Blog Archives

Time to declare independence – 6: trade negotiations

Another call for independence comes following the last post deploring Britain’s stance on Venezuela, following our special friend’s failure to observe its UN commitment to refrain from military, political or economic coercion aimed against the political independence or territorial integrity of any state.

Officials negotiating with Donald Trump’s administration had made detailed notes of the discussions in November 2019 but government had previously only released a heavily redacted version. Later that month. Jeremy Corbyn, then Labour leader, handed out to journalists some 450 pages of unredacted documents that he said showed the NHS would be on the table in British-US negotiations. (See video). 

The British Medical Journal reported:

The NHS and drug patents have been part of ongoing post-Brexit trade negotiations between the US and the UK, leaked unredacted documents obtained and shared by the Labour Party have shown.

The six documents outline “secret talks” held between US trade representatives and the UK Department for International Trade from July 2017 to July 2019. They include discussions on a variety of trade topics including drug pricing, longer patents for US drug companies, and the potential to discuss the NHS “further down the line.”

Earlier this month academics warned that, if the UK loses its ability to negotiate drug prices or to import generic drugs under a trade agreement with the US after Brexit, the NHS’s drug bill could soar from £18bn (€21bn; $23.2bn) to £45bn a year.

The news that the talks between the UK and the US included drug pricing and the NHS comes after England’s health secretary, Matt Hancock, repeatedly said that “the NHS is not for sale and never will be under this Conservative administration.”

When faced with the report, Prime Minister Boris Johnson had denied it as a “complete invention” but Mr Corbyn said that the uncensored version left “Johnson’s denials in absolute tatters.” He added that an overwhelming majority of the British public are against the idea of having the health service as part of negotiations and want specific measures in place to prevent it from happening.

He pointed to polling commissioned by public-ownership campaign group We Own It published yesterday on protections for the NHS in the Bill. Three quarters of the public want such protections, according to the poll conducted by Survation. Just 14% of people do not.

Campaigners say that failing to protect the NHS from trade deals would:

  • open up the service to being charged more for medicines,
  • enshrine the rights of US healthcare companies to access the NHS in international treaties
  • and lock in privatisation that would be “incredibly difficult” for a future government to reverse.

The London Economic reported that Green Party MP Caroline Lucas put forward an amendment designed to protect the NHS from being subject to any form of control from outside the UK in a future post-Brexit Trade Deal, with the support of Labour leader Keir Starmer and a number of other senior MPs, but last night MPs voted against it by 340 votes to 251.

Other amendments to the Bill have been submitted. Labour has called for a commitment to protect the NHS from outside control and a review every five years of each new agreement the government signs up to. A further amendment tabled by Tory Jonathan Djanogly would give Parliament the new power to scrutinise and vote on future trade deals. More than 6,000 people have written to MPs asking them to support this amendment and more than 1.2 million people have signed a Keep Our NHS Public petition calling for the government to protect the NHS from trade deals. The Trade Bill returned to the Commons today.

Cat Hobbs (right) of We Own It, which believes that as – after 30 years, privatisation of our public services has failed, it’s time for public ownership – urged all Tory MPs to follow the lead of the “handful of Conservative MPs” and the opposition parties who have demanded protections for the NHS. She said: “This is about basic democracy, basic scrutiny, basic sovereignty. Taking back control should mean having control of our own laws and our own public services, not selling them off to the highest bidder.”

AKA declaring independence.

 

 

 

 

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Broken Britain 24: master and servant contravene international law

According to the United Nations’ declaration on principles of international law friendly relations and co-operation among states, it is the duty of member states to refrain in their international relations from military, political, economic or any other form of coercion aimed against the political independence or territorial integrity of any state.

This duty has been contravened by successive American governments in several regions, including the Middle East and Central and South America.

Boris Johnson shows no sign of departing from the subservient ‘special relationship’ lauded by successive right-wing Labour and Conservative governments.

