Category Archives: UK

Also in the news: Johnson’s plan won’t even start to fix social care crisis

Less than this much: Boris Johnson explains how much concern he has for improving social care for people who are poor.

A smaller-than-usual edition of ‘Also in…’ today because This Site was afflicted with technical problems yesterday (September 14), Enjoy:

Social care: Boris Johnson’s “plan” won’t improve quality but is only intended to help the rich

Winter flu: Johnson is ‘finalising’ plans – that will be diabolical if his social care ideas are a yardstick

The Tory ‘chumocracy’ is huge: one quarter of donors have received honours in return

This is from Byline Times:

More than a quarter of Conservative donors who have given more than £100,000 to the party hold a title or honour.

Three-quarters of the party’s elite donors received these titles after the Conservatives came to power in 2010, an investigation by the Byline Intelligence Team and The Citizens has found.

Of the Conservative Party’s 20 biggest donors since 2010 – those donating more than £1.5 million – 55% (11) have received an honour or title. Ten were given these rewards in the last decade.

Industry boss says food and drink shortages are ‘permanent’ but Johnson protests that Christmas will be ‘normal’

This is from The Independent:

Food shortages in supermarkets and restaurants are “permanent” and shoppers will never again enjoy a full choice of items, an industry boss has told Britons.

In an extraordinary warning, the head of the Food and Drink Federation said staff shortages – triggered by a combination of Covid and Brexit – had killed off the “just-in-time” delivery model.

But Downing Street rejected the claim of a broken system and, in a potential hostage to fortune, predicted the shortages will be over by the festive season.

Pressed on whether the shortages will ease to allow people to enjoy a “normal Christmas”, Boris Johnson’s spokesman told The Independent: “I believe so, yes.”

It’s another wild boast from a man with a bad reputation for making false claims.

What will people think when Christmas arrives and it is plagued with the shortages Johnson swore would not happen?

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Also in the news: right-wing media plan to speed NHS privatisation?

Today’s headlines:

Are the right-wing papers trying to hasten privatisation of the NHS by discrediting staff?

This Writer can’t really understand why the Tories want to move us on to an insurance-based health system when that’s what we’re on already. Attlee and Bevan didn’t call it National Insurance for fun, you know!

The simple reason privatised health care won’t work in the UK is that we already pay out health insurance into a system that is far more efficient – because it pools our resources – than a system in which we all pay individually ever could be.

Any problems with the NHS lie in the choices of what is done with the money. Those choices are bad at the moment because the Conservatives are desperate to hand the whole thing over to private firms who prize their profits over your health. If they gave up and concentrated on providing good health care, the situation would reverse rapidly.

Today’s reason to join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel

If I were still a member of the Labour Party, I would probably be expelled for publicising this.

But that is because Labour is currently run by puppets of the Israeli government. Think about it.

After one manifesto promise was broken, they’re all tumbling

Government ran national disability survey – but didn’t bother to read most of the responses

Boris Johnson’s £250m ‘Best of British’ flagship could be designed by foreigners

That’s Tory outsourcing and globalism for you. It would make him into a liar (again) – so he’s obviously not going to be bothered about that.

It should be scrapped anyway.

Johnson threatens to remain as prime minister for another decade

Well, Labour certainly won’t be able to stop him, with Keir Starmer or any of his right-wing cult members as leader – and they aren’t going to let anybody lead the party who actually knows how to beat the Tories.

Still, there’s always the chance that one of Johnson’s own cronies will backstab him instead.

Oh, but wait…!

Oh. My goodness.

He has written 14,000 words in yet another attempt to reset his failed leadership – why can’t he just give up? – and still won’t actually stand for anything by the end of it!

That’s convinced me. Johnson will be in government until he dies – or we do, whichever comes first.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Also in the news: emergencies the Tories are creating – to break the law?

“If you let politicians break the law in an emergency, they will create an emergency in order to break the law.”

Under national emergency Boris Johnson, the UK is lurching from one disaster to another.

Are they deliberately engineering these problems, just so they can change the law in increasingly corrupt ways? You decide…

Distribution of this year’s flu vaccine is delayed due to failure of deliveries nationally

It seems the Tories aren’t happy with Covid-19 killing off tens of thousands of older people; they want flu to finish the job and terminate the rest. It will also paralyse the National Health Service.

The problem is caused by a shortage of drivers, which should remind us that a Brexit-caused HGV driver shortage is ongoing… unless you’re a Tory minister, in which case it was caused by Covid-19. Or whatever excuse Transport Secretary Grant Shapps can dream up today.

