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UK to jail pro-Palestinian protesters

Press TV – August 20, 2017

A group of five pro-Palestinian activists in the UK face possible prison sentences after being arrested during protests outside an Israeli-owned weapons manufacturing company.

Charged with a breach of the Trade Union and Labor Relations Act, the protesters face at least six months in prison and a fine of up to £5,000, the media reported Sunday.

They were arrested in July following a protest in the West Midlands town of Shenstone that forced the UAV Engines Ltd plant, a subsidiary of Israeli drone manufacturer Elbit Systems, to shut down all operations for two days.

The demonstration saw activists put small coffins outside the factory and lay down next to them to raise awareness about the Israeli regime’s record of killing Palestinian children over the years-long occupation of the country.

Palestine Action, the organization that helped organize the demonstration, said all of the accused would plead not guilty in the case.

“They [protesters] believe that the factory is complicit in illegal activity and that they were preventing a crime,” the group’s Birmingham and Manchester branches said in a statement.

A lawyer for the protesters said “the lawfulness of [Elbit and UAV Engine’s] activity in its factory” was one of the issues that they were going to discuss in the case.

Based in the northern Israeli city of Haifa, Elbit produces range of military equipment, including drones, aircraft, weapon control systems, and artillery.

The company’s customers include the Israeli army, US Air Force, the British Royal Air Force, and the French Defense Ministry.

A group of European Banks and financial institutions have on several occasions boycotted the company for arming Israeli military forces despite growing criticism from the international community.

The efforts are part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) global movement against Israeli companies.

The British government has been under increasing pressure from Israel to put a ban on pro-Palestinian demonstrations.

A number of universities in the UK have already banned their students from holding events in solidarity with the people of Palestine.

August 20, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , , , | 2 Comments

What’s the real story behind the statues in Parliament Square?

Parliament Square is one of the most famous places on earth. It’s home to revered figures such as Winston Churchill who are lauded as “British heroes.”

Whereas the removal of statues of Confederate figures in the US can be seen as an ugly act of triumphalism and dominance, which may or may not have any actual connection to preserving the institution of slavery, where are the social justice warriors in the cities of London and Washington DC?

Perhaps they are only interested in triumphalism and dominance or they would correct their own myths and false icons before demanding that the vanquished adhere to their narratives.

August 18, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

UNDERSTANDING THE CAUSES OF THE UNCIVIL WAR

A Brief Explanation of the Impact of the Morrill Tariff

By Mike Scruggs for the Tribune Papers

Most Americans believe the U. S. “Civil War” was over slavery. They have to an enormous degree been miseducated. The means and timing of handling the slavery issue were at issue, although not in the overly simplified moral sense that lives in postwar and modern propaganda. But had there been no Morrill Tariff there might never have been a war. The conflict that cost of the lives of 650,000 Union and Confederate soldiers and perhaps as many as 50,000 Southern civilians and impoverished many millions for generations might never have been.

A smoldering issue of unjust taxation that enriched Northern manufacturing states and exploited the agricultural South was fanned to a furious blaze in 1860. It was the Morrill Tariff that stirred the smoldering embers of regional mistrust and ignited the fires of Secession in the South. This precipitated a Northern reaction and call to arms that would engulf the nation in the flames of war for four years.

Prior to the U. S. “Civil War” there was no U. S. income tax. Considerably more than 90% of U. S. government revenue was raised by a tariff on imported goods. A tariff is a tax on selected imports, most commonly finished or manufactured products. A high tariff is usually legislated not only to raise revenue, but also to protect domestic industry form foreign competition. By placing such a high, protective tariff on imported goods it makes them more expensive to buy than the same domestic goods. This allows domestic industries to charge higher prices and make more money on sales that might otherwise be lost to foreign competition because of cheaper prices (without the tariff) or better quality. This, of course, causes domestic consumers to pay higher prices and have a lower standard of living. Tariffs on some industrial products also hurt other domestic industries that must pay higher prices for goods they need to make their products. Because the nature and products of regional economies can vary widely, high tariffs are sometimes good for one section of the country, but damaging to another section of the country. High tariffs are particularly hard on exporters since they must cope with higher domestic costs and retaliatory foreign tariffs that put them at a pricing disadvantage. This has a depressing effect on both export volume and profit margins. High tariffs have been a frequent cause of economic disruption, strife and war.

Prior to 1824 the average tariff level in the U. S. had been in the 15 to 20 % range. This was thought sufficient to meet federal revenue needs and not excessively burdensome to any section of the country. The increase of the tariff to a 20% average in 1816 was ostensibly to help pay for the War of 1812. It also represented a 26% net profit increase to Northern manufacturers.

In 1824 Northern manufacturing states and the Whig Party under the leadership of Henry Clay began to push for high, protective tariffs. These were strongly opposed by the South. The Southern economy was largely agricultural and geared to exporting a large portion of its cotton and tobacco crops to Europe. In the 1850’s the South accounted for anywhere from 72 to 82% of U. S. exports. They were largely dependent, however, on Europe or the North for the manufactured goods needed for both agricultural production and consumer needs. Northern states received about 20% of the South’s agricultural production. The vast majority of export volume went to Europe. A protective tariff was then a substantial benefit to Northern manufacturing states, but meant considerable economic hardship for the agricultural South

Northern political dominance enabled Clay and his allies in Congress to pass a tariff averaging 35% late in 1824. This was the cause of economic boom in the North, but economic hardship and political agitation in the South. South Carolina was especially hard hit, the State’s exports falling 25% over the next two years. In 1828 in a demonstration of unabashed partisanship and unashamed greed the Northern dominated Congress raised the average tariff level to 50%. Despite strong Southern agitation for lower tariffs the Tariff of 1832 only nominally reduced the effective tariff rate and brought no relief to the South. These last two tariffs are usually termed in history as the Tariffs of Abomination.

This led to the Nullification Crisis of 1832 when South Carolina called a state convention and “nullified” the 1828 and 1832 tariffs as unjust and unconstitutional. The resulting constitutional crisis came very near provoking armed conflict at that time. Through the efforts of former U. S. Vice President and U. S. Senator from South Carolina, John C. Calhoun, a compromise was effected in 1833 which over a few years reduced the tariff back to a normal level of about 15%. Henry Clay and the Whigs were not happy, however, to have been forced into a compromise by Calhoun and South Carolina’s Nullification threat. The tariff, however, remained at a level near 15% until 1860. A lesson in economics, regional sensitivities, and simple fairness should have been learned from this confrontation, but if it was learned, it was ignored by ambitious political and business factions and personalities that would come on the scene of American history in the late 1850’s.

High protective tariffs were always the policy of the old Whig Party and had become the policy of the new Republican Party that replaced it. A recession beginning around 1857 gave the cause of protectionism an additional political boost in the Northern industrial states.

In May of 1860 the U. S. Congress passed the Morrill Tariff Bill (named for Republican Congressman and steel manufacturer, Justin S. Morrill of Vermont) raising the average tariff from about 15% to 37% with increases to 47% within three years. Although this was remarkably reminiscent of the Tariffs of Abomination which had led in 1832 to a constitutional crisis and threats of secession and armed force, the U. S. House of Representatives passed the Bill 105 to 64. Out of 40 Southern Congressmen only one Tennessee Congressman voted for it.

  1. S. tariff revenues already fell disproportionately on the South, accounting for 87% of the total. While the tariff protected Northern industrial interests, it raised the cost of living and commerce in the South substantially. It also reduced the trade value of their agricultural exports to Europe. These combined to place a severe economic hardship on many Southern states. Even more galling was that 80% or more of these tax revenues were expended on Northern public works and industrial subsidies, thus further enriching the North at the expense of the South.

