British grouse shooting and flooding


This video from Scotland says about itself:

22 November 2012

The South Rona Red grouse is famous a character on the Island meeting visitors who stray into his territory. He has been coming to check people out for about 5 years now. Let us hope he survives a lot longer, he is quite a character.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Research reveals damage caused by moorland burning

Thursday 2nd October 2014

BURNING moorlands in order to improve grouse breeding conditions is causing long-term environmental damage, according to new research.

Scientists at the University of Leeds say the results of the process include the wiping out of parts of the wildlife food chain, changes in river water’s chemical make-up, silting of rivers, and reduction of moorland’s ability to absorb water.

The conclusions are in line with many of those promoted by campaigners two years ago following severe flooding in the Pennines in Yorkshire.

Two towns, Hebden Bridge and Todmorden in the Calder Valley, were badly affected.

Moorland above the towns had been burned to improve breeding conditions for grouse — and to fatten landowners’ purses with shooting parties.

Local activists launched “Ban the Burn” protests demanding that the process be stopped.

The research showed that during heavy rainfall, flow levels in rivers where moorland had been burned were higher, but the evidence was not conclusive.

Grouse shooting ‘is warming planet’ as peatlands burned to improve conditions for birds: here.

Moazam Begg, ex-Guantanamo prisoner, freed after ‘anti-terrorist’ witchhunt


This video is called Ex-Gitmo detainee Moazzam Begg released after terror charges dropped.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Moazzam Begg freed after terrorism case against him collapses

Secret intelligence material handed to prosecutors demolished case against former Guantánamo Bay detainee

Ian Cobain

Wednesday 1 October 2014 17.22 BST

The prosecution of the former Guantánamo inmate Moazzam Begg has dramatically collapsed after the police and crown prosecutors were handed secret intelligence material that undermined the terrorism case against him.

Five days before Begg was due to go on trial on a string of terrorism charges, which carried prison terms of up to 15 years, prosecutors announced at the Old Bailey that they had “recently become aware of relevant material” that obliged them to offer no evidence.

He was released from Belmarsh high-security prison in south London after the judge entered a formal verdict of not guilty. Speaking to reporters at the gates of the prison, Begg said he had wanted his “day in court” but was happy to be a free man.

“I need to reconnect with my family again,” he said. “I need to understand what it’s like to be a free man and I think that it’s important to point out some of the government’s failures in its foreign policy and its internal policy: its clear demonising of the Muslim community.”

Police sources said the decision to halt the prosecution was taken following the receipt of intelligence material two months ago, while the Crown Prosecution Service said in a statement: “If we had been made aware of all of this information at the time of charging, we would not have charged.”

Asked whether the information had been handed over by MI5 and, if so, how long the agency had possessed the material, the Home Office said it would be inappropriate to comment, on the grounds that the decision to halt the prosecution had been taken by the police and CPS.

There was speculation that the newly disclosed material detailed the way in which Begg had informed British authorities of his plans to travel to Syria.

Begg spent more than seven months in custody after being arrested and questioned over a number of trips he had made to Syria a year earlier. His friends say that the experience had been deeply traumatic.

The 46-year-old from Birmingham was facing seven charges of possessing a document for the purposes of terrorism funding and training, and attending a terrorism training camp. He denied all the charges.

Christopher Hehir, prosecuting, told the Old Bailey that the CPS had previously been satisfied that they possessed sufficient evidence to secure Begg’s prosecution. He added, however: “The prosecution have recently become aware of relevant material, in the light of which, after careful and anxious consideration, the conclusion has been reached that there is no longer a realistic prospect of conviction in this case. The prosecution therefore offers no evidence.”

Begg’s solicitor, Gareth Peirce, said he should never have been charged as his activities did not amount to terrorism. “This is a good man trying to do the right thing in a very difficult world,” she said.

“He is a rare individual who will talk to everyone and listen to everyone, even those with whom he profoundly disagrees. He has spent the near decade since he was released from the torture of Bagram and Guantánamo in attempting to wake the world up to injustice and to comprehend its causes and effects. There is nothing new that can have been discovered now that was not always crystal clear – that this is an innocent man.”

Begg had made no secret of trips he had made to Syria, at one point writing about his experiences in an internet post. He was taken aback by his arrest, protesting that he had not been engaged in terrorism.

On appearing in court, he denied attending a terrorist training camp “knowing or believing instruction or training was provided there for the purposes of terrorism” between 9 October 2012 and 9 April 2013.

