What’s up with Scientology?


Scientology isn’t something I talk about too often, but its worth checking in on what’s going on with them. The cult is now beset by multiple challenges, most notably a high profile MeToo case, which they’ve just lost. And there’s been an exodus of members, both regular folk and celebrities. So bad is this problem that most Scientology bases now have a “blow team ready to chase down any would-be escapees (nothing says faith in your religion like a razor-wire fence, armed guards and sniper’s nests).

While its always been difficult to get the exact number of Scientologists, its now believed the actual number is in the order of a few tens of thousands worldwide. (this ex-member estimates around 30,000). Certainly miles away from the millions of followers they claim. In part this exodus is due to more media exposure…

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Tory post-brexit immigration policy is a failure


While Brexiters will often claim they voted for “sovereignty, its a well known fact that this is a dog whistle for “we hate foreigners”. And it was implicitly understood that the justification for the Tories hard brexit (which has caused significant economic harm) was that it would bring down immigration numbers (to the tens of thousands). So as you can imagine it was a bit of a shock for the brexiter’s to learn that net migration into the UK has gone up…again, to over 600,000 a year, a 20% increase on last year.

As I predicted before brexit, the entire idea of brexit as a solution to immigration was a racist myth from the start. It was never going to produce any meaningful reductions. Never mind the fact that immigration is actually vital to the UK economy. Now personally, I reckoned the…

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Nuclear hatchet job

A issue with working in the energy field is we get approached by people, who know nothing about the topic, trying to propose (on the basis of 5 minutes of google research) some cheap, easy solution that solves everything once and for all. And then we have to explain why that isn’t going to work. The water powered car is a common one, as I’ve discussed before. And yes, we do have to explain why this is a dumb idea more often than you think.

Here’s another example from Cleo Abrams and Johnny Harris regarding nuclear reprocessing. They attempt to argue that the US made a mistake by opting for once through processing of nuclear fuel, rather than the reprocessing methods adopted by countries like the UK, France or Japan. They even try to blame this decision on Jimmy Carter and hippies. And that apparently reprocessing can magically fix every problem associated with nuclear power.

Well actually the real answer is both a bit more complicated than they suggest, and also a lot simpler. Let’s start with the economics. Reprocessing of nuclear fuel is a lot more expensive than once through. I ran the numbers on this a while back. Using a tool provided by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, I inputted the actual costs and performance values from recent nuclear energy projects. Whether using the Fast reactor or MOX method, reprocessing is twice as expensive ($254-264 per MWh) compared to once through ($134 per MWh). And its about 4 times more expensive than using renewables (and that’s using 2017 data, renewable installation costs have fallen since then).

And this analysis is backed up by studies from MIT and Harvard, both of which concluded that reprocessing would only make sense if the price of nuclear fuel got a lot higher (of course that would push the overall cost of nuclear energy up even more, meaning nuclear would make even less economic sense). And for the record, there’s no shortage of nuclear fuel at present. Indeed the decline in nuclear energy use will stretch out reserves even further.

Back in the early days of America’s nuclear programme, it was split between a military programme (which built bombs) and the civil programme that made electricity and thus had to at least pretend to work in the real world. It was obvious even back then that reprocessing was going to be more expensive, so its no real mystery why the US went down the once through route with it civil programme.

By contrast, other countries such as France and the UK were a little slower to make this split (mostly because they wanted the Plutonium for their bomb programmes) and hence drifted down the reprocessing route. And they have been paying the price for it every since. Because not only is reprocessing more expensive, but also it trades a modest reduction in high level waste for a very large increase in intermediate nuclear waste. And btw, it doesn’t get you out of deep geological storage (contrary to what Cleo implies). The UK is looking into that as we speak, as are the French.

And that’s without even mentioning the many, lengthy delays, cost over runs and accidents (both minor and serious) at reprocessing plants. For example in the UK, there’s the time they “lost” 160 kg’s of Plutonium due to a leak (which was only discovered months later because the bean counters noticed their was a load of nuclear bomb juice missing). Or in Japan, the time they irradiated several workers in a criticality accident. Plus what made Fukushima worse is the large amount of nuclear waste stored close to the reactors in cooling ponds, rather in dry casks, as it was awaiting reprocessing.