The Central Bank of Venezuela had entrusted 31 tons of gold to the Bank of England and many believe that the Bank of England has a moral and professional imperative to return it to the Venezuelan state as requested, to be given to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to be used to purchase food, medicine and vital health inputs during the pandemic.

As noted here, earlier this month In the High Court Judge Nigel Teare (Commercial and Admiralty Courts) ruled against returning the gold, outrageously stating that it is the British government’s prerogative to decide who was Venezuela’s legitimate head of state.

The Venezuela Solidarity Campaign’s secretary,  Dr Francisco Dominguez*, recently reported in Ars Notoria that the Central Bank of Venezuela will appeal, seeking to reverse Judge Teare’s decision so that the gold can be returned to its rightful owners and through the UNDP can be used to continue saving lives against the pandemic.

As he said, “Retaining illegally these resources from Venezuela in the middle of the pandemic is denying the human rights of 32 million ordinary Venezuelans”.

Documents obtained by journalist John McEvoy, under the Freedom of Information Act, have exposed a Foreign Office unit aimed at the ‘reconstruction’ of Venezuela. The “Unit for the Reconstruction of Venezuela” was set up with the self proclaimed

’ President Guaidó and his “ambassador to the UK”, Venezuelan-US citizen, Vanessa Neumann.

Francisco Dominguez: “The existence of the unit also raises a more fundamental question: What business does the UK government have in the “reconstruction” of a sovereign nation?”

In May 2019, Neumann wrote to FCO officials that she had contacted MP Rory Stewart at DFID for a meeting that “will sustain British business in Venezuela’s  reconstruction”.

This and other documents revealed private discussions between Venezuelan opposition figures and UK officials making proposals for the promotion of British business after a planned coup.

They suggest that ‘regime change’ in Venezuela is following the typical procedure: the countries that contribute most during the destabilisation phase can expect to share the financial spoils in the ‘reconstruction’ phase.

Hugo Shorter (right)  is the Director for the Americas at UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office ( FCO ) and Nigel Baker is Head of the Latin America department at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Francisco Dominguez:Guaidó’s “presidency” unequivocally controls nothing, not even a street lamp in Venezuela. He is just a device for the pillage of his country’s vast wealth”

Dominguez reports that Mr Guaidó is thoroughly discredited in Venezuela, where he enjoys little support, and substantial sections of the opposition have publicly broken with him and constructively engaged with President Maduro in creating the best conditions for the coming elections to the National Assembly on 6th December 2020.

He is alleged to have associated with Colombian narco-paramilitaries and proved to have staged a failed coup against the Maduro government, contracting US mercenaries (one above) to carry out an attack on the presidential palace leading many to resign, as recorded in an interview with the PanAm Post. Former US Green Beret soldiers Luke Denman and Airan Berry were detained in Venezuela in May, during a botched operation to try to kidnap Mr Maduro and bring him to the US for trial. Both have been charged with terrorism and weapons trafficking offences, and face up to 30 years in prison.

In January 2020, Guaidó travelled to London to talk to UK government officials and shore up international support for his failing efforts to overthrow the Venezuelan government. He met foreign secretary Dominic Raab and other well-placed officials.

“We are slowly descending into chaos,” said a trauma physician at Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital

But President Trump continues to criticise the UN and pursues foreign vendettas instead of focussing on the welfare of the American people, though at least 3.83 million people have tested positive and over 143 million have died in the United States from Covid-19 and CNN reports that hundreds of medical workers have fallen sick and hospitals face dire shortages of protective gear. He has started to pull out of the UN’s World Health Organization, alleging bureaucracy and mismanagement and has accused it  of mismanaging the coronavirus pandemic when it emerged in China, and of failing to make “greatly needed reforms”.

A Financial Times editorial has called for the US and its allies to change course and  waive sanctions on Venezuela as the US bid for regime change escalates. It argued that the desperate state of Venezuela merits special consideration: the spread of the coronavirus, coinciding with a crash in global oil prices, has deprived Caracas of most of its sole source of legal foreign exchange, ending: “Negotiate a humanitarian programme and focus on health as the coronavirus spreads apace in both countries”.