He had also denied five charges of possessing articles for purposes connected with terrorism between 31 December 2012 and 26 February 2014. Those counts related to electronic documents found on a laptop computer in his possession.

Begg had further denied being involved in a funding arrangement between 14 July 2013 and 26 February 2014 by making available a Honda generator.

Had the case gone to trial, Begg was planning to argue before the jury that his actions – several months before the British government tried, and failed, to persuade parliament to sanction air strikes against Syrian government forces – were not the actions of a terrorist.

At an earlier hearing, his counsel, Ben Emmerson QC, told the court that his client’s stance on Syria was not at odds with the British government’s position. …

“This is not some sort of political defence. This is a serious point about the lethal and physical limits of the definition of terrorism because if the defence says the occasions concerned were defensive actions, in much the same way the UK was itself providing non-lethal aid, then we submit that would not be defined as an act of terrorism.”

Emmerson also said Begg had “never made any secret of his visits to Syria and on two occasions informed authorities of his travel plans in advance”.

Begg spent three years detained without charge after the al-Qaida attacks of 2001. In February 2002 he was arrested in Pakistan, handed over to US forces, and detained first at Bagram prison, north of Kabul, and then Guantánamo Bay. During his detention he was interrogated by British as well as US intelligence officers.

He was eventually released in January 2005. Working with the London-based rights group Cage, he became a prominent campaigner on behalf of terrorism suspects who were being denied basic legal rights.

Asim Qureshi, Cage’s research director, said on the collapse of Begg’s prosecution: “This has been a testing time for Moazzam, his family and the Muslim community. The criminalisation of virtually any Muslim who has been to Syria has only increased in intensity, while Cage has been attacked from every angle by a host of government agencies.

“We hope that Moazzam’s release is a sign that the government are now willing to adopt a more measured strategy in relation to anti-terrorism policy and avoid the attempt to criminalise all dissent and crush any organisation like Cage that stands up for the rule of law and justice.”

The Islamic Human Rights Commission chairman, Massoud Shadjareh, added: “As was widely suspected there seems to have been no basis for his arrest and it does seem that as a high-profile member of the Muslim community, Mr Begg was being made an example of in order to silence activists campaigning against draconian anti-terrorism laws.”

While West Midlands police and the CPS were not disclosing the exact nature of the new information, detectives and prosecutors were dismayed that it had not been made available to them earlier.

A CPS spokesperson said: “At the time that the charges against Mr Begg were authorised the CPS was satisfied, in accordance with the code for crown prosecutors, that there was sufficient evidence available to provide a realistic prospect of a conviction and that it was in the public interest to prosecute. However, in accordance with our continuing duty to review and working closely with the West Midlands counter-terrorism unit, we have been made aware of material previously not known to the police investigation that means that there is no longer a realistic prospect of conviction. If we had been made aware of all of this information at the time of charging, we would not have charged.”

West Midlands Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale said: “New material has recently been disclosed to police and CPS, which has a significant impact on key pieces of evidence that underpinned the prosecution’s case. Our criminal justice system – quite rightly – demands a very high standard of proof.

“I understand this is going to raise many questions. However, explaining what this newly revealed information is would mean discussing other aspects of the case which would be unfair and inappropriate as they are no longer going to be tested in court.

“From the beginning this case has challenged the relationship between West Midlands police and some of the communities we serve. I would like to reassure them and Mr Begg that at every stage of this investigation my officers acted in the best interests of the public and of justice.”

British Muslim women against ISIS


This music video is about a song by a young Syrian Kurdish singer.

By Louise Raw in Britain:

The British Muslim women making a stand against Isis

Tuesday 30th September 2014

As the US-led coalition launches air strikes, LOUISE RAW talks to Muslim women who reject ‘Islamist’ extremism and misogyny

LOOKING at a huge, rather beautiful poster of a young Muslim woman wearing a vivid Union Jack hijab, I know I’m not in standard leftie territory — and that’s before Theresa May pops in to press the flesh.

Not many media launches are both timed to coincide with the school run and surrounded by heavy security either. But Sara Khan is used to doing things differently.

Khan is the driving force behind new anti-extremism group Making a Stand, launched last week in Whitehall.

She is also the Director of Inspire, a group which I note is described by the Guardian as a “women’s human rights organisation.”

I don’t particularly want to give Alan Rusbridger a heart attack, but women technically are human beings. There, I’ve said it.

