Friday, 31 July 2020

The Murder of Anthony Walker

Anthony Walker: BBC drama part of his legacy, mother says

A drama about a student murdered in a racist killing shows "the harsh reality of pain of loss", his mother says.

Anthony Walker, 18, was attacked with an ice axe in Merseyside in a killing that shocked the nation.

The BBC One drama, titled Anthony, tells the story of what his life could have been like if he had not been the victim of the racist attack in 2005.

His mother Gee hopes dramatising it for TV will become "part of Anthony's legacy - to honour him".

"It's one of the most painful things I've done since losing Anthony, but I think it was important for the story to be told," she said.

Mrs Walker approached writer Jimmy McGovern with the idea to show "Anthony's unfilled dreams, his potentials and the many lives he would have impacted on".

"I've always thought to myself there's nothing entertaining about grief and pain of loss," she said.

"I want him to show the harsh reality of pain of loss and I couldn't think of anyone better to express it than Jimmy."

Anthony died after he was chased from a bus stop in Huyton, Knowsley, before being struck with the ice axe.

His killers Michael Barton, then 17, and Paul Taylor, then 20, are both serving life sentences for murder.

"Racism's a disease because what it does is it kills, it destroys. This is my last-ditch attempt to get the message across," said Mrs Walker.

"Stop. Stop it. It's killing. It's a disease and you're perpetrating that."

Currently on BBC iPlayer.

Beeb.

Thursday, 30 July 2020

Tom Cotton Thinks Slavery Was a “Necessary” Evil

IN AN INTERVIEW published on Sunday, Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton declared that “We have to study the history of slavery and its role and impact on the development of our country because otherwise we can’t understand our country. As the Founding Fathers said, it was the necessary evil upon which the union was built.

What Cotton did not say is that the defenders of hideous acts almost always engage in this rhetorical tic, using that exact word: “necessary.

Much more @ TI.

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Failure to keep class politics on the agenda in the UK leads to ill-informed, racist views like Wiley’s

Grime star Wiley’s anti-Semitic Tweets mirror a sentiment shared by some in the poorest communities in working-class Britain. A lack of education on the class system means the marginalised believe the wildest conspiracy theories. Last week, grime artist Wiley sent Twitter into meltdown with his racist and anti-Semitic rants. They were outrageous and disgusting, but not unsurprising, once you start to contextualise, analyse and understand neo-liberal Western democracy.

Anti-Semitism in its current form nods to every other anti-semitic narrative going back to the middle ages; the ‘greedy Jew’, the ‘money-obsessed Jew’ and ‘secretive demonic powerful cults.’

It feeds on out-of-control inequality, wild and unrestrained neo-liberal politics, the total and absolute failure of the Left to keep class politics at the forefront of its agenda, and the rise of identity politics.

And that all adds up to a perfect recipe for millions of poor, working-class people wondering why – in a world where they are told they can be anything they want to be according to neo-liberalism – their grandparents died in poverty, their parents live in poverty, and they are now looking out into the void of precarity and demise?

I wrote a book about a community in Nottingham, a place which is one of Britain’s most multi-ethnic, multi-cultural areas, where I had lived for 25 years.

As part of the research for the book 'Getting By', I spent a year in a boxing gym and barber shop. Those spaces were predominantly male and 100 percent working class white, black, mixed-race and Asian people.

We argued every single minute of every day; the debates in Westminster and in local party political meetings paled in comparison. They were passionate, lively, sometimes good-natured, sometimes very aggressive, but always inclusive of anyone who walked in.

“What do you think?” would be shouted at every new person who arrived. Sometimes the debates were about football, sometimes they were about the ethics of the local community; for example, under what circumstances is it appropriate to call the police?

‘Mostly never’ was the answer to that one, unless harm was done to children or the elderly (and even then, it was, of course, debatable).

However, the debates around power were as omnipresent as power itself. Why, they shouted, are we stopped and searched by the police constantly? Why does no one from round here ever become successful? Why are there so many children involved in violence and drug dealing? And why are our ‘yutes’ dying? These were questions all day, every day interspersed with Premier League chat.

There were no answers, or no answers that made sense to them. I tried to talk about class inequality, and about how those with wealth used that wealth to purposefully keep them powerless and subservient. And how this is a structured system that everyone takes part in.

But that conversation is so hard to have among people who desperately need hope that something could happen to change their situation.

