Sunday, 30 August 2020

Jeff Bezos: The Greatest Thief in Human History and the Reason World Hunger Still Exists

Jeff Bezos is the only person in history to earn $200 billion. Let me rephrase that: Jeff Bezos is the only 
person in history to steal $200 billion dollars from his workers. He's the biggest thief the world has ever seen, and yet his theft was perfectly legal because rich people like him make the rules. They have decided it's only right and proper for them to keep the money your labour generates. That's personal freedom, you see? The glorious free market.

Bezos is notorious for paying poverty wages, denying his workers healthcare and basic rights and forcing them to work in slave-like conditions, keeping the proceeds of their labour for himself. Bezos is not a "wealth creator", his workforce who live in tents or sleep in cars are the wealth creators. And seriously, what kind of bastard watches people build his empire and thinks in-work poverty should be their reward? A capitalist is your answer.

Protesters recently gathered outside Bezos' New York apartment, demanding better pay and safety conditions in Amazon warehouses, pointing out Amazon workers are dying from Covid-19. They also demanded sick pay, hazard pay, healthcare, and neutrality on unionisation.

No one can deny the customer service provided by Amazon is exceptional, being extremely efficient, convenient and reliable, but Bezos has built a monopoly around the exploitation of poverty while cashing in on a pandemic which has seen his stocks rise by 80%. Bezos could become a trillionaire by 2026 as people stay home and shop online, rather than risk their health by venturing outdoors. Amazon itself is currently valued at over $1 trillion dollars and rising fast, but it couldn't possibly give every worker a living wage...

How is this healthy for democracy? A business model which is not sharing the proceeds of its success with its workers. An economic model which enables one individual to hoover up the GDP of an entire continent. A system where only profit matters and the needy are considered a burden. Where is the room for social conscience? Are we really going to accept life is about watching billionaires accumulate wealth as our living standards fall?

Inequality in the US is about the same as it was during the French Revolution and we know what happened to people like Bezos then...

Our current approach is never going to lead to happy and healthy societies. It's never going to solve problems like extreme poverty and the climate crisis. It's surely going to exacerbate them until we reach an entirely avoidable breaking point. 

If our current model is so big on personal responsibility, why is no one demanding Bezos show personal responsibility? If I was a billionare, I'd want to ensure my workers were taken care of, and then I'd want to help as many people as I could, but that's why I'm not a billionaire. You have to be a sociopath to become one.

Experts have estimated we could end extreme poverty for as little as $7 billion a year. Bezos could actually do that. He could end extreme poverty. Or he could donate 99.5% of his wealth to a multitude of good causes and still be a billionaire. Hell, Bezos could make me a millionaire by giving me just 0.0005% of his wealth! That would be spare change to him.

Just imagine for one moment that every billionaire like Bezos pledged to give every penny they earned beyond $1 billion to good causes. They would see zero impact on their lifestyles, but they could transform the world and be remembered by history as heroes. How long would it take them to eliminate hunger, homelessness, and lack of health care? How long until they created a sustainable green economy? Or found a cure for cancer or covid? Or fixed infrastructure and public services? I could go on...

With great power comes great responsibility. Sadly, with great wealth comes lack of social responsibility.

Personally I would rather fix society's problems than buy super-yachts with mini-yachts that come out the bottom or whatever other pointless shit rich people buy to make themselves feel superior. I really, desperately struggle to see why the common good would not be any rich person's first priority. All their needs are, and always will be, met. Why don't they want others to live in the comfort they could easily create?

If you earned $25,000 a year, it would take you 8 million years to match Jeff Bezos' wealth. If you stacked 200 billion dollar notes, they would stand 243 kilometres high. In other words, they would reach into space, more than halfway to the international space station.

Men like Jeff Bezos are not wealth creators, they are wealth stealers. They are dragons sitting on piles of gold and will breathe fire on anyone who takes a coin they wouldn't even notice was gone. And again their hoard stems not from their own hard work, but from denying their workers the proceeds of their efforts. 

We have a broken system where an individual is allowed to rob an entire workforce and trap them in woeful conditions, existing only to further enrich their slave masters. Why do we accept this madness?

If ever there was a case for democratising workplaces, allowing workers to choose their bosses, play a role in decision making and own a piece of their company, Amazon would be it. Co-operative ownership is surely the way forwards for big businesses. Are we really expected to believe a company like Amazon can only function if a greedy bastard like Bezos keeps all the proceeds?

This is the free market in action: only the strongest survive. They consolidate wealth and power, eliminate competition, and treat workers as costs to be reduced, rather than human beings to be respected. The free market consumes and grows without any social conscience or sense of remorse. And we just blindly accept falling living standards and poverty wages are some unfortunate circumstance that our billionaire masters are powerless to prevent, then we mindlessly blame refugees in dinghies who've not even reached our shores. Meanwhile, we act as though the elite who control the media and own our politicians are somehow working in our interests. 

If we are to believe in capitalism that is what we must believe because every alternative, every intervention we could make to fix such problems would be a socialist solution. That's basically what socialism is - fixing the market so it behaves ethically, taking power away from a handful of unaccountable individuals and putting it into the hands of workers. The more you democratise your economy, the more you socialise it. 

Socialism and democracy are essentially the same thing. And the very existence of individuals like Jeff Bezos is an affront to democracy.

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Friday, 28 August 2020

US 2020: Alleged Rapist or Alleged Rapist - What a Choice!

The US 2020 election offers two painful choices - Trump or Biden. The parallels between the men are alarming. Both have faced rape and sexual assault allegations. Both have provably behaved horribly around women. Both are advancing in years and declining in cognitive ability. And both have a track record of racism and corporatism. 

