Thursday, 17 January 2019

One-Third of UK Arms Sales Go to States on Human Rights Watchlist

Written by Karen McVeigh
Figures show that since 2008 Britain has sold weaponry worth £12bn to countries about which government has serious concerns
“Some campaigners expressed concern over the doubling of licence approvals to countries with human rights abuses since the Brexit referendum in 2016.”

Nearly a third of arms exports authorised by Britain over the past decade were to nations identified by the government as among the worst for human rights, new figures reveal.
Military arms deals worth an estimated £39bn were approved between 2008 and 2017, £12bn of which went to states included on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office human rights “priority countries” list, according to analysis by Action on Armed Violence.
Over that period, the only country on the 30-strong watchlist to which Britain did not approve arms export deals was North Korea.
The analysis of the figures, collated by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade using export control data from the Department for International Trade, shows a clear upward trend in arms sales approved to watchlist countries, although individual years vary. The values are likely to be a “conservative estimate”, CAAT said, due to an opaque systemof “open” licences that allow an unlimited number of consignments over a fixed period.
The DIT confirmed open licences are included among export licence figures, but has denied they are subject to less scrutiny.
The data shows a record number of arms export licences to nations on the watchlist in 2017, almost double the previous year. While 2018 was not included in the study, the British deal to supply 48 Eurofighter Typhoons to Saudi Arabia, reported earlier this year, is worth £5bn alone, a value that dwarfs previous agreements.
In 2017, there were 855 military licence approvals for Saudi, worth £1.3bn, compared with 331, worth £680m, the previous year.
In total, 5,782 export licences for military items in countries of concern were approved last year, worth £1.5bn, up from 2,477, worth £820m, in 2016.
Some campaigners expressed concern over the doubling of licence approvals to countries with human rights abuses since the Brexit referendum in 2016.
In July, MPs from the committee on arms export control called on the government to adopt a default position of blocking arms sales to countries accused of abuses.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Colombia, all countries on the FCO watchlist, were among the DTI’s “core markets” for defence and security opportunities for 2017-18.
Britain is Saudi Arabia’s second largest arms dealer after the US, providing military exports worth £10.3bn over the past decade despite continued condemnation of the kingdom’s use of British weaponry in its bombing of Yemen. UN agencies allege that the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen has violated international humanitarian standards, including widespread and systematic attacks on civilian targets.
International pressure to halt arms to Riyadh has intensified following the death of Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post columnist, at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October. Last month, Denmark and Finland joined Germany in halting future arms sales to the kingdom, although their arms exports are relatively small.
British arms exports were also approved to many countries with weapon sales restrictions imposed by the UN, the EU or both. These include China, Egypt, Iraq, Libya and Russia.
The DIT said it respects both EU and UN arms embargoes, but that it may send items not defined as weaponry to peacekeepers in such countries.
Lloyd Russell-Moyle, a member of the Commons committee on arms exports control and the Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown, said: “Approving sales of powerful surveillance equipment to regimes that hunt and kill journalists, or planes and bombs to dictators who use them on schools and hospitals, is a clear-cut violation of UK arms export control law. The government contempt for the law has inevitably resulted in UK arms exports enabling human rights abuses worldwide.”
Iain Overton, of Action on Armed Violence, said: “There needs to be more attention focused on analysis of human rights reports before we sell arms to these countries. Even if there was now to be an arms embargo for Saudi Arabia, we have funded Saudi arsenals. There is no notion of pre-planning or forewarning.”
Andrew Smith, of CAAT, called on the prime minister to put human rights ahead of arms sales. There is “little control of how these weapons will be used or who they will be used against. Right now, UK arms are playing a central role in the Saudi-led destruction of Yemen. The arms sales that are being promoted today could be used to fuel atrocities for years to come.
“The policy of arming dictatorships and pouring weapons into warzones has been pursued by governments of all political colours. It is time for Theresa May and her colleagues to end the hypocrisy and finally put human rights ahead of arms sales.”
A DIT spokesman said:“The UK operates one of the most robust export control regimes in the world. Risks around human rights abuses are a key part of our export licensing assessment, which also takes into account our obligations under the Arms Trade Treaty and other relevant rules of international law.”
Source: The Guardian

