Category Archives: U.K.

London mayor Boris Johnson to return as Tory MP on anti-European Union platform

By Robert Stevens 

13 August 2014

Boris Johnson, the Conservative Party mayor of London announced last week that he is seeking to stand as MP in the 2015 general election, whilst serving out his term as mayor until May 2016.

Johnson’s return would augment Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent cabinet reshuffle, which represented a further shift to the right. William Hague, who as foreign minister advocated Britain being “in Europe not run by Europe”, was considered not hard-line enough and was replaced by Phillip Hammond, who is on record as prepared to vote for a British exit from the European Union (EU). Michael Fallon, who was promoted to defence secretary, has also stated that a British exit from the EU may be necessary.

Previously an MP from 2001 to 2008, Johnson’s return would represent a further hardening of the anti-EU stance of the Tories.

It is also widely viewed as Johnson’s initial move in challenging for the leadership of the crisis-ridden party, against Cameron, were the Tories to lose the 2015 general election. Whilst Cameron has promised an “In-Out” referendum on EU membership in 2017, Johnson favours an exit if the EU is not reformed to suit Britain’s interests.

In a speech before his announcement, Johnson said there was a “great and glorious future for Britain in Europe if we can reform it. But there might also be a great and glorious future…as an open, outward-looking economy that has great trading relations with Europe but starts to think more and more about the rest of the world….”

His speech was directed at anti-EU sentiment within the Tories and amongst supporters of the right-wing United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP). In May UKIP, on an anti-EU ticket, won the largest share of the vote in the European elections. For the first time in a national election, the Tories placed third, as the party haemorrhaged support to UKIP.

Johnson’s remarks coincided with a report by his chief economic advisor, Gerard Lyons, that outlined various scenarios for the British economy, via 20-year projections, including leaving the EU. Lyons has spent 27 years in senior positions within the City, including at Chase Manhattan, Swiss Bank, DKB and Standard Chartered.

As London mayor, Johnson speaks for the financial aristocracy, whom he describes as the “zillionaires” and “hedge fund kings”. He views even the most limited social regulations emanating from the EU as an intolerable burden on this obscenely wealthy layer.

In a barely disguised call for far deeper austerity, Johnson said, “As [German chancellor] Angela Merkel has wisely observed, we cannot go on forever with a world in which the EU has seven per cent of the population and 50 per cent of global social security spending.”

Johnson attacked “the stuff coming from Brussels, that is helping to fur the arteries to the point of sclerosis.” He denounced “the weight of employment regulation” as “back-breaking”, including “the collective redundancies directive, the atypical work directive, the working time directive and a 1000 more such regulations.”

Giving examples of EU legislation he wants “reformed”—i.e., removed—he cited regulations for vehicles over 3.5 tonnes. These were “over-prescriptive” as they stipulated that drivers must not drive more than 9 hours a day and 90 hours in any two consecutive weeks, and had to take at least 11 hours rest a day, he said.

Summing up, he declared, “I want a Europe of opportunity, a cartel-busting, market-opening Europe….” He warned, “I want an end to the pointless attacks on the City of London—which is after all the asset, the financial capital of the whole of Europe”, before castigating the euro as “a misbegotten political project…which shows no sign of breaking up…at the moment.”

On this basis, Johnson set out a hit list of eight reforms that needed to be negotiated by Cameron with the EU in order to satisfy the City, including changing “social and employment law so that we minimise the costs to all EU businesses”.

Likewise, the defence of the ill-gotten gains of the City of London aristocracy is unashamedly central to the Lyons report, entitled “The Europe Report: A Win-Win Situation”.

Such is the stranglehold of the London-based oligarchy that when the report speaks of the “UK economy”, it invariably means the City of London, referred to as a separate economy from the UK as a whole and the ninth biggest in western Europe. Section 2 of the report is headed “The London Economy and Europe”.

Lyons sets out four scenarios and bluntly concludes, “If the UK cannot achieve reform in the EU it should leave. If the UK leaves the EU and retains good relations with the EU and if the UK pursues growth focused policies then this will provide a better economic outlook for the UK than the status quo of remaining in an unreformed UK.”

The report favours the policy it coins the “Brave new world”, in which the UK would remain in the EU but with substantial London-centric “reforms”. In this scenario, it forecasts that London’s economy would nearly double in size to £640 billion, with a further 1 million jobs added in the capital.

Lyons says that remaining in an unreformed EU is not an option. “The UK can only achieve serious reform if it is serious about leaving, and it can only be serious about leaving if it believes this is better than staying in the status quo of an unreformed EU. It is.”

He warns that were the UK to leave the EU and operate “isolationist economic policies”, this would cost London’s economy more than 1 million jobs.

The City is by no means universally in favour of departing the EU, with Lyons noting that in “London’s financial district” there is a “big fear” about an exit. Seeking to reassure them, he writes, “London is Europe’s financial centre. It needs to retain its global focus—being the financial centre of the world as well as the EU, and positioning itself as it is in new growth markets such as the offshore renminbi.”

Responding to business concerns, the report states, “Although increasingly much regulation is global in nature, one issue is whether London’s global competitiveness may suffer from further intrusions because of EU membership….” Pointing to proposed EU regulatory changes, the report cites the dangers of “limiting bankers bonuses” and the financial transactions tax” as being “a real threat of future erosion of competitiveness”.

The report adds, “Outside the EU, it is possible that despite all the uncertainly the City retains its international competitiveness, overcoming the initial phase of uncertainty”.

Source: WSWS

UK teachers unions accept performance-related pay

By Margot Miller 
5 July 2013
As part of a regional strike in the northwest of England, 4,500 teachers marched through the streets of Manchester in northwest England on June 27 to protest the coalition government’s attacks on teachers’ pay, pensions and conditions.
The strike was the first of a series of regional days of action called jointly by the two main teaching unions, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUW
The aim of the strike and rally was to diffuse the growing anger of teachers, not to launch a fight back against the government’s attack on education.
The rally was held in an 800-seat conference room, leaving the majority of the demonstrators outside. Those who managed to gain entrance and were able to listen to the contributions, over the din created by whistles and plastic hand clapping devices, would have found nothing of substance from either of the two main speakers, Christine Blower of the NUT and Trades Union Congress (TUC) Public Services representative and Labour Party member Kevin Rowan.
Striking teachers marching in Manchester
Rowan made continuous references to the TUC’s supposed support for teachers, declaring it was “absolutely ready to support public sector workers,” adding, “We will not hesitate to support coordinated industrial action whenever and wherever that industrial action takes place.”
However, all that was offered up was an appeal to attend a protest outside the ruling Conservative Party conference, to be held in Manchester in September, to tell the Tories what they are doing is “unacceptable.”
NUT leader Blower said even less, promising to leave the “rabble-rousing” to the end of her speech. This consisted of reading out a list of branches that had attended the demonstration and the good wishes from various trade unions and Labour Party branches.
“Having growth in the economy” would allow for “a proper pension system” and education system, she said, adding “we are not the enemies of progress.”
Like the rest of the public sector, teachers already face having to work longer and pay more towards an inferior pension. Education Secretary Michael Gove is also proposing to shorten school holidays, lengthen the school day and abolish planning and preparation time, conditions which are already in place in the government’s flagship Academy schools, along with performance-related pay.
Teachers will face yet another new initiative come the autumn term with a revised national curriculum, something that they have yet again not been consulted on.
Teachers have shown time and again their readiness to take action to oppose the government’s attacks. Joint action by 20 different public sector unions on November 30, 2011 brought 2.5 million workers out on strike to oppose the attacks on pensions. This opposition was then wound down and sabotaged by the trade unions, with each union making separate agreements with the government.
Encouraged by the role of the trade unions in the pensions struggle, the government is steaming ahead with the changes it wishes to implement.
Indispensable in this are the two main teaching unions. The fraudulent claim that the unions are waging a fight is belied by their stance on the introduction of performance pay.
The slogan “no to performance pay” is being quietly dumped for fair pay and no linkage between performance management and incapability (the procedure whereby the performance of teachers is declared inadequate, leading to dismissal.)
Blower did not even mention the issue of performance pay at the rally. On the NUT website the union boldly declares one of 10 reasons why teachers should oppose the plans of Gove, being, “He [Gove] wants performance related pay for all teachers even though evidence shows it doesn’t work, doesn’t suit schools and will lead to decisions based on funding pressures or whether your face fits.”
Despite such protestations, the unions have sent a model pay policy into schools for the governors to adopt, which explicitly accepts performance related-pay in principle.
Previously teachers progressed up a six-point pay scale annually, so pay was a reflection of experience. From September 2014 the pay of each teacher will be determined on an individual basis, according to the progress of pupils as measured through the narrow prism of national curriculum levels. All children are expected to progress at the same rate, and, if they don’t, this is explained as the fault of poor teaching. Many teachers are being set up to fail their performance management criteria under the OFSTED schools inspectors, and teachers as a whole are facing a future stuck on low pay.
The NUT/NASUWT model pay policy states baldly, “Decisions regarding pay progression will be made with reference to the teachers’ performance management/appraisal reports and the pay recommendations they contain.”
The explanatory notes state, “The NUT/NASUWT Model Pay Policy recognises that a teacher’s pay progression must be linked directly to the outcomes of the teacher’s performance management/appraisal process,” and that “all teachers at the school may expect to progress to the top of their pay range as a result of successful performance management/appraisal review.”
In other words, performance pay is not a major problem if only the unions are involved in its implementation.
A WSWS reporting team discussed with teachers the fraudulent campaign of the unions, raising the need to build rank-and-file committees, independent of the trade unions, in order to mobilise genuine opposition to all the government attempts to overthrow teachers’ pay and conditions.
Martin, a young teacher from Trafford who was able to get into the meeting, at first thought the rally was “inspiring” but agreed that more should be done. He agreed both the main speakers offered nothing other than more protests. Regarding the unions’ request to fill in postcards to send to Michael Gove he said, “To be frank he won’t see any of them, so it’s a bit futile.” He didn’t agree with the unions’ claim that teachers still had to win over parents, stating, “Once they know the issues involved and what the future for their children represents they are mostly supportive.”
Special needs teacher Alice from Salford expressed great concern about the cuts in public spending and reorganisation in education. Regarding the struggle over pay and working conditions she said, “We missed a big chance when we were all together during the pensions fight. Even those that have stood out against a deal have accepted it in reality, and yes I do think we need better organisations than the unions. We need to bring the community into our fight. It’s not just about teachers’ pay and conditions.”
Tracey, a primary school teacher in the northwest, explained how punishing a teacher’s workload was and how detrimental this was to children’s education. “Some nights I’m up until 11:30 planning,” she explained. She added that she had no idea that the unions had incorporated performance pay into their model pay policy.

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Question Time from Edinburgh – 13-06-13

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London police launch violent raid on anti-G8 protesters

By Robert Stevens 
13 June 2013
Around 1,200 riot police were mobilised in London Tuesday against anti-capitalist protesters. Throughout the day the police attacked supporters of the StopG8 group, making a total of 57 arrests.
Supporters of the group were beginning protests as part of a five-day “Carnival Against Capitalism” ahead of the G8 summit in Northern Ireland next week.
Mass arrests were made by police after they smashed their way into a squat with chainsaws, axle-grinders, crowbars and climbing gear. The disused building used by squatters in Beak Street, near Regent Street in Soho, was surrounded by 100 riot police from 10 am. Police cordons were set up to seal off the building from the surrounding streets and people working nearby were instructed to stay inside.
An AFP photographer told media three police abseiling [rappelling] teams had positioned themselves on the roof of the building. A police helicopter hovered above the scene for the duration.
After police broke in at around 1:40 pm, they forcibly removed around 40 people. One of those removed later told the Independent that he witnessed a police officer punch a protester in the face as the building was cleared. He said, “There was quite a lot of activity but I was just behind the guy who got hit. I was trying to move back and they grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and punched him square in his face and split his lip open.”
Another man who had been in the squat said he saw blood on a police riot shield adding, “I think it’s police brutality, to enter a completely legal squat. They’re just trying to stop any protests. It’s pretty scary.”
The police also violently wrestled a protester to the ground on the roof of the building as he tried to escape. The man was seen to be bleeding profusely as he lay sprawled on the roof, surrounded by around 10 police officers. He was later pictured wearing an oxygen mask on an ambulance stretcher with his hands tightly bound with wrist ties.
Another protester, Dave, told the London Evening Standard, “The police response has been colossal. There’s hundreds of police here, we couldn’t do anything serious even if we tried.” (Pictures of the above and other parts of the operation can be seen in this article.)
To justify their actions, the Metropolitan Police claimed that they carried out the pre-emptive operation as they had “intelligence” that the protesters may have had offensive weapons and were planning disorder. A Scotland Yard spokesman said, “Officers attended an address in Beak Street with a search warrant relating to intelligence that individuals at the address were in possession of weapons and were intent on causing criminal damage and engaging in violent disorder.” Police also claimed they had intelligence pointing to a plan to use “paint bombs.”
These claims was disputed by protesters who said those in the squat were protesting against the number of empty properties in London. Dave told theIndependent, “There were people on the balcony trying to communicate with the police, asking for time to make a decision because they were worried about homelessness. The police officer said that he would go and make a decision on that. Two minutes later, they came with axle-grinders.”
Another protester, reported in the Daily Telegraph, said, “This was peaceful, but they did not give us a chance to march. They stopped us marching. They came in with shields hitting people and had some kind of spray, like a pepper spray.”
The StopG8 group denied it had collected weapons of any sort in the building and reports attest that no lethal weapons were found during the police search.
The StopG8 group issued an announcement on Twitter during the riot police’s operation at the squat reading, “Carnival will go ahead despite cops at Beak St. Don’t let them intimidate us! See you 12 noon Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus.”
Police then trailed a small group of protesters as they marched through the capital’s West End around Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus. They violently confronted the protesters, including throwing them to the ground. Footage shot by Channel 4 News and other media shows some of the violence being meted out by massed ranks of police to peaceful, unarmed people.
One passerby speaking to Channel 4 observed, “We’ve been walking down the street. I haven’t seen anybody smash any windows or attack anybody. I’ve seen no crime or any criminal damage. I haven’t seen any protester do anything remotely illegal. The police come and they get very rough with people.”
Such was the scale of the police operation in London that the right-wing Daily Mail commented, they “arrived in such numbers that from most angles it was impossible to see anything beyond a sea of blue riot helmets. For most of the day police vans outnumbered black cabs by about 20 to one. Some even came by bus.”
As with previous demonstrations, police issued Section 60 and Section 60 AA orders for Westminster and the City of London, allowing them stop and search people at random and giving them power to order people to remove face coverings.
The democratic right to protest has been vastly curtailed over recent years. The Telegraph commented that the police raided the squat, “after activists refused to discuss arrangements for the protests in advance.”
The Home Office spokesman, with no mention of the indiscriminate violence carried out by the police, commented, “Rights to peaceful protest do not extend to violent or threatening behaviour and the police have powers to deal with any such acts.”
It is the police who now decide which protests can and cannot go ahead in the capital. On Wednesday the Met warned, “There is information to suggest that there will be further protests in London today. As yet no one has chosen to work with us.”
Stating that they expected a demonstration to be held at 2:00 pm in Carlton Gardens near Pall Mall, Scotland Yard added, “Officers will be deployed at key locations and also act as a flexible reserve across London that can be quickly moved to respond to any incidents.”
In 2005 and 2009 the British government utilised the full force of the state to break up protests against summits of the G20 and G8, held in the UK. In April 2009 heavily armed riot police attacked protesters in the streets of the City of London as part of Operation Glencoe. Newspaper vendor Ian Tomlinson, who was walking home from work, was killed after being violently thrown to the ground from behind by Territorial Support Group officer Simon Harwood.
Last year Harwood was found not guilty of the manslaughter of Tomlinson, despite a May 3, 2011 inquest verdict that the 47-year-old father of nine was unlawfully killed.

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How a London Court Repudiated Zionist Abuse of the Anti-Semitism Charge

By Mike Marqusee
June 03, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – Taunting and tainting opponents with the charge of anti-semitism is a long-standing Zionist ploy, familiar to everyone involved in the Israel-Palestine issue. As their support weakens in the face of evidence-based argument, Israel’s advocates have stepped up their use of the accusation as a means to close down debate, particularly on proposals for boycott, divestment and sanctions.
A key component in their armoury is what’s been called “lawfare”: attempts to use the courts to stifle opponents. This strategy, which has been employed in the US, France and Britain, suffered a significant reverse at the end of March, when an Employment Tribunal in London comprehensively rejected a claim made by Ronnie Fraser, of Academics for Israel, against his union, the University and College Union.
Fraser and his celebrity lawyer, Anthony Julius, argued that debates and decisions on Israel-Palestine issues within UCU amounted to “harassment” against Fraser as a Jew. They made ten specific allegations to support this charge; every one of them was dismissed by the Tribunal as false or irrelevant.
Jonathan Freedland once lauded Julius’s musings on anti-semitism as “forensic”. But when subjected to a genuinely forensic examination at the hands of the Tribunal, they were shown to be anything but. In fact, the Tribunal’s point by point demolition of Julius’s arguments shows just why Zionists are so fearful of open, fact-based, rational discussion. (For a thorough examination of the Tribunal’s findings and the aftermath, see Mark Elf’s excellent blog, http://jewssansfrontieres.blogspot.co.uk.)
The judges had harsh words for a number of Fraser’s witnesses, particularly the chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, Jeremy Newmark, whose testimony as to his alleged treatment at a UCU meeting was labelled “false”. Two Labour MPs, John Mann and Denis Macshane (still in Parliament when the hearings were held last autumn), appeared for Fraser but did him no favours. They were criticised by the Tribunal for giving “glib evidence…Neither seemed at ease with the idea of being required to answer a question not to his liking.”
The Tribunal also found no evidence of the “atmosphere of intimidation” alleged by Fraser. UCU’s adherence to democratic procedures was fully exonerated. Unions in general should be relieved that the judges have found that they are not liable for psychological “damage” arising from debates among members.
Most significantly, on the core question of whether opposition to Israel or Zionism amounted to anti-semitism, the Tribunal reached a clear-cut, unimpeachable conclusion. “A belief in the Zionist project or an attachment to Israel or any similar sentiment cannot amount to a protected characteristic,” they declare, adding “It is not intrinsically a part of Jewishness.” It’s welcome to have this simple truth, so fiercely denied by Israel’s advocates, upheld as logical and lawful.
Julius had argued that although not all Jews were Zionists the great majority felt an affinity for Israel. The Tribunal found this argument unpersuasive; a political view cannot claim “protected” status simply because many members of a particular religion or “race” hold it. If that were to be the case, political debate would be shut down. The Tribunal was clearly aware of that danger, as their final words on the case indicate: “We greatly regret that the case was ever brought. At heart, it represents an impermissible attempt to achieve a political end by litigious means… The Employment Tribunals are a hard-pressed public service and it is not right that their limited resources should be squandered as they have been.”
In the pro-Israel camp, the humiliating ruling has caused consternation. Some are now calling for what is known as “the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia’s ‘working definition’ of anti-Semitism” to be adopted in British law. According to this definition, opposition to Zionism, descriptions of Israel as an “apartheid” or “racist “ state, and calls for boycotts are all in themselves anti-semitic. It has never had any official status within the EU and has been quietly dropped by the EUMC’s successor body, the Fundamental Rights Agency. Clearly, it would endow Israel and supporters of Israel with a protected status enjoyed by no other state or political opinion. This from people who accuse their opponents of “singling out Israel”. Worryingly, a similar definition was adopted last year by the California state legislature, without a single vote against.
It apparently does not trouble the self-appointed protectors of the Jewish community that inscribing the “working definition” into law would make the British state the adjudicator on what does and does not constitute Jewishness. Historically, Jewish freedom and equality has been advanced as and when the state’s role in relation to religion opinion has been diminished. Here we see again how the Zionists’ abuse of the anti-semitism charge actually undermines the real struggle against anti-semitism.
There’s been no mention of the Tribunal ruling anywhere in the mainstream media. Of course, had the judges found the UCU guilty of “harassing” its Jewish members, the story would have been on every front page.
Mike Marqusee is the author of If I Am Not for Myself: Journey of an Anti-Zionist Jew (Verso).
Mike Marqusee was born in New York City in 1953, emigrated to Britain in 1971 and has lived mostly in London since that time.Mike has been active for several decades in numerous campaigns for social justice. In the early 80s he was a youth worker and trade union activist. For twenty years he was an active member of the Labour Party, and a long-time editor of and contributor to Labour Briefing.
As well as his books, Mike has published articles on a wide variety of topics in (among others): The Guardian, The Independent, the Daily Telegraph, The Observer, London Review of Books, Index on Censorship, BBC History Magazine, New Left Review, Red Pepper(in UK), The Nation, Colorlines (in USA), The Hindu, India Today, Hindustan Times, Indian Express, Frontline, Outlook (in India).mikemarqusee.com

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George Galloway: Woolwich Beheading Attack will be Repeated, EDL are ‘Moral Dwarves’

By Gareth Platt
May 23, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -“IB Times” – George Galloway has described the murder in Woolwich as an “indefensible crime” while defending his claim that Britain’s involvement in Syria is equally reprehensible.
The Respect MP, speaking exclusively to IBTimes UK, also described the English Defence League (EDL) as “moral dwarves” and said the British people are “too sensible” to attack Muslim property, despite allegations that the Woolwich murder was motivated by terrorism.
Galloway caused controversy yesterday by tweeting that “this sickening atrocity in London is exactly what we are paying the same kind of people to do in Syria.”
Today he defended his claim, telling IBTimes UK that the tweet “has the benefit of being undisputably true.
“We’ve given hundreds of millions of pounds to the Syrian rebels and demanded the EU ends the arms embargo so we can give them guns too.
“We’ve all seen, if we care to watch, not just innumerable snuff videos of the Syrian rebels cutting people’s heads off but cutting off their hearts and eating their hearts on camera.”
Galloway went on to claim that the sort of violence witnessed on a London street “will happen again, because we are at war with Muslims all over the world. It will happen again as long as we are, as a country, involved in spreading murder and mayhem across the Muslim world.”
However Galloway was quick to demonstrate that he was in no way condoning the Woolwich murder, saying “yesterday was indefensible.
“The true disaster of 7/7, as yesterday, is that the crimes of guilty people are paid for by innocent people. Like on 7/7 the people getting people killed and maimed are not the people spreading murder and mayhem. That’s why it’s a crime to do what was done yesterday.”
Galloway said that the retaliatory violence seen last night in Kent and Essex, where local mosques were attacked, won’t be repeated on a national scale “because the number of people involved in that kind of thing are small and dwindling. The British people are not that kind of people.”
He described the EDL as “a tiny rump of football hooligans, peddling a fascist ideology and declining fast.
“The British people are too sensible to follow these moral dwarves.”