They require belief that the system which is slowly killing them will one day work for them. If they don’t have that, then what hope is there? In places that have no resources, no wealth, no real education and no political representation, all they have is hope, whether that’s the National Lottery, becoming a famous footballer or grime artist, or somehow coming across money and getting out.

The problems come when they try to piece together why this is the case? Why, from the minute they are born, do they stand no chance? And this is where the conspiracy theories, like those put forward by Wiley, have enough air to live and to thrive.

I have argued and screamed with fury at men who have told me ‘it’s the Jews’ controlling the music industry or it’s the Illuminati controlling everything, and the only way working- class – and especially black – people can become successful is to be part of these demonic cults inter-connected with elite paedophile rings, banking bail-outs, funding Islamic terrorism and now Covid-19.

It’s all mashed together to explain why and how decent, hard-working people constantly live and die in poverty. These arguments originally came from the extreme Right and white supremacists, but now they are rife in poor, working class inter-racial communities.

To me, this is evidence of the absolute failure of left-wing politics, and the victory of neo-liberal democracy, where we are reduced to nothing more than an individual unit bumping around, succeeding or failing. And all the while, the system awards some with unearned and undeserved advantages, success, and wealth and security, while others are mired in poverty, and their ‘failure’ is their own – while the structure of an unfair and unjust system remains cloaked in invisibility.

I remember one very lively afternoon in the barber’s shop, where I tried desperately to explain the British class system, using the local elite private boys school as an example of how power works and is reproduced. I failed to win the argument, because, they argued, how could it be that easy and transparent? No, they shouted, it’s about a demonic death cult made up of Jews and rich celebrities working in an undercover sect with the Illuminati purposefully keeping them down.

Without class politics, without class struggle, without a critique and an education that takes to pieces the neo-liberal system of class reproduction, all you have left are identity politics and Donald Trump.

Dr Lisa McKenzie.

Saturday, 25 July 2020

Chinese ‘Imperialism’ in Hong Kong Concerns US Media; Puerto Rican, Palestinian Colonies, Not So Much

When China passed a national security law for Hong Kong on June 30, criminalizing terrorism, secession and subversion of the Chinese government, as well as collusion with foreign governments, massive condemnations resounded all over Western media.

Vox (5/21/20) described it as an “official death sentence” for the “one country, two systems” model of governance in Hong Kong. Business Insider’s headline (7/1/20) described China’s national security law as having “killed Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement in less than a year.” The Washington Post (7/3/20) ran an op-ed mocking China’s actions as “nothing less than imperialism with Chinese characteristics.” The Atlantic (7/1/20) described Hong Kong as a “colony once more,” equating the Chinese government with previous British and Japanese “overlords in a distant capital” making “decisions on Hong Kong’s behalf.”

Of course, while Western media describe the national security law as something China “imposed” on Hong Kong, these same outlets rarely if ever present the “one country, two systems” model of governance in Hong Kong as something that was imposed on China by British imperialism, when London refused to unconditionally return the former colony to China. Hong Kong was violently seized from China with the Treaty of Nanking in 1842, after the British waged a war to impose the opium trade on China, causing about 90 million Chinese people to develop an addiction by the end of the 19th century.

FAIR studies (10/26/20, 12/6/20) have found that Hong Kong protests received dramatically more media attention than contemporaneous protests in US client states like Chile, Haiti and Ecuador. FAIR found that the disparity in coverage couldn’t be explained by the protests’ size, significance, number of casualties or response from the authorities, as police crackdowns in US dependencies have been far more brutal and lethal than the crackdown in Hong Kong. The disparity is better explained by corporate journalists considering Hong Kong protesters “worthy victims,” more deserving of coverage because they are protesting against an Official EnemyTM of the US, rather than a government friendly to Washington.

While one cannot describe China’s national security law as an act of “colonialism” or “imperialism,” since Hong Kong is part of China, FAIR conducted a study comparing media coverage of Hong Kong’s national security law and actual colonialism by the US in Puerto Rico, and by its ally Israel in Palestine. From June 16 to July 14, FAIR searched for all relevant results for “Hong Kong+security law,” “Israel+annex” and a general search for “Puerto Rico” on the New York Times and Wall Street Journal’s websites, as well as a Nexis search for CNN’s coverage. FAIR included all relevant results, except reposted content from newswires like Reuters and the Associated Press. Full documentation, including links to all the articles in the sample, can be found here.

