Good work from Lee Camp. What he says about the NY Times is pretty much true of our mainstream media also. Please everyone look at EVERYTHING with a critical mind.
I’ve not posted here for a while but I have posted a lot to Facebook. June has been an eventful month.
In the early hours of the morning we heard a short series of loud bangs but thought little of it. Going downstairs a little while ago I noticed that the window pane above the front door was broken. I went outside. Most of the broken glass had fallen there rather than inside. A short stretch of the road including my house is cordonned off by a tape on one side and a police van on the other.
I spoke to a police officer who said that people were trying to get into a house a little way down from us and the method they used caused reverberations that had damaged glass on a few properties. He said he could get a company to board up the window but that we would have to pay for it. Although the officer did not say this directly I suspect that it was the police who used this method to break into the house he mentioned. The fact that he apologised for the damage reinforces my suspicion.
I tried to find out more about what had happened but the officer did not seem willing to give further details. He said that there was nothing to be worried about and it was not what I was thinking. Since I was not thinking about anything much at the time beyond what to do about the window there must have been a fault in his mind reading techniques.
This is a minor inconvienience and I hope a minor expense but I want to know if anything similiar has been happening elsewhere in Newham – especially given the police incident in Barking Road yesterday.
I posted the above to Facebook. Only later getting more of the story from the Newham Recorder website.
Congratulations to the people of the UK. We have passed the collective intelligence test.
Congratulations to all the Labour Party members and supporters who have worked so hard for this result.
Congratulations to the awesome Jeremy Corbyn who contrary to all of the negatives that have been said about him has been a dream of a leader.
We may have lost on points, but when everyone expects you to be bleeding on the ground and you’re still standing and the ‘winner’ looks in a worst state than you are, that’s a victory in my book.
Let’s take a moment to clean up, have a modest celebration, and then start preparing for the rematch.
Never lose the momentum!
A reflection –
It was the first time I had done this. Standing outside the polling station on Thursday handing out leaflets for the Labour party or any party. I had joined Labour in 2015 as a registered supporter specifically to vote for Jeremy and joined as a full member within 24 hours of him being elected. I joined the pro-Corbyn group, Momentum and attended ward meetings. Earlier this year I became secretary for my ward.
What attracted me to JC can be summarised in three words. Honesty, Humility and Humanity. I think that is what attracted most of us and what is still attracting new members.
I’ve heard some people say, since this whole thing began, that Jeremy is a nice guy, but he’s not a leader. I’ve heard them say that he has no charisma. Which is really weird because I can’t see how it can be said of someone who pulls the crowds and inspires the near adoration that Jeremy does, that they are not a leader and are not charismatic. I can only suppose that a lot of people just see leaders as having characteristics that are quite opposite to Jeremy’s. They believe that leaders must be, of necessity, mendacious, arrogant and cruel. This is surely why Theresa May’s boast that she would not hesitate to launch a nuclear strike that kills hundreds of thousands is treated as normal while Corbyn’s refusal to say that he would do this is presented as extraordinary by the press and even disqualifying for a leader.
But Jeremy Corbyn’s personal characteristics and socialist beliefs and his persistence in them, are just one part of the Corbyn phenomena. Something deeper is at play. The crowds that are drawn to Corbyn, his supporters on many Facebook groups, the people giving the thumbs up and smiling and crossing fingers as they leave the polling station. It is as though they are part of a conspiracy of hope, indeed a conspiracy of hope, faith and love. Corbyn has become a catalyst for a change, not just political change, but a change in consciousness.
Many people have commented that Jeremy has maintained a campaigning schedule that would overtax even a much younger man. While he is undoubtedly robust and fit for his age there is something else at play here that is actually quite obvious. He is feeding off the energy of his supporters even as he feeds them inspiration. Preaching to the converted? Of course he is. It is exactly what Corbyn needs to be doing right now and it’s what we need in order to cohere as the political community that we need to be. He may be preaching to the converted but the converted are coming together in larger numbers all the time and we are all converting others. We all have stories of family and friend we have brought onboard.