Biden fans love to call themselves "the resistance", but what exactly are they resisting? Their man is guilty of everything they hate about Trump and even said he'd consider a Republican running mate!

Let's take a closer look at The Democrat saviour:

Biden fans still go gooey-eyed as they reminisce about the "good ol' days" under Barack Obama and no doubt see Biden as the continuity candidate. Indeed, they probably assume they can overlook Biden's declining mental faculties on the assumption Obama will be running things behind the scenes. Biden, of course, was Obama's vice president and this can only be a good thing, right?

Okay, so as vice president, Joe Biden was gaffe-prone, but he could be a slick and confident talker. Ten years ago, he certainly had his qualities, but today it's a very different matter. The man can't get his words out and even gets the names of his own family members wrong. He is 78 years old and appears to be showing signs of dementia. That's hardly a good start, is it? And then there is the completely fabricated lies...

Last year, Biden made up a story about him visiting the Konar Province in Afghanistan at the request of a four star general. He claims to have awarded a Silver Star to a captain who tried to refuse the honour, saying he felt like a failure. The Washington Post exposed that almost every detail of the story was false and Biden later defended himself on TV by suggesting the details didn't matter. 

As well as pathological lies, Biden has also been guilty of racially insensitive gaffes, saying "Poor kids are just as talented as white kids" and “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.” These are not the type of gaffes you can put down to a stammer. They stem from the thought process of a man who hung around with white supremacists in his younger days.

Biden unwittingly exposed the cynical half of the #MeToo brigade who overlooked the credible accusations made by Tara Reade and disgracefully vilified a fellow survivor. It would seem Biden's celebrity supporters like Alyssa Milano will cynically exploit the victims of rape for political gain. They certainly show an alarming double-standard. It would seem you can only be #MeToo if you are centrist blue.

Imagine a racist who wants to represent the black community and a rapist who wants to represent rape victims. Such a man could only appeal to the desperate or hypocritical - and Biden will certainly exploit desperation and hypocrisy.

Biden and Obama are guilty of so many of the things the left hate about Republicans: they dropped more bombs than George Bush jr., they built ICE detainment centres and locked kids in cages, they deported human beings en masse, and they offered little to ordinary Americans. Their economic policies were corporatist, and while highly effective in terms of their intended outcomes, they largely ignored the working class. 

Biden and Obama had great opportunities in 2008 when they controlled the house and senate. They could have pushed through meaningful police reform, gun controls and universal healthcare. They could have stopped dropping bombs and ended prisons for profit. They could have done so much more to address poverty and inequality and create a system that works for the many. But they ignored obvious problems and now seem oblivious that their slide to the right made Trump possible. They allowed a situation where the left wasn't even in the Overton window, and when you do that, you make fascism a viable option to those who are disaffected and looking for something, anything better.

Some blue wave centrists still seem convinced the rot at the heart of America is the Republican Party as though the Democrats are not owned by the same corporate donors and vote the same way as Republicans on so many key issues. A study showed Republicans vote in favour of corporations over the people 100% of the time. Democrats only do so 97% of the time. Hardly a party of the people, is it? 

The one saving grace of the Democrats is the handful of bright young socialists like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar, but they are marginalised, vilified and even smeared as antisemites by their own party. This will sound eerily familiar to the left in Britain. There is much talk of pushing the Democrats left, but truth be told, they have no desire to be pushed left. They are conservatives.

The Democrats only gave AOC 60 seconds to speak at the Democrat Convention and they have failed to offer a single meaningful policy. Their message is "Vote for us to stop Trump". They are doubling down on the Hillary approach that failed so spectacularly in 2016. They're an optics party who hope to get away with lack of meaningful action and empty platitudes. They will say Black Lives Matter and take a knee, but will they take on corrupt police departments? Doubtful. 

Voter shaming is their key strategy and if they lose, they will blame the left like they did when Hillary Clinton lost. Somebody needs to tell them it's their job to win votes, and the left vote on policy, not platitudes. "Yes we can!" isn't going to work again, any time soon, certainly not without the charisma of an Obama and the ill-founded hope brought by America's first black President.

The Democrats' target audience is not the left, unfortunately, it's the centre-right. They assume they can take the left vote for granted because they have nowhere else to turn. They probably won't offer a single policy concession to the left, not even the desperately-needed Green New Deal, and when they lose, they will blame the left again.  So many readers from the UK must be wincing right now. They are witnessing the same in Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer. Corporatism is a disease which has infected both sides of the Atlantic and both sides of the political spectrum.

I'm a big believer that you vote for the party over the person, for policies over public image, and I agree Trump needs to go, but surely voters must draw a line at some point - and that line must surely come at Joe Biden - a man who is barely distinguishable from the repugnant President Trump. How could anyone sleep at night knowing they voted for Trump's blue equivalent, especially after a seemingly rigged primary?

Biden has praised white supremacists, been credibly accused of rape, filmed sniffing hair, kissing heads and generally making women uncomfortable. When speaking to the public, he often shows a bullying, aggressive side to the most reasonable of questions. He said he has no sympathy whatsoever with students struggling with debt and told his corporate donors (who are mostly Republican donors) that nothing will fundamentally change. That is the most honest statement he's made in years.

If Joe Biden wins the presidency in November, America will see sadly little or no difference. They will still have a senile rapist corporatist who locks up children, allows the police to murder with impunity, oversees the world's largest prison population, let's people die from lack of healthcare, denies higher education to the poor, and allows corporations to endlessly fleece the public. They'll probably find an excuse to bomb some country too. Iran and Venezuela better watch out.