In total, there have been 113 articles on China’s new national security law in Hong Kong, 12 on Israel’s plans to unilaterally annex parts of the West Bank on July 1 (which have currently been stalled), and six altogether on Puerto Rico.

NYT: Leading Homeland Security Under a President Who Embraces ‘Hate-Filled’ Talk In nearly a month of coverage, there were only six stories on Puerto Rico in three leading outlets, despite the island’s ongoing crisis. One was a New York Times story (7/10/20) that reported that Trump had asked then-Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke, “Can we sell the island? You know, or divest of that asset?”

Puerto Rico is currently the world’s oldest colony, incorporated into the US empire as spoils of war following the Spanish/American War of 1898, and it currently enjoys less political participation than it did during the Spanish monarchy (Washington Post, 12/13/17). The US has consistently exploited Puerto Rico’s economy for over a century, and has denied the colony representation in Congress or the right to vote in presidential elections (CounterSpin, 8/2/19, 3/18/20). Washington has imposed neoliberal shock doctrine on the island, withholding aid following the devastation left by Hurricane Maria, earthquakes and coronavirus (FAIR.org, 2/9/18; Common Dreams, 1/9/20).

[...]

While Israel’s settler colonialism has been going on for decades, FAIR’s search focused on Israel’s plans to annex the West Bank on July 1, because it was a contemporaneous measure taken by a US ally that would permanently end prospects for Palestinian independence under a two-state solution (FAIR.org, 1/31/20, 2/7/20). While some of the disparity in coverage could be explained by the postponement of the planned annexation on July 1 due to coronavirus and international condemnation, even if we confine coverage from the Times, Journal and CNN from June 16 to July 1, there are still 44 articles on China’s national security law for Hong Kong, compared to 12 on Israel’s planned annexation of Palestinian territory.

If, as Israel’s annexation asserts, the West Bank is not an independent nation deserving of self-determination, than Israel/Palestine is an apartheid state where millions of Palestinians are denied democratic rights due to their ethnicity. The denial of these rights has a heavy human cost: According to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem (1/1/20), Israeli security forces killed 133 Palestinians in 2019, including 28 children. Fifty-six of the people killed took no part in hostilities against Israel, making them victims of Israeli state terrorism.

Corporate media’s particular interest in Hong Kong protests cannot be explained by the Hong Kong police force’s crackdown being exceptionally brutal. After Chinese revolutionaries waged what Chinese people call the War of Liberation against Western and Japanese colonizers, Communists in Hong Kong led uprisings against British colonial rule in 1967, during which colonial police shot to death or otherwise killed at least 17 people. In contrast, while instances of police brutality have been documented during the current Hong Kong protests, none of the four deaths of protesters reported so far in the current unrest have been directly and credibly attributed to police violence. Hong Kong protesters, meanwhile, have set a man on fire, bombed subways, beaten elderly people and young women, and murdered a 70-year-old man by hurling a brick at his head (South China Morning Post, 11/12/19, 6/3/20).

[...]

More by FAIR.

Friday, 24 July 2020

Why I (me) can no longer support Labour

By George Galloway - RT.com. (He says it better than I ever could)

The descent to apostasy in the UK Labour Party of Sir Keir Starmer continues at such a pace it would come as no surprise if he were to expel his predecessor in whose shadow cabinet he sat without public complaint. Oh wait... Seems that’s already underway.

Full disclosure: I joined the Labour Party at the age of 13, in 1967, and was in it until expelled by Tony Blair over the Iraq War 36 years later. Now, I wish for its total destruction and for a hundred different reasons.

Another reason arrives most every day, but they are seldom as clear-cut as the demand for a ban on RT.

Being more Catholic than the Pope, more royal than the King, is of course ‘a thing’ in politics. But it can only be used sparingly, it must retain the capacity to shock. If overused it becomes merely a descending staircase to apostasy.

Labour is well down that staircase now, and so I was as shocked as the Claude Rains character in Casablanca on discovering there was gambling going on in Rick’s Cafe when in response to the busted ‘Russia Report’, Labour decided to go full Jolly George.

Though whereas the British Labour movement sank the Tory plan to dispatch the good ship Jolly George to help in their invasion of Russia a hundred years ago by refusing to load it, this time it is the Labour Party which wants to sink RT and the Tories who will, for a variety of reasons, block such a ban.

