From daily The Morning Star in Britain today:
The Labour-controlled council has refused to accept a petition against its use of G4S to provide security at public buildings and events.
From daily The Morning Star in Britain today:
The Labour-controlled council has refused to accept a petition against its use of G4S to provide security at public buildings and events.
This video says about itself:
Germany: Refugee ‘abuse’ by security guards investigated
28 September 2014
One image appears to show the foot of a German security guard pressed against the neck of an Algerian asylum seeker.
The refugee centre, the security company and four workers are being investigated.
Translated from weekly Der Spiegel in Germany today:
Abuse in asylum seeker centers: “Glory and honour” on the forearm
By Jörg Diehl, Dusseldorf
Are some security guards of the asylum home in Burbach from the neo-Nazi scene? According to SPIEGEL ONLINE information, one of the men has a tattoo pointing in that direction. …
The ill-treatment of North African refugees in the asylum center in Burbach had perhaps a right-wing extremist background. According to information obtained by SPIEGEL ONLINE the former security guard Markus H., 30, apparently has on his forearm a tattoo “Glory and honour”. The slogan is popular with neo-Nazis …
The full nazi slogan is “Ruhm and Ehre für die Waffen SS”, glory and honour for the Waffen SS, Hitler’s paramilitary blackguards.
Markus H. and his former colleague Markus K., 26, stand accused of having a few weeks ago abused and humiliated a refugee in the Burbach asylum center in North Rhine-Westphalia.
A photograph, discovered on another guard’s telephone by investigators, shows the duo and a downed 28-year-old Algerian, whose hands are tied behind his back. H. stands with his right foot on the head of the helpless victim. …
As the North Rhine-Westphalian Interior Minister Ralf Jäger (SPD) said in Dusseldorf on Tuesday, the investigators examine currently the possibility of a xenophobic background for the abuses in asylum centers. According to SPIEGEL ONLINE information another former security guard from the home in Burbach, Maik L., is already under investigation for using symbols of unconstitutional organizations. However, L. so far is not one of the accused.
In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, one of the former security guards from Burbach ascribed to some of his colleagues a “clearly right-wing extremist sentiments”. Another guard said to the Siegburger Kurier that the people concerned have a “clearly visible right wing background”.
This video from Britain says about itself:
Serco and the private companies running your country
26 August 2013
Serco has been labelled the “biggest company you’ve never heard of”. It’s a private company, holding a huge number of government contracts for public services — everything from nuclear weapons defences to out of hours doctors services. Serco is a UK company but has a global reach and chances are it’s running services near you.
Some more things we couldn’t fit in:
Firing Gurkhas: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23600821
Self-harm rates in immigration centres: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/…
Boris Bike strike:
A good round up article I just found:
By Solomon Hughes in Britain:
Soames lowers the tone
Friday 19th September 2014
Solomon Hughes doubts whether that titan of the Establishment Winston Churchill would be impressed by the careers of his two grandsons
There are lots of important questions about “the Establishment” addressed by Owen Jones’s new book — how do they hold power? How do they exercise it? Can we stop them shaping society for their benefit?
But I’d like to ask one more question about the Establishment — how did they get so tacky?
In particular, how did the Churchill family, one of the most powerful tribes among the clans that rule us, get so trashy? They’ve gone from producing one of the most intelligent, flexible and forward-thinking members of the elite to a couple of cheesy hangers-on?
In 2002 Winston Churchill was voted “greatest Briton of all time.” Morning Star readers won’t have been hitting the buttons in that phone poll — Churchill was very much a member of the ruling classes.
He wanted to preserve the empire and stop the advance of working people. He was the colonial secretary who ordered the bombing of Iraqis and Kurds in 1919 and fought Gandhi’s campaign for Indian independence.
He was the home secretary who sent troops against striking miners in Tonypandy, Glamorgan, in 1911.
He was full of the bigotries of his class. But Churchill was also one of the more forward-thinking members of the Establishment.
He helped to set up the welfare state at the start of the 20th century and rejected appeasement of Hitler in the 1930s, when many of his class thought both moves were madness.
His promotion of welfare and opposition to Hitler may have stemmed from very different motives from those on the left, but this showed he was a flexible, intelligent, forceful member of his class.
Churchill’s grandsons have important positions in society. But “flexible,” “intelligent,” “forceful”? The words don’t really fit.