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The Left vs. the Liberal Media

Media Lens debunks the BBC’s humanitarian interventionists
By Neil Clark
May 16, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -“The American Conservative“- It all started in July 2001 when two men, concerned about bias in the corporate news media in the UK, began to send out “media alerts” to a small number of family and friends. Twelve years on and Media Lens—the brainchild of writer David Edwards, a former manager in sales and marketing, and David Cromwell, a physicist by background—has established itself as the UK’s media watchdog. There’s no doubting the impact they have made. “Without their meticulous and humane analysis, the full gravity of the debacles of Iraq and Afghanistan might have been consigned to bad journalism’s first draft of bad history,” is the verdict of veteran reporter and filmmaker John Pilger.
It’s been an eventful twelve years. In addition to the “debacles” of Iraq and Afghanistan, we’ve had the (ongoing) menacing of Iran on account of an unproven nuclear-weapons program and Israeli military assaults on Lebanon in 2006 and on Gaza in 2008 and again in 2012. Add in the global financial crash of 2008, and there’s been plenty to keep the two Davids occupied.
David Cromwell’s new book, Why Are We The Good Guys?, discusses these events and the work that he and Edwards have done to counter the “elite-friendly value assumptions and judgements” that characterize their coverage in Britain. Although he is clearly a man of the left—his working-class childhood was an “interesting mix of Catholic and Communist” influences—Cromwell’s not one to be deceived by labels, an important skill to possess in an age when wars are sold as “humanitarian interventions” to gain support from liberals.
Media Lens has been outspoken, when the need arises, in its critique of so-called liberal-left media. Many on the British center-left give the BBC a free pass because they have swallowed the line that the organization is somehow “left-wing.” Yet Cromwell and Edwards have shown that when it comes to propagandizing for illegal wars and peddling establishment views, the BBC has at least as bad a record as commercial news networks.
When I caught up with David to talk to him about his new book, the BBC was in the middle of what has been described by some as the biggest crisis in its 90-year history: the resignation of its Director-General and other bigwigs after the fallout from a “Newsnight” program on child abuse. But while heads rolled over the state-owned broadcaster getting allegations wrong on just one program, Cromwell points out that the BBC was never held accountable for the role it played in the lead up to the Iraq War.
“There was no such pressure for senior BBC staff to go over the broadcaster’s systemic failure to challenge US-UK propaganda over Iraq’s non-existent WMD. This media failure paved the way towards war in Iraq and the subsequent brutal and bloody occupation. Instead of responsible public-service journalism, BBC News provides a reliable conduit for government propaganda, most notably the state’s supposedly benign intentions in foreign wars and international relations. That is the daily news diet we are all spoon-fed.”
No such presumption of good faith applies when journalists discuss the actions of countries that don’t toe the Washington line. “It is, of course, fine for journalists in the West to point to the crimes of official enemies and to mock them for their transparent propaganda efforts. Thus, the BBC’s Emily Maitlis was able to introduce the flagship television program ‘Newsnight’ with a touch of sardonic wit: ‘Hello, good evening. The Russians are calling it a “peace enforcement operation.” It’s the kind of Newspeak that would make George Orwell proud.’
“Maitlis was referring to the invasion of Russian forces into the Georgian province of South Ossetia in August 2008. By contrast, imagine a BBC presenter referring skeptically to the government’s claim of a ‘peace enforcement operation’ for the West’s invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq, or Libya and describing such language as ‘the kind of newspeak that would make George Orwell proud.’ It just would not happen.”
I ask Cromwell how he would respond to those who say that Media Lens should devote all its energies on attacking neocon über-hawks rather than criticizing the liberal media, which might agree with the group’s standpoints, say, 70 percent of the time. “Media Lens has indeed spent more time analyzing the liberal media than right-wing outlets. Why? Because the liberal media is often regarded as the outlets where the most progressive and the most challenging views can be seen and heard. If you like, it’s one end of the acceptable spectrum of news and views. But if even here there are severe limits on permissible challenges to state-corporate power, what does that say about society generally? It’s like a litmus test for dissent.”
Cromwell believes that the role of the media in promoting the doctrine of “liberal interventionism” has been absolutely crucial. “If the public was better informed, and not so often misled by those in power, there would likely be a stronger rein on the governing elite. But it’s not happening. A major reason for this is that the corporate media acts as an echo chamber and amplifier of government propaganda. Even when challenged, senior journalists say that their role is to report what those in power say and do—even what they ‘think.’
“For example, when the BBC’s Nick Robinson was the ITN political editor, he wrote of the war in Iraq:
In the run-up to the conflict, I and many of my colleagues, were bombarded with complaints that we were acting as mouthpieces for Mr Blair. Why, the complainants demanded to know, did we report without question his warning that Saddam was a threat? Hadn’t we read what Scott Ritter had said or Hans Blix? I always replied in the same way. It was my job to report what those in power were doing or thinking… . That is all someone in my sort of job can do.
“Robinson performs the same compliant role today as political editor for the BBC,” Cromwell says.
In the ’90s we saw an informal alliance formed between neoconservatives and progressives united behind their support for “liberal intervention.” I ask Cromwell if he thinks that a similar alliance can be formed between the antiwar left and the antiwar right. “I’d be wary of an overt alliance with anyone, right-wing or otherwise, who espouses other views that I might find distasteful. But certainly traditional conservatives should be—and often are—vehemently opposed to what goes by the benign-sounding term ‘neo-liberalism,’ which I unpack in the book.”
One of the most riveting chapters in Cromwell’s book is called “Beyond Indifference,” in which he talks about his philosophical influences. He concludes—rather like Aldous Huxley—that if we do want to “free ourselves” and live better lives, it all starts with undertaking “small acts of kindness for others.” And in contrast, he writes,
Violence feeds on violence, as wise people have known for thousands of years. For example, if brutal state repression is met by violence from some elements of society, it provides an excuse for state forces to ramp up fire-power and crush dissent with even more brutal and widespread violence. The current state of Permanent War can only be ended by people coming together peacefully to overcome state power.
Cromwell certainly thinks that in challenging elite state propaganda we’re in a better position now than we were when Media Lens began in 2001. “One positive thing I’ve noticed is that more people are challenging the media, at least judging by the messages posted on our board and Facebook page, the emails we get and the tweets we receive. Often, even before we’ve worked up a media alert, we’ve been beaten to it by our readers—although, to be fair to ourselves, we do typically wait a few days or longer to see how an event is being played out in the media. Ideally, I would hope that in five years’ time there would be less need for Media Lens to be on the internet ‘haranguing’ and ‘vilifying’ journalists, as skeptics and opponents sometimes say! And surely by ten years from now I can be happily retired and pottering about in a garden shed. Preferably my own and not some random neighbor’s.”
Neil Clark is a UK-based journalist, blogger, and writer.

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The Truth Is That After Israel’s Air Strikes, We Are Involved

By Robert Fisk
May 06, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -“The Independent” – Lights in the sky over Damascus. Another Israeli raid – “daring” of course, in the words of Israel’s supporters, and the second in two days – on Bashar al-Assad’s weaponry and military facilities and weapons stores. The story is already familiar: the Israelis wanted to prevent a shipment of Iranian-made Fateh-110 missiles reaching Hezbollah in Lebanon; they were being sent by the Syrian government. According, at least, to a ‘Western intelligence source’. Anonymous, of course. And it opens the old question: why when the Syrian regime is fighting for its life would it send advanced missiles out of Syria?
But the Syrians themselves have officially confirmed that military installations were hit by the Israelis. And not for the first time during the rebellion. The Fateh-110 – the new version, at least – has a range of perhaps 250km. And it could indeed reach Tel Aviv from southern Lebanon. If the Hezbollah has actually acquired any. But why would the Syrians send them, as US sources were also claiming last night, when the Americans themselves claimed only last December that the Syrians had used the same ground-to-ground missiles against rebel forces in Syria.
In other words, the Syrian regime was prepared to dispense with their rockets to Lebanon when they were already using them in the brutal war in Syria… Now there are other questions to be asked. If the Syrian air force can use their MiGs so devastatingly – and at such civilian cost – against their enemies inside Syria, why couldn’t they have sent their jets to protect Damascus and attack the Israeli aircraft? Isn’t the Syrian air force supposed to be guarding Syria from Israel? Or are the MiGs just not technically able to take on Israel’s state-of-the-art (American) hardware? Or would that just be a step too far?
Much more important, however, is the salient fact that Israel has now intervened in the Syrian war. It may say it was only aiming at weapons destined for the Hezbollah – but these were weapons also being used against rebel forces in Syria. By diminishing the regime’s supply of these weapons, it is therefore helping the rebels overthrow Bashar al-Assad. And since Israel regards itself as a Western nation – best friend and best US military ally in the Middle East, etc, etc – this means that “we” are now involved in the war, directly and from the air. 
Let’s see if the US and the EU condemn Israel’s air attacks. I doubt it. Which would mean, if we are silent, that we approve of them. Silence, to quote Sir Thomas More, gives consent.
So now the Iranians and Hizballah are accused of intervening in Syria – true, though not to quite extent we are led to believe – and Qatar and Saudi Arabia funnel weapons to the rebels – true, but not quite enough weapons, as the Syrian rebels will tell you – and the Israelis have joined in. We are now militarily involved.

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UK base carrying out Afghan drone strikes

By Robert Stevens 
30 April 2013
The British Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced last Thursday that remote controlled armed drones, used to murder and maim insurgents and civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, are now being operated from the UK for the first time.
The UK’s armed forces have been using drones, officially known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), to monitor and attack insurgents in Afghanistan for at least six years. Previously these missions had been operated from the Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, as the British military did not have the capability to operate them from UK soil.
At Creech the drones were operated by the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) 39 Squadron. Described as an “elite unit formed in some haste during 2007”, the unit used state of the art surveillance technology to carry out sneak attacks on people several thousand miles away.
On Thursday it was acknowledged that a specially created mission base—operational since October—at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire, England is now directing the drones.
In a deliberately vague statement the RAF said it had commenced supporting the International Security Assistance Force and Afghan ground troops with “armed intelligence and surveillance missions” remotely piloted from RAF Waddington.
There is no information on the individual missions flown from the UK, which are operated by RAF 13 Squadron and consist of 100 specially trained personnel. The Telegraph reported that the drones “take off and land under the guidance of pilots on the ground in Afghanistan but the pilots in Lincolnshire take over once they’ve reached a suitable height. They normally fly at between 15,000 to 20,000 feet.”
Last year the MoD stepped up its Afghanistan drone fleet by purchasing five more US-made MQ-9 Reaper drones, costing $16.9 million, to add to the five it already operated. The 10 will be operated from RAF Waddington in collaboration with the team in the US. Each is able to carry up to 14 Hellfire “tank-buster” air-to-surface missiles.
Only a fraction of information on the death and destruction drones inflict ever reaches the public domain. The RAF’s claim that they are used for “armed intelligence and surveillance missions” is aimed at concealing that their main purpose is to terrorise on a mass scale. Kat Craig, legal director of human rights charity Reprieve, recently commented, “The nature of drones means they hover above communities 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They present an aerial occupation, almost a form of collective punishment, that causes huge concern and distress to people living in those communities.”
RAF controlled drones have been a critical component of the filthy imperialist adventure in Afghanistan, having flown 45,000 hours in the last six years (an average of 20 hours per day) and fired around 350 weapons.
The RAF also leases the Israeli-made Hermes 450. According to the flightglobal.com web site in October 2012, “more than 60,000 flight hours had been logged with Hermes 450s over Afghanistan and also previously Iraq under the urgent operational requirement service by early this year.”
A November 2011 report by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported that the UK will “spend over half a billion pounds on acquiring and sustaining armed Reaper drones on operations in Afghanistan between 2007 and 2015.”
At that time the RAF were, according to the Bureau’s report, “providing more than 1,200 hours of air support per month for the UK’s Afghan operations.”
The RAF is continually upgrading its drone warfare capability. It is intended that, by 2030, these will comprise 30 percent of the RAF’s capacity. Some £2 billion is being spent on upgrading to a new fleet of 30 drones, known as “The Scavenger programme,” which will be operational by the end of the decade.
The MoD publicly states that it has no record of figures on those killed as a result of drone strikes, whether “insurgent” or civilian. However, in December 2010 Prime Minister David Cameron bragged that 124 insurgents had been killed by British drone strikes up to that point. He has not been so forthcoming in giving details of the civilians slaughtered in cold blood by British drones, including the four killed and two injured when a drone blasted two trucks on the ground in the Now Zad district of north Helmand in July 2011.
These murders are just a fraction of those killed in drone attacks by the United States. The most recent estimates, according to research by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, suggest that in Pakistan alone US drones killed up to 3,533 people between 2004 and 2013. About 890 of these are estimated to be civilians, of which an estimated 168 to 197 were children. Another 1,173 to 1,472 people were also injured. The majority of attacks were carried out under the administration of Barack Obama.
In December last year, the High Court in London rejected a request for a judicial inquiry into the alleged role of the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters spy centre in aiding US drone strikes in Pakistan’s northwest region. The case was brought by Noor Khan, a Pakistani man whose father was killed, along with 49 other people, by a US drone attack on March 17, 2011. Khan’s father, Malik Daud Khan, was chairing a peaceful tribal assembly meeting to discuss chromite mining rights in North Waziristan when he was killed by several missile strikes.
The Conservative/Liberal Democrat government has refused to comment on any aspect of the allegations. Lawyers for Foreign Secretary William Hague told the court that it was “territory of extreme sensitivity”. It would be “‘prejudicial to the national interest’ for them even to explain their understanding of the legal basis for any such activities”, they added.
Following the announcement that the new drones will be operated from RAF Waddington, the media largely sought to play down their crucial military role in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as their planned usage in further imperialist brigandage. BBC defence correspondent Caroline Wyatt blithely reported that the “overwhelming majority” of missions the British drones are used for involve surveillance. She added, “The UK has used its military drones and pilots only in areas acknowledged as conflict zones such as Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan, while RAF drones do not take part in the CIA programme.”
The BBC kept up its propaganda following a demonstration by 400 people on Saturday protesting the use of drones and calling for their banning. The march began in the nearby town of Lincoln and ended at the heavily guarded perimeter fence of RAF Waddington.
BBC reporter Ed Thomas concluded his report from the protest by citing UK government statements defending the increased use of drones. Thomas repeated the bare-faced lie that “it also says that the drones are not only saving military lives but also civilian lives in Afghanistan.”
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Dance on Thatcher’s Grave, but Remember, There Has Been a Coup in Britain

By John Pilger 
April 25, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – In the wake of Thatcher’s departure, I remember her victims. Patrick Warby’s daughter, Marie, was one of them. Marie, aged five, suffered from a bowel deformity and needed a special diet. Without it, the pain was excruciating. Her father was a Durham miner and had used all his savings. It was winter 1985, the Great Strike was almost a year old and the family was destitute. Although her eligibility was not disputed, Marie was denied help by the Department of Social Security. Later, I obtained records of the case that showed Marie had been turned down because her father was “affected by a Trade dispute”. 
The corruption and inhumanity under Thatcher knew no borders. When she came to power in 1979, Thatcher demanded a total ban on exports of milk to Vietnam. The American invasion had left a third of Vietnamese children malnourished. 
I witnessed many distressing sights, including infants going blind from a lack of vitamins. “I cannot tolerate this,” said an anguished doctor in a Saigon paediatric hospital, as we looked at a dying boy. Oxfam and Save the Children had made clear to the British government the gravity of the emergency. An embargo led by the US had forced up the local price of a kilo of milk up to ten times that of a kilo of meat. Many children could have been restored with milk. Thatcher’s ban held. 
In neighbouring Cambodia, Thatcher left a trail of blood, secretly. In 1980, she demanded that the defunct Pol Pot regime – the killers of 1.7 million people – retain its “right” to represent their victims at the UN. Her policy was vengeance on Cambodia’s liberator, Vietnam. The British representative was instructed to vote with Pol Pot at the World Health Organisation, thereby preventing it from providing help to where it was needed more than anywhere on earth. 
To conceal this outrage, the US, Britain and China, Pol Pot’s main backer, invented a “resistance coalition” dominated by Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge forces and supplied by the CIA at bases along the Thai border. There was a hitch. In the wake of the Irangate arms-for-hostages debacle, the US Congress had banned clandestine foreign adventures. “In one of those deals the two of them liked to make,” a senior Whitehall official told the Sunday Telegraph, “President Reagan put it to Thatcher that the SAS should take over the Cambodia show. She readily agreed.” 
In 1983, Thatcher sent the SAS to train the “coalition” in its own distinctive brand of terrorism. Seven-man SAS teams arrived from Hong Kong, and British soldiers set about training “resistance fighters” in laying minefields in a country devastated by genocide and the world’s highest rate of death and injury as a result of landmines. 
I reported this at the time, and more than 16,000 people wrote to Thatcher in protest. “I confirm,” she replied to opposition leader Neil Kinnock, “that there is no British government involvement of any kind in training, equipping or co-operating with the Khmer Rouge or those allied to them.” The lie was breathtaking. In 1991, the government of John Major admitted to parliament that the SAS had indeed trained the “coalition”. “We liked the British,” a Khmer Rouge fighter later told me. “They were very good at teaching us to set booby traps. Unsuspecting people, like children in paddy fields, were the main victims.”
When the journalists and producers of ITV’s landmark documentary, Death on the Rock, exposed how the SAS had run Thatcher’s other death squads in Ireland and Gibraltar, they were hounded by Rupert Murdoch’s “journalists”, then cowering behind the razor wire at Wapping. Although exonerated, Thames TV lost its ITV franchise.
In 1982, the Argentine cruiser, General Belgrano, was steaming outside the Falklands exclusion zone. The ship offered no threat, yet Thatcher gave orders for it to be sunk. Her victims were 323 sailors, including conscripted teenagers. The crime had a certain logic. Among Thatcher’s closest allies were mass murderers – Pinochet in Chile, Suharto in Indonesia, responsible for “many more than one million deaths” (Amnesty International). Although the British state had long armed the world’s leading tyrannies, it was Thatcher who brought a crusading zeal to the deals, talking up the finer points of fighter aircraft engines, hard-bargaining with bribe-demanding Saudi princes. I filmed her at an arms fair, stroking a gleaming missile. “I’ll have one of those!” she said.
In his arms-to-Iraq enquiry, Lord Richard Scott heard evidence that an entire tier of the Thatcher government, from senior civil servants to ministers, had lied and broken the law in selling weapons to Saddam Hussein. These were her “boys”. Thumb through old copies of the Baghdad Observer, and there are pictures of her boys, mostly cabinet ministers, on the front page sitting with Saddam on his famous white couch. There is Douglas Hurd and there is a grinning David Mellor, also of the Foreign Office, around the time his host was ordering the gassing of 5,000 Kurds. Following this atrocity, the Thatcher government doubled trade credits to Saddam.
Perhaps it is too easy to dance on her grave. Her funeral was a propaganda stunt, fit for a dictator: an absurd show of militarism, as if a coup had taken place. And it has. “Her real triumph”, said another of her boys, Geoffrey Howe, a Thatcher minister, “was to have transformed not just oneparty but two, so that when Labour did eventually return, the great bulk of Thatcherism was accepted as irreversible.” 
In 1997, Thatcher was the first former prime minister to visit Tony Blair after he entered Downing Street. There is a photo of them, joined in rictus: the budding war criminal with his mentor. When Ed Milliband, in his unctuous “tribute”, caricatured Thatcher as a “brave” feminist hero whose achievements he personally “honoured”, you knew the old killer had not died at all.

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Guess Who Is Not Coming to Margaret Thatcher’s Funeral

The importance of Margaret Thatcher’s warmongering is reflected in the Falklands theme of her funeral arrangements — something Tony Blair does not seem to regard as “tasteless”.
By Lindsey German
April 12, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -“Stop The War” – Tony Blair has denounced as ‘tasteless’ those celebrating the news of Margaret Thatcher’s death.
“Even if you disagree with someone very strongly,” he said, “at the moment of their passing you should show some respect.”
He may of course be thinking ahead to his own eventual demise and fearing that the scenes of partying will be reproduced on a much wider scale.
Blair’s demand that we all show respect for the dead is somewhat hard to take from the man incriminated in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Afghan civilians.
I don’t recall a similar call from Blair over the recent lack of respect accorded by the British media to the Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, when he died at a relatively early age after a long period of suffering cancer. 
On the occasion of Margaret Thatcher’s death, calls for respect are attempts to stifle any criticism about a woman who, it should be remembered, was only able to hold office due to splits in the Labour opposition, rather than any enthusiasm for her or her party from a majority of voters. 
And even many of those who voted for her had cause to regret it, as Paul Routledge points out in the Mirror:
She decimated our basic industries of coal and steel. Shipbuilding virtually disappeared, along with much of heavy engineering.
She tried to destroy our free trade unions through repressive legislation; She branded miners fighting for their jobs and communities as “the enemy within”…
She made mass unemployment respectable, and used it as a tool of government. The dole queues were “a price worth paying” under her regime – once described as “an elected dictatorship” by one of her own ministers.
She created a new underclass of jobless men… and forced millions of women back into the workplace so that families could make ends meet.
She sold our basic utilities – gas, water, electricity and telephones – and prices soared.
She flogged off the buses and railways, and fares went through the roof.
She sold off the council houses and built no new ones, so there are now more than two million families on housing waiting lists.
She enthroned the profit motive, and unleashed the spivs and speculators in the City of London.
She surrendered economic policy to the mysterious dark forces of “the market”, which led UK plc into one recession after another that led to the mess where we are today.
She imposed the hated poll tax on the nation, first in Scotland where she made the Tories unelectable for more than a generation. She then thrust it down the throats of the English, prompting the worst riots in London since the disturbances of the early eighties.
Mass popular resistance to the poll tax finally marked her downfall, and Thatcher was driven out of office by her own party. 
This is all supposed to be forgiven and forgotten as a nation unites in grief for a woman who, in the sickening words of David Cameron, ‘made Britain great again.’
Much has been written about her domestic policies, much less about her international role. Yet she played a crucial part in the escalation of the Cold War and in the reestablishment of a doctrine of intervention which began in the Falklands and continued with her successors in the 1990s and 2000s.
Respect for the dead was certainly not in Margaret Thatcher’s mind in 1982 when she took Britain into war with Argentina over the Falkland Islands, to save an isolated British colony — and her own political face — when her popularity ratings were rock bottom. “Rejoice!” was Thatcher’s response at the end of a squalid and unnecessary colonial war that cost over 1000 lives, including those killed on the Argentinian ship the Belgrano — deaths celebrated by Thatcher’s cheerleaders at Rupert Murdoch’s Sun with the headline, “Gotcha”.
The 323 young Argentinian sailors, mostly conscripts, who died when the Belgrano sank will not be guests at Margaret Thatcher’s funeral.
Nor will the ten Irish hunger strikers who were allowed to die by Thatcher because she refused to countenance their demand to be treated as political prisoners. As Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams commented, “Here in Ireland her espousal of old draconian militaristic policies prolonged the war and caused great suffering… Margaret Thatcher will be especially remembered for her shameful role during the epic hunger strikes of 1980 and 81.”
While Margaret Thatcher destroyed many industries, she always protected the arms industry, which she enthusiastically promoted abroad. Most notoriously, was her central role in negotiating the al-Yamamah (Dove of peace!) arms deal with Saudi Arabia in 1983. At the time, this was the biggest arms deal in British history. It was oiled with bribes and backhanders running into hundred of millions of pounds, one of the main beneficiaries being Thatcher’s own son Mark, who pocketed £12 million.
It is another example of how Margaret Thatcher was mentor to Tony Blair. When in 2007 a Serious Fraud investigation into the corruption involved in the arms trade got too close to defence company BAE’s dealings with Saudi Arabia, Blair ordered it to be shut down.
The establishment of the ‘new imperialism’ which became such a feature of the world from the 1990s, was paved by Margaret Thatcher, alongside US president Ronald Reagan. With him she helped escalate the Cold War in the 1980s, introducing Cruise missiles to Britian despite very widespread opposition.
The ‘special relationship’ cemented with Reagan allowed Tony Blair in particular to follow her in supporting US foreign policy at every turn, with disastrous consequences in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Like today, the ‘new imperialism’ was, proclaimed to be in the interests of spreading democracy. In reality, Thatcher had no problem in supporting dictatorships around the world, whether it be in Saudi Arabia or in Chile, where her good friend General Augusto Pinochet came to power in a blood-soaked coup against the democratically elected President Allende.
Pinochet reigned for two decades through a regime of oppression, torture and mass execution. The response of one Chilean woman to Margaret Thatcher’s death sums up the reaction of many in her country:
“The Thatcher government directly supported Pinochet’s murderous regime, financially, via military support, even military training. Members of my family were tortured and murdered under Pinochet, who was one of Thatcher’s closest allies and friend. Those of us celebrating are the ones who suffered deeply.”
When Pinochet found himself under house arrest in Britain in 1998, facing extradition to Spain to face charges of war crimes, Margaret Thatcher visited him to “thank her old friend for bringing democracy to Chile”.
Chile’s President Allende, assassinated in Pinochet’s seizure of power, will not be a guest at Margaret Thatcher’s funeral.
Nor will the black South Africans slaughtered by the apartheid regime in the 1980s, when Margaret Thatcher branded Nelson Mandela a “terrorist” and did all she could to block the sanctions which most of the world imposed in response to the barbarity of the regime. “I have found myself to all intents and purposes alone in resisting sanctions,” she wrote in 1985 to PW Botha, the hardline apartheid president of South Africa.
During Thatcher’s governments, the UK repeatedly vetoed UN resolutions on apartheid South Africa. Unsurprisingly, the last white South African president, FW de Klerk, is expected to attend her funeral.
And what a gathering it is turning out to be. She said she didn’t want a state funeral, but she’s getting one in all but name anyway, with the Queen and Prince Philip in attendance. It will be virtually indistinguishable from the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill.
Previous prime ministers received no such accolade, including Harold Wilson who, like Thatcher, had three terms in office, and also led a reforming government, though somewhat different, as it included, for example, liberalisation of laws on censorship, divorce and homosexuality, and the ending of capital punishment.
This state funeral in all but name is a blatant attempt by David Cameron to boost his popularity through a bizarre “feel-good” opportunity, just as millions of people are learning the extent of the suffering his government’s austerity policies are causing the poorest and most vulnerable in our society.
The importance of Margaret Thatcher’s warmongering is reflected in her funeral arrangements which will have a Falklands War theme — something Tony Blair does not seem to regard as “tasteless”. As ex-soldier Joe Glenton says, “Thatcher’s march to war in the Falklands won an election – and her funeral will process to the same jingoistic tune.”
A funeral march with 700 women and men from the British armed services attending will proceed through the City of London — where there are plenty of Margaret Thatcher’s friends — to St Paul’s Cathedral. There will be gun salutes and full military honours, and the whole event will be another boost for the militarism which so pervades British society — one more occasion on top of Remembrance Day or the Queen’s Jubilee where the establishment praises the military and by extension drums up support for current and future wars. 
The funeral will cost an estimated £10 million. On top of this, is hundreds of thousands more spent on recalling MPs to parliament for a seven hour tribute to Thatcher. The special convening of parliament was forced through against the wishes of the Speaker of the House of Commons, and the Labour MP Glenda Jackson was an almost lone voice in puncturing the endless praise of a prime minister who wreaked, in Jackson’s words, “the most heinous, social, economic and spiritual damage upon this country”.
Margaret Thatcher was a multi millionaire. She died in the Ritz hotel, where she had lived for months, and had a house in Belgravia. It says everything about her values and of those who continue in her tradition today that this money can be spent at a time when the poorest and most disadvantaged in society are having their benefits cut, when inequality is growing and while most working people see their living standards fall. 
Today, the friends of Thatcher and her ideoology of privatisation, economic neoliberalism and warmongering — from David Cameron to Tony Blair — justify arms spending, tens of billions wasted on the Trident nuclear missile system, continuing wars, and interventions in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.
No wonder Tony Blair thinks it’s tasteless to criticise: he learnt everything he knew from her. 
Anti-Thatcher Song Heads For U.K. No. 1: Video – “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead,” the tune from the Hollywood classic “The Wizard of Oz,” has become a conduit for Margaret Thatcher protests in the U.K., driving the song up toward No. 1 in the country’s charts this weekend

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“Tramp the Dirt Down”