The Tory refusal to acknowledge the cause of the problem means it may be with us for a while…

… but we can still derive some (rather bitter) humour from it:

Priti Patel’s attack on channel-hopping migrants: intended to distract from the Tories’ National Insurance daylight robbery?

If so, it seems to be working:

But some of us can see what’s at the heart of it:

So let’s remind ourselves of the Tories’ achievements, courtesy of Steve Howard, below:

History repeats itself: UK had Covid-19 ‘freedom day’ in the summer – now Johnson is threatening ‘Locktober’ in the autumn

Apparently the government is lining up the NHS to take the blame.

And why not? By then, doctors and nurses will be too busy dealing with elderly flu victims to defend themselves.

Also in the news:

Here’s the real reason younger people can’t afford to buy houses

Since the 1970s, house prices have risen at more than twice the rate that wages have increased – mostly due to the last four decades of neoliberal pay-squashing nonsense:

DWP to be humiliated by museum of its greatest hit-jobs on people with disabilities

After demanding that schools re-open too early, Labour demands return of face masks to make sure they can stay open

Meanwhile Covid infections spread via schools are skyrocketing.

Tories may be delaying compensation payments to Windrush scandal victims in the hope that they’ll die first

And finally: after Boris ‘Rivers of Sh*t’ Johnson allowed polluters to dump nearly-raw sewage in rivers, will it hasten the date when England runs out of its water supply?

This is what he did:

But is he hoping we’ve forgotten this?

It’s too late anyway: the rivers are already filling up with Johnson’s… product:

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Also in the news: Corrupt Tories vote on National Insurance – and make a killing on PPE

Contempt: Boris Johnson knows he can force the poor to pay for benefits taken by the rich – and give huge amounts of public money in corrupt contracts with Tory donors – and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Here’s today’s roundup of stories This Site hasn’t been able to cover otherwise:

Tory drones vote through National Insurance rise so the poor and pensioners pay to keep rich kids in their houses

They knew it was wrong but they did it anyway because they like using your money when they should be paying themselves. If you can’t see that, you’re as much a part of the problem as they are.

Tory donor who lobbied for government PPE contract via corrupt ‘VIP fast lane’ makes 9,000 PER CENT profit

David Meller is laughing all the way to the bank. He’s given nearly £60,000 to the Tories since 2009 and has made £13 million profit after having a quiet word with health minister Lord Bethell.

Levelling down – up North: social care spending in the North of England is nearly £3,000 lower per person than the national average

It’s because the Tories have starved local authorities of the cash they need – and don’t think for a moment that Johnson’s NI increase is going to change it.

Unite union will use block vote to remove right-wing David Evans as Labour Party general secretary

Unions hold half the votes at Labour conferences, and it is likely that others will follow Unite’s example – especially the Bakers’ union BFAWU, after Evans threatened to expel president Ian Hodson. It is unlikely that Evans’s – and Keir Starmer’s – attempts to gerrymander the delegate count to exclude left-wingers will increase sympathy for the dictatorial and divisive Evans.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Also in the news: stories you need to read

Summer is over and the news agenda is accelerating.

Events are starting to take place faster than This Writer can accommodate – but we can try to cover the bases by glancing at a few stories that would otherwise pass us by:

Geronimo the alpaca is dead

Don’t believe the government line about sympathy for the owner. It was never satisfactorily proved that this animal had TB at all.

Boris Johnson could be creating a new ‘lost’ generation of young people

Raab refuses to resign over Afghanistan fiasco, showing Boris Johnson’s government has no sense of decency or shame

From 40 New Hospitals To Levelling-Up – You Cannot Trust Boris Johnson

This secretive DWP ‘hit squad’ is trawling through Universal Credit claims to claw back overpayments – unlawfully?

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Also in the news: maskless Johnson terrifies shoppers while we all laugh at Raab

Boris Johnson actually attends a COBRA meeting

Oh, and afterwards he went into Marks and Sparks without a mask on.

Sajid Javid offers to open more Tory ‘hospitals’

More humiliation for Dominic Raab

An image of him with a woman wearing a sign saying “He has no idea what he’s doing” has resurfaced on the social media after the mess he made over Afghanistan proved her right.

The backlash against Brexiteers is growing at grassroots level

Ian Botham named as trade envoy to Australia

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Next week’s news: NHS victory – and politicians make fools of themselves

Here’s a start-the-week roundup of what’s likely to be in the news in – at least – the early part of the coming week.

1, NHS data dump to private firms is cancelled

Well done everybody! More than a million people opted out, after they finally found out about it, so the plan is now on indefinite hold while NHS Digital tries to find another way to hoodwink us into letting our private information go public.

