The British ambassador who supported a coup

On 20 October 2019, there was a presidential election in the South American country of Bolivia. As results came in, it showed a narrow victory for the incumbent Evo Morales and his Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) party.

But the following day, the Organisation of American States (OAS), a grouping of North and South American countries, released a preliminary statement claiming irregularities in the vote and pointing to fraud.

This unleashed three weeks of protests which, upon publication of the final OAS report in November, led to the head of the Bolivian army calling on the democratically elected president to step down. To avoid violence, President Morales acceded to the military’s demands.

On 12 November, brandishing a huge leather-bound Bible, Jeanine Añez, a senator from the northeastern department of Beni, declared herself “interim president”.

— source | Mark Curtis, Matt Kennard | 30 Mar 2021

Nullius in verba

‘Operators in India Hacked’ UK Foreign Office Phones Using Pegasus

Two days before Boris Johnson’s first visit as prime minister to India, it has been revealed that ‘operators’ in India, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Cyprus and Jordan used the Israeli spyware Pegasus to target phones of United Kingdom (UK) government officials between July 2020 and June 2021.

According to an analysis by Toronto-based Internet watchdog Citizen Lab—which has exposed the use of the NSO Group’s Pegasus by various governments, including India, several times—and reported by The New Yorker for the first time, the malware was also found on a device connected to 10 Downing Street.

A UK official confirmed to The New Yorker that the network was compromised. UK’s National Cyber Security Centre, a branch of British intelligence, tested several phones at Downing Street, including Johnson’s. “It’s a bloody hard job,” the official said adding that the agency was unable to locate the infected device. Therefore, the quality and quantity of data that could have been compromised were never determined.

“When we found the No. 10 case, my jaw dropped,” John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at the Citizen Lab told the American weekly magazine. Another senior researcher Bill

— source | 19 Apr 2022

Nullius in verba

Climate scientist on hunger strike ‘after being refused bail’

A scientist who was arrested during a climate change protest is on hunger strike after being denied bail, it has been claimed. Activist group Extinction Rebellion claims Emma Smart, an ecologist, was detained on Thursday during a protest with 24 fellow scientists at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in London. Smart, who is also refusing water, is being held at Charing Cross Police Station waiting for a court hearing on Saturday, the group said. Along with eight other scientists, Smart has been charged with criminal damage after pasting scientific papers to the government building and glueing themselves to its glass frontage.

— source | Apr 15, 2022

Nullius in verba

Scientists glue hands to business department in London climate protest

Twenty-five scientists have pasted pages of scientific papers to the windows of the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and glued their hands to the glass to highlight the climate science they said the government was ignoring. The scientists, affiliated with Scientists for Extinction Rebellion, arrived at the department’s building at 1 Victoria Street, Westminster, London, just after 11am. Doctors and health professionals staged a decoy action to give them space to get into position. The action came a week after the government published a new energy strategy that promised to continue the exploitation of North Sea oil and gas, failed to set targets for onshore wind, and gave nuclear power a central role.

Ecologist Dr Aaron Thierry (@ThierryAaron), who has his hand superglued to the window at @beisgovuk with @ScientistsX

— source | 13 Apr 2022

Nullius in verba

When Bhabani Mahato fed the revolution

“It must have been very hard for you when your husband Baidyanath was jailed for 13 months in the Quit India movement?” I ask Bhabani Mahato in Puruliya. “Running such a large joint family and…”

“We had a large joint family,” she says. “All responsibilities were mine. I did all the chores. I took care of everything. Everything. I ran the family. I looked after everybody in 1942-43 when all those incidents happened.” Bhabani does not name the ‘incidents’. But they included, among others, the Quit India stir. And the famous September 30, 1942 attempt by freedom fighters to hoist the tricolour at 12 police stations in what was even then one of the most deprived regions of Bengal.