By George Galloway MP
April 09, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – The old saw that one shouldn’t speak ill of the recently dead cannot possibly apply to controversial figures in public life. It certainly didn’t apply to President Hugo Chavez who predeceased Margaret Thatcher amidst a blizzard of abuse.
The main reason it must not preclude entering the lists amidst a wave of hagiographic sycophantic tosh of the kind that has engulfed Britain these last hours is that otherwise the hagiographers will have the field to themselves.
Every controversial divisive deadly thing that Thatcher did will be placed in soft focus, bathed in a rose-coloured light, and provide a first draft of history that will be, simply, wrong.
As is now well-known, I refused to do that today on the demise of a wicked woman who tore apart what remained good about my country, and set an agenda which has been followed, more or less, by all of her successors. I certainly wasn’t prepared to leave the obituaries to those who profited from her rule or those who have aped her ever since.
So here is my own memory of Thatcher and what she did in her time on this earth.
On one of my first political demonstrations – against the Conservative government of Edward Heath (1970-74) the slogan of the day was “Margaret Thatcher- Milk snatcher”. It was the first but not the last time I spat out her name in distaste.
Before Thatcher, every primary school pupil received 1/3 of a pint of milk every morning. For some it was the difference between breakfast and no breakfast. I was sometimes one of those. I grew up in a brief period of social democracy in Britain, being dosed by the state with free cod-liver oil, orange juice and malt to build up my strength. Having been born in a slum tenement into a one-room attic in an Irish immigrant area, I needed all of that and more. And like millions I got it, until Thatcher took it away.
She became the Conservative leader after Heath’s two electoral defeats in 1974 and his subsequent resignation.
She was a new type of Tory leader, entirely lacking in anything resembling “noblesse oblige”. She was nasty, brutish and short of the class previously thought obligatory in Britain amongst leaders of the ruling elite. She was vulgar, money-worshipping, and blasphemous. She believed the important part of the Biblical story of the “Good Samaritan” was not that he refused to pass by the suffering on the other side of the road but that he had “loadsamoney”.
In the infamous sermon on the Mound in Edinburgh addressing the Church of Scotland she opined that there was “no such thing as society”…”only individuals”
As the Labour leader Neil Kinnock, in one of his better efforts, retorted: “No such thing as society? Only individuals? No such thing as honouring other people’s parents? No such thing as cherishing other people’s children? No such thing as us and always? Just ME and NOW? ME and NOW?”
She was the living embodiment of Marx’s prediction that under capitalism “all that is solid will melt into air… all that is sacred will be profaned”
Upon her election as prime minister (with just 40% of the vote, her position ensured by the treacherous defection from the Labour cause of the rats now squirming on the Liberal-Democrat ship) she set about “transforming” Britain allright. She privatised Britain’s key industries, enriching her friends, and robbing the public of their birthright. When she took over “Financial Services” represented 3% of the British economy; when she left office it was 40%.
She destroyed the coal industry, the steel, car, bus and motor-cycle manufacturing, truck and bus-making, ship-building and print-industry, the railway workshops… she destroyed more than a third of Britain’s manufacturing capacity, significantly more than Hitler’s Luftwaffe ever achieved.
She did this not just because she prefered the spivs and gamblers in the city -they were her kind of people. But because above all, she hated trades unionism, and was determined to destroy it.
I was a leading member of the Scottish Labour Party at the time she came into office, and a full-time Labour organiser. Scotland was to become an industrial wasteland in the first years of her rule.
I was also, from 1973, a member of the then Transport and General Workers Union, one of her key targets – especially our Docks section.
Importantly, for me, I was an honorary member of the National Union of Mineworkers too.
In all of these capacities I was a front-line short-sword fighter in the rearguard action against Thatcherism.
I fought her at Bathgate, at Linwood, when she was sacking the automotive industry. I fought her at Wapping – every Saturday night when she destroyed the Print workers on behalf of her friend, the organised crime firm owner, Rupert Murdoch. I fought every day of the Miners strike when she destroyed the Miners Union and the communities they represented. I fought her at Timex in Dundee at Massey Ferguson in Kilmarnock, and at the aluminium smelter in Invergordon.
I fought against her poll tax – imposed first in Scotland – as a refusenik of the most iniquitous tax in Britain since mediaeval times, the tax which ended in flames – literally – whilst I was on the platform at Trafalgar Square. And which finally produced her political demise.
And I toured – as a political activist – the desolation in Britain’s post-industrial distressed areas which she left behind. The City of London – deregulated by her – boomed whilst the coalfields and steel areas sank into penury. I saw the rusted factories the flooded mines the idle shipyards and the devilish results of millions of newly and enforced idle hands.
I faced her in parliament from 1987 as well, on these and other issues.
You see it wasn’t just Britain that Thatcher made bleed.
Her withdrawal of political status from Irish republican prisoners and her brutal, securocratic, militarisation of the situation in the north led to much additional suffering in Ireland.
State collusion in the murder of Catholics became endemic during her rule. And ten young men were starved to death for the restoration of political status, before our eyes in her dungeons. She finally died on the anniversary of their leader, Bobby Sands, being elected to parliament as he lay on his death-bed.
During the Falklands War, she sent hundreds of young Argentinian conscripts to a watery grave when she shot the Argentine warship the Belgrano in the back – as it was speeding away from the conflict. She mercilessly exploited the sacrifice of them, and our own soldiers sailors and airmen, to save her own political skin. A lot of brave men had to leave their guts on Goose Green to keep Thatcher in power.
She pushed her alter ego – the semi-imbecilic US president Ronald Reagan – into Cold War fanaticism and burgeoning expenditure on more and more terrifying weapons – many of them stationed on our soil.
She pushed his successor George Bush Sen into the first Iraq War.
I was there, I saw her lips move, when she described Nelson Mandela as a “common terrorist”.
She continued to recognise the genocidal and deposed Pol Pot regime in Cambodia – insisting that Pol Pot was the real and recognised leader of the Cambodians, even as they counted his victims in millions.
And she was the author of the policy of military, political, diplomatic and media support of the Afghan obscurantists who became the Taliban and Al Qaeda. She even produced them on the platform of the Tory Party conference, hailing them as “freedom-fighters”.
I was one of the last men standing in parliament opposing this immoral policy of “my enemy’s enemy is my friend”.
On the eve of the triumph of these “freedom Fighters” I told Thatcher to her face; “You have opened the gates for the barbarians….and a long dark night will now descend upon the people of Afghanistan”. I never said a truer word.
I hated Margaret Thatcher for what seems like all my life. I hated her more than I hated anyone – until the mass murderer Tony Blair came along.
It would have been utter hypocrisy for me to have remained silent about her crimes today whilst the political class – including New Labour – poured honeyed words, lies actually, over her blood-spattered record.
I could not do it. I believe I spoke for millions. The wicked witch is dead. Tramp the dirt down.
George Galloway MP
House of Commons
London
See also –
Police injured and arrests made as hundreds ‘celebrated’ death of Margaret Thatcher: Police officers were injured and arrests were made as hundreds held parties “celebrating” the death of Margaret Thatcher.

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Britain: South West NHS Pay Cartel publishes plans to cut wages and conditions

By Ajanta Silva 
9 April 2013
National Health Service (NHS) employers in the south west of England, who set up the South West Pay Terms and Conditions Consortium (pay cartel) last year, have published their final business plan, “An approach to addressing NHS pay, terms and conditions.”
The pay cartel persisted with the publication despite the NHS unions agreeing to concessionary changes to the Agenda for Change (AfC) national pay system a few days before. While some hospitals have left the pay cartel to continue bargaining based on the national AfC, many NHS employers have welcomed the plan as a blueprint for reducing pay and conditions for all 1.6 million NHS workers across the country.
In the middle of last year, 20 NHS Trusts covering more than 68,000 hospital workers in the south west of England set up the pay cartel in response to the government slashing NHS budgets by more than 20 percent. For an average NHS Trust with a £220 million annual turnover, more than 5 percent—£11 million—had to be saved each year. The pay cartel estimated that the current national bargaining arrangements could only save £275,000 a year and that “the size of the challenge facing participating Trusts [in the south west pay cartel] is equivalent to a reduction in whole time equivalent of around 6,000 posts, over the next three years across all consortium organisations.” It promised to draw up a business plan to meet these demands by April, which it has now done.
The final business plan goes much further than the initial proposals. It has identified more than 60 “optimiser packages” to reduce labour costs and a further 33 “workforce cost reduction opportunities”. It warns that “none should be considered as straightforward to implement, as each represents either a loss in employee income or consequential changes in working practices” and will provoke opposition from health workers. Recognizing that the unions are on their side the pay cartel anticipates “more may be achieved from these ‘optimisers’ through greater flexibility, following consultation and agreement from staff side organisations.”
The optimiser packages and workforce cost reduction opportunities include:
• Cutting down consultants’ supporting professional activities (SPAs), direct clinical care (DCC) and additional programme activities (APAs), which would have an enormous effect on patient care.
• Introducing lower pay terms and conditions for new recruits
• Further outsourcing of services, explaining how “private sector health care organisations (especially in the community health services ) are successfully winning work to provide NHS services, in part due to their lower costs as result of more competitive pay, terms and conditions.”
• Redesigning working practices of junior doctors and introducing new pay arrangements
• Cutting down maternity, paternity, adoption and study leave
• Reducing the working week (hours and income)
• Reducing the amount of redundancy pay
• Making better use of government changes to employment regulations to terminate contracts more easily and introducing a fee for anyone considering an employment tribunal claim.
Following the publication of the business plan, Northern Devon Health Care NHS Trust, Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust formally announced their withdrawal from the pay cartel.
This is only because the proposals have been welcomed by the Foundation Trust Network (FTN), a body representing more than 200 NHS Trusts across England.
The pay cartel points out that there is “considerable appetite across NHS employers to modernise the pay, terms conditions systems as shown in a recent Foundation Trust Network survey.” FTN chief executive, Chris Hopson, while welcoming the deals reached with the unions over changes to AfC, argues that the savings involved are a drop in the ocean. He stresses, “Trusts now have a pressing need for the NHS to start discussing the different ways we could set pay, terms and conditions including looking at whether we should set pay nationally, regionally or trust by trust—exactly the same debate as the education service is now having.”
The publication of the pay cartel business plan is further proof of the treacherous role played by the unions, which claimed that by agreeing to changes to AfC nationally they would avoid the far more drastic cuts. They are now claiming the withdrawal of some Trusts from the south west pay cartel is a victory. Royal College of Nursing regional director Jeannette Martin declared that the “report from the pay cartel represents a back down by the cartel from their initial proposals.”
Unison South West Regional Organiser Helen Eccles, while professing to be unhappy with the final business plan, urged the south west hospital bosses to work with them to implement the national pay deal. “We acknowledge that these are difficult times for our National Health Service. The Health Trusts in the South West really need their staff and the staff unions on board in order to address the issues they face. UNISON is offering the remaining Trusts the opportunity to work constructively with us.”
NHS workers must reject the trade unions’ pleas. Already the government has been able to impose its austerity measures with the “constructive” support of the trade unions. Pay has been frozen for two years, pension benefits slashed, recruitment frozen and jobs lost in their tens of thousands. Every NHS worker can cite examples where patient care has suffered. The unions have been selling the same arguments proclaimed by the government that “savings needs to be made” and “we’re all in it together” in this “difficult economic climate” to give away the hard-won gains made by previous generations.
What has happened so far will pale into insignificance compared to what is being planned. Action committees are required, independent of the unions, to unify all staff with patients and the wider population to prevent the dismantling of the NHS.
Health care, education, access to culture and recreation, and secure and decent-paying jobs are social rights. Securing these rights requires a political struggle against the entire capitalist system and the big business parties that say that the interests of the financial aristocracy must take priority over the needs of working people.

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We Need to Be Seeking Regime Change Here in the UK – Nevermind Iran

By Richard Sudan
April 05, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -“HP” – There is a dangerous mythology that exists about Iran, and which refuses to go away. It is irresponsibly perpetuated by many in the media, reminiscent of the Neo-Con propaganda which we became familiar with in the run up the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003.
It’s the kind of mythology which seeps too easily from the front pages of the red tops and into popular discourse, and which needs to be confronted by reason and with facts. That mythology is the idea that Iran is somehow a threat to us here in the UK; this is a myth which is underpinned by falsehoods and disinformation.
If we have learned anything from the crimes committed in Iraq, it is that we must question at all costs the constant assertion that Iran as a sovereign country poses a threat to us. To not do so is to risk sleepwalking into the same sequence events that led to the heinous and despicable crimes committed against the Iraqi people at the behest of our government.
In the run up to the invasion of Iraq, the British people were privy to a stream of lies peddled by Tony Blair and the then Labour government in an attempt to convince the public that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and had the capability and inclination to use them-thereby justifying a preemptive illegal attack.
We now know of course, that these were untruths designed whip up a popular frenzy; the dossier claiming that Iraq could mobilize the weapons of non-existence; the infamous Downing Street memo encouraging ‘facts’ and so-called ‘intelligence’ on Iraq to be fit around a pre-determined and already decided policy. War.
Despite the lies from the government and media, and attempts to convince people that the illegal invasion of Iraq was somehow just, more than a million people marched against it. Despite Bush and Blair’s campaign to present Iraq to the world as a threat, Britain at the time of the illegal invasion in 2003 was home to a sizable ant-war movement.
We know the illegal war waged against Iraq was primarily about Oil and the long term geo-political strategy of the international Western power structure. But war is also the most profitable industry in the world, and one of the things that is clear from the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003 is that broadly speaking, the military industrial complex is concerned only with steering public opinion toward supporting war, and isn’t subject to observing any semblance of international law.
Indeed, with hindsight it’s easy to see how the big players in the media went along with the Neo-Con agenda compared a handful of brave exceptions who sought to expose power rather than to serve it.
That is why, when we see the same kind of war mongering hyperbole aimed squarely at Iran periodically surface in the mainstream media, implying that a preemptive strike might be a sane course of action, we need to consider both recent history and the facts.
For all of the propaganda perpetuating from the hawks in Washington, baying desperately for another profitable war to satisfy the insatiable appetite of the defense budget, so far the Obama administration hasn’t succumbed (fully) to the whim of AIPAC, and the unrelenting pressure from Netanyahu and Israeli government to begin an all-out war.
But the mythology about a threat from Iran persists and lingers, becoming legitimized with every passing minute that it remains challenged.
Cutting through the quagmire of the corporate media, and focusing solely on what matters, the facts are clear.
The IAEA (The International Atomic Energy Agency) has not stated that Iran possess a nuclear weapon; Iran is a signatory of the non-proliferation treaty-unlike Israel which is widely acknowledged to possess nuclear weapons.
But in any case, the idea that we should support an invasion of Iran on the basis that Iran might be seeking such a weapon is ludicrous. You couldn’t make it up.
When Iran’s neighbours across the Gulf host the US’s military bases, could Iran be blamed if it wanted to be in a position to defend itself and have a deterrent? Iran has after all witnessed two imperial occupations take place within its bordering countries in Iraq and Afghanistan in as many years.
Who should we fear more, Iran, a country that hasn’t attacked another country for hundreds of years, or the US which supports terror all over the world and which in the past, actually used its Nuclear weapons dropping them on Nagasaki and Hiroshima?
One of the falsehoods commonly put forward in this debate is that the Iranian president Ahmadinejad has said he wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. This too is a lie, admitted here by former Israeli deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor.
The US has never supported democracy in Iran. When Mossadegh was in power in Iran and wanted to nationalise Iran’s oil to cut out corporations like BP, the US and the CIA supported a coup to topple the government, installing a regime favourable to their own interests.
I’m not a fan of the Iranian government. But the idea that we should take seriously, sabre rattling from those who have never supported democracy in Iran-but which do support dictatorial regimes all over the world-is ludicrous.
Claims that attacking other countries is a means to bring about democracy are always without foundation; we are not, and have never been interested in occupying other people’s countries to bring about peace. Such claims reflect a benign form of narcissism, a belief that those who we deem inferior to ourselves become our burden and our obligation to ‘democratise’- this thinking always precedes the eventual acts of actual terrorism. As John Pilger once quipped “It isn’t a war on terror, it’s a war of terror”
We need only take a look around the world at the state terror we support, and the crimes we turn a blind eye to, to know this to be true.
No, before we go meddling in other people’s countries, and talking (however tacitly) about attacking them, we need to get our own house in order. Spending money to maintain a military presence around the World when we can’t even keep our pensioners warm in the winter and prioritise free education for our poorest doesn’t make sense.
We don’t need to be thinking about supporting a US/Israeli attack on Iran, or thinking about regime change anywhere else in the World. The truth is we need to be thinking about regime change here in the UK.
Richard Sudan is a freelance writer based in London – Follow Richard on Twitter: www.twitter.com/richardsudan

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Communism, Welfare State – What’s the Next Big Idea?

Any attempt to challenge the elite needs courage, inspiration and a truly groundbreaking proposal. Here are two to set us off
By George Monbiot 
April 02, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -“The Guardian” – Most of the world’s people are decent, honest and kind. Most of those who dominate us are inveterate bastards. This is the conclusion I’ve reached after many years of journalism. Writing on Black Monday,as the British government’s full-spectrum attack on the lives of the poor commences, the thought keeps returning to me.
“With a most inhuman cruelty, they who have put out the people’s eyes reproach them of their blindness.” This government, whose mismanagement of the economy has forced so many into the arms of the state, blames the sick, the unemployed, the underpaid for a crisis caused by the feral elite – and punishes them accordingly. Most of those affected by the bedroom tax, introduced today, are disabled. Thousands will be driven from their homes, and many more pushed towards destitution. Relief for the poor from council tax will be clipped; legal aid for civil cases cut off. Yet at the end of this week those making more than £150,000 a year will have their income tax cut.
Two days later, benefit payments for the poorest will be cut in real terms. A week after that, thousands of families who live in towns and boroughs where property prices are high will be forced out of their homes by the total benefits cap. What we are witnessing is raw economic warfare by the rich against the poor.
So the age-old question comes knocking: why does the decent majority allow itself to be governed by a brutal, antisocial minority? Part of the reason is that the minority controls the story. As John Harris explained in the Guardian, large numbers (including many who depend on it) have been persuaded that most recipients of social security are feckless, profligate fraudsters. Despite everything that has happened over the last two years, Rupert Murdoch, Lord Rothermere and the other media barons still seem to be running the country. Their relentless propaganda, using exceptional and shocking cases to characterise an entire social class, remains highly effective. Divide and rule is as potent as it has ever been.
But I’ve come to believe that there’s also something deeper at work: that most of the world’s people live with the legacy of slavery. Even in a nominal democracy like the United Kingdom, most people were more or less in bondage until little more than a century ago: on near-starvation wages, fired at will, threatened with extreme punishment if they dissented, forbidden to vote. They lived in great and justified fear of authority, and the fear has persisted, passed down across the five or six generations that separate us and reinforced now by renewed insecurity, snowballing inequality, partisan policing.
Any movement that seeks to challenge the power of the elite needs to ask itself what it takes to shake people out of this state. And the answer seems inescapable – hope. Those who govern on behalf of billionaires are threatened only when confronted by the power of a transformative idea.
A century and more ago the idea was communism. Even in the form in which Marx and Engels presented it, its problems are evident: the simplistic binary system into which they tried to force society; their brutal dismissal of anyone who did not fit this dialectic (“social scum”, “bribed tool[s] of reactionary intrigue”); their reinvention of Plato’s guardian-philosophers, who would “represent and take care of the future” of the proletariat; the unprecedented power over human life they granted to the state; the millenarian myth of a final resolution to the struggle for power. But their promise of another world electrified people who had, until then, believed that there was no alternative.
Seventy years ago, in the UK, the transformative idea was freedom from want and fear through the creation of a social security system and a National Health Service. It swept a Labour government to power which was able, despite far tougher economic circumstances than today’s, to create a fair society from a smashed, divided nation. This is the achievement which – through a series of sudden, spectacular and unmandated strikes – Cameron’s government is now demolishing.
So where do we look for the idea that can make hope more powerful than fear? Not to the Labour party. If Ed Miliband cannot bring himself even to oppose a bill which retrospectively denies compensation to cheated jobseekers, the most we can expect from him is a low-alcohol conservatism of the kind that doused all aspiration under Tony Blair.
Last week I ran a small online poll, asking people to nominate inspiring, transfiguring ideas. The two mentioned most often were land value taxation and a basic income. As it happens, both are championed by the Green party. On this and other measures, its policies are by a long way more progressive than Labour’s.
I discussed land value taxation in a recent column. A basic income (also known as a citizen’s income) gives everyone, rich and poor, without means-testing or conditions, a guaranteed sum every week. It replaces some but not all benefits (there would, for instance, be extra payments for pensioners and people with disabilities). It banishes the fear and insecurity now stalking the poorer half of the population. Economic survival becomes a right, not a privilege.
A basic income removes the stigma of benefits while also breaking open what politicians call the welfare trap. Because taking work would not reduce your entitlement to social security, there would be no disincentive to find a job – all the money you earn is extra income. The poor are not forced by desperation into the arms of unscrupulous employers: people will work if conditions are good and pay fair, but will refuse to be treated like mules. It redresses the wild imbalance in bargaining power that the current system exacerbates. It could do more than any other measure to dislodge the emotional legacy of serfdom. It would be financed by progressive taxation – in fact it meshes well with land value tax.
These ideas require courage: the courage to confront the government, the opposition, the plutocrats, the media, the suspicions of a wary electorate. But without proposals on this scale, progressive politics is dead. They strike that precious spark, so seldom kindled in this age of triangulation and timidity – the spark of hope.
A fully referenced version of this article can be found at monbiot.com

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Citizens’ Campaign to Arrest Blair Continues

Citizens band together to arrest former British prime minister over involvement in Iraq’s invasion a decade ago.
By Simon Hooper
March 21, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -“Al-Jazeera” — London, United Kingdom – It was only as David Cronin saw Tony Blair and his entourage striding towards him that he finally plucked up the courage to go through with his plan to attempt to arrest the former British prime minister over his role in the invasion of Iraq and claim a bounty on his head.
“I walked up to him very briskly and managed to put my hand on his arm and say, ‘Mr Blair, this is a citizen’s arrest,'” Cronin told Al Jazeera of the 2010 encounter at the European Parliament in Brussels, where he worked as a journalist.
“I didn’t have time to say anything else before his bodyguards pushed me away, so I just shouted at him, ‘You are guilty of war crimes!’ He looked at me for a split-second before I was bundled off. I can only describe it as a look of puzzlement and contempt.”
Ten years since British forces joined the US-led assault, many in the UK are more critical than ever of the country’s involvement in a conflict documented by the Iraq Body Count database to have killed more than 112,000 civilians.
More than a fifth – 22 percent – of Britons polled by YouGov this month said they believed Blair should be tried as a war criminal for his role in the conflict, which was preceded by massive anti-war demonstrations in London and other cities.
Fifty-three percent said the invasion was wrong, while half said Blair, a key international ally of US President George W Bush, had deliberately misled the British people over the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction.
Blair’s schedule these days is a closely guarded secret to avoid ambushes by the protesters who stalk his public appearances armed with eggs, shoes and banners reading: “BLIAR”. Even his testimony at last year’s phone-hacking inquiry was interrupted by an intruder shouting, “This man is a war criminal!”
Online campaign
Cronin, meanwhile, is one of four people to have claimed a reward from an online campaign, Arrest Blair, which offers a share of a bounty pot for each attempted arrest.
Launched in 2010, the campaign has already paid out about $16,600, though it concedes its efforts are largely symbolic. According to its rules, attempts must be non-violent and must be reported by at least one mainstream media outlet.
Cronin, who donated his $4,200 bounty to a Gaza-based charity, said he was moved to act not just by Iraq but also in protest at Blair’s appointment as Middle East envoy for the Quartet of the UN, the US, the EU and Russia.
“It’s a complete joke that a guy who had helped to start two wars in the wider Middle East region is now swanning around posing as a peace envoy,” Cronin said.
Moves to hold Blair accountable are also gaining momentum in Scotland, where some campaigners believe he could be tried under the country’s separate legal system.
Margo MacDonald, an independent member of the Scottish parliament, told Al Jazeera that she planned to table a motion on Wednesday calling for Scottish law to be amended to make illegal “the waging of aggressive war with the intention of regime change”, specifically so that Blair could be brought to trial.
“Theoretically, we believe he could face a court in Scotland,” MacDonald told Al Jazeera. “We are simply adding to the pressure.”
In an article published in last weekend’s Sunday Herald newspaper, Alex Salmond, the leader of the ruling Scottish National Party, appeared to lend weight to MacDonald’s cause, writing: “The illegal invasion and war in Iraq is a disgrace without parallel in modern times, the shame of which will echo down the ages for Blair and all of those who were complicit in sending young men and women to risk their lives on the basis of a gigantic fraud.”
Legal obstacles
But James Sloan, an expert in international criminal law at Glasgow University, told Al Jazeera that any attempt to prosecute Blair, whether in Scotland, elsewhere in the UK, or at The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC), could face near-insurmountable legal obstacles.
While the crime of aggression – the likeliest charge that Blair could face – fell under the ICC’s jurisdiction, Sloan said it was not yet prosecutable because signatories of the court’s founding statute in 1998 had not been able to agree on a definition.
A definition was finally agreed on in 2010, but is not due to come into force at the ICC until 2017. That could pose problems for any effort to apply the charge of aggression to Blair’s actions more than a decade earlier, Sloan said.
“It’s a fundamental principle of criminal law that you cannot retrospectively try someone for something that was not criminal at the time. There could be a pretty good defence that he couldn’t expect to know how the crime would be defined in 2013 or later when he was acting in 2003.”
Blair has maintained that the war in Iraq was justified and that even the subsequent sectarian violence was a price worth paying for ending Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship.
In the introduction to A Journey, his 2010 autobiography, he wrote: “I have often reflected as to whether I was wrong. I ask you to reflect as to whether I may have been right.”
In response to an email seeking comment, a spokesperson for Blair’s office directed Al Jazeera to remarks made this week in an articlein the Sun newspaper and to the BBC, in which he suggested that an eventual uprising against Saddam could have been even bloodier than the current conflict in Syria.
Blair has also brushed off protesters’ efforts to confront him. In footage of an attempt last year by a British activist to arrest him during a lecture in Hong Kong, he can be heard to say: “You’ve made your point and that’s democracy for you,” and then jokes, “Actually, I’m used to it.”
Hardening attitudes
But Chris Nineham, a founder of the UK’s Stop the War coalition, sees a hardening of attitudes against Blair and growing recognition of the weight of war crimes allegations against him in political and media circles.
Even the Sun, a cheerleader for the invasion, felt obliged to run a piece alongside Blair’s in which the father of a British soldier killed in Iraq accused him of being a war criminal and said he should be in prison.
“In a way I suspect it is official politics and mainstream media beginning to catch up with where the public has been for a long time now,” said Nineham, the author of a forthcoming book titled The People v Tony Blair.
“A lot of people want to see justice but in the public imagination, I think Tony Blair has already been effectively vilified and it has humiliated him. That is very important because other politicians in the future who are looking at the possibility of more wars and more invasions will think twice.”
Nineham said Blair could also expect to be harried by protesters for a long time to come.
“You only need to send an email out saying Blair is going to be appearing at such and such an armaments manufacturing conference, and you’ll have hundreds of people phoning in or emailing saying, ‘Yeah, come on then, where is he?'”
Note: The image embedded in this report by ICH did not appear in the original article