And that’s before we even bring up the Kyshtym nuclear disaster, the 2nd worst nuclear accident in history, which occurred (drum roll), in a reprocessing plant. Which brings us to the other problem, reprocessing can be used for nuclear weapon’s production. In fact if one were cynical one would wonder if the R&D they showed in this video was more focused on weapon’s production (the US is in the process of refurbishing its nuclear arsenal) under the cloak of civilian nuclear research (so this pair of liberals are acting as unwitting spokes models for the military industrial complex).

Certainly it is true that America’s nuclear waste management policy is a bit of a mess, with lots of short term decisions made more on the basis of solving some short term political issue, with no thought to the long term consequences. For example, it was initially decided back in the 1980’s to store America’s nuclear waste under Yucca mountain. This decision was made by Congress, who concluded (after great scientific scrutiny) that Yucca mountain was in Nevada, where 80% of the land is federally owned and the state was mostly inhabited by gambling addicts and slack jawed yokels who always voted republican. I mean if the locals didn’t like the idea of a nuclear waste dump on the their door step, what were they going to do, vote democrat! LOL.

Well, demographic changes in Nevada since then (due to an expanding urban population) meant that by the late 2000’s it had become a swing state. And yes a lot of those new voters weren’t happy about Yucca mountain (given there had been no proper consultation over it). So in 2009, when a divided senate needed the votes of Nevada senator Harry Reid to pass various bits of legislation (including Obamacare), Congress decided to kick the can down the road. In other words decades of planning and billions dollars of work, which would have solved America’s nuclear waste storage problem for 100’s of thousands of years was thrown away, so Congress could sort out an internal mess of its own making for 2 years. Go figure.

Of course this is less of a nuclear problem and more an example of how US politics is broken. While other countries have resolved issues like abortion, same sex marriage, gun control and moved on, America is still deeply divided and unable to make a decision. While most Europeans (even those on the right) accept climate change and have begun the energy transition, the US lags behind. No magical technology is going to suddenly make the US congress more competent….although changing the voting system might. In fact the promise of reprocessing has been used by Congress as yet another excuse to kick the can a bit further down the road and do nothing.

And in any event, even if reprocessing was some easy fix for nuclear waste, that doesn’t solve all the other issues with nuclear power (that its much more expensive, that reactors take ages to build, public opposition, etc.). In fact it just makes them worse. So its a bit of a red herring. Deep geological storage is still the best option for America’s nuclear civilian nuclear waste (personally I’d just start stacking it up around Washington DC and you can bet they’ll suddenly sort it out very quickly!). Reprocessing it into fuel would just burn more money and leave the country with an even bigger mess that you eventually end up having to bury later.

Like I said, the reality is there are no easy solutions. If their were, we’d have solved all of our energy problems ages ago. And just because there isn’t an easy solution, doesn’t mean you get to fill in the blanks with whatever fairy story most appeals to you.

Posted in clean energy, climate change, defence, economics, efficiency, energy, environment, France, Fukushima, history, Japan, LFTR, news, nuclear, politics, power, renewables, sustainability, sustainable, technology, thorium | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

News round up


Police state

So the UK is now officially a police state. In the last few months the government has passed laws prohibiting noisy protests or anything which could cause disruption. Which does sort of raise the question, how can you protest in a way that doesn’t make noise and doesn’t cause disruption? Are we supposed to walk on tip toe single file down the side of the footpath? Are ambulance drivers now expected to not use their siren and obey the rules of the road? After all, they might otherwise cause disruption and distress.

And who is the judge of what counts as a disruptive protest? Why the Met police, an organisation that has been officially branded as institutional racist, homophobic and misogynistic by investigations into its conduct (notably hundreds of rape allegations against its officers). So unsurprisingly they immediately began arresting anti-monarchy protesters, some before they’d even…

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The wrong stuff – Musk and the 4/20 rocket drill

So on the 20th of April (4/20, so at least we know what he was smoking), chief twit Elon Musk launched his ego rocket to cheering crowds, which was deemed a success. …despite blowing itself to bits and scattering debris over a wetlands habitat. I’m sorry, but that’s not what can even be considered a success. But it just goes to show the double standards the media applies to Musk and other tech bro’s. And how lazy most journalists are.