One day the movement will grow beyond Jeremy and I think beyond its current host, the Labour Party. That day is not today and I pray it is not in a near tomorrow. Whenever that day is we will not go back to a leadership that is mendacious, arrogant and cruel. Corbyn’s legacy and ours will be that we have redefined leadership as being essentially about honesty, humility and humanity, about being a servant rather than a master of the many.
That we did not win a majority of seats on Thursday is not, for me, a disappointment. We have won a significant moral victory. The path forward is full of obstacles but we have a sense of our own strength now, we know who we are, we know who our adversaries are and they know who we are. Things are clearer now.
The BBC Website gives the facts about the Grenfell Tower tragedy
Rapper Lowkey witnessed the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire.
Akala says “The people who died and lost their homes, this happened to them because they are poor.”
It is impossible to deny that they died because they were poor, because our leaders did not care enough to care about their job of protecting all of us, serving all of us.
Jonathan Pie talks about ‘cladding over poverty’.
“It is a bold decision and one that affords Mrs May the opportunity to become as dominant a figure on the political stage as Margaret Thatcher was 30 years ago… she is right to call an election.” – Daily Telegraph editorial, 18 April
“It was always a gamble to call a snap election and Theresa May’s decision to do so was particularly surprising in view of her innate caution… Rarely has a prime minister made such a calamitous misjudgement.” – Daily Telegraph editorial, 10 June
They underestimated Corbyn and they also underestimated the British people. I did not. A confession. I bet £20 that Labour would win. I lost. I also bet £20 on no overall majority. I won £300. Not advocating gambling though.
Negotiations on the country’s exit from the European Union have now started in Brussels, but Theresa May’s government does not seem to have the first clue about its objectives and how to reach them, according to several European columnists.
This article basically says that we’re in a mess with Brexit and have no idea what we’re doing. Britain was doing okay under the amiable lightweight Cameron until he threw it away with the referendum; now we have a speaking robot and Boris Johnson. We have no plan and should be grateful that the EU negotiators are looking out for us more than we are looking out for ourselves.
My own feeling is that when faced with a seemingly binary either-or choice, a neither-and choice often appears, as in ‘I choose to stand paralysed between these unacceptable choices’ or ‘I will take both please’. Although we may seem paralysed at the moment, this is not an option. It is however an option, as in any relationship, to say something along the lines of ‘while we cannot stay together with things as they are, it is possible to change things in ways that are mutually beneficial but that we never explored because we didn’t seriously think it would come to this’. Negotiations are then framed as being about redefining the relationship rather than about leaving or staying. Effectively negotiations have to be about this anyway but framing it in a way that is cooperative rather than competitive means that we are more likely to get a result that we want rather than one that nobody wants. Oh, and something else, before going into any negotiation, cooperative or competitive, it’s a really good idea to know what we want. We don’t. We should tell the EU we need time to ‘get our head together’ and then have a second snap election in autumn where parties keep their current manifestos but prepare a ‘Renegotiating Europe’ manifesto. Then, and only then, will any party have a clear mandate for a clear vision.
NATO to be sued by Serbia for the use of depleted uranium during the illegal bombing of that country in 1999.
I don’t know anything about Horstel or his other policies but it is rare to hear a western politician speak the truth about Syria as this man does.
Paul Mason speaks to Progress. Seems about time someone was clear that some things are simply incompatible with the values a decent Labour Party should have, supporting illegal wars is definitely one of those things.
“If it’s important to you to have a pro-Remain party that is in favour of illegal war, in favour of privatisation, form your own party and get on with it!”
Kate Tempest at Glastonbury telling concert goers the social truth in her own uniquely passionate way.
“Stop stability. Meanwhile suicide is increasing, more rough sleepers, ugly words in public places, fear and doubt and all the racists have come out to show their faces. Under May there is a gulf that separates us and it seems to get a little wider every day.
“Now watch her pray on every tragedy. Divide, divide and frenzy up the nastiness….
“If this is strength then we are all f***d.”
Jeremy Corbyn’s reception at Glastonbury is simply amazing. Corbyn is unique as a politician. He can be seen as the manifestation of a collective will to create a better world.