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Tony Blair: When Ignorance Is Bliss

By Matt Carr 
March 13, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – Every time I write about Tony Blair, I tell myself that it will be the last time. But then I find myself coming back, time and again, like a dog to its vomit. It isn’t because Blair is so interesting in himself. 
On the contrary, the more he appears in the media and utters his banal and narcissistic pronouncements, the more he reminds me of a cross between the gardener Chance in Being There and Bismarck’s depiction of Napoleon III as a ‘sphinx without a riddle.’
For me Blair’s interest, such as it is, derives from his political role, and particularly his role in the Iraq war and a dangerous and fervid promoter of the new 21st century militarism. 
Last week, there was a sharp and disturbing article by Chris Doyle , the director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU), which drew attention to an aspect of the Blair phenomenon that I have always found striking and inexplicable; the often breathtaking shallowness that underpins so many of his judgements and positions – particularly when they have anything to do with the Middle East.
Doyle’s piece contains the following anecdote:
‘Shortly after Tony Blair set up shop as the Quartet Representative in the luxurious American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem he met a group of former Parliamentary colleagues. To the jangle of jaws dropping on the floor, he confessed that before he had come out there, he had not realised just how little he really understood about the Israel-Palestine conflict as Prime Minister. The reality on the ground was so much worse then he had ever imagined.’
This is the man who the ‘Quartet’ sent to bring peace to the Middle East, who once told the Labour Party Conference in 2001 of his determination to ‘re-order’ the post-9/11 world ‘from the deserts of northern Africa to the slums of Gaza, to the mountain ranges of Afghanistan’.
This is not the first time Blair has made grandiose pronouncements on subjects he knows nothing about. In his book on the Iraq war, theGuardian journalist Jonathan Steele once described how Blair met three academic experts on Iraq at 10 Downing Street during the build-up to the Iraq war to discuss what might happen after the invasion.
You might think that consulting established experts such as Toby Dodge, Charles Tripp and George Joffe when you are about to go to war was the mark of a wise politician, willing to recognize the gaps in his own knowledge and keen to remedy them through consultation.
According to Steele, the three academics each made short presentations in an attempt to give Blair some insight into the complexities of Iraqi society and politics and the possible consequences of military action, but the would-be liberator was not interested in such trivia.
Charles Tripp told Steele that Blair ‘wasn’t focussed. I felt he wanted us to reinforce his gut instinct that Saddam was a monster. It was a weird mixture of total cynicism and moral fervour.’
Tripp later recalled how
‘At one point, Blair said something like: “Isn’t Saddam Hussein uniquely evil?”There was a muttering from this group of 21st-century academics as if to say: “What’s this man on about?” I thought, no, Saddam’s not unique, and as for evil, well, that’s his statecraft!’
George Joffe told Steele that he came away with the impression of ‘someone with a very shallow mind, who’s not interested in issues other than the personalities of the top people, no interest in social forces, political trends, etc’.
Once again, the most disturbing aspect of Blair’s ignorance is not just what it says about Blair himself. Since 2008 Blair has been giving a course at Yale University on ‘faith and globalisation’; governments pay millions for his advice; he picks up vast fees for speaking engagements to elite gatherings across the world continues to be regarded by the British and American media as the go-to man on anything to do with the Middle East; banks pay him huge salaries as a consultant.
Despite his disastrous record in Iraq, he continues to be taken seriously when he calls for new ‘interventions’ in Syria and Iran; when Newsnight commemorated the Iraq anniversary, he was given a twenty-minute respectful interview by Kirsty Walk; both Cameron and Miliband treat him like some wise elder statesman; according to Doyle ‘One politician visiting the US State department last year came away stunned at the high regard Blair was held in.’
All this for a man who again and again has demonstrated that he has no idea what he is talking about, whose record in Iraq – leaving aside the question of the criminality of the war – is one of gross negligence and recklessness. Yet the political and media elites continue to consider him an expert and an authority, as though nothing ever happened.
All of which suggests that Blair’s cliches and ill-informed assumptions and delusions about terrorism, Islam, the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are actually useful in some way – at least to some people and institutions, and that the reputation that he has acquired in certain circles was not achieved in spite of his shallowness and ignorance – but because of it.
Matt Carr is a writer and journalist, living in Derbyshire England. He is the author of three published books: My Father’s House (Penguin 1997), The Infernal Machine: a History of Terrorism (New Press 2007), recently republished in the UK as The Infernal Machine: an Alternative History of Terrorism (Hurst & Co 2011), and Blood and Faith: the Purging of Muslim Spain (New Press 2009, Hurst 2010). – infernalmachine.co.uk

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Unemployment hits new record in euro zone, personal income plummets in US

By Barry Grey 
2 March 2013
Economic statistics released this week reflect a further weakening of the world economy and a further fall in the living standards of the international working class.
Reports on unemployment, manufacturing activity, economic growth and personal income in Europe, China and the United States point to an overall slowdown in economic growth and a rise in unemployment and poverty. They coincide with new moves by the European Union and the Obama administration in the US to slash social spending and public-sector jobs and wages. These measures mark an escalation of the class-war policies that have fueled the economic slump and already brought untold suffering to hundreds of millions of workers.
On Friday, the European Union statistics agency Eurostat reported that unemployment in the 17-nation euro zone hit a new record in January of 11.9 percent, up from 11.8 percent in December. For the 27-nation European Union as a whole, the official figure for January was 10.8 percent, up from 10.7 percent the previous month.
There were nearly 19 million unemployed people in the euro zone, an increase of 200,000 from January, according to official figures. In the whole of the EU, there were 26.2 million jobless workers, 222,000 more than in December. The real situation is even worse than these staggering figures indicate, since they do not take into account millions of people who have dropped out of the labor market.
The highest reported rate was in Greece, at 27 percent. Spain was close behind, at 26.2 percent. The jobless rate in Italy shot up to 11.7 percent in January, marking the country’s worst unemployment level since 1992.
Youth unemployment in Europe is at Depression levels. Across the euro zone it stood at 24.2 percent in January, up from 21.9 percent in January of 2012. In the EU as a whole the unemployment rate for people under 25 rose to 23.6 percent from 22.4 percent.
The jobless rate for Greek youth was an astounding 59.4 percent. In Spain it was 55.5 percent and in Italy, 38.7 percent.
It is no accident that the countries with the most disastrous jobless rates have been the focus of successive packages of austerity measures by the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank, which are acting as agents of the global banking giants and hedge funds.
Separate reports released Friday showed a marked slowdown in manufacturing activity in much of Europe in February. In the euro zone as a whole, the gauge of factory activity was unchanged from the previous month at 47.9. (Any reading below 50 indicates contraction). This marked the 19th consecutive month of shrinking manufacturing.
The figure for Germany was marginally higher, but Italy’s dropped sharply to 45.8 from 47.8. The most stunning decline was in the United Kingdom, where factory activity fell to 47.9 from 50.5 in January, confounding economists’ predictions of an increase. Factory payrolls in the UK declined at the fastest rate in more than three years.
Another indication of the gathering slump in Europe is a report issued Wednesday by the European Central Bank showing that euro zone loans to the private sector contracted for the ninth month running in January. Loans fell 0.9 percent from the same month in 2012.
In the US, the Commerce Department on Thursday upwardly revised its estimate of gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the 4th quarter of 2012 from minus 0.1 percent to plus 0.1 percent, meaning the US economy has stalled from its previously anemic pace. The US gross domestic product grew by only 2.2 percent in 2012—a pace far below that required to significantly bring down the unemployment rate.
Government austerity was the main factor in sharply slowing economic growth from the previous quarter, as federal outlays fell at a 14.8 percent annualized rate.
The most stunning indication of the depth of the social crisis was provided by a US Commerce Department report released Friday showing that personal income fell by 3.6 percent in January, the largest monthly drop since January of 1993. Taking taxes into account, personal income plunged by a record 4.0 percent. The report said that outlays for payrolls for manufacturing, goods producing industries, services producing industries and government agencies all declined in January from the previous month.
Another report, issued by the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics on Tuesday, showed that layoffs by US manufacturers increased last month. There were 357 mass layoff events during the month, resulting in 43,068 initial jobless benefit claims, an increase of 22 percent from December.
The global slump is also hitting China, the world’s second largest economy. Two separate reports on Chinese manufacturing activity released Friday showed a marked slowdown in the rate of growth. The official Purchasing Managers’ Index was 50.1 for February, the weakest reading in five months and down from January’s reading of 50.4.
A separate gauge published by HSBC Holdings and Markit Economics dropped to a four-month low of 50.4, down from 52.3 in January.

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Prime Minister Cameron’s India tour highlights UK’s weakening global position

By Julie Hyland 
22 February 2013
David Cameron assembled the largest overseas trade delegation ever to accompany a British prime minister for his three-day visit to India.
Some 100 companies, four ministers and nine Members of Parliament—many with Indian heritage—were on board. They included defence firms Rolls-Royce, Serco, BAE, EADS and Thales, banks including HSBC, Lloyd’s and the London Stock Exchange, and representatives from a large number of universities.
The entourage was part of Cameron’s pitch to boost trade with India. Citing a “shared language, culture, ties”, including the 1.5 million Indian “diaspora in Britain,” Cameron said he was determined to forge a “special relationship” with India, which is set to be “one of the leading nations in this century.”
While the “the sky is the limit”, the prime minister acknowledged that “there is no thinking that this partnership is ours for the taking.”
This was the background to Cameron’s sympathetic noises regarding the infamous massacre on April 13, 1919 of unarmed civilians—mainly Sikhs—at Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar. Tens of thousands had gathered for Baisakhi, a major religious festival in the Punjab. Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer gave orders to seal the exits and 50 British Indian Army soldiers opened fire on the crowd, until they ran out of ammunition. The British claimed that 379 were killed but Indian figures place the number at more than 1,000.
The massacre occurred at a time of growing social and political unrest against British colonialism in India. It sparked mass protests in the Punjab, large areas of which were placed under martial law. Finally, in an attempt to silence the unrest, the British authorities convened an inquiry, which relieved Dyer of his command and retired him.
Signing the book of condolences at the massacre site, Cameron reiterated the statement of Winston Churchill in 1920 that the killings were “monstrous”—a remark intended to portray the mass slaughter as an aberration in British imperialism’s otherwise supposedly benevolent rule. He stopped short of apologising for the massacre, however, pathetically arguing that it would be wrong to do so for something that happened 40 years before he was born.
The bloody legacy of colonial rule is not the only problem facing Britain in trying to establish a stronger trade foothold in India. Cameron made his first trip there in July 2010, soon after coming into office, as part of a drive to double trade by 2015. Since then only limited advances have been made, with the UK lagging behind European countries.
In 2010 Cameron had lobbied hard for the part-UK consortium behind the Eurofighter jet to win the $12 billon contract to supply India with 126 planes. Instead, India selected its French rival, the Rafale jets. Efforts to finalise the deal was one reason for French President Francoise Hollande’s visit to Delhi only just ahead of Cameron. Once the deal is finalised, it will mean France has overtaken Britain in trade with India.
FRANCE 24 described as a “welcome stroke of serendipity for Paris” the fact that Hollande’s visit came just following French imperialism’s intervention into the West African state of Mali. International affairs correspondent Leela Jacinto reported, “The mission in Mali allowed them [France] to showcase the Rafale fighter jets.”
In contrast, Cameron landed just as India announced it was suspending a £483 million deal for 12 Agusta Westland luxury AW101 helicopters, manufactured in the UK, that had also been agreed on his last visit. Italian police have arrested Giuseppe Orsi, chief executive of Agusta Westland’s parent company, Finmeccanica, over allegations that bribes were paid to Indian government officials to cement the deal.
Speaking at a press conference, India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh publicly pressed Cameron for assurances that Britain would help in the corruption investigation.
Cameron was also on the back foot over UK efforts to attract Indian students to British universities. With the British media running a filthy racist campaign against the number of overseas students entering the UK, numbers have begun to fall away, alarming universities as to a loss of revenues.
Treading the line between his right-wing backers and trade needs, Cameron pledged that there was “no limit on the number of Indian students that can study in British universities, so long as they have a place and an English-language qualification.”
That left Cameron fishing for access to India’s purported $1 trillion infrastructure project, which includes plans to develop a 600-mile “economic corridor” between the hi-tech centres of Mumbai and Bangalore. Scheduled over the next five years, the development could generate investment projects worth up to $25 billion. All Cameron could offer was a paltry £1 million to help fund a “feasibility study” into the development and even then, only if it were matched by Indian money.
What was left as evidence of the “burgeoning partnership” was a proposed joint cyber taskforce. The venture has been trailed as part of efforts to secure the personal information of millions of Britons stored on Indian servers against “cyber attacks by terrorists, criminals and hostile states”. The agreement is recognised to be directed against China.
India is playing a pivotal role in US-led efforts to encircle China. Its rising military expenditure—competed for by Britain, France and others—is part of this policy. The recent interventions by the European imperialist powers into Africa—in Libya and Mali—are similarly driven by efforts to secure their own geostrategic interests against growing Chinese influence in the continent.
The joint taskforce initiative came as the US cyber security firm Mandiant claimed to have evidence that the Chinese government was involved in hacking US corporations and government agencies. The report was rejected by China, but the Obama administration is reportedly preparing “retaliation”.
The potential consequences of such manoeuvres are explosive, not least as regards already tense relations between India and Pakistan. On Monday it was announced that the Pakistani government had awarded a multi-billion-dollar contract for the development and operation of Gwadar Port to China. In 2007, the contract had been awarded to the Port of Singapore Authority, in face of US opposition to the contract going to China. The PSA reportedly abandoned it, citing Pakistan’s failure to meet its obligations.
President Asif Ali Zardari said the deal—which has been bitterly attacked by India—would give a new impetus to Pakistan-China relations and that “Because of the proximity of the Gulf countries to Gwadar, oil flow from the region to China will be facilitated.”
While publicly Cameron declined to name the “hostile states” targeted by the cyber force agreement, British intelligence have repeatedly hit out at Beijing for cyber-espionage. However, just prior to Cameron’s India trip the Sunday Times claimed that the cabinet was split over its response to China.
Since Cameron’s high profile and deliberately provocative meeting with the Dalai Lama in May, there has been a virtual break-off in relations between the UK and China. In contrast, German trade with China has increased significantly, while, following his India visit, Hollande announced a new round of cooperation between Paris and Beijing.
According to the Times, Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne are keen to downplay UK-China tensions in a bid to get a share of Chinese sovereign wealth funds, with Foreign Secretary William Hague and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg opposed.
The newspaper’s assertion brought an angry response from China’s Global Times. In an editorial denouncing Britain’s “reckless moves against China’s interests”, it warned, “China has more leverage than Britain has in their bilateral relations. China cultivating more contacts with separatists in Northern Ireland and Scotland would make London quite uncomfortable. China’s GDP is close to that of Germany’s, France’s and Britain’s combined. If Britain and China start competing over who can be tougher against the other, can Britain be the winner?”

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British Courts to Decide U.S. Drones Do Murder?

By Nat Hentoff
February 13, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – With the Obama administration insistently refusing to release its legal, constitutional authorizations for drone assassinations in Pakistan and other countries, a lawsuit in Britain is causing mounting anxiety among intelligence agents there and in other countries who have aided the CIA.
Noor Khan, a British citizen, filed the lawsuit. He is the son of a Pakistani tribal elder, Malik Daud Khan, who was killed in a CIA drone attack there in 2011. The charge is that by passing intelligence to U.S. officials, which is then used in drone attacks, these allies of ours become “secondary partners to murder.”
Partners to murder?
President Barack Obama and his legal team, including his nominee to direct the CIA, John Brennan (who directs these assaults by Hellfire missiles), deny any such characterization of America discarding its values.
However, a carefully documented New York Times story last month shows us why this drone strike has caused such outrage within Pakistan and made intelligence officials aiding the CIA in other countries fearful:
“More than 40 civilians (including Malik Daud Khan) had been killed when the Americans (guiding the drones from afar) mistook a tribal council gathering for a meeting of militants” (“Drone Strike Prompts Suit, Raising Fears for U.S. Allies,” Ravi Somaiya, The New York Times, Jan. 31).
According to the CIA and President Obama’s “kill list,” so-called militants can often be deemed terrorists and blasted apart as such.
So now, as reported by the Times: “In light of Mr. Khan’s lawsuit and the potential for others, operatives across the British intelligence agencies are concerned that if they share information (with the CIA), they could be ‘punished by the judiciary for something the executive ordered them to do,’ said the person with knowledge of internal discussions.”
“ ‘They are willing to go the last mile, but they don’t want to go to prison for it,’” the person said. “ ‘If the sword of Damocles is hanging over our intelligence officers, they can’t do their job.’”
What’s the attitude of the British government? According to The New York Times: “For the government’s part, one senior official said it ‘would just like the issue to go away.’”
So, too, would President Obama, whose recurrent command is for all of us to “look forward, not back.” Nor has he shown any inclination to bring within our rule of law — and international agreements we have signed — any CIA agent or superior who may be proved to have become a secondary partner to murder.
Indeed, Obama himself — without going to any court — becomes the reigning official authorizer of murders by his just pointing to a target on the kill list.
This distinctive, unparalleled presidential role in American history appears not to have concerned in the least the wide range of Americans who pridefully awarded Obama a second term. Nor did I hear a word of objection from the Mitt Romney campaign or from all but a splinter of the citizenry.
I expect no change in Obama’s views or conduct in office — no matter what the British judiciary decides about its intelligence agencies becoming providers of murderous aid to operators of the president’s favorite weapon against terrorism.
As of this writing, The New York Times notes, “Judges in Britain have yet to decide whether to hear the case … (They initially declined, but are considering an appeal that was lodged in January.)”
British intelligence agents are apprehensively waiting to know whether — and where — they will have to find lawyers to defend them against serious violations of their national and international laws.
To put this discomfiture in fearful context, “The case,” says the Times, “has put a spotlight on international intelligence-sharing agreements that have long been praised by officials as vital links in the global fight against terrorist groups, but that rights advocates criticize as a way for Britain and other European countries to reap the benefits of the contentious drone program without its political costs.”
In this country, the political costs to Barack Obama have been less than meager. But in Italy and elsewhere, members of intelligence agencies are in trouble for having been helpful to the CIA in American kidnappings and renditions of terrorism suspects to be tortured in other obliging countries. And under Obama, secret renditions continue.
Years ago, I was in a conversation with Jack Cloonan, who, after 27 years with the FBI, was then heading the investigation of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is still on trial at Guantanamo Bay for being in charge of the 9/11 terrorism attack. Cloonan opposed interrogations that defile who we are as a nation, and he talked about prisoners being, to say the least, excessively interrogated in CIA secret cells at the time.
He asked: “Are they going to disappear? Are they stateless? What are we going to explain to people when they start asking questions about where they are? Are they dead? Are they alive?” (my book, The War on the Bill of Rights and the Gathering Resistance, Seven Stories Press).
We still don’t know the answers. And nobody in the CIA who authorized or interrogated prisoners in those black sites has been held responsible. They remain ghost prisoners.
Also with a lot to answer for are George W. Bush, Dick Cheney et al. and Barack Obama. No matter happens to those in Britain who are “secondary partners to murder,” what about the Americans who authorized it? It’s long past time We The People began to do something about that.
Nat Hentoff is a nationally renowned authority on the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights. He is a member of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and the Cato Institute, where he is a senior fellow.
This article appeared in Cato.org on February 6, 2013.

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Philadelphia charter administrators mired in corruption charges

By Adam Sagitov 
9 February 2013
In late January, a federal grand jury added five new charges to a 62-count indictment against former Philadelphia charter school administrators for defrauding their schools of $6.7 million. The charges include wire fraud and conspiracy to obstruct justice.
The allegations charge that Dorothy June Brown, 75, a former Philadelphia Public School District (PPSD) principle, defrauded the city of funds meant for the administration of three public charters currently in her ownership: Planet Abacus, Laboratory, and the Agora Cyber Charter. Brown had several co-conspirators—Michael A. Slade Jr., 31, Joan Woods Chalker, 74, and Courteney L. Knight, 65, all holding administrative positions within the charters.
The allegations occur in the context of a recent announcement by Superintendent William Hite to close up to 37 Philadelphia public schools. At nearly one in six schools, such an act would be the single largest attack on public education in the city’s history.
Filed last July, the charges assert that Brown used her two private management firms, Cynwyd Group and AcademicQuest, to channel funds from the charters. According to court records, roughly $5.6 million of the total $6.7 million was transferred from Agora to Cynwyd between 2007 and 2009 under the pretext of a “management contract.” Anthony Kyriakakis of the US Attorney’s Office stated, “The new indictment includes charges related to a wire fraud scheme by Dr. Brown and Dr. Chalker, and it alleges that they caused the Laboratory Charter School to pay approximately $214,000 in compensation to them they were not entitled to receive.”
The Attorney’s Office goes on to state that in setting up the payments, Brown and Chalker, the CEO of Planet Abacus, created “false documents, including false board meeting minutes and fabricated contracts to falsely make it appear as if the boards of the schools had held meetings to discuss and authorize contracts with Brown’s private companies.” For their part, Slade, Brown’s grandnephew, and Knight have been accused of fabricating board resolutions at Laboratory and Ad Prima, another one of Brown’s charter startups, to aid her embezzlement schemes.
Philadelphia has one of the most charterized student populations in the country, with roughly 40 percent of the city’s kids enrolled in more than 80 charter schools. Publicly funded, yet privately run, the lack of oversight creates the possibility of rampant corruption among administrators.
Similar findings of charter school embezzlement have occurred across the country. Last month, the Washington Examiner noted the case of Monique Murdock, owner of the southeast-District of Columbia-based Nia Community Public Charter School. Murdock is charged with writing nearly $30,000 in personal checks from city funds. The findings come in the wake of the announcement of the closure of nearly one in ten public schools in the District of Columbia, many of which will fall upon the most impoverished layers of the city.
Charters themselves are plagued with inequality. The Office of Charter Schools, which oversees the district’s charters, found that 18 such facilities impose “significant barriers to entry” on families. This included, in some cases, limiting the acceptance of applications only to occur during open houses held in upscale country clubs, inaccessible to working class families who rely on public transportation.
A 2011 study by the Education Law Center found that applicants to Philadelphia’s charters were asked questions pertaining to their citizenship and disability status. These requirements, decidedly illegal, were employed in order to eliminate students with special needs from the rolls. Notably, Brown’s Planet Abacus and Laboratory schools were listed as having only three students between the two receiving special education services.
The Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), which operates several charters in the District of Columbia and Philadelphia, has been implicated in attempts to eliminate children with special needs from its rolls. A study in 2011 put out by Western Michigan University found that, on average, KIPP schools manage less than half the number of disabled and English as a Second Language (ESL) students as are in traditional public schools.
Promoted by President Barack Obama in tandem with the Race to the Top (RTTT) program, charters are touted as providing parents and students with greater “choice.” In fact, the schools are connected to the continuing push for the elimination of public education. Schools are required to administer standardized testing and merit-pay schemes for teachers in an attempt to get cash-strapped districts to compete for a pittance of federal funding. Failure to meet such requirements results in a school being shut down or being turned into a charter.