Nicholas and Rupert Soames look like an essay in the decline of the ruling class. The brothers are the most outstanding of Churchill’s relatives, but they stand out in the same way a clown would stand out in a church service.
When Princess Di accused Charles of adultery in 1985 and said the royal household hated her — pretty accurate accusations — Soames went on telly to claim Di was suffering “mental illness.”
He became famous for a similarly ugly and backward approach to women after he became an MP in 1983.
In a 2005 book based on interviews with women MPs named him as the most sexist man in Parliament. They accused him of leading Tory MPs in trying to distract women speakers with insults and gestures, including a sleazy two-handed mime of cupping women’s breasts whenever a female MP had the floor.
Soames denied the charge, but not the sneering and snobbish “jokes” he made about male MPs. Frequently when John Prescott spoke in Parliament, Soames would shout out: “A gin and tonic please, Giovanni!”
This “joke” plays on the fact Prescott was once a ship’s steward. Ha ha, silly Prescott had a real job, instead of arranging to have a famous granddad, an Eton education and a medieval post helping Prince Charles put his trousers on.
Despite his advantages, Soames’s parliamentary career went nowhere. He was a junior agriculture and defence minister under John Major, but made little impact. So he decided to cash in instead.
Soames moonlights from his job as MP for Mid-Sussex by working for private security company Aegis Defence.
Aegis pays Soames £105k a year — more than he gets as an MP.
Soames voted for the Iraq war and then went on to work for one of the companies that profited from the occupation. Soames is richer, but Iraq is poorer.
Leaving Iraq in the hands of private security firms like Aegis instead of a proper army reduced the country to the weak, collapsing state that cannot stand up to the jihadis from Isis.
Here is a sharp picture of the decline of the Establishment — Granddad Churchill was the celebrated wartime PM. Grandson Soames works for some mercenaries behind one of the worst military disasters of the century.
Nicholas’s brother Rupert Soames is also a director of a big privatisation firm. In 2013 Serco, a company which relies almost entirely on privatised public services for its £4 billion turnover, hit a snag.
The Ministry of Justice caught the firm cheating on its contract to electronically tag prisoners on remand.
Serco was charging for people it had never tagged. Serco paid back £68.5 million.
This was the largest and latest of a series of scandals. Serco’s contract to run out-of-hours GP services in Cornwall was marred by poor staffing and false information.
The firm was also accused of covering up abuse at its Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre.
It needed a new boss to put a gap between the firm and the scandal, so Rupert Soames was hired as its new chief executive.
What better way to demonstrate that they are upright, fair, hard-working people than hiring the brother of a leading Tory MP?
How better to show that they want to do work they are good at, rather than relying on influence-peddling and Establishment links, than getting one of Churchill’s grandkids to front up the firm?
Like Nicholas, Rupert Soames has been offered all the advantages, despite unimpressive results.
After Eton he went to Worcester College, Oxford. Despite the high cost of his schooling, Soames ended up with a third-class degree.
Soames claims he did badly because he was too busy in the late ’70s working as a disc jockey at Annabel’s nightclub. Annabel’s is everything that is stinky about the British Establishment.
It was founded in 1963 as a playground for the rotten set around murdering aristo Lord Lucan as somewhere the fag ends of the aristocracy could party with eurotrash, ageing playboys and the like.
So there you have it — the ruling class starts with a Churchill and ends up with a part-time MP and a former DJ from a dodgy club running a firm of cheats.
TORY Party membership has slumped to such lows that it’s now outnumbered by hippos, chimps and beluga whales, Labour revealed yesterday. Speaking in Tory-free Manchester, shadow cabinet office minister Michael Dugher said the nasty party now has just 134,000 members: here.
From daily The Independent in Britain:
Sports Direct security guard allegedly banned Jewish schoolboys and told them: ‘No Jews, no Jews’
The guard, employed through a security firm, has since been sacked and could now face criminal proceedings.
This report does not say which ‘security’ mercenary firm.
Tuesday 16 September 2014
A Sports Direct security guard has been sacked and is now the subject of a police investigation after he allegedly barred a group of Jewish schoolboys from entering the store and told them: “No Jews, no Jews.”
The two 11-year-olds were in their first full week of school at Yavneh College in Borehamwood, but the boys’ families say their “lasting memory” will be of the alleged antisemitic incident at the sports retailer’s Hertfordshire branch.
