Archive for February 2010
I had thought that my increasingly low opinion of the Stop the War Coalition could go no lower, but I was wrong.
For some inexplicable reason they are supporting Baroness Tonge:
“Jenny Tonge has been dismissed from her post as health spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats because she suggested that Israel investigate charges which have been made regarding Israeli aid workers in Haiti. Petition…”
I would have thought that the political activists within the StWC would have enough sense to walk away from the Offal libel, but apparently not. They are encouraging people to support Baroness Tonge by signing a petition, as shown below:
“We, the undersigned, object to the dismissal of Baroness Jenny Tonge from her post as health spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats simply because she suggested that Israel investigate charges made against it.
The party’s action is a serious threat to the principles for which our country is known — democracy and free speech. Even more specifically, it makes a mockery of your party’s claim to “give power back to people.” Instead of encouraging openness and the search for truth no matter how uncomfortable the accusation or who is accused, you are demonstrating to your constituents that the powerful and the “status quo” will be protected.
The comment for which you are punishing Jenny Tonge merely illustrated her commitment to your party’s founding principles. An independent investigation would be the most ethical response to serious charges that Israel is continuing to practice an illegal act (organ theft) that it has already admitted to committing in earlier years.
By firing Baroness Tonge instead of backing her call for an investigation, or at least supporting her decision to do so, you make evident that the party only believes in the search for truth when powerful allies are not involved.
Please demonstrate that the Liberal Democrats are indeed — as your Web site states — “brave enough to make a fresh start.” Reverse your decision and reinstate Jenny Tonge.”
So hang on, the StWC want an investigation to be held on some idiotic claims that Israelis came half way around world to steal organs and not to help Haitians, as most people think.
Will the StWC campaign for an investigation to the truth of ritual murder? I hope that the StWC read up on the Damascus Affair before commenting.
Here’s a tip, StWC walk away from this racist filth, walk away.
(Hat tip: Ana Spencer)
Update 1: Just in case, here’s a screen shot of it:
More slack blogging from me, but this awful story of Apple’s use of child labour in its products needs repeating:
“Apple said the child workers are now no longer being used, or are no longer under-age. “In each of the three facilities, we required a review of all employment records for the year as well as a complete analysis of the hiring process to clarify how under-age people had been able to gain employment,” Apple said, in an annual report on its suppliers.
Apple has been repeatedly criticised for using factories that abuse workers and where conditions are poor. Last week, it emerged that 62 workers at a factory that manufactures products for Apple and Nokia had been poisoned by n-hexane, a toxic chemical that can cause muscular degeneration and blur eyesight.
Apple has not commented on the problems at the plant, which is run by Wintek, in the Chinese city of Suzhou.
A spokesman for Wintek said that “almost all” of the affected workers were back at work, but that some remained in hospital. Wintek said n-hexane was commonly used in the technology industry, and that problems had arisen because some areas of the factory were not ventilated properly.“
China Labor Watch is always worth a read on these issues.
Phones review puts it more concisely:
“It has come to light that that iPhone you are carrying may well have been manufactured by the usage of child labour as apparently Apple has stated that 3 of their suppliers used eleven underage children to work on building the iPhone, Mac computer and iPod reports an article over on Bloomberg.
The word is an Apple investigation revealed that 3 companies had hired fifteen year old workers is countries which have a minimum working age of sixteen, although Apple has not revealed which companies and what countries where involved. Although Apple visited facilities in the US, China, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, the Czech Republic, South Korea and the Philippines.
In a 24 page report from Apple they did state however that the underage workers where no longer in active employment at the time of the Apple audit. Apple ceased doing business with at least one supplier who wasn’t named due to repeated violations and inadequate actions to get their house into order.
The Apple audit also uncovered 3 cases where suppliers falsified records to hide the usage of underage workers, and in excess of 60 companies worked their employees beyond the maximum 60 hour week, and 24 Apple partners where found to be paying less than the required minimum wage.”
If you ever follow the British nuclear industry, as it calls itself, you might be struck by the complacency, poor management and an inability to do relatively simple things competently.
