Monthly Archives: August 2007

Tired and exhausted

The effects pf “the surge” in Iraq on those charged with carrying out the will of the beleaguered Bush are dire. More and more are deserting according to a report in the Observer (11/8/2007).
War destroys people in more ways than the obvious. It also encourages opportunists to cash in on people’s misery. Another story tells of a Polish pizza parlour owner going into business b trading arms from Bosnia to Iraq. It seems as if a British based firm is involved. Just who is involved in the arms business is an interesting question (any British MPs operating in the Middle East?) but we know of one in high places who is. Dick Cheney is involved with Haliburton, just one of the big corporations with access to the power base who are making it big in the theatres of war.

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Solve the prison crisis by banging more up. Women first

The jails are full to bursting point with more women in particular going inside. From the evidence so far there can be few places imaginable that are less suitable for sending the most vulnerable desperate for help and support. Now magistates once more have the power to lock up women who refuse to submit to rehabilitation.
Prison services are increasingly privatised with demoralised staff on low pay. Some prisons appear out of control. Some aren’t, but having visited one such place the regime is so oppressive one wonders how any one involved in it, staff or prisoner, survive the experience. People still harbour a belief that prisons are holiday camps. Try it some time.

The pointlessness of being in Basra

It now looks as if the penny has dropped and that Gordon Brown is preparing the way for withdrawal of British troops from Iraq. An article in the Guardian (8/8/2007) makes it look as if the only reason fro being there is to fly the British flag somewhere in the country. That makes George Bush look less isolated than he is.
“Ken Pollack, a foreign affairs expert at the Washington-based Brookings Institution, who returned last month from an eight-day visit to Iraq in which he spoke to US officers and officials, predicted that US and Iraqi forces would have to go to the south to fill the vacuum with the same level of commitment they were showing with the surge.
He said Mr Bush would prefer the British to stay: ‘What Bush needs is for there to be a Union Jack flying somewhere in Iraq so he can trumpet that as full British participation, but that participation has been meaningless for some time.’
Mr Pollack, who wrote on his return that there were signs that the surge was working, was dismissive of the British contribution over the past 12 to 18 months. He said: “I am assuming the British will no longer be there. They are not there now. We have a British battle group holed up in Basra airport. I do not see what good that does except for people flying in and out.
‘It is the wild, wild west. Basra is out of control.’ “
Source Guardian 8/8/2007.

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The Birmingham Carnival

The sun shone and everyone was out to enjoy the Birmingham Carnival with its spectacular costumes, many designed by Professor Black who has worked on the event for many years now. We watched as the the floats and dancers passed by Chris Khamis and Brenda Addison’s house on Church Lane. There a stall had been set out to give prominence to the Palestinian struggle for freedom of oppression which carnival too represents,
This year the procession started in Handsworth Park instead of Holyhead Road which made the rout rather shorter than usual. Handsworth Park used to be the venue but after objections from the police the event moved to Perry Park.

What does the Middle East need most?

The one thing that they are not short of in the Middle East is armaments, but that’s what they are getting. Yet more arms courtesy of G.W. Bush and no doubt his sidekick Dick C. With unexploded ordnance lying across the Lebanon, much of it hastily put down when Israel knew it was withdrawing, people are being killed and injured still by existing dangerous explosive debris.
According to the piece below from Jewish Voice for Peace much equipment lies rusting since there is no one trained in its use. The argument that the provision of arms will bring stability anywhere seems to be well tried and tested. Where though has it been shown to have worked? Certainly not in this region. The problem is not only has Bush learned nothing – we don’t expect that – but there is no sign that anyone anywhere in the present or prospective U.S. administration has cottoned on. The latest bright spark, Barack Obama wants to go into Pakistan all guns blazing. And Gordon Brown goes on intoning the “special relationship” and “shared values”. Not my values Gordon.
And now we learn that the U.S. have mislaid 190,000 weapons in Iraq which are probably in the hands of insurgents. How did that happen?

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Stolen childhood

This story in today’s Guardian (4/8/2007) I found moving. I’m working with young people in Birmingham who are in care for one reason or another. It seems to me that the damage that can occur by a disrupted childhood cannot be underestimated. This is particularly so for those brought into a culturally alien environment.
The understanding which led to the removal of an Aborginal child in Australia was that he or she would have a better chance with someone from the dominant group, in this case a white European family. The comparison with the siblings who had remained with their family couldn’t be starker. Far from getting an advantage the child became confused and grew to become severely depressed as an adult spending time in prison and becoming dependent on alcohol. It is the experience that many children who have been in care have shared.

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Please read the small print

The following is an e-mail from the Troops Out Movement
Over the last few days the media has been blazoned with reports that British military operations in the north of Ireland have ended ….. but read the small print! Please also read article below from the North Belfast News
1) There are still to be 5000 British Troops in the 6 counties – “as a peacetime garrison as in other parts of Britain”. (There are 5500 British troops in Iraq)
2) When did the Brit government admit it was wartime in NI !!??
3) NI has the same population as Birmingham – we don’t have 5000 troops as a peace time garrison!!
4) This is from BBC News 25th June o7
The security service, MI5, is moving to a new base in County Down. The move to Palace Barracks, Holywood is in preparation for an expanded role in NI intelligence gathering. MI5 is due to take over the lead role in intelligence involving national security by the end of 2007. Until now, the PSNI Special Branch has had overall responsibility. Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde called the plan “a healthy split”. In future, while police handlers will continue to work with individual agents they will, in some cases, report back to MI5.
NB: Holywood is an Army Barracks. Ccould this have something to do with SF joining the police board?? Why do they still need “Agents”?
I don’t think we’ll be giving up yet !!
Mary Pearson – Secretary
Troops Out Movement ~ Campaigning for British Withdrawal from Ireland
PO Box 1032 Birmingham B12 8BZ Tel: 0121 773 8683 0r 0797 017 4167

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The good news is Cheney’s furious.

The good news in Baghdad isn’t that “the surge” is working, rather it’s that the government has gone into recess without passing the oil law, the “benchmark” that Washington is looking for before troops are withdrawn. Cheney, he’s furious.
As for those who have been involved in the conflict the news continues to be not so good with another report on the effects of the combat on peoples’ minds and lives.
Meanwhile the press were looking closely at Brown during his first meeting with the U.S. President noting every twitch, body language innuendo to see how the chemistry worked with George W. Problem is we now know who is running America. It was supposed to be significant that Gordon didn’t bump into Dick, supposedly recovering from an operation. If he (Cheney)’s the big player what was the point of meeting George anyway?

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Rough justice. What justice?

Jean Charles de Menezes, Mikey Powell and this week we learn of two people spending years in Guantanamo Bay. All apparently innocent, but the first two dead.
In the case of the first two not only were the killings bungled, what happened in the aftermath continues the sorry tale. Looks as if someone is now taking the rap over the Stockwell tube shooting.
I wondered if they’d got the right guy at the very beginning. What went on subsequently in attempts to cover tracks with Met Commander Ian Blair kept in blissful ignorance. We learn that the duty officer on watch outside de Menezes apartment was of having a pee at a crucial moment. What we’re learning now is that there are more victims who have suffered at the hands of the police while the investigation into the handling of the affair has been going on.

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