Theresa May tries to present a ‘prime ministerial’ front after the Manchester bombing. She accuses Jeremy Corbyn of saying that terror attacks in Britain are ‘our own fault’. He didn’t say this of course, in fact Corbyn gave a speech that was rather wonderful and all about bringing the nation together. It was the speech of a national leader and is well worth listening to here,
and listening to and reading on the Mirror website.
In his speech Corbyn promises:
There will be more police on the streets under a Labour Government. And if the security services need more resources to keep track of those who wish to murder and maim, then they should get them.
We will also change what we do abroad. Many experts, including professionals in our intelligence and security services have pointed to the connections between wars our government has supported or fought in other countries, such as Libya, and terrorism here at home.
That assessment in no way reduces the guilt of those who attack our children. Those terrorists will forever be reviled and implacably held to account for their actions.
But an informed understanding of the causes of terrorism is an essential part of an effective response that will protect the security of our people, that fights rather than fuels terrorism.
Protecting this country requires us to be both strong against terrorism and strong against the causes of terrorism. The blame is with the terrorists, but if we are to protect our people we must be honest about what threatens our security.
Those causes certainly cannot be reduced to foreign policy decisions alone. Over the past fifteen years or so, a sub-culture of often suicidal violence has developed amongst a tiny minority of, mainly young, men, falsely drawing authority from Islamic beliefs and often nurtured in a prison system in urgent need of resources and reform.
And no rationale based on the actions of any government can remotely excuse, or even adequately explain, outrages like this week’s massacre.
But we must be brave enough to admit the war on terror is simply not working. We need a smarter way to reduce the threat from countries that nurture terrorists and generate terrorism.
That’s why I set out Labour’s approach to foreign policy earlier this month. It is focused on strengthening our national security in an increasingly dangerous world.
We must support our Armed Services, Foreign Office and International Development professionals, engaging with the world in a way that reduces conflict and builds peace and security.
Seeing the army on our own streets today is a stark reminder that the current approach has failed.
So, I would like to take a moment to speak to our soldiers on the streets of Britain. You are doing your duty as you have done so many times before.
I want to assure you that, under my leadership, you will only be deployed abroad when there is a clear need and only when there is a plan and you have the resources to do your job to secure an outcome that delivers lasting peace.
That is my commitment to our armed services.
This is my commitment to our country. I want the solidarity, humanity and compassion that we have seen on the streets of Manchester this week to be the values that guide our government. There can be no love of country if there is neglect or disregard for its people.
I think this was a defining speech. It defines Jeremy Corbyn as a leader and it defines a better and more honest vision for Britain. Much of the mainstream media however reacded with a kind of knee-jerk condemnation along the lines of Thresa May, pretending that they believed that Corbyn was an apologist for terrorism or at least arguing that although he might be partially right it was not the right thing to say as it was giving comfort to the enemy.
An assumption that people seemed to be making whether they were supportive of or against Corbyn’s speech is that he was saying that because we bombed Iraq and Libya and are bombing in Syria. Corbyn does not if fact say this at that is not the reality. The reality is that the strain of Islam with political and jihadist aspirations that Isis represents, (Wahabbism/Salafism), has been around for a long time and secular governments like those of Sadaam and Gaddafi were keeping them in check because they were seen to be opposed to secular states. When we bombed Iraq and acted as an airforce for Islamists in Libya we destroyed the infrastructure of those countries and set free the jihadist. We are currently supporting anti-Assad forces in Syria and so doing the same to that country as we did to Libya and Iraq. It is not the people who we bombed who are bombing us, it is the jihadists we set free to destroy their countries that are bombing us.
The West has been supporting jihadists since at least the early 1980’s when the US backed jihadists against the Soviet sponsored secular goverenment of Afghanistan.
As a result of this support Afghanistan eventually fell into the hands of the medievalist Taliban. From 2001 the US and their allies have imposed more suffering on the Afghan people in a supposed war against the terrorist group allegedly responsible for the attacks of 9/11.
In 2003 the US and its allies went to war with the Iraqi government of Sadaam Hussain after alleging that he had ‘weapons of mass destruction’ and was a threat to his neighbours. No such weapons were found but Iraq’s political and social infrastructure was destroyed and the country was occupied and exploited by western corporations. In place of a stable, if brutal, secular government keeping a lid on the political aspirations of religionists the Western occupiers turned governance over to a Shia dominated government at odds and at war with a Sunni resistance that came to be dominated by the fanatics that became known as Isis or Isil or Daesh.