Not that it is the business of either to ban or not to ban. At least that’s what it says on the tin of Ofcom the media regulator, which is supposedly independent of government. In fact, the Labour Party have now significantly undermined that claim. Only Ofcom has the right to withdraw the licence of a broadcaster, and then supposedly acting in a quasi-judicial manner. An evidence-free “open-source reports”-based Report of the Security and Intelligence Committee which made NO specific allegations against RT and Sputnik, let alone prove any, would not be sufficient in a judicial process, however quasi.

Neither is this apostasy a product of Sir Keir Starmer’s Blairite orientation. The first proscription of Labour MPs appearing on RT was made not by the Blairites but by the Trotskyite John McDonnell, shadow chancellor and right-hand man to Jeremy Corbyn.

Shooting from the hip on a TV sofa one Sunday morning, without the knowledge let alone the consent of anyone else in the party, McDonnell’s ex cathedra announcement took those regular parliamentary guests on my own RT shows quite by surprise. But it worked.

Labour over the last four years was subjected to a ferocious and unremitting assault by virtually the entire British media, radio, television and print. Labour sanctions were taken against none of them. Nobody said that Rupert Murdoch’s anti-worker lie machine was beyond the pale, nobody boycotted the media telling us daily that Corbyn=KGB. In fact, Labour spokespeople turned up like lambs to the slaughter every day and were duly slaughtered. The ONLY British-based network which covered British politics in a fair and balanced way WAS RT. It was a kind of political masochism. It turns out they secretly enjoyed the flaying.

Apostasy against what, I hear you asking. Well, this. In a free country, freedom of expression is sacrosanct. How else in a democracy can leaders be held to account, prevented from committing crimes against their own people, or others? A media, free to differ from the government is a sine qua non surely? An opposition demanding the destruction of media pluralism is like the turkey volunteering for an early Christmas. In a free market democracy, surely the market must decide who gets viewers and who does not?

As the great English man of letters Dr Johnson once said, “the grimmest dictatorship of them all is the dictatorship of the prevailing orthodoxy.” Banning television stations in 2020 is of course a fool’s errand. The book they tried to ban always goes to the top of the Best Seller List. The only people further degraded and diminished by this sojourn into the realms of the ridiculous are the increasingly misnamed “Labour Party.”


The second reason why I can no longer support Labour is its shameful handling of the 'antisemitism crisis' but I'll let Tony Greenstein wade in on that one first (as duplication serves no purpose here)

Thursday, 23 July 2020

China: is it part of an "Axis of Evil" yet?

Not long now. Nearly there, folks!

Failing to showcase 'the economy' for the November 2020 election, Trump now seems hellbent on making China into a 'useful enemy', with or without a mask. The 'Kung flu' and China's alleged spying actually show some useful overlap, from Trump's PoV.

Rinse and repeat to manufacture consent. Yawn...

Monday, 20 July 2020

Orange Moron refuses to commit to accepting election result as Biden enjoys poll lead

Joe Biden leads Donald Trump by 15% among registered voters nationally and holds a 20-point lead when it comes to who Americans trust to handle the coronavirus pandemic, according to a major poll out on Sunday.

Biden leading the polls of course causes one word to spring to mind: "Hillary".

In the same ABC News/Washington Post poll, Biden led by two points in March and 10 points in May. Now, among respondents who said they will certainly vote in November, Biden leads by 11%.
Fox News also released a poll on Sunday. It put Biden ahead on coronavirus, race relations and the economy and eight points up nationally.
In an interview with Fox News Sunday recorded at the White House on Friday, Trump said “I’m not losing, because those are fake polls” and refused to say if he would accept the result if Biden won in November.
“I have to see,” Trump said. “I have to see. No, I’m not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no, and I didn’t last time either.”
On Saturday, the New York Times and Washington Post reported that the White House is seeking to block funding for coronavirus testing and tracing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and state and Pentagon efforts to tackle Covid-19 abroad.
Biden director of rapid response Andrew Bates said: “Trump is turning his back on his most important responsibility to the American people because in the words of his own advisers, he ‘doesn’t want to be distracted by’ the worst public health crisis in 100 years. This is absolutely unconscionable.”
Trump told Fox News Sunday he took “responsibility always for everything” regarding the pandemic.

Grauniad.

