"In Europa ci sono già i presupposti per l'esplosione di un conflitto sociale. Questo è il seme del malcontento, dell'egoismo e della disperazione che la classe politica e la classe dirigente hanno sparso. Questo è terreno fertile per la xenofobia, la violenza, il terrorismo interno, il successo del populismo e dell'estremismo politico."

domenica 13 ottobre 2019

L'invasione turca dei territori curdi in Siria: si avvera la "profezia" di Uropia?



Sopra, titoli dei giornali dell'ottobre 2019; qui sotto, le pagine 57 e 58 del romanzo:



giovedì 10 ottobre 2019

Ancora sull'abolizione del contante e la sorveglianza totale: Laura Boldrini in TV




Evasione fiscale, Laura Bodrini: "L'unica via per combattere l'evasione è la tracciabilità: dobbiamo sapere chi spende e in che cosa, la carta di credito te lo permette. Dobbiamo dare degli incentivi a chi usa la carta di credito".


Falso: la tracciabilità non è l'unica via per combattere l'evasione fiscale.
Falso: dare incentivi a chi usa mezzi di pagamento tracciabili non è la stessa cosa che punire chi usa il contante o proibirne addirittura l'utilizzo.

lunedì 23 settembre 2019

L'abolizione del contante: il "false target" dell'evasione fiscale e lo strumento di sorveglianza generale



Nonostante che le più grandi truffe ed evasioni della storia recente siano state perpetrate dalle più importanti (e grandi) istituzioni finanziarie, utilizzando stratagemmi che non comportavano lo spostamento di denaro contante ma di "capitali digitali", si sta facendo largo in Italia l'idea di penalizzare l'uso del denaro contante attraverso una tassa del 2% sul prelievo di somme superiori ai 1500 euro, oppure di deduzioni fiscali per tutti i pagamenti "con mezzi tracciabili".

A rigor di logica, questa cultura dello strabismo fiscale, secondo cui l'incentivo premiante per pagamenti elettronici viene sempre accompagnato da un accanimento punitivo nei confronti del denaro contante non può spiegarsi con la scusa della lotta all'evasione fiscale.
Se infatti quest'ultima fosse lo scopo finale, si dovrebbero usare incentivi premianti come deduzioni o detrazioni per qualsiasi tipo di acquisto, fatto con qualsiasi mezzo di pagamento: se tutti coloro che acquistano un bene o un servizio potessero dedurre dalle tasse un importo dello scontrino o della fattura ricevuta, ogni cittadino sarebbe motivato a richiedere regolare contrassegno di pagamento al rivenditore/fornitore al fine di godere del beneficio fiscale.

È del tutto evidente che questo tipo di provvedimento incentiverebbe veramente la lotta all'evasione ed al sommerso.  E di fronte a questo incentivo, i diversi metodi di pagamento assumerebbero un'equivalenza che dimostra il "false target" di simili proposte di penalizzazione del denaro contante: i metodi di pagamento digitale non differiscono da questo se non nella loro tracciabilità.
L'unico "vantaggio" di simili proposte non ha nulla a che vedere con l'emersione del nero (i narcotrafficanti sudamericani già da un decennio non muovono denaro contante dai loro mercati nordamericani ai Paesi produttori bensì ...detersivo liquido e in polvere (!): è un prodotto che conserva il suo valore, che non conosce crisi, e non desta sospetti alle frontiere -è più facile contrabbandare un truck pieno di detersivo piuttosto che pieno di mazzette di dollari.

D'altra parte, in tempi di tassi negativi, una tassa sul prelievo di contante contribuirebbe semmai ad un'ulteriore spinta a tenere i contanti sotto il materasso anziché sui conti correnti, per la proliferazione del sommerso.

L'unica, vera e decisiva ragione per preferire e quindi imporre i metodi di pagamento digitali è la loro tracciabilità, che consente un altro passo in avanti verso il controllo e la sorveglianza totale cui le telecamere a riconoscimento facciale -che vengono implementate senza sosta e con ogni scusa, pur non avendo alcuna funzione deterrente nei confronti della grande criminalità o del terrorismo- stanno contribuendo e contribuiranno in maniera sempre più estesa.



