Blog Archives

Secret State 22: Mega farms – Owners? Directors? Donations?

..

Drone footage and satellite images have recently revealed that thousands of British cattle reared for supermarket beef are being kept at some sites in outdoor pens, known as corrals, sometimes surrounded by walls, fences or straw bales. Although the cattle will have spent time grazing in fields prior to fattening, some will be confined in pens for around a quarter of their lives, until they are slaughtered. Disease spreads easily in such conditions and traces of the medication needed to prevent or treat the animals will be present in the meat offered for human consumption.

Who owns these companies? Who are the directors? Do they donate to party funds?

Why are there no official records held by DEFRA  on how many intensive beef units are in operation?
Government regulations  say that an environmental permit is needed if you operate any of the following:

-an industrial facility,
-manufacturing facility
-or other business that produces potentially harmful substances, eg:
-a landfill site, a large chicken farm, a food factory

Why is government not requiring an environmental permit before their construction – and indeed consulting those in their neighbourhood?

A small section of a group of intensive units photographed by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism/ Guardian

Though environment secretary Michael Gove said, in a parliamentary statement. “I do not want to see, and we will not have, US-style farming in this country”, it’s here.

The Guardian and Bureau last year revealed that 800 poultry and pig “mega farms” have appeared in the British countryside in recent years, some housing more than a million chickens or about 20,000 pigs.

Following the revelations, the environment secretary, Michael Gove, pledged that Brexit would not be allowed to result in the spread of US-style agribusiness.

Readers who want to know the extent of this problem and the location of megafarms for dairy, pigs and poultry, may find this information by looking at the interactive maps produced by  Compassion in World Farming: The snapshots show information about intensive pig rearing in Gloucestershire, where the writer lives.

A Moseley reader draws attention to research by the Guardian and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism establishing that the UK is now home to a number of industrial-scale fattening units with herds of up to 3,000 cattle at a time. Sites in Kent, Northamptonshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire were identified, the largest farms fattening up to 6,000 cattle a year.

The practice of intensive beef farming in the UK has not previously been widely acknowledged – and these findings raise questions over the future of British farming.

Richard Young, Policy Director at the Sustainable Food Trust, said: “Keeping large number of cattle together in intensive conditions removes all justification for rearing them and for consumers to eat red meat…

“More than two-thirds of UK farmland is under grass for sound environmental reasons and the major justifications for keeping cattle and eating red meat are that they produce high quality protein and healthy fats from land that is not suitable for growing crops.”

 

 

 

o

Chamber of Shame’s revolving door: the interests of the already rich are served and media further compromised

Clearly at the service of the multinationals, especially arms manufacturers and United States/Israel/Gulf states – and not those whom they were elected to serve – the Conservative cabinet goes full steam ahead to consolidate these links:

From Abu Dhabi Airports to the UK Ministry of Defence

tony douglasAs the electorate sees cuts to basic services, the coalition government has decided to appoint Tony Douglas, the chief executive of Abu Dhabi Airports, with most useful Middle East contacts, as the new chief executive of Defence Equipment and Support (DE & S) on Tuesday. The FT reports: “The new chief of Britain’s armaments programme is to be rewarded with a £285,000 salary and £250,000 performance-related annual bonus, making him the highest earner in Whitehall and the latest in a new line of senior business figures lured into the public sector with the promise of private sector levels of pay”.

Now to the BBC Trust: Sir Roger Carr, arms manufacturer, representing your average license fee payer?

sir roger carrInvestigative journalist Felicity Arbuthnot adds another breathtaking example: Roger Carr, the chairman of Europe’s biggest arms company, BAE Systems and Visiting Fellow of Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, has just been appointed as Vice-Chair of the BBC Trust, ludicrously, “to represent license fee payers views”. The BBC is established under a Royal Charter and – under an agreement with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport – is to serve the public, inform, educate and entertain.

BBC impartiality further compromised?

BBCarms88The BBC Trust is its governing body, mandated to ensure that the BBC delivers that mission – and ‘speak peace’ according to the charter coat of arms.

But truth?

On a range of issues, grossly skewed information has led to floods of public protest and the official 2004 Hutton Inquiry investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of David Kelly, a biological warfare expert and former UN weapons inspector in Iraq challenged the BBC’s journalistic standards and its impartiality.

CAAT protests that BAE Systems has armed dictatorships and human rights abusers around the world, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Israel. It has presented a petition asking the BBC to cut its ties with Carr and the arms trade.

The Guardian’s gross omission

Disturbingly, the Guardian, still read by many thoughtful people, does not mention this affiliation, listing only Carr’s former appointments.