NASA’s first launch of the SLS went off without a hitch, as do most first launches of modern rockets. In fact when they do fail its considered a big deal (e.g. the first launch of Ariane 5 was a rather embarrassing failure due to a computer coding error). Yes this is why NASA space launches are boring compared to SpaceX, but that’s sort of the point, aerospace is supposed to be boring. That’s a good thing. When I get on a plane, my goal is to doze off and sleep for most of the flight, not be wondering if we are going to have the excitement of an in-flight emergency.

Granted, there were a lot more failures during the early days of rocketry, but that’s largely because back then the engineers were flying blind. They didn’t have the experience with rocketry we now have. They lacked the computer software to run simulations, nor the material science and aerodynamic knowledge we now have. Hence, a lot more launches did end up as failures. In fact, I’d also note that its considered bad luck to cheer during a rocket launch (as it was not unusual for people to cheer in these early days only for the rocket to shortly there after blow up). Musk and his fanboys seem intend on re-learning what we all ready know.

Indeed, there’s very little that we learnt from this test flight that couldn’t have been learnt from ground testing, simulations, some quick calculations….or applying some basic common sense. For example, the main problem was how Musk’s rocket was less the world’s big’s rocket, but the the world’s biggest drill bit. It chewed up its own launch pad and effectively destroyed it, spraying chucks of concrete out to a distance of several hundred metres, damaging equipment on site (likely including the rocket itself as several engines failed immediately upon launch) and scatter debris into a protected wetland area.

This was entirely predictable and indeed several commentators did predict it (but obviously Musk the college drop out knows way more about rocketry than these guys with their fancy degrees). This is why most other launch complexes have a flame pit and maintain a large separation between the pad and anything that might not react well to flaming chucks of debris (like a tank full of propellants).

There was also some control and stability issues, as the aerodynamic surfaces at the front of the craft require control inputs from the engines at the back just to fly in a straight line (think of an arrow, where you put the fins on the front instead of on the back). Obviously, this means the engines have to work harder to steer. Plus you lose enough of the steerable engines (or you hit gimbal lock) and the rocket becomes uncontrollable (which towards the end of the flight, is basically what happened).

And since we are talking about it, I still can’t understand why he’s using Methane as a fuel. This gives a specific impulse of only 360s, while Lox/LH2 will give you at least 450s (i.e. 20% more bangs for each gram of fuel). And NASA has the RS-25 engines used by the SLS (based on the space shuttle engines, so a proven technology), which are also reusable and can be throttled. The only reason not to use them seems to be not invented here syndrome. Either way, it would make far more sense to adapt Starship to be brought up to orbit in sections by the SLS (or just go with a more sensible space craft design), or adapt SLS to lift it up in one go (e.g. cluster several core SLS stages together, similar to the soviet Energia system).

And least we forget, Starship is supposed to be a man rated rocket (which for NASA means getting the probability of loss down to 1 in 500…good luck with that one!). There has to be serious doubts about it meeting that now. Aside from the issued I discussed previously related to its stainless steel construction, it also has to undertake a very risky manoeuvre in order to separate both halves. The rocket does a 180 degree spin arse over end, sling shooting the upper stage away from the lower stage (keeping in mind the control issues I mentioned earlier, will be much worse due to the fact the rocket is now nose heavy, as most of the fuel in the lower stage is gone). And its possible the rocket broke its back trying to do this.

Its also unclear how Starship is supposed to separate and land safely in the event of a booster failure during the early launch phase (had more of those engines been lost earlier on, this type of failure would have occurred shortly after lift off). By contrast the Orion capsule on the SLS (or indeed Soyuz or the Dragon capsule) has an escape tower, which will boost the capsule and its crew away from a failing rocket. No such escape options appear to exist for Starship. Indeed on nearly all the times Musk has tried to land Starship its blown up or crashed.

But its Musk’s money, he can do whatever he likes with it surely? Actually, no Starship now forms a critical part of NASA’s lunar landing project. These tests are mostly taxpayer funded. Quite apart from the costs of delaying the entire lunar project, the costs of the impending FAA investigation and the time the US wildlife service are going to have to devote to cleaning up the mess in the wetlands.