In the 1860 election, Lincoln, a former Whig and great admirer of Henry Clay, campaigned for the high protective tariff provisions of the Morrill Tariff, which had also been incorporated into the Republican Party Platform. Lincoln further endorsed the Morrill Tariff and its concepts in his first inaugural speech and signed the Act into law a few days after taking office in March of 1861. Southern leaders had seen it coming. Southern protests had been of no avail. Now the South was inflamed with righteous indignation, and Southern leaders began to call for Secession.

At first Northern public opinion as reflected in Northern newspapers of both parties recognized the right of the Southern States to secede and favored peaceful separation. A November 21, 1860, editorial in the Cincinnati Daily Press said this:

“We believe that the right of any member of this Confederacy to dissolve its political relations with the others and assume an independent position is absolute.”

The New York Times on March 21, 1861, reflecting the great majority of editorial opinion in the North summarized in an editorial:

“There is a growing sentiment throughout the North in favor of letting the Gulf States go.”

Northern industrialists became nervous, however, when they realized a tariff dependent North would be competing against a free trade South. They feared not only loss of tax revenue, but considerable loss of trade. Newspaper editorials began to reflect this nervousness. Lincoln had promised in his inaugural speech that he would preserve the Union and the tariff. Three days after manipulating the South into firing on the tariff collection facility of Fort Sumter in volatile South Carolina, on April 15, 1861, Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to put down the Southern rebellion. This caused the Border States to secede along with the Gulf States. Lincoln undoubtedly calculated that the mere threat of force backed by more unified Northern public opinion would quickly put down secession. His gambit, however, failed spectacularly and would erupt into a terrible and costly war for four years. The Union Army’s lack of success early in the war, the need to keep anti-slavery England from coming into the war on the side of the South, and Lincoln’s need to appease the radical abolitionists in the North led to increasing promotion of freeing the slaves as a noble cause to justify what was really a dispute over just taxation and States Rights.

Writing in December of 1861 in a London weekly publication, the famous English author, Charles Dickens, who was a strong opponent of slavery, said these things about the war going on in America:

“The Northern onslaught upon slavery is no more than a piece of specious humbug disguised to conceal its desire for economic control of the United States.”

“Union means so many millions a year lost to the South; secession means loss of the same millions to the North. The love of money is the root of this as many, many other evils. The quarrel between the North and South is, as it stands, solely a fiscal quarrel.”

Karl Marx, like most European socialists of the time favored the North. In an 1861 article published in England, he articulated very well what the major British newspapers, the Times, the Economist, and Saturday Review, had been saying:

“The war between the North and South is a tariff war. The war, is further, not for any principle, does not touch the question of slavery, and in fact turns on the Northern lust for power.”

A horrific example of the damage that protective tariffs can exact was also seen in later history. One of the causes of the Great Depression of 1930-1939 was the Hawley-Smoot Act, a high tariff passed in 1930 that Congress mistakenly thought would help the country. While attempting to protect domestic industry from foreign imports, the unanticipated effect was to reduce the nation’s exports and thereby help increase unemployment to the devastating figure of 25%. It is fairly well known by competent and honest economists now that protective tariffs usually do more harm than good, often considerably more harm than good. However, economic ignorance and political expediency often combine to overrule longer-term public good. As the Uncivil War of 1861-5 proves, the human and economic costs for such shortsighted political expediency and partisan greed can be enormous.

The Morrill Tariff illustrates very well one of the problems with majoritarian democracy. A majority can easily exploit a regional, economic, ethnic, or religious minority (or any other minority) unmercifully unless they have strong constitutional guarantees that can be enforced, e. g., States Rights, Nullification, etc. The need to limit centralized government power to counter this natural depravity in men was recognized by the founding fathers. They knew well the irresistible tendencies in both monarchy and democracy for both civil magistrates and the electorate to succumb to the temptations of greed, self-interest, and the lust for power. Thus they incorporated into the Constitution such provisions as the separation of powers and very important provisions enumerating and delegating only certain functions and powers to the federal government and retaining others at the state level and lower. Such constitutional provisions including the very specific guaranty of States Rights and limits to the power of the Federal Government in the 10th Amendment are unfortunately now largely ignored by all three branches of the Federal Government, and their constant infringement seldom contested by the States.

The Tariff question and the States Rights question were therefore strongly linked. Both are linked to the broader issues of limited government and a strong Constitution. The Morrill Tariff dealt the South a flagrant political injustice and impending economic hardship and crisis. It therefore made Secession a very compelling alternative to an exploited and unequal union with the North.

How to handle the slavery question was an underlying tension between North and South, but one of many tensions. It cannot be said to be the cause of the war. Fully understanding the slavery question and its relations to those tensions is beyond the scope of this article, but numerous historical facts demolish the propagandistic morality play that a virtuous North invaded the evil South to free the slaves. Five years after the end of the War, prominent Northern abolitionist, attorney and legal scholar, Lysander Spooner, put it this way:

“All these cries of having ‘abolished slavery,’ of having ‘saved the country,’ of having ‘preserved the Union,’ of establishing a ‘government of consent,’ and of ‘maintaining the national honor’ are all gross, shameless, transparent cheats—so transparent that they ought to deceive no one.”

Yet apparently many today are still deceived, are deliberately deceived, and even prefer to be deceived.

Unjust taxation has been the cause of many tensions and much bloodshed throughout history and around the world. The Morrill Tariff was certainly a powerful factor predisposing the South to seek its independence and determine its own destiny. As outrageous and unjust as the Morrill Tariff was, its importance has been largely ignored and even purposely obscured. It does not fit the politically correct images and myths of popular American history. Truth, however, is always the high ground. It will have the inevitable victory.

In addition to the devastating loss of life and leadership during the War, the South suffered considerable damage to property, livestock, and crops. The policies of “Reconstruction” and “carpetbagger” state governments further exploited and robbed the South, considerably retarding economic recovery. Further, high tariffs and discriminatory railroad shipping taxes continued to favor Northern economic interests and impoverish the South for generations after the war. It is only in relatively recent history that the political and economic fortunes of the South have begun to rise.

One last point needs to be made. The war of 1861-65 was not a “civil” war. To call it the “Civil War” is not a historically accurate and honest use of language. It is the propaganda of the victors having attained popular usage. No one in the South was attempting to overthrow the U. S. government. Few Southerners had any interest in overthrowing their own or anyone else’s state governments. The Southern states had seen that continued union with the North would jeopardize their liberties and economic wellbeing. Through the proper constitutional means of state conventions and referendums they sought to withdraw from the Union and establish their independence just as the American Colonies had sought their independence from Great Britain in 1776 and for very similar reasons. The Northern industrialists, however, were not willing to give up their Southern Colonies. A more appropriate name for the uncivil war of 1861-65 would be “The War for Southern Independence.”

But had it not been for the Morrill Tariff there would have been no rush to Secession by Southern states and very probably no war. The Morrill Tariff of 1860, so unabashed and unashamed in its short-sighted, partisan greed, stands as an astonishing monument to the self-centered depravity of man and to its consequences. No wonder most Americans would like to see it forgotten and covered over with a more morally satisfying but largely false version of the causes of the Uncivil War.

Mike Scruggs is an historian who now lives in Hendersonville, NC

 

Principal References and Recommended Reading:

 

Charles Adams; For Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes in the Course of Civilization, 1993.

 

Charles Adams; When in the Course of Human Events: Argueing the Case for Southern Secession, 2000.

 

Frank Conner; The South Under Siege 1830-2000; A History of the Relations Between North and South, 2002.

 

John G. Van Deusen; Economic Bases of Disunion in South Carolina, 1928. Reprinted by Crown Rights Book Company, 2003.

 

Thomas J. DiLorenzo; The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War, 2002.