And so the action planned in response happened on September 30, 1942. Fully 53 days after Mahatma Gandhi’s call for the British to ‘Quit India’ at the Gowalia Tank Maidan in Mumbai on August 8, 1942. Baidyanath was arrested in the crackdown and suffered in the repression that followed. He was to become a schoolteacher after Independence. Teachers back then played a key role in political mobilisation. A role that would be carried over into Independent India for some decades.

— source | P. Sainath | Apr 18, 2022

Nullius in verba

25 years of Bank of England independence shows we need a new approach

This week marks 25 years since arguably the biggest change to UK economic policy that no one voted for – the handing over of control of monetary policy and inflation to the Bank of England, a newly ‘independent’ central bank.

Established in 1694 and nationalised in 1945, the Bank of England has always had a close relationship with the government, from its early history helping the government finance its wars, to its post-war role guiding investment towards the government’s industrial priorities. But the role of the Bank of England has often flown under the radar of mainstream political debate. It therefore probably came as a surprise to most people when one of New Labour’s first acts of government in 1997 was to grant operational independence to the Bank of England – something that was absent from the manifesto they had just been elected on.

What this meant in practice was that the Bank of England was tasked with targeting inflation at 2% and given independence over monetary policy (setting the price of money through interest rates) to decide how to do this. The idea was that this would take the ‘printing presses’ away from elected politicians, who New Labour feared the public (and financial markets) didn’t trust not to turn on for short-term popularity. While this may sound like a well meaning idea, it has turned out to be unfit for purpose.

This separation of economic policy between fiscal authorities like the Treasury and independent central banks like the Bank of England has ended up exacerbating the crises of the

— source | Simon Youel | May 6, 2022

Nullius in verba

Slavery of Jamaica

It wasn’t supposed to go like this. Usually, royal tours are full of cheering people lining the streets and gushy accounts of glamorous dresses. There has been some of that during the royal visit by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to the Caribbean. But there also have been protests, especially in Jamaica, where many people want the royal family to apologise for its role in institutionalising slavery on the island. To top it all off, it has also been reported this week that Jamaica has begun the process of removing the Queen as the head of state.

Such a reckoning with Britain and its state is long overdue. Jamaica in the 18th century was described by Charles Leslie as a “constant mine, whence Britain draws prodigious riches”. It contributed greatly to the wealth of individuals thousands of miles away, such as William Beckford, Lord Mayor of London and the owner of well over 1,000 enslaved people, whose statue still graces Guildhall in London. But more significantly, it enriched Britain by filling the coffers of the Treasury with money from taxes levied on sugar and rum. Britain was the greatest slave trader in the Atlantic world during the 18th century, sending nearly 1 million captive Africans to Jamaica between 1655 and 1807, resulting in a population of enslaved people barely over 300,000, due to horrific mortality rates. Black people suffered greatly for white people’s enjoyment of sweet things.

Kingston, where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited, is the Ellis Island of forced migration to places that were colonised by the British in the 17th and 18th centuries.

— source | Trevor Burnard | 25 Mar 2022

do not personalize the slavery, its a systematic problem. not just limited to a so called royal family.

Nullius in verba

7 Forgotten Western Rebels Who Fought for India’s Independence

In an interview to talk about his new book Rebels Against the Raj: Western Fighters for India’s Freedom, Ramachandra Guha explains that the seven British and American people he has chosen to write about are “seven remarkable characters”, who led “unusual, interesting, eccentric and exciting lives”.

He said they were “individuals of great courage, even recklessness”. They “embraced a country not their own and fought for its freedom”. Each of them spent time in jail fighting for India’s independence.

In a 26-minute interview to Karan Thapar for The Wire, Ramachandra Guha identified a further very special reason for writing this book. “This is a world governed by paranoia and nationalist xenophobia…Narendra Modi and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh…see themselves as uniquely blessed by history and by God. No foreigner, they believe, can teach them anything. This book tell us that they can.”

— source | Karan Thapar | 14 Feb 2022

Nullius in verba