2. Dominic Raab continues to be lazy and stupid

I know this isn’t news but the fact that he still has a Cabinet job continues to be amazing.

Then there’s this. Wasn’t he on holiday at a Russian-owned hotel, too?

3. Keir Starmer’s new slogan shows he’s out-of-touch to the point of illiteracy

4. Grant Shapps is axing the Eastern leg of HS2 because it costs too much. So much for ‘levelling up’!

5. Brexiteers are still unhappy that they’ve got the hard Brexit they wanted

6. Michael Gove accused of lying to Parliament about another PPE deal

Or it may be one of the deals we’ve already heard about. Who can keep track with these shifty Tories?

And finally: Keir Starmer is irrelevant

I wouldn’t be surprised if, rather than being Labour voters, the people in the photograph turn out to be his in-laws.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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How did the West mess up Afghanistan so badly? Here’s a quick primer

Cycle of violence: are we seeing a permutation of this cycle now, in Afghanistan? [Image: Miki Henderson.]

You’ve probably been wondering why Vox Political hasn’t commented on the international clusterf**k that has happened in Afghanistan over the past few weeks.

Simple answer: I was trying to understand what has happened – which meant going into more than 20 years of background material.

Yes, more than 20 years. Western powers have been tinkering with the Middle East for centuries, trying to dominate, and we all know (don’t we?) that Afghanistan has been a particularly tricky nut to crack.

Anyone who has read George MacDonald Fraser’s first Flashman novel will have seen what a mess the British Army made of it in the 1840s under Lord Elphinstone. The army there wasn’t just defeated; it was obliterated.

We have a more recent example of failure to subjugate the natives (and I think this can be observed in such colonial-racist terms) in the Soviet occupation that ran from 1979-89.

That incursion followed a Communist coup by a repressive organisation that vigorously suppressed opposition and executed thousands of political prisoners, and whose leaders were themselves divided. This division, and the possibility that Afghanistan may start supporting the interests of the United States, prompted Soviet premier Leonid Brezhnev to invade and install a puppet leader.

The intention was to secure towns and roads, stabilize the government under a new leader, and withdraw within six months or a year. But fierce resistance from insurgent groups (remember the Mujahideen?)  and difficulties with the harsh Afghan terrain pushed the Soviets into a war that lasted more than nine years and has been labelled the “Bear Trap” or the “Soviet Union’s Vietnam”. It ended with the retreat of Soviet forces in February 1989, after which Afghanistan remained in a state of civil war.

Guerilla fighters don’t get anywhere without help; they needed funding and weapons, and found both from a number of sources including – principally – the United States.

One might expect this to mean Afghans would be grateful to their US benefactors, right? Well, there’s a problem, and it is this:

After the Soviet withdrawal, Afghans started blaming the US for miseries caused in that country because it continued to fund rebels against the pro-Soviet administration that had been left in Kabul. Rebel rocket attacks in 1989 and 1990 went nowhere near military targets but killed civilians instead. And the US apparently had no interest in humanitarian aid to clear up the mess caused by a decade of conflict that it had supported.

Crucially to the current situation, many Afghans believed the US to be responsible for the rise of the Taliban. And who had been there all along, providing support to the US and acting in concert with the US government? The United Kingdom under Thatcher and Major – that’s who.

The 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre in New York, on September 11, 2001, was believed to be “blowback”, or unintended consequences of supporting the Mujahideen, with principal planner of the attack Osama Bin Laden claiming the suffering of the Afghan people after the Soviet withdrawal was a consequence of US involvement.

Interestingly, while the US certainly funded guerilla organisations in Afghanistan, the question of whether it provided cash to Bin Laden’s group, Al Qaeda, is difficult to answer. Some say no; others say he had been their best general against the Russians.

Whether US relations with Bin Laden were good or bad, they soured when Saudi Arabia refused Bin Laden’s offer to fight the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, that happened in 1990. The Saudis turned to America instead and it is understood that Bin Laden never forgave the slight.

His organisation had been based in Sudan, but had been expelled, and returned to Afghanistan to take refuge with the Taliban.

This may seem contradictory to you. If the US was considered responsible for the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan, why was 9/11 carried out by a Taliban ally?

The only answer I can offer at present is this: opportunism. Acting against a widely-perceived enemy offered a propaganda victory that might reasonably be expected to help win power. And hasn’t that turned out to be the case now?

Let’s backtrack a little, to the years immediately preceding 9/11. It seems a US thinktank called the Project for a New American Century had been building influence in the US government. This organisation’s stated aim was “to promote American global leadership”. In other words: world domination.