 

Ludwell H. Johnson; North Against South: The American Iliad 1848-1977, 2002 printing.

 

Mark Thornton; Tariffs, Blockades and Inflation: The Economics of the Civil War, 2004.

 

Principal Reference and Recommended Listening

 

Dr. David Livingston; Rethinking Lincoln: Abe Lincoln and Slavery, Lectures at League of South Conference, 2000. Available on cassette or CD at Apologia Book Shoppe online. A valuable portion of this lecture concerns the Morrill Tariff.

 

Revised 4 June 2005

 

August 16, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , | 3 Comments

Shocking videos raise #Venezuela fake-news fears

SKWAWKBOX · 03/08/2017

All the mainstream news channels and publications have been running dramatic footage of a night-time police raid to arrest one of two Venezuelan opposition leaders as part of their odd clamour for the UK’s opposition leader to ‘condemn’ Venezuelan President Maduro’s actions.

The raid, which occurred earlier this week and was caught on apparent mobile phone footage inside the raided house, is certainly dramatic enough, with half a dozen police officers in camouflage uniforms bundling Antonio Ledezma out of his house at night:

Equally dramatic daytime footage, however, sheds new light on the incident – and raises fears that the presentation of events in Venezuela may involve fake news:

Of course, this video is not of a raid in Venezuela. It was taken on a smartphone in the Fallowfield area of Manchester as dozens of police raided the house of someone suspected of involvement in the Manchester Arena attacks.

Only exterior footage is available, but watching police surround the house in order to enter from all directions simultaneously, it’s not hard to see that the scene inside the house would have been even more dramatic than the Venezuelan footage.

But of course, there were no demands for Jeremy Corbyn to condemn the Fallowfield raid because, well – we’re the United Kingdom.

Police raid houses regularly, of course. What matters is whether they do so lawfully, act proportionately – and what happens after the arrest.

The way the Venezuelan video has been presented is a classic example of ‘framing’. How a thing is described and presented can dramatically affect how we perceive it – and we’re meant to perceive the Venezuelan footage in a very different way than we see the Fallowfield raid.

But was it really different? Look again at the Ledesma arrest video. There’s no apparent violence – he’s not struck, he doesn’t crack his head on the police car as they put him in it. The police officers are walking him out, not dragging him or going faster than he can keep up. There’s even an officer filming the arrest as if to prevent any later accusations of brutality:

ledesma video.png

Hardly something you’d expect in a ‘hard-line socialist dictatorship’ or however your preferred news source and various opportunistic politicians have described Venezuela under Maduro.

Nor is this the case of a man beyond reproach being summarily arrested.

Much of the UK media has, curiously, left it out of their coverage of the arrest, but Antonio Ledezma was jailed in 2014 for inciting violence – and in fact, is still serving his sentence. But Venezuelan authorities released him earlier this month to serve his sentence as ‘house arrest’.

Again, not exactly the behaviour of a repressive state.

Ledezma was being re-arrested, not summarily arrested. What was the cause? We don’t know – but ‘don’t know’ is the key point. The UK’s mainstream media and right-wing politicians don’t know either. But you’d never guess there might be a legitimate cause, from the way they’ve framed the issue.

And you don’t have to look too hard to find out what might be the cause. As noted, Ledezma was already convicted of incitement to violence and returned home to house arrest in early July. The other man arrested this week, Leopoldo Lopez, was released from prison to house arrest at the same time – and he ‘celebrated’ his return home to house arrest with a pledge to continue his fight:

If continuing my fight for freedom means going back to Ramo Verde [prison], I am ready to do it. … I reiterate to you my commitment to fight until we conquer

What does ‘continuing my fight’ mean? Again, we don’t yet know, although the Venezuelan government has said that both men had violated the terms of their house-arrest – but we do know (if we look, because the UK media are not telling us) that other opposition leaders have been calling for violent protest for months.

And got violent protests, including bombs used against police::

Evidence for the opposition plans to create violent riots and plant car-bombs includes audio of an alleged meeting discussing explosives and a plan to create a situation requiring foreign intervention to remove the Maduro government.

The SKWAWKBOX does not assert that Ledezma and Lopez have been fairly treated – we don’t know, nor do the mainstream media. That’s the whole point.

What we do know is that the evidence paints a different, less one-sided picture than has been presented to us by the UK mainstream media.

A night-time police raid to re-arrest two men – convicted of incitement to violence and released to serve house arrest – is not in itself evidence of anything. Especially when the arrest appears to have been non-violent, carried out with professional restraint – and filmed by one of the officers as well as by one of the familes of the arrested man.

The arrest video, when watched free of the media’s framing, looks very different – and that difference allows us to see that the framing of the events by the media may be designed to prevent a balanced view – in order to create a particular perception.

A perception skewed and one-sided enough to raise genuine concerns that we are – yet again – being fed fake news.

A perception that the Establishment can then weaponise to attack – for a change – one Jeremy Corbyn.

August 16, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Video | , | 1 Comment

Lockerbie: Case closed

Al Jazeera English | February 28, 2012

The Lockerbie disaster was Europe’s worst terrorist outrage, but was it also Britain’s biggest miscarriage of justice? This film investigates the case against Abdel Baset al-Megrahi and finds evidence to suggest he may have been wrongly accused.

August 15, 2017 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , | Leave a comment

The LOCKERBIE Bombing: Who Really Did Carry Out the Worst Terrorist Attack in British History…?

The Burning Blogger of Bedlam | July 27, 2017

The Lockerbie bombing in 1988 was perhaps the 9/11 of its time. While it didn’t result in the kind of phony Global ‘War on Terror’ that was conducted after 9/11, it did give the US and Britain the platform for beginning a targeted downfall of a particular nation and society, this being Libya.

This was accomplished the same way in Libya as it was accomplished in Iraq: first by years and years of crippling sanctions and forced hardship (via the UN),then by all-out destruction against a nation that is no longer able to defend itself (Iraq in 2003, Libya in 2011).

There are essentially two ways to look at Lockerbie.

One, the most important, is as a criminal investigation of an act of mass murder. The other is as a prolonged political or geo-political tool serving multiple purposes. Both are worth revisiting; particularly as the ghost of Lockerbie (and all of its victims) has reappeared in news media in the last few weeks.

Revisiting the subject of Lockerbie is important both as a study of geo-politics and the place of political terrorism within that arena and as a study in history and how it relates to contemporary events.

I want to take a broad overview of the Lockerbie subject here, touching on all of those areas: this article will cover (1) the reasons why the ‘official’ story of Lockerbie is so problematic and disputed, (2) the release of the ‘Lockerbie Bomber’ from prison in Scotland and why it happened, (3) the political and geopolitical motives and consequences of the Lockerbie trial and verdict, and finally (4) the many different theories as to who really did carry out the Lockerbie bombing and why.

The official story remains that the Lockerbie bombing was the doing of the Libyan, Abdelbasset al-Megrahi, who – at the time – had been in charge of security for Libyan airlines.

Abdelbasset al-Megrahi was jailed for 27 years, but died of prostate cancer, aged 60, in 2012. On his deathbed, he continued to claim he was innocent of the bomb that ripped apart Pan-Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in December 1988, killing 270 civilians.

It remains the worst act of terrorism in British history.

As was being reported in media outlets a fortnight or so ago, the family of the convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi is involved in a new bid to appeal against his conviction.

They are not alone in this move, but also have the support of Dr Jim Swire, who lost his daughter Flora in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, and Rev John Mosey, who lost his daughter Helga.

Like 9/11, the Lockerbie bombing of Pan-Am Flight 103 invited numerous conspiracy theories and claims of a cover up. And with good reason.