Equally, you might be astonished that the management at Sellafield still haven’t realised that the British coast has seagulls, the Times reported:
“Sellafield, the nuclear plant that is Western Europe’s most heavily contaminated industrial site, is facing an unexpected environmental challenge.
The 262-hectare (645 acres) plant in West Cumbria is being overrun by seagulls, mice and stray cats, and managers are battling to contain the problem. Things have become so serious that a cull of seabirds is being considered. There are concerns that some have been swimming in open ponds containing plutonium and radioactive waste, some of which date back to Britain’s atomic weapons programme of the 1950s and 1960s.
“It’s a coastal site so there are thousands of seagulls around,” said Martin Forwood, of Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment. “They fly in and float around on the open waste ponds and act as a gateway to poison the wider area.” ”
Hang on, open ponds? Open ponds of nuclear waste! WTF
It beggars belief that Sellafield’s management couldn’t foresee that seagulls would naturally swim in ponds and if they leave ponds of nuclear waste out, than the seagulls are going to get into it.
Unbelievable. They’ve been there over 50 years and still they can’t cope with their coastal location.
Readers with a longer memory than most will remember the changes instigated by the Tories into the NHS.
The BBC highlights the consequence of internal market reforms, vulgar statistics and a management more concerned with pounds and pence, rather than patients:
“The trust had been climbing the NHS ratings ladder during the period in question and was even given elite foundation trust status. “
“The evidence gathered by the Inquiry shows clearly that for many patients the most basic elements of care were neglected. Calls for help to use the bathroom were ignored and patients were left lying in soiled sheeting and sitting on commodes for hours, often feeling ashamed and afraid. Patients were left unwashed, at times for up to a month. Food and drinks were left out of the reach of patients and many were forced to rely on family members for help with feeding. Staff failed to make basic observations and pain relief was provided late or in some cases not at all. Patients were too often discharged before it was appropriate, only to have to be re-admitted shortly afterwards. The standards of hygiene were at times awful, with families forced to remove used bandages and dressings from public areas and clean toilets themselves for fear of catching infections. “
However, I suspect that those useless feckers in New Labour won’t learn anything from this, and will re-hash more Tory drivel rather than do away with those awful internal markets and the poverty of thought that drives this type of thinking.
Update 1: The Guardian reports:
“About half of the patients and relatives who gave evidence to the inquiry singled out difficulty in obtaining food and drink as a major concern. Some patients never received food at mealtimes; some who did found that it was placed too far away for them to reach it and so was removed, untouched.
Intake of food and water, both vital to recovery, was not encouraged. “Frequently the explanation appears to have been a lack of staff but sometimes staff were present but lacked a sufficiently caring attitude,” the report said.
Breaches of patients’ privacy and dignity included patients left inadequately dressed in full view of passersby; patients moved and handled in unsympathetic and unskilled ways, causing pain and distress; and rudeness or hostility.
“However difficult the circumstances, there is no excuse for staff to treat patients in the manner described by some witnesses,” Francis concluded.
Staff were equally critical about the hospital’s management, and described bosses who bred “an atmosphere of fear of adverse repercussions”, stressed NHS targets were the top priority and were secretive when things went wrong.
The trust’s board, which was meant to hold managers to account and ensure high clinical standards were maintained, were aware of the weaknesses but failed to ensure improvements were made, the report says.”
Update 2: The Press Association coverage:
“The inquiry concluded that the trust’s board – which exacerbated its problems by cutting staff to save £10 million in 2006/7 – was “disconnected” from what was actually happening in the hospital.
Mr Francis said “the scale of failure” was greater than has been revealed to date. While he concluded that Stafford Hospital should not be closed, he recommended that Health Secretary Andy Burnham review whether to remove Mid-Staffordshire’s status as a foundation trust – a supposed marker of excellence in the NHS.”
Update 3: Over at the Torygraph:
“No one on the board at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust has faced censure and all of them were either paid off, walked into another job or allowed to remain in post. The man who ran the hospital trust received a large pay-off despite his part in the scandal.