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

All hands at the Wheelhouse: Washington orders massive Westminster U-turn on Huwawei...

BoJo once again reminded who really is boss:

British telecoms companies will be banned from buying Huawei 5G components starting from the end of this year, the UK media secretary said. The firms also must get rid of all of their Huawei gear by 2027.
Media Secretary Oliver Dowden said that the National Cyber Security Centre informed the ministers that they have “significantly changed their assessment of Huawei’s presence in the UK’s 5G network.

RT.com UK

Hmmm... a blatant case of US globalist market protectionism if I've ever seen one.

And you can bet your Nellie that the Conservative backbenchers supporting this volte face are also dedicated Brexiteers: apparently they prefer to be oppressed by people speaking their own language!

Sunday, 12 July 2020

Free Speech Fantasies: the Harper's Letter and the Myth of American Liberalism

Harper’s Magazine’s July 7th “Letter on Justice and Open Debate” is making its rounds in popular political discourse, and takes aim at the “PC” “cancel culture” we are told is being fueled by the most recent round of Black Lives Matter protests. This cancel culture, we are warned, is quickly and perniciously taking over American discourse, and will severely limit the free exploration of competing viewpoints.

The Harper’s letter signatories run across the ideological spectrum, including prominent conservatives such as David Brooks and J.K. Rowling, liberals such as Mark Lilla and Sean Willentz, and progressives such as Noam Chomsky and Todd Gitlin. I have no doubt that the supporters of the letter are well meaning in their support for free speech. And I have no interest in singling out any one person or group of signatories for condemnation. Rather, I think it’s warranted to focus on the ways in which “free speech” is being weaponized in this case, and in contemporary American discourse, to empower reactionary voices, under the fa├žade of a free exploration of ideas.

The ideas established in the Harper’s letter sound just fine in principle, and when examined in a vacuum. The supporters embrace norms of “open debate” and “toleration of differences,” and opposition to “dogma[s],” “coercion,” and “intolerant climate[s]” that stifle open exploration of competing views. The letter’s supporters celebrate “the free exchange of information and ideas,” which they deem “the lifeblood of a liberal society,” contrary to a rising “vogue for public shaming and ostracism and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty.” The letter elaborates:

“But it is now all too common to hear calls for swift and severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions of speech and thought. More troubling still, institutional leaders, in a spirit of panicked damage control, are delivering hasty and disproportionate punishments instead of considered reforms. Editors are fired for running controversial pieces; books are withdrawn for alleged inauthenticity; journalists are barred from writing on certain topics; professors are investigated for quoting works of literature in class; a researcher is fired for circulating a peer-reviewed academic study; and the heads of organizations are ousted for what are sometimes just clumsy mistakes. Whatever the arguments around each particular incident, the result has been to steadily narrow the boundaries of what can be said without the threat of reprisal.”

Appealing to Americans’ commitment to civic responsibility for open dialogue, the Harper’s letter warns, “restriction of debate” “invariably hurts those who lack power and makes everyone less capable of democratic participation. The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away.”

One of the main problems with this sort of lofty rhetoric is that it misrepresents the severely deficient reality of American political discourse. We live in a period when the rise of neoliberal capitalism and untrammeled corporate power have cheapened “public” political discourse to serve the interests of plutocratic wealth and power, while assaulting notions of the common good and the public health. Idealistic rhetoric about exploring diverse views falls flat, and is a mischaracterization of reality to the deficiencies in U.S. political discourse under neoliberal corporate capitalism, when debates are perverted by political and economic elites who have contempt for the free exchange of ideas.

Numerous passages in the Harper’s letter create the impression that U.S. political discourse is characterized by a vibrant and open exploration of diverse and competing views. The letter includes:

    A lament that the emerging “cancel culture” threatens to “weaken our norms of open debate and toleration.”
    The claim that the “free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted.”
    The assertion that American discourse is characterized by institutions that “uphold the value of robust and even caustic counter-speech from all quarters.”
    The call “to preserve the possibility of good-faith disagreement without dire professional consequences.”

All of these claims are romanticizations of American life. They obscure the reality that progressive left and radical dissident views are routinely blacklisted from “mainstream” political, economic, and social discourse by the media and by mainstream academic institutions.

