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Haiti: reparations in reverse – big time

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 23/05/2022 - 12:07am in

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A remarkable investigative series in the New York Times lays bare the roots of Haitian misery:

The first people in the modern world to free themselves from slavery and create their own nation were forced to pay for their freedom yet again — in cash.

Twenty-one years after Haiti’s revolutionary heroes declared their country’s independence, swearing to die before being put back in chains or living under French domination again, a squadron of French warships — equipped with some 500 cannons — loomed off Haiti’s coastline….

Haiti’s president, eager for the trade and security of international recognition, bowed to France’s demands. With that, Haiti set another precedent: It became the world’s first and only country where the descendants of enslaved people paid reparations to the descendants of their masters — for generations.

It is often called the “independence debt.” But that is a misnomer. It was a ransom.

The amount was far beyond Haiti’s meager means. Even the first installment was about six times the government’s income that year, based on official receipts documented by the 19th-century Haitian historian Beaubrun Ardouin.

But that was the point, and part of the plan. The French king had given the baron a second mission: to ensure the former colony took out a loan from young French banks to make the payments.

This became known as Haiti’s “double debt” — the ransom and the loan to pay it — a stunning load that boosted the fledgling Parisian international banking system and helped cement Haiti’s path into poverty and underdevelopment.

Read more here.

Ethical criteria which hold the sustainability of life at their core

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 22/05/2022 - 9:37pm in

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from Fernando García-Quero and Fernando López Castellano Overconfidence in the magical thinking of technification, economic growth, the free market, and neoliberal globalization has led many to forget that the state is the main policy architect and actor when facing a crisis. Successful responses to Covid-19 have shown, once again, the central role of states in organizing political […]

Sixtieth Anniversary News

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 22/05/2022 - 5:37pm in

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The year 2023 will mark sixty years since the first episode of Doctor Who was broadcast, and it looks like returning showrunner Russell T Davies is making sure there are plenty of treats ahead for fans. The focus for now is firmly on the farewell of Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor this October in an epic story set to feature the Master, the Daleks and the Cybermen, along with classic companions Tegan and Ace. Some news has already been released though, regarding what lies beyond that, with confirmation that David Tennant and Catherine Tate are currently filming material that will be shown… Continue reading

A Psychopath Slips

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 22/05/2022 - 8:30am in

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 George W Bush. Guy on the right? Ted Bundy O.O #doppleganger  http://t.co/jzZcoo1xPO" / TwitterGeorge W. Bush <————>Ted Bundy. Read the article before assuming this is a scabrous comparison

My sentiments exactly. Read the entire article:

It was a Freudian slip for the ages: during a speech in Dallas this week, former President George W Bush condemned the “decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq”. Whoops! “I mean of Ukraine,” he added a second later, as laughter rang out in the room. Isn’t it funny when a former president accidentally confesses to war crimes? Ha! Ha! Ha!

 [I]magine it’s 2042 and Vladimir Putin has transformed himself from war criminal to cuddly grandpa who paints in his dotage. Imagine he slips up while making a speech and talks about the wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Ukraine. Imagine everyone in the room laughing. That wouldn’t be terribly funny would it? In fact, the idea that a guy like Putin could face zero accountability and spend his old age giving speeches instead of serving time for war crimes, would be horrifying. 

It’s very simple: without Bush, there would never have been Trump. Sure, the GOP and our mainstream discourse was not well before Bush. But Bush’s murderous lies turbocharged America’s descent into our present psychotic politics.

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Will Trumpers sit out the races in November if they don’t get their way?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 22/05/2022 - 8:30am in

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Trump predicts they will

Sad!

Republicans here still seething about the 2020 presidential race say they would rather sit out the election in November if Trump’s candidate, former Sen. David Perdue, loses an upcoming GOP gubernatorial primary than ever support incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp.  

The animosity towards Kemp, whom several MAGA Republicans described as a “Judas” and “betrayer” for certifying Joe Biden’s win in 2020, is unlikely to affect the outcome of the May 24 primary. But it may hurt Kemp’s chances this fall in an anticipated rematch with presumed Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams, the woman he narrowly beat in 2018 — with Trump’s support.