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

The moral travesty of Israel seeking Arab, Iranian money for its alleged Nakba

The game is afoot. Israel, believe it or not, is demanding that seven Arab countries and Iran pay $250 billion as compensation for what it claims was the forceful exodus of Jews from Arab countries during the late 1940s.
The events that Israel is citing allegedly occurred at a time when Zionist Jewish militias were actively uprooting nearly one million Palestinian Arabs and systematically destroying their homes, villages and towns throughout Palestine.
The Israeli announcement, which reportedly followed “18 months of secret research” conducted by the Israeli government’s Ministry of Social Equality, should not be filed under the ever-expanding folder of shameless Israeli misrepresentations of history.
It is part of a calculated effort by the Israeli government, and namely by Minister Gila Gamliel, to create a counter-narrative to the rightful demand for the ‘Right of Return’ for Palestinian refugees ethnically cleansed by Jewish militias between 1947-1948.
But there is a reason behind the Israeli urgency to reveal such questionable research: the relentless US-Israeli attempt in the last two years to dismiss the rights of Palestinian refugee rights, to question their numbers and to marginalize their grievances. It is all part and parcel of the ongoing plot disguised as the ‘Deal of the Century’, with the clear aim of removing from the table all major issues that are central to the Palestinian struggle for freedom.
“The time has come to correct the historic injustice of the pogroms (against Jews) in seven Arab countries and Iran, and to restore, to hundreds of thousands of Jews who lost their property, what is rightfully theirs,” said Gamliel.
The language – “.. to correct the historic injustice” – is no different from language used by Palestinians who have for 70 years and counting been demanding the restoration of their rights per United Nations Resolution 194.
The deliberate conflating between the Palestinian narrative and the Zionist narrative is aimed at creating parallels, with the hope that a future political agreement would resolve to having both grievances cancel each other out.
Contrary to what Israeli historians want us to believe, there was no mass exodusof Jews from Arab countries and Iran, but rather a massive campaign orchestrated by Zionist leaders at the time to replace the Palestine Arab population with Jewish immigrants from all over the world. The ways through which such a mission was achieved often involved violent Zionist plots – especially in Iraq.
In fact, the call on Jews to gather in Israel from all corners of the world remains the rally cry for Israeli leaders and their Christian Evangelical supporters – the former wants to ensure a Jewish majority in the state, while the latter is seeking to fulfill a biblical condition for their long-awaited Armageddon.
To hold Arabs and Iran responsible for this bizarre and irresponsible behavior is a transgression on the true history in which neither Gamliel nor her ministry are interested.
On the other hand, and unlike what Israeli military historians often claim, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1947- 48 (and the subsequent purges of the native population that followed in 1967) was a premeditated act of ethnic cleansing and genocide. It has been part of a long-drawn and carefully calculated campaign that, from the very start, served as the main strategy at the heart of the Zionist movement’s ‘vision’ for the Palestinian people.
“We must expel the Arabs and take their place,” wrote Israel’s founder, military leader and first prime minister, David Ben Gurion in a letter to his son, Amos in October 5, 1937. That was over a decade before Plan D – which saw the destruction of the Palestinian homeland at the hands of Ben Gurion’s militias – went into effect.
Palestine “contains vast colonization potential,” he also wrote, “which the Arabs neither need nor are qualified to exploit.”
This clear declaration of a colonial project in Palestine, communicated with the same kind of unmistakable racist insinuations and language that accompanied all western colonial experiences throughout the centuries was not unique to Ben Gurion. He was merely paraphrasing what was, by then, understood to be the crux of the Zionist enterprise in Palestine at the time.
As Palestinian professor Nur Masalha concluded in his book, the ‘Expulsion of the Palestinians’, the idea of the ‘transfer’ – the Zionist term for “ethnic cleansing’ of the Palestinian people – was, and remains, fundamental in the realization of Zionist ambitions in Palestine.
Palestinian Arab “villages inside the Jewish state that resist ‘should be destroyed .. and their inhabitants expelled beyond the borders of the Jewish state,” Masalha wrote quoting the ‘History of the Haganah’ by Yehuda Slutsky. .
What this meant in practice, as delineated by Palestinian historian, Walid Khalidi was the joint targeting by various Jewish militias to systematically attack all population centers in Palestine, without exception.
“By the end of April (1948), the combined Haganah-Irgun offensive had completely encircled (the Palestinian city of) Jaffa, forcing most of the remaining civilians to flee by sea to Gaza or Egypt; many drowned in the process, ” Khalidi wrote in ‘Before Their Diaspora’.
This tragedy has eventually grown to affect all Palestinians, everywhere within the borders of their historic homeland. Tens of thousands of refugees joined up with hundreds of thousands more at various dusty trails throughout the country, growing in numbers as they walked further, to finally pitch their tents in areas that, then were meant to be ‘temporary’ refugee encampments. Alas, these became the Palestinian refugee camps of today, starting some 70 years ago.
None of this was accidental. The determination of the early Zionists to establish a ‘national home’ for Jews at the expense of the country’s Palestinian Arab nation was communicated, openly, clearly and repeatedly throughout the formation of early Zionist thoughts, and the translation of those well-articulated ideas into physical reality.
70 years have passed since the Nakba’ – the ‘Catastrophe’ of 1948 – and neither Israel took responsibility for its action, nor Palestinian refugees received any measure of justice, however small or symbolic.
For Israel to be seeking compensation from Arab countries and Iran is a moral travesty, especially as Palestinians refugees continue to languish in refugee camps across Palestine and the Middle East.
Yes, indeed “the time has come to correct the historic injustice,” not of Israel’s alleged ‘pogroms’ carried out by Arabs and Iranians, but the real and most tragic destruction of Palestine and its people.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

لا استراتيجية مغايرة لترامب بل حملة متصاعدة ضدّ إيران لحماية «إسرائيل»

يناير 14, 2019

د. عصام نعمان

من القاهرة أطلق مايك بومبيو، نيابةً عن دونالد ترامب، حملةً بمحاور متعدّدة ضدّ خصوم الولايات المتحدة في غرب آسيا، ولا سيما في المشرق العربي. بومبيو تقصّد ان يقتصر خطابه على خطوط عريضة لعلمه أنّ رئيسه المتقلّب المزاج لن يستقرّ على رأي وأنّ ما سيقوله هو أو غيره اليوم قد يقول ترامب عكسه غداً.

اللافت في خطاب وزير الخارجية الأميركي حرصه على دحض الخطاب الذي كان ألقاه باراك أوباما في العاصمة نفسها قبل عشر سنوات. فقد وصف الرئيس الأميركي الأسبق بالضعف في تصدّيه لما أسماه «الخطر الإيراني الإقليمي» ما أدّى الى تقوية النظام الإسلامي في طهران وتشجيعه على «بسط نفوذه من اليمن الى العراق، والى سورية، وأبعد من ذلك الى لبنان».