99%-3If any of the 99% vote for Conservatives in May, they will deserve all the ill-treatment they get – but would Labour, with previous New Labour incumbents, do much better in office?

The vote on the war in the Middle East: three sources

George Parker, political editor of the Financial Times: MPs sceptical and anxious over Isis strikes

ft.com logo“The vote was decisive and deceptive. An overwhelming majority of 481 gave the impression that the House of Commons was confident in its decision to send British forces to war in the Middle East for the fourth time in 15 years. In fact the mood among MPs was one of scepticism and anxiety – even fear . . .

“During the course of a sombre emergency debate, speaker after speaker stood up to back UK military action against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known as Isis, but expressed fears over whether it would work, and where it might lead, in almost the same breath.

commons debate middle east 9.14“The Conservative MP Ken Clarke gave voice to a political class scarred by the experience of previous interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, all of which the former chancellor said had ended in disaster: “What happened in all those cases was that the military deployment produced a situation at least as bad as it had been before and actually largely worse”. Like many other MPs, he concluded that bombing Isis was the least-worst option.

“Yet his short intervention summed up the doubts reverberating around the chamber over what MPs were being asked to approve: the “almost symbolic participation” by the RAF in attacks on Isis targets in Iraq, but not Syria . . . the drift towards a wider engagement beyond Iraq stirred foreboding among MPs who remember the way UK forces in Iraq and Afghanistan were sucked into an open-ended conflict . . .

“In the upper house, just as in the Commons, the big majorities for British intervention in Iraq did little to disguise the pessimism over its chances of success.

“As Frank Dobson, the former Labour health secretary, put it: “If we look at the track record of the interventions of the French, the British and the Americans in the Middle East since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, then the odds look as though we won’t succeed. Everything else has gone wrong . . . ”

The Herald reported SNP MPs’ refusal to support air attacks on Isis

herald logoAngus Robertson, the Nationalists’ foreign affairs spokesman, expressed revulsion at the militia group’s reign of terror, which includes beheadings, crucifixions and rapes, and agreed international co-operation was required. However, during an impassioned eight-hour debate, the Moray MP yesterday told the Commons that because there was no coherent plan to “win the peace” in the Coalition’s motion then SNP MPs would vote against it. He said there was “deep scepticism for the potential of mission creep and a green light for a third Iraq war”, given what had happened previously in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, adding, “The motion asks for a green light for military action which could last for years [but] there is no commitment in the motion for post-conflict resolution.”

guardian logoIn the Guardian, Simon Jenkins: “This is the moment in any war when peace goes dumb. The cause is just. The enemy is in our sights, and the provocation is extreme. Blood races through tabloid veins. It is white feathers for dissenters”.

“The new Iraq war has no strategy, not even tactics. It is a ` a token, a pretence of a strut on the world stage . . .

“The return to war will reinforce the politics of fear – which is the grimmest legacy of the Blair era in Britain. It has Cameron popping in and out of his Cobra bunker like a rabbit in a hole. Every government office, every train, every airport welcomes visitors to Britain with terror warnings and alerts. Cameron does this because he knows he can only get Britons to go to war by portraying Isis as a “threat to Britain’s national security”. Some Isis adherents may have criminal intent, but that is a matter for the police. Britain survived a far greater menace from the IRA without crumbling. Its existence is not threatened by jihadism. The claim is ludicrous. Cameron must have no faith in his own country.

“The contrast between Asia’s eastern and western extremities is now stark, the one booming, the other descending into catastrophic instability and medieval horror. It is impossible not to relate this to two centuries of western imperialism and meddling. It strains belief that further intervention – through the crudest of all forms of aggression – can bring peace and reconciliation”.

Investigatory Powers Tribunal in the spotlight

Senior judge says there is no guarantee that tribunal procedures satisfy common law requirements home office                                    Home Office photo supplied by Geograph 

A Moseley reader brings to our attention the report that the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, which claims to be completely independent of the British government, is secretly operating from a base within the Home Office, by which it is funded. Its staff is said to include at least one person believed to be a Home Office official previously engaged in intelligence-related work.

Ian Cobain and Leila Haddou  explain that this tribunal was created in October 2000 by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and given the power to investigate any complaints against GCHQ, MI5 or MI6, as well as complaints about surveillance operations mounted by the police or any other public bodies. Cobain and Haddou add that its location in the Home Office, “strengthen concerns that the IPT is too close to the very agencies which it is meant to be overseeing.”

The IPT has investigated about 1,500 complaints, and upheld only 10; five of these concerned members of one family who had lodged complaints about surveillance by their local council.