In 2011 the US, the UK and France used a pretext of humanitarian concern to get UN authorisation to protect rebels in Libya from Gaddafi against whom they were waging a civil war. The mandate was to protect civilians from Gaddafi but the US, UK and France started bombing Gaddafi forces and effectively acting as an air force for the rebels. After the death of Gaddafi the Western powers handed over control to a government that was not strong enough to keep the country together as different groups vied for power. Salafist elements seem to have flourished in the chaos. The Manchester bomber Salman Abedi was a British born member of a Libyan Salafist family, he and they had connections to the Salafists and to Daesh in Libya.
2011 also marked the beginning of the Syrian conflict, a brutal war in which regional powers, notably Saudia Arabia, Qatar and Turkey have supported an armed and predominently Salafist opposition to the government od Bashar al Assad. This armed opposition also got support from the West and without the intervention of Russia would have overrun the government forces and very likely thrown Syria into the kind of chaos we see in Libya.
Why the West supports Salafist terrorism against secular states is best left to another ramble but there is clear evidence that it does. Why then, if we have been enabling them, do Salafist terrorists attack targets in the UK and Europe? It’s because that’s what they do. They carry within them the virus of hate and intolerance, intolerance not only for the secular states in the Middle East that we have armed them to destroy, but for any secular state.
This is a nice video showing why we need a well funded police service. Like Education and Health the Police have seen big cuts in the service they are able to offer since 2010. Cut these essential services and we damage the wellbeing of society.
Boris Johnson is so transparently dishonest that it is incredible that anyone who is not completely uninformed believes a word he says. To purport to believe this man, to fail to be reviled at his dishonesty is surely a sign of one’s own dishonesty.
Johnson’s attack on Corbyn for opposing what is clearly a gratuitous ratcheting up of tensions with Russia make clear the distinction of a Tory leadership bent on creating conflict and a Labour leader serious about seeking resolutions to conflict.
This is as good a time as any to remind people about Johnson’s well deserved savaging by the skilled pen of former Tory MP Matthew Parris:
“But there’s a pattern to Boris’s life, and it isn’t the lust for office, or for applause, or for susceptible women, that mark out this pattern in red warning ink. It’s the casual dishonesty, the cruelty, the betrayal; and, beneath the betrayal, the emptiness of real ambition: the ambition to do anything useful with office once it is attained.”
For goodness sake, literally for goddness sake, Boris Johnson and the rest of this dishonest government must be called out for what they are and put out of office.
Even former Tory Prime Minister John Major felt compelled to warn against Johnson:
“Michael Gove wanted to privatise it, Boris wanted to charge people for using it and Iain Duncan Smith wanted a social insurance system,” he said.
“The NHS is about as safe with them as a pet hamster would be with a hungry python.”
Why is this man, so undeserving of public trust, still holding public office?
In the course of a discussion on Syria someone cited an Independent article from 2015 claiming that ‘More Syrian refugees say they are fleeing from President Assad than Isis’.
Graphs in national newspapers based on surveys purporting to come from reputable institutions look impressive but when I clicked on a link that looked at though it was to the ‘Berlin Social Science Centre’ I landed on a google doc which informed me that:
1 “The survey was conceived, implemented and evaluated with the assistance of Heiko Giebler, social scientist at the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB), department for Democracy and Democratization firstname.lastname@example.org +49 30 25491 513 https://www.wzb.eu/en/about-the-wzb”
(To be explicit the data was not from the BSSC but from ‘a group of organisations’ that was somehow helped by an individual employed there.)
2. “The group of organisations supporting the survey are Planet Syria www.planetsyria.org, Adopt a Revolution www.adoptarevolution.org and The Syria Campaign www.thesyriacampaign.org”
3. Of the 889 respondents 78% were in the 16 – 35 age group, 88% were male and 61% had no children. This does not represent a normal population distribution and any conclusions drawn from the survey must be considered invalid.