بومبيو لم يركّز حملته على إيران فحسب، بل تناول فيها ايضاً حزب الله اللبناني، مؤكداً انّ واشنطن سوف تصعّد ضغوطها عليه بقوله: «في لبنان، ما زال لحزب الله وجود كبير، لكننا لن نقبل هذا الوضع الراهن لأنّ عقوباتنا الشديدة ضدّ إيران موجّهة ايضاً ضدّ هذا التنظيم الإرهابي وقادته، بمن فيهم نجل حسن نصرالله زعيم حزب الله». الى ذلك، ادّعى بومبيو انّ «ميل أميركا الى التمنيات جعلنا نتجاهل كيف قام حزب الله بتجميع ترسانة ضخمة مؤلفة من نحو 130 الف صاروخ وتخزين الأسلحة ونشرها في البلدات والقرى اللبنانية … هذه الترسانة موجّهة مباشرةً ضدّ حليفتنا «إسرائيل». فوق ذلك، تعهّد بومبيو بأن تواصل حكومته تعقّب الإرهابيين الذين يسعون الى التمدّد في ليبيا واليمن … ونحن ندعم بقوة جهود «إسرائيل» لمنع طهران من تحويل سورية الى لبنان آخر».

هذه هي، إذاً، محاور حملة بومبيو الترامبية بخطوطها العريضة، حتى إشعار آخر: تشديدُ الضغوط والعقوبات على إيران وحلفائها وحمايةُ «إسرائيل» ودعمها بسخاء ومواجهة التنظيمات الإرهابية ومَن تعتبرهم الولايات المتحدة بمثابة تنظيمات شبيهة او رديفة في سورية ولبنان واليمن.

لا تغيير لافتاً في حملة بومبيو الترامبية، لا من حيث الغايات ولا الوسائل. «إسرائيل» كانت دائماً، وما زالت، الحليفة الرئيسة للولايات المتحدة الجديرة بالرعاية والحماية في وجه العرب المعادين لها وإيران كانت دائماً، وما زالت، محور عداءٍ أميركي مركّزاً ومتواصلاً منذ الثورة التي أزاحت الشاه، حليف واشنطن المخلص، وأوصلت نقيضه الإمام الخميني وأنصاره إلى السلطة فيما سورية وتنظيمات المقاومة اللبنانية والفلسطينية واليمنية كانت دائماً، وما زالت، موضوع ملاحقة دائمة بعداءٍ شديد من جانب أميركا و«إسرائيل» شمل أيضاً الحكومات والقوى المناهضة لهما في المنطقة.

لعلّ الأمر الوحيد المغاير الذي لم يأتِ بومبيو على ذكره هو تعاون الولايات المتحدة الضمني والعلني مع تنظيمات إرهابية ناشطة في سورية ولبنان والعراق وسيناء المصرية واليمن ضدّ الحكومات والقوى المعادية لـِ «إسرائيل» ولحاميتها أميركا. ذلك أنّ واشنطن بادرت خلال اضطرابات ما يسمّى «الربيع العربي» الى توظيف عشرات التنظيمات الإرهابية الإسلاموية في خدمة أغراضها العدوانية ضدّ حكومات وقوى تحررية في أقطار عربية عدّة.

لا بومبيو، ولا من قبله رئيسه ترامب، هدّد باستعمال مزيدٍ من العنف المباشر ضدّ الدول والتنظيمات المعادية للولايات المتحدة و«إسرائيل» في المنطقة. هذا لا يعني بطبيعة الحال مهادنتها. بالعكس، أميركا ستثابر، شأنها اليوم، في اعتماد «الحرب الناعمة» المتصاعدة ضدّ أعدائها وأعداء الكيان الصهيوني. الحرب الناعمة تنطوي على فصول ساخنة تتعهّد واشنطن جانبها «المريح» المتمثل باستعمال سلاح الجو والحروب الأهلية التي يتولاها غيرها من وكلاء وتنظيمات إرهابية وحركات فئوية تتقن فن إثارة الفتن الطائفية، كما تقوم أميركا بفرض عقوبات اقتصادية وحروب تجارية ضدّ خصومها ومنافسيها.

في كلّ مراحل وجوانب الحرب الناعمة، لا دور لجنود أميركيين على الأرض. ذلك يجنّب الولايات المتحدة خسائر بشرية فادحة لطالما شكت منها وأرهقتها في حروب كوريا وفيتنام وأفغانستان والعراق ما حملها على «اختراع» الحرب الناعمة لتتفادى خسائر بشرية وتوفّر على نفسها سخط وتقريع شديدين من أهالي الجنود ونكسات سياسية في الداخل.

عامل آخر يدفع ترامب الى تفادي التدخل بقوات برية والتعرّض تالياً الى خسائر بشرية هو تصاعد المعارضة الداخلية ضدّه نتيجةَ سلوكه مسالك سياسية واقتصادية غريبة وخطيرة ما أقلق الرأي العام الأميركي وضاعف تحفظه وحذره من مغامراته السياسية والأمنية، ومعارضة إرسال قوات برية الى مناطق النزاع.

لكلّ هذه الأسباب والعوامل لن يتأتّى عن جولة بومبيو، وقبله مستشار الأمن القومي جون بولتون، ايّ فصول ساخنة تتعدّى تلك المعمول بها حالياً في ميادين الصراع في سورية والعراق وفلسطين واليمن وأفغانستان. فقد باشرت إدارة ترامب سحب قواتها ومعداتها العسكرية من سورية، في إطار تواطؤ تحت الطاولة مع تركيا يرمي الى إحلال قوات تركية محلّ قواتها المنسحبة. كلّ ذلك لتفادي حلول قوات سورية محلها ما يهدّد جهود أميركا، ومن ورائها «إسرائيل»، لتفكيك سورية وتقسيمها.

