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Monday, 31 August 2009

Edward Kennedy and Chappaquiddick

All the obituaries of Edward Kennedy have argued that he was clearly not telling the truth about what happened at Chappaquiddick. I agree, but what was the truth of what happened the night that Mary Jo Kopechne died? First of all I want to establish the agreed facts about the case.

Edward Kennedy and Mary Jo Kopechne left the Lawrence Cottage at around 11.15 p.m. on 18th July, 1969. Kennedy claimed that he was giving her a lift back to her hotel. The last ferry was at 12.00. The party only had two cars. The six women at the party had been told that they would be taken back to their hotels via that ferry.

Although he had been on the island many times Kennedy took the wrong turning. Locals claimed this was almost impossible to do. To make this wrong turn at this point the driver had to ignore: (1) A directional arrow of luminized glass pointing to the left; (2) The banking of the pavement to accommodate the sharp curve; (3) The white line down the centre of the road. (4) The fact that he was now driving on an unpaved road.

According to Kennedy he had the accident on Dike Bridge at 11.30. He made several attempts to rescue Mary Jo. Although there were three houses with lights on close to where the accident happened. Kennedy walked back to Lawrence Cottage. This was a 1.2 mile walk that took approximately 23 minutes. The route involved passing the Chappaquiddick Fire Station. The station was unlocked and included an alarm. The Fire Captain (Foster Silva) lived close by and would have been there within 3 minutes. According to Silva once sounded “half the people living on the island would have turned up within 15 minutes”.

Kennedy claimed he got back at the cottage at 12.20 a.m. He got the time from the Valiant car while he sat in the back seat discussing the problem with his two friends, Joe Gargan and Paul Markham. This was a lie. It was later discovered that the Valiant car (rented for the weekend) did not have a clock.

According to their testimony Kennedy, Gargan and Markham then went back to the scene of the accident and tried to get Mary Jo out of the car. After 45 minutes they accepted defeat. Kennedy, told the men he was going to report the accident once back in Edgartown. He then swam back as he thought the last ferry had gone. This was a risky thing to do and as Kennedy admitted afterwards, he nearly drowned getting to his hotel.

Gargan and Markham claimed they got back to the cottage at around 2.15 a.m. If so, this leaves an hour accounted for. This point was not explored at the inquest.

Jared Grant operated the Chappaquiddick Ferry. The last ferry usually went at midnight. However, that night his last run was 12.45 a.m. He did not actually close the ferry until 1.20 a.m. He later testified that he saw several boats “running back and forth” between the island and Edgartown. During this period he was never approached by Kennedy, Gargan or Markham.

That night Kennedy spoke to the room clerk at the Shiretown Inn at 2.30 a.m. According to Gargan this was to establish an alibi. At this stage he intended to claim he had not been driving the car.

Records show that Kennedy did not make any phone calls from the hotel. All his close political advisers confirm they did not receive calls from Kennedy that night. If they had, they would have told him to report the accident straight away. Kennedy made his first call (to Helga Wagner) a 8 a.m. the next morning.

Two friends of Kennedy, Ross Richards and Stan Moore, met with him in his hotel just before 8 o’clock. They reported that he appeared to be acting in a relaxed way and did not appear to be under any stress. Soon afterwards, Paul Markham and Joe Gargan arrived at the hotel. According to Richards they were “soaking wet”. It was while talking to Markham and Gargan that Kennedy became visibly upset.

Lieutenant George Killen, who interviewed all those people who had contact with Kennedy that morning in the hotel, became convinced that it was at this stage that Kennedy first discovered that Mary Jo Kopechne was dead. Richards also agreed with this analysis.

Kennedy returned to the island on the ferry at 9.50 the following morning. It was only once back on the island that he reported the accident.

John Farrar, a scuba diver, got the Mary Jo’s body out of the car. He believed that she found an air-pocket in the car and probably lived for about an hour. This view was supported by the medical examination of the body. The doctor claimed she had died of suffocation rather than from drowning.

Farrar found it difficult to believe that Kennedy would have been able to get out of the car once it went into the water. Others at the crime scene took a similar view. Lieutenant Bernie Flynn said: “Ted Kennedy wasn’t in the car when it went off the bridge. He would never have gotten out alive.”