And this is hardly the first time Musk has promised way more than he can deliver. As I mentioned before, Falcon was supposed to be fully reusable, but is only partially reusable (and even then, more in theory than practice), at a significantly higher cost than he promised (and again, mostly taxpayer subsidised). Hyperloop is still a pipe dream, and the Vegas loop (also taxpayer funded) is a glorified Disney ride. Meanwhile twitter is an increasingly unreliable hellscape which has lost half its value since he took it over, and self driving cars? Will be available in 2013, 2015, 2017, 2020, 2024.

I mean imagine if NASA behaved the same way as Musk. Or god forbid, some sort of lefty wasted this much tax payer’s money doing stupid things. Or let’s suppose some Mexican billionaire started blowing up rockets just across the border in Mexico, showering debris into the US. Would they be treated the same way by the US government or the media? No, they’d be pretty quick to shut them down. But being a billionaire is basically an excuse to get away with anything in America, even if its criminal, immoral or insane.

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The packaging dilemma

The UK supermarket Sainsbury’s has been accused of rendering its meat “vile”, by using a new form of vacuum packaging. Sainsbury’s claims this is intended to reduce plastic waste, as this method of packaging halves the amount of packing needed. But customers seems to think it leaves the meat too heavily compressed. As one shopper stated “it feels very medical – like I’ve just bought someone’s kidney to cook at home”. The company has also been warned that this new form of packaging isn’t generally accepted for recycling across the UK.

Firstly I’d note that, by chance, I happened to buy some meat from Sainsbury’s in this packaging and I don’t know what the fuss was about (I don’t eat mince meat that often, I just assumed this is how they package it these days, but seriously do people not know what meat looks like!). I was planning to make some savoury Irish mince for Easter. I’ve found that vegetarian meat substitutes work okay for things like Bolognese or chilli con carne (in fact I find they are better at absorbing the spices), but not for savoury mince (its an Irish thing I suppose). So I experimented this time with half and half (half real meat & half veggie quorn) and honestly you couldn’t tell the difference (between the meat and the veggie stuff). How it was packaged I didn’t really notice, until I read the news.

But either way, is Sainsbury’s right to use this new packaging, even if a lot of it ends up going into general waste? Well firstly we have to acknowledge that a lot of plastic doesn’t get recycled. While you will hear figures bounded around of 45 – 56% of UK plastic being collected for recycling, in reality most of it ends up being incinerated or ends up in landfill. Exact figures are hard to come by, this BBC piece suggests that while Germany collects 99% of its plastic waste only 39% is actually recycled. In the UK its been suggested that as little as 12% can actually be confirmed as being recycled.

There are several reasons for this. The complex nature of the different types of plastic, some of which are easily recycled, but in other cases can’t be (either for practical reasons or because of the chemical composition of the plastic). Or they have to go through a down-cycling process into other products (which then can’t recycled). Also there is the problem of contamination, either by someone putting too much of the wrong kind of plastic in the wrong bin, or the plastic being too dirty and contaminated (you are supposed to wash out plastic trays and remove the labels before putting it in the recycle bin and some people don’t do that). So on that basis Sainsbury’s policy does make sense.

Incineration of plastic is something I’ve discussed before. On the one hand, yes it disposes of the problem, we don’t need to worry about the plastic choking dolphin’s or sea birds if its been burnt. And you are recovering some of the energy spent manufacturing the plastic in the first place. On the other hand, its not a sustainable solution. You are basically running a low grade fossil fuel plant (with substantial carbon emissions) off of a fuel whose supply will disappear once all the oil is gone.

So what about using more sustainable forms of packaging, cardboard for example? Well the issues here are the same as with plastics. Is the alternative going to be any easier to recycle? What about contamination? (e.g. if it goes into the recycle bin filthy and covered in rotting food). Can it provide the same level of food preservation, without compromising its recyclability? (e.g. we add a thin layer of plastic to cut down on food deterioration and that could render it non-recyclable).

But why not just skip the packaging altogether? While that is possible, in fact there are shops that do that, however its important to remember that packaging performs three main purposes. To protect the food from supermarket to home, but also to protect it from factory to the supermarket, as well as while its sitting on the shelf. Given that food has a carbon footprint as well (meat having a particularly high one), even a small increase in food spoilage will wipe out any environmental gains of using less or no packaging.