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Monday, 17 August 2020

Tories make Humiliating U-turn on Post Code Algorithm

 

All A-levels, AS levels and GCSEs in England are to be awarded based on teachers' predictions, rather than the controversial "post code algorithm". This algorithm had lowered the A-levels of 39.1% of students (who could not sit exams due to Covid) by as many as three grades. 

Most, if not all, of those affected appeared to be working class, with those from private schools seeing a 5% increase in their grades. This led to accusations of social cleansing - working class kids predicted straight A's had university offers rejected because an algorithm disapproved of their post code. Concern was growing that GCSE students were about to suffer the same unfairness.

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson had previously called the algorithm "robust" and education secretary Gavin Williamson said if results weren't standardised it: “would devalue the results for the class of 2020. But worse than that, it would mean that students this year would lose out twice over, both in their education and their future prospects.”

In other words, Williamson was suggesting the post code algorithm was helping students, despite its clear absurdities. It had for example downgraded a Spanish student, despite Spanish being his native tongue - the machine simply decided he was not fluent in Spanish because of his post code. It really seems like the algorithm was designed to keep the working class out of university - and if the process wasn't that cynical, it was staggeringly ill-conceived.

There have been widespread calls for Williamson to resign, but given the Prime Minister has not resigned, despite overseeing 80,000 excess Covid deaths, I'm not expecting a resignation any time soon, especially considering the toothlessness of the opposition leader. Indeed, Sir Keir Starmer has been almost mute on the scandal, leaving students to take matters into their own hands.

Student protests in London have heard chants of "Boris Johnson is a wanker!" and one brilliant sign read: "No Etonians were harmed during the making of this algorithm." 

Northern Ireland and Wales had earlier announced they would award grades based on teachers' predictions, meaning England would've been the outlier. Let's make no mistake, this U-turn was not the government recognising its mistake and choosing to do the right thing, it was the result of student pressure and a public outcry. Our voices made the difference.

The opposition seems missing in action, even when students are seeing their hard work undone and their futures stolen by a government of eugenicists. It's down to the people to be the opposition going forwards because it would seem both main parties are part of the same establishment machine. However, today is one fine example of the people fighting back and winning a rare victory.

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Friday, 14 August 2020

A Tory Algorithm is Stealing our Children's Futures

A-level students who could not sit exams due to Covid-19 have had their A-levels graded by a computer algorithm which is overruling teachers' predictions. The algorithm is basing its grades on school post codes, rather than the previous academic achievements of the child, such as performances in mock exams. As a result, 39.1% of students (about 280,000) from working class backgrounds have seen their A-levels downgraded, many from BAME communities. Some have unfathomably dropped three grades, yet no students from Eton have been downgraded. Private schools have actually seen their grades rise by 5%.

It would appear our racist and classist government has created a racist and classist algorithm to deny working class and BAME students opportunities. Clearly private schools and tuition fees were not enough to keep the riffraff away from the top jobs so they've taken further measures. These measures have resulted in top performing students seeing their university offers withdrawn. Disgraceful.

Social media has been rife with smug upper-class idiots like Jeremy Clarkson boasting how they received terrible A-level grades and still did okay. They neglect to mention their wealthy families, or that back in their day, the socialist ladder was well and truly in place until they kicked it down. Houses are unaffordable to young people now and higher education is inaccessible, leaving them with zero hours contracts and poverty wages. That is the reality for both Millennials and Gen Z.

According to my teachers, I was the most gifted kid in my high school and they would often tell me I'm destined for great things. Yet I had to drop out of college when I became homeless and this situation led to years of instability as doors were slammed in my face. People weren't willing to give me a job. I was forced to participate in medical research for money and I had nothing even approaching stability until my mid-twenties. This led to mental health issues, missed opportunities and massive underachievement. I was trapped, and smug idiots like Jeremy Clarkson who grew up in a different world really don't help when they patronise younger generations. Old Tories keep stealing pieces of our future and they wonder why the youth are being driven towards socialism.

The sections of the red wall which changed to blue in 2019 have been particularly hit by this scandal; their kids denied the chance to escape the poverty a decade of Tory rule has cemented. And the Prime Minister Boris Johnson is refusing to back down, calling the racist and classist post code algorithm "robust".

The government is refusing to use teachers' predictions or mock grades for students in England and the appeals process is said to be far from transparent. Plus I understand an unsuccessful appeal comes with a £100 charge! Scotland however has been awarding grades based on mock results and as such has not seen this problem.

Today's 18 year olds are being robbed of opportunities just like I was, and of course I empathise hugely. I've seen friends on social media telling me their straight A kids were "awarded" B's, C's or even D's. The Tories want drones working for poverty wages and they don't want privately educated kids filling those roles. They want your kids to fill those roles. That is the top and bottom of it.

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Reality Check: Refugees Are Not getting a Mansion and Sports Car

Empathy is always a good starting point in any situation. Empathy does not mean you must side with someone, just simply put yourself in their shoes, explore their range of possible motives and better understand their situation. If you do, more often than not, you will find yourself sympathising with that person a little more than you did. Most people have good intentions most of the time, even if our judgement sometimes fails us. We are human after all.

Much has been made recently of refugees crossing the English Channel in dinghies, almost as though it's a new phenomenon and not something that's been going on for 20 years or more. The sudden outburst of hysteria has been accompanied by claims to know the motives of these people who come from a diverse range of backgrounds from dirt poor to middle class, who come from various continents, fleeing civil war and terrorism and oppression, so much of which Britain's had a hand in.

We in Britain know who these people are, apparently. They're economic migrants! Invaders! Terrorists! They want to steal our jobs and live in mansions and claim our benefits! They want to destroy our way of life! Every single one of them! Sounds ridiculous when you say it aloud, doesn't it?