“I don’t want Stacey Abrams. But I don’t think I can vote for Brian Kemp,” a 27-year-old Gordon County resident who declined to give his name told Insider at a “Bikers for Trump” rally about an hour north of Atlanta. 

The local Republican, who accused Kemp of “rolling over and letting the country get crucified” during the last election, said he planned to vote for Perdue on Tuesday because the Trump-endorsed former senator from Georgia had vowed to hold everyone involved in the “rigged and stolen” presidential contest accountable if he gets elected. 

Earlier in the day, an 81-year-old Georgian who said he’s voted Republican since 1964, couldn’t even bring himself to say Kemp’s name or that of Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger. 

“I wouldn’t vote for either one of them. They’re not Republicans. They’re liars,” David, who declined to provide his last name, said at Perdue’s May 20 event at a rural airfield. He added that Kemp and Raffensperger “did Trump in in Georgia” by not investigating the results to the twice-impeached former president’s satisfaction. 

Kemp and Raffensperger conducted a statewide audit and oversaw recounts of the more than 5 million votes Georgians cast in the 2020 presidential election. Biden beat Trump there by about 12,000 votes. 

Amy Steigerwalt, a professor of political science at Georgia State University, said the 2020 race is over for everyone but the Trumpiest locals. “Most voters know that the recounts and audits all showed that the election was conducted fairly and transparently, and that there was no evidence of fraud or malfeasance,” she told Insider. 

Still, Trump mentioned the possibility of his devotees sitting out the governor’s race earlier this month. CNN reported that he said “many Republicans are just not going to vote for Kemp” during a call-in rally he did for Perdue. 

The “Trumpiest locals” make up a substantial fraction of the Georgia GOP. If they do decide to sit it out it could make the difference. And I frankly think that Trump would be just fine with it. All he cares about is vindicating his loss in 2020 and his people refusing to vote for Kemp and Raffensberger would prove that in his mind. He is pushing for Herschell Walker to win the Senate but I have a sneaking suspicion that Herschell is going to implode before November so I wouldn’t count on him bringing out the Trumpers either.

One thing we know for sure is that the only thing that matters to Trump is Trump. What he believes serves him in 2024 is what he will do.

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Do they think they can erase transgenderism?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 22/05/2022 - 7:00am in

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The wingnuts are giving it a try

It’s not just schools folks. Did you think they’d stop there?

Two Virginia Republicans have asked a court for restraining orders that would prevent private bookseller Barnes & Noble from selling two books to minors, marking an escalation in the conservative campaign to limit students’ access to literature.

The two books are “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe, a memoir about identifying as genderqueer or nonbinary, and “A Court of Mist and Fury,” a fantasy novel by Sarah J. Maas. The two Republicans, Del. Timothy Anderson of Virginia Beach and Tommy Altman, a congressional candidate, requested the orders from Virginia Beach Circuit Court on Wednesday as part of their larger, ongoing lawsuit targeting the books.

The requested restraining orders would also prohibit distribution of the two books by Virginia Beach City Public Schools. The board of that school system voted this week to remove all copies of “Gender Queer” from its libraries over its sexual content.

This is performative, of course. They can’t really stop a book from being disseminated. Perhaps they’ve heard of this thing called “the internet.” Or maybe not. But the performance they’re giving should be chilling to anyone who still cares about living in a free society. It’s bad enough they are doing this to schools. Now they’re trying to ban books in bookstores.

Gosh “Gender Queer” sure sounds dangerous:

In 2014, Maia Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns, thought that a comic of reading statistics would be the last autobiographical comic e would ever write. At the time, it was the only thing e felt comfortable with strangers knowing about em. Now, Gender Queer is here. Maia’s intensely cathartic autobiography charts eir journey of self-identity, which includes the mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, bonding with friends over erotic gay fanfiction, and facing the trauma and fundamental violation of pap smears.

Started as a way to explain to eir family what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, Gender Queer is more than a personal story: it is a useful and touching guide on gender identity—what it means and how to think about it—for advocates, friends, and humans everywhere.