There is one major problem with these timings. At about 12.45 Kennedy’s stationary car was seen at the intersection on Dike Road near the bridge by Christopher ‘Huck’ Look, deputy sheriff and part-time police officer. Look claims that a man was driving and that two other people were in the car. Look approached the car on foot but when the driver saw his police uniform the car then sped off down Dike Road. The car had a Massachusetts registration letter L. It also had a 7 at the beginning and at the end. Only eight other cars of this type had this number plate. They were all later checked out. Kennedy’s car was the only one with that number plate that was on the island that night.

Christopher ‘Huck’ Look appears to be a convincing witness. There seems to be no reason why he should lie about what he saw on the morning of the 19th July, 1969.

Therefore we have the situation where Edward Kennedy and Mary Jo Kopechne left the Lawrence Cottage at around 11.15 p.m. For some reason Kennedy returns to the cottage at 12.20 a.m. However, it is not to report the accident as at this stage the car has not yet had the accident on Dike Bridge.

Lieutenant George Killen, who investigated the case, was convinced that Kennedy had intended to have sex with Mary Jo in the car. He was drunk (evidence suppressed in court showed that Kennedy had consumed a great deal of alcohol that day). When Look approached Kennedy’s car, he feared he would be arrested. Therefore he sped off into the darkness. Afraid that Look would catch him up he gets out of the car and persuades Mary Jo to drive off (she herself has consumed a fair amount of alcohol. Kennedy then walks back to the cottage. When Mary Jo does not return Kennedy becomes convinced she has had an accident. Kennedy then goes back to his hotel leaving Markham and Gargan to search for Mary Jo. It is not until the next morning they discover what has happened. They then go to Kennedy’s hotel to tell him the news. This fits Killen idea that Kennedy did not know about the accident until the morning meeting with Markham and Gargan.

Killen’s theory fits all the established facts in the case. However, it does not explain Kennedy’s behaviour. Once he discovered that Mary Jo was dead, it would make far more sense to tell the truth. This story was more politically acceptable than the “leaving the scene of the accident” story. I therefore reject Killen’s theory.

I find Richard Sprague’s theory more convincing. Based on research carried out by Robert Cutler, Sprague argues that Kennedy was framed for Mary Jo’s murder. To quote Sprague:

They ambushed Ted and Mary Jo after they left the cottage and knocked Ted out with blows to his head and body. They took the unconscious or semi-conscious Kennedy to Martha's Vineyard and deposited him in his hotel room. Another group took Mary Jo to the bridge in Ted's car, force fed her with a knock out potion of alcoholic beverage, placed her in the back seat, and caused the car to accelerate off the side of the bridge into the water. They broke the windows on one side of the car to insure the entry of water; then they watched the car until they were sure Mary Jo would not escape.

Mary Jo actually regained consciousness and pushed her way to the top of the car (which was actually the bottom of the car -- it had landed on its roof) and died from asphyxiation. The group with Teddy revived him early in the morning and let him know he had a problem. Possibly they told him that Mary Jo had been kidnapped. They told him his children would be killed if he told anyone what had happened and that he would hear from them. On Chappaquiddick, the other group made contact with Markham and Gargan, Ted's cousin and lawyer. They told both men that Mary Jo was at the bottom of the river and that Ted would have to make up a story about it, not revealing the existence of the group. One of the men resembled Ted and his voice sounded something like Ted's. Markham and Gargan were instructed to go the the Vineyard on the morning ferry, tell Ted where Mary Jo was, and come back to the island to wait for a phone call at a pay station near the ferry on the Chappaquiddick side.

The two men did as they were told and Ted found out what had happened to Mary Jo that morning. The three men returned to the pay phone and received their instructions to concoct a story about the "accident" and to report it to the police. The threat against Ted's children was repeated at that time.

This theory does fit the evidence available. However, I am not convinced that Kennedy would have gone along with it as a result of the threats made on his children. Although I am aware that several people with information on the Kennedy assassination have not come forward because of threats made against family members.

The problem with the research of people like Damore, Cutler and Sprague is that they have concentrated on investigating Edward Kennedy. I believe the answer is contained in an investigation of Mary Jo Kopechne.

In the books on the case, the authors point out that Mary Jo had worked as a secretary for Robert Kennedy. This work began after the death of JFK. Before this she had worked for George Smathers of Florida. Smathers had been a long-term friend of JFK (they first started womanizing together in 1949). However, Smathers disagreed with JFK over his Cuban policy. He was one of those who believed that JFK should have ordered an invasion of Cuba in order to remove Fidel Castro.

