#AceGuestNews (Exclusive) – October 01 – The photos I submitted of President Obama during his days as a student at Harvard University are not in the public domain therefore my publisher recommended that I rely on their library of photos in the public domain.
I am well pleased with their recommendations and I picked this one.
The book will be released in print and e-book formats shortly, in the meantime the manuscript is accessible at: Black Politics 2
You may find the video interview that was produced by the school of journalism students at Columbia University regarding our support for Senator Barack Obama for president in 2008 interesting.
Among the legacies that embody the tumultuous and victorious 1960’s, the civil rights movement by way of the enactment of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights legislation of 1964 and 1965 respectively constitutes the centre piece. This dynamic period in the context of social and political civil rights advances is generally portrayed in romantic terms that are woven into revisionist historical narratives that often overlook or override essential political truths and the political facts on the ground. In the balance, politically correct sound-bites and popular hyperbole pervades the political discourse.
#AceGuestNews – May 10 – (RFERL) – Having seen decades of war and violence, Omer Karabeg knows the transformative power of words. For 20 years, through his program “The Bridge,” he has sought to forge a dialogue among representatives of the former Yugoslavia’s different political, ethnic, and religious groups, whose views on his carefully chosen, contentious topics often could not be more at odds.
Karabeg’s guests run the gamut from hard-line politicians to political moderates to academics and cultural figures. While his pairings are often daring, he always insists on a civil discussion and mutual respect, qualities that are scarce in the region’s mainstream media.
Arbana Vidishiqi, RFE/RL’s Kosovo Bureau Chief, remembered how in 2002, with the wounds of the Kosovo war still raw, Karabeg gathered influential Kosovo Albanians and Serbs in a face-to-face round-table discussion in Pristina.
“That was so rare at that time, just after the war, to see those two sides talking,” said Vidishiqi. “What was especially interesting was to see these former [Albanian] guerilla fighters talking with Serbs even during the breaks.” Over the course of two decades, “The Bridge” has broadcast more than 800 such dialogues involving more than 1,500 participants.
The 30-minute weekly program began as a radio show and is now also recorded as a Skype broadcast for on-line audiences. On many occasions, the show has broken barriers between figures across political and ethnic divides who have then continued their dialogue in follow-up meetings off the air. Excerpts and quotes from the dialogues are regularly reprinted in high-circulation national newspapers throughout the region.
Much has changed since the first broadcast of “The Bridge” in April 1994 which, at the height of the Yugoslav war, focused on how to start the process of reconciliation between the Serb minority and the Croatian majority in Croatia. At that time, much of the former Yugoslavia was separated not only by ideology, but by violence, blocked roads, and broken telephone lines.
But Karabeg says some divides persist. “The most difficult combination to have on the show is nationalists, of course,” he said. “Nationalists don’t like discussion, they like monologues. They usually don’t change their minds after the show, but at least they talk; at least it gives them something to think about later.”
Originally from Bosnia-Herzegovina Karabeg is a veteran journalist who, before joining RFE/RL in 1994 in the early days of the Balkan Service (then known as the South Slavic Service), was a popular prime-time national TV news anchor in Belgrade.
He left Belgrade after refusing to broadcast nationalist propaganda during the war, an act of defiance for which he was called a traitor on national TV by government officials. Karabeg is the winner of the 2010 Erhard Busek South East Europe Media Award for Better Understanding in South East Europe.
He received the Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia’s Jug Grizelj Award for promoting friendship and overcoming barriers between the people in the region. He has published selected dialogues from “The Bridge” in two books: “Bridge of Dialogue: Conversations Despite the War,” and “Dialogue on the Powder Keg, Serbian-Albanian Dialogue.”
While Karabeg has seen much progress in the region, he says the deepest rifts remain in Bosnia, where dialogue between politicians from the two main ethnic entities carved out in the Dayton Accords has broken down. “Each side has its own media where the politicians can go on and say whatever they want with no one to challenge them when they lie,” he said.
He added that separatist rhetoric has intensified in Bosnia since the outbreak of the Ukrainian crisis, and that the international community must stay engaged there to keep the dialogue going.
” As the saying goes,” Karabeg said, “It’s better to have 1,000 days of talking than to have war for even one day.”
Courtesy and by Emily Thompson of her News and Views – Radio Free Europe
#AceGuestNews – NEW YORK – The unidentified remains of those killed in the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Centre in New York City were moved into a repository at the bedrock level of Ground Zero on Saturday after a procession through Manhattan streets.
The 7,930 fragmentary remains in sealed containers were escorted by fire, police and Port Authority vehicles with flashing lights and no sirens from a Manhattan forensics lab to the repository at the site of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
The repository will be under the care of the city’s chief medical examiner, whose office will continue trying to match the fragments to the more than 1,000 victims of the attacks that have yet to have had any remains identified.
The repository is sealed off from exhibition areas by a wall and will only be accessible to the medical examiner’s staff and family members of the victims, who will be able to visit the space even when the museum is closed, the city has said.
Some family members of those killed in the attacks protested the move, saying it was wrong to store the remains at what is essentially a tourist site, adding that the underground repository could be subject to flooding.
They put black bands over their mouths in a silent protest as the procession rolled past.
“The human remains repository is most certainly a part of the museum,” Jim Riches, the chairman of the 9/11 Parents & Families of Firefighters and WTC Victims group, said in a statement.
Other family members have supported the move.
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Jonathan Allen and Tom Heneghan)
Tweet Guest News and Views #ANS2014
- Families of 9/11 victims protest against move of remains to New York museum(theguardian.com)
- 9/11 remains returned to World Trade Center site(news.yahoo.com)
#AceGuestNews – SOMERSWORTH – New Hampshire – Barack Obama and his Democratic allies in the Congress have grown more confident in recent months about their ability to use the president’s signature healthcare law as a draw rather than a liability in this November’s midterm elections.
Three races in New Hampshire illustrate the challenge, offering a test of whether Democrats can overcome voter skepticism about the 2010 Affordable Care Act. The law, aiming to expand health insurance coverage to millions more Americans, has come under sustained attack from Republicans.
The president has urged Democrats campaigning in the November 4 congressional elections not to run away from “Obamacare,” but instead to “forcefully defend” it. Obama has said that a surge in enrollment shows the system is running smoothly now, after its disastrous debut last October.
New Hampshire, which is closely divided between Democrats and Republicans, is one of about 10 states where Republicans hope to make gains in order to pick up six seats they need to put the Democratic-led Senate under their control.
Senators Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana have been among the Democratic targets of anti-Obamacare ads by conservative groups such as Americans for Prosperity.
Republicans are counting on voter antipathy toward Obamacare to try to take charge of the Senate and expand their majority in the House of Representatives.
But while Obamacare may now be working better, national polls clearly show more people disapprove than approve of the law.
By Susan Cornwell
Tweet Guest News and Views #ANS2104
- Defeat the Obamacare Six(senateconservatives.com)
- No joy from 2014 Dems on April jobs(politico.com)
- More and more Democrats view Obamacare as liability(capitolhillblue.com)
- What Will Happen in November?(my.firedoglake.com)
- ‘Obamacare’ under attack at conservative gathering(nzherald.co.nz)
#AceGuestNews – BENGHAZI – May 10 – House Democratic leaders have been unstinting in their criticism of the select committee established this week to investigate the aftermath of the 2012 attack on an American compound in Benghazi, Libya. Now they are facing a touch choice about whether to join it, cautiously weighing which strategy would be riskier politically and whether their instinct to boycott the select committee might just give it more power in the end.
Democratic leaders have called the new committee “a political ploy,” a “stunt,” a “sham,” a “waste of taxpayer dollars” and, in the words of White House spokesman Jay Carney, “a blatantly political and partisan effort.” This week, two arms of the party, the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, launched a coordinated messaging blitz to undermine the committee and cast Republicans as political opportunists who have established the select committee only because of their interest in raising money and exciting the GOP base before the 2014 midterm elections.
Should Democrats now take part in this thing they view as a non-serious exercise in pandering to the right? House Democrats met behind closed doors Friday morning to discuss their options, but emerged with no clear answer on how to proceed.
In the case of reopening an investigation into the events of Sept. 11, 2012, in Libya, Democrats are stuck in a damned-if-they-do, damned-if-they-don’t scenario. That’s left the caucus torn on what to do.
There’s a vocal chorus of Democrats urging Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to boycott the committee altogether. Appointing members to the committee would lend credibility to the investigation, they fear, and it would force Democrats to risk being pawns in a Republican political game.
“If you’re going to have a hanging,” said Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn, one of the leading opponents to participating, “don’t ask me to bring the noose.”
Democrats point to the fact that four other bipartisan committees have already investigated the Benghazi attack and that one of those lines of inquiry — the Government Oversight Committee’s investigation — remains ongoing.