There were Scottish investigators questioning the official verdict all along, with claims that the key piece of evidence – the bomb timer – had been planted on the scene by a CIA operative, while the expert who examined the timer admitted to having manufactured it himself and the crucial witness who connected the bomb to the suitcase later admitted to having been paid $2 Million to lie in the trial.

Abdelbaset al-Megrahi sat in a prison cell in Scotland for years for a crime he hadn’t convincingly been proven guilty of; even when the Scottish government decided to send him back to Libya on compassionate grounds (because of his prostate-cancer), Washington and Westminster still both objected and numerous commentators accused Scotland of being ‘soft’.

And when Megrahi was filmed receiving a hero’s welcome by Saif Gaddafi and a large crowd upon returning home, much of Western media was full of condemnation that these people were ‘celebrating a terrorist’.

Many condemned this as a gross insult to the victims of Lockerbie. If Megrahi’s guilt could be proven beyond reasonable doubt, this attitude would be valid: but if it can’t, then the bigger insult to those victims is the cover-up and the obfuscation of evidence that has continued to this day.

Jim Swire, the spokesman of UK Families Flight 103, and whose daughter was killed in the Lockerbie bombing, has repeatedly expressed grave doubts about the official version of events.

Hans Köchler, the Austrian jurist appointed by the UN to be an independent observer at the Lockerbie trial, expressed concern about the way it was conducted (particularly the suspicious role played by two US Justice Department officials who, according to him, sat next to the Scottish prosecuting counsel throughout the process and appeared to be giving them instructions).

Köchler would later describe al-Megrahi’s conviction as “a spectacular miscarriage of justice”. Jim Swire, who also was present through the trial, then launched the ‘Justice for Megrahi’ campaign, being utterly unconvinced by the official verdict.

Professor Robert Black QC, among others, also maintains that Abdelbasset al-Megrahi was innocent of the Lockerbie bombing, the entire case hinging on the shaky testimony of a single, highly dubious, witness in Malta (a shopkeeper named Tony Gauci, who, years after the trial, was described by Lord Advocate, Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, as being “an apple short of a picnic”).

This same man, it later emerged, had been paid $2 million by the CIA for his testimony against Megrahi, while his brother – a man entirely unrelated to the case – was also paid $1 million.

Professor Black, upon visiting al-Megrahi in prison in 2007, referred to the “wrongful conviction” of an “innocent man”.

Key evidence presented at the trial (e.g. timer fragment, parts from a specific radio cassette model, clothing bought in Malta, bomb suitcase originating at Luqa Airport) had likely been fabricated for the political purpose of incriminating and then punishing Libya. It was openly known that vital evidence had been tampered with (see here, for example).

A lot of these key problems were covered in the very good Al-Jazeera investigation/documentary ‘Lockerbie: Case Closed’ (see here). American Radio Works also examined the Lockerbie case in 2000, seemingly coming to the conclusion that the case against Libya and al-Megrahi wasn’t convincing.

In a report on the Lockerbie trial, Köchler, a university professor, said “It was a consistent pattern during the whole trial that – as an apparent result of political interests and considerations – efforts were undertaken to withhold substantial information from the Court.”

Hans Köchler was the only international observer to submit comprehensive reports on the Lockerbie trial and appeal proceedings to the Secretary-General of the United Nations. In the June 2008 edition of the Scottish lawyers’ magazine The Firm, Dr Köchler referred to the ‘totalitarian’ nature of the Lockerbie appeal process. Particularly interesting was his statement that it “bears the hallmarks of an intelligence operation”.

Certainly, the dubious elements in the investigation process and the illegitimacy of the trial are more than enough to suggest that US agencies were trying very hard to cover something up.

 


 

Calls in Scotland for al-Megrahi’s release began with the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 2003, particularly after Nelson Mandela had called on Western Churches to intervene in what he called a major “miscarriage of justice”.

Within a few years, even Arab League representatives were referring to al-Megrahi not as a terrorist but as a ‘political hostage’ being held in Scotland. It was calling for al-Megrahi’s release and was even endorsing Gaddafi’s claims for compensation from Britain due to the damage done to Libya’s economy from 1991 to 1999.

Appeals for al-Megrahi’s release or a re-opening of the case were resisted and rejected, however, for several years, leading to al-Megrahi withdrawing his own appeal in August 2009.

At this time, Scottish Minister Christine Grahame (of the SNP) wrote “There are a number of vested interests who have been deeply opposed to this appeal continuing as they know it would go a considerable way towards exposing the truth behind Lockerbie… In the next days, weeks and months new information will be placed in the public domain that will make it clear that Mr Megrahi had nothing to do with the bombing of Pan Am 103.”

When al-Megrahi was eventually released, it was on compassionate grounds and was framed simply as an act that would allow him do die in Libya.

Washington and Westminster – along with much of the media – were furious with the Scottish courts, insisting that al-Megrahi should remain in prison in Scotland.

But the crucial thing about al-Megrahi’s release to Libya was the way it was framed as an act of compassion that had no bearing on the previous trial or on the official verdict concerning his guilt.

Megrahi’s withdrawing of his own appeal just shortly before he was released on compassionate grounds presumably means a deal was made to allow him to go home and die in Tripoli, so long as he remained officially ‘The Lockerbie Bomber’ and the case was not to be re-opened.

The scenes of al-Megrahi landing at Tripoli Airport, being met personally by Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, and being greeted by hundreds of young Libyans waving Libyan and Scottish flags were played across Western media and presented as ‘proof’ that Scotland had made the wrong choice – and that the Libyans were celebrating the ‘Lockerbie Bomber’. However, al-Megrahi’s return home had also happened to coincide with celebrations of forty years of the Libyan Arab Republic.

At any rate, within two years of this, that same Libyan Arab Republic was in ruins, NATO warplanes were bombing the entire country back into the stone age, and al-Megrahi would die shortly after this, still being regarded by most of the world as ‘The Lockerbie Bomber’.

In late 2011, after she had finished celebrating Gaddafi’s brutal murder in Sirte, Washington psychopath Hillary Clinton was calling for Abdelbaset al-Megrahi to be forced to go back to jail in Scotland – a request that was ultimately rejected.

 


 

If we consider – as we’re doing here – that the Lockerbie bombing wasn’t carried out by Al-Megrahi or Libya (and evidence suggests it wasn’t), then we have to wonder who did carry out Lockerbie. And whether the intention of that false-flag operation (with 207 civilian deaths) was to create a *reason* to impose the sanctions, a reason to cripple Libya’s growth and economy and to be able to firmly declare Gaddafi’s Libya a ‘terrorist state’: all designed to cripple Gaddafi’s position and to, in international terms, back him and his state into a corner, while also serving to rubber-stamp the perception of Gaddafi as the Great Villain.

Anyone who grew up in the 80s will remember this portrayal of Gaddafi as the Big Bad Villain (or ‘Mad Dog of the Middle East’, as Ronald Reagan called him) in the same way that Saddam Hussein would later be portrayed or as Osama bin Laden would later be presented as the emblematic evil mastermind of anti-Western schemes.

In fact, in many ways, Lockerbie and Gaddafi were the dry run for what would later be 9/11 and Bin Laden – a major, terrible terrorist act of mass murder and an iconic caricature of a Big Bad Monster/Villain from the East. By the late 90s, the idea of Gaddafi as the great villainous threat to the West had run out of steam and the focus was shifted instead onto Saddam Hussein and then Osama bin Laden.

Ironically, as I’ve pointed out before, it remains a fact that Gaddafi had actually been the first world leader to issue an arrest warrant for Bin Laden, long before the US or its allies did.