باختصار، ستثابر إدارة ترامب في اعتماد مختلف أشكال الحرب الناعمة بغية مشاغلة وإضعاف أعداء أميركا و«إسرائيل» في كلّ مكان، ولا سيما في سورية ولبنان والعراق واليمن. وعليه، يمكن اعتبار ما يحدث الآن، بالتواطؤ مع تركيا أو من دونه، في إدلب وغرب حلب وشرق الفرات، وما يحدث على طول حدود لبنان مع فلسطين المحتلة في سياق عملية «درع شمالي» وسواها، وما يحدث على حدود قطاع غزة وفي محيطه من مناوشات وعمليات عدوانية دورية، وما يحدث في العراق بعد سحب بعض القوات الأميركية من سورية وتركيزها في قاعدة عين الأسد في محافظة الأنبار العراقية، وما يحدث في اليمن من مجازر ومآسٍ يقوم بها حلفاء أميركا… أجل، يمكن اعتبار كلّ هذه الاعتداءات والاشتباكات والمناوشات تجليات ميدانية للحملة الصهيوأميركية المتجدّدة التي يعتمدها ساكن البيت الأبيض في غمرة حاله المزاجية الراهنة والمرشحة دائماً الى صعودٍ وهبوط.

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River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Russian-Kurdish Negotiations in Moscow: Turkey Has Defined Its Options and Washington Is Trying to Gain Time

By Elijah. J. Magnier
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Secret negotiations are ongoing in Moscow and Damascus between representatives of the Syrian Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Russian officials concerning the fate of Kurdish militants in Syria. The Kurdish delegation is hoping that Russia – and not the US – will adopt the role of guarantor of their safety and is trying to gain a few more concessions to reduce their losses when the Syrian government forces regains complete control of al-Hasaka province in Northeast Syria.
This will happen only when the US establishment finally decides to pull out its last soldier and ends its occupation of al-Hasaka. PKK representatives have offered a “road map” meant to include promises of protection, the sharing of wealth and the security of borders with Turkey. The US is trying to offload responsibility for the Kurds’s safety onto Turkey, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has rebuffed US requests to offer this kind of protection to his PKK enemies in Syria. Erdogan is evidently putting his strategic-commercial alliance with Russia ahead of his turbulent NATO alliance with the USA.
The Kurdish militant group known variously as YPG, the People’s Protection Units, and the PKK (Syrian branch) is convinced the time has come to climb off the US’s shoulders onto Russian ones since Washington has decided to drop them off the Turkish cliff. Nevertheless, Syrian officials are also determined to give no concessions to the Kurds notwithstanding the Russian mediation with Damascus.
The militant Kurds of Syria have only now begun to realise how vulnerable their position is: they are weaker than ever due to the US decision to withdraw and the naïve requests – formulated by both US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton – for Ankara to offer protection to its sworn enemies. It looks like officials in Washington have no plans for the Kurds. Indeed, while the US is expressing concern about the Kurds it would like somebody else to look after them. The US shows little appreciation for the sacrifices made by YPG militants – who have acted as human shields for the American forces during their time in al-Hasaka province in northeast Syria – and the thousands of casualties they have suffered. Even worse, Trump laughed about Kurdish fighting capabilities by sarcastically saying the Kurds “fight better when we fight with them and when we send 30 F-18’s in front of them”.
So the Kurds have finally learned their lesson and would like to be part of the Syrian state. They have seen the world watching – impotently, unwilling to intervene against Turkey – the exodus of hundreds of thousands from Afrin. They have heard Trump’s decision to abandon them. With his departure, their dream of Rojava, the long-awaited Kurdish state, evaporates.
For Damascus, had Turkey occupied the north of Syria, it would have been possible to exert diplomatic and international leverage on Ankara to force its departure from Syrian territory. At the same time, it would have been almost impossible for the Syrian government to force an early departure of the US forces had these established themselves in Afrin or al-Hasaka, offering a platform for Israel to use the Levant by benefitting from American infrastructure in the area.
President Bashar al-Assad has said to the Russian negotiators that “Syria belongs to all Syrians and the Kurds are part of Syria. Therefore they should not enjoy more or fewer rights than any other citizens. They will be given identities but are not entitled to any special concessions”. Moreover, Assad has agreed not to consider the Kurds as traitors despite their protection of the US occupation forces. He has insisted that the only force operating on the national territory be the one belonging to the Syrian army under the control of the central government.
The Kurds welcomed the Syrian army in the area still under their control. Turkey has accepted to keep its forces and those of its Syrian proxies away from Manbij as long as the Kurdish militants are disarmed. Russia proposed and obtained the withdrawal of the Kurdish forces, re-establishing its observation posts, patrolling west of Manbij. Erdogan still hopes to reach a deal over North Syria during his forthcoming meeting with President Putin, expected sometime in January. The presence of thousands of Syrian jihadists and armed proxies at the gates of Manbij is further weakening the Kurdish negotiation position. They have no other place to seek refuge but in Damascus.
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President Erdogan has managed to keep a balance between his relationships with Moscow and Washington even if his choices in Syria seem already made. Russia offers a stable durable and equal economic and strategic partnership with Turkey whereas the US has no consistent friends at all, only common interests. Moreover, the US forces have armed the Kurdish militants, the enemies of Turkey, where Russia will agree to disarm them and put an end to their military power. Trump’s apparent willingness to revoke any deal (the Iranian nuclear agreement) or give up on his allies (the Kurds) is helping to push Turkey into Russia’s arms.
If the US agrees to donate the weapons it has equipped the Kurds with, this arsenal will happily end up in the Syrian army inventory. If not, the Kurds will be vulnerable to the 1500 remaining ISIS fighters on the Euphrates river, particularly if the US disarms the Kurds and pulls out before the arrival of the Syrian army. The forces of Damascus and their allies have eliminated tens of thousands of ISIS militants in various cities, villages and in the Syrian steppe, and this without the benefit of 30 US F-18’s. The end of ISIS control of Syrian territory will be a game-changer in the Levant even if its “hit and run” insurgency will not disappear so easily. The dream of establishing an “Islamic State” in the Levant and Mesopotamia is, like “Rojava”, an unachievable and abandoned objective.
The US says it will remain around the al-Tanf crossing between Iraq and Syria. The establishment’s excuse for this presence has been to stop the Tehran-Baghdad-Damascus-Beirut bridge. Iran has been supplying Syria with weapons for over seven years of intensive multi-front continuous war. It has supplied Hezbollah with weapons and finance from 1982 until now. The US presence may disturb a possible railway or land road between Iran and Lebanon but cannot disrupt the established supply of weapons. The cost of air or sea shipment is indeed higher but so too are the costs of a prolonged US presence at al-Tanf, in the middle of the Syrian-Iraqi desert. The US is trying to gain time in Syria: in fact it is just wasting it.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