And while an increasing number of men accept that “women’s issues” are everyone’s issues, there’s still a tendency to see anything particularly affecting the female population as niche.

If it affects Muslim women, it’s usually even more a case of Nothing to Do With Us.

Khan is not letting Britain off the hook that easily, however, and is trenchant on the wrong-headedness of using supposed “cultural sensitivities” as an excuse not to oppose extremism and gender inequality wherever they’re found.

On this basis I’d asked her to speak at this July’s Matchwomen’s Festival, and she did so passionately, happily answering some “Everything-you-wanted-to-know-about-Islam-but-were-afraid-to-ask” questions from guests afterwards.

However, she was criticised for Islamophobia by two delegates over her condemnation of the murder of Lee Rigby.

The line on such atrocities from some on the British left is that the West has only itself to blame for “retaliations” to its foreign policy.

She replied that she was a practising Muslim who rejected such violence as outside her faith. The same went for the radical preachers who encouraged it.

As for the Islamic “women question,” Khan says that those in favour of gender inequality “don’t know [their] own faith. The prophet’s wives weren’t submissive women.”

She is adamant that we will see more and more young British women joining Isis, and about where part of the blame lies.

“We need to educate women better to improve this marginalisation problem in Muslim communities. For far too long mosques have marginalised Muslim women and their participation.”

However she’s also keenly aware that the perception of Islam as the ultimate oppressor of women is manipulated by the far-right, which publicly condemns the religion on this pretext even as supporters attack Muslim women on the street.

Some women won’t speak out against gender-based discrimination even though they loathe it, precisely because to do so may fuel anti-Muslim attacks, of which they could end up the victims.

So they can be caught between a rock and a hard place, suffering both fascist violence and gender discrimination from within their own communities. The resultant trauma and alienation is a risk in itself.

Khan says: “We know Muslim women who wear the headscarf are more likely to experience attacks. Will that make them feel they don’t belong? Are they [joining Isis] because all they’ve come across in this country in Muslim communities is a narrow view of women?”

This is the sort of difficult, and potentially dangerous, political terrain Khan has to constantly navigate.

It goes without saying then that “making a stand” will have required considerable courage for at least some of the women present at the launch last Wednesday. This was underlined by a total advance publicity embargo launch for security reasons.

But Khan made it clear on the day that silence was no longer an option when young British Muslims were being drawn to Isis — and there have been reports of British female recruits joining the al-Khanssaa brigade, an all-women militia set up by Isis which punishes women for “unislamic” behaviour.

“They have bought into a pack of lies,” says Khan.

“They think they’re following Islam, but actually it’s a patriarchal ideology that seeks to treat women as second-class citizens.”

Making A Stand has practical proposals for British Muslim communities — they ask mosques to start treating women more equally, communities to take more responsibility for women and women and young people to speak out on social media using the hashtag #MakingAStand, to directly challenge Isis sympathisers.

Later, over lunch, I spoke to some of the women present about the causes of radicalisation.

Sufiya Ahmed, Tamina Mir and immigration lawyer Piya Mayenim identified multiple factors that they saw as contributing.

High unemployment and institutionalised racism which limited Muslim young people’s futures made them feel they didn’t belong in Britain.

The three women saw Isis as something of a trend, though no less dangerous for that.

A generation with generally more liberal parents could only rebel by becoming more extreme, and Mayenim was aware of instances of teenagers criticising their parents for being “too Western.”

The black-clad, macabre chic of Isis could seem an appealing alternative to Western decadence and consumerism.

We talked about the government’s response to date. The Prevent initiative was launched in the wake of the terror attacks of September 11 2001 to counter radicalisation at community level, and continues to do so, but with significantly less funding under the coalition.

It hit another major roadblock in 2010 when it emerged that CCTV cameras placed in Muslim areas of Birmingham, 72 of them covertly, were partly funded by Prevent cash.

The resultant loss of confidence and trust was enormously damaging.

The women had also seen secular youth clubs close due to cutbacks, to be replaced with self-organised single-race or religious groups, decreasing cultural cross-pollenation.

Although May had come to praise the launch, there were no new commitments that day either — while promising the government would support Making A Stand “if you can do this” (ie counter and monitor extremism) we were left not knowing if this would mean an occasional fist-bump or anything more concrete.

I spoke also to Mehmoo Dah, an older Muslim woman living in sheltered accommodation who had travelled from Leicester for the launch.