But if Democrats don’t appoint panel members — the resolution the House approved Thursday night would give them five slots on the committee — they will give up having any authority over the process and the messaging from each hearing. Not participating would grant Republicans monopoly control over the tone of the hearings and the information provided during the proceedings. Republicans would be the only lawmakers posing questions to the witnesses. Democrats would risk of having entire news cycles dominated by Republican-driven messaging.
Democrats, then, face a choice: Risk legitimizing a Republican-led hearing they think is a charade, or grant total control of the content and the message to Republicans. It’s a decision they’re not ready to make.
“We need to make a judgement about how dangerous they can be about their misrepresentation of the facts of the committee,” Pelosi told reporters Friday after her meeting with the caucus.
For now, Democratic leaders say they will withhold judgment until they’re satisfied with negotiations with Boehner over how the hearings will be conducted. Members of Pelosi’s staff have been in ongoing talks with Boehner’s over the role the Democratic members would play if they chose to join the hearing. At issue, Pelosi said Friday, is whether Democratic committee members will have a say when it comes to issuing subpoenas, calling witnesses and releasing documents to the public. Pelosi said she would base her decision on the outcome of talks with Boehner over the next several days.
This week’s round of talks did not bode well for a speedy resolution. Pelosi on Friday rejected a proposed “Memorandum of Understanding” from Boehner’s staff that outlined ground rules, calling them “fundamentally unfair” in a letter sent to Boehner. Pelosi’s letter indicated, however, that she would be open to further negotiations.
Republicans, meanwhile, aren’t waiting for Democrats to make a decision. On Friday, Boehner announced the names of the seven Republicans who had been appointed to the committee, which will be chaired by South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, a 16-year veteran prosecutor. The other members include Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo, Illinois Rep. Peter Roskam, Indiana Rep. Susan Brooks, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, Alabama Rep. Martha Roby and Georgia Rep. Lynn Westmoreland.
“I expect this committee to carry out an investigation worthy of the American lives lost in Benghazi,” Boehner said in a statement. “I also urge my Democratic colleagues to treat this tragedy with the proper respect and appoint members so that we can finally, on a bipartisan basis, get answers, provide accountability, and help deliver justice.”
Courtesy of and Guest Views By Chris Moody, Yahoo News 15 hours ago
#AceGuestNews – WASHINGTON – – May 04 – (RT Exclusive) – Most important lesson for Japan from Obama’s trip: Improve ties with Russia. Japan can do this by cozying up to Russia and South Korea while redoubling its efforts and pace in further deepening ties with India.
This is the important fine print one can read in the President Barack Obama’s recently concluded visit to Japan, the first state visit by an American president to Japan in 18 years.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is a shrewd politician who has the will and the capability to restore his country to its pristine glory. He should separate the chaff from the wheat in what Obama said and did not say during his trip to Tokyo.
Nothing bothers the Japanese political leadership more than the question: how to deal with China? Japan can take a cue from India in this context. India has been handling China much better than any other country.
The Indian mantra is this: engage with China on all issues, including the contentious ones, while giving fillip to bilateral trade and people-to-people contacts.
If political leaders and the people of Japan thought that Obama would say comforting words to Japan at the cost of China, and that the US alone is capable of safeguarding their interests vis-a-vis China, then they were mistaken. Nothing of the sort happened.
From the Japanese perspective, the core issue in Abe-Obama talks was the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands dispute between Japan and China. It must have been music to Japanese ears when Obama reaffirmed his support for Japan over the disputed islands, and remarked that the islands fell under a security treaty that commits the US to act if Japan is attacked.
But wait! Obama did not come up with anything new here. And he did not stop here. Sample his remarks that followed soon thereafter.
“I’ve said directly to (Abe) that it would be a profound mistake to continue to see escalation around this issue rather than dialogue and confidence-building measures between Japan and China.”
“In our discussions, I emphasized with Prime Minister Abe the importance of resolving this issue peacefully … Not escalating the situation, keeping the rhetoric low, not taking provocative actions, and trying to determine how both Japan and China can work cooperatively together.”
Obama also called upon Japan and China to take “confidence-building measures” and significantly added: “We have strong relations with China.”
This should have punctured Japan’s ballooning hopes. Japan may well be justified in keeping up a brave front as is evident from this quote Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga made at a separate press conference after Abe-Obama talks: “Perhaps you should read his (Obama’s) comments more honestly. The president clearly said Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty applied to the islands. The comments are no more or no less than that.”
But then in their heart of hearts they must be feeling that something is terribly amiss. The US security umbrella over Japan is losing its sheen with the rapid rise in China’s military and economic might. This trend is likely to accelerate in the coming years.
The moral of the story from Obama’s trip to Japan is as follows: America is a great friend of Japan but China too cannot be ignored and it is not a zero sum game.
Gone are the days when the US would take a maximalist position with a friend like Japan and a minimalist position with a strong competitor like China. These are the days of economic diplomacy. Gunboat diplomacy has been relegated to the fringe.
Therefore, against this backdrop, Japan needs to think out of the box and explore newer foreign policy options.
Mending relations with Russia should now be a top priority for Tokyo. In a way, Abe is already walking down this road. Abe paid a visit to Moscow on 29-30 April, 2013, the first visit by a Japanese premier to Russia in over a decade.
Indeed Abe has invested a lot of political capital in improving ties with Russia since taking over in December 2012 and has met Russian President Vladimir Putin five times.
It is a win-win situation for both Russia and Japan to get closer. Stung by the Western sanctions over Ukraine, Russia has already stated that it would be tapping new business and investment opportunities elsewhere, particularly Asia. Japan is a vast market for Russian oil and gas.
Japan should sew up as many trade pacts with Russia as soon as possible and strike a political deal with Russia over territorial disputes.
South Korea is a bit more difficult for Japan to handle, considering the historical baggage. But if rough edges with Russia are smoothed out, South Korea should be a doable diplomatic mission for Japan to handle.
Japan’s relations with India are already free of any disputes. So is the case between India and Russia and India and South Korea. If Japan and Russia are able to forge closer bonds, it will be a strategic game-changer in the Asian matrix.
The China factor will not be such a great worry for Japan then.
Courtesy of the writer who is a New Delhi-based columnist and a strategic analyst who tweets @Kishkindha.
#AceGuestNews – KIEV – April 23 – Ukraine has allocated land for the construction of storage facility for spent nuclear fuel in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting. Now Ukraine has four nuclear power plants, which provide half of the electricity consumption. Spent fuel is sent to storage in Russia, for which Ukraine pays each year from 150 to 200 million dollars.
Now Kiev wants to store their waste at home.
Immediately there is a feeling of deja vu, as the construction plans of the “nuclear burial” near Kiev were studied during the time of Viktor Yushchenko.
Moreover, the need to clarify a very important point. The fact that Russia is now under the agreement on the supply of nuclear fuel waste takes that produce nuclear power plants in Ukraine.
Ie Russia supplies the fuel rods, which are used to produce electricity.
Once when they perform their tasks, they returned to Russia and there is already utilized. In this case, it is not just the fact that Ukraine will store their waste yourself: if this is built, “burial”, then here will bring their waste and other locations. The fact that Ukraine is planning to replace the fuel rods at the Russian American.
This, apparently, one of the results of visit to Ukraine by U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden, that is, during his visit, it was agreed that the Americans are here to supply nuclear fuel.
Incidentally, a similar agreement was reached under Yushchenko, but then due to the fact that he lost the election and lost real power, these plans have not been implemented. Thus, the situation is as follows: The United States will supply the fuel elements here, and Ukraine itself after use will also store them.
Accordingly, this means that in the vicinity of the capital of Ukraine, from the metropolis of five million, will be located storage of nuclear waste, which is contrary to all safety standards.
That is, any accident would be an environmental disaster for the capital, and all the surrounding regions. Nowhere in the world do not exist, but Ukraine, as always, is unique – the world experience it does not decree.
Courtesy of Author: Vladimir Sinelnikov of VestiRu
Ace Related News:
1. U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden at the meetings in Kiev will call for the speedy implementation of the Geneva agreement on Ukraine and Russia warns of possible new sanctions in case of non-structural actions, a senior U.S. official. http://www.vesti.ru/doc.html?id=1505149
- MOSCOW, April 23 (RIA Novosti), Nikita Alentyev – The current geopolitical tensions in Ukraine could impact the construction of a safe confinement system at Chernobyl, Lisa Carmody, a spokesperson for the Ireland-based Chernobyl Children International, told RIA Novosti Wednesday.
“We have been following what’s going on and tracking anything that has to do with the sarcophagus. We have concerns that it could be delayed, although we are not saying that it will be delayed,” Camrody said. http://en.ria.ru/world/20140423/189331830/OPINION-Ukraine-Crisis-Could-Impact-Chernobyl-Radiation-Shield.html
#AceGuestNews and Views – Brendan Cole – VOR
Two centuries on from the abolition of slavery, the slave trade continues to make headlines. A coalition of 14 Caribbean heads of state is considering endorsing a proposal to seek financial reparation for 400 years of slavery. Martyn Day is a senior UK lawyer, who is one of those who have drawn up an action plan to try and bring a claim to the International Criminal Court next year.