Now I would ask myself what would compel people to take such a perilous sea journey, crammed into a tiny dinghy which could easily capsize in rough seas. I can imagine many reasons for taking such a risk and claiming the £37.75 weekly refugee allowance is not among them!

Let's look at the situation in Syria, for example - a previously stable country which we decided to bomb, plunging it into one of the world's messiest civil wars and creating ISIS in the process. Yes, our intervention made ISIS possible - and now they have our weapons.

"Ah, but fighting age men should stay and fight!" conservatives roar.

Fight for who exactly? Last I read, there were at least 11 different sides in the Syrian conflict, all infiltrated by ISIS, all fighting with advanced weaponry, and all committing pretty horrible acts. How on Earth would you pick a side? And what is with the conservative idea of demanding people fight to the death anyway?

I wouldn't want to fight someone else's conflict just because we happened to be born on the same piece of land. If I was Syrian and trapped in the horror created by the west to oust Assad, does that mean I'd be expected to fight to the death for bad guys? Does it mean I'd have to leave my helpless family at home, waiting for the murderous hordes to arrive while I was killing people elsewhere?
Why would my family and I not deserve safety? Remember, those Syrians are just as human and just as innocent as my family, and they are trapped in an impossible situation.
So Syrian families do the natural thing, something they've every right to do under international law, under a treaty which Britain signed - they flee. And when they flee, they do the next perfectly natural thing - they look around to see which reachable country is suitable, which country they believe is most likely to provide a safe haven, job opportunities, which country may contain friends or family. Perhaps they already speak the language or have job qualifications which we're looking for.

And so they head to the most suitable destination, broke, terrified and facing many unknowns. All they ask for upon arrival is we hear them out and give them a fair chance to rebuild. And what happens when a tiny handful of these refugees reach our shores? They're told they've entered the country illegally, even though the 1951 Refugee Convention clearly states this cannot be held against them. They're told they should've stopped at the nearest safe country as though such a requirement exists under law (it doesn't), as though neighbouring countries should take all refugees and Britain should take none, as though refugees should get no say in where they rebuild their lives. We treat refugees like vermin and say we can't take them all, when in truth we take a tiny fraction and want to take none at all.

There are 26 million refugees in the world and Britain has taken just 120,000. That hardly counts as taking them all, does it? Half of refugees are under the age of 18. We are sneering at and vilifying children. Meanwhile, Turkey has taken over 1.5 million refugees, despite being significantly poorer than Britain. And don't give me that nonsense about Britain being full - our population density is 49th in the world. We have plenty of room, we just don't want to help black and brown people. Clearly, we see them as less deserving of sympathy.
But that's not fair! We care about genuine refugees, but these are economic migrants coming here illegally! All of them! We should blast these invaders out of the water! Real refugees would fly in by aeroplane!
Just listen to yourselves. There is nothing, I repeat nothing illegal about claiming asylum. Refugees aren't taking comfy trips to an airport because they do not have that option. They're scrambling from danger any way they can, even by dinghy. Often they have children with them and you bastards would blast them out the water? What is wrong with you?

Now I don't doubt for one second that some who reach these shores are not genuine refugees. That's why we have an asylum application process. You don't decide whether a refugee is genuine before they've even reached your shores, before you've even spoken to them. You certainly don't blast them out the water, you monsters. And no, your demand that France keeps every refugee is not a reasonable one and it has no legal basis. Don't believe me, speak to an immigration lawyer.

Genuine refugees have every right to be in Britain and they are not a financial burden. To put things in perspective, it costs Britain £790,000 to launch a single Stormshadow missile. That money can cover the weekly living allowance of 20,927 refugees. If we can afford to bomb their countries, we can bloody well afford to feed them.
Just imagine if we got as mad about the cost of a Stormshadow missile as the cost of feeding a desperate person.
The people who pre-judge refugees have invariably never met one, certainly never had a conversation with one or spent meaningful time around one. When you do this, you find the same thing every time: polite, friendly, charming people who are so relieved to be safe and just want to contribute to our society. They desperately want to work but are told they can't until their asylum application is processed. They are traumatised and terrified of returning home, but they are also incredibly resilient, having gone to enormous lengths and shown enormous courage to get here. And it's to our shame we treat them so horribly.
It's worth remembering Albert Einstein was a refugee. And Anne Frank had her application rejected.
Refugees are not living in mansions, they are not jumping any queues, they are not getting free sports cars, and they are certainly not getting the most generous benefits in the world. Our weekly refugee allowance of £37.75 is half the £77.50 they would get in France. And once a refugee has been given leave to remain, even if they do end up claiming Universal Credit, our benefits system is actually one of the least generous in Europe. 

Have you ever claimed Universal Credit? I have and it was shit.

In short, no one is coming here to live off the tax payer. It's just not happening. On the contrary, our migrant population has higher rates of employment, pays more tax and commits less crime. These people are coming here and they are... becoming good citizens actually.

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Sunday, 9 August 2020

BREAKING: Dawn Butler Claims she was Racially Profiled by Police

Labour MP Dawn Butler has announced on Twitter she was stopped by the Metropolitan Police in Hackney and she recorded the entire incident on her phone. Butler has been a vocal critic of police profiling and frequently calls out institutional racism. She has also spoken in support of Black Lives Matter.

The footage of the encounter showed Butler accuse a police officer of racial profiling and claim this creates animosity. The police officer explained Butler was stopped because her car was not registered in the area. Butler insisted her car did not have to be registered in the area, calling it a "ridiculous way to police" and unnecessarily "time consuming". 

Butler commented that another police officer joined the conversation and inflamed the situation by complaining they could not see what was in the back of Butler's car. Butler insisted the police did not need to see what was in the back of her car.