The “let’s engage in a diversity of competing views” position sounds great until one realizes that we do not, and have never lived in, that sort of pluralistic democracy. We live in a political culture that, on its face, is committed to free speech protections for all, in which through the respectful exchange of ideas, we arrive at a better understanding of truth, to the benefit of all. But we don’t really live in that society. Ours is a reactionary culture, which celebrates ideas that service political and economic power centers. In this society, views that are elevated to being worthy of discussion include milquetoast liberal values that are sympathetic (or at least not antagonistic) to corporate power, apolitical content that’s aimed at mindless entertainment and political diversion, and reactionary authoritarian views that border on fascistic, but are vital to demonizing immigrants, people of color, and other minorities, and reinforce a white patriarchal corporate power structure. Radical lefties, or even progressive-leftists, need not apply to be included in this circumscribed discourse. Their views are routinely blacklisted from the mass media, and are increasingly marginalized in higher educational institutions.

I don’t draw these conclusions lightly. My understanding of how the mass media operates is based on extensive personal experiences, and those from countless left intellectuals I know. Many of us have struggled (and mostly failed) to break into “mainstream” discourse because of the limited space in corporate news devoted to marginalized perspectives. With this marginalization comes the near erasure of critical views, including those seeking to spotlight record (and rising) economic inequality, repressive institutions that reinforce racial, gender and transphobic systems of repression, the corporate ecocidal assault on the environment, the rise of unbridled corporate power and plutocracy, the rising authoritarianism in American politics, and the increasingly reactionary and fascistic rhetoric that has taken over the American right.

Despite complaints about a pervasive liberal bias in higher education, available evidence reveals the opposite. As I’ve documented through my own comprehensive analysis of hundreds of national opinion polling questions on Americans’ political and economic values, there’s virtually no empirical evidence to suggest that increased education in the U.S. is associated with increased likelihood of holding liberal attitudes. The reason for this non-link between education and liberalism is obvious to those leftists who have struggled to carve out a space in the increasingly reactionary American university: there’s very little commitment to progressive or leftist values in the modern corporate collegiate “experience”-oriented schooling system.

Reflecting on my own experiences within this system, the very notion of academics serving as public intellectuals has been under systematic assault by the rise of a “professionalization” culture that depicts political engagement as “biased,” “unprofessional,” and “unacceptable.” Whatever lingering commitment to higher education as a public good was rolled back decades ago with the rise of corporatized academic “professional” norms. Scholars are now primarily concerned with publishing in esoteric, jargon-laden journals that no one reads, and almost no one cites, while elevating a discussion of the methods of how one does research over a discussion of the political and social significance of our work. In this process, there’s been a suppression of any commitment to producing active citizens who see themselves as having an ethical or moral responsibility to be regularly politically engaged.

The reactionary “professionalization” that’s celebrated in the ivory tower is relentlessly promoted at every step of the process through which academics develop and are socialized: in the graduate school experience, in the job hiring, tenure, and promotion processes, and in the process of peer review for academic publications. Those who don’t get with the program are filtered out at some point in this process. Very few who are committed to challenging professionalized academic norms make it through PhD programs, and fewer still obtain tenure-track jobs and tenure. It is a rare to find academics who learn how to effectively hide their political values in grad school, and who then actively draw on those same values in their scholarship once they’ve secured an academic job.

In my more than two decades in higher ed, I can say there’s no such thing as a fair hearing for the progressive-radical left when it comes to academic publishing. Thinking of my own research, I see zero interest in elite academic publishing houses – the Oxfords, Princetons, and Cambridges of the world – in making space for openly leftist frameworks of analysis, let alone for the sort of applied Gramscian and Marxian empirical research that I do on media propaganda, hegemony, indoctrination, and mass false consciousness. Neither do any of the reputable journals in most social science disciplines express interest in this sort of research.

Considering the research I do focuses on social movement protests, media propaganda/fake news, and inequality studies, one might think these timely topics would draw a large number of requests for university speaking engagements. These are, after all, defining political issues of our time. But this isn’t at all the case. The academy remains as reactionary as ever in terms of sidelining and blacklisting leftist ideas and frameworks for understanding the world. There’s little interest in prioritizing high-profile campus speaking events for such topics in the neoliberal corporate academy. Considering the utter contempt for such scholarship, it’s difficult for me to focus my limited time and energy lamenting campus attacks on authoritarians like Milo Yiannopoulos, or whatever other reactionary pseudo-intellectual flavor of the week who has been disinvited from paid speaking engagements that I and other leftist scholars couldn’t dream of receiving in the first place.

