Northern Irish police investigates ‘Arabic’ European Union flag


European Union flag

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Ulster resident calls police over ‘Arabic emblem’ that turns out to be EU flag

Police confirm that they investigated misguided complaint against flag flown to mark Europe’s Ryder Cup triumph

Henry McDonald, Ireland correspondent

Monday 29 September 2014 20.04 BST

A resident of Rory McIlroy’s hometown in Northern Ireland complained to the police about an EU flag erected to mark Europe’s Ryder Cup triumph because they thought it was an Arabic emblem, it has emerged.

And let us suppose it would have been a real Arabic flag. Would that have been an indicator of crime which police need to investigate?

The Police Service of Northern Ireland confirmed on Monday evening that they had to investigate a complaint against the yellow stars and blue background of the EU banner in Holywood, County Down.

The man who put up the EU flag, to celebrate Europe defeating the United States at Gleneagles, revealed on Facebook earlier on Monday that two police officers turned up at his door in the town now synonymous with McIlroy.

He posted on Facebook: “Right in shock here. Had a Ryder Cup party yesterday and just had the police round … as apparently it’s caused offence.

“Apparently person who complained thought it was an Arabic flag.”

The PSNI said its officers had become involved following the complaint.

A PSNI spokesman said: “Police in Holywood attended an address in the Woodlands area yesterday following the report from a member of the public that a flag they believed to be offensive had been erected. Police attended and no offence was detected.”

The EU flag-waving golf fan at the centre of the investigation did not want to be named but described the complaint as crazy. He said he told the PSNI at his house that the flag was flying in honour of the European golf team and particularly Ulster golfing stars McIlory and Graeme McDowell.

Local councillor for the non-sectarian Alliance party and former North Down mayor Andrew Muir said the complaint should be placed in the category of “you couldn’t make it up” stories.

Muir said: “It’s rather depressing that we would be focused upon flags. People are entitled to fly whatever legal flag they want from their house and in Northern Ireland we need to be able to celebrate our success and the European flag is an open, inclusive symbol of Europe coming together.”

The flying of flags is a contentious issue in Northern Ireland, none more so than in Belfast. For the last two years there have been Ulster loyalist protests at the gates of Belfast City Hall because the local council voted to restrict the flying of the union flag.

Until the end of 2012 Belfast city council flew the union flag atop the dome of City Hall 365 days per year. Nationalist and republican councillors tried to ban the flying of the flag entirely but a compromise was hit upon whereby the red, white and blue would be flown on 18 designated days including the Queen’s two birthdays.

Protests in the months just after the flag policy changed resulted in riots and dozens of arrests.

Save Europe’s vultures and eagles


This video says about itself:

11 February 2013

This video tells the story of a poisoned Bonelli’s Eagle that was rehabilitated in North Cyprus by a group of local conservationists who have been tracking the status of the species in their country.

From BirdLife:

By Luca Bonaccorsi, Thu, 25/09/2014 – 14:59

After months of wrestling, the European Commission has given mandate to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to assess the risks to vulture populations of the use of veterinary medicines containing diclofenac. This represents a major breakthrough and opens the door for the European ban of the killer drug that wiped out entire vulture populations in Asia. BirdLife International and the Vulture Conservation Foundation appeal to all parties involved to submit scientific evidence to the EMA by 10 October 2014.

Diclofenac is a veterinary anti-inflammatory drug that kills vultures and eagles – in India it caused a 99% decline of a number of vulture species there, before eventually being banned in four countries in the region. Quite incredibly, veterinary diclofenac has now been allowed to be used on farm animals in Europe – in Estonia, Italy and Spain for cattle, pigs and horses, and in the Czech Republic and Latvia for horses only. The drug has been marketed by an Italian company named FATRO, and was allowed using loopholes in the EU guidelines to assess risk of non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs.

The European Medicines Agency has now opened a public consultation on the matter, directed at all professional bodies with information about scavenging birds, veterinary practices and the disposal of animal by-products. With this decision, the European Commission acknowledges the facts raised by BirdLife International and the Vulture Conservation Foundation, who are leading an international campaign to ban veterinary diclofenac in Europe.

José Tavares, Executive Director of the VCF states: “It is impossible to leave this drug out there, and it’s the time for the EU to acknowledge the reality on the ground in countries like Italy and Spain. Even if there was a strict veterinary prescription system – and this is not the case – it would still be impossible for the veterinary managing the drug to oversee the disposal of all the dead animals. In Spain when pigs, lambs and goats die in open fields they are often reached by vultures even before farmers are aware of it.”

Iván Ramírez, Head of Conservation for Europe and Central Asia at BirdLife International says: “We welcome the decision, and thank our BirdLife Partners and supporters. Our vulture experts are working on our reply to EMA, but it is crucial that we take any single opportunity to call for the immediate ban of this product. There are safe alternatives and we have already seen how dangerous veterinary diclofenac is for vultures. We won’t stop until a European ban is implemented”.

This video is called Stop Vulture Poisoning Now.

New research published by a Spanish-British-American team in Conservation Biology documents a suspected flunixin poisoning of a wild Eurasian griffon vulture from Spain: here.

European Union armed forces against popular opposition?


This video says about itself:

Greece: far-right party sends deputies to EU parliament

30 June 2014

Greece’s far-right Golden Dawn party is sending deputies to the European Parliament for the first time. The respectability implied by parliamentary representation contrasts sharply with the criminal investigation launched after one of its supporters killed a left-wing rapper last September.

