Archives for posts with tag: CIA

Comments on an FT article by Philip Stephens 

No policies? Every time I see Jeremy Corbyn being interviewed or giving speeches he is addressing these very issues and more.

“Who can worry about housing, schools or transport, let alone the mundane aspirations of Middle England, ahead of the great liberation struggles.” I don’t know where Philip Stephens has been but every time I see Jeremy Corbyn being interviewed or giving speeches he is addressing these very issues and more.

I would suggest he and the Labour party have lost the working-class vote thanks to the previous Blair government being non representative of them.  Remember Mandelson talking about being: ” Intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich as long as they pay their taxes…?” Corbyn has also suffered very badly by the press.  Mrs May has profited by Cameron’s mistake and badly handled Remain campaign and we are now at the mercy of this unelected PM and her party… (see also JC policy docs here)

Philip Stephens creates a narrative that doesn’t fit the facts. Corbyn has delivered effective attacks on the Government on welfare, the NHS and housing, some producing small U-turns.

He also travelled up and down the country campaigning to Remain. The problem was he and the Labour Party failed to breakthrough the media ignoring their campaign and focussing (in terms of the Remain argument) exclusively on the pathetic and useless official Remain campaign. Jeremy has been democratically elected twice to be leader. His record should in no way be considered dismal. He has consistently delivered his honestly and long-held beliefs.

Rubbish analysis as per usual although the historical throwback is well put.

Corbyn does care about housing, education, schools, middle england, under invested regions (it was Corbyn who was talking about a migrant impact fund), transition to Green energy.

Corbyn far-left? Inaccurate and “un-FT”. Corbyn seems to be a middle of the road socialist, at least by normal European standards.

Far-left policies include abolishing private healthcare, private education, the monarchy, making all third-level education free, nationalising banks and railways and a number of other things, some of which would probably be quite good for the country.

As it is, Corbyn seems to be a middle of the road socialist, at least by normal European standards. Far-left European politicians would include Vladimir Lenin, Rosa Luxembourg, Alexander Lukashenko and any number of dictatorial 1980s Communist party secretaries in Warsaw Pact-era eastern Europe. Jeremy Corbyn is quite clearly not in that zone unless one is a swivel-eyed Daily Mail reader.

A question: When Brexit is done and May is left standing there blinking vaguely and surrounded by the wreckage of the economy where will the Conservative Party be in the eyes of the electorate?

Its reputation for sound economic management will have been trashed along with the economic damage it has just imposed on the country so who wins?

Philip you are doing the FT (and its readers) a signal disservice by misunderstanding Corbyn and the Labour left.

Copeland was never likely to vote for an anti nuclear Labour Party – and well you know that. The wonder is that the Labour Party nearly won the seat despite being clearly antagonistic to the existence of the region’s biggest employer. WE, the subscribers to the FT, expect objective reporting that enables good decision making.

Corbyn and labour can’t win at the moment, if they go to the middle and ignore the democratisation of their party they will lose, if they stay a democratic left party the boomers and those with assets won’t vote for them as they fear socialism

Meanwhile the millennials and future generations bear the brunt of public debt created privately, and shareholder capitalism which is a race to the bottom, generation rent, and the absurd 40% of income rent costs in areas where there are plentiful jobs and opportunity epitomises the modern day surplus extraction and misery of those who have not lived among the golden age of capitalism, add tuition fees, stagnating public services (NHS), erosion of employment rights and you can see why Corbyn is confident among that 20% (of which I’m a part, ha ha ha, how funny he’s so inept ha ha ha lets all laugh at corbyn because there are so many other alternatives out there that are SO much better).

The Tories will continue their irrational, economically illiterate policy that is not running the country into the ground but causing growing social issues, and new social actors will emerge from the post 2008 age eventually tipping the balance towards something more corbyn-esque. Until then it will be the same old, same old.

Corbyn’s crackpot policies are simply outrageous! Spending a little more on the NHS and primary school education?  Providing a bit more affordable housing in the midst of a housing crisis? 

Failing to asset strip the public infrastructure? Rowing back a bit on the vast, exploitative Sports Direct-ification of the British economy?  Why, this is simply unpatriotic! How “radical” – somebody stop this crazed moderate, centre-left European-style social democrat Corbyn before my taxes end up a little bit higher and the proles end up with a slightly better quality of life!

God forbid that poorer people should ever have slightly better quality of life. Who knows where that might end? It’s better not to give people hope. It just encourages them to think. 