Lockerbie, the Berlin disco bombing and the shooting of Yvonne Fletcher in London (all three of which had serious doubts around them from the beginning – I covered the Yvonne Fletcher shooting somewhat in this post on the 7/7 London Bombings and the Berlin Disco bombing somewhat in the ‘Libya Conspiracy‘ book) can all be argued to have been programs conducted by UK/US intelligence (possibly in concert with agencies from other governments) to permanently vilify Gaddafi’s Libya and thus justify ongoing sanctions and the likelihood of the country’s decline.

This is an extremely important point: the sanctions imposed on Libya (after Lockerbie) were designed to reverse the country’s success and its attainment of self-sufficiency, to cripple the nation with deprivation and incite ill-feeling.

The only way offered to end the sanctions program was for Libya to pay what was reckoned to be the biggest compensation package ever imposed onto any country – Libya would have to pay a total of $10 Billion to the Lockerbie victims’ families.

The other condition was that Gaddafi also had to formally acknowledge responsibility in the UN for his officials’ orchestrating of the Lockerbie bombing. Gaddafi eventually went along with these demands, but to his domestic audience he permanently denied any responsibility or involvement in Lockerbie and told his people that the extortionate reparations Libya was having to pay wasn’t an admission of guilt, but merely the price having to be paid in order for Libya to re-enter the international community.

In other words, he took the official blame for Lockerbie in order to try to end the sanctions, but all the while he insisted it was a lie.

In 2011, he probably found himself wishing he hadn’t bothered; because it was all for nothing.

US whistleblower Susan Lindauer told RT in 2011 that, the summer before the ‘Arab Spring’ uprising, Gadaffi had in fact been pressuring US, British, French and Italian oil companies to reimburse Libya for the cost of those payments to the families of the Lockerbie bombing.

In that context, it’s also hardly surprising that come 2011 and as Western governments were bombing Libya and targeting Gaddafi for assassination, the Lockerbie business got dragged out repeatedly in the media to act as a timely reminder of why Gaddafi was so terrible and needed to be killed.

By this point, the suggestion was now even being made that Gaddafi had ordered the Lockerbie bombing personally (which had never been suggested before).

 


 

Arguably, however, the destruction of Libya in 2011 was the desired end-point of a geo-political timeline that Lockerbie had been a crucial part of.

That being so, and with Gaddafi dead and Libya in ongoing chaos, it is arguably no longer as important whether the truth about Lockerbie comes out or not. Most of the key figures in the Gaddafi era regime are either dead or in jail.

Abdelbasset al-Megrahi himself died just months after Gaddafi was killed and the old Libyan state was overthrown.

All of that long-term geo-political scheming to overthrow Gaddafi is over – so it is possible that new investigations might be ‘allowed’ to uncover more of the true story behind the bombing of Pan-Am Flight 103.

Aside from all of the dubious elements in the Lockerbie trial and the questionable processes, what also strikes me as telling is the commitment of al-Megrahi’s family to clearing his name: especially given that Al-Megrahi is dead and the state accused of planning Lockerbie has long since been overthrown.

Al-Megrahi himself (pictured here in his final days of life, in Tripoli) was continuing to insist on his innocence right up to his dying days and, in fact, had asked Jim Swire to continue to fight to clear his name after he died.

Why would a guilty man bother to do that? Terrorists generally claim their acts of terrorism. Moreover, Megrahi was already free by that point and was in no danger of going back to jail.

 


If al-Megrahi didn’t carry out Lockerbie, who did?

There have long been plenty of theories.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine: General Command (PFLP-GC) was the first suspect, based on a threat it had issued against US and Israeli interests before Lockerbie occurred. Iran was also in the frame very early – and remains a key suspect for some people – with its motive thought to be revenge for the July 1988 shooting down of Iran Air Flight 655 by the USS Vincennes. Former British diplomat Patrick Haseldine suggested that the bombing of Pan-Am Flight 103 had in fact been an assassination operation by South Africa’s apartheid government, targeting UN Commissioner for Namibia, Bernt Carlsson.

Another widely held theory implicates CIA agents involved in drug-running operations. This was in fact the basis for Allan Francovich’s 1994 movie The Maltese Double Cross

Here’s a very interesting piece of film on the drug connection to Pan-Am Flight 180.

A renowned terrorist from that time, Abu Nidal, allegedly later confessed to the Lockerbie bombing (unlike al-Megrahi, who, even on his deathbed, insisted he was innocent), while the controversial blogger Joe Vialls later put forward another theory that the bomb was detonated remotely and also attributed the crime to a CIA/Mossad operation. Vialls did a lot of work on tracking the Lockerbie trial, which is worth consulting – whether you agree with his take or not.

On the subject of Abu Nidal, it is worth making note of the claims that the ‘notorious Palestinian mercenary’ was in fact a US spy and a Mossad operative.

Patrick Seale’s book Abu Nidal: A Gun For Hire makes a very convincing case that the notorious ‘Black September’ terrorist was a full Mossad agent, servicing an Israeli agenda. Nidal was involved in a long line of terrorist atrocities.

The fact that Nidal was reported – even by mainstream newspapers – as having allegedly confessed to Lockerbie is therefore very interesting.

If he was a Mossad agent and US spy, then many of those terrorist acts (including ‘Black September’ and other acts of alleged Palestinian terrorism) would’ve presumably been false-flag ops – and that would seem to make him a very solid candidate for Lockerbie.

I am not endorsing any specific theory or conclusion here: merely arguing that it is probably time for Abdelbasset al-Megrahi to be exonerated and for the Lockerbie investigation to be re-opened in a big way.

In 2008, journalist Hugh Miles published a piece in The Independent, in which he further explored the question of who was behind the Lockerbie bombing; ‘all I know,’ he wrote, ‘is that it wasn’t the man in prison’.

In the article, he draws attention to a convicted Palestinian terrorist named Abu Talb and a Jordanian triple-agent named Marwan Abdel Razzaq Khreesat. ‘Both were Iranian agents; Khreesat was also on the CIA payroll,‘ he explained. ‘Abu Talb was given lifelong immunity from prosecution in exchange for his evidence at the Lockerbie trial; Marwan Khreesat was released for lack of evidence by German police even though a barometric timer of the type used to detonate the bomb on Pan Am Flight 103 was found in his car when he was arrested…‘

There is clearly no shortage of theories and avenues for investigation concerning the Lockerbie bombing.

There is also – and has been for decades – a concerted agenda at the governmental level to prevent any further investigation and to, instead, maintain the official story.

 


Read more:The Libya Conspiracy: A Definitive Guide to the Libya Intervention‘, ‘The Life & Death of Gaddafi’s Libya: A Study of the Libya That No Longer Exists‘, ‘Muammar Gaddafi: A Psychological Profile of Man, Myth & Reality‘…

August 15, 2017 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

‘Seven Days of Blockade’: UK Activists Vow to Oppose September London Arms Fair

Sputnik – 15.08.2017

LONDON – Anti-war activists from across the United Kingdom plan to gather in the UK capital in September for a week-long event in opposition to London’s Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI), one of the world’s largest arms fairs, a spokesman for Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) group, told Sputnik.

“As far as arms fairs go this one is one of the biggest and you can quite literally buy anything here, from air to air weapons to naval armaments. The problem is that it will be hosting delegations from governments with awful human rights records, despite the fact it’s cosponsored by the Ministry of Defence and the Department of International Trade,” Andrew Smith said.

The DSEI arms fair will take place on September 12-15 at the ExCel exhibition center in east London. Activists plan to hold protests on September 4 in an attempt to disrupt the event before it can convene.

“There’s going to be seven days of blockade and protest right outside. The reasons for doing it beforehand is to try and stop the equipment from getting in. The main protest will take place on the 9th, but before then we have a number of activities lined up to address specific issues that arise from the global arms trade,” Smith said.

