagreements over the Law by the rabbinical sages of antiquity. ‘Two Jews, three opinions’, as the Jewish saying goes. Years ago I bought an old book of papers from a wartime American academic conference, in which religious groups, philosophers, people of letters and scientists put forward arguments to show that their disciplines upheld and promoted the liberal, democratic values under threat from Fascism. A group of Jewish scholars put forward a fascinating paper to show that Judaism was intrinsically democratic. This included a piece from the Haggadah, extra-Biblical Jewish legend, which called for Jews in leadership positions to be concerned to create consensus and agreement, rather than impose their decision by fiat.

The story is that when God gave Moses the Torah, He commanded Moses to first go to the Jewish people to see if they would accept it. The Lawgiver replied that there was no need, because they would have to accept the Torah as the express word and law of the Almighty. ‘Nevertheless’, said God, ‘God to the people.’

They also argued their point on a remark about the Bible from one of the great rabbis, whose views are recorded in the Talmud. When asked what the most important sentence in the Hebrew Bible was, he replied ‘And these are the generations of men’. Not God, not Jews, but humanity as a whole. God’s revelation is intended to benefit all of us. Liberal Jews writing in the American radical magazine Counterpunch have said that they came to their values through the teachings of the Talmud, just like the author of the open letter at the start of this post. They stated that to be a Jew means always identifying with the oppressed, never the oppressor.

But Mirvis is defending the oppressor in seeking to conflate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism in order to smear Corbyn and his supporters. And to support a Tory party determined to impoverish and disenfranchise ordinary working people, whether they be Jews or gentiles. And for many British Jews, this is intolerable.

Fib Dems Now Condemned by Editors’ Organisation for Disguising Campaign Literature as Newspapers

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 27/11/2019 - 11:07pm in

The Lib Dems’ capacity for lies, falsehood and deception truly seems to know no bounds. If they carry on at this rate, they’ll soon equal the Tories in the amount of deliberate misinformation they spread. I think this was dealt with by Mike over at Vox Political yesterday, but it’s now turned up in today’s I. According to an article written by Jane Clinton, ‘Party accused of disguising pamphlets as newspapers’, the trade organisation for newspaper editors has come out against the Lib Dems for trying to disguise their campaign literature as newspapers. The article reads

The Liberal Democrats have been condemned for allegedly disguising their election pamphlets as imitation newspapers.

The Society of Editors said it appeared to be “a concerted effort” to “mislead readers and voters.”

Ian Murray, executive director of the Society for Editors said, “it is ironic how it is often politicians who complain about fake news but then set out to at least blur the lines for readers – and in this case voters – by packaging their partial messages to ape independent newspapers.”

His comments come after it was revealed that the Liberal Democrats produced election newsletters for their candidates in Basingstoke and Leeds, which used titles mimicking local newspapers.

However, Liberal Democrat leader, Jo Swinson, defended the party’s tactics saying the use of such campaign newspapers was “as old as the hills.”

“Doing campaign newspapers is not exactly a new tactic, nor one that is only done by the Liberal Democrats,” she said.

Meanwhile, Ms Swinson has succeeded in stopping the distribution of an SNP leaflet accusing her of accepting a £14,0000 donation from “a fracking company”.

Okay, I think Swinson’s right about parties publishing their own little newspapers during election campaigns. But her party appears to have gone further than that. They seem to have deliberately imitated the style of local newspapers in order to deceive people into believing that these papers endorse them.

Just as they were caught a week or so publishing misleading quotes from various papers that made it appear they praised the party and its leader. In fact, the quotes came from Swinson herself, who was quoted by the newspaper. They weren’t, as the Fib Dems’ literature seemed to be claiming, praise from the newspaper itself.

I know Tories, who hate the Lib Dems more than Labour because of their deceitful antics. Now it appears that under Jo Swinson their deceitfulness and mendacity is becoming notorious to the whole nation, not just Conservatives.