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How Tony Blair and Iraq Robbed a Generation of Their Faith in Politics

By Sam Parker
February 07, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – I imagine for many people alive today, the great politicising event of their childhood came in the form of a tragedy.
The first dreadful hammer of the Luftwaffe passing overhead, the panicked screams at the Dealey Plaza or the bullet holes at Bogside – that key event that propelled you to develop a political consciousness seems more likely to have been one that made you angry than inspired.
But for many of us who were still just 16 on 15 February, 2003, that landmark came in a moment of hope when more than 1,000,000 people descended on the streets of London to march in protest against the imminent invasion of Iraq.
Anti-Iraq war march, London, 2003 
It was, we were told, the largest public protest in British history. I still remember the feeling of pride as I poured over the pictures, that sense that we belonged, not to the most ‘politically apathetic generation’ ever to live after all, but to the most engaged, the most righteous.
Like hundreds of teenagers who didn’t make the real thing, students at my school hastily arranged their own small protest, marching through our small rural town chanting and playing anti-war music. We must have looked pathetic, but we didn’t care. We were adding a cry to a national roar that made the hairs on the back of our necks stand up.
It didn’t even occur to me that it might not work.
But first, let’s go back.
Perhaps growing up in a small town in Northumberland – the UK’s northernmost, most sparsely populated county – we were a touch parochial. But the events of 9/11 didn’t so much politicise my schoolmates as demonstrate to us for the first time that there was a wider world out there at all. Most of us didn’t know what the Twin Towers were until they were crumbling in a plume of smoke. None of that ‘stuff’ – the news, the bickering politicians – had any relevance to us.
And then in the space of a day, before the dust in Manhattan had even settled, the notion of politics had sprung up out of nowhere, like that moment when you realise the opposite sex isn’t just attractive but that they’re going to matter, a lot, for the rest of your life.
I began reading newspapers to find out what was going on. I bought the Times because I had heard of it, until an older boy said it was ‘right-wing’. I figured out what right-wing meant, and bought the Guardian.
The space between 9/11 and the Iraq War being something people were talking about felt tiny, and that’s because it was. Just nine days after the attack, George W Bush, addressing Congress (and the world), uttered the words ‘War on Terror’ for the first time. Fabrications about the links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda followed, and the international reputation of the most despised and ridiculed American in living memory was launched.
We couldn’t have known, at the time, how ‘Dubya’ would come to dominate how we felt about the world for the next eight years, how he’d oscillate from a figure of fun for our blossoming liberal sententiousness to quite simply the most terrifying man in the world. How he’d eventually make us despise our own prime minister. How, because of him, shamefully tossing around prejudice remarks about ‘stupid Americans’ felt OK.
The crazier Bush’s rhetoric got, the more he divided the world into good and bad like it was some kind of He-Man cartoon, the more I clung to the notion that here, we wouldn’t be drawn into using phrases like ‘axis of evil’. America was excitable, in the throes of imperialism. We were post-empire, cynical and weary.
But our prime minister saw things differently. Up until 2001, I think most of my generation still believed, in an abstract way, that Tony Blair was a decent man. He looked and sounded good on tele, he’d ended the conflicts in Ireland that had been a distant bogeyman of our childhoods and the other guy – the Tory -always seemed old, bald and well, boring.
But now suddenly, Blair was siding with Bush at every turn. When the president launched his War On Terror, Blair said he’d back it. When the president said he believed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, Blair said he believed it too. The press presented him Bush’s poodle, and we winced in acknowledgement.
Then came Resolution 1441 and Hans Blix. Blix swept into the darkening saga like a comforting beam from a lighthouse. The arrival of the peaceful Swede, with his glasses and nervous smile, seemed to my young mind like democracy at work. All Iraq had to do was open to doors to the weapon inspectors, show they had nothing to hide and war would be avoided. Like Piggy from Lord Of The Flies, Blix was supposed to be the rational voice of intelligence. But like Piggy he was taken out of action by an unstoppable boulder: an American government that had made its mind up to go to war long ago.
Blix didn’t find a thing, because there were no WMDs to find. By 31 December 2002, his team had reached the same conclusion as an Iraqi dossier presented to the UN during the same period: they were in the clear. It should have ended right there. Instead, two years later, Blix would tell the BBC what by then we all already knew – Bush and Blair ignored him and dramatised a threat in order to start a war.
Looking back today, the whole charade that precipitated the Iraqi War reminds me of an incident from my teenager years.
A friend of mine had developed a complex about never having been in a fight. None of us had, really, being comfortable, middle-class kids who had grown up with no need for violence. One night this friend got drunk and followed an even punier guy from school out of the pub, where he backed him into a corner and preceded to bait him.
Trying to pluck up the courage to take a swing, my friend taunted this other kid unsuccessfully, before trying a new tact. He started sexing up some perceived slight from long ago, wanting to convince himself the guy deserved what was coming to him. He worked himself into a faux outrage, then finally, after an excruciating half hour, threw his punch.
My friend, you might say, was like a new American President desperate to prove he could be tough by attacking an opponent he knew he could easily beat. And in the background, feeling uncomfortable but doing nothing to stop it, was me. Tony Blair.
Bush and Blair pushed for a second UN resolution to start a war in Iraq and failed, but American and British troops continued to build up around the Gulf. On 7 February, Downing Street admitted that its dossier on Iraq – released the previous week to push the case for war – was a muddled patchwork of academic sources pulled together by mid-level lackeys of Alastair Campbell. Still, the troops flooded in. Three days later, France and Germany make a last ditch attempt to keep the peace by suggesting the UN triples the number of arms inspectors in Iraq. The US-UK alliance ignored them.
Which brings us to the day of 15 February, 2003 – the day of my generation’s political awakening.
For two years we had watched our government join America in ignoring every plausible reason for not starting a war with innocent people in a poor country in the Middle East – the scepticism of the press, the will of the UN, the weapons inspectors, the facts. It had been a depressing lesson in the limitations of politics and politicians, these things we’d only just started paying attention to.
Then, at what felt like the last moment, the people stepped up.
Early in the morning they assembled: first at Embankment, then, through force, Westminster and Whitehall. Ken Livingstone, the mayor, led the way. Over a million people – a million, all sending a message to Tony Blair: you work for us, and we don’t want this war. And it wasn’t just London, either. Damascus, Athens, Seoul, Rome, Tokyo, Sydney – hundreds of cities all over the world were witnessing the same thing.
280 miles away from London, we were feeling for the first time the age old thrill of protest. A handful of us skipped school in the afternoon, drew CND signs on our face with one of the girl’s eyeliner and took a portable stereo playing Bob Dylan and Barry McGuire to our town square. Shoppers wandered by looking bemused. Some stopped to tell us well done. We argued with anyone who would listen about the lack of WMDs. We stood beneath a gloomy overcast sky but felt bathed in a warm glow.
Guardian/ICM polls at the time put support for the war at just 29% of the public, with 52% opposing. But Blair heard about polls all day long. Naively, I thought a million people marching past his window would be impossible to ignore.
A little over a month later, at 9.34pm on Wednesday 19 March, we watched on television as the first bomb fell on Baghdad. 28 British soldiers would die before the month was out.
If every generation lives through an event that opens their eyes to politics for the first time, then perhaps there also an event that closes them again, if not entirely then at least in part.
My father isn’t a political man. He’s passionate and he cares about lots of things, but the political system depresses him. All my life I’ve heard him dismiss it – ‘they’re all the same’, ‘it’s pointless’ – and describe himself, with a hint of sadness, as ‘apolitical’.
In the build up the Iraq War, and particularly on the day the world marched, I couldn’t have understood his stance any less. I remember feeling disappointed in him. But as it came to dawn on me that it had all come to nothing, that Blair was pushing ahead with the war anyway, I came to understand a little of how he felt.
It left me – and most of us at school who had taken an interest in the world after 9/11 – bitterly angry. The buds of our idealism were buried under an avalanche of cynicism. I couldn’t comprehend how Blair had the nerve to ignore the will of the country. I assumed that, if they’d ignore us over something as important as war, they’d ignore over anything.
Ten years later and, like my father, I care about the issues politics affect, but I don’t trust the political system, and I don’t believe in politicians.
And I’m not alone. I see and hear it everywhere. Ask anyone in their late twenties to name an MP from their lifetime they admire, and most will stare at you blankly. Plenty of us are engaged in politics, but without relish, voting in elections like we’re choosing from the menu at Wimpy. When the expenses scandal broke in 2009, there were no marches, no protests, just a shrug of the shoulders and a look that said: why would we expect anything else? Since the early promise of Blair proved so misplaced, there hasn’t been a single inspiring figure in the top tier of British politics. No wonder we idolise Obama from afar: how we long for a leader whose motives we can trust, no matter how they might fail.
The worst legacies of the Iraq War belong to the families of the soldiers and civilians from Iraq, Britain, America and everywhere else forced to make sacrifices for an illegal occupation. But another legacy, one harder to measure than body bags, is the way Tony Blair’s hubris robbed a generation of their faith in politics.
I sometimes wonder how differently we’d feel today if Blair had listened. No doubt at the time he felt he was heeding the call of history, but he heard the wrong message. Ten years later, even when the last troop finally comes home, we’ll all still be paying a price.
This article was originally posted at Huffington Post

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Cameron’s Attack on George Galloway Reflects the West’s Self-delusions

In an act of supreme projection, the British PM accuses a critic of lending support “wherever there is a brutal Arab dictator”: the core policy of the US and UK
By Glenn Greenwald 
February 01, 2013 “The Guardian” — On Wednesday afternoon in the British Parliament, near the end of question time for British Prime Minister David Cameron, a short though incredibly revealing exchange occurred between Cameron and Respect Party MP George Galloway. Whatever one’s preexisting views might be of either of these two polarizing figures is entirely irrelevant to the points and facts raised here about this incident.
Galloway stood to ask Cameron about a seeming contradiction in the policy of the British government (one shared by the US government). He wanted to know why it is that the British government is so intent on fighting and bombing Islamic extremists in Mali, while simultaneously arming and funding equally brutal Islamic extremists in Syria (indeed, although it was once taboo to mention, it is now widely reported in the most establishment venues such as the New York Times that while many ordinary Syrians are fighting against the savagery and tyranny of Assad, Islamic extremists, including ones loyal to al-Qaida, are playing a major role in the war against the regime). The same question could have been posed regarding Libya, where Nato-supported rebel factions were filled with fighters with all sorts of links to al-Qaida.
There certainly are reasonable answers to Galloway’s point, but whatever one’s views might be on those points, there’s no denying it’s a reasonable question. It is simply the case that the British government, along with its Nato allies including the US, were – in both the wars in Syria and Libya – on the same side as, and even arming and funding, the very extremists, “jihaidists”, and even al-Qaida-supporting fighters they claim pose the greatest menace to world peace.
In lieu of addressing the substance of the question, Cameron unleashed a 10-second snide attack on Galloway himself. “Some things come and go,” proclaimed the Prime Minister, “but there is one thing that is certain: wherever there is a brutal Arab dictator in the world, he will have the support of [Galloway].” Here is the one-minute video of this exchange:

As usual, anyone who questions the militarism of western governments is instantly smeared as a sympathizer or even supporter of tyrants. Thus, those who opposed the aggressive attack on Iraq were pro-Saddam; those who now oppose bombing Iran love the mullahs; those who oppose Nato intervention in Syria or Libya harbor affection for Assad and Ghadaffi – just as those who opposed the Vietnam War fifty years ago or Reagan’s brutal covert wars in Latin America thirty years ago were Communist sympathizers, etc. etc. Cameron’s outburst was just the standard smear tactic used for decades by western leaders to try to discredit anyone who opposes their wars.
The more important point here is that of all the people on the planet, there is nobody with less authority to accuse others of supporting “brutal Arab dictators in the world” than David Cameron and his Nato allies, including those in the Obama administration. Supporting “brutal Arab dictators in the world” is a perfect summary of the west’s approach to the Arab world for the last five decades, and it continues to be.
In January of last year, Cameron visited the region’s most repressive dictators, the close British allies in Saudi Arabia. In Riyadh, he met King Abdullah and Crown Prince Nayef in order, he said, to “broaden and deepen” the UK-Saudi relationship. That “relationship” was already quite broad and deep, as “Saudi Arabia is the UK’s largest trading partner in the Middle East with annual trade worth £15bn a year.”
Moreover, “a Saudi official told the BBC the leaders would discuss sales of the latest technology and weaponry, and making Britain a major part of a massive Saudi military expansion.” Indeed, as the Guardian noted in 2012, “during the third quarter of last year Britain exported arms valued at more than £1m to Saudi Arabia, including components for military combat vehicles and turrets.” In June, Cameron again visited Saudi Arabia as well as the UAE, and the Huffington Post UK reported at the time: “Cameron has been open about his desire to sell arms to the Saudis, the UAE and Oman.”
In November – just two months before yesterday’s attack on Galloway – Cameron again traveled around to several tyrannical Gulf states – including his close ally Saudi Arabia as well as the United Arab Emirates – in order to sell British fighter jets and other military hardware to those regimes. As Amnesty International UK’s head of policy and government affairs Allan Hogarth said: “Saudi Arabia has been the recipient of record-breaking arms deals involving the UK.” Indeed, as the Guardian noted during this trip: “In 2009 the Saudi air force used UK-supplied Tornado fighter-bombers in attacks in Yemen which killed hundreds – possibly thousands – of civilians.”
Then there was that charming incident in May, 2011, when – at the height of the violent crackdown by the Bahraini regime on democratic protesters – Cameron welcomed Bahrain‘s Crown Prince to 10 Downing Street and posed for photographers shaking hands with the tyrant. Former Labour foreign minister Denis MacShane protested that Cameron should not be “rolling out the red carpet for Bahrain’s torturer-in-chief”.
In August, Cameron met with Bahrain’s King in London. While the Prime Minister’s office claimed he pressed the King to implement greater political reforms, the Guardian noted that the King was “given red carpet treatment in Downing Street”.
Just last year, it was reported that – despite a temporary suspension of licenses – “Britain has continued to sell arms to Bahrain despite continuing political unrest in the Gulf state”. Indeed, “several licences were granted for arms exports, including in February and March 2011, and during the height of the violence.” Specifically:
“According to the figures the government approved the sale of military equipment valued at more than £1m in the months following the violent crackdown on demonstrators a year ago. They included licences for gun silencers, weapons sights, rifles, artillery and components for military training aircraft.
“Also cleared for export to Bahrain between July and September last year were naval guns and components for detecting and jamming improvised explosive devices.”
As Maryam Al-Khawaja of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights said: “The US, UK and France attack Russia for providing weapons to Syria, but that’s exactly what they are doing for the Bahrain government; Russia is criticised for a naval base in Syria, but the US has one here.” Of course, Bahrain wasn’t the only close UK ally to violently attack democratic protesters in the kingdom. “During last year’s uprising, Saudi Arabia sent forces to Bahrain in British military trucks.”
Then there’s Britain’s long-standing support for the Mubarak dictatorship, and Cameron’s personal support for Mubarak as the protest movement unfolded. In January, 2011, as tens of thousands of Egyptians assembled to demand an end to their dictatorship, he sat for an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, who asked him whether Mubarak should resign. Cameron said: “What we support is evolution, reform, not revolution.” As Egyptian police were killing protesters, this exchange then occurred:
“ZAKARIA: Is Mubarak a friend of Britain?
“CAMERON: He is a friend of Britain. Britain has good relations with Egypt.”
The following month, as Mubarak’s crackdown intensified, “the British government refuse[d] to say whether it would follow the example of Germany and France and suspend exports of arms and riot control equipment to Egypt.” In 2009, Britain sold £16.4m worth of arms to the regime in Egypt.
In 2010, the UK granted licenses for the sale of arms to Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, the UAE and Yemen. In July of that year, shortly after Cameron assumed office, “the Scrutiny of Arms Exports report by the Parliamentary Committee on Arms Export Controls (CAEC) show[ed] that there are still 600 existing arms exports licences in place for the sale of goods including assault weapons, ammunition, and surveillence equipment, to Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen.” In 2011, Der Spiegel reported:
“Britain exported over €100 million ($142 million) in weapons to Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi in the last two years alone. Included in those shipments are sniper rifles that may currently be in use against the Libyan opposition. Furthermore, Gadhafi’s terror police are British-trained.”
So who exactly is it that is guilty of supporting every “brutal Arab dictator in the world”? At the top of any honest list, one would find David Cameron, along with the leaders of most leading Nato countries, beginning with the US (see here and here). Indeed, as Der Spiegel noted in April 2011 about yet another of Cameron’s trips to visit Arab tyrants: “Cameron flew on to Kuwait, where he got down to the real purpose of his trip: selling weapons to Arab autocrats.”
Cameron’s so-called “slapdown” of Galloway was predictably celebrated in many precincts. The reality, though, is that it was quite cowardly: he refused to answer Galloway’s question, then smeared him knowing that he could not reply, then simply moved on to the next questioner. Galloway was able to respond afterward only by posting an open letter on his website, noting the multiple Arab dictators steadfastly supported not by Galloway but by his accuser, David Cameron.
The more important point here is that this so perfectly reflects the central propagandistic self-delusion amazingly sustained throughout the west. The very same western countries that snuggle up to and prop up the planet’s worst dictators are the same ones who strut around depicting themselves as crusaders for democracy and freedom, all while smearing anyone who objects to their conduct as lovers of tyranny. That’s how David Cameron can literally embrace and strengthen the autocrats of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, Yemen and so many others, while accusing others with a straight face of lending support “wherever there is a brutal Arab dictator in the world”.
In the most minimally rational universe, Cameron’s act of extreme projection would provoke a sustained fit of mocking laughter. In the propaganda-suffused western world, it all seems perfectly cogent and even inspiring.
The Hillary Clinton version
The outgoing US Secretary of State on Wednesday unleashed this bizarre description of the Egyptian people: “It’s hard going from decades under one-party or one-man rule, as somebody said, waking up from a political coma and understanding democracy.” As As’ad AbuKhalilastutely replied: “The US and not the Egyptian people were in denial about the true nature of the Sadat-Mubarak regime. No, in fact they were not in denial: they knew full well what they were doing against the Egyptian people.”
Indeed, it was Hillary Clinton – not the Egyptian people – who proclaimed in 2009: “I really consider President and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family. So I hope to see him often here in Egypt and in the United States.” (As a related bonus, see this all-time great Hillary Clinton quote about the US role in the world.) In sum, any list of those lending support “wherever there is a brutal Arab dictator in the world” must begin with the leaders of the US and the UK in order to have any minimal credibility.
© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited

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Is UK Defense Contractor Planning Syrian WMD False Flag?

Unconfirmed “leaked” documents indicate Washington-approved, Qatari-funded false flag attack using Libyan chemical weapons in Homs, Syria.
By Tony Cartalucci
January 29, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – Documents allegedly “hacked” belonging to UK-based defense contractor Britam (official website here) appear to show the company considering an offer from Qatar to use Libyan chemical weapons in Homs, Syria in order to frame both the Syrian and Russian governments. The plan involves using Britam’s Ukrainian mercenaries and Soviet-era chemical weapon shells brought in from Libya’s large, Al Qaeda-linked, Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) controlled arsenals.
The e-mail reads:
Phil
We’ve got a new offer. It’s about Syria again. Qataris propose an attractive deal and swear that the idea is approved by Washington. 
We’ll have to deliver a CW to Homs, a Soviet origin g-shell from Libya similar to those that Assad should have. They want us to deploy our Ukrainian personnel that should speak Russian and make a video record. 
Frankly, I don’t think it’s a good idea but the sums proposed are enormous. Your opinion?
Kind regards
David
It should be remembered that this is not confirmed – and there is most likely no way that it can ever be confirmed. However, in light ofrecent, and continuous attempts by the Israelis and NATO to justify a military intervention in Syria based on fears of “chemical weapons,” and considering how a nearly decade-long war and occupation was fought in neighboring Iraq under similar and patently false pretenses, every potential piece of evidence should be taken seriously.
It should also be remembered that during the Iraq War, British special forces were caught carrying out false flag attacks, dressed as sectarian extremists in Basra, Iraq, and shooting at Iraqi policemen. After the British soldiers were arrested, the British army attacked the police stationthey were being held at to free them. The precedence of Western nations using false flag operations, including terrorism, to achieve geopolitical objectives beyond their borders most certainly exists. 
The Libyan Connection 
Mention of acquiring chemical weapons from Libya is particularly troubling. Libya’s arsenal had fallen into the hands of sectarian extremistswith NATO assistance in 2011 in the culmination of efforts to overthrow the North African nation . Since then, Libya’s militants led by commanders of Al Qaeda’s Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) have armed sectarian extremists across the Arab World, from as far West as Mali, to as far East as Syria.
In addition to small arms, heavier weapons are also making their way through this extensive network. The Washington Post in their article, “Libyan missiles on the loose,” reported:
“Two former CIA counterterrorism officers told me last week that technicians recently refurbished 800 of these man-portable air-defense systems (known as MANPADS) — some for an African jihadist group called Boko Haram that is often seen as an ally of al-Qaeda — for possible use against commercial jets flying into Niger, Chad and perhaps Nigeria.”
While undoubtedly these weapons are also headed to Niger, Chad, and perhaps Nigeria, they are veritably headed to Syria. Libyan LIFG terrorists are confirmed to be flooding into Syria from Libya. In November 2011, the Telegraph in their article, “Leading Libyan Islamist met Free Syrian Army opposition group,” would report:
Abdulhakim Belhadj, head of the Tripoli Military Council and the former leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, “met with Free Syrian Army leaders in Istanbul and on the border with Turkey,” said a military official working with Mr Belhadj. “Mustafa Abdul Jalil (the interim Libyan president) sent him there.”
Another Telegraph article, “Libya’s new rulers offer weapons to Syrian rebels,” would admit
Syrian rebels held secret talks with Libya’s new authorities on Friday, aiming to secure weapons and money for their insurgency against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, The Daily Telegraph has learned.
At the meeting, which was held in Istanbul and included Turkish officials, the Syrians requested “assistance” from the Libyan representatives and were offered arms, and potentially volunteers.
“There is something being planned to send weapons and even Libyan fighters to Syria,” said a Libyan source, speaking on condition of anonymity. “There is a military intervention on the way. Within a few weeks you will see.”
Later that month, some 600 Libyan terrorists would be reported to have entered Syria to begin combat operations and have been flooding into the country ever since.

Image: Libyan Mahdi al-Harati of the US State Department, United Nations, and the UK Home Office (page 5, .pdf)-listed terrorist organization, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), addressing fellow terrorists in Syria. Harati is now commanding a Libyan brigade operating inside of Syria attempting to destroy the Syrian government and subjugate the Syrian population. Traditionally, this is known as “foreign invasion.” 

Washington Post’s reported “loose missiles” in Libya are now turning up on the battlefield in Syria. While outfits like the Guardian, in their article “Arms and the Manpads: Syrian rebels get anti-aircraft missiles,” are reporting the missiles as being deployed across Syria, they have attempted to downplay any connection to Libya’s looted arsenal and the Al Qaeda terrorists that have imported them. In contrast, Times has published open admissions from terrorists themselves admitting they are receiving heavy weapons including surface-to-air missiles from Libya. 
In Time’s article, “Libya’s Fighters Export Their Revolution to Syria,” it is reported: 
Some Syrians are more frank about the assistance the Libyans are providing. “They have heavier weapons than we do,” notes Firas Tamim, who has traveled in rebel-controlled areas to keep tabs on foreign fighters. “They brought these weapons to Syria, and they are being used on the front lines.” Among the arms Tamim has seen are Russian-made surface-to-air missiles, known as the SAM 7.
Libyan fighters largely brush off questions about weapon transfers, but in December they claimed they were doing just that. “We are in the process of collecting arms in Libya,” a Libyan fighter in Syria told the French daily Le Figaro. “Once this is done, we will have to find a way to bring them here.”
Clearly NATO intervention in Libya has left a vast, devastating arsenal in the hands of sectarian extremists, led by US State Department,United Nations, and the UK Home Office (page 5, .pdf)-listed terrorist organization LIFG, that is now exporting these weapons and militants to NATO’s other front in Syria. It is confirmed that both Libyan terrorists and weapons are crossing the Turkish-Syrian border, with NATO assistance, and it is now clear that heavy weapons, including anti-aircraft weapons have crossed the border too. 
The Guardian reported in their November 2011 article, “Libyan chemical weapons stockpiles intact, say inspectors,” that:
Libya’s stockpiles of mustard gas and chemicals used to make weapons are intact and were not stolen during the uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi, weapons inspectors have said.
But also reported that:
The abandonment or disappearance of some Gaddafi-era weapons has prompted concerns that such firepower could erode regional security if it falls into the hands of Islamist militants or rebels active in north Africa. Some fear they could be used by Gaddafi loyalists to spread instability in Libya.
Last month Human Rights Watch urged Libya’s ruling national transitional council to take action over large numbers of heavy weapons, including surface-to-air missiles, it said were lying unguarded more than two months after Gaddafi was overthrown.
On Wednesday the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, said the UN would send experts to Libya to help ensure nuclear material and chemical weapons did not fall into the wrong hands.
And while inspectors claim that Libya’s chemical weapons are in the “government’s” hands and not “extremists’,” it is clear by the Libyan government’s own admission, that they themselves are involved in sending fighters and weapons into Syria.
Bottom Line
It cannot be said for certain whether the e-mail allegedly sent by Britam is genuine, but the West is openly subverting Syria through the funding and arming of terrorists from across the Arab World. Terrorists are confirmed to be moving through NATO-member Turkey, with the Turkish government’s explicit assistance. Heavy weapons are both being supplied and paid for by the West, and likewise brought across Syria’s borders through NATO-member Turkey. 
Despite this, the momentum of NATO’s armed, proxy-aggression toward Syria has been broken multiple times. Threats of a no-fly zone are waning as NATO’s proxies are neutralized with little left to establish a no-fly zone over. The fear now for NATO and its various partners across the region, from Israel to Erdogan in Turkey, to Qatar and Saudi Arabia, is that there will be nothing left of the so-called “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) to intervene on behalf of.
With time running out and the Syrian people still stalwartly defending their nation, it is possible that the desperate measures described in the alleged e-mail from Britam have been considered – as the rhetorical groundwork to accommodate such measures has already been long-ago laid out by the complicit Western media. The purpose of exposing this alleged e-mail is not necessarily to accuse Britam, but to remind readers to be vigilant. And should “chemical weapons” be used in Syria in an apparent joint Syrian-Russian operation, Britam, the United Kingdom, and Qatar should be the first suspects that come to mind.
This article was originally posted at Land Destroyer.blogspot.com

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UK Probation Service to be privatised