Sarà comunque un caso certamente che in Italia queste proposte arrivino dalle associazioni degli industriali o dai rappresentanti di grandi istituti finanziari internazionali.
Ad ogni modo, se voleste sapere come sarà il futuro non è necessario immaginare "uno stivale che calpesta un volto umano.  Per sempre".  Potrebbe essere sufficiente guardare alla Cina: il più grande "laboratorio" mondiale di sistemi di sorveglianza cui molti anche nel mondo occidentale, negli ambienti che contano e che muovono il potere economico e di conseguenza quello dell'informazione e della politica, guardano con interesse per quello che sarà -verosimilmente- anche il nostro futuro.

È da notare infine che, se da un lato i sostenitori del cash non sono affatto contrari all'introduzione di metodi di pagamento alternativi anti ne approfittano volentieri, lo stesso non può dirsi dei sostenitori di questi ultimi rispetto all'uso del contante: mentre i primi accolgono con piacere la facoltà di utilizzare liberamente la moneta o la carta di credito o Paypal o un'App, i secondi propalano l'obbligo di usare metodi alternativi, disincentivando e addirittura punendo chi usa denaro contante, con l'obiettivo di medio lungo termine di un divieto generale.
Uno Stato che intenda garantire la Libertà ai propri cittadini dovrebbe garantire anche la più ampia scelta possibile dei mezzi di pagamento.  Non, al contrario, ridurli ed imporre l'utilizzo di uno solo di essi.





venerdì 20 settembre 2019

L'UE, l'Euro e la traiettoria economica dell’Italia negli ultimi decenni


“Il coraggio di ciò che si sa”
Pubblichiamo un eccellente testo di Vladimiro Giacchè nel quale è ricostruita la vicenda storica dell’Italia nell’euro, il passaggio di fase in corso, l’interpretazione del Governo Conte 2 e la sua valutazione critica sulla scelta di Patria e Costituzione di provare a giocare la partita nella maggioranza M5S-Pd-Renzi-LeU. Buona lettura.
Vladimiro Giacché
“Il coraggio di ciò che si sa”.
Il secondo governo Conte e la sinistra [1]
Friedrich Nietzsche diceva che bisogna avere “il coraggio di ciò che si sa”.[2]
1. Quello che sappiamo
Proviamo a mettere assieme quello che sappiamo sulla traiettoria economica dell’Italia negli ultimi decenni, su quanto è accaduto dall’introduzione dell’euro, prima e dopo la crisi e su quanto è accaduto dopo il 4 marzo 2018. Ci aiuterà a capire cosa fare.
1.1. La traiettoria economica dell’Italia negli ultimi decenni è la storia di un successo catastrofico
A differenza di quanto vuole una vulgata diffusa quanto falsa, questo paese negli scorsi decenni ha fatto diligentemente i compiti che gli sono stati assegnati. Ha eliminato la scala mobile (1993), ha eliminato l’economia mista (accordo Andreatta-Van Miert e poi privatizzazioni di Draghi), ha ridotto il debito dal 117% del 1994 al 100% del 2007.
Usando la crisi come spartiacque, possiamo distinguere due periodi, con l’aiuto di un recente paper dell’economista olandese Servaas Storm[3].
Dal 1995 al 2008 abbiamo realizzato un avanzo primario del 3% annuo (principalmente riducendo le spese sociali): nessuno è stato così bravo in Eurozona (la virtuosa Germania nello stesso periodo può vantare un avanzo di appena lo 0,7%, mentre la Francia evidenzia un disavanzo dello 0,1%). Questo sforzo in teoria sarebbe stato sufficiente per ridurre il debito dal 117% del 1994 a uno strabiliante 77% del 2008. Purtroppo però questo contenimento della spesa pubblica ha ridotto la crescita e questo ha all’incirca dimezzato la riduzione effettiva (in quanto il rapporto debito/pil è stato mantenuto più elevato dalla conseguente minore entità del prodotto interno lordo).
Dal 2008 al 2018, poi, l’Italia è stata protagonista di un consolidamento fiscale eccezionale. Lo possiamo vedere in questo grafico, tratto dalla ricerca di Storm.[4]

