Google+ Followers

Monday, 24 August 2015

Why the BBC and the Daily Mail ran a false story on anti-fascist campaigner, Cedric Belfrage

On Friday morning (21st August), the BBC ran a story on its website entitled, Cedric Belfrage, the WW2 spy Britain was embarrassed to pursue. The right-wing press had the same story. The Daily Mail used the headline, More prized than Philby, the film critic turned Soviet agent who passed secrets while working for British security services in the US - but was never tried whereas the Financial Times went with Cedric Belfrage — ‘sixth man’ Soviet spy who hid in plain sight.

Later that day the BBC and Channel 4 broadcast the same story. These newspaper articles and television programmes had the same information and was clearly based on some kind of Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) press release about the journalist, Cedric Belfrage, who died in 1990. It must have accompanied the latest release of intelligence documents that had arrived in the National Archives. They all included quotes from Professor Christopher Andrew, the official historian of MI5. He told The Daily Mail: "Moscow were so pleased with him (Belfrage) they held him as a key asset and held him in higher regard than Philby, a member of the notorious Cambridge Five spy ring."

MI5 also provided quotes from Svetlana Lokhova, who is described as an expert on Russian intelligence (this is not supported by a search on the web although she does seem to have been a student at Cambridge University, where Andrew has taught for many years). Lokhova argues "I think he was one of the most important spies the Soviet Union ever had". Gordon Corera of the BBC tells us that "Ms Lokhova and Prof Andrew both say the fact the KGB has never revealed anything about Belfrage suggests he was important".


For the rest of the article see:

http://spartacus-educational.com/spartacus-blogURL57.htm

Thursday, 15 January 2015

History of Freedom of Speech in the UK

There has been a lot of discussion about freedom of expression since the killing of the eight journalists at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical weekly newspaper, that had published a number of controversial Muhammad cartoons. It has been suggested that there is a long tradition of freedom of speech in the UK and that we need to defend this ancient right in response to this terrorist outrage. Although journalists have been keen to point this out it seems their editors are unwilling to publish any of the offending cartoons. It has also emerged that official guidelines previously published online said that the Prophet revered by Muslims “must not be represented in any shape or form” in BBC output.

Freedom of expression is something that has taken a long time to establish in this country. Dominant religious, political and cultural institutions have always used their power to protect themselves from criticism. An interesting case in our history concerns Anne Askew who was burnt at the stake on 16th July 1546. Anne had taken on every powerful institution that existed in Tudor England. 

Anne was the daughter of Sir William Askew (1489–1541) a large landowner and the former MP for Grimsby. When she was fifteen her family forced her to marry Thomas Kyme. Anne rebelled against her husband by refusing to adopt his surname. The couple also argued about religion. Anne was a supporter of Martin Luther, while her husband was a Roman Catholic. From her reading of the Bible she believed that she had the right to divorce her husband. For example, she quoted St Paul: "If a faithful woman have an unbelieving husband, which will not tarry with her she may leave him"? 

In 1544 Askew decided to travel to London and request a divorce from Henry VIII. This was rejected and in March 1546 she was arrested on suspicion of heresy. She was questioned about a book she was carrying that had been written by John Frith, a Protestant priest who had been burnt for heresy in 1533, for claiming that neither purgatory nor transubstantiation could be proven by Holy Scriptures. She was interviewed by Edmund Bonner, the Bishop of London who had obtained the nickname of "Bloody Bonner" because of his ruthless persecution of heretics. 

After a great deal of debate Anne Askew was persuaded to sign a confession which amounted to an only slightly qualified statement of orthodox belief. With the help of her friend, Edward Hall, the Under-Sheriff of London, she was released after twelve days in prison. She was sent back to her husband. However, when she arrived back to Lincolnshire she went to live with her brother, Sir Francis Askew.

You can read the rest of the article here:

http://spartacus-educational.com/spartacus-blogURL47.htm 

Monday, 13 October 2014

The KGB and Martin Luther King

In 1992 Vasili Mitrokhin, a retired senior KGB archivist, provided the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) with six large cases of top-secret material from the KGB's foreign intelligence archive. Some of this material deals with the assassination of John F. Kennedy. This includes the claim, from Polish sources, that Clinton Murchison and H. L. Hunt had been involved in the funding of the assassination.

The KGB archives show that the Soviet Union helped fund the publishing the books claiming that Kennedy was killed as a result of a right-wing conspiracy. Some of this money was sent to Carl Marzani (codenamed NORD). Among the books published by Marzani in 1964 was Oswald: Assassin or Fall Guy? by the German writer, Joachim Joesten. The KGB also arranged for Mark Lane to receive $1,500 to help his research. However, the document makes it clear that Lane was not told the source of the money. The same person arranged for Lane to receive $500 to help pay for a trip in Europe in 1964. KGB agent, Genrikh Borovik, was also assigned to help Lane with his research for Rush to Judgement (1965).