It is shameful that a national newspaper uses such data unquestioningly but it should not be entirely surprising. There is a disinformation campaign being conducted against Assad. A January 2014 Guardian article refers to the ‘Caesar photographs’ that claim to provide ‘clear evidence’ of systematic killing of 11,000 detainees. This ‘evidence’ is challenged and the allegations pretty thoroughly refuted in a Counterpunch article. An Amnesty International article published in February of this year makes similar claims of widespread torture but this has been debunked in articles like this from the Land Destroyer blog. I have no idea of how much Assad and his government are really guilty of but unsubstantiated allegations like the Caesar and Saydnaya allegations become part of the mythos demonising Assad. Mud sticks, as it is intended to.
I have been accused of ‘supporting a dictator’. I want to make the following clear:
I don’t support Assad but I don’t support people from outside of Syria demanding that ‘Assad must go’.
I don’t accept that every accusation against Assad and the Syrian government is true just because western mainstream media and politicians (or anyone else left or right) authoritatively say that it is. I reserve the right to challenge assertions and check the facts presented to support those assertions.
I support the right of the Syrian people to choose their own leader and destiny without anyone telling them that they can’t have that one.
I support free and fair elections and the democratic choice of the Syrian people.
In the end I have no first hand knowledge of the situation, the best I can do is listen to what others who have greater access to knowledge are saying and make some assessment based on the consistency and credibility of what they present and what I already understand about the context. I am always willing to be challenged and corrected on anything that I claim.
US Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is asked in this interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer if she believes the Russian narrative over that of the Pentagon. She responds that what she or anyone else ‘believes’ is irrelevant, what matters is the facts and the fact is that a US president took an illegal action on the basis of an unsubstantiated claim.
Blitzer’s talk about Pentagon radar data is disingenuous as he should know that this information was shared by the Russians prior to the attack.
This video contains imagery of children gasping for air as a result of a purported chemical attack. It is presented as an atrocity of war. It is distressing. The aftermath of any act of war is distressing. Images of children with limbs blown off would be no less distressing. The video of a child having his head sliced off by terrorists would be no less distressing. This video is presented as a special case, as specially atrocious, for a reason.
Although the video says clearly that, while the US blames the incident on the Syrian government, this is denied by the Syrian government and the Russians blame it on an inadvertent strike on a terrorist held chemical munitions factory, the impression we come away with is that the culpable party is the Syrian government and that ‘something must be done’. For something to be done we must understand what is happening here and too many of us do not.
I don’t know whether the chemical incident was the result of a conventional attack that struck a terrorist chemical gas repository and released the toxins, as the Russians say or if it was staged in some way by the terrorists and their backers. I tend to believe that the latter scenario is correct given the quality of the video production and the immediate and seemingly coordinated response by the US and their allies.
What I do not believe, and what defies common sense and circumstantial evidence, is that the Syrian government deliberately used a weapon whose use would give the excuse for action against them. I doubt that President Trump believes this because, despite his many flaws, he recognises a scam when he see one (who better?). Trump’s speech about being flexible changing his mind felt to me like that of a captive with a gun at his back.
Whatever Trump’s motivation we must not fall for this. We must not allow anyone we know to fall for this. This is part of the imperialist modus operandi, name something as an atrocity or potential atrocity and then go to war committing far worse atrocities that the one they named. Those who the ‘gods’ would destroy they first defame as mad or bad.
Idlib is a terrorist stronghold supported by the US, UK and Israel. They will not allow the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) to retake it. Also they will not permit a resolution to the Syrian conflict that leaves Bashar al Assad as president and Syria as a whole and independent secular state. As the conflict moves towards its end state Syria’s enemies become anxious to frustrate that resolution.
Following his speech Trump launched an attack on a Syrian airbase.
Ray McGovern a former CIA analyst summarises the facts:
On 4 April 2017, the town of Khan Shaykhun in the Idlib Governorate of Syria, was struck by a heavy airstrike followed by massive civilian chemical poisoning.
At the time of the attack the town was under the control of Tahrir al-Sham,formerly known as the al-Nusra Front.