The nations involved argue that a legacy of illiteracy, poor health and limited social opportunities in the region is a direct consequence of the centuries of Human trafficking.
Day explained that they were approached by the prime minister of St Vincent about helping them with the issue after they achieved compensation for the Mau Mau tortured by the British in Kenya in the 1950’s.
They agreed there was no prospect of a case for injuries suffered in the same way as with the Mau Mau, so the case is about the damage being suffered today.
“Even now in 2014, the Caribbean suffers a lot from what happened during the slave era,” he says. “Issues such as health, education, social welfare. The Caribbean nations have been hamstrung by their past. We would be saying to countries like Britain, France, Netherlands and other countries that they should play a role in trying to recompense and assist the Caribbean nations in trying to come into the 21st century.”
We pointed out that some of them may not agree.
“Of course, but we benefited massively from the money that was being made out of slaves back in the 16th, 17th, 18th century and at the same time we were handicapping both the African and Caribbean states.
#AceGuestViews of Brendan Cole
Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/uk/news/2014_03_10/Slavery-UK-lawyers-assist-14-Caribbean-nations-in-push-for-ICC-claim-5832/
#AceGuestNews and Views – Scott Craig – VOR
The number of children tasered by London’s Metropolitan Police has risen almost six-fold in the last four years. The Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE) says the stun guns were used on children 53 times in 2012 – up from just eight in 2008. VoR’s Scott Craig spoke to Paola Uccellari, Director at the CRAE.
Tasers deliver a 50,000-volt electrical charge into targets to incapacitate them.
Paola Uccellari, told VoR: “The use of Tasers on children in London has increased almost six-fold, between 2008 and 2012. Children were tasered 131 times in that period. In our view children should not be tasered at all.
So we are really concerned that there’s been an increase during this period.
“We can see that it’s particularly in the south London boroughs, children [there] are being tasered a lot more than in other areas of London. For us that shows that it is possible to police effectively without using tasers on children.
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has expressed concern at their use on children.
“The UN human rights bodies recognise that children should be treated differently. Because these weapons are dangerous when they’re used on children they should not be used at all.
“I think it shows that when there’s a determination to improve things with children, when there’s a concerted effort, things can change. We need to see a resolve to improve things for children in other areas.”
#AceGuestViews of Scott Craig
AceGuest News and Views says that on International Women’s Day this was one persons opinion of Margaret Thatcher post by: Anna Mikhailova.
Originally a research chemist before becoming a barrister, Margaret Hilda Thatcher, later Baroness Thatcher, was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990 and the Leader of the Conservative Party from 1975 to 1990. She was the longest-serving British Prime Minister of the 20th century and is the only woman to have held the office.
A Soviet journalist dubbed her the “Iron Lady”, a nickname that became associated with her uncompromising politics and leadership style. As Prime Minister, she implemented policies that have come to be known as Thatcherism.
“I stand before you tonight in my Red Star chiffon evening gown, my face softly made up and my fair hair gently waved, the Iron Lady of the Western world. A cold war warrior, an Amazon philistine, even a Peking plotter.
Well, am I any of these things? Yes, I am an iron lady, after all it was not a bad thing to be an iron duke, yes if that’s how they wish to interpret my defence of values and freedoms fundamental to our way of life.
But I happen to believe that what is at stake is important and is crucial to our future both in this country and in the world as a whole. We’re waging a battle on many fronts. We must not forget the guns and missiles aimed at us—but equally we must not let them blind us to the insidious war on words, which is going on. It is not just a matter of hurling insults—where he who hurls loudest, hurls last— that is the final resort of the man who has already lost the argument.
No, this is not such a war. The war is a true war of words, where meanings get lost in a mist of revolutionary fantasy; where accuracy is slipped quietly under the carpet; and where truth is twisted and bent to suit the latest propagandist line.
That is what we are up against. And we have to fight it if only because we find it totally alien to our notions of freedom and truth.”
Courtesy of Anna Mikhailova – VOR
Audio Link: http://cdn.ruvr.ru/download/2014/03/07/10/Thatcher.mp3
#ANS2014 Editor says well that was ANNA’s opinion what is yours ?
#AceNewsGroup says to all my reader and followers have just completed adding an Ace Guest News and Views box on Ace Finance News ‘ just add your news, views and videos by copying and pasting short URL from and post as easy as that. When you add your first post l will approve and after that just add whenever you like. Enjoy http://wp.me/zTwj
Press harassed in Crimea
It was a difficult night for journalists. AP had equipment stolen by armed men in Simferopol as they tried to set up a live satellite and there is footage of other cameramen being beaten by supporters of Russia.
Courtesy of Ace Guest Views
Sophie Shevardnadze: And our guest is Belgian senator, and the supporter of the law, allowing euthanasia for minors, Philippe Mahoux, thank you very much for being with us at this program. So you are a doctor yourself, a surgeon – what have you seen that could possibly make you take up this issue in the first place?
Philippe Mahoux: Listen… as a doctor, I think … we were confronted with situations of great distress, patients with incurable disease, mostly cancers, and it also applies to minors, children and teenagers. Before the 2002 law was adopted in Belgium, we could not respond to the requests for euthanasia. Since the law was passed, many pediatricians and oncologists, in particular those who deal with children, asked us repeatedly… begged in some cases, to amend the law to allow those children that are suffering to benefit from dignified death. This is why we started this discussion in the Belgian Parliament.
PM: Oh, you know, it is always difficult to be able to evaluate the number of cases… I will tell you something quite specific. If in your life, especially if you are a physician, you are called to take care even of one of these cases, only one of these people, whether an adult or a minor, you are confronted with this situation and you quickly realize the need to find solutions and solve this issue of unbearable pain in case of incurable diseases. And so, the number is not the most important element. What matters is that there are children, teenagers who suffer from incurable diseases and for whom it is necessary to find a humane solution.
SS: It’s pure coincidence, but I am a journalist, I’m 35, but I also happen to be a board member of Moscow hospice – so, people that I worked with very tightly, they are actually confronted with terminally ill kids every day; kids, who die every day. When I talked to them, about euthanasia, they tell me that they yet have to come across a child who wishes to die, because that hasn’t happened yet, in our case.
PM: Quite frankly, there are such cases. Very fortunately, it is not the same person who is facing this type of situation every time, very fortunately it is not the same families. But I can tell you that pediatricians tell us that this type of situation exists, that unbearable suffering exists. Then is the number of cases that arise an extremely important number? The answer is no, very fortunately, the answer is no! But there are cases and it is necessary to respond to them. This is the reality. And you know, in 2002, when the law permitting euthanasia for adults was passed, we have heard arguments saying that we did not care enough about the patients, saying that’s the reason we propose this type of solution.
As for me, I can say that we do this because we truly care. We are putting this amendment through parliament to allow a solution, which is both euthanasia and palliative care, available for both adults and children. The caregivers and doctors who continue to tell us that this choice is needed, they want to support people at the end, make sure pain is gone in the end.
SS: Have you had a situation where parents ask for their children to be killed through euthanasia?
PM: Not with parents, not with my immediate circle. But I want to remind you again, that I am a doctor, and as doctors we can be confronted with situations that are highly different. It isn’t because we find ourselves in a situation similar to the experience of someone emotionally close to us. It is not because we find ourselves in this kind of situation that we take initiative. We take this initiative because we want to fix the overall situation, and that is what is most important.
SS: But why I insist to find out your personal opinion and experiences is because this is a very personal, very emotional law, and it’s a law that for many crosses ethics or morals. I don’t know if you have any children, but if you had any children – would you allow them to decide on matters of life or death?
PM: I can answer you, in any case, that if, God forbid, I had a child who’d end up in this type of situation… I want to point out that by this type of situation I mean a child, a teenager whose suffering is related to an incurable disease, and who will die in the near future. If such a child asked me to put an end to his or her suffering, I would respond positively. And I believe that the entire population, in Belgium, when asked to answer a survey posing the same question, also replied in an overwhelmingly positive manner. I want to repeat that it isn’t the fact that we want to end the suffering of a child, a teenager which is outrageous. It’s the suffering itself that is outrageous. What is outrageous is that children are suffering, children are dying.
What is outrageous is that there are children who are suffering from cancer. What we are doing is precisely preventing this scandal, and thus preventing the suffering of these children and teenagers.
SS: But we are still talking in general terms. Take us through an average case which ends in someone being euthanized. What are they suffering from, how long does the decision take?