By Paul Veevers 
26 January 2013
Last week, Chris Grayling, the minister of justice in the Conservative/Liberal Democrat government, announced plans to privatise 70 percent of the Probation Service in the UK, to be completed by spring 2015.
“Transforming Rehabilitation: a revolution in the way we manage offenders” states, “Private and voluntary sector organisations will work together on closing the ‘revolving door’ of the criminal justice system by tackling lower risk offenders.”
The reality is a massive boon to big business. Large multinational private companies such as Serco, G4S, and Sodexo, which have the infrastructure to bid for the proposed contracts based on larger geographical areas such as Greater Manchester or London and payment by results, will outbid any voluntary organisations and charities, despite the latter being offered £500,000 to bid.
With a budget of £4 billion for prisons and Offender Management, this means rich pickings for these companies.
The responsibility for public protection and high-risk offenders, who demand more resources, and suitably skilled, experienced, and qualified staff, will be supervised by a much-reduced Probation Service. Parole and court reports, risk assessments, and handling the breaching of court orders will also be retained by the Probation Service.
The areas open to privatisation are Community Payback (unpaid work in the community introduced by the previous Labour government), Approved Premises (probation hostels), Electronic Monitoring (curfew with tagging), Support Services, Attendance Centres, victim work, accredited rehabilitation programmes, Specified Activity Requirements, and the supervision and management of low risk of harm offenders, including supervision on release from prison.
Grayling also announced that offenders serving less than 12 months’ custody (who have the highest recidivism rates, as they are currently not supervised by anybody) will now be supervised via the new contracts, adding 60,000 to the 240,000 a year already supervised by the Probation Service.
All future prisons will be private.
A new 2,000-place super prison, along with four new mini-prisons, will be built to replace seven older establishments that will close in the next three months. Bullwood Hall in Essex, Canterbury, Gloucester, Kingston in Portsmouth, Shepton Mallet in Somerset and Shrewsbury will all close by March, along with Camp Hill prison on the Isle of Wight. Cells in Chelmsford and Hull will also be decommissioned, with the total loss of 2,800 prison places.
The closures come after the G4S-run Oakwood Prison in Featherstone near Wolverhampton opened last year. The Oakwood facility has places for up to 1,605 prisoners at an annual cost of £13,200 per place, compared with up to £50,000 in some of the older prisons, according to the Daily Telegraph.
Profits will be made by reducing the numbers of staff, their wages and terms and conditions. A Prison Reform Trust report in 2005, “Private punishment: who profits?”, exposed the level of cuts likely to be imposed on probation workers when they are transferred over to private companies. Relating to private prisons, it states, “Many staff are young, inexperienced and have little prior knowledge of the prison system. And there are less of them: in private prisons, there are 17 percent fewer staff per prisoner. It is no surprise the staff turnover rate is at least double that in the public sector.”
The report continued, “The average basic salary for prison officers in state-run prisons in England and Wales in April 2003 was £23,071. In the private sector prisons it was £16,077, nearly a third less (Hansard, 23 March 2004). The average contracted working week is two hours longer and annual leave is 23 days per year, rather than the 25 to 33 in the public sector. The overall package is more attractive in the public sector with better overtime pay and pension entitlements. When all these factors are combined the difference becomes even more stark, with estimates that staff in private prisons are up to 70 percent worse off than their public sector counterparts.”
Workers will be forced to accept worse conditions as private companies win contracts by putting in the lowest bid. They will be made redundant by the Prison and Probation Services, or they will be TUPE’d (Transfer of Undertakings [Protection of Employment] Regulations 2006) over to these companies.
With the agreement of the main unions, Napo (National Association of Probation Officers), UNISON and the POA (Prison Officer’s Association), workers will be entitled to two years with the same conditions as previously but will then be reduced to those of the new employer.
However, what is more likely is that workers will be forced to sign new, less favourable contracts. This is true in other privatised sectors, such as that being prepared via a consortium set up in the South West of England of 19 National Health Service Trusts, for the 60,000 NHS staff in that area.
The unions have attempted to channel any opposition from workers into campaigns of writing letters of objection to Members of Parliament and the press, an e-petition, and to persuading MPs to sign an early day motion extolling the virtues and target achievements of the Probation Service despite budget and staffing cuts of up to 20 percent, causing greater workloads and staff stress and sickness, again facilitated by the unions. Napo, the largest probation union, boasts on its web site, “105 MPs from all parties had signed the motion including 12 Conservatives and 16 Liberal Democrats.”
On January 16, Napo called on its more than 9,000 members to attend a “series of [Ministry of Justice] sponsored consultative events on the Transforming Rehabilitation proposals” over the next weeks to “ensure a strong Napo presence”.
No industrial action is proposed by Napo to oppose the attacks. Instead, it proposes, alongside the Probation Chiefs Association and the Probation Association, it will be looking “at the possibilities of legal challenges and be querying every aspect with [Ministry of Justice] Officials.”
Napo has claimed that the changes are being enforced by the coalition on “purely ideological grounds”, suggesting that a change in government will reverse these attacks. However, the privatisation process was started by the previous Labour government under the Offender Management Act 2007 which set out to “Make arrangements for the provision of probation services from a range of providers in the public, private and voluntary sectors.”
The cuts in probation are rather being carried out as part of a programme of mass austerity, supported by the Conservatives, Liberal and Labour, aimed at clawing back every gain won by the working class over decades of struggle. Workers in the public sector can only combat these attacks by linking up their struggles and forming action committees, independently of the unions, and by rejecting bankrupt appeals to parliament, the government or the Labour Party.

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Max Keiser’s Unpleasant Facts on UK Economy

Video

Max Keiser deliberes some unpleasant truthes on the state of the UK economy. Questioned also by Mary Riddell from The Daily Telegraph and Craig Woodhouse from The Sun newspapers.

Recorded from BBC Daily Politics, 25 January 2013.

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Prince’s Harry: A Gun-horny Adolescent

By Joe Glenton
January 24, 2013 “The Independent” – – Winter has come and it seems that over the last few days leading figures in the War on Terror, unwilling to wait for Season Three of Game of Thrones to hit screens, have been re-watching past episodes to the point that it’s coloured their rhetoric.
Between Cameron’s assurances of a war against sundry evil-doers that will last ‘decades’ and French Defence Minister Le Driand’s frank (and frankly crackpot) calls for a ‘total reconquest’ of Mali, the only question is: how long until we replace drones with halberds?
Martial cant
The latest bit of martial cant has come from one dashing Captain Harry Wales; fighter, lover, occasional exhibitionist and warrior-prince of the House of Saxe-Gotha-Coburg. Having had his first tour of Afghanistan cut short, he has just finished his latest stint, where he has been fighting astride – or rather, in – Apache helicopters: the British Army’s multi-million pound engines of destruction.
The poor lad’s been having a hard time, even Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar – a man whose admirable turn of phrase just can’t make up for his human rights records – called him a ‘shameless, drunken jackal’ recently. In all honesty, and I include a younger version of myself in this, that’s not a completely inaccurate description for young soldiers out on the town: hit the bars and clubs of Colchester on a Saturday night if you doubt me.
That said, we didn’t generally take our disco-dancing shoes on operational tour and Harry doesn’t kill Afghans while intoxicated as Hekmatyar suggested – on this evidence he does it while stone-cold sober. Apaches are too precious and expensive to be flown by drunkards, regardless of their pedigree. In fact, given that we aren’t doing at all well in Afghanistan, even with our potent technology, Apache may be even more of a burden on taxpayers then Harry himself. 
While a number of Household Cavalry veterans have informed me that young Mr Wales was okay ‘as officers go’, which is a pretty glowing assessment in soldier-speak, his latest public comments do make him sound for the all the world like a gun-horny adolescent playing a pricey version of Call of Duty.
Don’t get me wrong, squaddie culture and humour is close to the bone because the tasks soldiers are given are the grimmest imaginable and are often carried out, as in Afghanistan, without a mandate and with little public support. Brutal humour is often the only kind of armour a soldier can get hold of easily, I recall an expression brought back from Bosnia by older members of my own unit that seems to capture it: If you don’t laugh you’ll only cry.
Captain Wales does come across as fairly casual when he talks about taking lives to save lives, stopping people doing ‘bad stuff’ and ‘taking people out of the game’. In his defence though, and given his much publicised record as the royal social hand grenade, he may be politically naïve, or it could be that he’s a young man who’s been strapped into an attack helicopter for 20 weeks. One of the best arguments against war is the effects it has on the people fighting – though clearly Harry is, unlike many of the infantrymen he’s supporting, a soldier by way of choice not economics, I would not wish sleepless nights on anyone, even as a republican.
Just a job
This trivialisation of violence is not new thing; it is part of the process of dehumanisation which is central to modern warfare. It seems to have taken on new forms in the post 9/11 campaigns. During his short-lived first tour as a tactical air controller – calling in air strikes – Wales and his colleagues watched the bombs hit from their bunker on a live-feed monitor nicknamed ‘Kill TV’. This notion of a kind of professional distance from the killing you are involved in is also expressed in the US military term for an Afghan, Pakistani or whoever killed by a drone strike; a kill is referred to humorously – and officially – as a ‘bugsplat’ after a children’s computer game.
In all honesty, Harry’s comments are hardly revelatory and are tame compared to those I’ve heard from soldiers away from the media. To operate against and kill other humans, it helps to view this process as simply a job, however intellectually dishonest that is. Military training is sophisticated social engineering and wartime experience has the effect of ingraining a certain type of callousness. While war is a toxic institution, for some of those who conduct it, particularly privileged young princes who find themselves in the vanguard of US power, it can appear to be a latter-day boy’s own adventure.
The author refused to serve a second tour in Afghanistan on legal and moral grounds, later spending five months in military prison. His book, ‘Soldier Box’, is published by Verso in May.

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Muslims Enforcing Sharia Law on the streets of London

Video
The footage is likely to have come from East London, where ‘Shariah zones’ were set up last year. The new tactic of intimidation is said to appall local residents, who will likely find the ‘patrols’ disconcerting.
In the videos, the ‘Muslim Patrol’ is heard to say, “Alcohol banned. This is a Muslim area. Muslims patrol the area.” 
One young woman, when confronted by the patrol, states, “I am appalled, this is Great Britain”, to which the authors of the video are heard to remark, “We don’t care. It’s not so Great Britain”. 
Those involved are thought to be a part of an extremist network in East London and not linked to the wider Muslim community in the local area.
Posted  January 24, 2013
These misguided Muslim ‘Sharia squads’ are playing right into the EDL’s hands

The vigilantes exposed by YouTube are as repugnant to ordinary Muslims as the EDL are to ordinary Christians; don’t let them give Sharia a bad name
By Hasnet Lais
January 24, 2013 “The Independent” — Now here’s a news story to inflame the prejudice of internet Islamophobes… No wait, I’m a practising Muslim and this gets my blood boiling too; a string of videos under the name ‘Muslim Patrol’ recently surfaced on YouTube, showing Muslim vigilantes on night patrols in London streets. In an attempt to rid our streets of the perceived evils of democracy and secularism, one video (which has since been taken down) shows a disoriented, young man, harassed by the Sharia squad and cowed into giving alcohol as the reason for his sorry state.
Others show a non-Muslim couple warned from coming too near to Whitechapel’s East London Mosque and a woman hustled away from a ‘Muslim area’ because her attire contravened Islamic dress codes. In the words of one of the culprits, this was an example of “vigilantes implementing Islam upon your own necks”. Another clip, (posted some months ago and, it should be noted, apparently by an English Defence League member) features a group of Muslims on a prostitution purge. One man in a warden uniform tries to apprehend a female passerby, calling her a whore after a brief altercation.
Britain is already one of the most spied upon nations on earth, and this culture of surveillance is now being parroted by one of its most infamous imports: Muslim demagogues. I doubt the Government ever had this in mind; a Muslim street army of crime-stoppers monitoring public spaces. Forget the “Big Brother” state, if these videos are anything to go by, the EDL’s much-ridiculed warnings of #CreepingShariabegin to look prescient.
Except, contrary to the fevered fantasies of racists, these kinds of activities are limited to to a few oddballs in the British Muslim community; roughly the same proportion as the white Christians who follow the teachings of the EDL. Anjem Choudary, former spokesman of the radical Islamist group Islam4UK, is the only prominent muslim who has called for the UK-wide implementation of Sharia law. In my experience, far from advocating Sharia squads, most ordinary mosque-goers would be sickened at the sight of co-religionists pontificating about morals to non-Muslims. A very insightful response to these antics came from Islam Channel’s Sheikh Shams Ad-Duha, who made good use of the pulpit by reminding his audience of the degrees of freedom granted to non-Muslims under Sharia law.
However rare these incidents may be, if ordinary Britons are becoming casualties of this kind of morality police, surely it’s the duty of civic-minded Muslims to protect their neighbourhoods from all the clerical bullying? Like the men in the videos, there are millions of Britons, religious and otherwise, who are concerned about the moral decline of our society, from the epidemic of binge drinking, to the sexual exploitation of women and other disturbing trends, but that’s no justification for the ‘faithful’ to sanctimoniously harass ordinary citizens going about their daily business. The sight of co-religionists pamphleteering, forcefully ‘chaperoning’ others to safety and importingMutaween-like lynch mob tactics is something that makes me and like-minded Muslims cringe. The notion that non-Muslims are bound by a particular set of moral commitments or otherwise risk drawing flak from Sharia squad busy bodies is as offensive as it is absurd. 
I also can’t help but think that there is another, unintended casualty of this misguided anti-obscenity drive: Sharia itself. The Sharia – that isthe rich legal corpus that enshrines the principles of fair trial and due process in civil and criminal proceedings – might raise some difficult questions about its application, but it is by no means the brainchild of barmy puritans, prying on indecencies whilst claiming to serve the public interest. From the cradle of civilisation that was Mesopotamia, to Andalusia-Muslim Spain, the archives of history includes numerous examples of how the implementation of Sharia on a state-level could nurture an oasis of science and cultural florescence, that was later inherited by European Renaissance traditions.
Populist tropes reduce this highly sophisticated legal system to the antics of misguided Muslims, masquerading as security guards and there’s no way of giving these crackpots any appearance of sophistication, but we don’t help the situation by kindling misinformation about a legal system which brought civilisation to many societies in the past
See also – Growing use of Sharia by UK Muslims: The use of Sharia, or Islamic religious law, is growing in Britain, with thousands of Muslims using it to settle disputes each year, but women’s groups and some others are objecting.

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Cameron the political animal

24.01.2013
David Cameron, or his advisors, have just earned him the epitaph of a political terrorist of monstrous proportions. His speech early today on Britain’s relationship with Europe has probably already guaranteed his Conservative Party an absolute majority in the forthcoming elections in 2015.
Feeding on a moment of Euro-skepticism in the United Kingdom, the Conservative Party’s Prime Minister David Cameron has brought Europe to centre stage, promising an “in/out” referendum on condition that the Conservative Party gets a majority in the next Parliamentary elections in 2015. By doing this, he will garner the support of the UKIP voters, the second political force behind Labour in opinion polls on European issues, and the Euro-skeptics within the Liberal Democrats and Labour Party, plus all the floating voters who do not like Brussels dictating how British people should run their affairs.
He will also garner the support of all those whose hearts and minds are set against the way the European Union has been imposed in a top-down wholly undemocratic and cynical attitude in which the populations of few countries were asked if they wanted to adhere to the new super-State and when they were allowed to and said no, then the vote was repeated ad infinitum until the “No’s” gave up. 
While the European Union deserves it and while all Prime Ministers of all member states should show the same mettle, the fact that Cameron has linked the opportunity for the British people to, for once, have a say in matters which directly affect their standard of living, to a majority vote in the forthcoming election in 2015, is paramount to calling his electorate donkeys.
In short, David Cameron is dangling a carrot in front of the British people, goading them into voting for his unpopular Conservative Party because he is afraid that he hasn’t a hope in Hades of winning the next election if things stand as they are, upon which what will happen?
In taking this decision he has effectively neutered the popular United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) and rendered their vote redundant, he has exposed his coalition partners the Liberal Democrats as being Europhiles in a Europhobic nation (watch the Lib-Dems implode into oblivion) and has left the main Opposition leader Ed Miliband (Labour) a hot potato in his hands: balancing the rational and informed Britons who wish to remain in the EU but not on these terms and those whose gut reaction is a knee-jerk response to years of interference by Brussels, by cheese-eating surrender monkeys, onion-chomping Continentals riding around on bicycles wearing hooped shirts and black caps, who drive on the wrong side of the road, don’t know what a proper breakfast is, don’t drink tea with milk and hide the poor quality of their meat under sauces.
David Cameron is more than a PR man – he is a political terrorist of monstrous proportions who has got it all right for all the wrong reasons. By doing what he has done, he could enter the annals of British history as the hero who took Britain back to its Commonwealth and those of the European Union as the pariah who tolled its death knell.
On the other hand, he also runs the risk of being labeled as a lightweight and a fraud, especially if Scotland decides to pull out of the UK before the UK can pull out of the EU and if he then reneges on his promise to hold a referendum.
I mean…erm… hasn’t he said that before?
Were Ed Miliband more astute, he would immediately have said “OK vote for us and we will do the same thing” and Labour would have countered any advantage Cameron hoped to have gained within seconds. Until Miliband does, it seems more than certain that Cameron will be the Prime Minister of the UK at least until 2020.
Politically, brilliant.
Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

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Dehumanising War

By Lesley Docksey
Do we want a generation of veterans who return without guilt?
— Prof. Jonathon Moreno
January 08, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – Last November global governance expert Professor Mary Kaldor gave a lecture at the Imperial War Museum*, London. Her theme was Old and New Wars – how the nature of warfare and the organisation of its participants have changed. Old wars, she said, were essentially a battle of wills between two states or leaders. A war of two sides, two armies, can be vicious as it progresses but sooner or later one side wins, one loses, and some kind of treaty is negotiated. In a literal sense the war ends but, as any good historian knows, each war has carried and planted the seeds of the following war.
However, armies facing armies no longer happens. There is a halfway stage between old and new wars – such as happened in Vietnam and now in Iraq and Afghanistan – where an invading army finds itself at a loss as to how to fight what is essentially a guerrilla war fought by people trying to rid their country of a force that has come in from outside and is trying to impose its own solution on their state’s difficulties. But when, politicians having realised they are never going to ‘win’ this war, the invading troops are pulled out, the fighting goes on. It morphs into a ‘new’ war. Afghanistan does not have a good outlook, and Iraq is still at war with itself, where no such divisions existed before the invasion. Nor does the imported heavy battlefield equipment do that well against insurgents with roadside bombs or hand-held rocket launchers – which must be a sore disappointment to those who love big machines.
There is no clear way to end new wars, something which we should take account of. They are far more complicated in the make-up of combatants, but all are seeking some form of power. And money (or more accurately, profit) plays a large part. Nor is it easy to tell who is raising money to fund the war, or who is fighting the war to raise money to further their aims. There are too many actors – soldiers in uniform, freedom fighters, religious fighters, Mujahideen, war lords, mercenaries and. of course, men who simply love killing and migrate from country to country, conflict to conflict. They went to Iraq and now they are part of the Syrian Free Army. Foreign passports proliferate in modern conflicts. So – too many competing interests, with scant attention paid to those who are truly ‘on the ground’, the little people living in little villages, growing little amounts of food for their little families and sadly fertilising their fields with their blood.
How many of these combatants have a natural right to be there, in that country or that province? How many are interfering in someone else’s conflict? How many are making the situation worse while justifying their actions by claiming they are there to sort things out? How many are fighting for power and control over their countrymen? How many are fighting because they have a particular vision of their country and are trying to force that vision on others? For each and every one of these fighters one has to ask: what is that one trying to gain? It is a far cry from the old wars with kings or politicians deciding to go to war to protect their ‘interests’ and sending off hapless soldiers to do the killing and dying. Or is it? Is the difference between the old wars and the new simply that the old wars were mostly fought by national armies, not coalitions of convenience like ISAF and not splinter groups representing different interests? The desire for power, control and profit never alters.
All soldiers, across all time can, and often do, act in an inhumane way, committing appalling acts of cruelty. One only has to read some of the evidence given at the Baha Mousa Inquiry to understand that war insists that other people are ‘the enemy’ and that soldiers feel, as they did in Iraq, that they have the right to torture and beat those whose only crime is to live in the invaded country. But now soldiers are taking that one step further, too far, treading beyond the line. The tools and training of modern warfare are dehumanising them. Take drones.
It is hard to believe that the first armed drones were used in Afghanistan in 2001. In less than ten years they have become an essential part of fighting war. They are controlled from half a world away by people who have never been to the country they are targeting; who have no knowledge of the way of life, the culture of the little blobs of humanity they track in their monitors; who have no understanding of the political and corporate background to the ‘war’ they are fighting; and, most importantly, by people who are in no danger of having their own blood spilt. The deaths they cause are meaningless to the hand that presses the button. They have meaning enough for the people on the ground, gathering what they can of shattered bodies for burial, and unsurprisingly their use creates more so-called terrorists.
Killing at a distance dehumanises those doing it – it is not killing but a computer game. Scoring a ‘hit’ that involves no blood, no entrails, no broken lives brings no guilt, no remorse and no proper awareness of the hurt inflicted on others. But with the physical damage being inflicted on Western forces (in the US Army alone 73,674 soldiers have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and 30,480 soldiers have returned from combat with traumatic brain injury), this, in itself, is a good enough reason to use nothing but drones, and if both sides use them then the only casualties will be absolutely guaranteed to be civilian. It is bad enough that the US thinks it is fighting a global war on terror, so all the world is a battlefield. What price the world if another state takes that attitude thinking, quite rightly, that the US drones are a form of terrorism?
Using drones also dehumanises the people they kill. These are not fellow humans but terrorists, not civilians but collateral damage, not 8-year-old boys or old men of eighty but potential combatants. The enemy becomes nothing more than a fly to be swatted, a worm to be stepped on. President Obama has to personally authorise US drone strikes, more than 300 of them in his first four years of office. That many of the deaths were of children cannot be disputed, regardless of the fact that the US insists that only ‘combatants’ are killed. But at the beginning of December last year a senior US army officer speaking to the Marine Corp Times said that troops in Afghanistan were on the lookout for “children with potential hostile intent” – in other words, children could be deliberately targeted. Yet a few days later, there was Obama weeping on camera over the shocking deaths of the Connecticut school children. Afghan children obviously don’t rate tears.
Having gone past the old form of war of charging into battle against another army, it is inevitable that soldiers should be expected and trained, when fighting ‘terrorists’ – aka: freedom fighters, resistance fighters, insurgents, supporters of ‘regimes’, religious fundamentalists (non-Christian, of course) – to operate in the same way as drones, with targeted assassinations, raids on homes or farmers out in fields. We are told – and oh, am I tired of this being parroted by politicians justifying murderous actions by their forces – that the terrorists are ‘hiding’ in civilian areas, using women and children, even their own families as human shields. If they are not regular soldiers but people resisting occupying forces, they are not using their families as human shields; the houses are their homes, where they live, where they and their families belong. They are all civilians. And in much of the Middle East the prevailing culture is that most men, particularly in rural areas, own guns. Before the West visited so much war upon them, the guns appeared mostly to be used for firing shots into the air at weddings and other celebrations. But they own guns therefore they must be terrorists. By that logic, many US citizens are also terrorists.
And now we have the possibility of super-soldiers, the ultimate killing machines. Not satisfied with the vulnerability of soldiers to fatigue, stress, madness, drug addiction and worse, a sudden sense of morality, the Pentagon and others are researching ways of bypassing all that humanity. According to bioethicist Professor Moreno, the military co-option of neuroscience is now the fastest growing area of science. Millions of dollars are being spent in researching the soldier’s brain, testing drugs that will wipe out unpleasant memories of dark deeds done, quell the fatigue, mask pain and eliminate feelings of guilt. It is not so much using robots (which in one sense is what drones are) as turning humans into unfeeling robots.
But if armies become mere operators of drones, or the ‘super soldier’, guilt-free and heartless, becomes reality, then there really is no end to war. For the publics’ reaction to damaged soldiers coming back home and being a drain on families’ emotions and the public purse because of PTSD or multiple disablements will be the only thing that just might finally persuade the politicians that war is not worth the fighting.
* This was the annual Remembrance Day Lecture for the Movement for the Abolition of War (MAW)
Lesley Docksey is the editor of Abolish War, the newsletter of the Movement for the Abolition of War (MAW).abolishwar.org.uk
This article was originally posted at Dissident Voice

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‘Useless, useless, useless’: the Palestinian verdict on Tony Blair

Former Prime Minister’s role as representative of Middle East Quartet comes in for fiercest criticism yet
By Matthew Kalman 
December 17, 2012 “The Independent” – Palestinian officials say Tony Blair shouldn’t take it personally, but he should pack up his desk at the Office of the Quartet Representative in Jerusalem and go home. They say his job, and the body he represents, are “useless, useless, useless”.
Mr Blair became the representative of the Middle East Quartet – the UN, EU, US and Russia – a few weeks after leaving Downing Street. Last week, he visited the region for what he said was the 90th time since being appointed in June 2007. He spends one week a month based in Jerusalem or globetrotting on behalf of the Quartet. His office is funded by the Quartet members and his 24-hour security detail is on secondment from Scotland Yard but he receives no direct salary.
After four years of renting 15 rooms at the American Colony Hotel for his full-time staff, Mr Blair put down more permanent roots in 2011 by renting the penthouse of a new office building in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem.
But senior Palestinian officials and analysts told The Independent the move was unnecessary – his sojourn in the region should be cut short. “The Quartet has been useless, useless, useless,” Mohammed Shtayyeh, an aide to the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said last week. He suggested that its constant need to reach internal consensus among its warring participants had rendered it ineffective.
“Always the statement of the Quartet really means nothing because it was always full of what they call constructive ambiguity that really took us to nowhere,” said Mr Shtayyeh, who had just ended a meeting with Mr Blair. “You need a mediator who is ready to engage and who is ready to say to the party who is destroying the peace process ‘You are responsible for it’,” he said.
Mr Shtayyeh is not alone. Last February, the Saban Centre for Middle East Policy at The Brookings Institution pronounced the body already dead in a report bluntly entitled The Middle East Quartet: A Post-Mortem.
“The Quartet has little to show for its decade-long involvement in the peace process. Israelis and Palestinians are no closer to resolving the conflict, and in the few instances in which political negotiations did take place, the Quartet’s role was usually relegated to that of a political bystander,” said the report. “Having spent most of the last three years in a state of near paralysis, and having failed to dissuade the Palestinians from seeking UN membership and recognition in September 2011, the Quartet has finally reached the limits of its utility.
“The current mechanism is too outdated, dysfunctional, and discredited to be reformed. Instead of undertaking another vain attempt to ‘reactivate’ the Quartet, the United States, the European Union, United Nations, and Russia should simply allow the existing mechanism to go quietly into the night,” the report concluded.
Mr Blair rarely travels to Gaza, citing security reasons. The Quartet website features a number of achievements in the West Bank, including the removal of Israeli army checkpoints and upgraded facilities for exports. Palestinian and Israeli officials told The Independent that the Quartet appeared to be taking credit for other people’s work.
“I think in general Palestinians are disappointed by the performance of the Quartet,” said Ghassan Khatib, vice-president of Birzeit University near Ramallah and a former Palestinian Authority cabinet minister. “I cannot think of any serious thing that the Quartet succeeded to help us in.
“Sometimes Tony Blair speaks about removing checkpoints, but I think Israel was going to remove these checkpoints with or without the Quartet,” said Dr Khatib. He said the Quartet’s announcements about assisting the Palestinian economy were as hollow as their political achievements, but he stressed that his attitude wasn’t personal. “It has nothing to do with Tony Blair … I think it’s the Quartet that failed to deliver.”
Mr Blair’s Jerusalem office did not respond to a request for a comment.
Timeline: Blair’s peace-making
June 2007
Tony Blair appointed Middle East envoy on behalf of the EU, US, UN and Russia.
May 2008
Launches peace plan for Israel-Palestinian conflict based on improving economic co-operation.
March 2009
On a visit to Gaza, Mr Blair calls on Israel to ease its blockade.
September 2011
Mr Blair warns that a bid for statehood at the United Nations by the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would be “deeply confrontational”.
October 2011
Nabil Shaath, one of the senior aides to President Abbas, has harsh words for the Palestinian leader, accusing him of talking “like an Israeli diplomat”
© independent.co.uk

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Dispatches: Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby

Video – Channel 4 UK – Broadcast November 16, 2009

Dispatches investigates one of the most powerful and influential political lobbies in Britain, which is working in support of the interests of the State of Israel.