The David Kelly Black Hole

By Alison Broinowski
In July 2003, five months after the US and its allies invaded Iraq, Dr David Kelly CMG was found dead in woods near his Oxfordshire home. The circumstances did not suggest suicide, although some of the British biological weapons expert’s friends and family knew he had differences with his employer, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) over his retirement salary. After his comments to journalists about the Blair government’s use of a ‘dodgy dossier’ to justify invading Iraq were reported by the BBC, Kelly was subjected to aggressive questioning by the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee. In an interview that could have been scripted from Kafka’s The Trial, Kelly (like Josef K) was not told what evidence they had, or what he was charged with. But K’s grilling did not take place in the mother of parliaments, as Kelly’s did.
Lord Hutton was commissioned by Blair to inquire into Kelly’s death and in January 2004 found it was suicide. He did not call the Thames Valley constables to appear, though they had been at the scene, and he sealed the medical evidence for 70 years. That made it impossible for what Kelly knew from his experience as a weapons inspector in Iraq to lead to Blair being indicted for war crimes.  Arrangements were made by the Prime Minister’s friend from university, Charles Falconer, who gave the inquiry no powers to compel witness, and no requirement to take evidence under oath, but complete control over what was made public. Blair later advised another friend Rebekah Brooks, whose News of the World was accused in 2011 of phone hacking, to ‘publish a Hutton-style report’ which the former PM told her would ‘clear you’, and deliver a similarly acceptable result (Geoffrey Wheatcroft, ‘How the Murdoch gang got away’, New York Review of Books, 8 January 2015: 32-3).
But Tom Mangold, a former BBC journalist, believed it was suicide, arguing that Kelly, when cornered by the Committee, lied about what he had said to two journalists and weakly claimed not to have been the BBC’s Andrew Gilligan’s main source for the story about the ‘sexed-up’ dossier (Rod Barton, The Weapons Detective, Melbourne: Black Inc 2006. Tom Mangold, ‘Shame made David Kelly kill himself’, Independent Online, 22 August 2010).
In 2006 Norman Baker, a Lib-Dem. MP, took up the case, concluding that Kelly’s death was notsuicide. Data was inexplicably wiped from the hard drive of Baker’s computer in July 2006, but he wrote The Strange Death of Dr David Kelly the following year. An ex-Army medical officer, Dr Stephen Frost, also waged a long campaign for a full investigation of Kelly’s death, as did journalist Miles Goslett, who recently published An Inconvenient Death: How the establishment covered up the David Kelly affair (Daily Mail Australia, 14 January 2019). None of them, predictably, has succeeded in getting anyone to open the trapdoor of the black hole where the truth lies.
Dr Kelly went out for his usual mid-afternoon walk on 17 July 2003 and failed to return. Eighteen hours later, volunteers with a search dog succeeded where a heat-seeking helicopter had failed, in finding his body. After their report to local police, it was at least 25 minutes before two Thames Valley Constables came to take charge, with two paramedics. In the meantime, the volunteers met three other policemen, led by Detective Constable Graham Coe, near the scene. Coe later claimed he had only one companion, although five witnesses saw two. The paramedics saw very little blood, much less than would be expected from a severed artery, but a forensic pathologist described seeing scratches and bruises and copious quantities of blood, as did a forensic biologist. The volunteers saw the body propped against a tree, with a cut in the left wrist, and no objects on the ground. When the Thames Valley police arrived they saw the body on its back, a distance from the tree, with a knife (50 years old, and blunt), a watch and a water bottle near it. No fingerprints were found on them.
Evidence from the autopsy showed a knife wound whose direction and location suggested it almost certainly was not self-inflicted. The forensic report found 29 co-proaxamol painkillers in Kelly’s system, but the autopsy revealed only one fifth of one such tablet, which he was prescribed for a heart condition. A letter to The Times from medical specialists argued that it was impossible for Kelly to have died by cutting the ulnar artery and bleeding to death in the way Hutton described (Jim Rarey, ‘The Murder of David Kelly,’ The Journal of History, Winter 2004). Their doubts were shared by a plastic surgeon (a relative of Kelly’s) and a vascular surgeon whom she consulted after the inquiry.
Without inquiring into these or other anomalies, such as the failure to check Kelly’s mobile phone records, the Oxford Coroner obligingly adjourned his inquest when the Hutton inquiry pre-empted it. The Coroner later reviewed the evidence with the Lord Chancellor and concluded in March 2004 there was no need to reopen the inquest (Brian Wheeler, BBC News, ‘MP investigates Dr Kelly’s death’, 19 May 2006).
Some strange events appeared to anticipate Kelly’s death, on which silence later fell or was imposed. In the Thames Valley Police Tactical Support Major Incident Policy Book a ‘not for release’ document for Operation Mason was opened at ‘1430 17.07.03,’ up to an hour before Kelly went out, and closed at ‘930 18.07.03,’ about the time when Coe and his men left the scene. Kelly’s records disappeared from his dentist’s room on 17 July, before his body was officially located. The day before his death, Kelly told his confidante Judith Miller, the New York journalist, about ‘dark actors playing games’. Kelly had earlier expressed fear that he was on a hit-list to David Brouder, a former British Ambassador to Prague, saying he could be ‘found dead in the woods’. He told Brouder in Geneva that the PM’s claim that Iraq could launch WMD within 45 minutes was false, and said Blair’s PR adviser Alistair Campbell wanted a strongly-worded dossier supporting it. A barrister, Michael Shipton, reported a British intelligence contact telling him Kelly had been ‘taken down’ (Marcus Lowth, ‘Maybe the suicide of Dr David Kelly should face more scrutiny,’ 2 April 2018).
Kelly knew about much more than WMD. As a leading biological weapons expert, he transferred in 1984 from the Institute of Virology in Oxford to the Ministry of Defence at its Porton Down facility near Salisbury. After Vladimir Pasechnik defected to the UK in 1989 he revealed to Kelly and others that the USSR maintained a bioweapons program in violation of the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (in force 1975), producing ‘microbial agents, bacterial agents and viral agents, particularly, plague and smallpox, which are transmissible from man to man, and could be launched against large civil populations’ (Jim Rarey, ‘The Murder of David Kelly,’ The Journal of History, Winter 2004. Christopher Davis,’ Frontline,’ PBS.). Kelly travelled several times to Russia and Iraq to inspect bioweapons, which in 1997 were banned by the Chemical Weapons Convention. He went earlier to South Africa where the CIA collaborated with an apartheid-era program to develop genetically-altered diseases which would affect only designated groups, such as black people, as well as materials for use in assassinating individuals. Two scientists from Porton Down were transferred to that program.
This suggests there is much more in the black hole about Kelly, and the Skripals too. Some people at Porton Down may know what it is, but if they want to keep their jobs and their lives, they won’t say.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Oh, The Services of Islington Council