“It’s also a great resource for those who identify as nonbinary or asexual as well as for those who know someone who identifies that way and wish to better understand.” — SLJ (starred review)

Right. The last thing we would ever want to do is better understand …

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The Collapse of the India’s creative Industries

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 22/05/2022 - 6:12am in

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from Jayati Ghosh There is no doubt that creative industries, along with care activities, are going to emerge as some of the most significant economic sectors of the future. Broadly speaking, the creative industries consist of advertising, architecture, arts and crafts, design, fashion, film, video, photography, music, performing arts, publishing, research & development, software, computer […]

Should we give election workers combat pay?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 22/05/2022 - 5:30am in

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A harrowing story of citizens trying to protect democracy

TPM interviewed a former election security officer. It’s bad:

As midnight approached on November 3, 2020, Ken Matta was sitting in a Phoenix conference room with Arizona’s secretary of state. And he was feeling pretty good.

Sure, COVID-19 had disrupted his office’s typical election plans, but the secretary’s team had pulled off one of the smoothest elections in years. 

It took a lot of work to make it happen. They had received unprecedented help from the federal government. County election offices had become a buzzing hive of activity, cooperating with each other and sharing best practices. The counterterrorism “fusion center” in Arizona — which was stocked that day with intelligence and law enforcement officials from every level of government — had overseen an Election Day without a hitch. 

And so Matta, the election security lead in Arizona and a nearly 20-year veteran of the secretary of state’s office, was optimistic.

“We built this great community in Arizona, like never before,” said Matta. “We felt so good. A week before the election, we’re looking at each other going like, ‘Alright, what else can we do?’ It’s not very often when we get a chance to say, ‘You know what, we’re sitting pretty.’” 

Then, the President of the United States appeared on television. As he started to speak, Matta’s heart sank. The election, Donald Trump said, was a fraud on the American people. 

That speech by Trump, falsely claiming victory just after 2 a.m. in Washington, marked the beginning of months of attacks on election workers, like Matta, that continue today. Matta had worked in government for two decades after being bitten by the election security bug during the 2000 Bush v. Gore recount. He had never seen anything like it. 

“Instantly, our lives changed,” he recalled in an interview with TPM. “None of us in the whole industry at that moment felt safe and secure. That’s the good name of elections thrown under the bus. And we had worked harder up to that point than we ever had before to make sure the elections were secure.” 

That work didn’t matter: They were standing between Trump and power. What Matta witnessed in the 18 months since Trump’s election-night proclamation has made him fear for the future of American democracy: a sustained attack on election workers, and the resulting attrition and political gamesmanship that he says will allow conspiracy theorists and political operatives into key jobs in election administration, including secretary of state positions — the officials who in many state run elections. 

The arsonists, in other words, are now arriving at the firehouse. 

Matta left state government this month.

“I’m worried that people that only follow a political agenda get into power and have control over our elections,” he said. “If we get to that point, the outlook is bleak.”

Most of those leading the election fraud crusaders are cynical opportunists who see a path to power by cheating. And unfortunately, they have now brainwashed millions of people into believing their bullshit:

Assault Rifles, Threats To ‘Hunt’ Election Workers, And A Creepy Gas-X Gift Box

Nov. 3, 2020, which should have been nearly the finish line to a challenging election year, turned out to be the start of something new.

After Trump’s election-night address, “we swung into debunking mode,” Matta said. The office began strategizing how to fight back against the misinformation, working out communication strategies to address the President’s lies. But the lies were already bearing fruit.

The calls started rolling into the secretary’s office: Harassment, threats. A mob swarmed the Maricopa County voter tabulation center. Political operatives began their work to overturn Joe Biden’s victory. Alex Jones showed up in the state. Soon, Rudy Giuliani arrived too, to meet with state legislators and hold a theatrical “hearing” on supposed voter fraud. 

It didn’t end with Joe Biden’s inauguration, of course. A few weeks later, the Republican-controlled state Senate subpoenaed all 2.1 million ballots from Maricopa County, handing them over to a group of privately-funded conspiracy theorists led by the contractor Cyber Ninjas, which began a sham “audit” that included recounting the ballots and inspecting them for bamboo fibers — sure signs of meddling from Asia, the theory went. 

