This 30 June 2014 video is called Russian marines begin training in France to man Mistral warship.
The investigation into the causes of the horrible flight MH17 airplane disaster is only just beginning. No conclusions yet, of course. Still, politicians, both of big parties in NATO governments, and smaller parties like the Dutch Nederlandse Volksunie nazis, and corporate media abuse the feelings of grief and horror of people all over the world about the hundreds of lives lost, trying to pervert and channel these feelings into assent to a (potentially, nuclear) war. Or, at least, assent to less money for education, health, standards of living of 99% of people; and more money for so-called ‘defence’; meaning the military-industrial complex fat cats.
While governments invoke the horrors of Russia to beat the war drums and pressure taxpayers into feeding the military-industrial complex still more, these same governments help weapons corporations to export weapons worldwide. Including to Russia.
Julie Hyland from Britain writes today:
The final communiqué [of the European Union meeting about the Ukraine crisis] spoke only of “possible” targeted measures and “proposals” for further action [against Russia], however. The lack of a firm consensus on more wide-ranging sanctions was underscored by President François Hollande’s announcement that France intends to proceed with its €1.2 billion contract to supply Russia with two Mistral-class helicopter assault ships. Russian sailors have already arrived in the port of Saint-Nazaire for training on the new warships.
His statement led to bitter recriminations between Paris and London earlier in the day. Comparing Russia to Nazi Germany, UK Prime Minister David Cameron said it should be “unthinkable” for the sale to go ahead.
In response, Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, the leader of France’s ruling Socialist Party, denounced Cameron as “hypocrite … When you see how many [Russian] oligarchs have sought refuge in London, David Cameron should start by cleaning up his own backyard.”
Cameron’s Nazi analogy is especially spurious given that the UK, alongside the US and the EU, worked with fascists to instigate February’s coup in Kiev. Their support for far right brigands, who are murdering anti-government oppositionists with impunity, is directly responsible for the civil war in Ukraine that has cost hundreds of lives, including those on board flight MH17.
Meanwhile, the British government itself helps British military-industrial complex corporations to sell weapons to Moscow, which they attack the French government about.
From daily The Guardian in Britain today:
UK arms export licences for Russia still in place despite claims of embargo – report
Many weapons and military components are still approved for export to Russia, report by four Commons committees says
This video from the USA is called New Mexico Ranks 49th in Kids Count Data Book.
By Andre Damon:
Nearly one quarter of US children in poverty
23 July 2014
Nearly one in four children in the United States lives in a family below the federal poverty line, according to figures presented in a new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
A total of 16.3 million children live in poverty, and 45 percent of children in the US live in households whose incomes fall below 200 percent of the federal poverty line.
The annual report, titled the Kids Count Data Book, compiles data on children’s economic well-being, education, health, and family support. It concludes that, “inequities among children remain deep and stubbornly persistent.”
The report is an indictment of the state of American society nearly six years after the onset of the financial crisis in 2008.
This video from the USA says about itself:
L.A. Gently Weeps As George Harrison Tree Is Felled By Beetles
22 July 2014
A local official said on Tuesday that a tree planted in memorial to late Beatles guitarist George Harrison following his death in Los Angeles in 2001 has been killed by bark beetles amid California’s epic drought. The pine tree, which was dedicated with a plaque to Harrison at the head of a hiking trail in the city’s Griffith Park, was among a number of trees that have succumbed to the beetles this year. City Councilman, Tom LaBonge said he expects to see a new tree planted in remembrance of Harrison in the fall.
From the Los Angeles Times in the USA:
George Harrison Memorial Tree killed … by beetles; replanting due
By Randy Lewis
July 21, 2014
In the truth is stranger than fiction department, Los Angeles Councilman Tom LaBonge, whose district includes Griffith Park, told Pop & Hiss over the weekend that the pine tree planted in 2004 near Griffith Observatory in memory of George Harrison will be replanted shortly because the original tree died as the result of an insect infestation.
Yes, the George Harrison Tree was killed by beetles.
Except for the loss of tree life, Harrison likely would have been amused at the irony. He once said his biggest break in life was getting into the Beatles; his second biggest was getting out.
The sapling went in, unobtrusively, near the observatory with a small plaque at the base to commemorate the former Beatle, who died in 2001, because he spent his final days in Los Angeles and because he was an avid gardener for much of his adult life.
This video from the USA says about itself:
Lawmaker Proposes LGBT Rainbow Flag Ban in Louisiana
19 July 2013
Andy Naquin, a Republican City-Parish Councilman in Lafayette, Louisiana has proposed a bill that would ban the LGBT rainbow flag.