Il consolidamento (restrizione) fiscale italiano ammonta a ben -227 miliardi di euro, a fronte di politiche espansive del valore di +461 miliardi da parte della Francia e di un dato complessivamente neutro per i paesi “Euro-4” (Belgio, Francia, Germania e Olanda). Secondo stime dello stesso Tesoro italiano, questo consolidamento, nei soli anni tra il 2012 e 2015, ha ridotto il prodotto interno lordo del 5% e gli investimenti del 10%.
Tirando le somme, i surplus primari realizzati dall’Italia tra il 1992 e il 2018 hanno sottratto domanda per 1 trilione di euro cumulato. Nel periodo la spesa pubblica non ha conosciuto alcun aumento, mentre gli investimenti sono diminuiti in ragione dello 0,5% annuo. Il disavanzo primario pubblico francese nel periodo ammonta a 475 miliardi, mentre il consolidamento realizzato complessivamente da Germania, Belgio e Olanda ammonta a circa la metà (-510 miliardi) di quello della sola Italia.
Ma siamo stati bravi anche su altri fronti. Ad esempio, abbiamo flessibilizzato il lavoro e contenuto più degli altri i salari (con l’eccezione della sola Germania nel periodo 2005-2010).[5]


I salari sono aumentati di appena il 6% dal 1992 al 2018. Abbiamo così ridotto l’inflazione, aumentato la quota del prodotto interno lordo che va ai profitti, aumentato l’intensità di lavoro, e anche ridotto la disoccupazione sino allo scoppio della crisi, come si vede nel grafico che segue.[6]

domenica 15 settembre 2019

L' "impero europeo" e l'esautorazione delle politiche democratiche nazionali


‘The EU is an empire’

Wolfgang Streeck on why the EU is a deplorable institution that we must leave.

29th March 2019
Two years have passed since the government triggered the Article 50 process. By now, Britain should be out of the EU. But beyond the prime minister’s capitulation to Brussels in the exit negotiations, and parliament’s disdain for the referendum result, are their deeper, structural reasons why leaving the EU has proven so difficult?
For economic sociologist Professor Wolfgang Streeck, the EU is a ‘liberal empire’. Streeck is emeritus director of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Germany. spiked caught up with him for a chat.

spiked: How has the role and focus of the EU evolved over the past few decades?

Wolfgang Streeck: Originally, the EU was an organisation for joint economic planning among six adjacent countries. The planning was sectorally specific, limited to coalmining and the steel industry, later also nuclear power, in the context of the state-managed capitalism of the postwar era. Then it grew into a free-trade zone, increasingly devoted to spreading neoliberal internationalism, in particular the free movement of goods, services, capital and labour, under the rubric of the Internal Market.
As the number and heterogeneity of member states continuously increased, ‘positive integration’ became ever-more difficult. Instead, there was ‘negative’ integration: the removal of substantive regulations that impeded free trade within the bloc. After the end of Communism in 1989, the EU became a geostrategic project, closely intertwined with the US’s geostrategy in relation to Russia.
From the original six countries cooperating in the management of a few key sectors of their economies, the EU became a neoliberal empire of 28 highly heterogeneous states. The idea was and is to govern those states centrally by obliging them to refrain from state intervention in their economies.
spiked: Is the EU reformable?

Streeck: The EU’s de facto constitution consists of the Treaty of European Union, which is practically impossible to revise, and the rulings of the Court of Justice of the European Union, which only the court itself can revise. The neoliberal core of the EU as an institution and the results of European integration were intended by its framers to be eternal and irreversible. This is shown by the hard opposition in Brussels to a British exit, and in the intention to make that exit as unpleasant as possible.
It is also, and perhaps more importantly, visible in the inability of EU institutions to respond constructively to claims for more national autonomy, as expressed by various ‘populist’ countermovements. These movements are now blocking the process of European integration and there is a large risk that the insistence of Berlin, Paris and Brussels on prolonging and extending the established European institutions will lead to serious conflict between European nations, such as we have not seen since 1945.
spiked: Why is opposition to the EU seen as immoral?
Streeck: Very simply, I think that the neoliberal and geostrategic nature of the post-1990 EU would not be capable of generating anything like the legitimacy needed for a political regime to be viable. All sorts of sentimental narratives had to be invented to make people forget the disempowerment of national democratic politics that is at the core of the EU construction.