Matta witnessed that whole episode first-hand, including as an observer of the “audit” for the secretary of state, where Cyber Ninjas’ audit workers often tried to convince him that he and his colleagues would end up in jail. 

At one point, Matta began noticed pro-audit demonstrators with assault rifles eyeing the cars entering the state fairgrounds, where ballots were being stored and recounted at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum. 

He, too, began carrying a gun. 

But equally alarming for him was the treatment of millions of voters’ ballots: Matta saw audit workers mistakenly double-count 100 overseas and military ballots, but only after they’d mistakenly believed they’d uncovered evidence of fraud. Later, when the audit contractors moved into a new building, rain dripped from a leaky roof directly onto ballot boxes, and Matta saw ballots sag in the humid, un-air-conditioned room. 

“They didn’t even know how many ballots they had,” he scoffed a year later, in an interview with TPM. “Their numbers didn’t jive at all.”

The audit also revealed the disdain that Trump’s true believers had for the state employees. 

Audit workers were “questioning our integrity, our democratic allegiances, our sexuality,” he recalled. “It was tough to walk through that everyday.”

At the end of the ordeal, he found a “very creepy” gift box waiting on a table for him. Inside was  a plastic cockroach that audit workers had repeatedly placed on his phone, a bottle of Pepto Bismol (a reference to the pink shirts that secretary of state observers were forced to wear), a seat-saver for a Trump rally with Matta’s name on it, a ticket stub for audit bankroller Patrick Byrne’s “Deep Rig” conspiracy theory moviered and green pens, and a pack of Gas-X, which Matta said referred to the audit workers’ repeated taunts to the state observers that they should be anxious about the outcome of the audit — they would, after all, soon be behind bars. 

“They were always saying, ‘Are you nervous? Because you’re going to jail.’” 

They love to say that, don’t they? It’s become their all-purpose cri de guerre. Considering that hundreds of them have been indicted for january 6th you’d think they’d dial that back but they won’t. They love to say it.

And they love to say it to average citizens just doing their work in a non-partisan fashion.

Matta spoke to TPM a few weeks after leaving his job at the secretary of state’s office. He was worried about the attrition of election workers in the face of continued attacks and threats. At the secretary of state’s office, he reviewed at times more than 30 threats a day that were sent to employees in the office, everything from menacing emails to voicemails informing staff that they would “be hunted.” The number of threats flagged to him eventually tapered, but Matta thought that may have simply been because employees grew “calloused” to their lives being threatened. 

Across the country, an alarming number of election workers are leaving their jobs, as are seasonal poll workers. Conservative activists have taken note, and are working hard to replace them with true believers.

“If you’re a senior citizen — we’ve heard them say, ‘Why would I volunteer to go get shot up at the polls or something for this amount of money?’” Matta said.

He thinks election deniers are bound to fill those gaps.

There is no doubt about it. They already are in the swing states Trump is intent upon stealing in 2024.

There was a time when I might have thought that average people being exposed to the way things really work would sober them up. But these people are so far gone that it’s clear even irrefutable proof right before their eyes won’t convince them. After all, quite a few of them believe that the Democratic Party and George Soros are running a blood drinking satanic pedophile ring. There’s no reasoning with people like that.

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The fraud fraud goes to court

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 22/05/2022 - 4:00am in

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John Eastman’s sad attempts to protect Dear Leader

One of Trump’s pathetic coup lawyers is fighting a subpoena by the January 6th Committee asking for documents pertaining to his work trying to overturn the election. He claims it is privileged and has filed a suit to that effect.

Philip Bump breaks down his claims in that filing. It’s not pretty:

The new court filing asserts that the issue Eastman was discussing with Trump was “not whether there had been illegality and fraud in the election—there was ample evidence of that at the time, and the evidence on that score has only grown since—but whether it was of sufficient scope to have altered the outcome of the election, warranting reversal, or at least called it into question, [warranting] a new election.” Setting aside that the example of a new election being called was the fraud uncovered in a congressional race in 2018 — an incident in which the repercussions were far lower and the evidence far greater — it’s useful to point out the falsehood in the middle of the sentence. There was no “ample evidence” of fraud on Jan. 6, 2021, and the idea that there was has only decreased since.