By Peter Lazenby:
Scotland shows true colours-with solidarity rainbow flag
Wednesday 23rd July 2014
Gesture highlights Commonwealth persecution of LGBT people
THE rainbow flag is be flown on buildings across Scotland in solidarity with persecuted LGBT people in Commonwealth countries.
Trade union offices in Glasgow will fly the flag for the duration of the Commonwealth games, which start today.
The Scottish government will also fly the rainbow flag outside St Andrew’s House for the first time in its history, alongside those of the Commonwealth and Scotland.
STUC general secretary Grahame Smith said: “By flying the rainbow flag, the international symbol of LGBT equality, we aim to recognise the human rights of LGBT people and celebrate the distance that Scotland has come in promoting equality.”
He said the campaign offers a message of hope to LGBT people and a rejection of the anti-homosexuality laws that still exist in 80 per cent of Commonwealth nations.
“This is simply unacceptable and it is right that we should use our Commonwealth Games to raise awareness and promote a more positive vision of the future for a persecuted minority,” added Mr Smith.
Several councils have also pledged to fly the rainbow flag throughout the campaign.
The public is also being encouraged to support the campaign by sharing images using the hashtag #gamespride on social media site Twitter.
Commonwealth Games cabinet secretary Shona Robison said: “It’s important we reinforce our strong support for and commitment to progressing equality and human rights issues.”
This video is called Full Documentary – Incredible Nature: Hummingbirds – Magic in the Air.
From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:
New Citizen Science Blog Takes Flight
The citizen science program at the Cornell Lab invites you to be the first to preview a new kind of blog. Our new Citizen Science Blog is a blog inspired by the contributions and passions of citizen scientists—like you!
In its inaugural month, Citizen Science Blog will start with a look at everyone’s favorite winged jewels, hummingbirds! Can you match the speed of a hummingbird’s wings with your fingers? Find out in the interactive game, Beat the Beats. Plus, see how much liquid you’d have to consume to eat like a hummingbird. Check in often as new posts are added weekly.
This video is called Systematic torture in Bahrain.
From Middle East Eye:
Has Britain become Bahrain’s lapdog?
Tuesday 22 July 2014 19:31 BST
Bahraini human rights activists are speaking out about increasing persecution at the hands of the British authorities
Could it be possible that the British government is now acting as Bahrain’s political policeman? Yes, according to Bahraini exiles living in London – most of whom have fled persecution in their homeland and now claim the British government is giving them a hard time for it.
Suspicions were first raised to me earlier this year, when two fleeing activists were detained and nearly deported back by suspiciously over-zealous UKBA officials at Heathrow airport. Both had strong asylum cases, but the seeming prejudice against them may well point to a wider pattern of discrimination.
Mohammed Ahmed, a prominent blogger and media fixer had been arrested and tortured in August 2013. He had previously been arrested and beaten in April 2012, whilst working with a journalist from the Sunday Telegraph, and because of his pro-democracy activism had a history of nasty run-ins with Bahraini security services. In February of this year, he decided he’d had enough and ran for London.
His travelling companion, Hussain Jawad was chairman of the prominent rights group the European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights. He too was arrest by Bahraini security agents in November 2013, shortly after he lodged a formal complaint against the government, claiming that they were harassing human rights defenders. Over 50 bloggers across the world demanded Hassan’s release during his arbitrary detention in Bahrain where he spent 46 days in prison before being bailed. Upon his release, Jawad too decided he’d been left no other option but to flee.
Amnesty International declared Jawad a prisoner of conscience, even setting up a publically available website to detail his case, as did Frontline Defenders, an international charity which supports the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders across the globe. Yet, on arriving at Heathrow in February, both men were taken aside by UKBA officials. They were taken to separate detention centres outside London and found themselves in medium security prisons, operated by UKBA for detaining and deporting illegal immigrants.
It quickly emerged that the pair had been placed on a special programme called DFT (Detained Fast Track), a process designed for uncomplicated cases where the applicant clearly has no right to asylum and needs to be returned as soon as possible. They were denied legal aid and had their case labelled all but hopeless, despite the fact they knew they had strong grounds for asylum and would face likely persecution, incarceration and the threat of torture upon their return.
Were it not for an 11th hour intervention by specialist solicitors, Jawad and Ahmed would have faced almost certain deportation. As it is, they were released a few days later and are currently proceeding forward with their applications.