What about using reusable containers? Back in the old days, you’d take your empty glass bottles back and get a refund on them. This requires having reversible logistics. In other words when the truck drops off the load, it picks up the empty containers and returns them to the factory. Now if you’ve a relatively short supply chain, e.g. you are picking up from a bottling plant down the road, that’s not a problem. Hence for certain products in some countries it does work, subject to the right legislation, as companies are unlikely to volunteer to do this. And unsurprisingly the UK doesn’t have that, although the Scottish Parliament is trying to change that with a returnable bottle scheme (which of course the Tories, forever in the pocket of big business, are attempting to block).

Of course if you have much longer supply chains, e.g. getting fruit from southern Spain to the UK (which post-brexit may mean checks, which the empty containers will now have to go through on the way back), it might not be feasible. That said, there’s ways it could be made to work for quite a number of products, with the right legislation (such as a tax on unrecyclable plastic containers).

Also we’d need to be sure the empty packaging gets returned in a reusable state. For example there used to be a shop near me that did growler beers (they’d sell you craft beer in reusable 1-3L bottles). Anyway, their biggest problem was that the bottles would often come back filthy (e.g. fill with mould or cigarette ends) and the customers would still feel entitled to a refund!

Plus moving around all of these containers will have both a financial cost and an environmental cost. Glass bottles are heavier than plastic ones and thus it will take more fuel and release more CO2 moving them around. In fact one of the first applications of Life Cycle Analysis was undertaken by Coca Cola into using plastic bottles instead of glass bottles. This study (and similar ones since then) have showed that unless you are getting a fairly high rate of reuse out of a glass container and your supply chains are short, plastic can work out better. Although that does depend on the rates of plastic recycling (like I said, there’s a big difference between the amount of plastic collected and actually recycled). Its also worth noting that plastic bottles can be refilled and reused, just not as frequently as glass bottles.

In short, the devil is often in the detail when it comes to packaging. There is no perfect solution that can be applied across the board. Its really a case of looking again at the waste pyramid. In the first instance we should seek to reduce consumption altogether (as noted, I’d be more worried about the environmental impact of the meat rather than the packaging). Then we’d look at reusing where practical. If that’s not an option then recycling and so on.

The trouble is, we’ve got the pyramid upside down. We use (and then discard) way more than we need to. Only when landfills began to overflow did we look at incineration. Then when nobody wanted to live down wind of a an incinerator, we looked at recycling and so on. So it looks to me as if Sainsbury’s are trying to doing the best they can, within the limits of current UK legislation. And we currently have a government who is openly hostile to environmental issues, something that’s likely to only get worse between now and the next election. If you disagree with Sainsbury’s strategy, then its the government you should be whinging too, not the company.

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Really dumb money


History might not repeat itself, but it often rhymes. And the other week it did so again, with a string of bank failures in the US one after the other. Meanwhile Switzerland went from being a small country with some big banks, to a big bank with a small country attached (I wonder if they’ll just drop the act and call the country UPSland and make the company song the national anthem). These failures appear to have been a result of poor internal management by the banks (e.g. Silicon valley bank had nobody in charge of risk management for 8 months….which sounds eerily similar to the situation in RBS back in 2008) as well as exposure to losses in the crypto market. I had asked the question before about who was holding the bag for crypto losses. Well I suppose now we know.

But don’t worry, we’ve…

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Lineker, 15 minute cities & the age of the dark enlightenment

So we have the situation in the UK where Gary Lineker is being disciplined for posting a tweet criticising government policy. And Sir David Attenborough has had an episode of his latest nature series pulled to avoid offending the government. Apparently this is to avoid questions about BBC impartiality. This despite the fact nobody objected when Lineker previous criticised Qatar…while in Qatar (yes Qatar can now claim to be more in favour of free speech than the UK!), or when he aired his views on Jeremy Corbyn (he’s not a fan), as did Alan Sugar and Laura Kuenssberg. And we are also going to ignore that the BBC chairman donated hundreds of thousands to the Tory party and basically paid a bribe to Boris Johnson to get his current job. But somehow that doesn’t violate impartiality rules. Welcome to the era of the dark enlightenment.