Kopechne’s room-mate in Washington was Nancy Carole Tyler, Bobby Baker’s secretary and mistress. Smathers and Baker were also close friends. In fact, they were business associates. They were both involved in vending machines. Smathers and Grant Stockdale (another close friend of JFK) formed a company called, Automatic Vending. With the help of Baker they providing vending machines to government institutions. However, in 1961 Automatic Vending was sued for improper actions in getting a contract at Aerodex. As a result Stockdale was forced to resign as ambassador to Ireland.

Smathers and Stockdale were also involved in another vending machine company with Baker called Serve-U-Corporation. Others involved included LBJ’s close friend, Fred Black and mobsters, Ed Levenson, Benny Sigelbaum and Sam Giancana. Established in 1962, the company provided vending machines for companies working on federally granted programs.

The contracts that Automatic Vending and Serve-U-Corporation got were part of a much larger project. Baker was a key figure in this. So also was LBJ and Suite 8F Group based in Houston, Texas. All these people were part of what Dwight Eisenhower called the Military Industrial Congressional Complex.

The CIA became involved in this project when John McCone was appointed as Director of the CIA in November, 1961. Several members of the Senate objected to his appointment, pointing out the large sums of money McCone had made from military spending in the 1940s and 1950s. By the 1960s he had invested most of his profits into the oil industry: Panama Pacific Tankers Company, a large oil-carrying fleet, and Standard Oil of California. McCone’s main support came from Democrats in the South and in California. As Storm Thurmond said that after studying McCone’s past he came to the conclusion that it “epitomizes what has made America great”. McCone’s post as Director of the CIA, was confirmed and the Senate did not even force him to sell his shares in the oil industry.

Members of the Suite 8F Group made their money by controlling the appointments of key posts in the administration and the chairmanship of the key Congressional committees. This enabled large government contracts to be placed with companies such as Brown & Root, General Dynamics, Bell Corporation, Kerr-McGee Oil Industries, Humble Oil, etc. All these companies were based in Texas. However, with the arrival of McCone, they were going to have to share their profits with California.

JFK became aware of this scandal during the 1963 investigation into the TFX scandal. In November, 1963, Fred Korth, JFK’s Navy Secretary, was forced to resign as a result of accusations of corruption following the award of a $7 billion contract for a fighter plane, the TFX, to General Dynamics, a company based in Texas. Korth was a member of the Suite 8F Group and had only got the job on the recommendation of LBJ. JFK was in a difficult situation. He knew how deep this scandal went. Korth was only one of the many people who had been placed in positions where they could place lucrative government projects.

The Kennedy brothers were also implicated in this scandal. Not that they were bribed with money. Baker had entrapped them with the provision of sexual services. This included several women linked to the KGB. For example, Ellen Rometsch, Maria Novotny and Suzy Chang. It is difficult to know if JFK intended to take on the Suite 8F Group. All we know is that JFK was assassinated days after Korth was forced to resign.

Johnson could not afford to appoint another Texan in this key post of Navy Secretary. Instead he selected Paul Nitze, the husband of Phyllis Pratt, a Standard Oil heiress. As with John McCone, this project was seeing a merging taking place that involved the oil and armaments industries in Texas and California.

As secretaries of Bobby Baker and George Smathers, Nancy Carole Tyler and Mary Jo Kopechne were in a good position to know what was going on. Tyler was Baker’s long-term mistress and was initially not a problem. Mary Jo was in a different category. I suspect that Mary Jo knew there was a link between Bobby Baker’s activities and the assassination of JFK. Maybe she even told Robert Kennedy about this. However, he was not in a position to do anything about it. His main concern was preserving JFK’s good name. If he could do that, he would later become president. RFK kept Mary Jo quiet by appointing her as his secretary. Maybe he even told her about her long-term strategy.

Mary Jo was not the first person to discover that RFK was unwilling to take on the Military Industrial Congressional Complex in 1963.

On 26th November, 1963, Grant Stockdale (George Smathers and Bobby Baker’s business partner) flew to Washington and talked with Robert and Edward Kennedy. It is not known what Stockdale told the brothers. On his return Stockdale told several of his friends that "the world was closing in." On 1st December, he spoke to his attorney, William Frates who later recalled: "He started talking. It didn't make much sense. He said something about 'those guys' trying to get him. Then about the assassination."