Butler says she felt the first police officer was polite, but the second police officer was patronising. She said it's a bad way to treat people and exhausting to deal with. She insisted we "don't actually have a police state" and can drive "anywhere we want", adding institutional racism is "cancerous" and needs to be cut out of the police force.

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Friday, 7 August 2020

Corbyn Accuses Labour Staff of Sabotaging 2017 Campaign

Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, John Trickett, Ian Lavery and 5 senior aides have made a statement to Labour's internal investigation into the leaked report. In their submission, they accuse Labour staff of sabotaging the general election campaign in 2017, suggesting an alleged diversion of party funds could constitute fraud. They claim 860 pages of supporting evidence from the leaked report is overwhelming.

Given the accused staff are currently threatening legal action against Corbyn himself, things could be about to get rather interesting. The Labour staff claim messages in the leaked Labour report were deliberately taken out of context to falsely portray them as bullies and saboteurs. They've already been awarded 6 figure sums in compensation by the Labour Party, relating to antisemitism "whistle blowing". 

Jeremy Corbyn called this a political, rather than a legal decision, and insisted the party's legal advice was Labour would've likely won the court case, had they chosen to defend it. Corbyn clearly remains confident in this position as he is refusing to back down.

The submission states: “We believe that there is clear evidence of factional activity by senior paid employees of the party against the elected leadership of the time.”

And given the 2017 general election was so close, it says: “It’s not impossible that Jeremy Corbyn might now be in his third year as a Labour prime minister were it not for the unauthorised, unilateral action taken by a handful of senior party officials.”

As well as addressing the "toxic culture" in the Labour Party (allegedly demonstrated by leaked WhatsApp messages), the statement references a “shadow operation” - a plot to divert funds from target seats to centrist MPs who opposed Corbyn's leadership. It goes on to suggest the diversion of funds was carried out without official authorisation and may have "constituted fraudulent activity.”

The staff claim the accusations of misdirecting funds are baseless, but this should be easily provable one way or another, as any such spending must be fully accounted for. It's also been claimed the leaked WhatsApp messages were taken out of context, prompting Diane Abbott (an alleged target of abuse) to call for the messages to be published in full. This is a call I would certainly back. Full transparency is needed at this time to assure the Labour membership and public that justice will be served.

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Publish Diane Abbott "Bullying" Messages in Full

Over the past few days, we have seen the claim that leaked messages which show Labour staff allegedly bullying Diane Abbott were deliberately taken out of context and that this was libellous. 

Many people have read these messages and are struggling to see how they could possibly be taken out of context, so the fairest thing all round is to publish the messages in full and let the public see that context. That way we can decide for ourselves.

Diane Abbott posted a Tweet which is currently going viral in which she said the following:

I understand these messages came from a WhatsApp group which was specifically set up for work purposes. I used to work as a complaints manager for a bank and if we received a complaint in which this kind of language was used during work-based communications, then regardless of context, this would have resulted in instant dismissal. 

Indeed I have seen more than one person dismissed simply for using the "F" word in a manner which was not directed at anyone. Yet this language was directed at Diane Abbott and if the messages are genuine (I've certainly heard no-one claim they are fake) then they must surely result in dismissal. Even if they were intended as "banter", it's difficult to see how they can be defended. 

Imagine how you would feel if your colleagues were talking about you in this way. Now imagine you are Diane Abbott who receives more online abuse than all other female MPs combined. Diane was reportedly driven to tears by bullying, hiding in a toilet cubicle while Labour staff mocked her outside. If this story is true, it's utterly horrific.

The Labour Party has rightly pledged a zero tolerance approach to antisemitism. It should equally have a zero tolerance approach to all forms of racism and bullying.

I would like to point out there is more to the above allegations than what I have evidenced in this article. The problem is it's difficult to know where to draw the line on what can and can't be legally published without consulting lawyers, given the claims stem from leaked documents. Clearly, there is public interest in Labour being fully transparent to avoid this problem.

Of course, it's entirely possible I could be missing important context which would change my opinion on the matter. Therefore, in the interests of fairness, I call for the messages to be published in full to let the public see for themselves and decide the full context. It would be completely unacceptable for the matter to be swept under the carpet. If anything, the police should be investigating whether or not hate crimes have taken place.

If the staff are guilty of racist abuse they must be expelled from the Labour Party and if they are innocent, they are owed a huge apology. The Labour membership deserve to know the full truth.

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Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Managing my Post-Covid Symptoms

Like 1 in 10 people who've had Covid-19, I'm still suffering symptoms months after infection. I fell ill with Covid-19 on March 13th and experienced relatively mild symptoms from the initial infection. It was not a pleasant experience by any stretch of the imagination, but I was not close to needing hospital treatment. You would therefore think I would immediately recover and get back to normal, right? Wrong!

I distinctly remember in the days after I'd "recovered", feeling a sudden and intense burst of energy. I could not sit still so I was out mowing the lawn and doing every job in the house and feeling surprisingly fantastic. I'm back to normal now, I thought. And then the fatigue hit me like a ton of bricks. I spent about two days mostly sleeping. My chest was tightening up and I was feeling strange palpitations which were really unnerving. 

Since then, these symptoms have been a regular occurrence, along with dizziness and drowsiness. I tried a light bit of exercise once and my legs turned to jelly afterwards. My arms were shaking like an old man's. It was really quite pathetic! 

And yet when I was doing nothing, I felt mostly okay. The symptoms would come and go, but they were bearable on the condition I lazed around. Only problem was I was getting seriously restless and desperate to return to normal. Plus, I have 3 kids to look after.