Martin Yeates, the former chief executive, left the trust “by mutual agreement” with a pay-off of £400,000 and a pension worth £1.27 million, it has been alleged.”
Update 4: The Guardian again on the tick box culture:
“The BMA chairman, Hamish Meldrum, said the inquiry pinpointed a “culture of fear” in some hospitals that prevented clinical staff from reporting lapses in standards of care.
He added: “The fact that Mid Staffordshire NHS foundation trust was more focused on meeting government targets, achieving foundation status and saving money, demonstrates very clearly what happens when financial pressures and a tick-box culture are more important than delivering high-quality patient care. I call on the government and all hospital managers to learn the lessons from Staffordshire and to put patients first.””
Update 5: Few case histories and medical understatement:
“When her son left her that night he remembered that she looked bright and well.
The following day she seemed unable to use her arms. The next day she became extremely confused. There was gauze on the back of her head, and a bandage. After the family demanded an explanation, the ward sister said that their mother had fallen during the night. They had found her nightdress in the bedside cabinet and when they got home discovered it was “saturated in blood”.
The following night Mr Bunn received another call to tell him his mother had suffered a further fall, and he was asked to come to the hospital. “My mother was lying… full stretch out on the tiled floor,” he said. “Some effort had been made to remove the blood. It was smeared all over the floor. You could not see a hair on her head. It was completely swathed in bandages. There was a lady doctor holding my mother’s head in her hands.”
Mr Bunn recalled saying, “Oh Mum, what have they done to you…” to which the doctor replied coldly: “I have got a mother too.” The son later remarked: “There was no compassion in that woman whatsoever.”
His mother was sent for a scan. She had a huge bleed on one side of her brain and her brain was swollen. The doctors told the family it was impossible to operate, and that if she regained consciousness then she would not be the same.
Mr Bunn then learnt that his mother had suffered a further previous fall that he had not been made aware of, and a doctor said to him: “We have let you down.” “
Update 6: Over in Wales the BBC reports:
“The seven new health boards which run the NHS in Wales are set to go more than £43m over budget, according to research by BBC Wales.
Six are forecasting a deficit for the end of their first financial year, with all under pressure to make savings.
When they were set up in October 2009, Health Minister Edwina Hart said that they “must live within their means”.
The boards control all hospitals and community services, GP and dentist funding.
The new boards were created by integrating the 22 old boards – set up in 2003 based on council boundaries – with seven NHS trusts which were then running hospitals.
The new boards are responsible for deciding which treatments and services are available and they also have responsibility for ensuring hospitals meet targets on waiting times.
LIKELY NHS BOARDS OVERSPENDS
Hospital worker (generic)
1 Betsi Cadwaladr LHB – Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire and Wrexham, Anglesey and Gwynedd – break even
2 Hywel Dda LHB – Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire – £12m
3 Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University LHB – Swansea, Neath Port Talbot, Bridgend – £3.9m
4 Powys Teaching LHB Powys county – £7.6m
5 Cwm Taf LHB – Rhondda Cynon Taf, Merthyr Tydfil – £4.8m
6 Cardiff and Vale LHB – Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan – £5.5m
7 Aneurin Bevan LHB – Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Newport and Torfaen – £10m
Research by BBC Wales into the latest combined financial position shows the seven boards have a running deficit of around £67m, which they forecast being able to bring down to £43m. “
So there’s no excuse for anti-Zionists or their mates to be ignorant on this topic.
Although I am a book lover I would freely admit that my capacity for reading now is somewhat limited, but perusing the Guardian I came across an intriguing article by Keith Kahn-Harris, where he discusses Anthony Julius’s new book, Trials of the Diaspora: A History of Anti-Semitism in England.
“A real debate needs to happen about antisemitism. At the moment positions are so immobile and passions so inflamed that productive dialogue is difficult. Trials of the Diaspora could provide an important resource in opening up conversation if there is the will to do so. Pro-Palestinian campaigners and anti-Zionists who do not see themselves as antisemites need to look seriously at the arguments Julius makes. Zionists and those concerned about antisemitism need to look critically at the book and take on board the more subtle elements of Julius’s book, rather than simply see it as further ammunition in an endless verbal war. Above all, Trials of the Diaspora should be read as a work of scholarship designed to stimulate serious thought, rather than fuel for a new round of polemics.”