And if they’re prepared to manufacture fake news and fake newspapers, like the press organisations of totalitarian states like the former Soviet Union, then they are a danger to democracy and responsible government.

There was an old joke in the Soviet Union about the two leading newspapers. It was a pun on their names. The Communist party newspaper was Pravda, which means ‘Truth’. The leading non-party newspaper, which still obviously had to follow the Communist line, was Izvestia, which means ‘News’. The joke was that there was no news in the Truth, and no truth in the ‘News’.

Which now describes all Jo Swinson and her party’s election promises and literature.

Philosophy and “The Empirically Tractable”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 27/11/2019 - 4:01am in

I think you are right to be suspicious of the tendency of this institutional paradigm to postulate truths that are ‘basic’, ‘ultimate’ or ‘fundamental’ just at the point where things begin to look interesting or problematic from the point of view of those we in the profession pretentiously refer to as ‘non-philosophers’.

That’s Hallvard Lillehammer, professor of philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London, in a recent interview at 3:16AM.

The interview ranged over various topics in ethics, but also touched on the sociology of philosophy. Interviewer Richard Marshall asks:

A crucial question for you as a moral philosopher is what is the point of moral philosophy—can it be justified as an enterprise? A Nietzschean might push back and attack morality for its commitment to untenable descriptive (metaphysical and empirical) claims about human agency, as well as for the deleterious impact of its distinctive norms and values on the flourishing of the highest types of human beings. And even if not a Nietzschean, philosophers like Scanlon and Parfit and Nagel defending the objectivity of moral opinions on the grounds that they were confident in the good reasons they had for them (or in their apparent truth), quite independent of whether there was evidence for them of the kind we would expect in any other domain of human inquiry thought to be epistemically reliable, strike many as being no better than religious apologetics. And if constructivism is right then is there any role for the moral philosopher now as opposed to the psychologist or the neuroscientist or biologist—or better still, why not leave it to Proust and the novelists and poets? 

Professor Lillehammer replies:

You have presented me with quite a challenge in asking me to say something sensible about Nietzsche, Nagel, Parfit and Scanlon all in one breath. Yet as far as I’m concerned, each of these writers is a paradigmatic specimen of someone doing ‘moral philosophy’ as I understand it, although they obviously differ greatly; for example in the extent to which they are prepared to let philosophy ‘leave everything as it is’, in Wittgenstein’s phrase.

The genealogical method you ascribe to Nietzsche and for which he is justly famous is one I have already registered my respect for, even though it is not the exclusive property of Nietzscheans and has a tendency to inspire arguments that overreach. I would place Nietzsche’s own use of the method to reject the cluster of views he identifies as ‘morality’ in that category. One important lesson I do take from Nietzsche’s use of this method, however, is that a philosophical outlook is sometimes a better guide to the psychosocial circumstances of its author than to the nature of its subject matter.

All of which brings me to Nagel, Parfit and Scanlon. I don’t agree that what these philosophers are doing individually can be fairly accused of being ‘no better than religious apologetics’. What I do think is that the institutional paradigm their work represents has a charge to answer with respect to its frequently coercive refusal to allow that philosophical enquiry is empirically tractable. On the one hand, this refusal has arguably helped to sustain a culture of stability and in-house rigor that has kept some of the more intellectually subversive elements of our discipline at bay during the course of recent culture wars. On the other hand, I think you are right to be suspicious of the tendency of this institutional paradigm to postulate truths that are ‘basic’, ‘ultimate’ or ‘fundamental’ just at the point where things begin to look interesting of problematic from the point of view of those we in the profession pretentiously refer to as ‘non-philosophers’.

As far as the novelists and poets are concerned: I don’t see any contradiction in the idea of a great philosophical work of art or an artistically accomplished work of philosophy. Which is not to say that the production of either is easily achievable.

That third paragraph of his answer struck me as especially provocative, so I wrote to Professor Lillehammer to ask if he could elaborate on it, and he was kind enough to reply.