Stockdale died on 2nd December, 1963 when he fell (or was pushed) from his office on the thirteenth story of the Dupont Building in Miami. Stockdale did not leave a suicide note but Smathers, claimed that he had become depressed as a result of the death of JFK.

In 1964 Baker’s secretary, Nancy Carole Tyler, was called before the Senate Rules Committee . She took the fifth amendment and refused to provide any information that would implicate Baker in any corrupt activities.

Tyler believed that Baker would leave his wife. When he refused, she became very angry and according to Baker, made scenes. This included threats to commit suicide. On 10th May, 1965, Robert O. Davis took Tyler out on a short plane trip. The plane crashed a few hundred yards from the hotel that Baker owned.

Tyler’s death must have concerned Mary Jo. Robert Kennedy’s murder on 4th June, 1968, would have been even more traumatic. Had he been killed because he knew the real reason for JFK’s assassination. There was only one person to tell about these events. Edward Kennedy. Did he respond in the same way as his brother? Was he following the same strategy? Would all be revealed when he became president? Was Mary Jo willing to accept this strategy? What about the original conspirators? Were they happy that Mary Jo had information on the assassination of JFK? Were they in contact with Edward Kennedy? Richard E. Sprague believes that the conspirators were keeping him quiet by making threats against his children. Maybe that was what was happening.

This is what I believe happened on 18th July, 1969. The conspirators realized that Mary Jo would, if left to her own devices, would eventually tell her story. At the same time they also feared that Kennedy would eventually abandon this “Camelot Myth” and tell his story. The conspirators could not kill Edward Kennedy as that would make the whole thing too suspicious. However, they could kill Mary Jo without too many people being aware of the links with the deaths of JFK, Grant Stockdale, Nancy Carole Tyler and Robert Kennedy. What was even better was to implicate Edward Kennedy in her death. This would ruin his chance of ever becoming president.

Therefore the conspirators informed Kennedy that Mary Jo was threatening to tell her story to the media. This would implicate the Kennedy family in the cover-up of JFK’s assassination. He was told to arrange a meeting with Mary Jo and to explain why it was important for her to keep quiet for the good of the Kennedy family. If necessary, they would also apply pressure on Mary Jo.

At 11.15 p.m. Kennedy suggests to Mary Jo that they go for a ride. It is not known how Mary Jo responded to Kennedy’s suggestion that she does not reveal what she knows. While in the car with Mary Jo they have some visitors. The men tell Kennedy that they will have a talk with Mary Jo. Kennedy is told to go to his hotel. They probably have even arranged to take Kennedy back to his hotel by boat. He would definitely feel uncomfortable about this but he is in no position to argue with them. Anyway, he does not suspect they plan to kill her.

Before getting the boat Kennedy goes back to the cottage. He cannot tell Gargan and Markham the full story. I suspect he tells them that he has had sex with Mary Jo. However, she responded badly and has driven back to the ferry in the car. (The last ferry was due to leave at midnight). Kennedy says he is concerned about Mary Jo because she had consumed a lot of alcohol during the day. Gargan and Markham give Kennedy a lift to the harbour. Kennedy uses the public phone at the harbour to check that Mary Jo got back to the hotel. He discovers that she is not yet back. Kennedy is worried. He asks the men to search for her in the area he left her while he will return to his hotel by boat.

While this is happening Christopher Look comes across Kennedy’s car (12.45 am.). Look sees three people in the car (Mary Jo and the two men). The car drives off. Look then goes to Lawrence Cottage where he talks to Ray LaRosa, Nance Lyons and Mary Lyons.

Gargan and Markham get to where Kennedy left Mary Jo at about 1.30 am. By this time Mary Jo is dead. In the dark it is impossible to find here. They go back to Lawrence Cottage to get some sleep. At first light they begin their search for Mary Jo. They find the car and make several attempts to see if they can get her out (that is why they are wet when they get to Kennedy’s hotel).

Gargan and Markham now go to Kennedy’s hotel to tell him the news. This is why Kennedy, who previous to this appeared to be calm and relaxed, goes into a state of shock. Lieutenant George Killen and Ross Richards were right when they speculated that Kennedy did not know that Mary Jo was dead until this meeting at 8 the next morning. It also explains why Kennedy did not report the accident when it happened and why he did not phone his close friends for advice. Kennedy now knew he had been set up. He had only two options.

(1) Go to the police and tell all. This would of course mean explaining why he had kept quiet about the assassination of his two brothers. If he did this his political career was over. The lives of his children would be put at risk. What would the public have thought of Kennedy leaving Mary Jo alone with the two men? Also, if he told this story, the Camelot Myth would have been destroyed.