“Countless examples of election illegality and fraud, and expert opinion indicating a high likelihood of fraud, were available to President Trump and Dr. Eastman at the time,” the filing claims. It points to a petition filed by the Trump campaign against election administrators in Georgia, documenting “scores of violations of Georgia election law” that purportedly affected the election.

Notice what Eastman’s doing here. He’s conflating changes to the law with fraud, in an effort to bolster the idea that the election was stolen via efforts to expand voter access that he and Trump believe worked against the incumbent. It’s like claiming that someone committed arson and citing as evidence the fact that the service station near their house was selling gas without charging the required taxes.

The Georgia Supreme Court rejected the suit in December 2020. Eastman’s filing elevates claims from that lawsuit anyway and loops in new assertions, including an incident in which a Georgia Tech student alleges that someone voted with her absentee ballot. That claim was central to a lawsuit against the 2020 results filed by former senator David Perdue that was ignominiously tossed out of court this month.

“This evidence was known by Dr. Eastman and his client at the time,” the filing reads, speaking of the Georgia assertions, “but it has recently been lent additional support by revelations contained in a new documentary film by Dinesh D’Souza, 2000 Mules, supported by exhaustive analysis of geospatial cell phone data and drop box video surveillance footage, of a massive and illegal ballot harvesting scheme.”

In reality, “2000 Mules” offers no robust evidence of anything. Not of the scheme alleged in the movie and, therefore, not of the validity of Eastman’s claims. Of course, as the filing admits, this concocted allegation didn’t exist at the time Eastman was advising Trump, making its inclusion here a particularly odd choice that serves mostly to reveal how thinly supported the overall argument is.

The filing then points to other examples of lawsuits focused on legalities rather than fraud, but it soon returns to the idea that he and Trump were warranted in assuming there was robust fraud.

“Statistical evidence, contained in Dr. Eastman’s privileged email exchanges … but also that which was publicly available at the time, strongly indicated ‘the intense improbability of the accuracy of the present Biden lead,’ ” it reads. The source for that? A purported analysis of the statistical unlikelihood of Biden’s win that focuses on things such as the fact that Joe Biden received more votes in many places than Barack Obama did in 2008 — something easily explained by both population growth and fervent opposition to Trump.

The author of that analysis, incidentally, was Steve Cortes, an adviser to Trump’s campaign.

One of the most ludicrous arguments in the new filing centers on the commonly repeated refrain that the election was the “most secure in American history,” an assertion made by Trump administration officials soon after the vote concluded. That statement also said there was “no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.” It was an effort to rebut baseless claims about electronic voting machines that were being made by people such as Trump attorney Sidney Powell.

But the Eastman filing rejects that assertion using one example.

“The forensic audit conducted in Antrim County proved that statement to be false,” it reads, “as even the State’s own expert acknowledged that votes were switched in the machine due to an improper software upgrade.”

This is nothing short of embarrassing. First, it aims to rebut a broad claim about the reliability of electronic voting machines nationally based on the results in a Michigan county where 16,000 votes were cast. Second, it aims to rebut that claim based on an incident that was easily and quickly explained as an error in how vote-counting machines were configured by county officials. Third, even had the incorrect results stood, Trump would have lost Michigan handily. Fourth, it is not in the least an example of votes being lost, changed or compromised, just an error in how they were at first counted. Fifth and most important, no good-faith assessment of the election should treat Antrim’s goof as evidence of rampant uncertainty about the results.