As this blog noted in an earlier post, Greek General Georgios Epitideios, who served as a senior staff member of Nato’s Central Command, and as director of the department of crisis response and current operations of the European Union Military Staff, was recently elected a Member of the European Parliament for the nazi Golden Dawn party.

Generals with nazi political views should not be expected to mind committing bloodbaths among peaceful anti-government demonstrators.

By Denis Krassnin:

European governments prepare for military suppression of popular opposition

10 July 2014

European governments are working together to prepare to militarily suppress social unrest. This effort—involving legal, technical, as well as military plans—is in an advanced stage of development, according to a report by Aureliana Sorrento that aired on June 20 on Germany’s Deutschlandfunk radio station. “In the framework of collaborative foreign and security policy,” the introduction on Deutschlandfunk’s web site reads, “military and police responsibility are increasingly blurred and the capacity to combat social uprisings is being built up.” Officially, this concerns campaigns in countries outside the European Union, the web site notes, “but with Article 222 of the Lisbon Treaty, the legal conditions for the deployment of military and paramilitary units in the EU [European Union] crisis states were satisfied.”

Only four days after this program was broadcast, the European General Affairs Council adopted provisions for Article 222, which is also called the “solidarity clause.” It said that the European Union would “mobilise all the instruments at its disposal, including the military resources made available by the Member States,” if “a member state is affected by a terrorist attack, or a natural or man-made disaster.” The decision allows for the deployment of Special Forces, paramilitary groups and various other “anti-terror” groups.

A disaster is defined as “any situation that has harmful repercussions on human beings, the environment or wealth assets,” according to an accompanying paper by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton. Strikes, demonstrations or uprisings endangering critical infrastructure, banks and corporations can also be included among the targets of military actions carried out by the European police and military.

Preparations for such operations are well advanced. Since the violent confrontations at the G8 Summit in Genoa in the summer of 2001 and the terror attacks in the US on September 11 of the same year, EU member states have systematically consolidated paramilitary forces suited to internal operations.

In 2001, 150,000 demonstrators from all over the world traveled to the G8 Summit in Genoa. A large squad of state security forces protected the heads of state or government of the leading industrial countries. Masked police provocateurs caused violent collisions, and security forces brutally confronted the demonstrators. One youth, 23-year-old Carlo Guiliani, was shot, over 500 people were injured and over 300 arrested. Property damage amounted to €40 million.

After the September 11 terror attacks, the EU-funded ATLAS Network of special police forces was founded. Today, all 37 elite units are hosted by the EU, including the German GSG 9. The network coordinates common training and exercises.

The “Center of Excellence for Stability Police Units,” a training center for police units “especially trained in the handling of violent uprisings,” as political scientist Christian Kreuder-Sonnen explained, has been located in the northern Italian city of Vicenza since 2005. European, American and African policemen are prepared here for deployments in war areas. The centre is mainly financed by the United States.

The European Gendarmerie Force (EGF), founded in 2006, also has its headquarters in Vicenza. Eight European states are represented in the EGF, and Turkey has observer status. The conditions of deployment of the EGF are extremely flexible: it can be placed under the command of the EU, the UN, NATO, or the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). It has been deployed to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Afghanistan and Haiti.

In 2008, the French Gendarmerie started a project together with the European Commission, in which police and members of the Gendarmerie from different EU countries trained together. Two years later, an exercise took place under the leadership of the German Federal Police in the armed forces barracks near Potsdam.

Since the financial crisis of 2008, the growth of the European security apparatus has accelerated. According to the British civil rights organization Statewatch, the budget of the ATLAS Network recently increased five-fold.

The purpose of the network is not simply to carry out practice drills. Military and security forces will now be used against demonstrations and strikes, as they were against strikers in Greece and Spain. In March of this year, the anti-uprising units fired tear gas and rubber bullets on participants in a demonstration in Madrid of over a million people.

These preparations for mass repression are consciously viewed as a defense of the interests of the capitalist elite against mass uprisings of working class and poor people.

In the study entitled “Urban violence and humanitarian challenges”, the European Union Institute for Security Studies points to the “deep-seated inequalities in the distribution of economic, political and social resources which themselves are interrelated with poverty and are underpinned by globalisation and neo-liberal macro-economic and political processes.”

The “Perspectives for European Defense 2020”, by the same institute, see the task of future military deployments among other things in the “protection of the rich of this world from the tensions and problems of the impoverished … As the proportion of the world population that is impoverished and frustrated continues to increase, the tensions between this world and the world of the rich will increase—with corresponding consequences,” the statement predicts.

It adds, “Technology contracts the world into a small town that is on the verge of a revolution. While we have to deal with an increasingly integrated upper stratum, we are at the same time confronted with the growth of explosive tensions in the poorest lower stratum.”

For this purpose, soldiers are to receive realistic training in suppressing popular uprisings. The German armed forces are building a city named Schnöggersburg, an “urban conurbation” with 520 buildings on a plot of land north of Magdeburg, belonging to the Combat Training Center’s army. It includes a slum, an industrial area and a mosque, which can be turned into a church. After completion, EU and NATO combat units will practice waging war in the city.

In Germany, deployments of the armed forces against uprisings and social unrest have been subject to legal regulation for a long time. The emergency laws, passed in 1968 by the Grand Coalition, allow the deployment of armed forces “for protection against imminent dangers to free democratic principles.”

In 2007, the German armed forces were deployed to protect the G8 Summit in Heiligendamm. They supported the police in spying on demonstrators, as Tornado fighter jets overflew the protesters.