PM: I will give you an example. A child is suffering from a cancer which particularly affects children. I don’t want to give an exact diagnosis, but we know about these cancers affecting children: leukemia, or kidney cancers, for example. We provide them with chemotherapy; we provide them a second chemotherapy, a third one. There comes a time for such patients, including for example the sick, young people with brain tumors, there comes a time where we can no longer ease the suffering and there is no hope for a cure. We know that death will occur, and it’s coming soon. A number of these cases exist, where under these conditions, these children turn out to be more mature than many adults. Precisely because they are facing disease, precisely because these children are about to die.
SS: Then, since you say that there are not so many cases, why make it into a law? Why not just deal with it on a case-by-case basis? Because at the point where it becomes a law, you know very well that it leaves a lot of room for mistakes, and abuses, because not all doctors are so honest and not all doctors are so of their profession. In all countries, it is the same.
PM: Listen, quite frankly, quite frankly, I do not know who you are talking about. There is a law in Belgium that has existed for ten years. We made a law that makes it possible for a doctor to make the last humane gesture for a patient who is suffering. At the same time, we established an evaluation commission to which all euthanasia cases should be reported. For ten years, there has been a regular report made by this commission. Never has this commission found abuse. That is an important element. And then, you know, those who talk about abuse, I think that they have rarely faced this type of situation. We know what it is like, for a doctor, or for a caregiver, or for the families, to take into account the requests that are being made by patients and relatives in case of an incurable disease, to be able to hear them out and to respond to them positively…
When we know what it means, in terms of patient support, the gesture that is the gesture of euthanasia, I think that we finally realize that abuse cannot exist. Because the burden that is, I would say, the emotional, empathetic burden linked to this gesture, is extremely important. And I believe that those who speak of abuse actually are those who, for their reasons, are obviously opposed to euthanasia. I want to recall that the laws in Belgium, in Holland, in Luxembourg, these laws open an area of freedom, put in place guarantees to prevent abuse, but do not force anyone to make the gesture if they do not want to. I still believe, that when we talk about these patients, adults or children or teenagers, if these patients request euthanasia, it is a very humane gesture to carry out their request.
SS: So, then Mr. Mahoux, just to be precise, there is no age restriction in this law.
PM: There are restrictions that are not connected to age, but tied to the understanding that the child or the teenager may have of the situation. Therefore, we kept as a criteria the capacity for discernment, that is, we have to ask a psychologist, a psychiatrist who is not connected to the situation, to assess if the request that is made by this minor, I repeat, who is suffering from an incurable disease after treatments that have become unnecessary – if that request is made with full understanding. That is the rule. I repeat, we found that the maturity of the children who are suffering, the maturity of children facing disease, facing death, is greater than that of many adults, so…
SS: So it is really the psychologists that decide if the child is in a condition to make a life decision or not. Is that it?
PM: Exactly, that is how it is written in the law. It is a person from the outside, a psychologist, psychiatrist, who determines if the minor has an understanding of the situation, if the minor is making a request of which he or she is fully aware.
SS: So, this minor can be four years old as well as sixteen years old; do I understand that right?
PM: It is hard, obviously, to understand that a minor who is four years old is able to make a request of this nature being perfectly aware of what he is asking. It is not the role of the legislator in any case to determine how these things could be evaluated by specialists. We have effective assurance that these specialists are able to determine if the child has this capacity for understanding.
SS: But you, as a doctor, what do you think, at what age does a child develop the capacity to make such a serious decision?
PM: You do understand, that as a legislator, I have proposed that there be a report on the state of awareness of a child, because each case is unique. And so, if I had thought there was a right age for this, I would have suggested that we set it. You know, we consulted with a bunch of specialists, many of whom are both doctors and psychologists, and we have consulted lawyers. They all told us that we should not introduce an age provision but instead put in this criterion of awareness. They suggested this because they consider that each case is individual, so it is impossible to determine an age limit. So I can answer your question that the law kept the condition of awareness, the ability of discernment.
SS: You know, because there are still some people who are, nevertheless, opposed to this law, and they say that minors do not have the right to vote, do not have the right to drink, do not have the right to marry, so then if they are suffering from an incurable disease, does it really give them the competence to make an adult decision?
PM: Madame, you are asking me if I know if a child is aware and capable of understanding his or her situation. I would like to remind you that we are not in the child’s shoes, we are not suffering from an incurable disease which causes pain, for which multiple treatments were given that have led to nothing. We have to remember this. You know, it is easy to have a definite answer, to make a decision like that, in the place of someone else, when we are not in the same situation. We do not make decisions for those for whom we care. Those who are working closely with patients, those who know, they can actually, according to the law, decide in their heart and conscience to respond to a formal request positively. I think that’s the right way to do it. It is not the legislator who will normally be at the bedside of children or adults who are suffering. It is the medical personnel who will have to solve the problem but, at least, the law allows them to respond humanely to those requests. This is about the possibility for everyone to choose at some point not to accept this suffering and to say at a certain point ‘this is enough’ And consider that one can finally ask to die, so that the suffering stops. It is, in the end, a freedom, freedom that is related to human rights and humans, in general. For centuries we valued pain. People who were condemned to death, before they’d be executed for, let’s say, offensive opinions – they weren’t just executed, but put to death with pain and horrible suffering. And well, we, we follow a process that is exactly the opposite approach. I am a strong supporter of the abolition of the death penalty. In all the countries of the world, I am opposed everywhere and always to all forms of torture. I am opposed to the value of pain. I think that pain is pointless, except when it is an alarm signal, a signal of diagnosis. But for the rest, the approach fits into a battle of individual vs. collective, a discussion of humanity against precisely this vision of a society. A society that would condemn to death, which would execute, which values the pain. Our approach is the next stage, when we say that one can avoid the inevitability of this pain, when it is unbearable – well, it is the duty of humanity to do so and to allow one to do so.
SS: And what do you do with the option of palliative care, for example? Because everyone who works in “palliative care” will tell you that, you know, the only time that a child or an adult would ask you for euthanasia is if you have not provided a palliative net, otherwise they would never ask you to kill them.
PM: Well, I will tell you this: in 2002, when there was a vote on the law for the adults, I tabled legislation, two pieces of legislation. One of which involved the implementation of palliative care, and the other concerning the possibility of patients benefiting from euthanasia. And so my belief, shared by the majority of the population, and the majority of the caregivers in general, at least in our country, to consider the implementation of palliative care. But that is not because we have implemented palliative care that automatically, first, this palliative care, eliminates any request for euthanasia. One does not exclude the other. And then, there’s the freedom of everyone to consider that at a certain point, palliative care isn’t enough. I really want to clarify that. You know, as a doctor and caregiver, first, for all patients who come to consult, what is the primary approach?
The approach is to treat them. And to try to heal them. That is the primary approach. The second approach, if that is not possible, is to recognize, at some point, that this is not possible and that the disease is too strong. And if we cannot treat the disease, if the patient must die, we must enable them to die in the most dignified way possible. And to die in the most dignified way possible, it can be done either through palliative care or through a request for euthanasia. Even the best palliative care does not eliminate requests for euthanasia, in any case it is a responsibility, a choice which is left with each patient. That is what’s important, the freedom that the ethical laws allow in our society. A positive response based on each choice.
SS: Since we are speaking about ethics, have you already had a case where the doctor refuses to use euthanasia with a client?
PM: But of course. You know, there is no element of coercion in the laws we are voting on. We open a space of freedom that makes it possible to give a positive response to a request for euthanasia. But when we speak of freedom, we also speak of freedom of conscience for everyone. And so it is provided for in the law that if a doctor refuses, he obviously has the right to do so. It is the conscience which dictates if he will accept it or not. It is his conscience that will tell him that he agrees to support a patient to the end, or that he is unable to do it because of philosophical or religious imperatives. Of course there are refusals. In these cases, when a patient makes a request and the doctor refuses in full right (and some do) – it is important to continue the care. It means that when confronted with a patient’s request, if a doctor refuses, I think he has the obligation to actually pass on the request to someone else, because at some point, he ultimately refuses to support his patient. It is a rule that applies not only here. You know, in medicine, when we take on a patient, we have an obligation of responsibility and when we can no longer provide this support, we also have the obligation to see that this responsibility is covered by someone else.
SS: And you do not see an ethical problem, for example, in paying a doctor just to put an end to the life of someone, to kill someone? Is there not an ethical problem there?
PM: Well, listen, we do not pay someone to end the life of someone else. As if that act was isolated… It is never isolated. In fact, if you talk of payment, doctors are paid for giving care, supporting people in a humane manner… A doctor, a health care team is responsible for a patient. Each time a different individual, an individual who is suffering. And there at the end of the road, when there is no way out, that support is the essence of assuming responsibility for one’s patient. So what are you saying about payment? Of course, I think that anything done professionally deserves compensation. Who could think otherwise? But the doctors receive payment for taking responsibility for their patients’ wishes and they understand what that responsibility entails.
SS: Mr. Mahoux, thank you very much for this interesting interview.