You can almost guarantee that should something nasty happen in the world that Israelis or Jews will be blamed for it.
Of course, the majority of those doing the blaming are cranks, neo-Nazis, White Power freaks or their friends, you wouldn’t normally expect to hear casual antisemitism on BBC Radio Four, and certainly not on their premier news programme, PM, but that’s what happened on the 17th February 2010 edition.
Listen to it at from 10:40 onward with the silly statement at about 17:45 into the programme:
“Usually, as I said, they would like to have, carry out their mission killing someone in the bedroom, that is easy for them, because what they do they have a whole backup system called assigment (?). These are the people, local residents, Jewish people, who will help the Mossad, and there’s estimated to be in the world about half million, some people say a million, I tend say to it is about half a million from what I have learned from the Mossad.” ‘ [My transcript]
Given there are about 13 million Jews in the world, then BBC’s PM would have us believe that about 1 in 13 Jews either work for or would assist Mossad, if required.
It doesn’t occur to them that this is on a par with cranky antisemitic theories which have been doing the rounds of the Internet for years, where they basically argue that Mossad are secretive, all-powerful and bloodthirsty.
BBC’s PM adds a new dimension to that deranged thinking, where instead of “reds being under the bed” Mossad is seen to be behind numerous unexplained occurrences and presumably helped by this legion of Jews just waiting for the word?
It is a pity that the BBC doesn’t commission a programme on antisemitic conspiracy theories and make the PM producers and interviewers sit through it for a few hours, then perhaps they wouldn’t come out with this nonsense, again.
If you read the blurb for Gideon’s Spy by Gordon Thomas (the PM interviewee), you’ll find out that Mossad were somehow involved in the killing of “Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed”, but given the ludicrous nature of these allegations I am surprised that Gordon Thomas doesn’t blame Mossad for Climate Change, pigeon droppings or halitosis.
The Speccy had a review of Mr. Thomas’s work and this sums it up nicely:
“Many other examples could be cited. Basic mistakes about those cases whose facts are known do not encourage confidence in the author’s other revelations. And if Mossad was even half as skilful and all-knowing as Thomas suggests, Israel’s military and political problems in the Middle East would surely have been solved long ago.”
Oh, the poor old BBC.
(Hat tip: Adam Holland)
Update 1: Ops, I am a little behind events, Judeosphere covered it here 3 days ago, BBC Reports That One Million Jews Worldwide are Trained Assassins. Readers had better read his account, he’s a lot sharper than me.
I do hope one day that Reverend Sizer can bring himself to admit how neo-Nazis, Holocaust deniers and the creme de la creme of Jew haters internationally were invited to Tehran and lionised, not because of some theological issues, but rather because they hated Jews.
Oh and Rev. Sizer if you are reading this, using the expression “Zionist” instead of “Jews” doesn’t fool anyone, the Extreme Right have been using that particular ploy for the years.
“Amnesty Controversy – Sahgal
We started this segment with a clip of Moazzam Begg. He’s the founder of a group called CagePrisoners and a former prisoner himself at the United States Military Prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Since his release from Guantanamo, Moazzam Begg has been a high profile defender of the rights of others who have been imprisoned or detained in Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere. Among other things, he has worked with Amnesty International, one of the most widely respected human rights groups in the world.
And that is when Gita Saghal decided she had to draw a line. She was the head of Amnesty International’s Gender Unit until she was suspended from her post last week, after she publicly denounced Amnesty’s decision to work with Moazzam Begg and CagePrisoners. She argued that Moazzam Begg promotes extremist views that are incompatible with the defence of universal human rights and that the Amnesty’s reputation is tarnished by its association with him. Gita Saghal was in London, England.
Amnesty Controversy – Secretary General
For Amnesty International’s view of the situation, we were joined by Claudio Cordone. He is the organization’s interim Secretary General and he was in London, England.”