In fact, a Republican-led probe of the election found last year that “all compelling theories that sprang forth from the rumors surrounding Antrim County are diminished so significantly as for it to be a complete waste of time to consider them further.” Yet here is Trump’s former attorney considering them further…

These Trump accomplices are ridiculous, all of them. Sadly, like most everyone else, I suspect, I have little faith that anything serious will happen to any of the coup plotters. In fact, if the Republicans take the House in 2022, I think we’ll see rabid Benghazi-style hearings that will have the mainstream media slavering over Hunter Biden and Nancy Pelosi in ways that will mirror what the right wing media will be presenting — thus creating the effect of consensus that it’s the Democrats who are corrupt and anti-democratic. I hope I’m wrong.

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The Slide Down

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 22/05/2022 - 3:41am in

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I am today in Izmir. The last time I was here, eleven years ago, I called on the bereaved family of an aid worker murdered by Israel on the Mavi Mamara. A decade later, as witness the case of Shireen Abu Aqlah, Israel is still carrying out blatant public murder of good people; there has been no progress at all. The only thing that has changed is that the suppression of critics of Israel has become much more intense across social media, mainstream media and political debate.

I have in the last 18 years shared a platform with almost every prominent left wing figure in the UK I can think of. Out of all of them, the one I enjoyed listening to the most was Mhairi Black. I was therefore not in the least surprised by the warm social media reception of her speech in the House of Commons on the slide to fascism.

I endorse what she says, and I think that the strongest evidence is the extraordinary collaboration of billionaire and state owned media in forwarding the neo-liberal political agenda. In a situation as complex as the Ukraine, the absence of any nuance whatsoever across the entire mainstream media is simply staggering.

My own position, for example, is that the invasion is indeed illegal and a war crime – but that does not make Ukraine faultless. The tolerance of Nazism, the anti-Russian language and other policies and failure to implement the Minsk agreements were very real problems. The war on Iraq, as just one example, was equally criminal and NATO expansion is foolish. A negotiated settlement is needed.

These cannot remotely be characterised as crazed or outrageous opinions, whether you agree or not. But you will not find anywhere, in any mainstream media newsroom, any of those views beyond “the invasion is indeed illegal and a war crime”. It is not just that the editorial line is precisely the same in every single mainstream media outlet. It is that dissent from the editorial line is not published. This total harmony of state and corporate media in favour of a rigorous pro-war propaganda is precisely of the essence of fascism.

As recently as the Iraq War, opponents of the war were occasionally allowed on to give another perspective. A few years later I was invited on to all new channels to explain why the UK was wrong in claiming British sailors temporarily arrested by Iran had been in Iraqi waters. The Daily Mail a decade ago published a centre page article on why the war in Afghanistan was about hydrocarbons and about the massive increase of heroin production in NATO controlled areas.

Such pathways for dissent have over the last few years become completely unavailable.

To return to Mhairi, the difficulty is that she belongs to a party which is itself highly intolerant of dissent and has no feel at all for individual liberty. I might instance the banning of protest outside the Scottish parliament, the hate speech act, the SNP initiated jailing of Manni Singh for starting an approved demonstration two hours late, the appalling leadership approved pile-on on Joanna Cherry, the creation of a single centrally controlled police force, the incredibly sinister “named person” plan thankfully struck down by the courts, and the political use of the Crown Office for prosecutions.

I have never heard Mhairi dissent from any of this, and I do not know where she stands. The last time I set eyes on her was at the 2019 SNP conference, where I was a delegate. I went over to say hi, and was headed off by a horde of besuited minders. She appeared to me quite literally captured by the system.

A final thought on fascism. Boris Johnson reminds me not so much of Mussolini as Berlusconi. The latter appeared a ludicrous figure to us, with his outrageous financial self-interest, sexual antics and dishonesty. Yet Berlusconi kept winning elections because he appealed to something deep in the Italian psyche which did not care about all those other things. That seems a real parallel with Johnson, who appeals to enough English – and I mean English – people who feel he reflects their worldview. The rest of the world is mystified, and that includes Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, where even the unionists can’t stand him.

It is to me a cause of deep sadness that having ignored the opportunity for Scottish Independence opened by Brexit, Sturgeon is now ignoring the opportunity provided by antipathy to Johnson. In a fascist state the functions of central political control extend through both public and private sectors and all permitted political institutions, including permitted parties. That is a thought worth considering.

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