Courtesy of: Sophie&Co
#ANS2014 says 🙂
#AceGuest News and Views says `Stallman: ‘We’ve got to limit Surveillance to keep Democracy’
Published time: February 06, 2014 19:18
The world is witnessing a transition from non-digital life, in which people mostly have a lot of autonomy. However, people should also have human rights in their digital activities, the world-famous technologist and philosopher Richard Stallman said, interviewed by Oksana Boyko in RT’s Worlds Apart show. Stallman argues that though there are many exceptions in terms of human rights, they should be stopped in order to have effective democracy.
“It simply means returning to users of computing the autonomy that they have in non-digital life. What we see happening is a transition from non-digital life, in which people mostly have a lot of autonomy … There are countries that don’t respect human rights, but we call that an injustice. The point is that you should have human rights in your digital activities as well,” Stallman said.
“We need to change a lot of things about digital technology so that they’re not surveillance engines, but part of it is that we need to use software that the users control,” Stallman continued.
Richard Stallman tries not to use mobile phones in personal communication, he says, but that doesn’t mean he’s advocating some pre-digital innocence. We’ve got to limit surveillance to keep democracy, he believes.
“When I say we should have portable phones with only free software in them, and that the system should be designed, under legal requirement, not to track anybody but court-ordered investigation subjects, that’s not saying go back to an innocent pre-digital world,” Richard Stallman told RT.
“There are others who say using digital technology means total surveillance, just surrender to it. But since that surrender means no democracy anymore, because whistleblowers who tell us what the state is doing will be caught, and they have to flee to places like Russia in order not to be caught, that means it’s too much of a sacrifice. We’ve got to keep our democracy, and that means we’ve got to limit surveillance,” he added.
Stallman is known for developing the concept that every computer program must be free for users to study and modify as they want.
“Even those of us who are not programmers and won’t personally exercise the control, if the users control the program, and since most of the users don’t want to be spied on, each of us can count on the other users to make sure the program isn’t spying on us,” Stallman told RT.
He admits that depending on others can’t guarantee perfect results, but compares it to non-free software, when users are dependent on the “tyrant”whose interest is to take advantage of them.
“With non-free software, the decisions about that program are all made by somebody whose interest is to exploit the users and you can pretty well expect the decisions to be bad for the users, whereas when you’re depending on other users, you’ve got a pretty good chance it’s going to be more or less good,”Richard Stallman said.
He added that the argument “Never try to get rid of a tyranny because you don’t know what’s going to happen, just accept the tyrant” is an utter fallacy, since this is particularly the thing that guarantees tyranny.
“So, this doesn’t mean that every contributor is an angel. It does mean, however, that none of the contributors faces the same kind of temptation to abuse power that a proprietary developer faces, because none of them has that kind of power,” Richard Stallman said.
The fact that various big companies like Google, Microsoft or Facebook were ready to cooperate with intelligence services is not surprising because they were money-driven, Stallman says. Nevertheless, it’s important to distinguish between governments spying on other governments, which is something that governments have done plenty of, and governments spying on all citizens.
“That [governments spying on governments] is just what governments do to each other. For me, that’s not the scandal. The scandal is not spying on other governments and their activities, it’s spying on all the citizens. And of course there are countries that work together to spy on the citizens of these countries,”he told RT.
“Thirty years ago we had phones, but they weren’t in general being monitored. There wasn’t a list of everybody’s phone calls, but now . And now the US government is collecting that all the time, and in Spain as well, with the help of the Spanish government. So, now we have to address that issue as well,”Stallman added.
#AceGuestNews says `Freemasonry: ‘The firm within the firm’
Beginning his working life in the aviation industry and trained by the BBC, Tony Gosling is a British land rights activist, historian & investigative radio journalist.
Former Freemason Senior Grand Deacon John Hamill poses for photographs inside the Grand Temple in London June 26, 2002. (Reuters / Peter Macdiarmid)
Last week brought more evidence of the latter (and darker), with the second leaked report from UK criminal justice authorities in as many years to conclude that mobsters use Freemasonry to freely recruit corrupt detectives, being one of ‘the most difficult aspects of organized crime corruption to proof against.’
Scotland Yard’s Operation Tiberius report was written over a decade ago but has only this week been made public by The Independent’s investigations editor, Tom Harper. It follows on from Project Riverside, revealed by Channel 4 News’ Andy Davies in March 2012 from the Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA), which also describes Freemasonry in round terms as ‘a firm within a firm’. Incredible though it may seem, although paid for with public money, both these reports have taken nearly a decade to surface, and then only as partial press leaks.
So why did the authors of Scotland Yard’s Operation Tiberius’ find Freemasons so difficult to winkle out? Most know Freemasonry sits somewhere between a religious cult and a pyramid selling scheme but have no idea where ‘The Craft’ came from, or what makes Masons tick. It’s the oath of secrecy, similar to the Mafia’s Omertà, on pain of death, which, in theory, makes any revelation about ‘The Craft’ a slip of the tongue you can die for.
Behind the lodge door
Masons have a pyramid of initiation through 33 ranks, or ‘degrees’ and belong to geographic ‘Provinces’ overseen by London’s United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE). They follow civic county boundaries and each produce an annual yearbook with a tally of lodges followed by members names in each lodge. One would have thought it would be a relatively simple job, therefore, for Scotland Yard detectives to figure out who of their colleagues are in and who are out.
The trouble is those yearbooks are jealously guarded. Masonic Bristol MP, Jack Lopresti, for example, promised me a copy of the latest Bristol Yearbook live on the radio in April 2012 but his provincial secretary, Steve Rawlings, refused to send it. This begs the question: when a senior public figure is low to middling in the secret Masonic hierarchy, who’s really in charge in the world of the ‘profane’, as Masons call the public?
As a secret establishment club, Freemasonry rightly rings alarm bells. By seizing only a handful of key positions in the criminal justice system, like any unscrupulous interest, it could corrupt the entire caboodle. The other nerve-jangling concern is that Freemasonry’s ‘Don’ just happens to be a little too close to one the top figures in Britain’s military and judicial chain-of-command; UGLE’s Grand Master, Prince Michael of Kent, is Queen Elizabeth II’s cousin.
Historians trace Masonic scandals back to a few decades after ‘The Craft’ was founded in the eighteenth century as a society of ‘free thinkers’. The occasion was the 1798 publication of John Robison‘s ‘Proofs of a Conspiracy Against all the Religions and Governments of Europe’. When he said proofs, proofs he meant. Quoting verified leaked documents, he detailed methods of political infiltration and deception to be used by a coterie of senior German masons, sponsored by a wealthy ancestor of the present British royal family, Duke Ernest II of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg.
Quoting links to the perpetrators of the bloody French Revolution, Robison’s scandal flew like a whirlwind round the high society of Europe. This exposé might have been roundly discredited by Masonic loyalists as ‘Conspiracy Theory’ had the author not been one of the most respected men of his day, his brilliant scientific mind nurturing the white heat of scientific innovation driving the industrial revolution.
Secretary of the Royal Society in Edinburgh, Robison was a close friend of the inventor of the steam engine, James Watt, and above all, from the point of view of credibility, a Freemason himself. He saw the secrecy which had protected free-thinking innovators beginning to take on a new self-serving character absolutely contemptuous of outsiders. Along with the 1798 ‘Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism‘ by Abbé Augustin Barruel in France, Robison’s forensic critique of Freemasonry caused a bitter public schism in ‘The Craft’ which lasted a decade or more, before being ‘buried alive’ with the passing of Robison’s generation.
So Masonic scandal is nothing new. Every time, whether the ‘powers that be’ hit Masonic accountability into the long grass or not, the true remedy is the same: declare your secret society membership as an interest like any other or face prosecution for misconduct, particularly in public office. One would expect to find those principles as the nucleus of all probity and good governance for associations and corporations round the world, both public and private, yet they are eerily absent.
Is Freemasonry a fundamentalist religious cult?
Britain’s Prince Michael of Kent, Provincial Grand Master for Middlesex and Grand Master for The Mark Mason (an additional order of masonry) arrives at St Paul’s Cathedral in central London, June 18, 2002 (Reuters)
Though many accuse ‘The Craft’ of being a religious cult, Freemasonry may not fit the definition of a ‘religion’ in the usual sense. However, Masons certainly hold strong beliefs about Western influences in the Holy Land. Those of the higher degrees privately profess a ‘fundamentalist’ fervor for Zionism. Israel’s own Grand Lodge was founded in 1953, now numbering between 50 and 60 lodges with thousands of members. Indeed even in Bristol’s windowless ‘Royal Arch’ Masonic Temple, the furnishings are embossed throughout with golden Israeli ‘Star of David’ emblems.
Where you can find them, former Freemasons give dazzling insights into the favors ‘The Craft’ affords as well as the evils of what is essentially a ‘gang for grown ups’ strewn through with a toxic mix of mumbo-jumbo and bullying. Both Stephen Knight’s 1984 book ‘The Brotherhood’ and former ‘World In Action’ journalist Martin Short’s 1989 follow-up ‘Inside The Brotherhood’ do an ample job documenting the testimony of those brave enough to reject the threats and leave ‘The Craft’. The latter, as a six-part Granada TV documentary, found its way to an incredulous national audience the same year.