I agree.  Britain’s low wage, low skill, low investment, low productivity economy would be severely jeopardised by the dangerous, radical policies of Jeremy Corbyn. Sure, he’s languishing in the polls now, but the proles are a fickle lot and cannot be trusted to consistently vote for their own impoverishment. What if Corbyn dons a Union Jack leotard and starts leaping up to belt out a few verses of ‘God Save The Queen’ with gusto on the next campaign trail, waving a couple of flags about like the dickens.  Why, the proles might even be duped by this charade into voting him into office! This would leave us all at the mercy of an outbreak of half-decent working and housing conditions for the proles at any time.  This simply would not do, too much has already been invested by the Conservatives in their cooption of UKIP’s policy platform!

There was no money left. The Tories have just borrowed billions. The crash will be spectacular.

This article is high in the running for one of the worst I have read in the FT in years.  We are in the end times of Neo-Liberalism, an experiment where maybe 20% did very well, and 80% were massively left behind.

Corbyn, Trump, Brexit are consequences of a system that has failed, and a financial system that collapsed in 2008, never a crisis always a collapse.  Stevens has no understanding of the why’s of brexit or the rise of Corbyn.  The left-right paradigm is dead.  I could not find one sentence in this article that is not total ideological nonsense.

If Jeremy has got under the skin of Philip Stephens so badly he must be doing something right.

Most Labour MPs and most journalists hate Corbyn as if he were the devil.  He represents the one pole of the process of polarisation caused by the 2007-9 Great Recession and the continuing crisis of world capitalism.

Let there be no mistake. The reason Philip Stephens is so horrified is because if his buddies amongst the old Labour MPs who are career politicians, were instead people of principle and socialists, then the Labour Party would be challenging for power.

The lesson of our era is the fluidity and rapidity of change. If Corbyn is right, (and I think there is lots of evidence to back him up), if he can be seen to be a leader of masses on protests and demonstrations, this will sharply polarise politics and this may match a simultaneous collapse in Tory support.  The Labour MPs who are resigning and trying to oust Corbyn again with their endless press briefings against him are part of a deliberate coup attempt. This time a sort of coup by water torture. They will fail again. The only major criticism one can make of Corbyn is he is too soft on these saboteurs. There are times when a sword must be wielded.

The worrying thing about this analysis is, his policies weren’t even that far left, they were definitely more central than Thatcher’s. Yet the FT reports this as if he’s Lenin/Kim Jung Un etc. His biggest failing for the press is he wants a meritocracy and for companies which require state support (through the use of tax credits to prop up salaries and increase profits and bonuses) to not pay dividends, which is effectively the Government paying the rich in an indirect way. Yes he has his failings, as does everyone, but generally speaking a lot of his economic policies would work fairly well at creating a long term balanced economy.

Corbyn, and his anointed heir, need to show there is an alternative to the Conservative Creed. Perhaps he needs to lose an election to clear out the MPs who are undermining him.

Perhaps this will result in his own political demise. But if he has a suitable succession plan in place then his success will come after he is gone. With the LabouraTory MPs planked off the sinking ship, seats will be freed for real Labour candidates for the subsequent election.

Facetious commentary. Corbyn has inherited a mess of a party with crumbling membership and totally out of touch MPs.

Time and time again polls have shown that the public want a ring fenced NHS, working railways and better care for the elderly, sick and disabled. To finance that he has stated that he will increase funding to the HMRC so that it can go after companies that are not paying their taxes (last year’s estimated unpaid tax was £34 Billion) which is probably why this article has been written in the style it has.

People want the state to intervene if something isn’t working. The current level of income disparity is something that is directly affecting the world by creating the perfect soil for fascism. Yet no other political leader wants to do anything about it (since it will affect their careers after being an MP). 

Versus the CIA and capitalism he is the best chance we have of having a fair society

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council-house

Birmingham Trades Union Council meeting:

7.30 pm Thursday 1st December

Committee rooms 3 and 4 The Council House Victoria Square BI IBB

For the first half of the meeting there will be a discussion opened by Murad Qureshi, the new national chair of Stop the War Coalition.

Donald Trump’s surprise victory in the recent Presidential election was a big shock to the liberal establishment in the West. His openly racist attitude to Muslims (banning their entry into USA), building a wall on the Mexican border and his attitude to sexual assaults on women have appalled millions of Americans.  Newsnight and other programmes have been mourning the end of the liberal world order with the election of Donald Trump referring to the fact that he openly supports torture and use of enhanced interrogation by the use of waterboarding. But tens of thousands of detainees have been tortured under Presidents

Bush and Obama with the continuation of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp which Obama had promised to closed. Trump is just more honest when he says he supports torture which has been continuously used under previous administrations. Trump will just be a continuation of the brutal imperialist world order imposed on the people of the Middle East and other regions.