According to Professor David Rosen, a solicitor and the father of one of the boys, they were singled out and refused entry while wearing their school uniforms. Other pupils, with their uniforms covered, were allowed in.
Writing on Facebook, Professor Rosen said he would have been sure his son had “misheard” the guard’s alleged use of the phrase “No Jews, no Jews,” had it not been heard and reported by other boys to their parents as well.
This video says about itself:
1 July 2014
It’s come to light that the top commander of the American mercenary company Blackwater threatened to kill government officials sent to investigate the firm. The incident allegedly took place just weeks before one Blackwater unit killed 17 civilians in the Iraqi capital. Despite rebranding and renaming, the company has failed to escape its past – as Marina Portnaya explains.
From daily The Independent in Britain:
Four employees await the verdict of a US court for 2007 killings
David Usborne, US editor
Sunday 31 August 2014
It has been seven years since guards with the worldwide security firm Blackwater turned Baghdad’s Nisour Square into a shooting gallery, killing 14 local civilians “without cause”, sparking fury around the globe and plunging the United States into a spasm of soul-searching over what it had wrought in Iraq. This week as the world is once again focused on Iraq, at last justice will be done – or attempted.
That is the burden placed on a jury in a federal court in Washington DC, which since June has been hearing testimony in the trial of four Blackwater employees who were in the square when the conflagration started. “The jurors’ job is a search for truth,” US Attorney Anthony Asuncion asserted in his closing argument on Wednesday.
The fog of the Iraq war and certainly of events in that square on 16 September 2007 has swirled thick in the courtroom of US District Judge Royce Lamberth for 10 weeks. Dozens of survivors and relatives of those who died were flown in from Iraq as witnesses. So gruelling was some of the testimony one juror was excused by the judge because she said she could no longer sleep. Now it’s over: jury deliberations are set to begin on Tuesday.
Much of the world – and certainly the citizens of Iraq – may have reached their verdicts long ago: the mercenaries of Blackwater, which has since changed its name twice in an effort to shake off the legacy of Nisour, ran amok, opening fire with complete contempt for the lives of innocent Iraqis, because of a wholly imagined threat to a convoy that was carrying a US State Department official.
The trial is a moment, potentially, for the US to offer some amends to Iraq for what happened in the square, to admit to an atrocity that should never have happened. And it is a moment to apply just a little, and very belated, salve on the souls of those Iraqis whose family members were slaughtered. It may also offer a chance to the US to feel just a tiny bit less guilty. Nisour Square was arguably the nadir of America’s rip through Iraq, rivalled only by the unveiling of the abuse of prisoners by US soldiers at Abu Ghraib.
Three of the defendants – Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard – are facing manslaughter charges. The fourth, Nicholas Slatten, is accused of murder. Some of their former colleagues from Blackwater, which had been contracted by the State Department to provide security in Baghdad, appeared as prosecution witnesses.
“These men took something that did not belong to them; the lives of 14 human beings… They were turned into bloody bullet-riddled corpses at the hands of these men,” Mr Asuncion told the jury in closing arguments. One man, he recalled, had told the court of opening the door of a car caught in the gunfire “and his son’s brains fell out at his feet”.
Nobody has contested that the bullets that killed 17 people that day and seriously wounded another 20, were fired by employees of Blackwater or that they had made a terrible mistake. But key to the case is the defence assertion that the men were reacting to what they in the heat of the moment thought was a legitimate threat. “There’s a lot of tragedy here,” said William Coffield, a defence lawyer. “But it’s not the fault of these four.”
One car bomb had already gone off that morning and the Blackwater team was securing the square so the convoy carrying the US official could pass through as it rushed to the protected Green Zone. One focus of the trial was a white Kia which, according to the defence, began to move forward while other traffic was stopped, prompting the defendants to fear it was another car bomb. The other is a second contention by the defendants – that they at the same time came under AK-47 fire, they assumed from insurgent snipers in the area.
The car, as it turned out, was being driven by a medical student. According to the prosecution, its movement forward occurred only after he was shot. His mother, in the passenger seat, was also shot dead. Both were incinerated when the car caught fire. Meanwhile the prosecution rejected the claim of incoming fire. “There was not a single dead insurgent on the scene,” Mr Asuncion said. “None of these people were armed.”