TV examinations are notoriously few and far between, but in his 1999 HTV Documentary ‘Rites and Wrongs’ journalist James Garrett discovered a human skull and two femur cross-bones hidden away in a chequered cabinet. He asked Gloucestershire’s top Mason on camera, “What part do the skull and cross-bones play in your ritual?” Provincial Grand Master Peter Marsh’s voice quavered as he replied “Well, yes there are some skulls and cross-bones which are part of the regalia of the lodge and they represent mortality.” Perfect for emphasizing that threat of death then, Peter?
The Church of England and House of Commons deliberate
In 1987, the General Synod of the Church of England considered the question ‘Freemasonry and Christianity: Are they compatible?’ Failing to come down on one side or the other of the fence they concluded, “The reflections of the working group itself reveal understandable differences of opinion between those who are Freemasons and those who are not.” So despite a clear instruction from Jesus Christ in Matthew 5:37 “Never swear an oath, simply let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no’, anything else comes from the devil,” they Church of England couldn’t make their minds up.
In 1998 Labour MP, Chris Mullin, chaired the second House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee Enquiry into Freemasonry in as many years. The report’s penultimate paragraph “requires public servants who are members of a secret society … to disclose their membership.” The result was non-compliance by many of Britain’s police forces. The Standards Board for England which, for several years required all elected local councilors to declare membership of secret societies was conveniently abolished by the Lib/Con coalition government in 2012 as part of their deregulation policy.
Even if Freemasonry does not control some of the key positions of state in its own self-interest, its involvement in promoting its own to positions of power and privilege is a likely candidate to explain why Britain is increasingly being controlled by individuals who seem entirely unsuited to positions of public trust.
If ‘The Craft’ has not yet become a kind of secret government, as a 1981-84 Italian parliamentary enquiry proved Propaganda Due (P2) Masonic Lodge to be, it is almost certainly why Britain is paralyzed by what’s known in drinking dens across the land as the ‘Tyranny of the Mediocre’.
So as thin old London police and newsroom files on Freemasonry start to fill up with cold hard truths, at the very least it should concentrate the minds of those thinking of using Freemasonry as a convenient cover for crookedness. It is only a matter of time now before their secret number is up.
#AceGuestNews says Financial crisis for many, bonanza for the few.
The opiate of Quantitative Easing (QE) or Printing Money, the £375 billion fraudulently spirited up so far, is making some of the figures look good, but it is killing the patient.
The effect of QE is to propel the nest eggs of the rich from prudent “savings accounts,” where interest rates are at an all-time low, into capricious stock and bond markets to be managed by hedge funds and other pushy players. Meanwhile, everything with half a brain that moves, including the Parliamentary Commission on Banking, chaired by Conservative MP Andrew Tyrie, is demanding to see clear blue water between public-facing banks and the casino economy. However, precisely the opposite is happening, as billions of savings leaves the safe ground in search of higher returns.
The London media have no excuse to talk of a “recovery.” They don’t have to look very far to see the tell-tale signs of a nation falling apart: Try looking down next time you’re in the street. None of the infrastructure of the nation is being maintained. From jutting-out high street paving slabs to potholed roads and even silted up rivers in the Somerset Levels that have been flooded since Christmas, the vital systems of the nation are clogged and breaking.
For a country with one of the highest living standards in the world to have 20 percent of its population, ticking up every month, existing below the poverty line, something must be very wrong. And the “democratic” strings that are supposed to tie Britain’s 65 million people to the cosseted elite that spend the nation’s taxes are also horribly frayed. The period before a general election is when a government courts its voters.
And what is the role of Britain’s third-party in all this? The Liberal Democrats (with 56 MPs) hold the balance of power between Labour (256) and the Conservatives (303). Any party in such a position should call the shots, as Irish MPs did with the 1885 Ashbourne Act which forced absentee English landowners to hand over land to Irish farmers who had been impoverished by the famine: A dramatic change in ownership that was one of the main catalysts for Irish Home Rule.
A broken labour market
Like the “Balance of Payments,” which compares British exports to imports, taking stock of the “Cost of Living” has fallen out of fashion in the London media. Maybe it’s the lack of the feel-good factor in both sets of statistics – but that doesn’t make either of them any less crucial to understanding whether or not the economy is working. Cost of living is rarely mentioned because an enormous, economically driven, social engineering by the power elite has been played out in our lives in a generation. Britain has fallen from a high-wage, unionized, high-job security economy, from a developed world to a third-world economy in those 30 years.
A broken housing market
Former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith (IDS) has a “great plan” to exterminate Britain’s welfare benefits. So as Work and Pensions Secretary he has put the onus on the claimant, however disabled, mentally ill or otherwise infirm, to prove they are in need, and many are struggling to do so. Scores have already taken their own lives because the vulnerable cannot endure his“survival of the fittest” ATOS test. Duncan-Smith’s own family, though, continue to receive around £1.2 million in annual welfare benefits – in the form of agricultural subsidies for their inherited land.
IDS’s other “flagship” policy is the Bedroom Tax. So vicious is this tax that it puts the most vulnerable in constant fear of eviction and, unbelievably, costs the government more! Both to pay the higher rents the private sector demands and in eviction fees. Meanwhile, Britain is encouraging mass economic migration and building fewer homes than any time since the 1920s, so as to keep property prices artificially high. Now Britons who don’t get Housing Benefit are, on average, paying a staggering 45 percent of their income on rent or mortgage costs.
A broken food market
The international grain trade, according to Oxfam, is now dominated by only five multinational companies. ADM, Bunge, Cargill, Glencore and Louis Dreyfus control 90 percent of this fundamental trade. Through the unregulated derivative markets’ ability to speculate on a future collapse in world food supplies, a hideous profit motive is being whispered of which enriches the few by pushing billions of people to the edge of starvation.
With the demise of the biggest traditional fish, meat and fruit and vegetable markets, deals are now cut behind closed doors for vast quantities of food, the economies of scale suiting buyer and seller alike. With only seven supermarket chains in the UK (Aldi, Asda, Lidl, Morrison’s, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose) selling 85 percent of the country’s food they are able to coax almost every consumer with other basic essentials on the same site: petrol, banking and pharmacies, for example, driving traditional, locally owned shops to the wall.
As historian E.P. Thompson wrote in his 1979 book, “Writing by Candlelight,”quoting from an Elizabethan diary he found behind an oak panel in his library:
Fruit cannot go to Markett, not for Money nor even yett as Charitye for the Poor. Some say it be through a Sort of Monopolisers in the Dealing Trade, wch wd keep all Price at its Customary Heighth as it is set in any Leen Yeer. And that these Dealers wd rather that the Poor Starve, the Fruits fall Rotted and Wormey, and the Husbandmen & their Familys Toile & Swinke for no Reward – all so that their Proffits be not Sunke.
Prices paid to farmers today, they say, are driven down by the supermarkets while what the consumer pays is ratcheted up. The small grocers go to the wall and the poor cannot afford to eat, while the multinational food cartels become more powerful every day. With an exponential threefold rise in food bank use this Christmas, and food bank users set to top the 1 million mark in 2014, it seems that monopolies – after 400 years, the crooked markets of Elizabethan times – are back.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP
A broken energy market
One of the most damning indictments of Coalition Britain is the obscene way in which the destitute have been quietly and gradually made to pay the energy bills of the rich. An investment now in an energy company of £20,000, peanuts for the rich, delivers annual share dividends which will pay the annual gas and electricity bill of the average two or three-bedroom home. That investment grows above inflation too and will provide a tidy sum if the investor ever tires of his free energy. Through the privatization of the utilities, indentured servitude has been hardwired into the economy and the suffering.
At the other end of the spectrum, those living hand to mouth are forced off cheap direct debit payment schemes onto key meter energy tariffs, where they can pay as much as double what the rich are paying, or not paying, for each unit of energy they use. Such injustice and cruelty is scarcely conscionable in a nation proud to suit among the top ten wealthiest in the world. One can only speculate that this must be worked out on average wealth, a handful of billionaires surrounded by hoards of 16th Century destitute.
Perhaps these markets are not ‘broken’ at all?
Given that Britain’s plutocrats are doing very nicely, thank you, out of the £850 billion bank rescue in 2008 and the subsequent financial “crisis,” and that their friends in the London media have promised not to tread on their toes, let’s take an educated guess at what the real game might be here.
Perhaps there is no democracy? Perhaps all the political parties are bought and paid for lock, stock and barrel by the power elite who have no conscience, letting accountants run their affairs.
And when they have filled all their garages with the most ostentatious sports cars money can buy, the next thing up the pecking order perhaps is a government department or a newspaper or two?