Over 1,600 suppliers from companies from across the world are expected to attend the DSEI fair.

“The British government talks a strong game on human rights yet on the other hand invites human rights abusers from all over the world to come to London to buy weapons,” Smith said.

CAAT recently initiated legal action against the UK government over ongoing weapons exports to Riyadh amid concern that UK-made weapons might have been used against civilians in Yemen, gripped by civil war. The High Court, however, rejected their case, arguing that the UK government’s policy in this area was rational and in compliance with international law.

July statistics released by the UK government suggest that 57 percent of the country’s defense exports went to the Middle East in 2007-2016, compared to 20 percent that went to North America and 10 percent to Europe and Asia Pacific, each.

August 15, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

Balfour’s Shameful Legacy: UK Government must say sorry and protect Christian Churches in Palestine

To: Rt Hon David Mundell MP, Secretary of State for Scotland

Dear Mr Mundell,

It was a pleasure meeting you at the Dumfries Agricultural Show. If you recall, we talked briefly about Mrs May’s perverse plan to celebrate the centenary of the Balfour Declaration “with pride” and invite Israel’s PM Netanyahu to the jollifications.

The infamous Declaration was a pledge contrived by Zionists inside and outside the British Government. It was in effect a ‘promissory note’ to the Zionist movement for their help in bringing the US into WW1; and it was made with utter disregard to the consequences for the majority Arab population in Palestine. Worse, it amounted to a betrayal of our Arab allies, cutting across an earlier promise for their help against the Turks. There was strong opposition in Parliament even from Lord Montague, the only Jew in the Cabinet. Lord Sydenham remarked:

What we have done, by concessions not to the Jewish people but to a Zionist extreme section, is to start a running sore in the East, and no-one can tell how far that sore will extend.

Well, we know now. And it’s high time the wound was healed.

The Declaration by Balfour, a Zionist convert, needs to be read in parallel with The Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism, a joint statement by the heads of Palestinian Christian churches which rejects Christian Zionist doctrine as false teaching that corrupts the biblical message of love, justice and reconciliation.

We further reject the contemporary alliance of Christian Zionist leaders and organizations with elements in the governments of Israel and the United States [they could have added the UK] that are presently imposing their unilateral pre-emptive borders and domination over Palestine…. We reject the teachings of Christian Zionism that facilitate and support these policies as they advance racial exclusivity and perpetual war.

Justice groups are urging the British Government to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration in November by saying sorry instead of toasting the blunder in champagne. Mrs May could do some real good here. She could, at a stroke, help quell the destructive turmoil in the Middle East and begin repairing Britain’s tattered image. She could even open new trade routes into Islamic markets, vitally important as we leave the EU. By apologising on our behalf for 100 years of agony inflicted on lovely people in a lovely part of the world Mrs May could take a giant step for mankind on the world stage.

But no, she’s pressing ahead with the revelry. And her principal guest, the ruthless Israeli prime minister, is on many a wanted list for war crimes and crimes against humanity. He’s also under investigation in his own country for corruption. This is not just poor judgment on Mrs May’s part but insanely provocative when a UN report recently branded Israel an apartheid regime. It’s even more regrettable considering the desperate cry for help a few weeks ago  from the National Coalition of Christian Organizations in Palestine in an open letter to the World Council of Churches and the ecumenical movement, signed by over 30 organisations in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. You can read this disturbing document here.

They issued a similar cry for help 10 years ago but the tyranny of the occupying forces has gone from very bad to much worse. Their latest message is frighteningly stark:

Things are beyond urgent. We are on the verge of a catastrophic collapse. The current status-quo is unsustainable. This could be our last chance to achieve a just peace. As a Palestinian Christian community, this could be our last opportunity to save the Christian presence in this land.

“The name of the game: Erasing Palestine” (Miko Peled)

I was encouraged to hear you say that you visited Occupied Palestine independently rather than accept the usual propaganda tour organised by Conservative Friends of Israel and the Israeli government. Nevertheless, claims by the CFoI that 80 percent of Conservative MPs and MEPs are signed up members is alarming and puts us almost on a par with US Congress which is controlled by the Israel lobby through AIPAC. It is ludicrous that a foreign military power which has no respect for international law and rejects weapons conventions and safeguards can exert such influence on foreign policy in the US and UK. Pandering to Israel has been immensely costly in blood and treasure and damaging to our reputation.

Everyone outside the Westminster bubble knows perfectly well that there can be no peace in the Holy Land without justice. Everyone knows that international law and countless UN resolutions still wait to be enforced. Everyone knows that Israel won’t comply unless sanctions are imposed. Everyone knows that the siege on Gaza won’t be lifted until warships are sent.

Miko Peled, son of an Israeli general, former Israeli soldier and now a leading voice in the struggle for Palestinian freedom, tells us that “by 1993 the Israelis had achieved their mission to make the conquest of the West Bank irreversible [and] the Israeli government knew for certain that a Palestinian state could not be established in the West Bank”. What’s more, everyone now knows that the US is not an honest broker and peace won’t come from sham ‘negotiations’ between the weak and the all-powerful. Everyone knows who is the real threat to peace in the Middle East. And everyone knows that Her Majesty’s Government’s hand-wringing  and empty words serve no purpose except to prolong the daily misery and buy time for Israel to complete its criminal scheme to make the occupation permanent.

Mrs May praises Israel for being “a thriving democracy, a beacon of tolerance”, when it is obviously neither. She says our two countries share “common values” when we obviously don’t; and given the Israeli regime’s incessant crimes against humanity and cruelty to the indigenous people it terrorises such a remark is insulting to anyone who lives by Christian values. She even claims that Israel is a country where people of all religions “are free and equal in the eyes of the law” and “Israel guarantees the rights of people of all religions, races and sexualities, and it wants to enable everyone to flourish”. This is arrant nonsense. The lady needs to tone down her misguided adoration of the rogue regime.

She also needs to call off attempts to criminalise the successful BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) campaign calling it wrong and warning that her government will “have no truck with those who subscribe to it”.  Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights bestows on everyone “the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”.

As the Secretary of State for Scotland, the senior Central Government figure hereabouts and a member of the Cabinet, you have the ear of the PM on heavyweight matters of state — such as this. I hope you’ll allow me, please, to pursue the  through your goodself (keeping my MP Alister Jack informed).  I do not wish to receive the usual proforma reply from the Foreign Office about the UK’s adherence to the 2-state solution — a futile position, as anyone paying attention to the situation has known for years. What I do hope for is reasons why HMG is still exporting weaponry to Israel when it is used against the Palestinians to maintain the illegal occupation, why no move is made to break the 10-year blockade of Gaza which has brought nearly 2 million citizens to the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe, why HMG keeps rewarding Israel for its other never-ending crimes, its contempt for international law, its disregard for the provisions of the UN Charter, and its continued breaches of the EU-Israel Agreement. And why Mrs May seeks to appeal against the recent court decision defending our right to boycott Israel. Does she not realise that HMG’s inaction leaves civil society no choice but to resort to BDS?

In particular I’d like to know, please, Mrs May’s reaction to the desperate plea from the Christian churches in the Holy Land, and I hope you’ll bring to her notice that letter to the WCC if she hasn’t already seen it. She wears her Christianity on her sleeve, is seen regularly attending church etc, but her faith credentials will be in question if she ignores the contents of the letter.

Whether the questions raised here are tiresomely ducked as usual or given the consideration they deserve, the story will find wide circulation. This request is therefore sent as an open letter.

August 12, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

RT Slams The Times’ Claims About Making Fake News to Serve Russian Interests

Sputnik – August 11, 2017

RT Broadcaster on Friday responded to a request for commentary from The Times newspaper, which alleged that RT published a false story about itself to promote Russian state interests.