Despite wielding great influence among the highest realms of British politics and media, little is known about the individuals and groups which collectively are known as the pro-Israel lobby.

Political commentator Peter Oborne sets out to establish who they are, how they are funded, how they work and what influence they have, from the key groups to the wealthy individuals who help bankroll the lobbying.

He investigates how accountable, transparent and open to scrutiny the lobby is, particularly in regard to its funding and financial support of MPs.

The pro-Israel lobby aims to shape the debate about Britain’s relationship with Israel and future foreign policies relating to it.

Oborne examines how the lobby operates from within parliament and the tactics it employs behind the scenes when engaging with print and broadcast media.

Please wait a moment for video to load.
 
 
New comment section added September 11, 2012 –

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Sweetheart settlement for HSBC bank on drug money laundering charges

By Barry Grey 
13 December 2012
The US Justice Department on Tuesday announced a settlement with the British-based HSBC bank regarding charges of money laundering Mexican drug funds that allows the bank to admit to wrongdoing and pay a fine without being criminally charged.
In a lengthy front-page article Tuesday morning, before the settlement was announced, the New York Times reported that US authorities had decided, despite ample evidence that HSBC had laundered billions of dollars for major drug cartels in Mexico and Colombia, not to press criminal charges against the bank or any of its executives because the bank was “too big to indict.”
The Times article, citing government sources on internal discussions between the Justice Department, the Treasury and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, spelled out the rationale that has guided the response of the Obama administration to a host of bank scandals in the aftermath of the Wall Street crash of September 2008. Not a single major institution or leading bank executive has been prosecuted for the pervasive fraud and swindling that led to the financial crisis and triggered the global slump—and continues unabated today.
The financial mafia that bestrides the American economy and controls the political system is, in practice, above the law. The government and the various financial regulatory agencies are its protectors, making sure that no leading banker or institution is held accountable for violations of the law and social crimes against the people.
Under the agreement announced Tuesday in Brooklyn by New York Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer and other federal, state and local officials, HSBC, Europe’s biggest bank and the third largest in the world, will forfeit $1.256 billion and pay an additional $650 million in civil penalties. The bank acknowledges having violated the Bank Secrecy Act in laundering Mexican drug cartel money and having breached other federal laws by ignoring US sanctions in financial dealings with Cuba, Iran, Libya, Sudan and Burma.
Instead of being indicted, the bank enters into a five-year deferred prosecution agreement, during which it is to be monitored for compliance by an independent agency. This quasi-probationary period is, however, little more than a formality. It is highly unlikely that criminal charges will ever be laid. Wall Street responded to the announcement of the agreement by bidding up HSBC shares a half percentage point.
The total fine of $1.9 billion is only 8.6 percent of the $22 billion profit the bank recorded in 2011, and is likely less than the profits HSBC made over many years serving as the main financial conduit for Mexican drug lords, including the Sialoa Cartel.
At a press conference Tuesday, Assistant Attorney General Breuer said HSBC was guilty of “stunning failures of oversight—and worse—that led the bank to permit narcotics traffickers and others to launder hundreds of millions of dollars through HSBC subsidiaries, and to facilitate hundreds of millions more in transactions with sanctioned countries.”
US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta Lynch said, “HSBC’s blatant failure to implement proper anti-money laundering controls facilitated the laundering of at least $881 million in drug proceeds through the US financial system.” She told reporters that Mexican drug cartels had moved hundreds of thousands of dollars a day through HSBC facilities. The bank’s Mexican operations shifted at least $7 billion from 2007 to 2009 into the United States.
A press release from the Justice Department said that HSBC Bank USA failed to monitor over $670 billion in wire transfers and over $9.4 billion in purchases of physical US dollars from HSBC Mexico from at least 2006 to 2009.
Last July, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations released a report charging HSBC with laundering Mexican drug money on a massive scale. The report said that HSBC’s Mexico bank had a branch in the Cayman Islands that had no offices or staff, but held 50,000 client accounts and $2.1 billion in 2008.
It also denounced the bank’s US regulator, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, for turning a blind eye to the bank’s suspicious and incriminating activities. The Senate subcommittee noted that in 2010, the regulatory agency flagged $60 trillion in transactions and 17,000 accounts as potentially suspicious, but failed to even fine HSBC.
It is likely that HSBC stepped up its drug money laundering operations in response to the banking crisis that began in earnest in 2007 and erupted in full force with the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September of 2008. In 2007, the bank began posting billions of dollars in losses at its American consumer spending arm, forcing it to go begging to shareholders for more capital.
There is evidence that at the height of the banking crisis, a number of major banks depended on cash from drug-related laundering operations to stay afloat. According to Antonio María Costa, who then headed the United Nations office on drugs and crime, the flow of crime syndicate money represented the only “liquid investment capital” available to banks at the height of the crisis. “Inter-bank loans were funded by money that originated from the drugs trade,” he said. “There were signs that some banks were rescued that way.”
In March of 2010, the US Justice Department reached a similar settlement with Wachovia Bank, now part of Wells Fargo, as that announced Tuesday with HSBC. Wachovia admitted to having violated the Bank Secrecy Act by laundering $378.4 billion for the Sinaloa Cartel between 2004 and 2007. Rather than being prosecuted, it was given a deferred prosecution agreement under which it paid a fine of $160 million, less than 2 percent of its profit for the previous year.
By serving as financial conduits for the Mexican drug cartels, these banks have played a critical role in the drug war that has taken tens of thousands of lives in that country, not to mention the social devastation wrought in the US and around the world by the narcotics trade.
Martin Woods, a Wachovia whistleblower who had been forced to resign, said at the time of the US settlement with the bank: “These are the proceeds of murder and misery in Mexico, and of drugs sold around the world… It’s simple: if you don’t see the correlation between the money laundering by banks and the 30,000 people killed in Mexico, you’re missing the point.”
The author also recommends:
[15 August 2012]

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HSBC, Too Big to Jail, is The New Poster Child For US Two-tiered Justice System

By Glenn Greenwald 
December 12, 2012 “The Guardian” — The US is the world’s largest prison state, imprisoning more of its citizens than any nation on earth, both in absolute numbers and proportionally. It imprisons people for longer periods of time, more mercilessly, and for more trivial transgressions than any nation in the west. This sprawling penal state has been constructed over decades, by both political parties, and it punishes the poor and racial minorities at overwhelmingly disproportionate rates.
But not everyone is subjected to that system of penal harshness. It all changes radically when the nation’s most powerful actors are caught breaking the law. With few exceptions, they are gifted not merely with leniency, but full-scale immunity from criminal punishment. Thus have the most egregious crimes of the last decade been fully shielded from prosecution when committed by those with the greatest political and economic power: the construction of a worldwide torture regime, spying on Americans’ communications without the warrants required by criminal law by government agencies and the telecom industry, an aggressive war launched on false pretenses, and massive, systemic financial fraud in the banking and credit industry that triggered the 2008 financial crisis.
This two-tiered justice system was the subject of my last book, “With Liberty and Justice for Some”, and what was most striking to me as I traced the recent history of this phenomenon is how explicit it has become. Obviously, those with money and power always enjoyed substantial advantages in the US justice system, but lip service was at least always paid to the core precept of the rule of law: that – regardless of power, position and prestige – all stand equal before the blindness of Lady Justice.
It really is the case that this principle is now not only routinely violated, as was always true, but explicitly repudiated, right out in the open. It is commonplace to hear US elites unblinkingly insisting that those who become sufficiently important and influential are – and should be – immunized from the system of criminal punishment to which everyone else is subjected.
Worse, we are constantly told that immunizing those with the greatest power is not for their good, but for our good, for our collective good: because it’s better for all of us if society is free of the disruptions that come from trying to punish the most powerful, if we’re free of the deprivations that we would collectively experience if we lose their extraordinary value and contributions by prosecuting them.
This rationale was popularized in 1974 when Gerald Ford explained why Richard Nixon – who built his career as a “law-and-order” politician demanding harsh punishments and unforgiving prosecutions for ordinary criminals – would never see the inside of a courtroom after being caught committing multiple felonies; his pardon was for the good not of Nixon, but of all of us. That was the same reasoning hauled out to justify immunity for officials of the National Security State who tortured and telecom giants who illegally spied on Americans (we need them to keep us safe and can’t disrupt them with prosecutions), as well as the refusal to prosecute any Wall Street criminals for their fraud (prosecutions for these financial crimes would disrupt our collective economic recovery).
A new episode unveiled on Tuesday is one of the most vivid examples yet of this mentality. Over the last year, federal investigators found that one of the world’s largest banks, HSBC, spent years committing serious crimes, involving money laundering for terrorists; “facilitat[ing] money laundering by Mexican drug cartels”; and “mov[ing] tainted money for Saudi banks tied to terrorist groups”. Those investigations uncovered substantial evidence “that senior bank officials were complicit in the illegal activity.” As but one example, “an HSBC executive at one point argued that the bank should continue working with the Saudi Al Rajhi bank, which has supported Al Qaeda.”
Needless to say, these are the kinds of crimes for which ordinary and powerless people are prosecuted and imprisoned with the greatest aggression possible. If you’re Muslim and your conduct gets anywhere near helping a terrorist group, even by accident, you’re going to prison for a long, long time. In fact, powerless, obscure, low-level employees areroutinely sentenced to long prison terms for engaging in relatively petty money laundering schemes, unrelated to terrorism, and on a scale that is a tiny fraction of what HSBC and its senior officials are alleged to have done.
But not HSBC. On Tuesday, not only did the US Justice Department announce that HSBC would not be criminally prosecuted, but outright claimed that the reason is that they are too important, too instrumental to subject them to such disruptions. In other words, shielding them from the system of criminal sanction to which the rest of us are subject is not for their good, but for our common good. We should not be angry, but grateful, for the extraordinary gift bestowed on the global banking giant:
“US authorities defended their decision not to prosecute HSBC for accepting the tainted money of rogue states and drug lords on Tuesday, insisting that a $1.9bn fine for a litany of offences was preferable to the ‘collateral consequences’ of taking the bank to court. . . .
“Announcing the record fine at a press conference in New York, assistant attorney general Lanny Breuer said that despite HSBC”s ‘blatant failure’ to implement anti-money laundering controls and its wilful flouting of US sanctions, the consequences of a criminal prosecution would have been dire.
“Had the US authorities decided to press criminal charges, HSBC would almost certainly have lost its banking licence in the US, the future of the institution would have been under threat and the entire banking system would have been destabilised.
“HSBC, Britain’s biggest bank, said it was ‘profoundly sorry’ for what it called ‘past mistakes’ that allowed terrorists and narcotics traffickers to move billions around the financial system and circumvent US banking laws. . . .
“As part of the deal, HSBC has undertaken a five-year agreement with the US department of justice under which it will install an independent monitor to assess reformed internal controls. The bank’s top executives will defer part of their bonuses for the whole of the five-year period, while bonuses have been clawed back from a number of former and current executives, including those in the US directly involved at the time.
“John Coffee, a professor of law at Columbia Law School in New York, said the fine was consistent with how US regulators have been treating bank infractions in recent years. ‘These days they rarely sue individuals in any meaningful way when the entity will settle. This is largely a function of resource constraints, but also risk aversion, and a willingness to take the course of least resistance,’ he said.”
DOJ officials touted the $1.9 billion fine HSBC would pay, the largest ever for such a case. As the Guardian’s Nils Pratleynoted, “the sum represents about four weeks’ earnings given the bank’s pre-tax profits of $21.9bn last year.” Unsurprisingly, “the steady upward progress of HSBC’s share price since the scandal exploded in July was unaffected on Tuesday morning.”
The New York Times Editors this morning announced: “It is a dark day for the rule of law.” There is, said the NYT editors, “no doubt that the wrongdoing at HSBC was serious and pervasive.” But the bank is simply too big, too powerful, too important to prosecute.
That’s not merely a dark day for the rule of law. It’s a wholesale repudiation of it. The US government is expressly saying that banking giants reside outside of – above – the rule of law, that they will not be punished when they get caught red-handed committing criminal offenses for which ordinary people are imprisoned for decades. Aside from the grotesque injustice, the signal it sends is as clear as it is destructive: you are free to commit whatever crimes you want without fear of prosecution. And obviously, if the US government would not prosecute these banks on the ground that they’re too big and important, it would – yet again, or rather still – never let them fail.
But this case is the opposite of an anomaly. That the most powerful actors should be immunized from the rule of law – not merely treated better, but fully immunized – is a constant, widely affirmed precept in US justice. It’s applied to powerful political and private sector actors alike. Over the past four years, the CIA and NSA have received the same gift, as have top Executive Branch officials, as has the telecom industry, as has most of the banking industry. This is how I described it in “With Liberty and Justice for Some”:
“To hear our politicians and our press tell it, the conclusion is inescapable: we’re far better off when political and financial elites – and they alone – are shielded from criminal accountability.
“It has become a virtual consensus among the elites that their members are so indispensable to the running of American society that vesting them with immunity from prosecution – even for the most egregious crimes – is not only in their interest but in our interest, too. Prosecutions, courtrooms, and prisons, it’s hinted – and sometimes even explicitly stated – are for the rabble, like the street-side drug peddlers we occasionally glimpse from our car windows, not for the political and financial leaders who manage our nation and fuel our prosperity.
“It is simply too disruptive, distracting, and unjust, we are told, to subject them to the burden of legal consequences.”
That is precisely the rationale explicitly invoked by DOJ officials to justify their decision to protect HSBC from criminal accountability. These are the same officials who previously immunized Bush-era torturers and warrantless eavesdroppers, telecom giants, and Wall Street executives, even as they continue to persecute whistleblowers at record rates and prosecute ordinary citizens – particularly poor and minorities – with extreme harshness even for trivial offenses. The administration that now offers the excuse that HSBC is too big to prosecute is the same one that quite consciously refused to attempt to break up these banks in the aftermath of the “too-big-to-fail” crisis of 2008, as former TARP overseer Neil Barofsky, among others, has spent years arguing.
And, of course, these HSBC-protectors in the Obama DOJ are the same officials responsible for maintaining and expanding what NYT Editorial Page editor Andrew Rosenthal has accurately described as “essentially a separate justice system for Muslims,” one in which “the principle of due process is twisted and selectively applied, if it is applied at all.” What has been created is not so much a “two-tiered justice system” as a multi-tiered one, entirely dependent on the identity of the alleged offender rather than the crimes of which they are accused.
Having different “justice systems” for citizens based on their status, wealth, power and prestige is exactly what the US founders argued most strenuously had to be avoided (even as they themselves maintained exactly such a system). But here we have in undeniable clarity not merely proof of exactly how this system functions, but also the rotted and fundamentally corrupt precept on which it’s based: that some actors are simply too important and too powerful to punish criminally. As the Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz warned in 2010, exempting the largest banks from criminal prosecution has meant that lawlessness and “venality” is now “at a higher level” in the US even than that which prevailed in the pervasively corrupt and lawless privatizing era in Russia.
Having the US government act specially to protect the most powerful factions, particularly banks, was a major impetus that sent people into the streets protesting both as part of the early Tea Party movement as well as the Occupy movement. As well as it should: it is truly difficult to imagine corruption and lawlessness more extreme than having the government explicitly place the most powerful factions above the rule of law even as it continues to subject everyone else to disgracefully harsh “justice”. If this HSBC gift makes more manifest this radical corruption, then it will at least have achieved some good.
UPDATE
By coincidence, on the very same day that the DOJ announced that HSBC would not be indicted for its multiple money-laundering felonies, the New York Times published a story featuring the harrowing story of an African-American single mother of three who was sentenced to life imprisonment at the age of 27 for a minor drug offense:
“Stephanie George and Judge Roger Vinson had quite different opinions about the lockbox seized by the police from her home in Pensacola. She insisted she had no idea that a former boyfriend had hidden it in her attic. Judge Vinson considered the lockbox, containing a half-kilogram of cocaine, to be evidence of her guilt.
“But the defendant and the judge fully agreed about the fairness of the sentence he imposed in federal court.
“‘Even though you have been involved in drugs and drug dealing,’ Judge Vinson told Ms. George, ‘your role has basically been as a girlfriend and bag holder and money holder but not actively involved in the drug dealing, so certainly in my judgment it does not warrant a life sentence.’
“Yet the judge had no other option on that morning 15 years ago. As her stunned family watched, Ms. George, then 27, who had never been accused of violence, was led from the courtroom to serve a sentence of life without parole.
“‘I remember my mom crying out and asking the Lord why,’ said Ms. George, now 42, in an interview at the Federal Correctional Institution in Tallahassee. ‘Sometimes I still can’t believe myself it could happen in America.'”
As the NYT notes – and read her whole story to get the full flavor of it – this is commonplace for the poor and for minorities in the US justice system. Contrast that deeply oppressive, merciless punishment system with the full-scale immunity bestowed on HSBC – along with virtually every powerful and rich lawbreaking faction in America over the last decade – and that is the living, breathing two-tiered US justice system. How this glaringly disparate, and explicitly status-based, treatment under the criminal law does not produce serious social unrest is mystifying.
Glenn Greenwald is a columnist on civil liberties and US national security issues for the Guardian. A former constitutional lawyer, he was until 2012 a contributing writer at Salon. He is the author of How Would a Patriot Act? (May 2006), a critique of the Bush administration’s use of executive power; A Tragic Legacy (June, 2007), which examines the Bush legacy; and With Liberty and Justice For Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful

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The American establishment and the British royal pregnancy

7 December 2012
The announcement that Kate Middleton, wife of Britain’s Prince William and Duchess of Cambridge, is expecting a baby has produced unseemly squeals of delight from the American media and establishment generally.
Why this stupidity? Or is it something more than mere stupidity?
Since we are speaking, first of all, of the American media, of course there isthe element of imbecility—along with the inevitable effort to divert public attention from social disaster and unending wars and threats of wars.
For months the major television networks, cable channels and weekly magazines have been breathlessly anticipating what ABC News on December 3 termed “the most eagerly awaited pregnancy.” Fox News, owned by Rupert Murdoch, declared itself “delighted” by the “royal pregnancy,” only worrying whether “Kate’s medical condition” posed a threat to her health. According to Time, “When news of the Duchess of Cambridge’s pregnancy broke on Monday, a gasp of excitement went round the world.”
Briton Alex Massie, writing in Newsday, noted December 5 that the media in the US was “plunging overboard in one of its periodic obsessions with the British House of Windsor” and that the news from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge was “sending a good part of the American press into a familiar frenzy of twittering, fluttering excitement.”
This same press imputed its own frenzy to the population at large. An Associated Press reporter informed his readers that “An heir to the British throne is on the way—and Americans may be as enthralled as the Brits. This former colony has been riveted by the royal news that the former Kate Middleton is pregnant.” He should speak for himself. To the casual observer, this country presents itself as a sea of indifference to the British royal family’s pending expansion.
Without a doubt, however, the various television anchors, gossip columnists and scandalmongers posing as journalists are beside themselves with joy.
CNN’s Jane Velez-Mitchell asked her viewers Monday evening, “Are you excited? I am. We’ve got breaking news… Since the moment they [the prince and his wife] walked down the aisle, rumors have run rampant that the wildly popular couple are expecting. But tonight, a year and a half after their wedding, we have confirmation—the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting a baby—yay!—and an heir to the throne.”
On CNN’s HLN evening show, “Showbiz Tonight,” host A.J. Hammer observed, “Already we’ve seen the reaction to the news that Catherine is merely pregnant. What if it turns out she’s carrying twins? It would be like a nuclear explosion of baby news.” He asked his guest, Rosie Pope, “You can hear my head is exploding, right?”
Pope responded, “My head is exploding, too. It’s—I’m speechless just even thinking about it. I mean, the possibility is incredibly exciting, however unlikely.”
White House press secretary Jay Carney told a media briefing December 3 “that on behalf of everyone here in the White House, beginning with the President and the First Lady, we extend our congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the welcome news this morning out of London that they are expecting their first child.”
Nominally at least, the United States remains a republic. Why should the American president extend congratulations to the British royal family, a collection of wealthy parasites, mediocrities and dimwits, for anything?
The American independence struggle (1775-1783) was an immensely serious, world-historical event. An estimated 25,000 American revolutionaries died in the conflict, 8,000 or so in battle and another 17,000 from disease. As many as 12,000 perished as British prisoners, most in rotting prison ships. The estimates of the wounded ranges as high as 25,000. The total casualty figure, therefore, is estimated to be at least 50,000, in addition to thousands of civilians. This out of a population of only 2.4 million.
The former colonists declared independence in conscious defiance of King George III and the principle of royalty, on the basis that all men were created equal. The generation that advocated and fought for independence from Britain despised the monarchy as an institution.
For example, the radical Tom Paine, author of Common Sense, wrote: “To the evil of monarchy we have added that of hereditary succession; and as the first is a degradation and lessening of ourselves, so the second, claimed as a matter of right, is an insult and imposition on posterity. For all men being originally equals, no one by birth could have a right to set up his own family in perpetual preference to all others for ever… One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in Kings, is that nature disapproves it, otherwise she would not so frequently turn it into ridicule, by giving mankind an ASS FOR A LION.”
Thomas Jefferson referred to royalty with unstinting contempt. In 1788, writing to George Washington from France, he observed, “I was much an enemy of monarchies before I came to Europe. I am ten thousand times more so since I have seen what they are. There is scarcely an evil known in these countries which may not be traced to their king as its source, nor a good which is not derived from the small fibres of republicanism existing among them.”
In a letter written in 1810, Jefferson noted that not only was the king of England “a cipher,” but the entire breed of European royals, like “any race of animals,” confined “in idleness and reaction, whether in a sty, a stable, or a state-room,” pampered and gratified in every way, deprived of “whatever might lead them to think,” had become in a few generations “all body and no mind.” Listing the various European kings and queens of the time, he described them as “fools,” “idiots” or “really crazy.” Concluded Jefferson, with a biblical pun, “And so endeth the book of Kings, from all of whom the Lord deliver us.”
The Civil War, the second American revolution, fought against the Slave Power, was also conceived of by the most advanced elements in the North as part of the global struggle against aristocracy and royalty and a blow for republicanism.
Abraham Lincoln argued along these lines: “They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time; and will ever continue to struggle. The one is the common right of humanity and the other the divine right of kings. It is the same principle in whatever shape it develops itself. It is the same spirit that says, ‘You work and toil and earn bread, and I’ll eat it.’
“No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle.”
The most profound figures in American culture and social life in the late 19thcentury shared this hostility to royalty, Mark Twain chief among them. Anyone who has read A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889) is unlikely to forget Twain’s defense of the French revolutionary “terror” and his somewhat bloodthirsty advocacy of exterminating nobility generally.
Twain also observed, “There never was a throne which did not represent a crime” and “The institution of royalty in any form is an insult to the human race.”
In his notebook in 1888, the novelist suggested, “Let us take the present male sovereigns of the earth—and strip them naked. Mix them with 500 naked mechanics, and then march the whole around a circus ring, charging suitable admission of course—and desire the audience to pick out the sovereigns. They couldn’t. You would have to paint them blue. You can’t tell a king from a copper except you differentiate their exteriority.”
So why do the present rulers of America, and their press agents, ooh and aah and wretchedly carry on about the Windsor family, who cost the British people hundreds of millions of pounds a year and whose personal, ill-gotten wealth is simply vast (in 2010 Forbes estimated that Queen Elizabeth II’s net worth was nearly half a billion dollars)?
The most pertinent answer lies in America’s transformed social and economic conditions. The United States is ruled today by a financial-corporate aristocracy, with infinitely more in common with George III and Jefferson Davis than with Paine, Jefferson, Lincoln, the abolitionists, Twain and any progressive figure in US history.
Can anyone imagine the crowd of “Tories” (as those loyal to the crown were known during the Revolutionary War) and “copperheads” (pro-Southern sympathizers during the Civil War) who currently run America standing up to the British monarch or the slavocracy? Not for an instant; they are made from the same human and social material.
America’s multimillionaires and billionaires, and their hangers-on, envy Britain’s “legitimate” royalty and dregs of a nobility, long for such rank themselves and despise the “common people” with as much fervor as the aristocrats of an earlier age.
They would agree with Alexander H. Stephens, the vice president of the Confederacy (and a figure in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln), who insisted in a March 1861 speech, as historian James McPherson has observed, that the old confederation known as the United States “had been founded on the false idea that all men are created equal.” (This Mighty Scourge, 2007)
David Walsh

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Julian Assange Vs Erin Burnett The Mass Surveillance State

Video

“Now we have all been intercepted permanently. This is a state change. This is not matter of simply a change to any individual. This is a sea change in politics and we are going to have to do something about it. If we don’t do something about it, we run the risk of losing the democracy we have treasured for so long.”