She was visibly distressed as she spoke about the racism she says she personally experiences after every Isis incident, with locals saying: “You’re all terrorists.”

Khan has her work cut out for her, but is deeply committed to her mission.

“Extremist views from both sides blight the lives of British women and weaken our country,” she says.

“As a country that stands for equality, justice and women’s rights, we cannot allow extremists of any kind to deny British women their rights.”

Louise Raw is author of Striking A Light: The History of the Bryant and May Matchwomen’s Strike (Continuum). She will be chairing and speaking at the Freedom For Sussex 2014 Conference: Children and Young People on Thursday October 16 at the Pavilion Theatre, Marine Parade, Worthing, West Sussex, BN11 3PX, 10.15am-4.30pm (registration opens at 9.45am). For more information visit http://www.safeinsussex.org.

As US and allied warplanes continued to strike targets inside Syria, the Obama administration is marshalling support for a war that is more and more explicitly aimed against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, rather than the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS): here.

This week, to bestow legitimacy on the US war on Syria, the US media suddenly discovered the coalition “leader”, Hadi Al-Bahrah, and highlighted his calls for US bombing of his country. But none of the US media mentioned the revolt against him and the call by his own Military Council to oust him: here.

Le Monde is serving as a mouthpiece of the French state’s war propaganda, trying to browbeat the public into accepting a massive, long-term escalation of war in the Middle East and Africa with mendacious claims that Paris and its imperialist allies are waging a “war on terror”: here.

Iraq war re-start explained


Letter to the editor of the Daily Mail in Britain

From daily The Independent in Britain:

If you’re still confused about what’s going on in the Middle East, look no further than Aubrey Bailey from Fleet, Hampshire.

She wrote in to the Daily Mail on September 5 to shed some light on the complex system of alliances and conflicts that exist between the West, states in the Middle East and jihadist groups like Isis.

The United States airstrikes, supposed to stop terrorism, according to this report in British daily The Guardian, have actually strenghtened terrorism by reconciling ISIS with the official al-Qaida branch in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra.

Tony Blair’s ex-deputy against Iraq war re-start


This video from England is called Anti Iraq War Demonstration, London 15/2/2003.

From weekly The Observer in Britain:

John Prescott says UK should stay out of Isis ‘regional dispute’

Former deputy prime minister urges all parties to think again over air strikes in Iraq and says history is repeating itself

Tracy McVeigh

Saturday 27 September 2014 23.00 BST

John Prescott has become the most senior British politician to openly criticise parliament’s decision to take military action again in the Middle East.

The former MP and life peer said he lived “every day” with the aftermath of the Iraq war which he, as a member of Tony Blair‘s cabinet, authorised and has since said he regrets. “History,” he said, “is repeating itself.”

At least, John Prescott, contrary to his ex-boss Tony Blair, has learned something from history.

Prescott, who was Blair‘s deputy from 1997 to 2007, urged “all parties to think again” saying too much Arab and British blood had already been shed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In his regular Sunday Mirror newspaper column, Prescott writes: “Cameron says we shouldn’t be ‘frozen by fear’ by what happened 11 years ago. But yet again we are being led by the US. This is not our or their war. So here we are again. Parliament backs British military action in the Middle East and we’re bombing by the weekend. This time the enemy is not the Taliban or Saddam Hussein. The latest ‘threat to Britain’ is Islamic State. It is a regional religious dispute that we should leave to the Arab nations. Bombing is never clinical. From Dresden to Gaza, innocent people are often chalked up as ‘collateral damage‘. Do we as a country really want to be responsible for that again?”

On Friday, at a recalled session of the Commons, MPs voted by 524 to 43 to sanction the UK air strikes, limited to Iraq, with 69 MPs not voting. A total of 23 Labour MPs, six Tories and one Lib Dem voted against UK action along with MPs from the SNP, SDLP, Green party and Respect.

Rushanara Ali, MP for Tower Hamlets, resigned as shadow education minister before the vote in order to abstain, saying she believed “further air strikes will only create further bloodshed and pain in Iraq”.

There was also criticism from Labour MP John McDonnell. He said: “This is madness and an absolute disaster. The war on terrorism will be brought to our streets as a result.”

The White House welcomed the British vote along with decisions by Belgium and Denmark to join the military campaign, but Prescott was withering in his criticism of the US tactics.

