Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the USA


This video is called Footage of Saudi military convoy entering Bahrain.

From the Belfast Telegraph in Ireland:

All religions are suffering in the Middle East mess

By Eamonn McCann – 23 July 2014

In March 2011, Saudi Arabian tanks rolled into Bahrain to put down a pro-democracy movement demanding fair elections, freedom of speech and an end to imprisonment without trial.

The Saudis made short work of unarmed demonstrators gathered at the Pearl Roundabout in the centre of the capital, Manama. An unknown number was killed. Hundreds of injured were ferried to hospitals. Reporters described heavily-armed masked men controlling the entrances and dragging away people arriving by car or ambulance.

Twenty doctors were arrested for “felonies”, including treating the injured, and “treasonous activities”, including giving interviews criticising the crackdown. In September 2012, nine doctors were sentenced by a military tribunal to terms of up to five years.

More than 1,000 workers were sacked and many jailed for trying to form trade unions.

Protests were mounted outside Saudi and Bahraini embassies in many capital cities. A delegation from the International Federation of Journalists tried to hand in a petition to the Bahrain embassy in Brussels protesting against the imprisonment of Bahraini journalists, only to have the door literally slammed in their faces.

A rally at Marble Arch in London marking the second anniversary of the Manama massacre was addressed by exiled members of the Bahraini opposition and spokespersons for the Stop the War Coalition and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. There was no representation from those who have been choking social media, complaining that opponents of the ethnic cleansing and slaughter of Palestinians do not apply the same standards to Muslim countries which deny democracy as are applied to Israel.

Most of the repressive Muslim-majority States – the Saudis, the Jordanians, the Egyptians, etc – are in the pro-Western, pro-Israeli camp.

‘Pro-Israeli’ is an ambiguous word here. These repressive governments may often have policies compatible with those of the government of Israel (and the USA, and other NATO countries).

Meanwhile, they are often ‘anti-Israel': not in the sense of legitimately criticizing Israeli government actions, but in promoting anti-Semitism: hatred of all Jews, not only in Israel but all over the world, pro-Israeli government, anti-Israeli government or undecided.

When a Dutch journalist arrived at his hotel room in the ‘moderate’ ‘pro-western’ Kingdom of Jordan, he found next to his bed on the nightstand a copy of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. This is an infamous nineteenth century anti-Semitic forgery, not against the government of Israel which did not exist, not against Zionism, but against all Jews. Among its promoters were the government of Czarist Russia, United States cars millionaire Henry Ford, and nazi Germany.

In pro-Western Saudi Arabia, the royal government promotes the Protocols.

So did another pro-Western monarch, the late Shah of Iran. During his reign, an Iranian translation of the Protocols was published. In an interview, the Shah expressed his belief in a ‘Jewish conspiracy’.

Throughout the Bahrain events, neither the US nor any of its allies did anything more than mumble. The reason is plain: Bahrain is an oil-rich state, it houses the headquarters of the US Fifth Fleet which patrols the Gulf on 24-hour alert for any indication of challenge to US client states, and is an increasingly important hub for global finance.

In November 1990, President George HW Bush and his wife, Barbara, travelled to Saudi Arabia with a clutch of Congressional leaders to celebrate Thanksgiving with the 400,000 US troops then stationed in the country. When the Saudi authorities learned that the president intended to say grace before the Thanksgiving dinner, they told him there’d be none of that Christian nonsense here.

Bahrain punishes pro-democracy group for meeting with US representatives: here.

Anti-Semitic violence in Belfast condemned


This video is called Belfast Synagogue.

From the Sinn Fein site in Ireland:

Kelly condemns synagogue attacks

21 July, 2014 – by Gerry Kelly

Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has condemned outright an attack on a synagogue in north Belfast.

Speaking after windows at the synagogue on Somerton Road were smashed at the weekend, the North Belfast MLA said:

“I condemn outright this attack on the synagogue on Somerton Road.

“There can be no place for attacks on any place of worship, regardless of the religion or denomination.

