Friday 27 January 2023


The Open Democracy newsletter provides me with a daily measure of insight into the wrongs of our country. I recommend it.

Yevgeny Prigozhin - a Russian oligarch and a close confidant of Russian president Vladimir Putin. Prigozhin was called "Putin's chef" because his restaurants and catering businesses hosted dinners which Putin attended with foreign dignitaries.

Here's yesterday's (26.01.2023) shocking and deeply disturbing piece by Oliver Bullough, condensed by me into bullet-points:

  • Before I talk about the scandal around Yevgeny Prigozhin’s defamation case against Eliot Higgins, I want to lay out the steps a journalist has to go through before she writes about a Russian oligarch employing a mercenary army to loot the world.
  • First of all she has to decide to be a journalist, to consciously choose to do a job where there is an ever-more-limited supply of organisations able or willing to pay a decent amount for her time.
  • Secondly, she has to decide to investigate financial crime, perhaps the most moribund corner of this dying profession, instead of something more clickable.
  • Thirdly, she has to focus on investigating financial crime in the kind of countries readers don’t much care about – poor, remote ones where people speak different languages from us – instead of writing about Donald Trump. That’s before she does a stroke of work on this particular investigation.
  • When the investigation begins we get to step four: she has to find people willing to talk to her, to expose the secrets of a man with his own army, who has exulted in the fact that his people murdered a supposed deserter with a sledgehammer.
  • Fifthly, she needs to find his financial documents, to prise them out of the world’s tax havens, to interpret

Thursday 19 January 2023


 My blogpost last Thursday on Cornwall and the military-industrial complex seems to have had legs - 34 views in four days, and still counting - press here for a link. On Friday, my copy of a weekly local newspaper - The Cornishman - arrived through the door - and I turned to the centre pages to read the weekly wisdom of Old Mike. 

Back in 2017, I shared a train journey home from Truro with a gentleman who had been reporting on a demo I had been attending in support of Jeremy Corbyn and his socialist vision, a perspective, as Jeremy says, 'fit for the 21st century'. He was, as I discovered as we approached St Ives, none other than Old Mike. I liked him - I valued our conversation. I read him every week.

What was Old Mike saying last week? Interestingly, he was reflecting on the failed Newquay space rocket launch of the satellites, the subject of my blogpost last week. 

Preparing for the ill-fated launch 

For your interest - and as a relevant follow-on from last Thursday's post - here are the main points of his piece, filtered through my reading:

  • Newquay airport, the intended site of a spaceport, is in the area of three parishes, Trevarrian, Mawgan Porth, and Beacon Cove. Local protests last year make sense when you know the CEO of Virgin Galactic, Michael Colglazier, has in mind an annual return of one billion dollars per spaceport - to be achieved by up to 400 flights a year, including the $400,000 Virgin Galactic flights for those who have too, too much money. The relatively remote Newquay site means the

Thursday 12 January 2023



This blogpost highlights a detail you probably missed when reading about the failure of the Spaceport Cornwall launch this week. The aim had been to launch nine small satellites from a rocket launched from a modified jumbo jet - but something went wrong. Here, courtesy of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), is the story of the bits that are missing from the newspaper and TV accounts:   

Space is being militarised

Dave Webb, Chair of Yorkshire CND, responds to the first space launch attempt from the UK, which took place this week.

Weather satellite in orbit around planet Earth - a Met Office image, used with thanks 

Military goals to dominate space and commercial competition to exploit it have become the major driving forces and major users are acting according to their own self- interests, contrary to the common good.

  • A modified Boeing 747 jumbo jet, was trying to carry LauncherOne, a two-stage rocket, under its wing to 35,000 feet. There it was released, and would have carried nine mini-satellites into orbit, had the second stage of the rocket not failed.
  • This attempt was the first ever satellite launch from the UK and had been highlighted as important for the UK space industry and for the scientific payloads – but little was discussed about the four military satellites on board. 
  • Two were for Prometheus 2 a joint Ministry of Defence and US National Reconnaissance Office communications and surveillance project, and two others were for CIRCE jointly developed by the UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory and the US Naval Research Laboratory to help develop long-range communications and radar.
  • The MoD sees space as ‘fundamental to military operations’ and the UK is becoming part of a space arms race which is increasing global instability. But the UK cannot do it alone last

Thursday 5 January 2023


 The name of Danny Dorling came my way when I was researching for my book, The Road to Corbyn (2016) - press this link here to order a copy. The first half-decade of the neo-liberal Tory austerity programme (2010-15) had become my focus. I discovered that Danny Dorling had become the new professor of geography at the university of Oxford in 2013 and was an academic very much on the side of the many, not the few. In his inaugural lecture, he noted the increasing disparity between Britain's richest 1 per cent and the rest:

"Income inequality has now reached a new maximum and, for the first time in a century, even those just below the richest 1% are beginning to suffer, to see their disposable income drop."

Professor Danny Dorling in 2018

Wikipedia records that Dorling was very supportive of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour Party leader (2015-2020). In May 2016, he wrote:

"Jeremy Corbyn can take on the zealots and bigots who use migration to stir up fear and hatred. His popular appeal is not based on stoking up prejudices. It is based on conviction, love and compassion. Just how cynical do you have to be not to see the hope and possibility in that?" 

Yesterday (4th January, 2023), Open Democracy published its daily newsletter which carried an article by Danny Dorling with the title: How austerity caused the NHS crisis. That's the important piece of academic