The answer of course is that you can say what you like so long as it doesn’t offend the shadowy figures quietly funding far right demagogues. Take for example Peter Thiel, who has been a major supporter of Trump and numerous other Qanon candidates (who then unsurprisingly end up shilling for causes that benefit him, low taxes, ditch regulations, etc.). Or here in the UK a white supremacist party run by Laurence Fox (a regular on GB news) has received as much funding from various Tory donors, as the lib dems (despite the fact it regularly receives very few votes).

And since we are talking about it, GB news and Talk TV, both far right supporting mouth pieces (who aren’t even pretending to be impartial), have received massive amounts of funding (including from hedge funds based offshore), despite having very low viewing figures. You may ask yourself why is this?

Well because we are in the post-democracy era, but they still have to pretend to have elections. The Tories (or the GOP of the Reagan or Bush era) are essentially a spent force, solely devoted to running out their time on the gravy train. So it makes sense for the wealthy elites to fund more malleable political actors. I mean its not like bank rolling the far right and helping them into power has ever backfired massively in the past.

One other advantage is that politicians who are willing to take money from such sources, tend not to be the most morally virtuous. Thus, they will happily do certain favours, even if its to the detriment of the country. The brexit referendum was a template for this. And that is essentially how politics on the right is going to work from now on. Rather than a public debate instead we have conspiracy theories set by the right wing demagogues working in the shadows.

Take for example the “controversy” over 15 minute cities, with various conspiracy theories about them being spread by astroturfing organisations. This is a concept of making cities more walk-able and easier to commute around by bike and public transport. Its not actually a new idea (nor is the propaganda against it anything new either). In fact its more an admission of failure on the concept of car centric cities, which was originally the master plan of capitalist elites.

Most cities just weren’t designed for cars. Which are also a very inefficient way of moving people around an urban area. Widening roads & adding a few lanes often just isn’t an option. And even where it has been attempted it doesn’t do any good anyways, due to this little thing called induced demand. By making it easier to drive, you encourage more people to do so. Thus within a few months or years the city is gridlocked again and the council is a couple of million poorer. Plus they have the costs of maintaining all of this extra tarmac to pay for….forever!

Given the poor state of finances for many UK towns and councils they have essentially two options. Firstly, do nothing and allow traffic to get worse and worse until eventually town centres die (as nobody is going to go shopping there if you have to spend an hour getting a mile or can’t get parking), leading to a drop in tax revenue (and a downward economic spiral). Or secondly reverse these pro-car policies. Which is sort of the point of these 15 minute city proposals.

Of course, in order to successful reverse policy you need an element of carrot and stick. Putting in bus and cycle lanes is all well and good, but pointless if nobody uses them. And if the cyclists have to put up with gridlocked traffic and the dangerous antics of motorists, while buses keep getting caught in traffic, nobody is going to use them.

So you need to give people a bit of a nudge. For example, my city has begun to cul de sac certain suburban streets that motorists have been using to take short cuts. And before I’d see them scream along these streets at 40 mph in a 20 mph zone, a street barely a car & a bit wide, where kids play. Or beeping at cyclists who get in their way, running stop signs, even going the wrong way down one way streets. The idea is to divert such traffic onto truck routes and the ring road (which is sort of the whole point of a ring road!). My understanding is that some councils implementing 15 minute city policies are looking at using automatic gates (or filter lanes) with number plate recognition, rather than just sticking up bollards, so it doesn’t impede residences on those streets.

But how did we get here? Well like I said, this was all the result of a right wing plot. Back in the late 19th century and early 20th century, cities were far more walkable with better public transport. In fact urban developers (often private companies) used to worked hand in hand with public transport companies (again often fully private) to ensure new housing estates had good public transport links. Some of the nicer suburbs in cities such as London or New York (basically anywhere with good housing and a tube stop a short walk away) were developed during this era.

However, this was not to the liking of certain special interest groups. Most notably those in the fossil fuel or auto industry. They started a public relations campaign to paint public transport as somehow dirty, socialist (again, most of the early tram and subway links in the US and UK were fully private ventures) or prayed on racist fears (who knows who you might have to sit next to on the bus!). At the same time they embarked on a PR campaign to promote car ownership as a symbol of freedom (around about the same time they were also promoting smoking as an act of women’s liberation!).