“The local Jewish community makes a valuable contribution to our society and there is no justification for hate crimes.

“If anyone has any information on these attacks then they should contact the PSNI.”

British disabled poet Mark Burnhope interviewed


This video from Britain says about itself:

27 November 2011

Mark Burnhope reads ‘The Well and the Ceiling Rose’, ‘The Snowboy’ and ‘Shinglehenge’ (from The Snowboy).

By Jody Powell in Britain:

A Christian outsider, maybe-Quaker, physically disabled and queer

Thursday 17th July 2017

32-YEAR-OLD MARK BURNHOPE is a poet, editor and disability activist whose new book Species is his first full verse collection. Here he tells Jody Porter all about what impels him to write

What are your religious/political beliefs and how have they affected your poetry in the past and now in this book?

I’m a Christian outsider, maybe-Quaker, physically disabled and queer.

My religions are poetry, contemplation, social action and disability rights. I’m agnostic about the nature of “God” but her presence will always permeate my work and identity as “other,” even in contexts where I’m told I belong.

My chapbooks, The Snowboy and Lever Arch, dealt with religious disenfranchisement in their own ways. Species explores otherness as “natural/unnatural,” so people occupy the same space as animals, birds and monsters.

My politics are just my self, primarily filtered through disability/queerness.

I’m on the left but recoil from its tendency to exclude disenfranchised people in spite of its purported ethos of inclusion.

Recent examples include Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) having their wheelchair-using speakers turned away from the recent large London protest on the basis that it was their responsibility to pay for access to the stage, and not the event organisers — the People’s Assembly, who were quick to apologise and hopefully take steps to improving the situation for the future.

Then there was the discomfort I felt when certain people sharing pictures of DPAC protesters at Westminster Abbey fighting to keep the Independent Living Fund infantilised us, joked about us as defenceless, ultimately harmless and no genuine threat to government. Too often, that’s the able-bodied left for you.

I’m on the left because that’s where I find myself. But all this time, disabled people themselves have been leading a grass-roots, self-advocating charge against welfare reform and it saddens me when that’s co-opted by a non-disabled majority left that considers us only an optional piece of a larger puzzle — the “bigger fish to fry” syndrome — then depicts our efforts as quaint have-a-go attempts to join in.

I appreciate the sentiment behind a phrase like “solidarity with disabled people” but we’ve never spoken of “solidarity with able-bodied people,” we just call them the left.

I wish we received the same treatment but I find myself having to watch the action from the periphery too often.

What’s the significance of the collection’s title Species and the Darwin quote at the front of the book?

The book’s first epigraph, from theologian Francis Turretin in the 17th century, says that the law given to Moses “is usually distinguished into three species: moral… ceremonial… and civil.”

The book of Exodus contains the “clobber passages” which Christianity has used to oppress queer people alongside lesser-known verses which designate women, disabled people and others as “abominations.”

It’s not just gay people. The continual reinforcement of these prejudices in our day and age is due, in part, to this arbitrary and textually unsupported division of the law into three “species.”

The Darwin quote — “We will now discuss in a little more detail the struggle for existence” — relates to natural selection, that the strongest survive and the weakest conveniently die out for the continuation of “the whole.”

Species includes a sequence about the Atos-sponsored London Paralympics 2012, the government systemic ableism of eugenics-inflected propaganda and the dismantlement of the welfare state under the guise of “reform.”

The Darwin quote is a joke, meant to lead the reader into the book with a wry smile. I used the quote because it made me laugh. We have to laugh, or we’d cry.

What are abnominals?

The abnominal is a form invented by Scottish poet Andrew Philip, described in his second collection The North End Of The Possible: “The abnominal is a form I have developed using only the letters of the dedicatee’s name, each of which must appear at least once per stanza.

“The poem, which is 20 lines long, should begin and end by addressing the dedicatee in some way. The title must also be an anagram of their name.”

This allowed me to directly address relevant personalities: David Cameron, David Attenborough, Maurice Sendak and a few more.

Who in contemporary poetry do you admire?