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*Dr Francisco Dominguez is a senior lecturer at Middlesex University, where he is head of the Research Group on Latin America. He is National Secretary of the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign. Dominguez came to Britain in 1979 as a Chilean political refuge. Ever since he has been active on Latin American issues, about which he has written and published extensively. He is co-author of Right wing politics in the New Latin America (Zed Books).

 

 

 

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Enforce British court ruling on arms exports as fears of the coronavirus spread in Yemen

WordPress error: photograph could not be uploaded; it was included in the mailing list alert.

WFP/Mohammed Awadh: Conflict-damaged homes on the edge of Aden, Yemen.

Britain has been providing arms with which its allies continue to bomb the people of Yemen for the fifth year, in contravention of a Court of Appeal ruling. This stated that it is unlawful to have licensed the sale of British-made arms to the Saudi regime without assessing whether their use in Yemen breaches international humanitarian law.

The United Nations has described the effect of this five-year air onslaught, leading to many thousands of Yemeni deaths, as “the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.”.

Peter Lazenby reports the words of Andrew Smith (Campaign Against Arms Trade – CAAT): “It is a crisis that has been enabled by the political and military support that the UK and other arms-dealing governments have given the Saudi regime and its coalition partners”.

Yemen’s healthcare system is already in crisis, with many damaged and destroyed hospitals and a weak healthcare system, already struggling with cholera and malnutrition. The Red Cross reports that medical supplies, drinking water and sanitation are scarce.

Ahmed Aidarous, 36, a resident of the southwestern city of Taiz, who survived dengue fever, expresses the general fear to MiddleEastEye: “In Yemen, there are some diseases like dengue fever and cholera but we know their reasons and we can be treated for them. I heard from media that coronavirus spreads through the air and we cannot protect ourselves from it.”

Two days after his 23 March appeal to warring parties across the globe for an immediate ceasefire, UN Secretary-GeneraAntónio Guterres  called on those fighting in Yemen to end hostilities and ramp up efforts to counter a potential outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The FT reports that, in response on Wednesday, the Houthi movement and the exiled Saudi-supported government agreed to an immediate end to hostilities.

 

 

 

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Will the government stop recruiting adolescents to the armed forces?

David Collins, a Committee member of the Movement for the Abolition of War of Friends of Le Monde Diplomatique and of Veterans For Peace UK, has drawn attention to a video on VfP’s website, “Made in the Royal Navy”, published by Child Rights International Network (CRIN). The film charges the British army with intentionally targeting young people from deprived backgrounds for the most dangerous front-line jobs. It plays on the natural anxiety in boys and young men about how they are going to become a man and go out into the world. Its message is that the Navy will remake the raw youth into a heroic version of the inadequate boy that they once were.

The actual experience of most of these youngsters is set out in a report published in August 2019: Conscription by Poverty? Deprivation and army recruitment in the UK.

This is a long-standing concern of many on our mailing list. In 2011, Britain’s child soldiers – 2 reminded readers that, twelve years earlier, the BBC had reported the British Army was being urged by the United Nations to stop sending young soldiers into war.

Following Symon Hill’s work in The Friend, the Ekklesia website, and a Nato Watch article, an article by Michael Bartlet, Parliamentary Liaison Secretary for Quakers in Britain, pointed out that “with the exception of Russia, and apprentices in Ireland, the British Army is unique in Europe in recruiting at the age of 16. Of 14,185 recruits into the army last year, 3,630 or over 25%, joined under the age of 18 . . . Deprivation and army recruitment in the UK . . . Those joining the army at the age of 16 often come from the poorest and least educated backgrounds. Some have reading ages of a child of half that age. They lack the confidence to seek a change in their career in the same way as those training for professions.” 

