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“Has the Government adopted a ‘Kill Policy’ in secret – without Parliamentary debate?

Thanks to a Moseley reader for the two leads.

The Argus reports that MP Caroline Lucas and Jenny Jones (now in the Lords) are calling for answers on whether the Government has formulated a targeted policy and if so, what that policy is, and whether it is legal. Supported by human rights charity Reprieve and law firm Leigh Day, they are highlighting the lack of parliamentary approval for the Government’s adoption of the American style programme.

A Letter Before Action (LBA) was sent to the firm on behalf of the MP and the baroness highlighting a lack of consistency in justifications for the strikes and a lack of transparency.

Caroline Lucas said: “The Government appears to have adopted a ‘Kill Policy’ in secret –without Parliamentary debate or the prospect of proper independent scrutiny.

drone firing missilesSanctioning lethal drone attacks on British citizens is a significant departure from previous policy, as well as potentially unlawful, and it’s deeply concerning that it has occurred without appropriate oversight. By refusing to publish the legal basis for these attacks, the Government has created a legal and accountability vacuum. We need to be able to determine whether the attacks – and what they signify in terms of Government policy – meet the robust conditions set out in international and domestic law.”

us coalition strike kobani syriaUS coalition air-strike on Kobani, Syria

They point out that the war will be carried out with the cruellest, most destructive and strategically most useless of weapons, the airborne bomb which is “now the all-purpose totemic answer to ‘something must be done’.

The futility of such interventions in Iraq, Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq again and Libya is pointed out by Simon Jenkins. He writes:

“There is no evidence of the drones’ strategic effectiveness. The killing of Pashtun militants has done nothing to halt the Taliban’s path back to power in Afghanistan. It has merely replaced possibly moderate elders with tribal hot-heads. Obama’s first drone attack in Yemen killed one al-Qaida suspect, 14 women and 21 children.

children drone killed

“In a six-year period to 2011 an estimated 3,000 innocents were killed in Pakistan alone, including 176 children. Such casual slaughter would have an infantry unit court-martialled and jailed. Drones are immune.

“For the past year, the skies over Syria and Iraq have seen the most devastating deployments of air power in recent times. There have been a reported 6,000 coalition air strikes, manned and unmanned. Some 20,000 bombs have been dropped.

“If ever in the past quarter century there was a clear humanitarian case for intervening to pacify, reorder and restore good governance to a failed state, it must be in Syria. Dropping bombs is politically cosmetic. It is trying to look good to a domestic audience; a cruel delusion, a pretence of humanity, ostentatious, immoral, stupid”.

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Corbyn a threat? He would have left the Middle East – and us – in relative peace

David Cameron has claimed that Jeremy Corbyn will be a security threat. Is he referring to economic security – the threat to the arms trade?

american hubris2If peacemakers like Corbyn have their way, the profits which flow to the richest individuals and into Britain and American mainstream party coffers would be decimated – the economic security of arms manufacturers and dealers and sympathetic politicians would be threatened.

Starting with the anger aroused by their illegal Iraq war in 1991, the Anglo-Saxon alliance claims to be more at risk from terrorism than ever – but rising tension and conflict opens profitable avenues.

As Sir Simon Jenkins recently wrote, the West’s last seven wars – in Iraq, former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone and Libya – have ended in disaster; he asks: “Will our messianic leaders ever learn?” But do they want to learn? Their arms companies have made a packet’ (Ed)!

Over the past 15 years, he records that their wars have left an estimated 250,000 people dead, few of whom had any quarrel with the West. It left many more maimed, tortured, impoverished and driven into exile – fear driving mass migrations of peoples into Europe.

Drone strikes damageAnd yet, despite colossal military expense, as Jenkins states, the menace of ISIS in Syria and Iraq is worse than anything posed by the Taliban, Saddam Hussein or Colonel Gaddafi in Libya: “None of the ‘victorious powers’ dare walk the streets in the capitals they claimed to have freed from oppression”.

Revulsion at these policies is leading thousands to sign this open letter to Ban-ki Moon, UN Secretary General – extracts:

  • After 70 years isn’t it time for the United Nations to cease authorizing wars and to make clear to the world that attacks on distant nations are not defensive?
  • The danger lurking in the “responsibility to protect” doctrine must be addressed. Acceptance of murder by armed drone as either non-war or legal war must be decisively rejected.
  • To fulfill its promise, the United Nations must rededicate itself to these words from the U.N. Charter: “All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.”
  • To advance, the United Nations must be democratized so that all people of the world have an equal voice, and no single or small number of wealthy, war-oriented nations dominate the UN’s decisions.

Has this revulsion also been one of the major factors in sweeping Corbyn, a peacemaker, to power?

Assisted Dying 8: How long will government allow private health industry vultures and religious fundamentalists to prevail?

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“He did not have a good death”: these reticent words from a grieving widow were all that she felt able to say of the prolonged intense emotional and physical suffering her husband endured before his death. She added, “I have joined Dignity in Dying”. Another acquaintance last week told the writer that her father, in similar circumstances, had asked for strychnine to be procured for him.