Introduction by GAMany of us have, in the past, been open to leftist ideas. Ethically oriented thinkers are still excited by the idea of equality, freedom and opposition to racism. Sadly, these ideals are not reflected in New Left politics. While the Old Left taught us to transcend gender, race, sexual preference etc., the New Left builds walls dividing us along those same lines. As much as the Old Left was inspired to openness by Orwell’s criticism of the tyrannical, the New Left has slipped into that authoritarian dystopia. In a Kafkaesque manner that defies any reasonable rationale, the New Left is consumed with interfering with freedom of expression, meaning expression that does not comply with its strict newspeak protocol. The New Left bureaucracy is oblivious to the intent of the law and uses the form of the law to impose its will.
The Islington Council, a ‘Labour’ run operation, exemplifies everything that has gone wrong with New Left ideology, politics and practice. It operates bureaucratically masking its authoritarian positions,  following forms of procedure that are without substance so that the Council effectively insulates itself from its constituents and the rest of society.
We have to ask why, why is the New Left removed from traditional Labour values? Why is it detached from the people? Why would the New Left want to act as an obvious  Zionist tool? Why is it determined to bring Jeremy Corbyn down?
The answer is simple. The ideological and spiritual roots of the traditional Left came from working class politics. Traditionally, Labour and Left leaders both came from the working people and unions. They were proletarians who were inherently connected with the their class, its needs and its values. This ended when the evaporation of manufacturing made the working class workless. The unions have collapsed and the orientation of Labour politics has shifted radically. Instead of aspiring to be working class and union heroes, young Labour politicians are most often a dysfunctional herd of spoiled middle class former university activists who mature into party commissars. These New Left politicians may never have had to work and are in any case totally removed from the working people and their values as well as the values of the Old Left.
In the following article Eve Mykytyn dissects Islington Council’s institutional duplicity, the council’s formulaic pretences and most disappointingly, its removal from the Labour values of freedom and work.  While many of us are sympathetic to Corbyn and his politics, Britain may want to think twice before it gives his party greater access  to government. Labour politics seems to mean – end to free Britain as we know it.We shouldn’t let this happen. We better make sure that the Labour Party fix itself first.