Ian Davis, the Director of NatoWatch, sent a reference to the post by Symon Hill, now placed on its website. He added that the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, together with War Child, UNICEF UK, the Children’s Society, and the Children’s Rights Alliance for England are calling for the Armed Forces Bill to be amended to end the “outdated practice” of recruiting soldiers aged under 18, a call backed by Amnesty International UK and the United Nations Association.

Five years later Quakers in Scotland and ForcesWatch presented a petition to the Scottish Parliament calling for greater scrutiny, guidance and consultation on the visits of armed forces to schools in Scotland. Over four-fifths of state secondary schools in Scotland were visited by the armed forces in a two-year period, according to a 2014 ForcesWatch report.

A 2016 report by public health charity Medact found that soldiers recruited aged 16 and 17 were twice as likely to be killed or injured when in combat compared to those enlisted when aged 18 or over. Medact also found that they were more likely to commit suicide, self-harm, abuse alcohol and develop post-traumatic stress disorder than older recruits

In May this year, the BMI Journal reviewed an article: Adverse health effects of recruiting child soldiers, published in February. It rejected the main justification resting on fears of a ‘recruitment shortfall’: saying that given the extensive harms described in its report, to put recruitment figures above the health and well-being of children and adolescents seems misguided and counterproductive for both the Ministry of Defence as a governmental body and wider society.The second justification alleging economic and occupational benefits to recruits, many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds was also rejected:

“(W)e have seen that it is precisely child recruits from disadvantaged backgrounds who are at highest risk of adverse outcomes in the military. Furthermore, figures from 2017 show that those recruited under the age of 18 constituted 24% of those who voluntarily left the Armed Forces before completing their service—this also increases the likelihood of lower mental health outcomes”.

It supported the views of those of the fourteen organisations mentioned here, recommending that the UK end its practice of recruiting adolescents to the armed forces.

 

 

 

 

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Media 103: #No More Trump campaign denied the oxygen of publicity by mainstream press

Richard House draws attention to the global campaign, World Protest Day, #No More Trump, launched on August 10th by President Nicolas Maduro.

It appeals to the peoples of the world to stand with the people of Venezuela against the economic, financial and commercial blockade imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Hundreds of thousands of people in the streets of Caracas held signs that read, ‘No Mas Trump’ to protest against the U.S. president and his administration which has prevented the Venezuelan government from accessing billions of its own dollars and blocked food and medicine from entering the country.

Demonstrators in Australia, U.S., France, Aruba, South Korea, Haiti, Turkey Italy, Germany, Dominican Republic, Argentina, and Mozambique, among other nations, took part in World Protest Day

Under the hashtags, #NoMoreTrump, #NoMasTrump and #HandsOffVenezuela in support of Venezuela and the Maduro administration, they also demanded the halting of the U.S. administration’s efforts to try and install the self-declared interim president, Juan Guaido.

Their petition will be circulated globally until the end of August, and then presented to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, in early September. It begins with the words: We, the undersigned, the peoples of the world… It is expected that millions will sign the petition at this link in Venezuela and across the globe, before August 31, 2019.

The Caracas rally was denied Thatcher’s oxygen of publicity: Hong Kong protests dominated the press and pages of Donald Trump’s tweets pervaded the twittersphere

On August 10th, President Maduro told the thousands of Venezuelans gathered at the rally in Caracas “Today, we Venezuelans have dignity and are spiritually united.” Gerald A. Perreira, an executive member of the Caribbean Chapter of the Network for the Defense of Humanity and the Caribbean Pan-African Network (CPAN) comments:” Revolutions cannot be limited to the material/ economic plane. In fact, if a revolution is to be successful, the spiritual and cultural dimensions must be central. Hugo Chavez constantly invoked liberation theology in his speeches, and was clear that his inspiration to liberate his nation came from his religious convictions”.