“Nobody wants a crash,” some might say. But they’d be wrong. One of the unintended, or intended, consequences of deregulation in financial markets is that it’s now easier than ever to make a fortune from betting on disaster. What Naomi Klein calls “Disaster Capitalism” – economic warfare and deliberate sabotage of a nation’s economy – is more profitable than ever before.
The ordinary people of the world had better wise up and look sharp, because we are swimming in shark-infested waters. What the power elite don’t seem to have realized, though, is that we are teaching our children to watch those overnight subjects like hawks. The younger generation are good swimmers, and getting ready with their rocket harpoons.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and full editorial rights to print have been obtained.
#AceGuestNews says according to `Leaked Official Document Records‘ 330 Drone Strikes in have taken place in Pakistan.
The Bureau is today publishing a leaked official document that records details of over 300 drone strikes, including their locations and an assessment of how many people died in each incident.
The document is the fullest official record of drone strikes in Pakistan to have yet been published. It provides rare insight into what the government understands about the campaign.
It also provides details about exactly when and where strikes took place, often including the names of homeowners. These details can be valuable to researchers attempting to verify eyewitness reports – and are often not reported elsewhere. But interestingly, the document stops recording civilian casualties after 2008, even omitting details of well-documented civilian deaths and those that have been acknowledged by the government.
Last July the Bureau published part of the document for the first time. This documented strikes, which hit the northwest tribal areas of Pakistan between 2006 and late 2009, and revealed that the Pakistani government was aware of hundreds of civilian casualties, even in strikes where it had officially denied civilians had died.
The reports are based on information filed to the FATA Secretariat each evening by local Political Agents – senior officials in the field. These agents gather the information from networks of informants in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), the area bordering Afghanistan.
Now the Bureau has obtained an updated version of the document, which lists attacks up to late September 2013.
The document contains estimates of how many people have been killed in each strike, as well as whether the dead are ‘local’ or ‘non-local’ – a broad category that includes those from elsewhere in Pakistan, as well as foreigners.
When the Bureau released the first part of the report last summer, anonymous US officials attacked the document, claiming that the report was ‘far from authoritative’ as it was based on ‘erroneous media reporting’ and ‘indirect input from a loose network of Pakistani government and tribal contacts’. But the US has consistently refused to release information on what it believes has been the result of its drone strikes.
The overall casualties recorded by the document are broadly similar to those compiled by the Bureau, which uses sources including media reports, sworn affidavits and field investigations. The Bureau estimates that at least 2,371 people died in the time covered by the document (excluding 2007, which is missing from the record), while it records 2,217 deaths in total.
The document does not represent the Pakistani government’s full view of drone strikes. Alongside the Political Agents and their daily reports to the FATA Secretariat, the country’s intelligence agencies and military are each believed to collect details of attacks in separate reports. And during a recent trip to Pakistan the Bureau obtained a list of individuals killed in a single strike from a local politician.
The Pakistani government has made a series of statements on drone casualties: in March last year, officials at the Foreign Affairs ministry told UN expert Ben Emmerson, who was carrying out an investigation into drones, that at least 400 civilians – and possibly 600 – were among 2,200 drone casualties. In October, the Ministry of Defence issued a statement that contradicted this, asserting that drones had killed 67 civilians since 2008. It later retracted the statement, with unnamed senior defence officials telling The News International that the figures were ‘wrong and fabricated’.
The document obtained by the Bureau is unusual because it gives a strike-by-strike account, allowing for comparison between the government’s view of individual incidents and that of other sources.
Although the document records civilian casualties in the early years, from 2009 these almost disappear. Even well-documented cases of civilian deaths are omitted. These include at least two incidents where the tribal administration is known to have admitted to the families that it knew civilians had died.
Among the civilian deaths that go unmentioned is one of the most high-profile attacks of the past 18 months – an October 2012 attack that killed Mamana Bibi, an elderly woman, as she was in a field. Her grandchildren were nearby, and several were injured by debris.
‘If a case as well-documented as Mamana Bibi’s isn’t recorded as a civilian death, that raises questions about whether any state records of these strikes can be seen as reliable, beyond the most basic information,’ said Mustafa Qadri, a researcher for Amnesty International, who investigated the strike for a major report published last autumn. ‘It also raises questions of complicity on the part of the Pakistan state – has there been a decision to stop recording civilians deaths?’
Up to the end of 2008, the document reports where attacks have killed civilians. In this period the document lists 37 drone strikes, as well as four attacks carried out by NATO and Afghan forces – and it notes civilian deaths in 15 of the drone attacks. The document records 353 deaths in this time, of whom at least 138 are specifically described as civilians.
The document records a further 294 incidents between January 1 2009 and September 2013, when the version obtained by the Bureau ends. Only seven of these specifically mention civilian victims. Just two use the word ‘civilian’ – the others typically refer to women and children as being among the dead. A further entry states that a child was injured.
The Bureau’s data records a similar number of incidents over the same time period, but shows 53 incidents where at least one civilian death is reported by multiple credible sources – and many more where civilian deaths are possible. In total, the document records around 200 civilian deaths, including those where ambiguous language such as ‘local tribesmen’ is used – compared to a minimum of over 400 recorded by the Bureau.
Civilian casualties according to the document. In 2011, the file notes that 41 ‘local tribesmen’ were killed – these are included in the civilian count here.
A former senior FATA Secretariat official, speaking on condition of anonymity, explained that rather than attempting to establish which of the dead were believed to be civilians, agents instead categorised the dead as ‘local’ or ‘non-local’.
‘It is very difficult to report it whether this man was really a militant or a non-militant. So they found an easy way of saying it: local and non-local,’ he said.
‘It’s certainly of concern that almost all mention of non-combatant casualties simply disappears from this document after 2009, despite significant evidence to the contrary.’
A second local source agreed: ‘As a matter of policy, deaths in drone strikes were classified as locals and non-locals, because [the term] civilians was found to be too vague and contradictory.’ This helped to ‘avoid controversy’, he added.
The ‘non-local’ category strongly suggests that an individual is an alleged militant, the former official added. ‘Local means that they belong to that agency [tribal administered district] and you could say in general terms that they are innocent… But it is quite possible that some of them might be terrorists.’
The change in recording follows an escalation in the number of strikes in the final months of Bush’s presidency, which gathered pace under Obama. With the increased frequency of the strikes, gathering information may have become more challenging for Political Agents. Some non-combatant deaths may be missing, too, because reports are filed soon after they occur and are not later updated: several entries contain no casualty estimates at all and simply note: ‘Details are awaited.’
The former FATA official suggested that the document may have stopped regularly recording civilian casualties because of something as prosaic as a change of the personnel charged with compiling it. But other observers suggested that the cause could be less mundane.
The last drone strike in the document to use the word ‘civilian’ in describing the dead is the first of Obama’s presidency, on January 23 2009 (a strike six months later says, more ambiguously, ‘A civilian pickup was targeted’).
Amnesty’s Qadri said: ‘You cannot rule out a deliberate attempt not to include information on possible civilians or non-combatants being killed. It seems a huge coincidence that there’s this change in reporting just as Obama enters power. But whatever the explanation and despite the lingering uncertainty, we know these figures are not presenting the full picture of the US drone program.’
Chris Woods, who started the Bureau’s investigation into drone strikes and who is now writing a book on armed drones, said: ‘One of my sources, a former Pakistani minister, has indicated that local officials may have come under pressure to play down drone civilian deaths following the election of Barack Obama. It’s certainly of concern that almost all mention of non-combatant casualties simply disappears from this document after 2009, despite significant evidence to the contrary.’
‘It is feared that all the killed were local tribesmen’
A handful of entries include ambiguous language hinting at non-combatant casualties. On August 14 2010, the document records an evening strike, noting: ‘The dead included 07 Mehsuds, 05 locals and 01 unknown’. Mehsud is the name of a prominent local tribe. A field investigation by Associated Press later found that seven civilians – including a child – were among 14 to die in an attack on a house during Ramadan prayers.
And when a drone attacked a meeting of tribal elders on March 17 2011 – an attack that was condemned by the Pakistani military and civilian government – the report says ‘it is feared that all the killed were local tribesmen’.
Bureau field investigations have repeatedly encountered civilian deaths in strikes where local media have used ambiguous phrases such as ‘villagers’, ‘people’ and ‘local tribesmen’.
One entry in the file hints at problematic definitions of who is considered a ‘militant’. For a strike on April 12 2010, it records 14 deaths and three injuries, noting: ‘The killed militants also include a 12 years [sic] old child.’
‘Whatever is happening, if this document is anything to go by, it’s clear the Pakistan government’s investigations are not adequate,’ said Amnesty’s Qadri. ‘First, this table does not appear to be telling us the whole truth about casualties.