(2) Report to the police that he had been driving the car when the accident took place. After making repeated efforts to save Mary Jo he goes to seek help from Gargan and Markham. They also make efforts to save her life. Suffering from shock he does not report the accident. Nor do his two friends. The reason being is that they thought he was going to do it. They cannot check that he has done it because he leaves them by swimming back to his hotel. The story is completely bizarre but he believes because of Kennedy family power, he might get away with it. He might even be able to keep his seat in Congress. Who knows, after a few years he might even get the chance to be President.

Given these two options, one can understand why he decided to confess to being the driver. He maintains the Camelot Myth. He retains his seat in Congress. However, he does not become President. Nor are the real reasons for the assassination of JFK ever revealed.

Simon Dee and the JFK Assassination

Simon Dee died yesterday. He was a famous BBC Talk Show host between 1967 and 1970. He was then offered a salary of £100,000 to move to ITV to host “The Simon Dee Show”. In one of his first shows he interviewed the cinema’s new James Bond, George Lazenby. During the interview Lazenby gave the names of American senators who he believed to have been involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. This was a live interview and it created great controversy. However, Lazenby and Dee were not sued by the named men. What did happen was that both men’s high-profile careers came to an end. Dee’s contract was cancelled and Lazenby never appeared in another Bond movie.

Dee found it impossible to find work. In 1974 he blamed the CIA for his predicament. “It was perfectly obvious that the CIA, who controlled our media and still do, would be on my case.”

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Larouche on the NHS

The far-right Larouche organisation has produced a video where it compares the British NHS with Hitler’s T4 program.

Let me first give some background history to our NHS before addressing the nonsense put forward in the video.

In the first-half of the 20th century, most of the major industrialized nations introduced social welfare legislation. This came about because of the pressure from the working-class who had recently been granted the vote. This was especially true of women voters (it had been the policy of virtually all the women’s suffrage organizations).

In 1902 George Barnes, General Secretary of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, formed the National Committee of Organised Labour for Old Age Pension. Barnes spent the next three years travelling the country urging this social welfare reform. The measure was extremely popular and was an important factor in Barnes being able to defeat Andrew Bonar Law , the Conservative cabinet minister in the 1906 General Election.

David Lloyd George, the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Liberal government led by Herbert Asquith in 1908, was also an opponent of the Poor Law in Britain. He was determined to take action that in his words would "lift the shadow of the workhouse from the homes of the poor". He believed the best way of doing this was to guarantee an income to people who were too old to work. In 1908 Lloyd George introduced the Old Age Pensions Act that provided between 1s. and 5s. a week to people over seventy. These were only paid to citizens on incomes that were not over 12s.

To pay for these pensions David Lloyd George had to raise government revenues by an additional £16 million a year. In 1909 Lloyd George announced what became known as the People's Budget. This included increases in taxation. Whereas people on lower incomes were to pay 9d in the pound, those on annual incomes of over £3,000 had to pay 1s. 2d. in the pound. Lloyd George also introduced a new supertax of 6d. in the pound for those earning £5000 a year. Other measures included an increase in death duties on the estates of the rich and heavy taxes on profits gained from the ownership and sale of property.

The Conservatives, who had a large majority in the House of Lords, objected to this attempt to redistribute wealth, and made it clear that they intended to block these proposals. After a long struggle with the House of Lords, Lloyd George finally got his budget through parliament. As a result of this conflict, the Liberal Government passed the 1911 Parliament Act that restricted the power of the House of Lords to block legislation passed by the House of Commons.

Lloyd George's next reform was the 1911 National Insurance Act. This gave the British working classes the first contributory system of insurance against illness and unemployment. All wage-earners between sixteen and seventy had to join the health scheme. Each worker paid 4d a week and the employer added 3d. and the state 2d. In return for these payments, free medical attention, including medicine was given. Those workers who contributed were also guaranteed 7s. a week for fifteen weeks in any one year, when they were unemployed.

Lloyd George's reforms were strongly criticised and some Conservatives accused him of being a socialist. There was no doubt that he had been heavily influenced by Fabian Society pamphlets on social reform that had been written by Beatrice Webb, Sidney Webb and George Bernard Shaw in the early 1900s. However, he had also been influenced by non-socialist writers such Seebohm Rowntree and Charles Booth.