Lord Dyson, Master of the Rolls, ruled against Scotland Yard’s claim that the IPT should hear a case brought by women who said they were duped into sexual relationships with undercover police. He decided that part of the claim should be heard by the tribunal and that part should continue at the high court.

“There is no guarantee,” he said, “that the procedures adopted by the IPT in any particular case will satisfy the common law requirements of natural justice.”

The Guardian article noted that:

  • there is no legal aid for individuals complaining to the IPT;
  • their lawyers will not be permitted to attend IPT’s closed hearings;
  • not only are complainants and their lawyers prevented from being present at the court: until now they have not been permitted to know where the court is located.
  • there is no right of appeal;
  • no complaint against any of the intelligence agencies has ever been upheld.

A day later Henry Porter ends another Guardian article:

When courts and tribunals close their doors and won’t tell lawyers and complainants what is going on, you know that an essential part of a free society is in the process of being degraded . . .

Let’s have the law and the courts out in the open so that everyone understands what the hell is going on. Our free society depends on it.

Soapbox for the 99% – addressing Channel 4 News and presenter, Jon Snow

David Halpin, FRCS:

pcu moral pygmies lords commons

We have agreed that use of ‘chemical weapons’ in Syria is a ‘crap red herring’. But why transmit it? Because for one it is the red line, we are told, by the very cruel and unlawful US administration.

You transmit it because this ‘pretext grasped from thin air’ – as I called Blair’s lies before taking a ship to Palestine (with Gaza my target) in February 2003 – was dinned into the prejudiced US and UK populations with some success. Six million Sun readers and those who think the Guardian, Independent and Times tell the truth, have soaked up this crap.

Let people like myself who have dealt with the suffering of illness and injury have some say. I say ‘no mother and child, in our still beautiful world, should be in the least harmed’.

I write about the psychopath and have instanced Blair as being one of the most horrific. The BBC choose to rehabilitate this monster. Playwright David Hare has defined this sort of very flawed human well. Because they are ambitious and cunning, and utterly ruthless, they rise in our so-called democracies and in the dictatorships. They have proliferated in the last few decades.

Separately I ask – what has happened to Channel 4 in the last few years?

I am off down to the 35 acres of woodland I planted 25 years ago. I will enjoy the myriad colours of young oak and hear the blackbird and the yaffle. But in my mind will be the weeping and the bleeding caused deliberately by mostly ‘western’ action backed by the primitive urges within the ignorant moral pygmies on both green and red leather.

.

Secret State – 10: highlight individual error, downplay mass killing

Government must have found the avid media focus on Cardinal Keith O’Brien a welcome distraction from the negative feedback caused by the attempt to ‘celebrate’ the tenth anniversary of the Iraq war.

O’Brien, who worked for international development, peace and the abolition of nuclear weapons, has resigned and apologised for ’inappropriate’ behaviour with other men, many years ago.

Whilst he is pilloried, Tony Blair appears to flourish, despite leading this country into a war causing the deaths of some 750,000 Iraqis, a war thatas another writer put it: “. . . became the best recruiting tool of jihadists from Dhaka to Vancouver, that destabilised a region, that re-enforced the attitudes of the most tyrannical and violent regimes around the world, that fractured this nation’s belief in ethical and honest government . . .”

Government evasion, suppression . . .

Recourse to the Guardian online verified the assertion of a writer to The Friend (March 8th) that William Hague, the foreign secretary, had written confidentially to cabinet members urging them not to discuss the case for, or the legality of, that war.

It added that: “John Chilcot, chair of an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, is deeply frustrated by Whitehall’s refusal to release papers, including those that reveal which ministers, legal advisers and other officials were excluded from discussions on military action”.

 . . . and truthful revelations punished

Again the Guardian has added to the already alarming picture by reminding us about the memo from Frank Koza, chief of staff at the “regional targets” section of the US National Security Agency, emailed to GCHQ ‘interceptors’ before the war, asking them to spy on the United Nations and create ‘a vast intelligence “surge” designed to secure a UN resolution to send troops into Iraq’.

The GCHQ whistleblower who leaked the email to the Observer, was arrested, lost her job and faced trial under the Official Secrets Act.

The letter in the Friend points to a very marked contrast between the public moralising and judgments concerning Keith O’Brien, ‘left alone to cope with the allegations against him’, and the institutional, impersonal way in which the Iraq war seems likely to be consigned as just one more chapter in our national history.

As one man is vigorously held to account for personal misbehaviour, the other is portrayed travelling the world and repeatedly rewarded for global misbehaviour: his supporting role in ‘aiding and abetting’ an illegal and cruelly destructive war.