Speaking to Bahraini leaders and activists living in London (there are perhaps five hundred exiles who have fled here), they clearly believe that the UKBA detention was politically motivated, and that the Bahraini community is being “systematically targeted,” by, they suspect, the British government acting on behalf of the Bahrainis.
The detention of Ahmed and Jawad, one exile told me, was a display by the UK and Bahraini governments to show the democracy movement who was in charge.
These are strong allegations, but when asked, the spin doctors in the Home Office dismissed the allegations, explaining that they couldn’t comment on individual cases.
This is odd as the Home Office is often very vocal about terrorists like Abu Hamza or Abu Qatada, or indeed hunger-striking Isa Muazu last year, leading one to conclude that they only respond when it suits them.
When you highlight this little discrepancy though, the Home Office does have an answer. It seems that they merely don’t comment routinely on cases – so a case of one rule for terrorists and another for human rights defenders.
In May, more evidence emerged that the British could be doing the bidding of the Bahrainis, and that what had happened to Ahmed and Jawad may well be routine.
On 30 April, two Bahraini exiles living in London were raided by a counter-terrorism unit from the Metropolitan Police. It was 6:00 am. Their families were also detained. Both were charged with terrorism-related offences, which, according to the human rights activists, were most likely fabricated by the Bahraini authorities.
Given the sensitive nature of the raid, it is suspicious that a Twitter account in Bahrain tweeted about the men’s arrest at 4:00 am, two full hours before Metropolitan Police kicked down their doors in London.
“Urgent: British authorities arrest Iranian agents (Safawi) and Karim Almahroos and Abdul Rauf Alshayeb is now being handed over to Bahrain,” tweeted @mnarfezhom.
The @mnarfezhom account is, according to the research and advocacy group, Bahrain Watch, most likely operated by a member of the ruling al-Khalifa family, and functions as a cyber-vigilante, mobilising die-hard royalists.
There have also been other signs that the relationship between Bahraini human rights defenders and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth office have in their words become “hostile”.
Desk officers in the FCO are regularly briefed by global human rights defenders. Nearly all of these meetings invite a participatory mood in which organisations large and small can air their concerns in a receptive environment.
This vital lobbying opportunity has increasingly been choked off to Bahrainis. In a conversation with an official in May, an activist swears that UK authorities parroted Bahraini regime propaganda. When asked why the regime was tear-gassing so excessively each night, the UK officials allegedly said that “the attacks by the Bahraini police are just self-defence against the Molotov cocktail throwing youth.” This line is all too familiar to those reading the Bahraini state press.
When the activist retorted by saying that the youth throw Molotov cocktails because of the harsh police tactics that on occasion prove fatal, the officer allegedly replied: “Well, it’s always someone else’s fault isn’t it?”
But could it really be true that the British government is aiding and abetting the ruling al-Khalifa monarchy to perpetuate its oppression? This is incredibly hard to prove but it would not be the first time that British officials have got their hands dirty to keep the al-Khalifas in power.
Colonel Ian Henderson, a colonial era British policeman who worked for the al-Khalifa family for nearly thirty years, was investigated in 2000 by the Home Office for his alleged complicity in torture while in Manama. Eventually, no charges were filed, but UK journalist Robert Fisk wrote a scathing expose that unearthed widespread instances of abuse.
If this kind of behaviour has and is happening, it is likely a case of “I scratch yours, you scratch mine.” Bahrain itself is small and not that energy-rich, but it is a key part of the GCC which all but controls OPEC. Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and to a lesser extent Kuwait, have sunk vast resources – from money and fuel to soldier and weapons – to prop up the al-Khalifas who they see as a bulwark against Iranian and Shia expansion in the region.
There are also large geo-political gains to be made by keeping the Khalifas on the throne. Bahrain is conveniently positioned in the Gulf and is seen as a vital base for protecting key shipping lanes. The British and American presence in the Middle East is generally based in and coordinated out of Manama harbour, and billions in expensive defence equipment is stationed there.
While these are underlying factors for the possible collusion between the British and the Bahrainis, a new large-scale defence contract was thrown into the mix at the start of the year, which could explain why we have seen this more hostile attitude.
Negotiations about the highly-prized British BAE Systems £4bn deal to supply Saudi Arabia with 72 Eurofighter Typhoons, had been unusually tense.
There have already been suggestions that this tension may have led to unusual and secretive government “favours” being introduced to buttress the deal. Defence sales by British companies are assisted by UK government operatives from the highest levels.