Although most Labour Party members of the House of Commons had welcomed Lloyd George's reforms, politicians such as James Keir Hardie, Fred Jowett and George Lansbury argued that the level of benefits were far too low. They also complained that the pensions should be universal and disliked what was later to be called the Means Test aspect of these reforms.

Other European countries followed Britain’s example and by the 1930s all the major advanced industrial countries had created the basis of their own Welfare State. Although the rich objected to the higher-taxes they had to pay, these measures were highly popular with the vast majority of the population. Even so, it did not go far enough and poor people died in their thousands because of inadequate cover for health-care.

The government argued that because of the “great depression” the country could not afford these reforms. However, there was a clear understanding that once the economy improved a much more substantial welfare-state would be introduced.

During the Second World War the government became concerned about the commitment of the British people to winning the war. Many remembered the government of the First World War promising a “land fit for heroes” if we won the war. It was a promise that was never kept. This time Winston Churchill realised that the government had to make specific promises in order to have the desired effect on the British people.

Churchill asked Sir William Beveridge to write a report on the best ways of helping people on low incomes. In December 1942 Beveridge published a report that proposed that all people of working age should pay a weekly contribution. In return, benefits would be paid to people who were sick, unemployed, retired or widowed. Beveridge argued that this system would provide a minimum standard of living "below which no one should be allowed to fall". Beveridge also suggested the idea of a National Health Service.

During the 1945 General Election, Winston Churchill, promised to implement the Beveridge Report. So did the Labour Party. In a radio election broadcast in May 1945 made an attack on Labour’s welfare state plans: “I must tell you that a socialist policy is abhorrent to British ideas on freedom. There is to be one State, to which all are to be obedient in every act of their lives. This State, once in power, will prescribe for everyone: where they are to work, what they are to work at, where they may go and what they may say, what views they are to hold, where their wives are to queue up for the State ration, and what education their children are to receive. A socialist state could not afford to suffer opposition - no socialist system can be established without a political police. They (the Labour government) would have to fall back on some form of Gestapo.”

These comments are not unlike those being made by right-wing Republicans today. Churchill’s comments backfired as the British people wanted the introduction of a welfare state. His speech confirmed that the Conservatives were not committed to implementing the Beveridge Report.

Clement Attlee, the leader of the Labour Party responded the following night: "The Prime Minister made much play last night with the rights of the individual and the dangers of people being ordered about by officials. I entirely agree that people should have the greatest freedom compatible with the freedom of others. There was a time when employers were free to work little children for sixteen hours a day. I remember when employers were free to employ sweated women workers on finishing trousers at a penny halfpenny a pair. There was a time when people were free to neglect sanitation so that thousands died of preventable diseases. For years every attempt to remedy these crying evils was blocked by the same plea of freedom for the individual. It was in fact freedom for the rich and slavery for the poor. Make no mistake, it has only been through the power of the State, given to it by Parliament, that the general public has been protected against the greed of ruthless profit-makers and property owners."

The result was the Labour Party had a landside victory (393 seats compared to 197 for the Conservatives). Over the next few years the Labour government fully implemented the Welfare State. This included the National Insurance Act in 1946 that created the structure of the Welfare State. The legislation instituted a comprehensive state health service, effective from 5th July 1948. The Act provided for compulsory contributions for unemployment, sickness, maternity and widows' benefits and old age pensions from employers and employees, with the government funding the balance.

People in work, except married women, paid 4s 11d a week in National Insurance contributions. For the average worker, this amounted to nearly 5 per cent of their income. James Griffiths, the new Minister of National Insurance, claimed that it was "the best and cheapest insurance policy offered to the British people, of any people anywhere."

Winston Churchill and the Tories fought these measures every step of the way. They were supported by the private insurance health companies that stood to lose most from this system (as is the case in the United States today). However, the Labour Party had such a large majority in the House of Commons that they were able to introduce the National Health Service.

At the next election Churchill had to promise that he would leave the National Health Service alone. Every leader of the Conservative Party has had to follow this policy. The maker of the LaRouche suggests that David Cameron’s defence of the NHS is some sort of conspiracy. He is just doing what every Tory leader has done since the 1950 General Election. It would be impossible for any Tory to gain power without convincing the electorate that the NHS would function in the same way as it does under Labour. Without this assurance he cannot win the next election. That is an example of just how much the British value the NHS.