Julian Assange appeared on CNN’s “OutFront with Erin Burnett” on November 28, 2012. He discusses his new book “Cypherpunks”, the mass surveillance state, and Bradley Manning

Julian Assange on CNN’s OutFront (28 Nov 2012) – Posted November 30, 2012

Assange to RT: Entire nations intercepted online, key turned to totalitarian rule
  
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says all the necessary physical infrastructure for absolute totalitarianism through the internet is ready. He told RT that the question now is whether the turnkey process that already started will go all the way.
RT: So you’ve written this book ‘Cypherpunks. Freedom and the Future of the Internet’ based on one of the programs that you’ve made for RT. In it, you say that the internet can enslave us. I don’t really get that, because the internet it’s a thing, it’s a soulless thing. Who are the actual enslavers behind it?
Julian Assange: The people who control the interception of the internet and, to some degree also, physically control the big data warehouses and the international fiber-optic lines. We all think of the internet as some kind of Platonic Realm where we can throw out ideas and communications and web pages and books and they exist somewhere out there. Actually, they exist on web servers in New York or Nairobi or Beijing, and information comes to us through satellite connections or through fiber-optic cables.
 
So whoever physically controls this controls the realm of our ideas and communications. And whoever is able to sit on those communications channels, can intercept entire nations, and that’s the new game in town, as far as state spying is concerned – intercepting entire nations, not individuals.

‘intercepting entire nations, not individuals’

RT: This sounds like a futuristic scenario, but you are saying that the future is already here.
JA: The US National Security Agency has been doing this for some 20-30 years. But it has now spread to mid-size nations, even Gaddafi’s Libya was employing the EAGLE system, which is produced by French company AMESYS, pushed there in 2009, advertised in its international documentation as a nationwide interception system.
 


So what’s happened over the last 10 years is the ever-decreasing cost of intercepting each individual now to the degree where it is cheaper to intercept every individual rather that it is to pick particular people to spy upon.

‘it is cheaper to intercept every individual rather that it is to pick particular people to spy upon’

RT: And what’s the alternative, the sort of utopian alternative that you would put forward?
JA: The utopian alternative is to try and gain independence for the internet, for it to sort of declare independence versus the rest of the world. And that’s really quite important because if you think what is human civilization, what is it that makes it quintessentially human and civilized, it is our shared knowledge about how the world works, how we deal with each other, how we deal with the environment, which institutions are corrupt, which ones are good, what are the least dumb ways of doing things. And that intellectual knowledge is something that we are all putting on to the internet – and so if we can try and decouple that from the brute nature of states and their cronies, then I think we really have hope for a global civilization.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange talking to RT′s Laura Smith at the embassy of Ecuador in London, UK (video still)WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange talking to RT’s Laura Smith at the embassy of Ecuador in London, UK (video still)
If, on the other hand, the mere security guards, you know, the people who control the guns, are able to take control of our intellectual life, take control of all the ways in which we communicate to each other, then of course you can see how dreadful the outcome will be. Because it won’t happen to just one nation, it will happen to every nation at once. It is happening to every nation at once as far as spying is concerned, because now every nation is merging its society with internet infrastructure.
RT: And in what way are we, as sort of naïve internet users, if you like (and I exclude you from that, obviously), kind of willingly collaborating with these collectors of personal data? You know, we all have a Facebook account, we all have telephones which can be tracked.
JA: Right. People think, well, yeah, I use Facebook, and maybe the FBI if they made a request, could come and get it, and everyone is much more aware of that because of Petraeus. But that’s not the problem. The problem is that all the time nearly everything people do on the internet is permanently recorded, every web search.
Do you know what you were thinking one year, two days, three months ago? No, you don’t know, but Google knows, it remembers.

‘Google knows, it remembers’

The National Security Agency who intercepts the request if it flowed over the US border, it knows.
So by just communicating to our friends, by emailing each other, by updating Facebook profiles, we are informing on our friends.

‘by updating Facebook profiles, we are informing on our friends’

And friends don’t inform on friends. You know, the Stasi had a 10 per cent penetration of East German society, with up to 1 in 10 people being informants at some time in their life.
Now in countries that have the highest internet penetration, like Iceland, more than 80 per cent of people are on Facebook, informing about their friends. That information doesn’t [simply] go nowhere. It’s not kept in Iceland, it’s sent back into the US where it IS accessed by US intelligence and where it is given out to any friends or cronies of US intelligence – hundreds of national security letters every day publicly declared and being issued by the US government.
 
RT: So do we risk kind of entering a scenario where there are almost two castes of people: a safe minority who are very savvy about the workings of the internet and the things that you described, and just people who go online for kicks?
JA: We have this position where as we know knowledge is power, and there’s a mass transfer as a result of literally billions of interceptions per day going from everyone, the average person, into the data vaults of state spying agencies for the big countries, and their cronies – the corporations that help build them that infrastructure. Those groups are already powerful, that’s why they are able to build this infrastructure to intercept on everyone. So they are growing more powerful, concentrating the power in the hands of smaller and smaller groups of people at once, which isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s extremely dangerous once there is any sort of corruption occurring in the power. Because absolute power corrupts, and when it becomes corrupt, it can affect a lot of people very quickly. 
Bill Binney, National Security Agency whistleblower, who was the research head of the National Security Agency’s Signals Intelligence Division, describes this as a ‘turnkey totalitarianism’, that all the infrastructure has been built for absolute totalitarianism

‘all the infrastructure has been built for absolute totalitarianism’

It’s just the matter of turning the key. And actually the key has already been turned a little bit, and it is now affecting people who are targeted for US drone strikes, organizations like WikiLeaks, national security reporters who are having their sources investigated. It is already partly turned, and the question is, will it go all the way?
RT: But has it been built really by corporations and kind of unwittingly subscribed to by people, in order to advertise products to make money, or has it been built deliberately by governments for the sole purpose of surveillance?
JA: It’s both. I mean the surveillance infrastructure, the bulk surveillance infrastructure – there are hundreds of companies involved in that business. They have secret international conferences, they have prospectuses that they give to intelligence agencies that we have obtained and published this year together with Privacy International and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Also, The Wall Street Journal has done some good work on this. They are building devices that they advertise to intercept entire nations, to install the data from those intercepts permanently – strategic interception, because it’s cheaper.
 
So it’s a combined corporate/government amalgam. That’s one of the problems, one of the reasons it’s so unaccountable is that it crosses boundaries. Companies don’t just sell to their home country, they sell to companies overseas. There are shareholdings held in BVI, and the company might be British-registered, like BIA, but actually a lot of research and development is done in Sweden, etc.
 
And then you also have Google and Facebook, who started up predominantly serving the public, but also have developed side projects to service the US intelligence complex. And individuals are constantly pushing their thoughts into Google as each thing that they want to research; it is pushed via emails, and on Facebook, through their social relationships. That’s an undreamt of spy database.

‘That’s an undreamt of spy database’

Facebook is completely undreamt of even by the worst spying nation, given the richness and sophistication of relationships expressed.
RT: And willingly contributed to.
JA: Well, no. But not with informed consent. People don’t actually know. When on Facebook it says “share this to your friends,” that’s what it says. It doesn’t say “share this to state agencies,” it doesn’t say “share this to friends and cronies of state agencies.”
RT: Who do you think has the organized power to stop these things that you are talking about?
JA: If there is political will, everything is possible. So if we get the political will, then of course those agencies can be dismantled. Very aggressive legislation, policing can be pushed upon them. In some regions of the world, such as Latin America, perhaps that’s a possibility. There is a certain democratic tendency, which Ecuador is part of that might do that. But in general I think the prognosis is very grim. And we really are at this moment where it can go one way or the other way.
To a degree, perhaps the best we can be sure, if we work, of achieving is that some of us are protected. It may only be a high-tech elite, hopefully expanded a bit more – people who can produce tools and information for others that they can use to protect themselves. It is not necessary that all of society is covered, all of society is protected. What’s necessary is that the critical accountability components of society that stop it from going down the tubes entirely, that those people are protected. Those include corruption investigators, journalists, activists, and political parties. These have got to be protected. If they are not protected, then it’s all lost.
RT: Is there a way that I can protect myself without knowing all about computers?
JA: Well, a little bit. But the first thing to be aware of is how much you are giving away. The first way to protect yourself is to go, “OK, I’ll discuss that in person, and not over Facebook chat,” or, “OK, I will discuss this using some forms of encrypted chat, like OTR, and not on a Facebook chat.” You can go to torproject.org and download encrypted anonymizing software. It is slower than normal, but for things like internet chat it’s fine, because you are not downloading very much at once. So there are ways of doing this.
What is really necessary, however, for those to be properly developed, there needs to be enough market demand. It’s the same situation as soap and washing your hands. Once upon a time, before the bacterial theory of disease, before we understood that out there invisibly was all this bacteria that was trying to cause us harm – just like mass state surveillance is out there invisible and trying to cause society a large harm.

‘mass state surveillance is out there invisible and trying to cause society a large harm’

 – no one bothered to wash their hands. First process was discovery; second process, education; third process, a market demand is created as a result of education, which means that experts can start to manufacture soap, and then people can buy and use it.
So this is where we are at now, which is we’ve got to create education amongst people, so there can be a market demand, so that others can be encouraged to produce easy-to-use cryptographic technology that is capable of protecting not everyone, but a significant number of people from mass state spying. And if we are not able to protect a significant number of people from mass state spying, then the basic democratic and civilian institutions that we are used to – not in the West, I am no glorifier of the West, but in all societies – are going to crumble away. They will crumble away, and they will do so all at once. And that’s an extremely dangerous phenomenon.
It’s not often where all the world goes down the tube all at once. Usually you have a few countries that are OK, and you can bootstrap civilization again from there.
RT: We just passed the second anniversary of Cablegate, and since then this war on whistleblowers and this state surveillance seems to have got worse. Do you think something as large as Cablegate could ever happen again and it would have a similar impact?
JA: Yes, yes. Hopefully next year.
RT: What sort of time next year?
JA: I won’t go into it, but hopefully earlier rather than later.
RT: Do you feel that when WikiLeaks is making these releases you’re having as large an impact as you’ve had before?
JA: Well, Cablegate was extraordinary. It was published over a period of 12 months. It’s the most significant leak. Our previous leak, on the Iraq war, was also 400,000 documents, showing precisely how over 100,000 people were killed. That was also very significant. But yes, no one has done anything as significant as that since, but yes, hopefully, that will continue.
 
The successes of WikiLeaks shouldn’t be viewed merely as a demonstration of our organization’s virility or the virility of the activist community on the internet. They are also a function of this hoarding of information by these national security [agencies]. The reason there was so much information to leak, the reason it could be leaked all at once is because they had hoarded so much. Why had they hoarded so much? Well, to gain extra power through knowledge. They wanted their own knowledge internally to be easily accessible to their people, to be searchable, so as much power could be extracted from it as possible. WikiLeaks attempts to redress the imbalance of power.

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"You Are A Convicted Fraudster"

BBC Video
Jeremy Paxman interviews Conrad Black, accuses him many times of being a crook.
The exchange turned heated after Paxman admonished Black for saying the charges of fraud and obstruction of justice, which landed him in jail for three years, were “rubbish” and that he never would have been convicted in Canada or the U.K.
Paxman reminded Black he had indeed been convicted in the U.S. of defrauding investors.
“Would you stop that bourgeois priggishness?” Black said. “You’re talking as if…”
“What bourgeois priggishness? You’re a criminal,” Paxman interrupted.
Posted October 23, 2012
 
“No I’m not a criminal,” Black continued, adding everything he did was legal and that the U.S. justice system is “a fraudulent, fascistic conveyor belt of the corrupt prison system” and that he was up against a “smear job from A to Z.”
When Paxman repeated “You are a criminal,” Black retorted with “You’re a fool. You’re just a gullible fool. You’re a priggish gullible British fool who takes seriously this ghastly American justice system that any sane English person knows is an outrage.”
In the second half of the interview, Black said he was proud of surviving his jail sentence without “becoming irrational” and “actually being able to endure a discussion like this without getting up and smashing your face in.”
Black returned to his home in Toronto following his release from a Florida prison.
He was born in Montreal, but gave up his Canadian citizenship in 2001 after being offered a peerage in Britain’s House of Lords. Then-prime minister Jean Chrétien blocked Black’s acceptance of the role while he held a Canadian passport.
Black has now indicated he plans to resume his seat in the House of Lords.
When asked by Paxman whether he would return to the House of Lords, he replied, “Well, why not,” adding there is no rule against those with convictions from doing so.

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Heather Brooke: My Battle to Expose Government Corruption

Filmed Jun 2012
Our leaders need to be held accountable, says journalist Heather Brooke. And she should know: Brooke uncovered the British Parliamentary financial expenses that led to a major political scandal in 2009. She urges us to ask our leaders questions through platforms like Freedom of Information requests — and to finally get some answers.
Heather Brooke campaigns for freedom of information, requesting one secret document at a time
Posted October 18, 2012
Heather Brooke is a freelance journalist and freedom of information campaigner. In 2005, she filed one of the very first requests under the UK’s Freedom of Information Act, asking to see the expense reports of Members of Parliament. The request was blocked, modified and refiled, and blocked again…but the years-long quest to view expense documents, and the subsequent investigation, led to 2009’s parliamentary expenses scandal. The scandal led to the first forced resignation of the Speaker of the House in 300 years.
Brooke worked as a political and crime reporter in the US before moving to Britain, where she writes for the national papers. She has published three books: Your Right to KnowThe Silent State, and 2011’s The Revolution Will Be Digitised. It was while researching her latest book that she obtained a leak from Wikileaks of the full batch of 251,287 US diplomatic cables and worked with The Guardian newspaper on an investigation.
“Her investigation not only exposed abuses of the political system, but also highlighted secrets of information control and censorship that lie at the heart of a UK government that has operated for years without sufficient public scrutiny.”
Aleks Krotoski, Observer, April 2010

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Kipling, the British Empire and the programming of New World Order

05.10.2012

 
By Nicolas Bonnal
Two hundred and fifty thousand men, ready to cut in on Russia’s right flank when she tries for India!

The man who would be a king

Kipling, the British Empire and the programming of New World Order. 48170.jpeg

The expression New World Order was of course not invented by George Bush senior, but by the famous sci-fi writer and British propagandist H.G. Wells. It emphasizes the necessity of unity, the abolition of borders, the one-tongued World (a lingua franca based upon English), the end of nations and the entropy of cultures. Establishing that, H.G. Wells, who had predicted in the thirties the wars against Germany and Japan, was merely the socialist heir of the British Empire. Acting like an accelerator of particles, a destructor of identities, the British Empire was the beginning of the End of History, and the promoter of the present NOW: a bureaucracy directed by invisible elites controls human flocks.
At the end of the nineteenth century, the British writers conquered our minds everywhere. There were the children’s classics, Mary Poppins, Peter Pan, Alice, the Book of the Jungle, and many more. There were too the spies, detective and adventure stories which we still read today. This is obviously due to the incomparable skills of British geniuses but also to a political intention: the programming of the World to come. Many of these writers like John Buchan (the 39 steps), Ridder Haggard (King Solomon’s mines), no to mention Kipling, were high civil servants in the British Empire, and their books served one purpose. Of course the first propagandist of the Anglo-American race was a Frenchman, Jules Verne, so popular nowadays thanks to that. Verne had decided for occult reasons that the Anglo-American race had to dominate the World, establish a New World Order, and eliminate all the enemies around the globe. He announced the dominated and humiliated France of today in his masterwork Around the World in 80 days.
But let’s see for instance the most famous books of Rudyard Kipling, the idealistic programmer of British-ruled world. In the man who would be a king, Kipling celebrates the Afghan dream of British Agenda. This is what said Dravot in the book, with a racist touch of course absent of the John Huston’s beautiful movie:
“‘I won’t make a Nation,’ says he. ‘I’ll make an Empire! These men aren’t niggers; they’re English! Look at their eyes- look at their mouths. Look at the way they stand up. They sit on chairs in their own houses. They’re the Lost Tribes, or something like it, and they’ve grown to be English.
This is the way we must understand the adventure-novels: they promote the Empire, and better if there is a bit of occultism: the masonry in the man who would be a king, and the Tibetan religion in Kim. For the Tibetan esoteric and magic agenda (it’s time to say that in reality Tibet was an absurdly barbaric and theocratic society) has been promoted during the whole past century for two reasons: the fight against Russia, then the fight against China! Kipling, again:
Two hundred and fifty thousand men, ready to cut in on Russia’s right flank when she tries for India!
The fight in this area is called The Great Game. In the nineteenth century, it was the conflict between the Bear and the whale, between Russia and England. We cans see it still last nowadays. The Great game is the core business, the holy shrine of Kim, the well-known Kipling’s novel:
‘Well is the Game called Great! I was four days a scullion at Quetta, waiting on the wife of the man whose book I stole. And that was part of the Great Game! From the South-God knows how far -came up the Mahratta, playing the Great Game in fear of his life. Now I shall go far and far into the North playing the Great Game. Truly, it runs like a shuttle throughout all Hind.
Of course, the bad guys are the Russians, quoted five or six times in the book, even, finally, there was, thanks to God and to Saint-George, never a war between the two powers. But Kipling discreetly acknowledges that the British Empire is not so popular in the subcontinent: read these strange lines written during the time of Tsar Nicolas II:
With millions of fellow-serfs, he had learned to look upon Russia as the great deliverer from the North.
The fate of Asian people was better in the Russian Empire. The misery and the famines of the British India were legendary, when they were not provoked by a not so efficient and benevolent bureaucracy. But Kipling recognizes the difficulty of being a poor white even in a rather hard and racist time. For in the New World Order there is no pity for the poor, may be he white. He writes of O’Hara, Kim’s Irish miserable father:
O’Hara fell to drink… till he came across the woman who took opium and learned the taste from her, and died as poor whites die in India.
What an allusion to drug control! It remembers us the infamous opium war and the first tale written by the young writer…
Kipling’s books recap the Anglo-Saxon romantic dreams: the road full of adventures; the conspiracies and the mind game; the children’s mind-programming and animalism; the initiated view of communities, seen from an abstract and Masonic point of view; the militarism. These ideals have been very well attacked by Chesterton in his book Heretics. For Chesterton, Kipling doesn’t like England; he just wants her stronger. Kipling, like the imperialist of this time and of today doesn’t care about his countrymen; he just cares about the Empire, his militarism and his pitiless objectives when it comes to the extermination of Boer’s families. Writes beautifully Chesterton, the English catholic, nationalistic and populist writer:
Thus Mr. Kipling does certainly know the world; he is a man of the world, with all the narrowness that belongs to those imprisoned in that planet… The globe-trotter lives in a smaller world than the peasant.
This is our shrinking world today: airports, car-parks, shopping mall everywhere. The purpose of imperialism is of course the destruction of nations, and the construction of an enormous system, a network of lines, laws, missions, controls and responsibilities. In the New World Order the networks have to replace the nations.
At the time of Kipling, we know that the South African diamond magnate Cecil Rhodes created after the destruction of the Boers (an agrarian society similar to Ukrainian or Russian Mir) a secret society whose goals were the prolongation of British Empire and its ideals.
It was Carroll Quigley, the Bill Clinton’s guru, who best explained this secret agenda:
What is not so widely known is that Rhodes in five previous wills left his fortune to form a secret society, which was to devote itself to the preservation and expansion of the British Empire. And what does not seem to be known to anyone is that this secret society was created by Rhodes and his principal trustee, Lord Milner, and continues to exist to this day.
Like today, and without any reference to any conspiracy theory, Quigley makes reference to the circles. We are well informed now about trilateral commission, Bilderbergs and other conspiracy societies promoting a new world order based on technology, networks and one world culture. Quigley alludes to the Illuminati’s circles.
I have tried to solve this difficulty by dividing the Group into two concentric circles: an inner core of intimate associates, who unquestionably knew that they were members of a group devoted to a common purpose; and an outer circle of a larger number, on whom the inner circle acted by personal persuasion, patronage distribution, and social pressure.
In a way, we can tell that Rhodes applied Kipling’s dreams, and that Kipling (and Buchan, and many others) illustrated the Round Table’s achievements. And this is what wanted the Round Table inspired by King Arthur and esoteric stuff: the New World Order and an Anglo-American condominium. Adds Quigley:
This is what wanted to build the Rhodes society: “the extension of British rule throughout the world, the perfecting of a system of emigration from the United Kingdom and of colonization by British subjects of all lands wherein the means of livelihood are attainable by energy, labour, and enterprise… the ultimate recovery of the United States of America as an integral part of a British Empire.
Three conclusions: the first is that the NOW is an old story, mainly British, which dates back in 1815 or even earlier, for the NOW is an “enlightened” (Illuminati) dream. The birth of NATO then the US-controlled EU, the decline of France and Germany would create a new kind of commonwealth, based -according to me- against the rights of the people and their nations, basically serving the interests (or caprices) of the global elite. The second conclusion is that literature, mass media and movie business is the continuation of the war by other means, to put it like Clausewitz. And nowadays these immaterial weapons are far more efficient than the guns.
And of course the third conclusion is that the Russian bear is still poisoning the mind of the New World Order!
Nicolas Bonnal

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7/7 Bombings: Conspiracy Road Trip

 BBC Video Documentary

It has been seven years since the London bombings of 7/7, one of the worst terrorist atrocities in recent British history. Unbelievably, some people question the official version of events and think the British establishment orchestrated its own 9/11-style attacks in order to firm up support for the war in Iraq.
Comedian Andrew Maxwell thinks this is nonsense and, in an effort to tackle the truth, is taking four such conspiracy-believers on a road trip from Leeds to London to recreate the exact journey the bombers took. Each of them believes a different conspiracy theory – from claiming the train times were falsified by the government to the idea that home-made bombs could never have caused such damage. They talk to eyewitnesses, families of victims, government officials and specialists to uncover the truth about what happened that day.
Posted October 02, 2012

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UK: Defence Minister: Clegg Axed Me Because I Won’t Support Attack on Iran

By Mark Nicol and Brendan Carlin

September 16, 2012 “Daily Mail” — A Liberal Democrat Defence Minister has claimed he was sacked to avoid a damaging Coalition split over a pre-emptive strike on Iran.

Former Armed Forces Minister Sir Nick Harvey told friends that he was fired in the reshuffle to allow Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to sign Britain up to an Israeli-US preventive strike to take out Iran’s nuclear installations.
Friends of Sir Nick – who was handed a knighthood just days later – say that he could have embarrassed the Lib Dem leader by being too critical of Israel’s actions if he had still been in the key Ministry of Defence post.
The row broke as sources confirmed that British intelligence agents are already deeply involved in attempts to discover Iran’s nuclear secrets.
It is also understood that the US has asked Britain to provide frigates to patrol the Straits of Hormuz, through which much of the world’s oil passes.
The sacking of the respected Minister took MPs and Army top brass by surprise.
Party sources have insisted the move – which has left the Ministry of Defence staffed entirely by Tories – was due to Mr Clegg’s decision to accept Lib Dem ministerial jobs in other, more ‘voter-friendly’ Government departments.
But when approached by The Mail on Sunday, Sir Nick confirmed he had considered his sacking was linked to mounting speculation of a pre-emptive strike on Iran and the expectation that UK forces would be drawn in afterwards. However, the MP went on to say he had since discounted that theory.
‘I have cast my mind over the issues that might have led the party leader to this decision,’ he added.
‘But having toyed with that one, I have decided it could not have played any part in it.’
However, one party insider said the idea made sense, adding: ‘With our record over opposing the Iraq War, no one in our party is going to congratulate Israel on launching a strike.
‘But Nick may have been particularly outspoken, especially in the immediate aftermath and when we’re bound to get caught in cleaning up the mess alongside the Americans.
‘He probably takes the view that we’d need to give a particularly strong condemnation of Israel to show the Arab world that we didn’t approve. However, that could have caused a problem for some of Clegg’s Tory Coalition colleagues.’
The reshuffle earlier this month came amid renewed speculation that Israel is planning to launch a unilateral attack to prevent Iran developing nuclear weapons.
Only last weekend, Israel’s defence minister Ehud Barak appeared to hint that he believed the US would join his country in the pre-emptive attack.
There were also reports that US President Barack Obama was poised to set out the ‘red lines’ that would trigger an American attack if Iran continued to press ahead with its nuclear programme.
MoD sources yesterday confirmed that contingency talks over the dispatch of Royal Navy minesweepers to the Gulf had already been held.
Last night, Professor Malcolm Chalmers, of the Royal United Services Institute, suggested that the Lib Dem reshuffle arrangements would not release the party from difficult defence decisions as part of the Coalition.
He said: ‘The United Kingdom is doing everything it can to keep a handle on what the Iranians are doing and we have got a lot of well-developed sources in the region – signals and human intelligence.
‘The Liberal Democrats cannot simply wash their hands of national security issues by removing their Ministers from the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Office.
‘As a member of the National Security Council, Nick Clegg is briefed on the latest intelligence on Iran and will continue to be so.
‘Clegg could adopt a position of agreeing to disagree, raising his objections to the Prime Minister but saying go ahead.’ 
Dr Anthony Cordesman, an expert on Iran at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC, said the US and Britain were sharing ‘a great deal of intelligence at this time’. 
Sources close to Mr Clegg last night denied the Iran situation had played a part in the decision to remove Sir Nick.

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