The MP3 of the programme is here.
A guest post by Evelyn.
“The Guardian and Comment is Free are known for their predilection for Israel-bashing and anti-Israel bias. This is usually most blatant on Comment is Free, but on 29th January 2010 the Guardian itself published an article as part of its “Child’s Eye ” series about the ongoing fears of two young Palestinian girls, as a result of their experiences during Cast Lead. My attention was first drawn to this article by CiF Watch. I was particularly interested in the short film within it.
The Child’s Eye series is an interesting and heart rending one which at first sight appears to examine the suffering of children all over the world. A closer examination reveals that among the series are four articles about children in Gaza, but (not surprisingly given that this is the Guardian), none at all about the experiences of the children of Sderot or elsewhere in southern Israel as a result of eight years of shelling.
Medusa, the CiF Watch article’s author, made this point and highlighted the lack of context for the children’s suffering in that particular Guardian article and that there was no mention of the role of Hamas in exacerbating it. This lack of context is not unusual of course, but Medusa also noted how the film’s subtitles translate the seated woman near the beginning of the video as saying “Israelis” when she is really saying “yahud,” which means “Jew” in Arabic.
I decided to investigate further and found out that the film was made by Save the Children, published online by the Guardian without acknowledgement. You are invited to visit Save the Children’s web page for an overview of where its sympathies lie. The suffering of children in Gaza extensively is indeed heart rending, but from my reading of its page, I could find scarcely a mention of the suffering of the children of Sderot.
Save the Children used the film I have referred to above for its fundraising. I believed when I first saw it that it was misleading but did not realise exactly how insidiously dishonest was the deliberate mistranslation of “Jew” into “Israeli”, or how lacking in sensitivity was Save the Children to the offence it was causing until I had had the following exchange of emails with their Customer Service Adviser in their Supporter Innovation and Development Department.
Mine to Save the Children on 1st February at 10.15am:
“However, we know that there may be times when we do not meet our own high standards. When this does happen we want to hear about it, deal with the situation as quickly as possible and put measures in place to stop it happening again. “ (From Save the Children’s complaints section on its web page)
Well, I am taking you very much at your word. I feel distinctly uncomfortable that, as well as involving yourselves in politics in the Middle East – when any charity should be impartial – you actually seem to be promoting antisemitism in the video at the following link:
At around 1.14 the mother says “Yahood” and at 2.23 seconds in the video, the young girl says, “Yahood” too. I know Arabic, and “Yahood” in Arabic, means “Jew.” Did you translate it as “Israeli” because you didn’t want to appear antisemitic? This was rather dishonest, since what the mother and daughter say bears out what many Israelis believe, that Palestinian Gazans do not differentiate between Israel and her Jewish people.
And incidentally, the closure of the borders is not a blockade and it is dishonest of you to refer to it as such in your promotional video. It is an embargo on commodities which Hamas confiscates in order to construct rockets with which it bombs southern Israel.
Your film makes it seem that Israel woke up suddenly one morning and decided to attack Gaza. You compound your bad faith when you fail to put the Gaza War into any context.
The Guardian has used your video, without acknowledging its source, to further its own anti-Israel crusade. I am glad that I have found you out. I am a pensioner with little money to spare and I need to allocate my charity funds wisely. Suffice it to say, I shall not be supporting the efforts of Save the Children, which asks for money whilst telling lies, but to another charity which I know will provide aid to ALL children affected by Cast Lead.
The reply from Save the Children:
Read the rest of this entry »
A bit of light blogging from me, my mind is as sharp as a Jaffa orange, but you would have to have a heart of stone not to laugh at this, Jenny Tonge cancels Dubai holiday “just in case”
WLUML has issued a statement:
“The Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) international solidarity network expresses its solidarity with Gita Sahgal, a longstanding ally of the network who is active in various organisations, collectives, and movements committed to upholding universal human rights. As a feminist, anti-racist activist, filmmaker and researcher, Sahgal has devoted her career to exposing systematic discrimination and rights violations by state and non-state actors in Britain, South Asia and internationally. Much of this work has included rigorous research into transnational fundamentalist movements, and their intersections with human rights, especially those of women. In addition, Gita Sahgal is the Head of the Gender Unit at Amnesty International (AI).