Oh, The Services of Islington Council
 By  Eve Mykytyn
How does Islington Council respond to complaints about its decision to ban Atzmon?
The Islington Council issued a ‘detailed’ ‘stage one’ response to a complaint from a ticket holder(TH). The initial complaint, dated 19/12/18, expressed ‘disgust’ at the decision to ban Atzmon and a desire to see a music concert “that has no antisemitism in its show. ” In her first response, Lucinda Brown, venue business manager, had on 21/12/18 (the date of the concert) directed TH  to the Council’s (non) statement on its site.
As of  11/2/19 Ms Brown claims she “had the opportunity to investigate the details” of the complaint  and her “findings were as follows:” Contact the promoter and “raise a complaint.”  Ms. Brown then finds that the complaint has been duly  investigated at “stage one of Islington’s Complaint procedure and not upheld.” TH was given 30 days to reply.
The Council claims to be a service organisation. What service did TH get? What might Ms. Brown have ‘investigated’? Did she herself check with the promoters to see if refunds were available?  Since the Council itself had prevented Atzmon from playing, a simple “I’m sorry” might have been more satisfying than the insulting pretence that a refund would be forthcoming if TH were simply to “raise a complaint.”  Why did Ms. Brown send this answer at all?  Does sending a nonsensical jargon filled note help to feign service?
London Councils, the parent organisation of Islington Council provides for a three step complaint procedure in which the complainant is entitled at each successive phase to have his appeal reexamined by an employee higher up the council ladder. Mr. Atzmon’s appeals were handled first by Martin Bevis, the assistant director of Financial Operations & Customer Service and then by Ian Adams, the director of Financial Operations and Customer Service . Mr. Atzmon was not informed of or offered the third level of review to the Corporate Complaints Officer of the London Council. The Council’s policy provides that  a complaint will only be reviewed at Stage 3 if “at the discretion…there is a clear reason for dissatisfaction….or that any remedy proposed is insufficient.” Atzmon was never given the chance to make a case for a third appeal. There is even a fourth step available, if appeals one-three fail to satisfy the complainant, he may bring the complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman at the London Councils.
Why was Atzmon not fully informed of his rights of review?
Atzmon would seem to be included in the Council’s mission statement, which reads as follows: “We’re determined to make Islington fairer. To create a place where everyone, whatever their background, has the opportunity to reach their potential and enjoy a good quality of life.” Did they add, ‘if we agree with their opinions?’
The Council made its decision weighing two competing interests. First, the rights of Mr Atzmon under Article 10 of the Human Rights Act of 1998 “to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.” Article 10 restricts this right as follows: “The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law…”
Article 10 makes clear that the right to free speech is not subject to a balancing test unless the speech violates a law. Atzmon, having crossed no legal limits in his speech, was not subject to speech restrictions. Indeed, the ban had to do with prior speech, no one alleged that Atzmon would speak while playing the saxophone at a rock concert.
The council referred to and quickly dismissed Atzmon’s rights under Article 10, citing article 10 rights to earn a living (which is not a provision of Article 10) and deciding that Article 10 rights are subservient to the Council’s duty under S 149 of the Equality Act of 2010. Are individual liberties properly curtailed by a council acting under a general non discrimination mandate? What if the Council thought it could make Islington safer for a protected group by bursting into homes instead of banning employment, would this be a legitimate override of personal freedom?
The Council claimed that its ban was necessitated by the law it found controlling, “the legal duty placed on the Council by s.149 of the Equality Act 2010.” But does the equality act even mandate the Council’s actions?
S 149 part 1 states the general purpose of the rule:  that a public authority must perform its duties with due regard to three factors; a. to eliminate discrimination, b to provide for equal opportunity and, c to foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.
Section (5) of 149 explains how to ‘foster good relations’ as required by section 1(c). “Having due regard to the need to foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it involves having due regard, in particular, to the need to (a)tackle prejudice, (b)promote understanding.”
Mr Bevis and Mr. Adams ‘found’ that Atzmon’s views are well known and disliked in the Jewish community. But both men went beyond this. Acting not as lawyers, judges (or may I assume scholars of Jewish identity politics) they pronounced Atzmon’s comments  “to be, [regarded as] at the lowest, provocative and distasteful, and, at the highest, anti-Semitic and racist by many, particularly those in the Jewish community.”
Based on their personal (and not legal) reading of materials provided by opponents of Atzmon, the Council concluded that good relations with the Jewish community would be harmed by Atzmon’s appearance. Tickets to the concert cost money and the musicians were known. Were many Jews likely to find offence also likely to pay to attend a rock Christmas concert with Gilad Atzmon?
Further, while some may have cheered the Council’s choice to disregard Atzmon’s Section 10 rights, how did his banning help to foster good relations between Jews and others? What about the ‘others’ who merely wanted to go to the concert? What groups did the Council integrate with the Jews to foster good relations?
Or does ‘fostering good relations’ mean banning any speech any protected group objects to?

If you are a British citizen, you can file a Freedom of Information request asking for records relating to Gilad Atzmon’s ban, the standards relied upon for that purpose and the process and assistance used by Bevis and Adams in their decision making.
You can do this by using Islington Council’s complaints form here, by writing to Islington Council at 222 Upper Street, London N1 1XR, or by fax to 020 7527 5001.
To sign a petition in support of Gilad click here

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Fighting Poverty with a Hate Map?