Joan Miro, “The Policeman”

Regarding the claim that “the institutional paradigm [Nagel, Parfit, and Scanlon’s] work represents has a charge to answer with respect to its frequently coercive refusal to allow that philosophical enquiry is empirically tractable”:

The institutional paradigm in question is one exemplified by some of the most prestigious philosophy departments in the Anglo-sphere, in which what has often been accepted as good and proper philosophy is a set of narrowly aprioristic inquiries that exclude a wide range of empirically tractable or historically specific considerations that philosophers have traditionally been concerned with, and that students of philosophy are often worried about.

To talk of ‘coercive refusal’ in this context is to highlight the manner in which some institutions have had a history of excluding or dis-incentivizing the discussion of empirically tractable ways of addressing philosophical questions. (This is a tendency that has arguably been subject to increasing challenge in recent years.)

Regarding the statement that “On the one hand, this refusal has arguably helped to sustain a culture of stability and in-house rigor that has kept some of the more intellectually subversive elements of our discipline at bay during the course of recent culture wars”:

The emphasis on clarity, rigor, precision and rational argument by philosophers who would self-identify as ‘analytical’ in orientation has played a significant role as a bulwark against a set of intellectually corrosive views, rightly or wrongly attributed to some philosophers of a ‘non-analytic’ persuasion, such as radical forms of historicism, relativism, or the view that there is nothing more to ‘truth’ than power.

And regarding the statement that “On the other hand, I think you are right to be suspicious of the tendency of this institutional paradigm to postulate truths that are ‘basic’, ‘ultimate’ or ‘fundamental’ just at the point where things begin to look interesting or problematic from the point of view of those we in the profession pretentiously refer to as ‘non-philosophers’”:

The tendency in question is exemplified by i) classifying something as “an empirical question” so as not to engage with it (as if what is actually the case is of no philosophical interest); ii) classifying something as “a purely conceptual point” (as if no concepts could be reasonably be thought to have a history); iii) classifying something as “not a philosophical question” in order to police a disciplinary boundary (as if the existence or nature of that boundary is not itself a contested matter).

Discussion welcome. I’d be curious to hear whether others agree with Professor Lillehammer’s depiction of analytic moral, political and social philosophy, and whether they agree with (and would share examples of) the tendencies he discusses being “subject to increasing challenge in recent years.”

The post Philosophy and “The Empirically Tractable” appeared first on Daily Nous.

Disgusting and Horrific! Israeli Minister Claimed Fascism Part of Israeli Identity

This really shows how twisted and vile Netanyahu and his coalition are. Yesterday the Jewish anti-Fascist, anti-Zionist activist Tony Greenstein, put up a piece about how he’d been contacted by an Israeli academic, Avraham Oz. Mr Oz is professor of Theatre at Haifa University and a long-standing supporter of the Israeli left. The professor was appealing for funding for the Alfa Theatre in Haifa. It is in danger of losing its state funding following allegations made by an informer, Shai Glick, to the government. Netanyahu’s vile administration is not only determined to expropriate and eventually expel the indigenous Arabs, but also to silence and harass dissenting voices in Israel. I gather from previous posts that it has launched attacks intended to stifle criticism and reporting of atrocities and other crimes against humanity from groups like Breaking the Silence, a veterans’ organisation, and the Israeli human rights organisation, B’Tselem. Regev has been part of this campaign in her capacity as Israeli Culture Minister. Last year she attempted to pass a ‘Cultural Loyalty’ bill, which would have denied funding to any work that did not respect the symbols of the state of Israel, viewed Independence Day as a day of mourning, or incited violence and terrorism. Tony points out that this would mean that any play about the Palestinian Nakba – their term for massacres and ethnic cleansing against them that was an integral part of the foundation of Israel as an independent state, would lose its state funding. And such a play may even face banning altogether.