Mr Slatten faces a possible life sentence if convicted and the other three defendants 30 years each behind bars. Arguably, others should have been in the dock with them. Even leaving aside the issue of how the US found itself in Iraq in the first place, also worth examining is the State Department willingness at the time to give so much responsibility to a private mercenary outfit with so little accountability. The men may be acquitted, of course. If the jury returns four convictions, then perhaps there will be a little easing of one nation’s conscience and another nation’s anger. But even that might not feel much like justice.
FOUR BLACKWATER GUARDS CONVICTED IN 2007 SHOOTINGS “Four former Blackwater security guards were convicted Wednesday in the 2007 shootings of more than 30 Iraqis in Baghdad, an incident that inflamed anti-American sentiment around the globe and was denounced by critics as an illustration of a war gone horribly wrong. The men claimed self-defense, but federal prosecutors argued that they had shown ‘a grave indifference’ to the carnage their actions would cause. All four were ordered immediately to jail.” [AP]
“Blackwater Founder Remains Free & Rich While Former Employees Go Down on Murder Charges”: here.
Blackwater Execs Remain Free as Guards Convicted for Killing 14 Iraqis: here.
A federal court jury convicted four former Blackwater Worldwide mercenaries on charges of murder and manslaughter Wednesday for their role in the 2007 massacre in Nisour Square in Baghdad, which left 17 unarmed Iraqi civilians dead and another 20 wounded: here.
By Kate Randall in the USA:
28 June 2014
Nearly seven years later, four former mercenaries of Blackwater Worldwide are on trial in US court on charges stemming from a September 2007 attack that left 14 Iraqis dead and wounded 18 others in Baghdad’s Nisour Square.
In the trial that began June 11 in US District Court in Washington, DC, Nicholas Slatten is accused of first-degree murder, and Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty and Paul Slough are on trial for voluntary manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and gun charges.
If convicted, Slatten could be sentenced to life in prison, while the other defendants face a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years if convicted of the gun charge and at least one other charge. The former Blackwater guards have pled not guilty to all charges. The US Justice Department dropped charges against a fifth guard and a sixth reached a plea deal.
The events of September 16, 2007 have come to be emblematic of the brutal repression of the Iraqi people at the hands of the US military and its private contractor accomplices in years of neocolonial repression. An Iraqi government probe, as well as independent investigations by the New York Times and Washington Post, have already determined that the Blackwater mercenaries’ attack was unprovoked, and that they fired on unarmed civilians.
The FBI is coordinating arrangements for more than four dozen Iraqi citizens, including relatives of those killed in the attack, to travel to Washington in the coming months to testify in a trial expected to last months. US authorities refused Iraqi government demands for the Blackwater guards to stand trial in Iraq, and charges were dropped in 2009 before being reinstated in 2011 by a US federal appeals court.
In the prosecution’s opening statements, Assistant US Attorney T. Patrick Martin said some of the victims were “simply trying to get out” of the way of the gunfire of the Blackwater guards. He said that immediately after the guards got back to their base, they began circulating the lie that there were insurgents in the area that posed a threat to the security contractors.
Martin said that it took four days for the US State Department, which had hired Blackwater to protect its diplomats in Baghdad, to arrive on the scene to investigate the shootings. He said their investigation was haphazard and incomplete and that “most of all it seemed bent on clearing the contractors” of any wrongdoing.
Martin displayed graphic photos and video of the scene in Baghdad on the day of the shootings, including a picture he described as that of motorist Ahmed Haithem Ahmed Al Rubia’y, who was the first to be shot in the head. Blackwater’s Slatten is charged with first-degree murder in his death.
The Times reported on the government’s first witness, Mohammed Hafedh Abdulrazzaq Kinani, who broke down on the witness stand last week as he recounted how his nine-year-old son Ali was shot in the head while riding in the back seat of the family car.
Mr. Kinani sobbed so uncontrollably that presiding Judge Royce C. Lamberth sent the jury out of the room. One juror, who said she had been too haunted by witnesses’ testimony to sleep, was excused by the judge from service.
The Blackwater mercenaries’ defense maintains that the guards acted in self-defense and were fired upon by what they perceived to be possible suicide car bombers. However, according to the New York Times report of the incident published October 3, 2007, the car carrying the first people to be killed did not approach the Blackwater convoy in the square until the driver—subsequently identified as Ahmed Haithem Ahmed—had been shot in the head and lost control of the vehicle.