Probably the most interesting material from this archive concerns the KGB assessment of the relationship between John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King. Ever since the Soviets started sending agents into the United States they had been encouraging members of the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA) to become involved in the struggle for civil rights. For example, they enjoyed great success in their propaganda campaign for the Scottsboro Boys in 1931.

The rest of the article can be read here:

http://spartacus-educational.com/spartacus-blogURL41.html


Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Simulations in the Classroom

In their book Simulation in the Classroom (Penguin, 1972), John Taylor and Rex Walford argued that an educational simulation has three main components:

(1) Students take roles which are representative of the real world and involve them making decisions in response to their assessment of the situation that they have been placed in.

(2) Students experience simulated consequences which relate to their decisions and their general performance in the simulation.

(3) Students monitor the results of their actions and are encouraged to reflect upon the relationship between their own decisions and the resulting consequences of their actions.

An essential part of a simulation involves the student playing a role of a character in the past. One of the major objectives of the creator of the simulation is to help the student understand the situation of that person. In other words, helping the student develop a sense of empathy.

http://spartacus-educational.com/spartacus-blogURL39.html

Monday, 4 August 2014

War Propaganda Bureau and the First World War

On the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, it might be worth looking at the way the government decided to "sell" the war. In August 1914, the British government discovered that Germany had a Propaganda Agency. David Lloyd George, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was given the task of setting up a British War Propaganda Bureau (WPB). Lloyd George, appointed the successful writer and fellow Liberal MP, Charles Masterman as head of the organization.

On 2nd September, 1914, Masterman invited twenty-five leading British authors to Wellington House, the headquarters of the War Propaganda Bureau, to discuss ways of best promoting Britain's interests during the war. Those who attended the meeting included Arthur Conan Doyle, Arnold Bennett, John Masefield, Ford Madox Ford, William Archer, G. K. Chesterton, Sir Henry Newbolt, John Galsworthy, Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling, Gilbert Parker, G. M. Trevelyan and H. G. Wells.

For the rest of the article see:

http://spartacus-educational.com/spartacus-blogURL35.html

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Google, Bing and Operation Mockingbird. The CIA and Search-Engines

In January 2005, I wrote an article entitled Operation Mockingbird. At that time very little was known about this highly secret Central Intelligence Agency media operation that dated back to 1948 when Frank Wisner was appointed director of the Office of Special Projects. Soon afterwards it was renamed the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC). This became the espionage and counter-intelligence branch of the CIA. Wisner was told to create an organization that concentrated on "propaganda, economic warfare; preventive direct action, including sabotage, anti-sabotage, demolition and evacuation measures; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance groups, and support of indigenous anti-Communist elements in threatened countries of the free world."

Later that year Wisner established Mockingbird, a program to influence the domestic American media. Wisner recruited Philip Graham, the publisher of the Washington Post, to run the project within the industry. Graham himself recruited others who had worked for military intelligence during the war. This included James Truitt, Russell Wiggins, Phil Geyelin, John Hayes and Alan Barth. Others like Stewart Alsop, Joseph Alsop and James Reston, were recruited from within the Georgetown Set. According to Deborah Davis, the author of Katharine the Great (1979): "By the early 1950s, Wisner 'owned' respected members of the New York Times, Newsweek, CBS and other communications vehicles." 

For the rest of this article see:

http://spartacus-educational.com/




Saturday, 7 June 2014

Is Wikipedia under the control of political extremists?

I was recently carrying out research into the Dewey Commission that took place in April 1937. It is a long forgotten event and when I typed in the words “Dewey Commission” at Google I got a short list of relevant pages. Top of the list was of course Wikipedia. When I read the entry I was deeply shocked. In my opinion it had been written from the prospective of a Joseph Stalin apologist. However, if someone did not know too much about the subject, they would be totally unaware of it. As far as I can see there is not one inaccurate fact on the page. It is the information that the entry leaves out that is important. 

The Wikipedia entry begins: “The Dewey Commission (officially the "Commission of Inquiry into the Charges Made against Leon Trotsky in the Moscow Trials") was initiated in March 1937 by the American Committee for the Defense of Leon Trotsky. It was named after its chairman, the philosopher John Dewey. Its other members were Carleton Beals, Otto Ruehle, Benjamin Stolberg, and Secretary Suzanne La Follette, Alfred Rosmer, Wendelin Thomas, Edward A. Ross, John Chamberlain, Carlo Tresca, and Francisco Zamora. It was seen by some at the time, as Dewey feared it would be, as a Trotskyist front organization. Following months of investigation, the Dewey Commission made its findings public in New York on September 21, 1937."

Without explaining what Leon Trotsky was accused of in the Moscow Show Trials or the evidence that the Dewey Commission was a “Trotskyist front organization” it immediately goes onto look at the hearings that took place between 10th April to 17th April, 1937.

For the rest of this article see:

http://spartacus-educational.com/spartacus-blogURL29.html