Tuesday, November 3, 2020
The West has, over decades, used its technological capabilities to spy on a host of other countries and organisations. Spy hardware was built into communications systems by Crypto AG. Crypto was a Swiss firm founded in 1952 and secretly bought by the CIA and the West German spy service. In all, 120 countries were sold apparatus which enabled their communications to be decrypted by the US National Security Agency (NSA). The information gathered was actively used by the West to intervene for example, in the Egyptian/Israeli negotiations at Camp David in 1978, and to aid the British during the Falklands war. Crypto continued in use until 2018 its capabilities having been superseded by the use of software. We are now all spied on through our use of search engines and social media and the NSA has a huge capacity to process all that data fed in from Google, Facebook etc.
Monday, November 2, 2020
The right wing and liberal media are united in their attacks on so-called Russian interference in western elections. This has been so hyped that it is almost taken for granted, yet the evidence does not stack up. The Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) report failed to substantiate allegations of Russian interference. It blamed the lack of evidence on spooks not having looked hard enough. Yet the ISC used this non-evidence as a basis for arguing that Britain should boost its offensive cyber warfare capabilities, calling for more resources for the National Offensive Cyber Programme set up by GCHQ and the Ministry of Defence. This year a National Cyber Force was also established and Britain hosts the NATO Intelligence Fusion Centre at RAF Molesworth.
Sunday, November 1, 2020
The second part of this obituary of Denis Goldberg deals with the period of his life following his release from prison when he was in exile and then his return to South Africa where he continued to fight for the ideals of freedom and equality for all. The personal and political challenges remained huge but Denis continued the struggle, inspiring many others with his message. In his words, “Understanding the world is not enough. As human beings in society, we are called upon by our humanity to change the world, to make it a place of greater equality…”
Saturday, October 31, 2020
Why has the United States has reacted with such ferocity in ramping up sanctions and bans on Chinese companies? Whilst China’s economy has grown and it has developed its political, economic and military power globally, it is still nowhere near being able to challenge the US’s superpower status. But what it is doing very effectively is developing world-leading digital companies like Huawei and Ant. As well as China’s cutting-edge companies, its success with state intervention in the economy is a direct challenge to free market neo-liberalism.
Wednesday, October 28, 2020
We are now only too used to a world of war, including in Europe in the Balkans and the continuing conflict in Ukraine. The cold war is portrayed as a time of great world tensions, yet there was far less armed conflict and more attempts to achieve peaceful relations between states. The Helsinki Accords were an attempt to create a binding framework for security and cooperation in Europe, but did not fulfill their potential due to the West's lack of commitment.
Monday, October 26, 2020
The West demonises Russia and Putin to stir up hostile sentiment to a rival. Putin has stood up to this, which has provided an important counter-balance to Western power. However, that does not make his regime a positive one for the people of Russia. The West has its favoured opposition leaders like Alexei Navalny, but there are other forces on the ground.
Sunday, October 25, 2020
The West has a strategy of trying to encircle Russia with friendly states. Since Belarus hasn't voluntarily gone down this route it was set up for another 'colour revolution', following a familiar pattern from the likes of Ukraine. However, its President Alexander Lukashenko didn't give in to that either and has resisted the attempt to oust him from power.
Tuesday, August 18, 2020
Its advocates idealistically hope that Universal Basic Income (UBI) will change the world, undermining the logic of capitalism. But there are flaws in how possible schemes would operate. Most do not propose to pay an amount of money that people could actually live on with inevitable negative consequences. Some groups would lose out, it would tend to subsidise low-wage employers as people would still have to work and there would be tax increases on low and medium earners along with cuts to welfare spending to finance it. Nor is UBI only an idea of the left. Neo-liberals have proposed it as a way of further cutting and privatising services. To fulfill its utopian ideals UBI would need to be set at the level of a decent wage. To pay this to everyone would be mindbogglingly expensive especially when a progressive government would have many other priorities.