So I began reading up on post-Covid symptoms, on post-viral fatigue, and on research showing some people with an initially mild infection were now suffering inflammation of the heart and lungs, and some even showed signs of permanent damage. These people were an increased heart attack risk and I was exhibiting the same symptoms. Even more worryingly, a friend of mine tragically died of a heart attack at just 37 and we have no way of knowing if it was Covid-related.

Sometimes lying in bed at night, I could feel an aching in my heart and lungs. It was never severe to the point I felt I was having a heart attack, but it was rather unsettling. I didn't know what to do. I did not want to burden the NHS when others needed hospital far more than me. I called the doctor a few times and never got an answer, so I decided to start figuring this out and then something really obvious struck me.

Back in 2011, I suffered a nasty bout of food poisoning and ever since, I've suffered from IBS and a minor sugar intolerance. No one knows the cause for sure, but I've always felt it was an auto-immune response triggered by foods and resulting in inflammation. I wondered if something similar could be happening in my chest and then I started to notice a link.

My IBS has certain trigger foods like chocolate, for example. After 9 years of management, I've realised what doses of these trigger foods are safe to eat before they become problematic. But since Covid, my body appears to have a heightened sensitivity. Eating anything at all is triggering the tightness in my chest, but if I eat even a little junk food, it's five times worse.

I've always had an overactive immune system. I react to pretty much anything and I suspect those 1 in 10 who are suffering long term like me are much the same. I'm now carefully avoiding anything that I might react to, and focusing on relaxing my body, cleaning up my admittedly imperfect diet, reducing my food intake and drinking plenty of water. The result is my chest does not feel quite as tight. The inflammation is generally lower and the fatigue less severe. The symptoms still flare up after eating, but usually not to the same extreme. I feel a little more energetic too, but I'm far from 100%. I'm now utterly convinced my post-Covid symptoms are the result of an overactive immune system.

Post-viral fatigue can typically last for six months and I'm at 4 and a half months. Hopefully, this problem will clear up on its own soon, but given I've suffered IBS problems 9 years after food poisoning, I must consider this may be a life long issue. At least it seems to be one that can be mitigated through healthy living choices though. If anyone is going through this ordeal, I strongly recommend bearing the above in mind and adopting as clean a lifestyle as possible. It really might help you.

From what I've read, the best way to reduce inflammation is to reduce blood sugar, lose weight, keep stress levels low, and avoid inflammatory foods like trans fats. Eat good foods like fresh fruit and vegetables and fish, and drink lots of water. Obviously, many of us can't afford to eat perfectly, but improve your shopping habits where possible and you should see a difference.

One important thing to note: Please do not self-medicate with over the counter anti-inflammatories as these may increase heart attack risk. Please speak to a doctor if your symptoms are getting out of hand.

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Monday, 3 August 2020

Liam Fox was the Numpty Hacked by Russia

It has been alleged Russia hacked former trade secretary Liam Fox in order to release US/UK trade documents which showed the Tory government were prepared to lower food standards and raise drug prices. 

The prevailing media narrative is that by raising concerns over these documents, the former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is somehow a Russian stooge. Indeed, Lisa Nandy was keen to point out the new leadership would've done no such thing. Yet those documents are genuine and prove the Tories were lying to the British public and acting against our interests. The Tories were negotiating things no reasonable person would approve of, but the so-called opposition would not have discussed the matter. Just whose side are Labour on here? And who are the real bad guys in this equation?

The US and UK often share intelligence with the world that shows other nations in a bad light. When they do so, they insist they are acting in the interests of those countries, and their people have a right to know what their governments are up to. 

Does this principle not work the other way? Do the British people not have a right to know their chicken is going to be washed in chlorine? Or drug prices are going to be increased dramatically? Do we not have a right to know our government is acting without our consent and lying to us? Because I don't remember any of this on the side of the Brexit bus.
Britain and America have no qualms about interfering in other countries, but get mad when Russia does it to them? The fact remains, if the Tory government were being honest, there would be nothing to reveal.
People are saying Russia tried to influence the outcome of the 2019 general election, but if they really were influencing voters, they were doing so by revealing the truth. Hardly a great scandal, is it? Normally when the truth is revealed to the public, it's called journalism, not espionage. Not that I want Russia to have access to our secrets, of course, I just don't want to be lied to by my government.

My question is, why on Earth were Liam Fox's emails so vulnerable to hacking in the first place? It's rather worrying that our government keeps confidential data in such an insecure manner. 

While the data revealed was in the public interest, who knows what else Russia was able to obtain? We hear repeatedly that Labour would be a threat to national security, but the shambolic Tory Party can't even keep its secrets safe. Does this not make the Tories a threat to national security?

"The government has very robust systems in place to protect the IT systems of officials and staff," a spokesperson said, rather laughably.

Let's not forget that on top of this leak, there is also the concern about the Tory Party being cosy with Russian oligarchs and taking huge donations from them. It would appear Russian influence in our democracy goes further than hacked emails and it's a bit rich of the government to point the finger at Jeremy Corbyn whose only crime was to discuss their wrongdoing.

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Tories Refuse to Suspend Rape Suspect

I've lost count of the number of times a Tory MP or councillor has been guilty of sexual misconduct, had a sleazy affair, snorted cocaine with a prostitute, got gropey with a secretary, or worse. For some reason, grotesque sexual behaviour is a regular occurrence, almost like the Tory Party is a magnetic for sleaze. Just this week, we've seen a Tory councillor found with child porn images, a Tory donor charged with sexual assault, an ex-Tory MP convicted of sexual assault, and now a Tory MP charged with rape after a 4 month investigation.
It would appear this lot don't know how to keep it in their pants.
Now it's important not to speculate on who the rape suspect might be. It would not be right to name the wrong person, but one might reasonably ask the question: Why has this person not officially been named?