The video attempts to resurrect the arguments put forward by Winston Churchill in 1945 (dropped of course by the next election as he realised that the British public would not be fooled by such daft arguments).

Reference is made several times to Hitler’s T4 program that was introduced in October 1939. The LaRouche organization claims that the T4 program is similar to the way the NHS works. Therefore, the video goes onto to use phrases such as “Nazi NHS” and Obama is described as advocating “Hitlerian health reforms”.

Of course, people in Britain find this kind of attack deeply offensive. My father, like millions of other British citizens, fought the Nazis from 1939. We were not like the Americans who only decided they did not like fascism until after they were bombed at Pearl Harbor.

The video does not give us any details of Hitler’s T4 program. This is understandable as it has nothing to do with the NHS or Obama’s health-care reforms. In October 1939, Hitler produced details of the T4 program under the title, “The Destruction of Lives Unworthy of Life”:

The camouflage organization created for the medical killing of adults was known as the Reich Work Group of Sanatoriums and Nursing Homes. It operated from the Berlin Chancellery, at Tiergarten 4, hence the "T4" code name. In time, word of the Nazi T4 program (medical killing on a vast scale) filtered down into the general population, and resistance began to emerge. Himmler argued: “If operation T4 had been entrusted to the SS, things would have happened differently, because when the Fuehrer entrusts us with a job, we know how to deal with it correctly, without causing useless uproar among the people.”

Early in 1941, Hitler agreed to let Himmler use T4 personnel and facilities to rid the camps of “those most seriously ill, physically and mentally”. This became known as “prisoner euthanasia”. Hitler gave orders on 24th August 1941 to bring an end to T4. What was discontinued was only the visible dimension of the project: the large-scale gassing of patients. T4 officially ceased as a program, but that turned out to be still another deception. Widespread killing continued in a second phase, sometimes referred to in Nazi documents as “wild euthanasia” because doctors could now act on their own initiative concerning who would live or die.

For more information on this I suggest you read Robert Jay Lifton’s “The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide” (1986)

Several times the video refers to NICE as being the organization that administers the “British Nazi health-care system”.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is the independent organisation responsible for providing national guidance on the promotion of good health and the prevention and treatment of ill health. According to the video it is NICE that decides who is to live or die in Britain. I image this is reference to one of the roles that NICE plays in the NHS:

“NICE is asked to look at particular drugs and devices when there is confusion or uncertainty over the value of a drug or device or when prescribing practices vary across the country - so that patients may be receiving different prescribed treatments, depending on where they happen to live, rather than on the state of their health.”

The role of NICE is to look into the claims made by the multinational drug companies. For example, over the last few years these corporations have claimed that they have developed a new drug that helps deal with a particular health problem. These drugs are nearly always incredibly expensive. For example, the cost of this drug for a patient could amount to as much as £100,000 a year. Obviously, the NHS has to consider if it can afford to prescribe such drugs. NICE has upset several multinational drug companies by advising NHS doctors not to prescribe these drugs. There is nothing to stop doctors from prescribing private patients these drugs. Of course, this rarely happens as the private health insurance companies refuse to pay for these drugs. That is why it is so important for these drugs companies to persuade NICE to give their approval so that they can fleece the taxpayer.

The video uses the testimony of some patients complaining about the NHS. Any large institution will not satisfy all its customers. As I have posted earlier, my 95 year old mother has had marvelous treatment from the NHS (she is old enough to remember what health-care was like before the NHS was introduced in 1948). My wife also received excellent treatment for 12 years while suffering from cancer.

The NHS is far from being perfect. It is under-funded and I would like to see more money spent on health-care and less on nuclear weapons and the invasion and occupation of foreign countries. However, as a means of protecting people, regardless of income, it takes some beating. Anyway, it appears to be far superior to the one that exists in the United States. For example, the World Health Organisation ranks Britain's healthcare as 18th in the world, while the US is in 37th place.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Caster Semenya

Caster Semenya is currently undergoing a gender test to prove she is a female after beating her rivals by a huge margin to win the gold medal in the world championship 800 metres in Berlin. This is not the first time there has been problems with gender in athletics in Berlin.

In the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Stanislawa Walasiewicz finished second to Helen Stephens from the United States in the 100m final. Stephens, who had been unbeaten in all her races at 100m, broke the world record in the time of 11.5. After the race Walasiewicz told a Polish journalist that she suspected that Stephens was really a man. When this news was published German officials arranged for Stephens to undergo a medical examination. They then announced that Helen Stephens was definitely a woman.