Perreira recalls that on August 5, Trump had expanded the sanctions against Venezuela, signing an executive order to freeze all Venezuelan State assets in the US. Economists Mark Weisbrot and Jeffrey Sachs, in a report issued by the Washington-based Centre for Economic & Political Research published earlier this year, found that as a result of the US embargo, Venezuelans were deprived of “lifesaving medicines, medical equipment, food and other essential imports”. They estimated that the sanctions against Venezuela caused at least 40,000 deaths between 2017 and 2018, and can be considered as assault on the civilian population, contravening the Geneva and Hague international conventions, of which the US is a signatory. He points out that:

“Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua constitute an “axis of hope, dignity and defiance”

  • Unlike the US, none of these countries have ever invaded another country, or supported any form of terrorism.
  • All three have been leaders for human advancement, dignity and progress in the region and worldwide, sharing human, cultural, scientific, and any other resource that could propel the rest of us forward.
  • Cuba has been in the vanguard, making extraordinary contributions in the fields of healthcare and medical research.
  • Despite the US’s criminal 60 year old blockade, which has been rightly described as “the longest lasting genocidal attack in history”, Cuba has developed vaccines and drugs that have saved countless lives.

The 120 member non-aligned movement (NAM) has discussed measures to counter the impact of US global sanctions, with 21 countries now included on Washington’s sanctions list. A gathering of NAM countries met in Caracas last month, together with seven observer countries, ten multilateral international organisations including the United Nations (UN) and fourteen specially invited nations. Speaking at the opening ceremony, President Nicolas Maduro (above) stressed that ending US global hegemony is a realistic goal, issuing a statement that affirmed that only Venezuela can decide its fate. It warned that US sanctions were in breach of the United Nations charter.

Perreira comments that progressive forces which stand outside the materialist tradition must take the upper hand and reclaim the revolutionary messages of the Bible and the Qur’an from ‘usurpers and hijackers’. He emphasizes that the peoples of the Global South have the natural resources and power to humble the Empire: “It is a well substantiated fact that if Europe and the US were denied access to its resources for two weeks, their economies would grind to a halt” and quotes the words of Arundhati Roy:

“The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling – their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability… 

Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them…

“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Media 93: MSM downplays Britain’s role in the latest Yemeni killing & the BBC omits UN experts’ charge

Today, the BBC reports that UN Group of Regional and International Eminent Experts on Yemen will present a report to the UN Human Rights Council next month. It says that the experts believe war crimes may have been committed by all parties to the conflict in Yemen.

Yemeni government forces, the Saudi-led coalition backing them, and the rebel Houthi movement have made little effort to minimise civilian casualties and there have been attacks on residential areas in which thousands have died. The warring parties are also accused of arbitrary detentions, torture, enforced disappearances and recruiting children.

But the BBC failed to mention that the Group of Experts’ report notes that coalition air strikes have caused most direct civilian casualties. The airstrikes have hit residential areas, markets, funerals, weddings, detention facilities, civilian boats and even medical facilities.

Yemenis dig graves for children in the wake of the latest air strike

Lest we forget, the remote-sounding Saudi-led coalition is supported by UK arms sales (including cluster bombs manufactured in the UK) and technical assistance.  British military personnel are complicit – deployed in the command and control centre responsible for Saudi-led air strikes on Yemen, giving access to lists of targets.

The Saudi-led coalition struck last Wednesday and Thursday. Following the attacks on Wednesday, four families in northwestern Yemen, who had decided to leave their homes to avoid such danger, were in a vehicle when airstrikes hit again.

Though Britain’s mainstream media fully reported the killings of 9th August, a search finds no reference to those on the 24th.

CNN did full justice to this atrocity, recalling also that earlier this month, a Saudi-led airstrike hit a school bus carrying scores of boys in Yemen. The attack killed 51 people, including 40 children, according to the Health Ministry. CNN has established that the bomb used in that attack was a 500-pound (227 kilogram) MK 82 bomb made by Lockheed Martin, one of the top US defence contractors.