But what are his policies on the Middle East and on the American intervention in the region?

Donald Trump has denounced the deal in his election campaign and has appointed several cabinet members have a record of opposing the deal. But given the strong backing of the deal by Russia and the European powers it is difficult to see Trump withdrawing from the deal.

A good summary of the policies of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is presented in the newspaper “i” by Patrick Cockburn on Saturday 12th November. It is entitled “Trump may be a danger to world peace – but Clinton would have started new wars”. Clinton called for No Fly Zones in Syria which could only be implemented by American aircraft shooting down aircraft and helicopters of the Assad regime and his Russian backers. This would involve a dangerous escalation of the Syrian conflict almost certainly leading to even more civilian deaths. As Patrick Cockburn says, “Hillary Clinton’s intentions in Syria, though never fully formulated, always sounded more interventionist than Trump’s. One of senior advisors openly proposed giving less priority to the assault on Isis and more to getting rid of President Bashar al-Assad.”

The headlines on Trump’s foreign policy has been his praise of Putin, clearly he does not seek a confrontation with Putin which Clinton’s policies would have probably led to. But actually it is very unclear what is Trump’s policies as Patrick Cockburn says, “Nobody really knows if Trump will deal any differently from Obama with the swathe of countries between Pakistan and Nigeria where there at least seven wars raging – Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and South Sudan”. But given his reluctance to get into confrontation with Putin he does seem to have a different policy on the Syrian civil war. Patrick Cockburn sums up this view when he says, “The most serious wars in which the US is already militarily involved are in Iraq and Syria, and here, Trump’s comments suggest that he will focus on destroying Isis, recognise the danger of becoming militarily over-involved and look for some sort of co-operation with Russia as the next biggest player in the conflict. This is similar to what is already happening.”

Trump has appointed some very right wing people to his cabinet to positions of National Security advisor and Head of the CIA so the prospects for peaceful developments in The Middle East seem very unlikely. The Anti-War movement needs to be ready to respond to further aggressive American activity.

 

 

 

drone for general use

“Drone” documentary at MAC in November, plus post-screening Q&A. Location: MAC Birmingham, Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham B12 9QH
Date: 10 November 2015.   Time: 19:00 – 22:00

esrc2 festival logoA documentary about the CIA drone war, directed by Tonje Hessen Schei: Inside the secret CIA drone war. Intimate stories from the war on terror. People living under drones in Pakistan and drone pilots struggling with killing through joysticks in the US.

The film covers diverse and integral ground from the recruitment of young pilots at gaming conventions and the re-definition of “going to war”, to the moral stance of engineers behind the technology, the world leaders giving the secret “green light” to engage in the biggest targeted killing program in history, and the people willing to stand up against the violations of civil liberties and fight for transparency, accountability and justice.

drone control room

This is just the beginning. In the midst of fast advancement of technology and lagging international legislation the film shows how drones change wars and possibly our future.

Join the Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security from the University of Birmingham for a post-screening Q&A with experts on the ethics, strategy, and legality of drone use.

Please register online for this event

Contact: Ms Catherine Edwards: Email: c.j.edwards@bham.ac.uk Telephone: 0121 414 7340

Organised by: University of Birmingham. Event website: ‘Drone’ Documentary, plus post-screening Q&A

Venue: The MAC Birmingham, Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham B12 9QH

tw picA message in support of ‘unifier’ Tom Watson has been received from a Labour Party registered supporter who had been ‘terribly downhearted and disillusioned by the election result but didn’t necessarily believe that anything would change’.

This correspondent signed up to vote in the leadership election because she now thinks it might and is convinced that, whoever we elect as leader, (and she is backing Jeremy Corbyn) choosing Tom Watson as deputy is a crucial part of the change the country needs. Many potential CLP electors agree as the snapshot from his website on the left shows. She points out:

tw 2 supportHe’s also a conviction politician who stood up against Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation when nobody else would.

He had his garage broken into, people went through his bins and he was put under covert surveillance. At times he feared for his own and his family’s safety, but he kept going because that’s what he’s like, and he won.

Other points:

  • Historic child abuse survivors began to contact him about organised cover-ups at the heart of the Establishment. The world told him to leave it alone. Again, he refused, and now several police inquiries are underway.
  • He set up the All Party Drones Group to campaign against CIA extra-judicial killings. Some Labour politicians said it was bad politics. Tom said it was the right thing to do.
  • He became the first MP to Judicially Review government primary legislation, successfully, over the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act – in a joint action with Liberty and the Open Rights Group.
  • In the last Parliament he opposed the military actions in Libya and Syria.
  • Wide experience: MP since 2001, former full-time trade union official, Government Minister, Government Whip, Deputy Chair of the Party.