After winning the 100m final Helen Stephens was introduced to Adolf Hitler in his private box. He decided to find out if she was really a woman. Later she recalled what happened: “Hitler comes in and gives me the Nazi salute. I gave him a good old Missouri handshake. Immediately Hitler goes for the jugular vein. He gets a hold of my fanny, and he begins to squeeze and pinch and hug me up, and he said, ‘You’re a true Aryan type. You should be running for Germany’. So after he gave me the once-over and a full massage, he asked me if I’d like to spend the weekend in Berchtesgaden.”

Dora Ratjen, represented Germany in the women’s high-jump in 1936 Olympics. She failed to win a medal and it was not until 19 years later that Dora admitted that she was really a man, Hermann Ratjen and that he had “bound up his genitals when competing in the high-jump between 1933-36.

Stanislawa Walasiewicz continued her career and went on to set 11 world records. After her retirement she moved to the United States and changed her name to Stella Walsh. On 4th December, 1980, Stella Walsh, went to a store in Cleveland to buy ribbons for a reception for the Polish national basket team. While she was there she was shot dead during a robbery attempt. During the autopsy doctors discovered that Stella was a man.

In 1967 the Polish sprinter, Ewa Klobukowska, was the first Olympic athlete to be disqualified after a chromatin test, in 1967. She was stripped of her two Olympic medals and banned from all professional sports. However, she was physically a woman and later went on to have children.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Innovation and Media Organisations

In the early 1980s I was a member of a publishing cooperative run by teachers. At the time we were pioneering a new way of teaching history. We were contacted by the BBC as they wanted our advice on a new series of television programmes for schools. The producer argued that this new series reflected the ideas that we were promoting in our teaching materials. Anyway, this producer came down to my house one Monday night to show us what they were up to. It soon became clear that the BBC had not grasped the concept we had been developing and we told this woman that these television programmes would not work in the classroom. It then became clear that this producer was not really interested in our views at all. All she wanted us to say was that this series was just what teachers had been waiting for. The series came out and received favourable reviews in the press and actually won some sort of award for innovation (to be fair it was very different from anything else that had been produced by the BBC for schools). However, the programmes were virtually unusable in the classroom. Later, I discovered that the BBC had to consult with teachers before bringing out new programmes. The problem was that they were free to completely ignore this advice, therefore, making the consultation process worthless.

Later I worked as a consultant on the use of technology in education for both the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph. I found it a very frustrating experience. They listened to my advice and I even found one man at the Telegraph to believe in what I had to say. However, he was unable to convince those at the very top of the organisation. My experience at the Guardian was even more frustrating. My advice was not compatible with their “business plan” and I never had any real impact on the production of educational web materials. In both cases they paid good money for advice they never made use of. I then went away and carried out my ideas on my own website. That of course is the great advantage of the internet.

History shows that large media organizations find it virtually impossible to innovate. There is a psychological reason for this. People in large organisations are really only interested in reproducing previously successful projects. Virtually all innovation comes from new and small organizations. These ideas, when successful, are eventually imitated by the large organizations such as the BBC. However, as in the example I gave earlier, they rarely understand what they are doing and this usually fails dismally.

The other problem is that the small organization that starts of with good ideas grows into large organizations with an obsession in reproducing its success. It therefore becomes blind to real innovation. Bill Gates talked about this problem in the early days of Microsoft. He claimed he would solve it by buying up innovative companies and giving them complete freedom within the organization.

The founders of Google have also talked about this problem and have tried to overcome it by giving its employees free time to work on new projects. It will be interesting to see if this experiment works. All large companies develop what I would call the Stalin model of organization. What is needed is the Trotsky model of “permanent revolution”. However, it should be pointed out, Stalin died in bed whereas Trotsky ended up with an ice-pick in his head.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Foreign Donations to the Labour Party

After the publicity given to the foreign multi-millionaires (“non-doms”) giving large donations to the Labour Party, the government passed legislation that placed a £7,500 cap on gifts from people who live in the UK but are domiciled elsewhere for tax purposes. However, at the request of tycoons such as Lord Swraj Paul and Sir Gulum Noon, these changes will not take place until after the next election.

There is also a specially constructed loop-hole in the legislation. All they have to do is make their donations via a British-based company. In other words, it is just business as usually and these foreign multimillionaires can continue dictating the policy of the government in exchange for large donations.