The name, ‘The Southern Poverty Law Center’ (SPLC) is misleading. The SPLC does little to alleviate poverty,  its own stated goals are: fighting hate, teaching tolerance and seeking justice. At the moment, the SPLC lists its top activity as attempting to remove confederate statues and symbols. This is consistent with the activity for which the SPLC is best known, its annual hate map in which it locates so-called ‘hate’ groups on a map of the United States. How is it that one of the best funded poverty law centers acts as an arbitrar of hate instead of as an advocate for the poor?
The term ‘Poverty Law’ usually refers to the more mundane practice of representing poor people who are often un or under represented. But the SPLC’s goals are more lofty, here’s how Mark Potok, a Senior Fellow at SPLC described his mission. “It’s not what most in the media think. Sometimes the press will describe us as monitoring hate crimes…Our criteria for a ‘hate group’… have nothing to do with criminality or violence or any kind of guess we’re making about ‘this group could be dangerous.’ It’s strictly ideological. I want to say plainly that our aim in life is to destroy these groups, to completely destroy them
Each year, the SPLC advertises over 900 hate groups on its hate map. Author Laird Wilcox says the SPLC “Has specialized [in] a highly developed and ritualized form of defamation … a way of harming and isolating people by denying their humanity and trying to convert them into something that deserves to be hated and eliminated. They accuse others of this but utilize their enormous resources to practice it on a mass scale themselves.”
To begin with, the SPLC uses a very loose definition of a hate group as “an organization that – based on its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders, or its activities – has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.” They bolster this with the false claim that the FBI uses a similar definition of hate crime, “[A] criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.”  But the FBI’s words do not refer to practices or beliefs, they characterize an actual crime which may have been inspired by bias.
Without advocating hate or prejudice I find the SPLC’s categories hilarious. They are: Ku Klux KlanNeo-NaziWhite NationalistRacist SkinheadChristian IdentityNeo-ConfederateBlack SeparatistAnti-LGBTAnti-MuslimGeneral Hate  (Anti-ImmigrantHate MusicHolocaust Denial and Radical Traditional Catholicism) and Other Hate (a grab bag of ‘hateful’ ideologies). Query, if a neo-nazi gets a haircut will he become a racist skinhead or a neo-confederate?
One ‘hate’ group, Radical Traditional Catholicism, are excoriated for blaming Jews for the killing of Christ and “They also embrace extremely conservative social ideals with respect to women.”  Is this a hate group?  Ultra Orthodox Jews have some pretty vile thoughts about non Jews and also adhere to extremely conservative social ideals for women.  Why aren’t the Lubovitches, for instance, on the list?
Holocaust denial is the only hate group defined by simply questioning authority. SPLC claims such groups “only pretend to be interested in historical research.” Instead, even the claim that Jews may have died in ways other than the gas chambers form [hate groups] because they are used simply  “to rehabilitate the German Nazis’ image as part of a bid to make the ideology of national socialism more acceptable.”  A number of historians investigating World War II might find this assertion surprising.
“The SPLC’s list is wildly inflated,” said Mark Pitcavage, director of investigative research at the Anti-Defamation League. The National Socialist Movement, for example, was listed 49 times in the 2015 Hate Map, since the count included each of the NSM’s individual chapters. The SPLC also counts single individuals as a group or chapter. The result is a count totally at odds with Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics. Hate crimes plummeted 24% between 1998 and 2013, according to the FBI. Yet the SPLC claims the number of hate groups in the U.S. shot up by 75% during this same period.
The SPLC has so many categories of ‘hate’ and those categories are political as much as violent. So is there any actual harm from a listing on the hate map?
There was when Floyd Lee Corkins entered the Family Research Council intending to kill as many as possible because “he found us listed as a hate group on the SPLC website,” said executive vice president retired Gen. William Boykin. “We and others like us who are on this ‘hate map’ believe that this is very reckless behavior. … The only thing that we have in common is that we are all conservative organizations. …”
Gurnee IL is an unlikely location for a hate group. A prosperous suburb of 30,000, the town is careful with its reputation with tourists as it is home to Six Flags Great America amusement park, the Gurnee Mills indoor shopping mall and the water park, Great Wolf Lodge.
But the SPLC bestowed upon Gurnee the label that makes small-town officials sweat. Towns usually earn their reputations as harbors for hate groups in more public ways. They may be unlucky enough to be the place the Klan decides to march and someone later dies (Charlottesville) or be  home to the media-trolling Westboro Baptist Church (Topeka, Kansas). But for towns like Gurnee, designation as one of the 917 locales on SPLC’s Hate Map comes without warning or explanation.
When the town asked the self appointed cartographers of hate to remedy the listing they were told, “I know it is disturbing to find hate groups in your community but I don’t think that should be seen as a reflection of what I am sure is a wonderful community.” Sorry, but the map is only updated once a year. “Call back in January.” The town protested that its police had searched and failed to find a hate group in Gurnee. SPLC Intelligence Chief Heidi Beirich would not budge. “ Even though the police couldn’t locate them doesn’t mean they aren’t there.”
Given the low threshold for inclusion on the list, it is not surprising that other towns were included for questionable reasons. In 2004, Olathe, Colorado earned a white hood icon when a self-proclaimed “international imperial wizard” from Indiana told a Denver newspaper that a chapter in Olathe, “a little Klan klavern,” had asked him to come and speak. Neither he nor any of the town officials  could name any of the members. Olathe stayed on SPLC’s list for three years.
Amana, Iowa, was placed on the hate map when someone at the SPLC spotted a chat thread on the Daily Stormer. Someone with the screen name “Concerned Troll” proposed a neo-Nazi “book club” meeting in an Amana café. No one in Amana was able to confirm to the SPLC whether or not the meeting actually took place, but that was enough to earn the corn-carpeted state its only swastika.
But still, Beidich worries more about undercounting than over inclusion. She thinks the undercount groups hide in shadows. She does not explain why listing what are  ‘un’ hate groups, by her own criteria,  will cause hate groups to emerge from the shadows. In fact, it is not clear why we are not all better off if a ‘hate’ group stays hidden.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!