The Times suggested in an email to RT that last fall’s story about a UK bank closing RT accounts in the country was published to serve the Russian state’s narrative. The Times said that the letter from National Westminster Bank (NatWest) bank, cited by RT Editor-In-Chief Margarita Simonyan on her Twitter, was sent to a supplier of RT rather than the broadcaster itself, and that NatWest and the supplier eventually reached an agreement. The Times quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s criticism of the situation as an example of how wrong information appears to have been put into the public sphere.

“As you’ve apparently forgotten, here’s a refresher: NatWest (which has a significant shareholding by the UK government) provided RT’s principle UK banking facility to Russia Today TV UK Ltd, the production company for RT UK, which services the salaries of all RT UK staff and handles practically all other RT UK operations. Last October the bank informed the company that it is closing (not threatening to close) all of its accounts, and that the decision was final and not subject to redress – precisely what Margarita Simonyan said in her post,” the broadcaster said in a response to The Times.

RT added that the information was made into a story because it was true and newsworthy.

“But we look forward to the Times’ valiant effort in turning these facts into fakes; it wouldn’t be the first time,” the broadcaster said.

After the RT’s accounts were blocked in the United Kingdom in October, Lavrov criticized the move suggesting that “no bank can make these decisions on their own” and reminded “an old wisdom that goes something like this: never treat others the way you would not want them to treat you.”

In January, RT said that NatWest reviewed its decision and would retain the broadcaster’s accounts. In March, Simonyan said RT was in consultations with other banks, when asked if RT had taken any precautions to avoid problems with their accounts in the future.

RT operates a number of cable and satellite television channels in a number of languages and is directed at a foreign audience. The channels provide 24-hour news coverage, as well as airing documentaries, talk shows and debates.

August 11, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | Leave a comment

British Army must stop recruiting child soldiers, veteran tells RT

© defenceimagery.mod.uk
By Claire Gilbody-Dickerson | RT | August 4, 2017

Britain should raise the military recruitment age from 16 to 18 because joining the services at such a tender age can cause irreversible psychological damage, a British Army veteran has told RT.

Wayne Sharrocks, who joined the army when he was 17, has spoken out against current military regulations, which allow recruiters to accept under 18s, who are effectively children based on international standards.

Sharrocks is calling for the recruitment age to be raised following a recent report published by Veterans for Peace (VFP) UK, which sheds light on the detrimental effects of army training on soldiers in general, and young people in particular.

Twenty-two out of every 100 British soldiers are under the age of 18. However, they are exempt from combat operations until they reach adulthood.

The 72-page report, ‘The First Ambush? Effects of army training and employment,’ says military training alone increases violent offending among recruits, with the rate of offenses rising again once they return from the front line.

The report, assembled through the testimonies of army veterans and more than 200 separate studies, also found recruits are twice as likely to drink heavily – all factors which may in turn lead to unemployment and homelessness.

Regardless of recruitment age, Sharrocks believes “military training and culture is damaging and not healthy for a person to go through.” But because young people’s minds are more “malleable” than those of adults, the effects of training are far worse for them.

It emerged last month that the British Army is actively trying to fill its ranks with young people from households with a £10,000 (US$13,000) annual income.

In a document for the British Army’s ‘This Is Belonging’ campaign, seen by the Independent and Child Soldiers International, the military says it is deliberately targeting 16 to 24-year-olds from social classes known as C2DEs – denoting the three lowest ranks of society.

The VFP report says the British Army “strategically” targets such youngsters from deprived neighborhoods by presenting a “romanticized” image of the soldier.

Members of the Scottish Parliament have backed a petition calling for further research into military recruitment of youth.

There have also been calls by the Scottish National Party (SNP) Youth for a review of the policy on military recruitment age, but a motion to raise it was opposed by senior MPs in December last year.

Sharrocks, who twice served in Afghanistan and left the army after being severely injured by an improvised explosive device (IED), said more information should be made available to young people so they know what they are signing up for.

Jay Sutherland, a Scottish 16-year-old student who has founded a campaign group against “militarism” in schools, said advertisements are “glossed over, with the military not even showing important regulations such as when you sign up you are locked in until 18 and the fact that younger recruits are twice as likely to be killed in Afghanistan than older recruits.”

An MoD spokesperson told RT it rejects claims it is targeting youth only, but said it is “proud” of offering young people in the Armed Forces opportunities that “aren’t always available elsewhere, from basic literacy education and support for postgraduate degrees, to high-quality accredited training and unique employment prospects.”

The spokesperson added that the Armed Forces allows for everyone, regardless of their background, the opportunity to reach their full potential, before adding it is encouraging young people to “aim higher” while “teaching them valuable skills”.

Dehumanizing training

Sharrocks claims military training requires soldiers to “follow orders without questioning them,” so that their “natural aversion” to killing is also “altered.”

The report itself reads: “To ensure that recruits will follow all orders and kill their opponents in war, army training indoctrinates unconditional obedience, stimulates aggression and antagonism, overpowers a healthy person’s inhibition to killing, and dehumanizes the opponent in the recruit’s imagination.”

Such practices can lead to long-lasting psychological issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can lead to suicide.

VFP UK describes the case of Dan, who joined the army at 18 and developed PTSD after training and service in Iraq.

When he returned to Britain, he served time in a military prison for assaulting a warrant officer.

“After the conviction the army wouldn’t support me, my mental health deteriorated and I was left feeling isolated and alone.

“I resorted to alcohol abuse and became homeless for a year, and I have suffered with chronic PTSD.

“I really believe that underlying all my problems was the effect of the training I was put through when I joined the army.”

Sharrocks accused the army of turning its back on soldiers, who are “pushed aside” once they are deemed no longer “useful.”

Because they have been in the army for so many years, Sharrocks says some veterans lack fundamental qualifications to get a decent job in civilian life, as they have the same skill-set of a 16-year-old who has “just left school.”

Many find themselves in manual, low-skill factory jobs.

Rather than leaving charities to pick up the pieces, Sharrocks appealed for more to be done to smooth the transition from soldiering to civilian life.

Writing for the ForcesWatch website, Douglas Beattie, a member of VFP UK, said soldiers are dehumanized right from the start, regardless of their age.

“This [process] begins with isolation – for the first few weeks trainees, heads shaved and in uniform, have no right to see family or friends; they are not allowed to leave base and cannot terminate their contract.”

He also said soldiers become targets of “beastings” – humiliating treatment involving both verbal and physical violence, aimed at the individual’s utter debasement.

Read more:

‘Used by the army’: British recruitment of child soldiers condemned by doctors & veterans

August 4, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | 3 Comments

‘No Time For Shallow Diplomacy Christians’ In The Religious War On Churches In The Holy Land

By Stuart Littlewood | American Herald Tribune | August 2, 2017

A month ago, after reading a desperate cry for help from the National Coalition of Christian Organisations in Palestine (NCCOP) addressed to the World Council of Churches, I emailed eight churches in my locality asking whether that heart-rending appeal had trickled down to them at parish level.

If not, I hoped to find out where the break in communications occurred, as this wasn’t the first time churches in the Holy Land had sought support from Western Christendom. Previous appeals were largely ignored and left to civil society for action.

Now, say the Palestinians, the situation is “beyond urgent”. So had the NCCOP’s latest plea actually arrived on the desks of parish priests in my neighbourhood? And if so, how were grass-roots Christians responding?

I included a link to the actual crisis document, which should have made every churchman sit up, and a gentle reminder that their faith and their job of work are rooted in the Holy Land. “So what are the chances, I wonder, of seeing concerted action from Western churches before it’s too late? And what part can local parishes play?