CNN adds: “There have been growing calls in the US Congress for Saudi Arabia, a key US ally in the Middle East, to do more to prevent civilian deaths in Yemen, where three years of conflict have taken a terrible toll”.

The latest news: yesterday, Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon Correspondent, reports that the Pentagon has issued a warning to Saudi Arabia that it is prepared to reduce military and intelligence support for its campaign against rebels in neighbouring Yemen if the Saudis don’t demonstrate they are attempting to limit civilian deaths in airstrikes – adding “It is not clear if President Donald Trump, who views the Saudis as an essential ally, would agree to a reduction of support”.

 

But, like the proverbial three monkeys, the failing British government hears, sees and speaks no evil.

 

 

 

 

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As Jeremy Corbyn implied: “The West should reflect on its part in prolonging the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”

It is the 50th anniversary week of the Six-Day War of 1967 when Israel seized 1,200 square water-rich kilometres of the Golan Heights from Syria and later annexed it – though its right to this land has never been recognised by the international community.

Donald Macintyre, who lived in Jerusalem for many years and won the 2011 Next Century Foundation’s Peace Through Media Award, recalls in the Independent that fifty years ago Shlomo Gazit, head of the Israeli military intelligence’s assessment department, heard detailed reports of the destruction that morning of almost the entire Egyptian air force by Israeli jets – his 23-year-old nephew being among the few missing Israeli pilots. He then started work on a clear-sighted blueprint for the future of the territories Israel had occupied, arguing that “Israel should not humiliate its defeated enemies and their leaders.”

Jerusalem: an open city or UN headquarters?

There were then, as now, many leading Zionist Israelis who believed that occupation was a wholly wrong course. Gazit outlined plans for an independent, non-militarised Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza Strip; the Old City of Jerusalem would become an “open city … with an international status resembling that of the Vatican”.

A British Quaker, Richard Rowntree, advocated moving the UN Headquarters from New York to Jerusalem and years later Sir Sydney Giffard, a former British Ambassador to Japan, presented the social and economic advantages to Israelis and Palestinians of moving the UN Headquarters to the vicinity of Jerusalem (Spectator link only accessible if account created). Whilst recognising difficulties and obstacles, Giffard felt that UN member states giving determined support to this project “could enable the UN to effect a transformation – both of its own and of the region’s character – of historic significance”.

But after 50 years the Palestinians, as Macintyre points out, “a resourceful and mainly well-educated population, are still imprisoned in a maze of checkpoints closures and military zones, deprived of civil and political rights and governed by martial law (denounced by Mehdi Hasan here, destruction of sewage system pictured above). And all this nearly three decades after Yasser Arafat agreed to end the conflict in return for a state on Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem – 22% of historic Palestine (Even Hamas, so long one of many excuses for not reaching a deal, last month issued its qualified support for such an outcome)”.

“The West should reflect on its part in prolonging the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”

Under this heading, Macintyre points out that the US provides Israel with over $3bn (£2.3bn) a year in military aid and the EU implements trade agreements which exempt only the most flagrant economic activity in the settlements from its provisions, leading Benjamin Netanyahu to believe he can maintain the occupation with impunity.

He summarises the potential gains of a peace agreement for Israel: “full diplomatic and economic relations with the Arab world, an end to the growing perception of Israel as an apartheid state, the reduction of costs – moral and financial – to its own citizens of using a conscript army to enforce the occupation”.

Co-existence in Iran

In several Stirrer articles, opening with this one, Richard Lutz reports on his visits to Iran – as a Jew, albeit lapsed – and Roger Cohen’s account in the New York Times is not to be missed. He – like Lutz, “treated with such consistent warmth” in Iran, says, “It’s important to decide what’s more significant: the annihilationist anti-Israel ranting, the Holocaust denial and other Iranian provocations — or the fact of a Jewish community living, working and worshipping in relative tranquillity. Perhaps I have a bias toward facts over words, but I say the reality of Iranian civility toward Jews tells us more about Iran — its sophistication and culture — than all the inflammatory rhetoric”.