‘Secondly, what steps have Pakistan authorities taken to assist civilians caught up in these strikes like access to medical services or provide them with remedies such as access to justice or compensation? … It doesn’t seem to be the case that this record keeping is carried out so that the Pakistan state can better assist people caught up in these strikes.’
The document also barely mentions other details such as which organisation the dead are believed to have belonged to, or the names of those killed. Even when very senior militants are killed, they are almost never identified by name.
As the Bureau has found with its Naming the Dead investigation, the majority of those killed in drone strikes remain unidentified – only around one in five has so far been identified by name. Documents obtained by news agency McClatchy and NBC showing the CIA’s records of its drone strikes indicated that in most strikes these do not record the names of the dead either. These documents have not been published. And as the Pakistan document shows, even to the local government it is often a mystery who is dying in the CIA’s drone strikes.
The document obtained by the Bureau omits several incidents where multiple credible sources report civilian casualties – even when local officials have acknowledged.
For example, on October 24 2012, a drone strike in North Waziristan hit a figure in a field. The report notes that one person died, adding: ‘At about 1440 hours, US Drone fired two missiles at agriculture land situated in between the two houses in village Ghundi Killi Daur Tappi area Tehsil Miranshah, N. W. Agency.’
But it neglects to mention what over a dozen other sources reported: the figure was a 67-year-old grandmother, Bibi Mamana, who was in the fields with her grandchildren. Three of her grandchildren were also injured – yet the document records no injuries at all.
Yet Pakistani official sources have acknowledged that civilians were harmed in the strike. The Political Agent gave the family $100 to get medical treatment, an Amnesty field investigation found. And in the attack’s immediate aftermath, military officials told reporters that a woman had been killed – although they said two others were also killed.
In October 2012, Mamana’s family – including children who were injured in the strike – visited the US, where they met members of Congress.
Letter from the Political Agent, obtained by Amnesty
Yet the document makes no mention of a civilian death, or of any injuries.
Jennifer Gibson of Reprieve, the legal charity that took the family of Bibi Mamana, the grandmother killed in a drone strike, to the US, said: ‘It’s past time CIA drone strikes in Pakistan were brought out of the shadows and into the light. Nine-year-old Nabila ur Rehman told Congress just a few months ago about how she watched a US drone kill her grandmother and injure her siblings. Nabila deserves answers. Unfortunately, this document doesn’t give them to her.’
Similarly, immediately after a strike on December 26 2009, Pakistani intelligence sources told Al Jazeera that everyone killed was a civilian – a reported six civilians. But the document notes only: ‘No foreigners were killed’.
And as the Bureau reported last July, for a strike on January 23 2009 – the second of Obama’s presidency – the local Political Agent sent a letter acknowledging the deaths of four civilians. But there is no hint of them in the secret file.
With thanks to by: Alice K Ross
Editor says here is some additional information:
#AceGuestNews and `Views’ says `Syria and the Geneva 2 Charade’
What is Geneva 2 for? It has nothing to do with ‘peace’. It won’t yield an international deal to end the Syrian tragedy. The horrible war facts on the ground will remain facts, and horrible; many perpetrators won’t be gathering in Montreux. Syrian civil society has not even been invited.
And then the whole charade degenerated into pitiful parody even before it started.
This past Sunday, it seemed that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had decided to spring out of his trademark vegetable slumber, inviting Iran to Geneva 2. The invitation lasted less than 24 hours; after the requisite ‘pressure’ by Washington – instigated by those sterling democrats of the House of Saud – it was duly rescinded.
Thus we had Ban Ki-moon parroting the US State Department, according to which Tehran had not agreed to the principles of the Geneva 1 communiqué, which called for a sustained cessation of armed violence. Iranian diplomats strongly begged to differ, stressing how Tehran understands that the basis of the talks is the full implementation of the previous, June 2012 conference, even if Iran was not part of it.
Ban Ki-moon also invited the Holy See, as well as Australia, Luxembourg, Mexico and the Republic of Korea, among others, to Montreux; as if these actors had any clue about what’s going on in Syria.
But the apex of the farce is that Iran cannot go, while Saudi Arabia and Qatar – who continue to weaponize every Syrian ‘rebel’ in sight, from young adrenaline seekers to Western-supported Takfiris and beheaders – can. And will.
Members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) shoot at advancing government troops in the al-Jadeida neighbourhood, in the Old City of Aleppo, on August 21, 2012. (AFP Photo)
Meet ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Al-Qaeda
Time to break it down. Washington ruled that Iran cannot be in Montreux because it supports Assad. It’s as simple as that.
Washington dictating to the UN is the norm. Washington dictating to the Syrian exiled ‘opposition’ is also the norm. Everyone is a puppet in this lethal comedy.
As for Western spin doctors, they are dizzier than flies over corpses. As part of the new Western myth that the Saudi Arabia-sponsored Islamic Front – formed last September against the US-backed Supreme Military Council – are nothing but ‘good Al-Qaeda’, now we have top ‘rebels’ routinely acknowledging to Western corporate media they are, well, Al-Qaeda.
Tens of thousands of foreign jihadis using Al-Qaeda’s network of safe houses in Turkey – well, that’s not such a big deal. As the narrative goes, ‘our new friends’ in the Islamic Front are just ‘conservative Salafi Muslims’. What if they are fond of the odd torture binge and will think nothing of slaying the odd Shiite or Christian? Not such a big deal.
As for the ‘bad’ Al-Qaeda gang – from Al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) – they are on a roll. After all, they are the ones with fighting experience/leverage on the ground. And when push comes to shove, they just run yet another ring around clueless Western necks.
Take Ahrar al-Sham. They now lead the Islamic Front – and talk to the Americans. And guess what; they’re going to Montreux! The icing on this Takfiri cake is that, ultimately, their “interests” are being defended by no less than US Secretary of State John Kerry. Washington promoting al-Qaeda? Well, we’ve seen that movie before.
Should I stay or should I go?
Washington is selling the fiction it is ‘leading’ Geneva 2 to ‘reconstruct’ Syria. This is utter nonsense.
Theoretically – and even that is still extremely debatable – the Obama administration’s core interest in Southwest Asia is to negotiate a very complex deal with Iran, which will take most of 2014.
Ultimately, this whole charade is between Washington and Tehran. The US Navy won’t make Assad ‘go’anytime soon – or ever; so everything, in theory, remains on the table.
A Syrian army tank is seen in the Christian town of Maalula on September 11, 2013. (AFP Photo)
And everyone else, the UN, the Holy See, the House of Saud, are just onlookers, even as several players, from the EU to India, China and Japan, can think of nothing but finally normalizing everything with Iran.
The Syrian government, for its part, will be in Montreux; it had agreed to the conference long ago. Yet President Assad laid down; he won’t ‘leave’, as US President Barack Obama demanded. He won’t let the foreign-sponsored ‘opposition’ take over. And he may even contest the next presidential elections.
Assad went for the jugular when he said Geneva 2 should be about his own ‘War on Terror’. Terror, incidentally, widely supported by the West.
So under this perspective, even Washington needs Assad not to go. The bottom line is that the only players who really want Assad to go are the House of Saud and the House of Thani in Qatar. Many in the West have now realized Assad must stay to fight ‘the terrorists’.
The notoriously shady US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford – who always pops up when the US is destabilizing something – this time called an urgent meeting in Istanbul, supported by Turkey and Qatar, and pulled a ‘go to Montreux because I said so’ shtick.
He just needed to follow the money. Those who won’t travel – a lot of Syrian National Coalition (SNC) hangers-on – will find themselves short of cash.
So listen to the sound of ‘patriotism’ talking. The SNC, which was always rabidly against any talks with Assad, suddenly said they’ll go, even though one-third of their shady members boycotted the Istanbul meeting.
What’s even more farcical is what Ford may have told the SNC stalwarts – still subject to much debate across the Middle East. If Ford really said that Bandar Bush’s strategy has been a total failure (in fact turning Syria into an Al-Qaeda hub) then this points to the Obama administration, for all practical purposes, sharing the same objective as Assad’s: fighting ‘terror’.
Still, Geneva 2 won’t ‘solve’ anything. Iran and Russia will keep supporting Damascus. The desert wasteland from Syria to Iraq will keep being occupied by Bandar Bush-supported and Gulf-supported hardcore sectarian jihadis.
The war will keep spreading deeper into Lebanon. The government in Damascus won’t collapse. The refugee crisis will soar. And the West will keep striking a pose of being concerned with ‘terror’.
All that non-jazz in Montreux will come to nothing. And then some bureaucrat will call for a Geneva 3.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of :
- Syria & the Geneva 2 Charade- US exploit women for political points etc(pennyforyourthoughts2.blogspot.com)
- Iran Invited to Geneva 2 Talks, Syrian Opposition Fumes(israelnationalnews.com)
- Moscow says Iran’s absence from Geneva II to undermine Syria peace efforts(en.itar-tass.com)
- UN withdraws Iran invitation to Syria talks(thehindu.com)