Today, the left-liberal ideal of internationalism has been hijacked by neoliberal anti-statism, and international solidarity is identified with free markets. This is purely ideological, and it doesn’t speak well for the political acuity of the left middle-class that it bought the ‘Third Way’ version of international peace and friendship. Nowhere in the history of socialism, for example, can we find the idea that workers are morally obliged to let themselves be competed out of their jobs by workers in a country where wages are lower. Rather, solidarity always meant that workers cooperate, in the sense of organising together, to protect themselves against being played against one another by employers.
Then there is the European Monetary Union, which acts like an international gold-standard regime. The gold standard has been known since the 1930s to be incompatible with democracy and international peace. It puts governments against people and peoples against each other in competition for international markets. EU propaganda enlists people’s desire for peace and friendship to rob them of their most important institutional heritage: the nation state. The nation state is the only site of a politics amenable to anything like a redistributive state or an egalitarian democracy.
spiked: Why has the left become so attached to the EU?

Streeck: I wish I knew. Maybe because they confuse the EU with Europe? The EU is a deplorably undemocratic institutional construct that is so complex that you cannot understand how it works without extensive investigation – and even then you may not quite grasp what it is about. This means that you can read almost anything into it. You can identify it with personal dreams of a world that is free from historical burdens.
Or you can see it as the embodiment of a pleasant consumerist lifestyle: rights without obligations, free travel, no taxes, immigrant labour, an international labour market for English-speaking university graduates. ‘Europe’ is your oyster: a playground for the new middle-class, the bobos, as the French call them: the bourgeois bohemians, the self-appointed cosmopolitans who believe that by importing cheap labour for their households they are doing something for the progress of mankind.
Many people today want to leave their national historical baggage behind. To many British citizens, the UK means colonialism. They seem to believe that ‘Europe’ never had colonies, so they want to be ‘Europeans’ rather than ‘little Englanders’.
This is even worse in Germany, for understandable reasons. If you are abroad, anywhere in the world, and you meet someone who says they are ‘from Europe’, you can be sure they are from Germany.
spiked: To what extent does the EU resemble an empire?


venerdì 13 settembre 2019

"Probabilmente i regimi tecnocratici di domani ridurranno lo spazio delle libertà personali"



Frasi attribuite a un'intervista di Gianni Agnelli sul Corsera del 30 gennaio 1975.  Ma potrebbero essere benissimo di un romanzo distopico di fantasia.


http://archivio.corriere.it/Archivio/interface/slider.html#!agnelli/NobwRAdghgtgpmAXGA1nAngdwPYCcAmYANGAC5wAepSYUA5hHADZMCWYAvgLpA

martedì 10 settembre 2019

La Democrazia è un pericolo? I Cittadini sono "incapaci" da porre sotto curatela, vittime della propaganda?

Ci sono cose più importanti delle elezioni, anche Hitler le ha vinte e poi si è capito come è andata. Quindi non mi sembra un criterio assoluto che va sopra il bene e il male. I cittadini possono essere ingannati dalla propaganda!” R. Gualtieri, Ministro della Repubblica, 14 luglio 2018.










(Si ricordi, per amor di verità, che Hitler non assunse il potere per aver vinto un'elezione, ma in quanto fu nominato il 29 gennaio 1933 dal Presidente della Repubblica, Paul von Hindenburg, secondo una prassi costituzionale che si era imposta dal 1930 e secondo la quale il Presidente nominava il cancelliere a proprio piacimento)

sabato 24 agosto 2019

"Immagina uno stivale che calpesta un volto umano… per sempre."

“Come fa un uomo ad affermare il suo potere su un altro uomo, Winston?”.
Winston ci pensò un po’ su. “Facendolo soffrire” disse infine.
“Esattamente. Facendolo soffrire. L’obbedienza non basta. Se non soffre, come si fa a essere sicuri che egli non obbedisca alla sua volontà, anziché alla tua? Il potere consiste appunto nell’infliggere la sofferenza e la mortificazione.
Il potere consiste nel fare a pezzi i cervelli degli uomini e nel ricomporli in nuove forme e combinazioni di nostro gradimento. Riesci a vedere, ora, quale tipo di mondo stiamo creando?
Esso è proprio l’esatto opposto di quella stupida utopia edonistica immaginata dai riformatori del passato. Un mondo di paura, di tradimenti e di torture, un mondo di gente che calpesta e di gente che è calpestata, un mondo che diventerà non meno, ma più spietato, man mano che si perfezionerà. Il progresso, nel nostro mondo, vorrà dire soltanto il progresso della sofferenza.
Non vi sarà più alcun interesse, più alcun piacere a condurre l’esistenza. Le soddisfazioni che derivano dallo spirito di emulazione non esisteranno più.
[…]
Ma ci sarà sempre, intendimi bene, Winston, l’ubriacatura del potere, che crescerà e si perfezionerà costantemente e costantemente diverrà più raffinata e sottile. Sempre, a ogni momento, ci sarà il brivido della vittoria, la sensazione di vivido piacere che si ha nel calpestare un nemico disarmato.
Se vuoi un simbolo figurato del futuro, immagina uno stivale che calpesta un volto umano… per sempre.”
George Orwell, 1984)