By the time of 9/11, members of the group had come to dominate the George W Bush administration, including Donald Rumsfeld (Defence Secretary), Paul Wolfowitz (Deputy Defence Secretary) and others. They were in a position to put their aim into practice – but they needed a pretext. And 9/11 was it.

The hijackers who flew passenger planes into the World Trade Centre and tried to fly one into the Pentagon were all from Saudi Arabia, but they had been trained in Afghanistan – making that country the logical location for a response (or, in the words of then National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, a chance to “capitalize on these opportunities”).

But Afghanistan was only the second choice. Rumsfeld wanted to attack Iraq because “there were no decent targets in Afghanistan”.

They were easy targets, though – and attacking Afghanistan would make it possible to topple the fundamentalist Taliban regime there that had been obstructing US plans to build an oil pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan.

So the troops rolled in, installed Hamid Karzai (allegedly an employee of Californian oil company Unocal, along with US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad), got their oil pipeline and moved on.

The UN Security Council established the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) – ostensibly to train the Afghan military to a standard by which they could defend themselves, but mainly to defend the newly-installed government against attempts by the Taliban to retake the country. Principal troop contributors were the United States and the UK.

ISAF combat operations in Afghanistan were formally ended in 2014, with full security responsibilities being transferred to the Afghan government – but on the very same day, the NATO-led Operation Resolute Support was formed, in which thousands of troops remained in the country to train and advise Afghan government forces and continue fighting the Taliban. Again, US and UK troops were prominent among them.

Then in April this year, new US president Joe Biden announced that he would be withdrawing US troops from the country – because he could see no way of defeating the Taliban.

According to the Washington Post,

Biden’s decision comes after an administration review of U.S. ­options in Afghanistan, where U.S.-midwifed peace talks have failed to advance as hoped and the Taliban remains a potent force despite two decades of effort by the United States to defeat the militants and establish stable, democratic governance. The war has cost trillions of dollars in addition to the lives of more than 2,000 U.S. service members. At least 100,000 Afghan civilians have been injured or killed.

“This is the immediate, practical reality that our policy review discovered,” said one person familiar with the closed-door deliberations who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss policy planning. “If we break the May 1st deadline negotiated by the previous administration with no clear plan to exit, we will be back at war with the Taliban, and that was not something President Biden believed was in the national interest.”

The goal is to move to “zero” troops by September, the senior administration official said. “This is not conditions-based. The president has judged that a conditions-based approach . . . is a recipe for staying in Afghanistan forever. He has reached the conclusion that the United States will complete its drawdown and will remove its forces from Afghanistan before September 11th.”

In other words, this was unconditional surrender to the Taliban. No wonder they swept in.

Everything else that has been said about the situation in Afghanistan was just talk, to cover up the fact that both the US and the UK were running away from that country with their tails between their legs.

So, for example, consider this:

My bet is that the UK intelligence on this was that the Taliban would be in control by mid-August, and Johnson was just blustering to stave off the international humiliation that the situation has caused to the UK – which has been America’s principal ally throughout this whole fiasco, dating back to the 1980s.

I also have a sneaking suspicion that Joe Biden’s decision was based less on the chances of military victory and more on projections of the kind of financial gain US commercial interests might enjoy by staying in Afghanistan; with no likelihood of profit, it was time to pull out.

At the end of the day, we see that Afghanistan has again defeated foreign attempts to assert control. As the British were ejected in the 1840s and the Russians in the 1980s, so have the Americans (and, again, the British) now.

It was never going to end any other way.

And now we in the UK are once again facing the consequences of our governments’ – successive administrations stretching back to Thatcher – interference in a place where we should not have been.

One of those consequences is the threat to lives posed by the Taliban, and the failure of the Boris Johnson administration to take anything like the necessary steps to save those lives.

And so the circle of violence turns. We invade a country, cause lives to be lost; we withdraw, and more lives are lost. Now people from that country are likely to come to ours hoping to kill some of us in return – and won’t that prompt our leaders to demand we go back and deliver reprisals?

We need a better solution.

But all we have are Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Why wouldn’t a UK embassy worker be spying for Russia? Its influence extends to the top of our government

Boris Johnson with his good friend, Russian ex-KGB agent Alexander Lebedev: Russia’s infiltration of UK politics is known to extend to the top, so it is no surprise that a UK embassy employee in Germany may have been spying for that country.

When I heard that a British embassy employee had been arrested on a charge of spying for Russia, my first thought was, “I wonder how he knows Boris Johnson?”

Doesn’t that say everything about the depth to which the UK has sunk internationally under Johnson’s excuse for leadership?

