Once again a fascinating read with Merkel striking out against Mugabe with Brown out of sight.
Before his elevation Brown made a song and dance about Africa with a well-publicised tour. I have always thought this decision to say away a very grave mistake. Yes the British government does need to make moral statements – and more importantly act with dignity. No dodgy arms deals or in humane super prisons. This seems like a child taking away the ball. Problem is when it’s dealing with African states European leaders have very little moral standing anyway. The nineteenth century scramble for Africa as sealed in the Treaty of Berlin, and from then on there were no holds barred, Germany included. What Angela Merkel said might have been to the point, but actually it’s not that simple.
There was consternation when the question was asked “Where was Jesus born?” and a quarter of the sample didn’t know. I wonder, though, how many of the remaining 75% know that the birth place is surrounded by walls and barbed wire, its inhabitants imprisoned?
Israel continues to enjoy lavish support from a neo-conservative American government, and from the British government which licensed the sale of £22.5m worth of arms in 2005.
It has become clear that the UK will go to any lengths to trade arms and unnecessary defense systems anywhere it can. Cluster bombs are on the menu.
The circumstances around the death of a 20 year old woman at Durham jail make grim reading. She had severe mental health problems from the age of 13, had continually harmed herself and taken overdoses.
As the prison population continues onwards and upwards Jack Straw et al advocate warehouse prisons overlooked by Group 4. The number of women banged up had risen the most.The staff at Durham jail were more preoccupied with Sudoko than looking after the welfare of their vulnerable charges. Young unexperienced, doubtlessly underpaid, staff.
We carry on about inhumane regimes elsewhere, but where is the human concern in New Labour’s proposal for prison in the 21st century, which capitulate totally to the “hang ’em, flog ’em” brigade?
Liam Byrne has been around making fatuous comments about being British. More crap from New Labour. Our identity according to Byrne is measured on our liking for fish and chip and cups of tea. So if you’re “a terrorist” then supposedly you don’t like these things.
The facile equation between being “un-British” and involved in dangerous activities likely to cause harm was exposed ages ago. It is very well known that this led to the least suspected – those who had adopted a British way of life – were overlooked as suspects. The case of an off-duty police officer in Muslim dress was the cause of a comment by his colleague when he commented that “he looked like a terrorist”. Byrne appears oblivious to the problem.
This article (Guardian 7/12/2007) says it all about the present state of things. While Europe remains the biggest trading partner, China is coming up on the rails at an extremely rapid rate unburdened by a history of colonialism (though the way it’s going about things looks to Africans like a good imitation).
This report is a change from the interminable headlines which have led up to the summit (China has hosted several of these since the last European effort). The fact that Mugabe is there and Brown isn’t show what a distraction those headers were to the underlying state of things.
The prize for all is the huge wealth leading to a renewed “scramble for Africa”. How the indigenous population will get major benefits rather than crumbs is difficult to see. Land ownership is far from resolved even under independence. The fact is dependence has been built in. The one state to try to resolve this, Zimbabwe has come to grief in the process.
In Kenya, close by, a European landowner is in court accused of shooting Africans. This has brought to our attention that even after resistance movements “terrorism” and all European involvement was still tolerated with a wealthy African elite emerging. No answer for the people.
According to Al Jazeera (6/12/2007) the UK has no plans to discontinue cluster bombs, declared “immoral” by many. The UK got its last consignment from Israel. Given that they are still going off maiming civilians, including children in the Lebanon, they are a significant threat.
Anyway the government spokesperson has said that they have a mechanism for self-destruction, but there are counterclaims that this is not effective. We’re told that Israeli cluster bombs are more reliable than the US manufactured ones – that is in the sense they fail to go off when dropped. The US senate admitted the high failure rate and the dangers. However there needs to be a ban on the bloody lot of these evil devices.