She ended: “I think it’s vital that we put Tom Watson beside our new leader as deputy”.


And sent a link so that readers can have more information about MP Tom Watson and his campaigns.

 

 

amendment brok report dronesAn amendment to the European Parliament’s annual report on the EU’s foreign policy called for the EU to advocate a binding UN convention on the use of unmanned drone aircraft for targeted killings.

West Midlands MEP Phil Bennion today repeated this call for a binding international convention on drone strikes and targeted killings:

“The indiscriminate use of drone strikes by the U.S. in countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Yemen must come to an end.

phillip bennion2“These so-called ‘targeted killings’ are often not very targeted at all, and can end up killing large numbers of civilians, destroying vital infrastructure and crippling the local economy. Far from eliminating terrorism, these strikes play into the hands of Islamic extremists by fostering anti-Western sentiment.

“The CIA who operate many of these aircraft claim that they are not bound by the laws of war. This gap in international law needs to be closed.

“That is why I am calling for a clear and binding international convention on the use of drone strikes for targeted killings. There should be clear rules that ensure such strikes are only used in exceptional circumstances, against high-level targets deemed to be an immediate threat and when there is no risk of civilian casualties.

“It is unfortunate that the Tories and UKIP blocked today’s proposal, but the fact the vote was so close shows that there is strong support in the European Parliament for the EU to take a stand against the use of drone strikes.”

It was rejected by only 3 votes. Perhaps some of the Conservative and UKIP MEPS who blocked EU support for the proposal will change their minds next time this comes before the European Parliament.


Note: The proposal was contained in amendment 11 to the Annual Report from the Council to the European Parliament on the Common Foreign and Security Policy (link to report here) 2013/2081(INI) by Elmar Brok.

Yesterday, via the Brummie, Reyhana Patel was the third voicing a common theme.

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After sharing Andrew Alexander’s insight on another website a link was sent to an article by Joe Glenton who – as Reyhana wrote – refused to return to Afghanistan and fought a 12-month battle for simply airing his concerns on what he saw while serving in the country.

andrew alexander journalistIn the often appalling Daily Mail there is the occasional gem of exploration, investigation and today – welcome commonsense and humanity. Andrew Alexander – ranked 6th in Total Politics 2011 rankings and author of America and the Imperialism of Ignorance: US Foreign Policy since 1945, writes:

There are two ways to react to the brutal horror of the Woolwich murder.

“One is sheer anger and disgust plus a demand for tougher controls, even empowering the Government to eavesdrop on every citizen’s phone calls and email messages.

The other is to use our brains and our imagination to understand why young Muslims can be easily ‘radicalised’, ie, turned into murderers.

The spectacle at Woolwich may have been utterly disgusting. But was it any more appalling, Islamists can ask, than the spectacle of an Afghan child with its limbs blown off — and all because a CIA agent in Virginia had hit the ‘Go’ button for his drone to fire without being 100 per cent certain that the targeted gathering was a Taliban gang not a wedding party”.

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joe glentonJoe Glenton agrees in the Guardian that “while nothing can justify the savage killing in Woolwich yesterday of a man since confirmed to have been a serving British soldier, it should not be hard to explain why the murder happened”. Like Rehana, Joe points out that “rejection of and opposition to the toxic wars that informed yesterday’s attacks is by no means a “Muslim” trait. Vast swathes of the British population also stand in opposition to these wars, including many veterans of the wars like myself and Ross, as well as serving soldiers I speak to who cannot be named here for fear of persecution”.

reyhana patelReyhana, like Andrew Alexander, dares to raise the possibility that UK foreign policy may be the real issue that’s ignored when tackling extremism in the UKShe believes thatwe need an open discussion on foreign policy where no one should be silenced for disagreeing or agreeing with mainstream political views and asks:

  • Will Afghans be better off when the troops withdraw?

  • Was going into Iraq a mistake?

  • Why is there still large-scale suffering.

  • Who is being held accountable for the killing of civilians?

Joe’s conclusions will reflect those of many readers:

If there is collective responsibility for the killings, it belongs to the hawks whose policies have caused bloodbaths – directly, as in Afghanistan and Iraq, and indirectly in places as far apart as Woolwich and Boston, which in turn have created political space for the far right to peddle their hatred, as we saw in the immediate aftermath of the Woolwich attack.

“What we must do now is straightforward enough. Our own responsibilities are first of all to make sure innocents are not subject to blanket punishment for things that they did not do, and to force our government – safe in their houses – to put an end to Britain’s involvement in the vicious foreign occupations that have again created bloodshed in London”.