I won’t shed a tear for reactionaries who seek to appropriate dwindling university resources for their own personal publicity and self-aggrandizement, considering that their ideology actively supports gutting the very institutions that they so shamelessly take advantage of. The reality of the matter is that there’s no First Amendment “free speech” right to be invited to numerous campus engagements, to be paid a generous speaking fee, or to have campus security resources devoted to protecting arch-reactionary authoritarian speakers in light of the large student protests that are mobilized against these campus events.

We should recognize that the recent wave of laments against PC “cancel culture” from the right reinforce a specific power dynamic in American society. It is one in which reactionaries have initiated an assault on what little remains of independent and critical thinking within the media and higher ed. They have done so by draping their contempt for free and critical inquiry in the rhetoric of “free speech.” But U.S. media and educational institutions have never been committed to the free exploration of competing views, at least not for those who question corporate power. The sooner we stop pretending this landscape represents a free and open exchange of ideas, the better.

by ANTHONY DIMAGGIO.

Doug Stanhope on nationalism

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Donald Trump's behavior was shaped by his 'sociopath' father, niece writes in bombshell book

Donald Trump’s extraordinary character and outrageous behaviour “threaten the world’s health, economic security and social fabric” and were shaped by his “high-functioning sociopath” father during childhood, according to a bombshell book written by the president’s niece.

Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man by Mary Trump will be published next Tuesday, 14 July. The Guardian obtained a copy.

As well as an extended consideration of familial dysfunction which she says shaped Donald Trump, Mary Trump alleges multiple instances of shocking behaviour by the president as a younger man, including academic cheating to get into a prestigious business school, and brutal treatment of women.

In the acknowledgments, Mary Trump thanks her aunt, Maryanne Trump Barry, “for all of the enlightening information”. Maryanne Trump Barry, the president’s sister, is a federal judge who retired in 2019, thereby ending an inquiry into fraudulent tax schemes.

Mary Trump was reportedly a key source for the New York Times’ Pulitzer-winning reporting on Trump family tax affairs. The US supreme court is currently considering whether the president’s tax and financial records should be released to the public.

On Tuesday afternoon, the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, said the president had “no response, other than it’s a book of falsehoods … ridiculous, absurd allegations that have absolutely no bearing in truth”.

The White House, she said, “had yet to see the book but it’s a book of falsehoods”.

Donald Trump’s niece writes her study of his character from the perspective of a trained clinical psychologist.

“Child abuse is, in some sense, the expectation of ‘too much’ or ‘not enough’,” she writes. “Donald directly experienced the ‘not enough’ in the loss of connection to his mother at a crucial development stage.

“… Having been abandoned by his mother for at least a year, and having his father fail not only to meet his needs but to make him feel safe or loved, valued or mirrored, Donald suffered deprivations that would scar him for life.

“The personality traits that resulted – displays of narcissism, bullying, grandiosity – finally made my grandfather take notice but not in a way that ameliorated any of the horror that had come before.”

Donald Trump’s mother, also called Mary, suffered health problems resulting from an emergency hysterectomy. That, she writes, left the future president and his siblings dependent on their father, Fred Trump, a New York property developer who died in 1999.

Mary Trump describes Fred Trump as a “high-functioning sociopath” and details his bullying, antisemitism, racism, sexism and xenophobia – all traits the president is regularly accused of.

Fred Trump’s oldest son, also called Fred, died in 1981 in his early 40s, from the effects of alcoholism. His daughter writes that Donald Trump’s character was formed by watching the traumas inflicted on and suffered by his older brother.

The man that emerges is ruthless and utterly self-centered, she writes. In a section on Trump’s education, Mary Trump describes how he paid someone else to take his SAT tests for him.

“Donald, who never lacked for funds, paid his buddy well,” she writes, of “Joe Shapiro, a smart kid with a reputation for being a good test taker”.

The scheme included Trump’s brother putting in a word at the Wharton Business School, at the University of Pennsylvania. Mary Trump writes that it “may not even have been necessary”, as “in those days, Penn was much less selective than it is now.”

Other than Maryanne Trump Barry, the judge, Donald Trump’s surviving siblings are Robert Trump, a businessman, and Elizabeth Trump Grau, a retired banker.