I fully understand and respect the principle of innocent until proven guilty, but surely we have a right to know when our elected representatives are suspected of serious crimes. Indeed, when a politician commits a less serious act, say one which results in suspension, the public are immediately told, yet in this case we are not told. Even worse, I understand the suspect has not been suspended from the Tory Party. How is this right?
The Tories expelled Winston Churchill's grandson for opposing hard Brexit, but they can't suspend a rape suspect?
Social media speculation is rife about who the suspect might be so I must emphasise once again, that the speculation could be entirely wrong and the actual suspect could be innocent. However, the best way to end the speculation is to name the suspect officially and suspend them until the matter is resolved in court. What if this MP is found guilty and yet carried on serving in the Tory Party for months while the court case was ongoing? What if the public are currently being represented by someone who is a rapist?

It is surely appropriate to be transparent in this circumstance and wait for justice to be served, one way or the other. The secretive manner in which the whole thing is being carried out hardly instils public confidence in the justice system or the Tory Party. Indeed, someone joked on Twitter he wouldn't be surprised to see the suspect promoted, and although I chuckled, given how many Tories have been guilty of sexual misconduct over the years, it's hardly a laughing matter.

We have a Prime Minister who knocked up his secretary while he wife was undergoing cancer treatment, for God's sake. Nothing illegal about that, of course, but it's still pretty damn sleazy. You could be forgiven for thinking the whole Tory Party is sleazy from top to bottom. It's not just the sexual misconduct either, it's the donations from Russian oligarchs and the secret NHS negotiations with America and the Cambridge Analytica scandal and, well, I could go on, but you get the picture. 

Sleaze and corruption go hand in hand with the Tory Party, yet for some inexplicable reason, a good chunk of the British public love them. What is wrong with these people? Are they in denial or do they simply not care about integrity?

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Sunday, 2 August 2020

Why Antisemitism Weaponisers are Racists

Palestine was never a hill  I chose to die on. For most of my life, it was never an issue I was confronted with. I had my own problems and my politics grew from solving those, but things rapidly changed...

I remember years ago, watching a documentary by Ross Kemp on the Israel/Palestine situation. I can't remember what it was called, but it was one of the most compelling documentaries you will ever see and you really should look it up, if you can.

Ross Kemp first visited Israel, speaking to military figures and ordinary citizens and portraying a harrowing picture of the Jewish situation. Whatever you think of the rights and wrongs of the Israeli occupation, it's absolutely impossible not to feel enormous empathy for those Jews who've lost family in suicide bombings and the holocaust. There is a very real and visible pain that so many Jews in Israel are feeling to this day. Kemp captured this poignantly and highlighted the many good Israelis who just want to live freely alongside the Palestinians. Most of these people are not monstrous occupiers, they are ordinary people who were born in Israel and were never given a choice in the matter. Israel is the only home they've known and I think that needs to be respected, whatever your politics.

What Kemp did next was something I'd never seen before and that is a damning indictment of British journalism. He ventured into Palestine, taking his cameras among the rubble and the bullet-riddled buildings and speaking to ordinary people and even those who are called terrorists. The reality of what the Palestinian people were (and still are) facing truly defied belief - it was like an apocalyptic movie scene. We're taking Israeli soldiers stopping ordinary people at gunpoint, kicking in doors whenever they felt like it, even shooting people dead for no reason. Kemp, visibly shaken, pointed to a man lying in the rubble who was shot by an Israeli sniper, just yards in front of him, while minding his own business. We heard from a bereaved father whose child was killed by the Israeli military and I could not help thinking if I lived in this hell, I would be a terrorist too.

To be clear, I'm not justifying violence against civilians here. Hell no. Terrorism is unquestionably among the worst crimes a person can ever commit. I'm just saying at that moment, I understood how some were driven to commit horrific acts, especially those bereaved fathers.

The Kemp documentary changed my outlook on the Israel/Palestine situation forever. I still felt enormous empathy for the ordinary citizens of Israel who'd suffered unimaginably, but I could not look past the Palestinians who'd also suffered unimaginably, mostly at the hands of Israel.

Since watching that documentary, I've become far more educated on the subject, and the key reason has ironically been the recent efforts to silence Palestinian activists. The constant denouncing of people as antisemites for making a principled stand is what compelled me to dig deeper.

Now I understand the Israeli position, I really do. I understand how they desperately wanted a homeland in order to finally feel safe. I understand why they built a border wall to keep out the relentless suicide bombers. I even understand why they send soldiers into Palestine, even though I disagree with this course of action. I get the fear and suffering.

But here's the thing, Israel will not officially declare its borders. It annexes any part of Palestinian land it wants and acts like it has a right to decide which parts of Palestine the Palestinians can or can't control. The Israeli government only lets Palestinians control tiny slivers of their own land and talks as though they should feel grateful. It refuses to recognise Palestinian statehood. Its soldiers are everywhere, stopping children at gunpoint, throwing five year olds in prison, terrorising old ladies in the middle of the night, shooting pregnant women, bulldozing houses and stealing farmland. It's all real. 
Spend five minutes on Google and prepare to be horrified by the human rights abuses inflicted by Israel on the Palestinians. What you find will change you and probably scar you.
Nobel Peace Laureate and former South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu visited Palestine and described the situation as worse than apartheid South Africa. He urged a boycott of apartheid Israel.

"People who are denied their dignity and rights deserve the solidarity of their fellow human beings. Those who turn a blind eye to injustice perpetuate injustice. If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.

"I have witnessed the racially segregated roads and housing in the Holy Land that reminded me so much of the conditions we experienced in South Africa under apartheid. I have witnessed the systematic humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children by members of the Israeli security forces. Their humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government.