A condition not included in the demands of this organisation but recognised by medics and Dignitas as terminal, is dementia. Dementia is not just an enhanced state of memory loss – an inconvenience – but can adversely affect the whole personality. One who shared care of a formerly bright and independent relative with this condition for two years had to contend with extreme physical aggression, incontinence and refusal to wash.

cambridge assisted dying videoVideo of Cambridge assisted dying debate – link below

It is the core goal of Dignitas that one day nobody in the UK or any other country needs to travel to Switzerland for a self-determined end of suffering and life anymore.

People who would opt for assisted dying when diagnosed with dementia, and who have made the declaration whilst still in good health, should be given every facility in their region. For years Scandinavian countries have had a range of acceptable provision and a few American states. Only Switzerland kindly offers this facility to foreigners. As respected journalist Simon Jenkins notes, an average of twenty people a month kill themselves ‘surreptitiously’ at home and two terminally ill people a month go to Switzerland to end their lives.

At the moment the medical and care industries – a powerful parliamentary lobby – have a vested interest in prolonging the unhappy lives of such people, profiting by payments from their families and the state.

The human right to control the circumstances of one’s own death was asserted by Dr Atul Gawande in a recent Reith lecture.

debbie purdySimon Jenkins wrote that right-to-die campaigner, Debbie Purdy’s life and death by self-starvation – forced on her by parliament – should be celebrated by the Commons passing the House of Lords’ “dignity in dying” bill forthwith.

As he continues: an overwhelming majority of the public – 60-70% – wants it. The weight of legal and ethical opinion wants it. Eighty of the great and good writing to the Daily Telegraph at the weekend want it. Objection, he adds, is largely confined to religious prejudice and medical authoritarianism.

Simon Jenkins concludes that Debbie Purdy’s husband thanked the Marie Curie hospice in Bradford for helping his wife through the awful experience of self-starvation forced on her by parliament:

“How much better if he were now able to thank parliament for relieving others of having to face the same ordeal”.

 

Further reading:

Campaign: remove covert corporate influence from political life – 4: no – the ‘officer class’ has too much to lose

Sir Simon Jenkins clarifies: The truth is that there is one law for the officer class and another for the poor bloody infantry. When experts . . . fail, their fraternity does not criticise or review their work, but treats them as innocent and relieves them of blame:

“If an ordinary worker miscalculates the risk, if trains crash, trees fall, rivers are polluted or foodstuffs rot, he goes to jail. The difference is not in class of error but in class of person”.

The little people pay for the collapse in corporate investment and tax revenues

‘Only the little people pay taxes,” the late American corporate tax evader Leona Helmsley famously declared. Simon Jenkins adds, “That’s certainly the spirit of David Cameron and George Osborne’s Britain”.

He lists cuts:

  • to disability and housing benefits,
  • tax credits
  • and the educational maintenance allowance

There are increases in council tax while NHS waiting lists are lengthening and food banks are mushrooming across the country.

Meanwhile those who benefit from the present system are prospering – another list

The scale of tax avoidance by high-street brand multinationals has now become clear thanks to campaigning groups such as Tax Research UK.

Seumas Milne described “A roll call of corporate rogues who are milking the country”

If all the individuals, groups and organisations were to form a united coalition against corporate/political corruption, there would be a chance of bringing about beneficial change. But if they continue to be divided by personality clashes or the need to compete against each other to acquire funding, only individuals are left – and who has the charisma to make sufficient impact?

 

Should UK government monetary policy be reordered? The American Monetary Institute conference takes British thinking a step further

At the recent AMI conference, Dr Michael Kumhof, deputy head of Research at the International Monetary Fund summarised his paper and the rapporteur commented:

 

One powerful conclusion of Dr. Kumhof’s study, is that the potential for inflation is much much smaller when money is created by the government instead of by the banks.  This confirms Professor Yamaguchi’s study of the HR 2990, which concluded that it pays off the national debt as it comes due, provides the funding for infrastructure (thereby solving the unemployment problem) and does so without inflation. People – this confirmation by the two different studies, is really dynamite!”

 

Like pouring oil on a seized engine

 

Robert Peston – according to the FT – and Sir Simon Jenkins have reported that Adair Turner’s private opinion is that Britain should consider whether debt should now be “monetised”, financed by blatantly printing money rather than buying bank bonds in order to boost demand. Turner points out that actually printing money would involve “no increase in government debt and therefore no increase in future debt servicing”.

 

Jenkins: “At very least, this should be discussed”

 

The FT comments: “We need to ask ourselves why governments finance their deficits through the issuance of bonds in the first place, rather than just asking the central bank to print money, which would not add to public debt”.

 

Ultimately, the answer is the fear of inflation

 

FT journalist Gavyn Davies explains that, at present, by selling bonds to cover the deficit, private savings are absorbed, leaving less for private investment and reducing private expenditure today – a combination of factors which he calls the “restraining effect” of bond sales.

If the government did not sell bonds to finance the budget deficit, but asked the central bank to print money instead, private savings would not be absorbed, there would be no tendency for interest rates to rise, and no expected burden of future taxation . . . He concludes that in such a case:

The restraining effect does not apply. Obviously, for any given budget deficit, this is likely to be much more expansionary (and potentially inflationary) than bond finance.

 

But would not the private surplus become `effective demand` for goods and services, stimulating production and increasing growth?

 

To read more about the AMI conference click here.