As so many civilised Israelis and Palestinians work for peace, some details recorded here, and the settlement of Neve Shalom (above) shows what is possible, Macintyre ends by saying that it is not just the Israelis and the Palestinians who should be reflecting this week on the impact of what is surely the longest occupation in modern history:

“It is time for the Western powers to reflect on their part in prolonging a conflict which will never end of its own accord”.

 

 

 

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

 

 

Political loyalties: EU or USA? The red carpet treatment wins the day

cameron red carpet muscat

Saudi Arabia, with Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Sudan led a gulf coalition airstrike against Yemen in March. The Obama administration is supporting the Saudi-led air war with intelligence, air refueling operations and expediting weapons deliveries and other crucial support.

Today a Moseley reader draws our attention to the news reported by the Guardian that – eager to follow suit – David Cameron has extolled the ‘defence’ products made by BAE Systems and assured the company that every effort would be made by the UK government to support the selling of their equipment to Saudi Arabia, Oman and other countries.

This, despite the European parliament’s vote in favour of an EU-wide ban on arms being sold to Saudi Arabia in protest at its heavy aerial bombing of Yemen, which has been condemned by the UN.

According to a BBC report, Houthis – aka Shiite Muslim rebels – are seeking change from weak governance, corruption, resource depletion and poor infrastructure, unemployment, high food prices, limited social services and large-scale displacement.

Tens of thousands of Yemenis have taken to the streets of the capital, Sana’a, to voice their anger at the Saudi invasion.

yemen bombing

Death and destruction: the fruits of Saudi, UK, USA labour

 

In Ireland’s Parliament: Senator David Norris, incandescent on Israeli government action

Admirable and truthful – a searing denunciation of Anglo-Saxon cruelty

israel2 david norris

August 2014:

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10203724273340046 – perhaps technically better – sight and sound.

Then he asks: “What to do?” and answers:

 

  • Remove the embargo
  • Step up EU differentiation policies
  • Expel Britain’s Israeli ambassador
  • Explore possibility of UN peacekeeping force in Gaza
  • Send civilian organisations to restore Gaza’s electricity and meet all basic needs

Also on:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7sSQFpyJu8

Migrants? Many are refugees escaping from countries which the British government has helped to destabilise

According to the UN, the overwhelming majority of these people are escaping war. The largest group are fleeing Syria, a country in which an estimated 220,000 to more than 300,000 people have been killed during its appalling and escalating war. Many others come from Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Eritrea and Somalia – all places from which people are commonly given asylum.

As a reader reminded us today, refugees have rights under The 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol (extract below) and migrants do not – so ‘relabelling’ is advantageous to states who wish to avoid their legal obligations.

unhcr2 refugee rights

A very large number of refugees are fleeing from unimaginable misery and danger and a smaller number of people are trying to escape the sort of poverty that drives some to desperation.

Colin Yeo and other members of the immigration team at London’s Garden Court Chambers set up a blog to cover these subjects, with several graphs, one of which shows how very far from the truth is the media/state conveyed impression that Britain is number one destination and is being ‘swamped’..

resettle 2syrian refugees

So far this year, nearly 340,000 refugees have crossed Europe’s borders. A large number, but still only 0.045% of Europe’s total population of 740 million.

Contrast that with Turkey, which hosts 1.8 million refugees from Syria alone, Lebanon, in which there are more than one million Syrians and even Iraq, struggling with its own ‘war’, is home to more than 200,000 people who have fled its neighbour.

As Barry Malone on Al-Jazeera says: “There are no easy answers and taking in refugees is a difficult challenge for any country but, to find solutions, an honest conversation is necessary”.

But much of that conversation is shaped – distorted – by the media

For reasons of accuracy, the director of news at Al Jazeera English, Salah Negm, has decided that the word migrant will no longer be used in this context. Instead, where appropriate, they will say ‘refugee’.

The wording is correct but – terminology sorted – how can these huge destabilisations be redressed?