The President of the United States, Donald Trump, as well as the UK Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, blamed the attack on the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad, while the Russian and Syrian governments said it was caused by the Syrian Air Force’s destruction of a nearby rebel-operated chemical weapons warehouse.
In response, the United States launched 59 cruise missiles at Shayrat Air Base, which U.S. Intelligence believed was the source of the attack.
McGovern argues that this is what most likely happened:
The Russians briefed the United States on the proposed target. This is a process that started more than two months ago. There is a dedicated phone line that is being used to coordinate and deconflict (i.e., prevent US and Russian air assets from shooting at each other) the upcoming operation.
The United States was fully briefed on the fact that there was a target in Idlib that the Russians believes was a weapons and explosives depot for Islamic rebels.
The Syrian Air Force hit the target with conventional weapons. All involved expected to see a massive secondary explosion. That did not happen. Instead, smoke, chemical smoke, began billowing from the site. It turns out that the Islamic rebels used that site to store chemicals, not sarin, that were deadly. The chemicals included organic phosphates and chlorine and they followed the wind and killed civilians.
There was a strong wind blowing that day and the cloud was driven to a nearby village and caused casualties.
We know it was not sarin. How? Very simple. The so-called “first responders” handled the victims without gloves. If this had been sarin they would have died. Sarin on the skin will kill you.
Just over two weeks ago. I was elected Secretary for the Wall End Ward of the East Ham CLP (Constituency Labour Party). Last Thursday, I attended my first CLP AGM. I was shocked by the blatant disregard for courtesy, democracy and fairness throughout the proceedings. I wrote the following on Facebook:
I’m not feeling good today, about myself or my part of the world. Last night I attended the AGM of the East Ham CLP (Constituency Labour Party). My first, as I was elected secretary of my ward just two weeks ago. We were presented with a short agenda and a list of nominees to be officers and delegates. Apparently there had been nominations from the 10 constituency wards that had been presented but were considered invalid so, with 5 exceptions, the list consisted of nominations from branches the GMB union affiliated to the CLP.
Challenges were made and questions asked, through points of order, concerning the legitimacy of the proceedings including the status of the Chair and other officers as delegates. These questions were brushed aside in a meeting that became increasingly tense as the challengers persisted. An explosive moment came when one challenger was asked by the chair if he wanted the CLP to become like than of Tower Hamlets. The challenger asked if he was being asked that question because he was Asian. He was promptly shouted at by others in the meeting and was asked to withdraw the remark. He did this but tried to continue with his objections. The Chair at the suggestion of the Mayor ruled that the meeting should move immediately to elections. There was a vote on this by show of hands where only those in favour were asked to show their hands. There was no count of hands and looking around the room it was unclear to me whether more than half the room had their hands up but the motion was passed, albeit to loud objections.
The Chair then said that only those nominees on the printed list would be standing for election and that there could be no nominations added from the floor. There were objections to this and the meeting was becoming increasing angry. The Chair went through the list and confirmed nominations unchallenged. I don’t know what happened with the four LCF (Local Campaign Forum) positions where more than one candidate was listed as the meeting was very noisy and my anger was bubbling over. It was at around this point that I walked out of the meeting shouting my objections that this was undemocratic and the people sitting and approving it should be ashamed of themselves.
When I am in the throes of ‘righteous anger’ my voice projects well so what I said will have been heard. I am mostly perceived as calm but outrageously unfair and bullying behaviour sends me up the wall and over the edge. But there is nothing righteous about anger even though my perception and position may be clear and correct. Ends do not justify means and angry old men do not look good. I cannot wholly regret my outburst but I will not repeat it as it does me no good and is bad in principle. If it becomes necessary I will withdraw rather than become enraged.
After leaving the meeting I went to a local pub with other ‘dissidents’. Even those who were much more experienced that me said that it was the worst meeting that they had been to. It was utterly clear that candidates supportive of the standing regime had been railroaded through. It is clear too that the process by which this happened is unsupportable. This should be obvious simply from the list of nominees almost entirely nominated from the (unnamed) branches of a single trade union. That list should be all that is needed to mark the whole proceedings as undemocratic, unfair and illegitimate.
I am grateful to have received very supportive comments from many people on this.