Speculation on what these “sweeteners” could have been, has so far centred on the Muslim Brotherhood investigation announced by No.10 shortly after the Saudi arms deal went through. The timing played nicely into the political aims of Saudi Arabia’s rulers, and there was subsequent outrage from ambassadors, newspaper columnists and MPs, who all denounced this as and shameful “favour” for the Saudis.
But the Muslim Brotherhood investigation might not have been the only unusual favour discussed and the timing of the first reports of Bahrain persecution would also help to explain the growing mistrust, bad blood, and of host of allegations that have started flying around.
Alastair Sloan focuses on injustice and oppression in the west, Russia and the Middle East. He contributes regularly to The Guardian, Al Jazeera and Middle East Eye. Follow Alastair’s work at www.unequalmeasures.com.
This video says about itself:
Fukushima News 5/8/14: Irradiated Fukushima Worker Sues Tepco; Demands For More Decontamination.
From Associated Press:
Stigmatized workers quitting Tepco in droves
by Yuri Kageyama
21 July 2014
Stigma, pay cuts and risk of radiation exposure are among the reasons why 3,000 employees have left Tepco, the utility at the center of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. Now there’s an additional factor: better paying jobs in the feel-good solar energy industry.
Engineers and other employees at Tokyo Electric Power Co. were once typical of the nation’s corporate culture that is famous for prizing loyalty to a single company and lifetime employment with it. But the March 2011 tsunami that swamped the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, sending three reactors into meltdown, changed that.
Tepco was widely criticized for being inadequately prepared for tsunami despite Japan’s long history of being hit by giant waves and for its confused response to the disaster. The public turned hostile toward the nuclear industry and Tepco, or “Tohden” in Japanese, became a dirty word.
Only 134 people quit Tepco the year before the disaster. The departures ballooned to 465 in 2011, another 712 in 2012 and 488 last year. Seventy percent of those leaving were younger than 40. When the company offered voluntary retirement for the first time earlier this year, some 1,151 workers applied for the 1,000 available redundancy packages.
The exodus, which has reduced staff to about 35,700 people, adds to the challenges of the ongoing work at Fukushima to keep the meltdowns under control, remove the fuel cores and safely decommission the reactors, which is expected to take decades.
The factors pushing workers out have piled up. The financial strain of the disaster has led to brutal salary cuts while ongoing problems at Fukushima No. 1, such as substantial leaks of irradiated water, have reinforced the image of a bumbling and irresponsible organization.
“No one is going to want to work there, if they can help it,” said Akihiro Yoshikawa, who quit Tepco in 2012.
After leaving he started a campaign called “Appreciate Fukushima Workers,” trying to counter what he calls the “giant social stigma” attached to working at Fukushima No. 1.
Many of the workers, as residents of the area, also lost their homes to no-go zones, adding to personal hardships.
The Fukushima stigma is such that some employees hide the fact they work at the plant. They even worry they will be turned away at restaurants or that their children will be bullied at school after a government report documented dozens of cases of discrimination.
While Tepco is out of favor with the public, the skills and experience of its employees that span the gamut of engineers, project managers, maintenance workers and construction and financial professionals, are not.
Energy industry experience is in particular demand as the development of solar and other green energy businesses is pushed along by generous government subsidies.
Currently the government pays solar plants ¥32 per kilowatt hour of energy. The so-called tariff for solar power varies by states and cities in the U.S., but they are generally lower than Japan’s version. The rate in Germany is about half that in Japan.
Sean Travers, Japan president of EarthStream, a London-based recruitment company that specializes in energy jobs, has been scrambling to woo Tepco employees as foreign companies do more clean energy business in Japan.
“Tepco employees are very well trained and have excellent knowledge of how the Japanese energy sector works, making them very attractive,” he said.
Two top executives at U.S. solar companies doing business in Japan, First Solar director Karl Brutsaert and SunPower Japan director Takashi Sugihara, said they have interviewed former Tepco employees for possible posts.
Besides their experience, knowledge of how the utility industry works and their contacts, with both private industry and government bureaucracy, are prized assets.
“It’s about the human network and the Tepco employees have all the contacts,” said Travers, who says he has recruited about 20 people from the utility and is hoping to get more.
Since September 2012, all Tepco managers have had their salaries slashed by 30 percent, while workers in nonmanagement positions had their pay reduced 20 percent.
But last year, Tepco doled out ¥100,000 bonuses to 5,000 managers as an incentive to stay on.