The key point was this: it’s beyond urgent. So are our spiritual leaders, those upstanding ‘men of the cloth’, mobilising their troops?

Only one of the eight replied — the local Catholic vicar-general — who dismissed the subject in two sentences. So there you have it. If this local bunch are representative of the Christian community in the UK, they don’t give a four-X for their brothers and sisters in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. And they are utterly indifferent to the fact that the place where Christianity was born is being stolen from under their noses.

If that’s a wrong interpretation, and Christians in the West do actually wish to help, the issue is straightforward enough. Churches in Palestine are asking churches here to call things as they are: to recognize Israel as an apartheid state in terms of international law and the UN report which says so. They are concerned that States and churches are still dealing with Israel on a business-as-usual basis, as if the situation were normal, and ignoring the criminal reality of military occupation.

Churches came together in opposition to apartheid in South Africa and helped end it. Why haven’t they done the same in Palestine?

They ask us to unequivocally condemn the Balfour Declaration as unjust, and they rightly demand that the UK asks forgiveness and compensates the Palestinian people for their losses. Theresa May’s government, however, plans to celebrate the centenary of the Balfour Declaration “with pride” and has invited Mr Netanyahu to the fun.

Clearly Mrs May, God-fearing churchgoer that she is, needs to feel the heat of His wrath. The woman is so arrogant that her government intends to appeal against the recent decision by the Royal Courts of Justice defending our right to boycott Israel.

End the ‘Ecumenical Deal’, put interfaith dialogue through the wringer

The Palestinians want us to take the strongest possible stand against any theology or group that seeks to justify the occupation. That means of course challenging our religious dialogue partners and withdrawing from those partnerships if they won’t condemn Israel’s brutal occupation.

But I can hear our canting clerics muttering: “Oh dear, no, no, no. We mustn’t upset our interfaith colleagues. That would never do.”

Churches that sell their holdings or otherwise divest from companies that profit from the occupation of Palestinian lands often take years of agonising confab to reach such a commonsense position. But they needn’t think just moving their money is enough. A recent example is the Mennonite Church USA, where it took (they say) a three-person writing team and a 10-member reference group working intensely during the past two years and consulting widely across the church and with Palestinian and Jewish partners, to come up with a modest proposal. And to sugar the divestment pill they declared that “the legacy of Jewish suffering is intertwined with the suffering of Palestinians”. What the Palestinians had to do with Jewish suffering or ever did to deserve having their lands and homes confiscated, isn’t explained. But it is used to provide an excuse to call on Mennonites to strengthen relationships with Jewish communities.

Why? Can they not understand that you have to be consistent in boycotting Israel? It involves boycotting the people who also support and advocate for Israel including those who fail to condemn the Zionist regime’s vile policies that hurt our Palestinian friends. As George Galloway has said, you simply don’t engage with them.

Christians who cannot grasp what is really going on out there, and don’t see what is needed to stop it, might find Robert Cohen’s excellent article Brace Yourselves for Costly Palestinian Solidarity helpful in pointing towards proper, meaningful action.

He explains why the Christian-Jewish dialogue needs re-setting. Central to the problem is the so-called Ecumenical Deal, a reluctance to question Jewish support for Israel for fear of unpicking decades of interfaith reconciliation following the Holocaust.  We appear to have cast ourselves in the self-defeating role of repenting for age-old Christian anti-Jewishness. Breaking out of it and criticising Israel would be seen as a re-emergence of that anti-Jewishness.

I’m not aware of Christian anti-Jewishness although continuing failure on the part of Jewish leaders to condemn the cruel policies of the Israeli regime, aka ‘the Jewish State’, is surely asking for it. Does anyone inside or outside the bubble of the Church seriously buy into this repentence stuff? From outside, among people who would never set foot in a church again but still call themselves Christians because they were brought up according to the Christian code, it looks pathetic.

Christians in Palestine, says Cohen, despair of our Church leaders’ endless hiding behind the cover of political neutrality and their unwillingness to offend their religious dialogue partners. Consequently, he predicts, Jewish-Christian dialogue “is about to go through the wringer”.

Time for some ‘really uncomfortable conversations’

Pressing the re-set button means “refusing to allow your local Jewish communal leadership to set the boundaries of permissible debate on Israel”. It also means “listening to the Christian voice under occupation before the Jewish voice living comfortably, with full equal rights, many thousands of miles from that same occupation”.

Operating the wringer, of course, will be followed by a distinct chill in relationships forcing Church leaders, local ministers and their congregations, as well as the Jewish leaders they have dialogue with, out of their comfort zone. Good. As Rebecca Vilkomerson, Jewish Voice for Peace, recently wrote in Haaretz, after 70 years of dispossessing and expelling Palestinians, 50 years of Israeli military occupation and 10 years of blockading Gaza, it is time for Jewish communities “to have some really uncomfortable conversations”.

Palestinians say no to ‘shallow diplomacy’ but it’s all they’re likely to get

How does the World Council of Churches react to those urgent pleas from Palestine?

They will study and analyse. “As we at the WCC consider our plans for 2018 and beyond, we want churches in Palestine to know that their perspective is heard and it is vitally important,” said the WCC’s general secretary. “We will continue with the same passionate spirit to work on specific objectives, strategies and partners for advocacy to end the occupation and to work for just peace in Palestine and Israel.”

The WCC’s Commission of the Churches on International Affairs has been asked to contribute a thorough analysis of the changing political landscapes and dynamics in the Holy Land with an eye toward developing a more specific advocacy strategy that works through nations and organizations with significant influence.

WCC has also started an online campaign, Seek #JusticeAndPeace in the Holy Land, which features profiles of peacemakers and various cries for justice.

WCC also plans to “explore theological reflections, studies and projects that will bring a perspective on just peace in the Holy Land from all parts of the world”, and strengthen communication about the situation in Palestine so that it can “help churches and other ecumenical partners address their constituencies and governments in a more systematic way”. This includes developing a set of principles and practices of responsible pilgrimages of justice and peace to the Holy Land.

Will the Palestinian churches be impressed? Their cry for help stated specifically: “We stand in front of an impasse and we have reached a deadlock. Despite all the promises, endless summits, UN resolutions, religious and lay leader’s callings, Palestinians are still yearning for their freedom and independence, and seeking justice and equality.”

They stressed that religious extremism is on the rise, with religious minorities paying a heavy price. “We need brave women and men who are willing to stand in the forefront. This is no time for shallow diplomacy Christians.”

When I called the Church of England press office yesterday they didn’t think any response had been made. Such concern, then. And when I ran through the members of the WCC’s Central Committee I noticed the two representatives from the Church Of England were both based in Europe. How helpful is that?

The power of hope

Christianity sometimes has great trouble telling right from wrong and doing something about it. The Holy Land is a case in point. Evil reigns there. Christianity across the world cowers. What would Christ say to that?

I know what Michel Sabbah says. He is a former Catholic Patriarch of Jerusalem, a courageous man of the front line and one of the great heroes of the struggle.

“The current situation is hopeless. In reality, there are no signs of hope at all for the Palestinian people. In spite of that, we hope.

We hope because we are Christians, and God is present.
We hope because we believe in the fundamental goodness of the human being, Israeli and Palestinian. Human goodness will prevail at the end upon the human power of evil.

We hope because Palestinians are persevering in claiming their rights.
It is a source of hope that we never gave up….

We hope because among Israelis, there are people who are trying to work with Palestinians for what is right. And there are an increasing number of movements for peace, strong in will….

If we had no hope we would not live. Hope is life, and history gives us hope. What is right will prevail.”

Michel Sabbah
Catholic Patriarch Emeritus

I fear that if he pins any hopes on the wets of the Western churches he’ll be disappointed. But he already knows that, surely.

August 2, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | Leave a comment