WLUML has learned that she has repeatedly, and to no avail, raised internal inquiries into Amnesty International’s association with the organisation Cageprisoners, headed by Moazzam Begg, around the Counter Terror with Justice Campaign. British citizen Moazzam Begg was abducted in 2002 by American and Pakistani intelligence officers in Pakistan, to where he had fled from Afghanistan with his family soon after the US-led ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’ bombing of the country began in retaliation for the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Begg was held first in Bagram detention facility and Kandahar, then detained in Guantánamo until he was released by the United States in 2005. Begg has never been charged with any terrorist-related offence or put on trial. In a book about his experiences, Enemy Combatant, co-authored with Victoria Brittain, he states that in 2001 he believed “the Taliban were better than anything Afghanistan has had in the past 25 years” and he is one of the current advocates of dialogue with the Taliban. Cageprisoners campaigns “to raise awareness of the plight of the prisoners at Guantánamo Bay and other detainees held as part of the War on Terror”. Amnesty International’s Counter Terror with Justice Campaign calls for an end to human rights abuses at Guantánamo and other locations, and for those detained there to be brought to justice, in fair trials that respect due process. Gita Sahgal’s concern about a lack of transparency in AI’s partnerships led to Sahgal’s decision to approach the Sunday Times newspaper media about this issue. This resulted in an article by Richard Kerbaj published on 7 February 2010, entitled “Amnesty International is ‘damaged’ by Taliban link: An official at the human rights charity deplores its work with a ‘jihadist’” in which Kerbaj reports Sahgal’s suggestions that the charity has mistakenly allied itself with Begg and his “jihadi” group. The same day, Sahgal was suspended from her position as Head of the Gender Unit.
Read the rest of this entry »
Neo-nazis in Hungary have won the right to commemorate Nazi losses during WW2, the JTA reports:
“BUDAPEST (JTA) — A Hungarian court ruled that an international neo-Nazi march can take place in Budapest.
Monday’s ruling overturns a decision by police prohibiting the demonstration, which commemorates the defeat of German rule in Eastern Europe during World War II, for reasons of maintaining public order.
The neo-Nazi Day of Honor rally rescheduled for next month is intended to mark the last stand of the German occupiers and their Hungarian supporters against the Soviet Red Army 65 years ago.
The Nazi defeat at Buda Castle is associated in Hungary with the end of the Holocaust, which claimed the lives of more than a half-million Hungarian Jews. Annual parades mourning the Nazi losses have been staged traditionally at Heroes Square in Budapest by a coalition of European neo-Nazi organizations.
This year, the march was planned for Feb. 13 but was postponed. Instead, neo-Nazi organizations held private ceremonies, undisturbed by the police, on private grounds near the capital. Groups also staged unauthorized marches in Buda.”
Whilst I have plenty of draft posts on political or technological themes to finish off I thought it worthwhile to highlight some amusing or informative posts that I read recently.
I probably spend a bit more time reading blogs than actually posting, there is some damn fine writers out there and I wish I had their skills in conveying complex ideas in such a digestible way, anyway for February 2010 here’s a few other blogs that you might want to read:
Judeosphere has some wonderful contributions, another racist cartoon from Carlos Latuff, Gilad Atzmon endorses the Protocols, on Walt and What if the Guardian Reported on Saudi Arabia the Same Way it Reports on Israel?
West Midlands Unity on the BNP accounts, fiddled again?
CiF Watch invariably has some good discussions and keeps a spotlight on racism at the Guardian’s Comment Is Free. There’s a lot to choose from but I thought one of Israelinurse’s contributions, Cheap and very nasty well worth a second read.
Race hate thugs convicted in Manchester at the CST.
Phil on the SWP split.
Left Foot Forward on Five key lessons on Facebook activism.
Seismic Shock and This Kind of Language is Unhelpful.
The Daily (Maybe) on Berlusconi does not exist.