venerdì 23 agosto 2019

Un'articolo interessante


Robert Maxwell
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ian Robert Maxwell MC (10 June 1923 – 5 November 1991), born Ján Ludvík Hyman Binyamin Hoch, was a British media proprietor and Member of Parliament (MP). Originally from Czechoslovakia, Maxwell rose from poverty to build an extensive publishing empire. After his death, huge discrepancies in his companies' finances were revealed, including his fraudulent misappropriation of the Mirror Group pension fund.[1]
Early in his life, Maxwell escaped from Nazi occupation, joined the Czechoslovak Army in exile in World War II and was decorated after active service in the British Army. In subsequent years he worked in publishing, building up Pergamon Press to a major publishing house. After six years as an MP during the 1960s, he again put all his energy into business, successively buying the British Printing CorporationMirror Group Newspapers and Macmillan Publishers, among other publishing companies.
Maxwell had a flamboyant lifestyle, living in Headington Hill Hall in Oxford, from which he often flew in his helicopter, and sailing in his luxury yacht, the Lady Ghislaine. He was litigious and often embroiled in controversy, including about his support for Israel at the time of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. In 1989, he had to sell successful businesses, including Pergamon Press, to cover some of his debts. In 1991, his body was discovered floating in the Atlantic Ocean, having fallen overboard from his yacht. He was buried in Jerusalem.
Maxwell's death triggered the collapse of his publishing empire as banks called in loans. His sons briefly attempted to keep the business together, but failed as the news emerged that the elder Maxwell had stolen hundreds of millions of pounds from his own companies' pension funds. The Maxwell companies applied for bankruptcy protection in 1992.
Early life
Maxwell was born into a poor Yiddish-speaking Orthodox Jewish family in the small town of Slatinské Doly (now Solotvyno, Ukraine) in the easternmost province of pre-World War II Czechoslovakia.[2][3][4] His parents were Mechel Hoch and Hannah Slomowitz. He had six siblings. In 1939, the area was reclaimed by Hungary. Most members of his family died in Auschwitz after Hungary was occupied in 1944 by Nazi Germany, but he had already escaped to France.[2] In Marseille, he joined the Czechoslovak Army in exile in May 1940.[5]
After the defeat in France and the retreat to Britain, Maxwell (using the name "Ivan du Maurier",[6] or Leslie du Maurier[7] the surname taken from the name of a popular make of cigarette, Du Maurier) took part in a protest against the leadership of the Czechoslovak Army, and with 500 other soldiers he was transferred to the Royal Pioneer Corps and later to the North Staffordshire Regiment in 1943. He was then involved in action across Europe, from the Normandy beaches to Berlin, and achieved the rank of sergeant.[2] He gained a commission in 1945 and was promoted to the rank of captain. In January 1945, he received the Military Cross from Field Marshal Montgomery. Attached to the Foreign Office, he served in Berlin during the next two years in the press section.[4] Maxwell naturalised as a British subject on 19 June 1946[8] and changed his name by deed of change of name on 30 June 1948.[9]
In 1945, he married Elisabeth "Betty" Meynard, a French Protestant, and the couple had nine children over the next sixteen years: Michael, Philip, Ann, ChristineIsabel, Karine, IanKevin and Ghislaine.[10] In a 1995 interview, Elisabeth talked of how they were recreating his childhood family, victims of the Holocaust.[11] Five of his children – Christine, Isabel, Ian, Kevin and Ghislaine – were later employed within his companies. Daughter Karine died of leukemia at age three, while Michael was severely injured in a car crash in 1961, at the age of fifteen, when his driver fell asleep at the wheel. Michael never regained consciousness and died seven years later.[12][13][14][15]
After World War II, Maxwell used contacts in the Allied occupation authorities to go into business, becoming the British and US distributor for Springer Verlag, a publisher of scientific books. In 1951, he bought three-quarters of Butterworth-Springer, a minor publisher; the remaining quarter was held by the experienced scientific editor Paul Rosbaud.[16] They changed the name of the company to Pergamon Press and rapidly built it into a major publishing house.
In 1964, representing the Labour Party, Maxwell was elected as Member of Parliament (MP) for Buckingham and re-elected in 1966. He gave an interview to The Times in 1968, in which he said the House of Commons provided him with a problem. "I can't get on with men", he commented. "I tried having male assistants at first. But it didn't work. They tend to be too independent. Men like to have individuality. Women can become an extension of the boss."[17] Maxwell lost his seat in 1970 to the Conservative William Benyon. He contested Buckingham again in both 1974 general elections, but without success.