“The US and our government say the aim is to destroy and degrade the militants. But since America started bombing Isis positions, it’s claimed 6,000 people have joined Islamic State’s army – 1,300 from outside Syria and Iraq.

“Isis desperately wants Britain to join in. The public beheadings of journalists and other hostages were an open invitation for the west to strike. They’re desperate to drag us in …”

To some, it will legitimise Islamic State’s self-proclaimed statehood and lead to further recruitment and funding from around the world.

“Up until a few weeks ago, Obama admitted he had no strategy to combat Isis. Launching solitary air strikes shows he still hasn’t got one.”

Prescott also attacked his former boss: “Tony Blair said air strikes alone won’t destroy Isis. And he’s right. He also said the US and UK should follow up with putting boots on the ground. And on that, he’s absolutely wrong. Because make no mistake, this WILL be a war. Not a limited air strike. We will get sucked in. Again.”

Iraq war re-start, satire


This video from Britain says about itself:

16 February 2012

Kate Hudson, General Secretary of CND uses the CND experience as a framework to discuss politics and protest, effective methods for bringing about change, and the practice and principles necessary for success.

By Paddy McGuffin in Britain:

Iraq War III: The Movie

Saturday 27th September 2014

This time it’s even more pointless

ROLL up, roll up! Get your tickets here for the cinematic blockbuster of the year — Iraq War III The Movie: This Time It’s Even More Pointless.

Featuring a cast of thousands (of innocent civilians) Iraq War III will be brought to you in glorious Technicolor, mainly red, with special effects that you simply won’t believe provided by the experts at industrial might and tragic.

Iraq War III The Movie is brought to you by the people behind such previous entertainment extravaganzas as Blame it on the Taliban, Iraq II: The Musical which featured such-show stopping numbers as “Don’t put my daughter in a grave Mr Wolfowitz” and You Only (Bomb) Libya Twice.

“Absolutely brilliant — five stars,” says the Daily Mail. “Needs more explosions,” The Sun. “Hang on a minute!” — the UN.

Yes that’s right, not for the first time this column is in the invidious position of writing for publication when Britain may or may not be at war again.

This time last year David Cameron was handed a spectacularly humiliating lesson in the workings of democracy and the rule of international law when, due to mass public outrage, his plans to bomb Syria were thwarted.

It was tempting to picture him after that narrowly averted debacle in the guise of a Scooby Doo villain — “I would have got away with it if it wasn’t for you pesky peaceniks, lawyers, judges, International Criminal Court…”

This time round however it does not require a great gift for prognostication to predict that the bombers will be taking off imminently, what with the newly founded unionist triumvirate of Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg all apparently eager to spill some foreign blood, probably in lieu of actually being able to bomb Scotland.

Even Dominic Grieve wouldn’t sign off on that one.

But then, what better way to recement the union than get together to blow the hell out of someone else in a haze of jingoistic bloodlust and felonious fraternity.

And what a fraternity it is, the US, Britain and France are in the process of launching airborne death on Iraq aimed at destroying terror group Isis, principally known for flagrant human rights abuses and the brutal execution of prisoners with the active support of… er, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Does anyone else spot the irony there?

But when the Saudis and Egyptians torture people and summarily kill them that’s different obviously because it’s “cultural” and of course there’s the small matter of them buying billions of pounds of weapons from us.

Yes, sadly it would appear that by the time you read this Cameron will be one step closer to surpassing Tony Blair’s record for most pointless slaughters perpetrated by a serving prime minister.

Blair, unsurprisingly, is well up for it. He’d bomb his reflection if he wasn’t so in love with it.

German government sends arms to Iraq and backs US air strikes in Syria: here.

As the United States opened up its bombing campaign in Syria this week, the so-called Khorasan Group was suddenly declared the newest and gravest threat to the United States and its European allies, overshadowing the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). According to US intelligence, Khorasan is a group of high-ranking foreign Al Qaeda members based in Syria that is seeking to launch a terrorist attack on US or European airlines. The alleged existence of the Khorasan group was only made public a few days before the US began its campaign in Syria. Prior to last week, no one in the US government had ever publicly uttered the words “Khorasan group.” US President Barack Obama referred to it last Tuesday in his perfunctory statement announcing the new campaign in Syria. Terrorism experts in the United States have stated that Khorasan is an outright invention of US intelligence. What the US government terms the Khorasan Group is in fact a small number of foreign Al Qaeda members fighting with the al Nusra Front, the Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, against the regime of President Bashar al Assad: here.