It’s the kind of cultural repression found in Communism and Fascism. And what is truly sickening is that Regev actually said that she was proud to be a ‘Fascist’, and that Fascism was an integral part of Israeli culture! She also made a speech in 2002 declaring Sudanese immigrants to be a ‘cancer’ in Israel’s body. Not surprisingly, her critics produced mock images of her in Nazi uniform, which is anti-Semitic under the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, and Regev herself got upset.

Tony puts her remarks into context with the Zionists’ policy of allying themselves with real gentile anti-Semites in order to encourage the foundation of a Jewish state and Jewish immigration to it. He shows this went as far back as Chaim Herzog, who wrote that the Jews had been too hard on groups like the British Brothers’ League, which had campaigned against Jewish immigration to Britain in the early 20th century.

He also quotes Jewish authorities on the rabbinical condemnation of tell-tales like Glick. I’ve used similar quotes in some of my pieces attacking groups like the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and the Gnasherjew troll army, who go through people’s social media posts looking for material they can use to accuse them falsely of being anti-Semites.

http://azvsas.blogspot.com/2019/11/israels-kulturkampf-culture-minister.html

Anti-Labour Jewish groups launch fact-free attack on Jeremy Corbyn

But it’s Regev’s comments applauding Fascism that utterly astonish me. I can only imagine the disgust and horror it must have caused self-respecting Jews everywhere, and indeed anyone, who had ever lost people in the struggle against Fascism. A Jewish philosopher described the ultra-nationalist ideology of the Israeli state as ‘Judaeonazism’. Obviously it’s a highly controversial term, but when ministers like Regev describe themselves as ‘Fascists’ and claim that Fascism is part of Israeli national identity, then it’s entirely justified. Buddy Hell in post about Zionism a few years ago at Guy Debord’s Cat described how one of the early Jewish settler groups in the 1920s were the Maximalist Legalists, who wanted to create a Fascist state similar to Mussolini’s in Italy. Regev’s comments about Fascism, consciously or not, hark back to them.

And now I see Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has decided to spout lies against Corbyn once again, accusing him of having not done enough against anti-Semitism.

The Labour leader certainly has and more than enough, as some of those allegations, such as those against Mike, Tony, Marc Wadsworth, Jackie Walker, Martin Odoni, Ken Livingstone and so on were unfounded and malicious. They were a cynical attempt to smear and purge decent anti-racists from the party as part of a wider campaign to oust Corbyn. Since Mirvis opened his mouth, and his mendacious splutterings were published in the Times, a number of left-wing bloggers have put on the Net the countless instances where Corbyn and his party have supported Jews against discrimination and racism.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/11/26/heres-the-real-reason-chief-rabbi-mirvis-attacked-jeremy-corbyn-and-labour-hes-a-tory-and-a-racist-it-seems/

And Mirvis and his predecessor, Jonathan Sacks, also have questions to answer themselves about racism and bigotry.

A year or so ago, Sacks led a contingent of British Jews to participate in the March of the Flags. That’s when the Israeli equivalent of Nazi boot-boys parade through the Muslim part of Jerusalem waving Israeli flags, banging on doors and vandalising property. Sacks had been asked not to go, but he still went. And I also remember the anger he caused when he declared that Reform Jews were ‘enemies of the faith’ – which is the language of religious persecution. Mirvis and the Board also turned up to the mass demonstrations against Corbyn a few years ago, when they tried smearing him as an anti-Semite because he had not fully adopted the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. That’s the definition that’s been criticised by Kenneth Stern, who formulated it, as chilling reasonable, genuine criticism of Israel.

There’s absolutely no substance to Mirvis’ recent sputterings. It’s just more noise from a Tory, writing in the Tory press, and an arch-Zionist afraid of reasonable criticisms against Israel.

Like what is the country doing appointing a self-identified Fascist as its Culture Minister?