At the beginning of 1969, it emerged that Maxwell's attempt to buy the News of the World had failed.[18] The Carr family, which owned the title, was incensed at the thought of a Czechoslovak immigrant with socialist politics gaining ownership and the board voted against Maxwell's bid without any dissent. The News of the World's editor Stafford Somerfield opposed Maxwell's bid in an October 1968 front page opinion piece, in which he referred to Maxwell's Czechoslovak origins and used his birth name.[19] He wrote, "This is a British paper, run by British people ... as British as roast beef and Yorkshire pudding ... Let us keep it that way".[20] The tycoon who gained control was the Australian Rupert Murdoch, who later that year acquired The Sun, which had also previously interested Maxwell.[21]
Pergamon lost and regained
In 1969, Saul Steinberg, head of "Leasco Data Processing Corporation", was interested in a strategic acquisition of Pergamon. Steinberg claimed that during negotiations, Maxwell falsely stated that a subsidiary responsible for publishing encyclopedias was extremely profitable.[22][23] At the same time, Pergamon had been forced to reduce its profit forecasts for 1969 from £2.5 million to £2.05 million during the period of negotiations, and dealing in Pergamon shares was suspended on the London stock markets.[23]
This caused Maxwell to lose control of Pergamon and he was expelled from the board in October 1969, along with three other directors in sympathy with him, by the majority owners of the company's shares.[24] Steinberg purchased Pergamon. An inquiry by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) under the Takeover Code of the time reported in mid-1971:[4] "We regret having to conclude that, notwithstanding Mr Maxwell's acknowledged abilities and energy, he is not in our opinion a person who can be relied on to exercise proper stewardship of a publicly quoted company." It was found that Maxwell had contrived to maximise Pergamon's share price through transactions between his private family companies.[22]
At the same time, the United States Congress was investigating Leasco's takeover practices. Justice Thayne Forbes in September 1971 was critical of the inquiry: "They had moved from an inquisitorial role to accusatory one and virtually committed the business murder of Mr. Maxwell." He further continued that the trial judge would probably find that the inspectors had acted "contrary to the rules of natural justice".[25] The company performed poorly under Steinberg; Maxwell reacquired Pergamon in 1974 after borrowing funds.[26]
Maxwell established the Maxwell Foundation in Liechtenstein in 1970. He acquired the British Printing Corporation (BPC) in 1981 and changed its name first to the British Printing and Communication Corporation (BPCC) and then to the Maxwell Communications Corporation. The company was later sold in a management buyout and is now known as Polestar.
Later business activities
In July 1984, Maxwell acquired Mirror Group Newspapers from Reed International plc.[27] for £113 million.[28] MGN, now part of Reach plc, formerly Trinity Mirror, published the Daily Mirror, a pro-Labour tabloid, and other popular newspapers in England and Scotland. At a press conference to publicise his acquisition, Maxwell said his editors would be "free to produce the news without interference".[27] Meanwhile, at a meeting of Maxwell's new employees, Mirror journalist Joe Haines asserted that he was able to prove that their boss "is a crook and a liar".[29][30]Haines quickly came under Maxwell's influence and later wrote his authorised biography.[29]
In June 1985, Maxwell announced a takeover of Sir Clive Sinclair's ailing home computer company, Sinclair Research, through Hollis Brothers, a Pergamon Press subsidiary.[31] The deal was aborted in August 1985.[32] In 1987, Maxwell purchased part of IPC Media to create Fleetway Publications. That same year, he launched the London Daily News in February after a delay caused by production problems, but the paper closed in July after sustaining significant losses contemporary estimates put at £25 million.[33] At first intended to be a rival to the Evening Standard, Maxwell had made a rash decision for it to be the first 24-hour paper as well.[34]