When Channel 4 News announced that the government was proposing 3 “super prisons” to take 25,000 prisoners each I believed it, ‘cos it’s the kind of bloody stupid thing New Labour would do. No, it’s 2,500 each with a projected prison total exceeding 100,000 before long. Jack Straw was full of humanitarian warmth and kindness about it all. The prisons would be humanitarian (not at all like we’ve got now then) and inmates will be lovingly and tenderly cared for. But it’s humanitarian for those outside to since there won’t be anybody left outside to mug them. See? Jack you’re amazing, just see how far you’ve come since you were President of the NUS. How much further can you go?
Who else is lurking in the background? Having just written the above I look at the Independent-on-line. Amazing discovery. Where did the “super prison” idea come from? David Blunkett and South Afrixa, I’ll be taking a closer look at that haven. Did he visit Robben Island? Is that on the agenda? Nothing would surprise me when this lot’s let loose running the country. Serially discredited they creep back again and again. No one can tell them anything! New Labour, New Conservative. Blunkett a socialist? What happened?
The Real Prison Numbers Scandal. Independent 6/12/2007
Blunkett and the Mission to South Africa
In 2004 it looked like Bethlehem was in for a long hard struggle. The pine forest on the hillside overlooking Bethlehem had been cleared and replaced by settlements for aliens from distant lands. It looked then like Bethlehem was being turned into a museum, somewhere for tourists from hotels on that hill to go, devoid of inhabitants. The Church of the Nativity remains full of Israeli bullet holes, including in age-old murals. Yasser Arafat’s plea to us was “you must restore the Church”. It seemed a sincere heartfelt wish which he saw as a priority.
This is a report for 2007 amd if you look back it gets worse – far worse year on year. And this is not Gaza run by Hamas.
Bethlehem Campaign 2007
“Israel is strangling Bethlehem – Tourists are told “go at your own risk”; and no Israelis are allowed to come to Bethlehem, so there is total harassment, but Bethlehem depends on tourism. The noose is getting tighter around Bethlehem and Bethlehem is becoming more and more isolated. Over 95% of its inhabitants are not able to visit Jerusalem or parts of Israel. These people have difficulty visiting other cities in the West Bank and cannot travel to Gaza. So the Palestinians are being separated from themselves”.
Bishara Awad – Principle of Bethlehem Bible College
This year again we would like to ask you to support the people of Bethlehem trapped behind the apartheid wall. The economic outlook is worsening and access to basic needs is getting increasingly difficult. Please use the information below to campaign and spread the word in the period leading up to Christmas. Everybody who will be celebrating this Christmas needs to be reminded of the ongoing Israeli occupation and the apartheid system imposed on the Palestinians in the Holy Land.
I decided to go against feelings I needed to be getting a leaflet together for local campaigning. It meant getting up early enough to join the coach leaving central Birmingham at 7.00am. I saw there was a train into Moor Street Station, right next to the rendezvous, at 6.38 from my local station, The Hawthornes (right behind the West Bromwich Stadium.). Amazingly the train was exactly on time. How long can we expect this to continue now the the new franchise, London Midland, has taken over from Central Trains?
So onto Westminster’s Central Hall, the venue for many a Sunday School trip from Grange Park Methodist Church in Enfield, North London when I was little.
Today there were delegates from across the globe, together with familiar faces in the fight against the globalisation which is bringing war in its wake. Tony Benn began low key since he, like us, wanted to hear other people’s experiences. Ibraham Mousawi, editor of al-Intiqab did not disappoint. He made it clear how vilified groups like Hezbollah were movements of people, continually misrepresented by media and politicians. Their crime was to stand up against the military might of the Israeli army invading the Lebanon. He made it clear that in his view no religion was worth supporting if it wasn’t first and foremost humanitarian. Hassan Juma of the Iraqi Oil Workers’ Union put very clearly the situation where his members could not collectively protect their interests, or those of the Iraqi people, against the international onslaught which was taking away their resources. George Galloway made a vigorous speech pressing the continuing dangers of invading Iran.
See videos of speeches.