Many mainstream magazines exclude disenfranchised writers and the writing modes central to their practice. In those spaces, everything tends to just melt into a generalised “best-of-British poetry.”

Yet if a poet’s work is inclusive, intersectional and concerned with representing disenfranchised writers, I’m probably going to read it.

On that list are radical feminist and disability/crip work and poetries of race, colour and queerdom.

One group that’s given me more confidence in writing my own bodily experience is the disability or “crip” poetics movement in America.

Mike Northern, Jennifer Bartlett, Sheila Fiona Black and all the poets collected in Wordgathering online, along with the Beauty Is A Verb anthology and feminist works breaking down the barriers, are writing my revolution.

Species is published by Nine Arches Press at £8.99.

‘Some cardinals abuse children’, Pope Francis I quoted


Demonstration against clerical sexual abuse, photo by Associated Press

From Al Jazeera:

Pope Francis: 1 in 50 clergy are pedophiles

In an interview, the pontiff also hinted that ban against marriage for priests may one day be lifted

July 13, 2014 9:21AM ET

One in 50 clerics are pedophiles, Pope Francis said in an interview published Sunday, in which he also hinted that the mandate of priestly celibacy may one day be lifted.

Francis condemned child sex abuse as a “leprosy” in the Church and cited his aides as saying that “the level of pedophilia in the Church is at two percent.” That figure includes priests “and even bishops and cardinals,” Italy’s La Repubblica daily quoted Francis as saying.

The figure represents around 8,000 priests out of a global number of about 414,000, according to the latest statistics from the Vatican.

I have doubts on how exact these statistics are.

Child abusers usually hide their acts, often successfully.

Often, when a priest abuses a child, only the perpetrator and the victim may know about it, as the child may be too scared to talk. Eg, after Dutch Bishop Jo Gijsen had abused a child, he threatened the child with eternal damnation in hellfire if it would talk to anyone about the abuse.

Sometimes, children’s parents may know, but not talk about it, being scared of a conflict with the church hierarchy.

Sometimes, the predatory priest’s bishop may know, but may cover up the abuse, warning neither police nor the pope, as he does not want bad public relations for the church. Etc.

Pope Francis also promised “solutions” to the issue of priestly celibacy, the Italian publication reported, raising the possibility that the Catholic Church may eventually lift a ban on married priests.

Asked by the paper whether priests might one day be permitted to marry, Francis noted that celibacy was instituted “900 years after Our Lord’s death” and that clerics can marry in some Eastern Churches under Vatican tutelage.

“There definitely is a problem but it is not a major one. This needs time but there are solutions and I will find them,” Francis said, without giving further details.

But Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said the quotations in the newspaper on the existence of pedophile cardinals and the possible reform of priestly celibacy did not correspond to what the pope actually said.

The BBC writes about this:

The BBC’s David Willey in Rome says there is often a studied ambiguity in Pope Francis’ off-the-cuff statements.

He wants to show a more compassionate attitude towards Church teaching than his predecessors, but this can sometimes cause consternation among his media advisers, our correspondent adds.

Analysis: David Willey, BBC News, Rome

When is a papal interview not an interview? Sunday’s edition of La Repubblica devotes its first three pages to an account of a conversation between Pope Francis and editor Eugenio Scalfari, which took place last Thursday. Papal spokesman Federico Lombardi said in a sharp note that it was not an interview in the normal sense of the word, although he admitted it conveyed the “sense and the spirit” of the conversation.

Mr Scalfari does not use a digital recorder, and Father Lombardi said Pope Francis never checked the accuracy of the interview.

Until now, the Vatican has declined to quantify the extent of clerical sexual abuse scandals in the worldwide Church. Statistics are usually available only for countries in the developed world. In the developing world, information is usually only sketchy.

Did Pope Francis really say 2% of priests are paedophiles? Vatican disputes accuracy of Italian journalist’s conversation with pope but child abuse support group claims true rate is far higher: here.

Pope Francis puts himself in danger by tackling pedophilia cover-ups: here.