Now I realise that Regev may have made her comments well before Mirvis became Chief Rabbi, but you have to wonder what his reaction to Regev’s words were. He is, after all, a friend of Netanyahu’s as well as Boris Johnson, and while British Jews aren’t responsible for what the Israelis do, the Chief Rabbinate and Board of Deputies have shown themselves to be staunch Zionists. So it has to be asked of them how they saw Regev’s statement and what they did, as supporters of Israeli, to protest against it.

My guess is that Mirvis and the Board did nothing. They’re quite content to let Israel behave like a Fascist state, and Israeli ministers call themselves Fascists, so long as it isn’t reported and they aren’t criticised for it.

And David Rosenberg, another Jewish anti-Fascist and critic of Israel, published a post in which he recalled how, when he was growing up in ’70s and ’80s, the Board tried to stop Jews from joining the marches then against the NF and BNP by groups like the Anti-Nazi League. Or go to meetings and concerts by organisations like Rock Against Racism. The Board claimed it was to stop them being exposed to anti-Zionist propaganda, but others suspected that there was more than a little of real racism against other minorities there as well.

And that’s why they hate Corbyn: because he is a genuine opponent of racism and anti-Semitism, while they just want to stop criticism of Israel.

 

Texas Man Invents Machine that Creates Drinking Water from Air

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 26/11/2019 - 2:17am in

This is pure Dune technology. This short video of just over 2 minutes long from RepsUp 100 channel on YouTube is a news report about a former ranger, Moses West, from Texas, who has invented a device that creates drinking water from the air. He invented his Atmospheric Water Generator back in 2015. West says of his machine that they’re at the point where they can talk about creating 50,000 – 1,000,000 gallons of water. The energy consumption is incredibly low. According to West, it’s far cheaper than groundwater and desalination. He has so far made eight of these machines. They’re in the Bahamas, Puerto Rico and Flint, Michigan.

According to West, the machines are federally approved and the water quality is tested by the Colorado Water Authority. Most of West’s devices were manufactured in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. The news broadcast says that the townspeople should be proud, as one unit provides the town with hundreds of gallons of clean water. It also appears that it doesn’t cost the residents anything, as West works with organisations like the Water Rescue Foundation to cover costs. He also says that people were very happy that somebody actually cared enough to jump over the bureaucracy and do this on a private piece of land. His concern now is to plant these in Flint, Michigan, to help the people there.

I don’t think West’s idea is particularly new. It seems to be a variant on the domestic dehumidifiers that are used to clean the moisture out of people’s homes. Some of these, like the one in the video below from Unbox Therapy on YouTube, manufactured by Ecoloblue, create drinking water from the moisture collected. West seems to have just created a larger, industrial scale version.

It’s a great device, and West is right when he says that there’s a water crisis coming. Back in the 1990s the Financial Times ran an article about how climate change and increasing demands for water are creating conflict. It predicted that in the 21st Century, most wars would be over water. When I was studying for my archaeology Ph.D., I also went to a seminar by a visiting professor, who had researched the effect climate change had through the human past on civilisation. He too was concerned about a coming water shortage. Machines like this could help solve some of those problems.

However, the use of these machines also demonstrates glaring iniquities in the American water supply system. Flint, Michigan, became notorious a few years ago because the local council had allowed companies to pollute the town’s drinking water to truly disgusting levels. People in a superpower like America, the world’s richest country, should not have to rely on charities for their drinking water.

It is, however, very much like something from Science Fiction. I’m reminded of the technology in books and films like Dune and Star Wars to bring water to the desert planets there. Like the system of underground cisterns and windcatchers in Dune to irrigate Arakis, and the moisture vaporators on Tattooine.

Now if only someone would invent something else from Dune – the stillsuit. A suit that collects water from the wearer’s own sweat and urine, and purifies it, turning it into drinking water so that they can survive weeks, even in the deepest desert. And in the 1980s David Lynch film, looked really cool too.

Here’s a brief video from Dune Codex on YouTube explaining how these fictional suits work.

 

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