And inevitably many politicians on the right, jumped on the band wagon, pumping billions of dollars of taxpayers money into road building programmes. They even passed laws mandating minimum parking requirements. And when those measures didn’t work fast enough the car companies resorted to buying up tram and public transport companies and intentionally running them into the ground, to pretty much force people to buy a car. When pedestrians started getting run over, they engaged in victim blaming by inventing the term jaywalking (its not the motorists fault for driving too fast, its the pedestrian’s fault for getting in the way of the cars).

So now they are at it again. And people fall for it because unfortunately many people will buy a comforting lie over a inconvenient truth. Case in point, back during the lead up to the January 6th riots, Fox news were quietly approached by a number of republican grandee’s who asked them to back off and admit Biden won. They didn’t so, despite many Fox news commentators privately acknowledging that they knew that Trump et al were mad as box of frogs. It was all about more viewing figures for them. And it serves the purposes of their dark corporate masters (including some in the Kremlin), who don’t seem to mind if they bring down democracy.

Meanwhile here in the UK we’ve seen a trend of many Tories coming out with outrageous statements recently (pro-death penalty, anti-trans, playing the race card). Its pretty obvious, given that brexit has turned into giant mess (along with the rest of the economy) that they are going to be unemployed in after the next election. So they are basically prostituting themselves to right wing oligarchs, hoping they can get a spot on GB news, or a weekly column in the Sun. Or be nominated as a candidate for a far right party. And some of those questions asked in parliment, for example related to 15 minute cities, were likely facilitated by a handsome bribe, so its cash for questions all over again.

This is the reality of modern politics and journalism. To which one has to ask, where are the left in all of this? (or what passes for a left these days). Why aren’t the democrats investigating Fox news with a view to revoking their broadcasting license. They are clearly not in the news business anymore (if they ever were) and are just peddling fake news and fascist conspiracy theories. They are basically as much a news source as the history channel is a source of history.

And here in the UK it is stated that you must be a fit and proper person to run, or own, any media organisation. Does any of this sound like the actions of a fit and proper person? Labour should be promising a full investigation into the media and its ownership, as well as more transparency into politics. Notably that we clearly can’t trust politicians to police themselves (nor indeed the police), so set up an independent body to investigate politicians.

And, as I’ve mentioned before, switching to proportional representation and making the judiciary non-political would scupper much of the dark money’s plans, as it only works in a situation where politics presents a binary choice and the courts can be effectively controlled (otherwise they’d be the ones who end up in jail, e.g. look up how many French politicians have ended up being jailed over the years).

But instead, from labour and the democrats, all we get is silence. Even when one of their own gets forced out by right wing conspiracy theorists and their corporate attack dogs, no reaction, just pearl clutching and hand wringing. And its this lack of action that will ultimately kill democracy.

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Brexiter’s elites conspire


For quite some time now in the UK if you argue against brexit, you are labelled as an elitist, defying the will of the people….even thought polls increasing show “the will of the people” has turned against brexit. Actually, I’d argue its the other way around. Brexit was sold to people by certain elites with an agenda (hedge fund managers, tax dodgers, ambitious politicians, Russian Oligarchs, FSB agents) as the snake oil that will cure all aliments. However its now obvious to all but the most deluded that this isn’t the case. Go to any news article about brexit and the comments will be filled with either remainers making smart remarks, or leave voters claiming this isn’t what they voted for.

However, rather than accept this reality, the elites, in both labour and the Tory party, all of whom are insulated from the effects of brexit

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Debunking right wing myths – the great replacement


One rather bizarre and dangerous conspiracy theory propagated by the far right is that of the great replacement. The idea is that the whites are being gradually and quite deliberately replaced by non-whites (notably Muslims). It has been cited by several spree shooters as justifying their actions, not to mention Trump supporters (notably Tucker Carlson) and euroskeptics. As a result, it can’t really be seen as a fringe idea anymore, so it does need debunking.

Firstly, like so many racist conspiracy theories its not a new idea (e.g. Qnon is just a repacking of the protocols of Zion). It is similar to conspiracy theories levelled at Jews in Europe over many centuries (which led to the Holocaust). As well as against catholic immigrants (notably Italians and Irish) to the United States (which meant they stopped trusting the authorities, which was one of the factors behind…

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