By 1988, Maxwell's various companies owned, in addition to the Mirror titles and Pergamon Press, Nimbus RecordsMacmillan Publishers (of which Collier was a part), Maxwell Directories, Prentice Hall Information Services and the Berlitz language schools. He also owned a half-share of MTV in Europe and other European television interests, Maxwell Cable TV and Maxwell Entertainment.[26] Maxwell purchased Macmillan, the American publishing firm, during 1988 for $2.6 billion. In the same year, he launched an ambitious new project, a transnational newspaper called The European. In 1991, he was forced to sell Pergamon Press and Maxwell Directories to Elsevier for £440 million to cover his debts;[26] he used some of this money to buy an ailing tabloid, the New York Daily News. The same year, Maxwell sold 49 percent of the stock of Mirror Group Newspapers to the public.[4]
Maxwell's links with Eastern European totalitarian regimes resulted in several biographies (generally considered to be hagiographies[35]) of those countries' leaders, with interviews conducted by Maxwell, for which he received much derision.[4] At the beginning of an interview with Romania's Nicolae Ceaușescu, then the country's Communist leader, he asked, "How do you account for your enormous popularity with the Romanian people?"[36]
Maxwell was also the chairman of Oxford United, saving them from bankruptcy and attempting to merge them with Reading in 1983 to form a club he wished to call "Thames Valley Royals". He took Oxford into the top flight of English football in 1985 and the team won the League Cup a year later. Maxwell bought into Derby County in 1987. He also attempted to buy Manchester United in 1984, but refused owner Martin Edwards's asking price.
Maxwell was known to be litigious against those who would speak or write against him. The satirical magazine Private Eye lampooned him as "Cap'n Bob" and the "bouncing Czech",[38] the latter nickname having originally been devised by Prime Minister Harold Wilson[39] (under whom Maxwell was an MP). Maxwell took out several libel actions against Private Eye, one resulting in the magazine losing an estimated £225,000 and Maxwell using his commercial power to hit back with a one-off spoof magazine Not Private Eye.[40]
Israeli connection
1948 war
A hint of Maxwell's service to the Israeli state was provided by John Loftus and Mark Aarons, who described Maxwell's contacts with Czechoslovak Communist leaders in 1948 as crucial to the Czechoslovak decision to arm Israel in the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. Czechoslovak military assistance was both unique and crucial for the fledgling state as it battled for its existence. It was Maxwell's covert help in smuggling aircraft parts into Israel that led to the country having air superiority during their 1948 War of Independence.[41]
Mossad allegations; Vanunu case
The British Foreign Office suspected that Maxwell was a secret agent of a foreign government, possibly a double agent or a triple agent, and "a thoroughly bad character and almost certainly financed by Russia." He had known links to the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), to the KGB, and to the Israeli intelligence service Mossad.[42] Six serving and former heads of Israeli intelligence services attended Maxwell's funeral in Israel, while Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir eulogized him and stated: “He has done more for Israel than can today be said."[43]
Shortly before Maxwell's death, a former employee of Israel's Military Intelligence DirectorateAri Ben-Menashe, approached a number of news organisations in Britain and the US with the allegation that Maxwell and the Daily Mirror's foreign editor, Nicholas Davies, were both long-time agents for Mossad. Ben-Menashe also claimed that in 1986, Maxwell had told the Israeli Embassy in London that Mordechai Vanunu had given information about Israel's nuclear capability to The Sunday Times, then to the Daily Mirror. Vanunu was subsequently kidnapped by Mossad and smuggled to Israel, convicted of treason and imprisoned for eighteen years.[44]
Ben-Menashe's story was ignored at first, but eventually The New Yorker journalist Seymour Hersh repeated some of the allegations during a press conference in London held to publicise The Samson Option, Hersh's book about Israel's nuclear weapons. On 21 October 1991, two MPs, Labour's George Galloway and the Conservative's Rupert Allason (also known as espionage author Nigel West), agreed to raise the issue in the House of Commons under parliamentary privilege protection,[45] which in turn allowed British newspapers to report events without fear of libel suits. Maxwell called the claims "ludicrous, a total invention" and sacked Davies.[46] A year later, in Galloway's libel settlement against Mirror Group Newspapers (in which he received "substantial" damages), Galloway's counsel announced that the MP accepted that the group's staff had not been involved in Vanunu's abduction. Galloway referred to Maxwell as "one of the worst criminals of the century."[47]