Robert Trump has sued Mary Trump in New York, claiming a non-disclosure agreement signed in 2001 over Fred Trump Sr’s will precludes publication. The president has said he thinks the NDA, which includes Maryanne Trump Barry, means the book cannot come out. Mary Trump has argued in appeal filings that the NDA was based on fraudulent financial information. A hearing was scheduled for Friday.

Simon & Schuster was dropped from the suit and subsequently brought publication forward by two weeks.

Arguing on first amendment grounds for the freedom of speech, lawyers for Mary Trump have pointed to how the president has “contributed to his and his family’s notoriety in a variety of ways, including as the author of nearly 20 books on topics including his family, his wealth, his businesses and his own life.”

Mary Trump details how she was contracted to ghostwrite one of those books, The Art of the Comeback.

“A few weeks after Donald hired me,” she writes, detailing an experience familiar to many of the president’s business partners and contractors, “I still hadn’t gotten paid.”

Trump’s notorious treatment of women is also discussed. Mary Trump says that when her uncle provided material, it was “an aggrieved compendium of women” – Madonna and the ice skater Katarina Witt among them – “he had expected to date but who, having refused him, were suddenly the worst, ugliest and fattest slobs he’d ever met.”

“I stopped asking him for an interview,” she writes, adding that on a visit to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida to work on the book, she was wearing a bathing suit when Trump looked at his niece and said: “Holy shit, Mary. You’re stacked.”

Trump has been accused of sexual misconduct and assault by more than 20 women. He denies all such claims.

Trump fired his niece from the project. Characteristically, Mary Trump writes, he had someone else tell her.

Mary Trump has expressed opposition to her uncle on social media. In her book, she writes of turning down an invitation to his 2016 election night party, because “I wouldn’t be able to contain my euphoria when [Hillary] Clinton’s victory was announced, and I didn’t want to be rude.”

Of the day after Trump’s victory, she writes, “I was wandering around my house, as traumatized as many other people but in a more personal way: it felt as though 62,979,636 voters had chosen to turn this country into a macro version of my malignantly dysfunctional family.”

Like a White House memoir by the former national security adviser John Bolton, also published by Simon & Schuster, Mary Trump’s book is now in the public domain.

In the words of a federal judge in Washington who declined to block Bolton’s book, “the horse is out of the barn”.

Grauniad.

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Trump Slaughters Dozens Of American Troops In Hopes Of Cashing In On Russian Bounties

BAGRAM, AFGHANISTAN—Following intelligence reports that Moscow offered to pay Taliban-linked militants to kill coalition forces in Afghanistan, President Donald Trump reportedly slaughtered dozens of U.S. service members Monday in hopes of cashing in on the bounties. “Once I heard Russia was paying out these six-figure sums for dead American soldiers, I knew I couldn’t leave that kind of money lying on the table,” said Trump, remarking that his position as commander in chief gave him full access to U.S. military movements, which meant he had no trouble selecting targets and taking out the troops while they slept. “We weren’t about to walk away from a deal like that. Not on my watch. All we had to do is send in some planes, bomb a few of our bases, and tell the Russians where to send the payment. Believe me, no other president has handled Russia the way I have. No one.” At press time, Republican lawmakers defended Trump’s decision, stating that the president’s methods might be unconventional, but collecting bounties placed on the heads of American troops was good for the economy.

Source.

Friday, 3 July 2020

Ghislaine Maxwell: arrested and charged, finally!

The FBI expressed again a desire to speak to Prince Andrew, friend and confidant of both (the deceased) Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell.

Thursday, 2 July 2020

UK Gubmint: *rse-f*cked by Washington again?

UK 'unequivocally recognises' Juan Guaido as Venezuela's president in £800m row over gold

Stealing gold and various valuables from other helpless countries is something 'Great Britain' has of course ample experience with.

The UK has said it "unequivocally recognises" opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela's president in a crucial ruling over the fate of £800m in gold bullion being held in the Bank of England's vaults.
Banco Central de Venezuela (BCV) took legal action to release the gold held on its behalf, which it wants to sell to help tackle the country's coronavirus crisis, amid US sanctions.
But a British judge has refused to give Venezuela control over the stash of precious metals because it does not recognise Nicolas Maduro as the country's president.
Spineless mattress Dominic Raab meets clown Juan Guaido.

Guaido hasn't won as much as a school presidency, let alone the presidency of a sovereign country like Venezuela.

Sky News.