"We could not have achieved our democracy without the help of people around the world, who through... non-violent means, such as boycotts and disinvestment, encouraged their governments and other corporate actors to reverse decades-long support for the apartheid regime," Tutu said.

I hope the above has painted a clear and accurate picture of what we're dealing with here - apartheid. And that's true, whether your sympathies lie more with Israel or Palestine, whether you think the situation is justifiable or not - the situation is an apartheid situation. And it's recognised as such by the United Nations.

Now as I said at the start of the article, Palestine was never the hill I chose to die on, but today I find myself pulled into the conversation, primarily because I've witnessed the targeting of Palestinian activists by the media and politicians. This targeting resulted in people who were not even involved in the conversation like myself being caught in the crossfire and branded antisemites.

The reasons for this targeting seem to be two-fold: firstly, some would prefer public awareness of the apartheid situation remained low and people were kept in the dark as I once was. Secondly, many Palestinian activists are associated with the Labour Party and this presented the opportunity to attack socialism and the pro-Palestine former leader Jeremy Corbyn. This targeting has proven very successful, of course. We now have a situation where the Labour leader and other prominent Labour figures proudly call themselves Zionists and fall silent on the Palestine issue. 

We also have a situation where anti-Zionism is conflated with antisemitism. This ironically is antisemitic in itself because it supposes all Jews are Zionists which is patently not the case. Zionism is a political ideology which, whatever its founding ideals, has led to the current apartheid situation and can therefore be legitimately opposed. It's surely insensitive to Palestinians for non-Jews to describe themselves as proud Zionists, given how the Palestinians are suffering. 

I'm not even saying people should be anti-Zionists. I'm not sure I would describe myself as anti-Zionist. I did once in a conversation with a Zionist who politely explained he did not consider me anti-Zionist because I believe in a two-state solution. He explained I was simply anti-expansionist and that might be a more accurate term. But what I cannot and will not tolerate is anti-Zionists being denounced as antisemitic, as racist, when their position is clearly the opposite.

Zionism is a political ideology, just like conservatism or socialism or communism or any other political ideology, and all political ideologies must be subjected to criticism. Yet we see constant smears, false accusations of antisemitism, against anyone who is either anti-Zionist or simply anti-expansionist like myself. And let's be clear: those attacks are racist. 
Anti-Zionism is not racism. Anti-Palestinianism is racism.
If, for example, you tell a Palestinian they cannot be anti-Zionist, you are being racist. You are erasing their suffering and their right to oppose their subjugators. 

If you tell a pro-Palestinian activist they are "obsessed" with the Israel/Palestine issue, you are being racist. You are belittling support for Palestine.

If you distort every word of support for Palestine into an "antisemitic conspiracy theory," rather than a call for freedom, you are being racist. You are weaponising antisemitism.

Political discourse has taken a very sinister turn in recent years to the point where only those who are proudly Zionist can be portrayed as the good guys. Where the plight of the Palestinians is minimised or erased. Where anti-racists are terrified of speaking out for fear of being branded racist. 

And branding anti-racism as racism to minimise the suffering of apartheid is unquestionably one of the most racist things you can do.

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Saturday, 1 August 2020

What if Prince Andrew is Guilty?

Prince Andrew has been named in US court documents which allege an underage girl was forced to have sex with him. Let's rephrase that: which allege Andrew raped an underage girl.

This is a man we call Prince. A man who lives in extraordinary luxury in palaces owned by the tax payer. A man who no sensible person expects will be extradited to stand trial in America. And yet if he was an ordinary person, he would already be gone and facing the possibility of years behind bars.

Contrast this with the horrific treatment of Julian Assange who is currently imprisoned in the UK and facing the threat of extradition to the US for the crime of journalism. Julian Assange exposed human rights abuses by the state, and now his human rights are being abused as punishment, while a prince stands above the law.

Why are we accepting this? And why are we still calling Andrew, Prince? Indeed, why are we bestowing such outdated titles upon anyone? Britain is a country that gave a knighthood to paedophile rapist Jimmy Saville and calls someone "Prince" who might also be a paedophile rapist. Horrifying.

Now I don't know if Andrew is guilty, of course. I can't know. But here's what I do know:

Andrew was photographed at the door of a mansion belonging to Jeffrey Epstein - the paedophile sex trafficker who either committed suicide in a cell or was "suicided" by the authorities or was broken out and flown to a tropical island to live out his days. Let's be honest, none of us have a clue what really happened to Epstein, but we do know he was (is?) one of the very worst people on this Earth. And Prince Andrew called him friend for years.

Epstein's little black book contains an alarming list of celebrities and politicians, many of who he was known to associate with. It really does appear Epstein was inviting rich and powerful people to his mansion to have sex parties with underage girls who were groomed by his ex-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell - another of Andrew's friends. 

At least one of Epstein's victims has officially named Andrew as a rapist and her claim should be taken very seriously indeed. The woman alleges she was raped by Andrew in an island orgy, in Maxwell's London flat and in New York between 1999 and 2002 and was kept as Jeffrey Epstein's slave from 15 years old.

Documents also allege Prince Andrew attempted to lobby the US on behalf of Epstein to secure a favourable plea arrangement. In other words, Andrew allegedly tried to get a paedophile sex trafficker off lightly. These documents were released after a judge refused Maxwell's request to keep them secret.

If we do not extradite Andrew to the US, which we won't, then even if Andrew is innocent, we are still saying it's fine for a prince to commit acts of paedophilia. This is because Andrew does not have to pretend to be answerable to the courts, even in the most serious of circumstances. A prince is above the law and if he wants to target your daughter or any other innocent child, he is allowed to. And that is utterly chilling.

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