The so-called ‘Russia Report’, released in July 2020 after being delayed by Johnson for more than nine months so it would not harm his chances in the 2019 general election, defined Russian influence over UK politics as “the new normal” – at least while Tories like Johnson are in charge.

It said successive Conservative governments have welcomed Russian oligarchs “with open arms”, giving them access to political figures “at the highest levels” – and made absolutely no attempt to investigate Russian interference in referendums and elections; in fact, the Tories “actively avoided” doing so.

This has led, the report states, to the growth of an industry of “enablers” who are “de facto agents of the Russian state”. The report does not explicitly state that these enablers include Conservative government politicians, but its assertion that Russia had access to “the highest levels” of political figures certainly suggests that this is the case.

Johnson himself was considered a security risk by the UK’s national security services while he was Foreign Secretary – and with good reason.

Remember the time he went to a party to meet a former KGB agent, Alexander Lebedev, days after attending a Nato summit on Russia?

Who knows what secrets may have emerged from this tactless and indiscreet fool’s flapping gums?

That’s just one incident that is known to us. How many more have there been?

So it should come as no surprise that an employee of the UK’s embassy in Germany has been arrested on suspicion of passing to Russian agents documents he had received in the course of his work there.

Did he think that, if it was good enough for the prime minister, it was good enough for him?

Source: British embassy worker arrested in Germany accused of spying for Russia

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Will Starmer’s latest relaunch be undermined – by Jeremy Corbyn? [Also in the news]

Keir Starmer and Jeremy Corbyn: in this image, Starmer was preparing to stab Corbyn in the back (metaphorically). Now it seems grassroots Labour members have found a way to do the same to Starmer.

Keir Starmer’s bid to “reinvigorate” his leadership of the Labour Party at this autumn’s conference could be torpedoed by grassroots members – and Jeremy Corbyn.

The party rank-and-files that Starmer has spent the last year trying to marginalise are circulating a motion to give final say on disciplinary action against MPs to the membership at large.

It’s a terrific idea because it would ensure that the leadership couldn’t influence decisions in favour of its favoured (right-wing) members… if ever that should seem attractive to Starmer and his cronies.

But more crippling for Starmer will be the fact that his decision to exclude Corbyn from the Parliamentary Labour Party could be reversed – by the members he hates, ruining his “reinvigoration”:

Also in the news today:

1. Dido Harding will stand down as NHS Improvement boss in October.

It means the organisation’s title may finally stop being a contradiction in terms.

But what part of the national infrastructure will Harding try to blight with her presence next?

2. Thousands of ESA claimants are to receive thousands of pounds in back payments

A four-year review of ESA claims has ended, with thousands of people receiving thousands of pounds.

And the families of many more who have died will receive a £3,000 payout.

But here’s the problem: if they had received that money when they were alive, would they still have died?

3. David Cameron allegedly made millions by cashing in his shares in Greensill before it collapsed.

He had tried to get his former colleagues in the Tory government to invest in the company’s loans, before it collapsed when its insurer refused to renew cover for the same loans.

By that time, we’re told, Cameron had cashed in his own shares in the company, making £7.2 million.

It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good, eh?

4. NHS hospital wards may have been filled with toxins because the government ignored SAGE

Several NHS hospitals have trialled air purification products that could produce dangerous levels of toxins after the government ignored advice from its Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) to implement new guidelines for air purification systems.

Sage’s environmental modelling group in November urged the Government to draw up “impartial guidance” on air purifiers following a spike in sales during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sage’s advice was repeatedly ignored. Business minister Paul Scully told MPs eight months later, in July, that current trading regulations are adequate to keep consumers safe.

Industry figures raised concerns after several NHS hospitals trialled air purification systems made by decontamination technology firm Airora that could generate potentially dangerous levels of formaldehyde and ozone.

5. The government’s new disability strategy is to carry on pushing people off benefits

“The Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) Shaping Future Support: the health and disability green paper, released a week before the NDS, confirmed that it has no intention of easing up on its attempts to push disabled people off benefits.”

This is embarrassing for the Tories as it undermines anything in the NDS – or it would, if there was anything to undermine.

The strategy itself seems to be to award empty “accessibility promotion” job titles to non-disabled people.

The issues of most importance to people with disabilities – benefits and social care support – are conspicuous by their absence.

6. DWP is handing Universal Credit information to local councils – to undermine the vulnerable?

Consider this:

… and have them evicted?

7. Right-wing think tank loses complaint over radio comments

This is unfortunate – for the Institute of Economic Affairs:

Am I right in thinking we can all now say that the IEA is a politically-biased hard-right lobby group of questionable provenance, with dubious ideas and validity?

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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