Also testifying last week was Sarhan Deab Abdul Moniem, who was a traffic officer when the convoy of Blackwater trucks pulled into his traffic circle in Nisour Square and started shooting. Speaking through an interpreter, Moniem recalled how he ran to a white Kia sedan, where Mahassin Kadhim, Ahmed Haithem Ahmed’s mother, cradled her dead son’s head on her shoulder.
“I asked her to open up the door so I could help her,” Moniem said. “But she was paying attention only to her son.” Mrs. Kadhim was apparently shot as she held her son in her arms. The car then caught fire after the Blackwater guards fired some type of grenade into the vehicle. Ahmed’s father later counted 40 bullet holes in the car.
An initial burst of gunfire was followed by a torrent of bullets unleashed by the mercenaries, even as the Iraqi civilians were turning their vehicles around and attempting to flee. No witnesses to the shootings have reported gunfire coming from Iraqis in and around the square.
Fareed Walid Hassan, a truck driver, told the Times in 2007, “The shooting started like rain; everyone escaped his car.” He said he saw a woman dragging her child’s body. “He was around 10 or 11. He was dead. She was pulling him by one hand to get him away. She hoped that he was still alive.”
According to the 2007 Iraqi government investigation, Blackwater helicopters flying overhead also fired into cars, leaving bullet holes in car roofs. According to the Iraqi probe, in a separate shooting several minutes later, a Blackwater convoy, possibly the same one, moved north and fired on another line of traffic.
According to the Associated Press, the Blackwater mercenaries’ defense plans to call an expert witness who will “testify about the use of force in combat situations and the general threat level in Baghdad at the time of the shootings.” Another defense witness will testify that absolute proof of a perceived deadly or imminent threat is not required for a contractor to respond with deadly force.
At the height of the Iraq war, there were an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 security contractors employed by the US in its occupation. The activities of Blackwater and other private mercenaries were seamlessly integrated into the operations of the US State department and military. The September 2007 massacre was only one of the most publicized and egregious of the crimes of the Blackwater guards, who acted with impunity and with the support of the US government in terrorizing the Iraqi population.
In an effort to distance itself from its murderous operations in Iraq—particularly the 2007 massacre in the nation’s capital—Blackwater renamed itself Xe in 2009, and then Academi in 2011. According to recent German media reports, the US mercenary company is presently active directing the repression of pro-Russian protesters in eastern Ukraine by the fascist forces of the NATO puppet regime installed in Kiev.
In an operation receiving little attention in the US media, the giant military contractor is reportedly coordinating the attacks by the fascist Right Sector militia, the Kiev regime’s National Guard, along with groups of football hooligans, leading to hundreds of casualties across east Ukraine.
Read the damning State Department documents on the Blackwater scandal.
Just weeks before Blackwater guards fatally shot 17 civilians at Baghdad’s Nisour Square in 2007, the State Department began investigating the security contractor’s operations in Iraq. But the inquiry was abandoned after Blackwater’s top manager there issued a threat: “that he could kill” the government’s chief investigator and “no one could or would do anything about it as we were in Iraq,” according to department reports.
In total, the State Department awarded Blackwater more than $1 billion in contracts after the firm threatened an investigator’s life.
This video from the USA says about itself:
Blackwater Contractors Driving Over Iraqi Woman
5 April 2012
Blackwater is the mercenary firm founded as Blackwater USA in 1996 by former Navy SEAL and fundamentalist Christian Erik Prince. It received no-bid contracts from the Bush administration in Iraq, Afghanistan, and post-Katrina New Orleans. In 2009, Prince resigned as CEO. Amid scandals over misbehavior by Blackwater employees in Iraq, the company renamed itself Blackwater Worldwide in 2007, Xe Services in 2009, and Academi in 2011. Subsidiaries include Paravant LLC.
From daily The Morning Star in Britain:
Tuesday 10th June 2014
FOUR ex-mercenaries from notorious US security firm Blackwater will face trial tomorrow in the killings of 14 Iraqi civilians and the wounding of 18 others.
Blackwater’s men have been brought to court only following years of delays.
Founder Erik Prince declared: “I believe we acted appropriately at all times.”
The shootings and the attendant publicity spelled the death knell for his company, which is now under new ownership.
The company was sold to a group of investors who changed the name to Academi.
Nicholas Slatten is charged with first-degree murder. The other three guards — Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard — are charged with voluntary manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and various gun charges.