Black Lives Matter, also in England

People take part in a Black Lives Matter protest in Brighton, England, sparked by the death of George Floyd, who was killed on May 25 while in police custody in the US city of Minneapolis

This photo shows people taking part in a Black Lives Matter protest in Brighton, England, sparked by the death of George Floyd, who was killed on May 25 while in police custody in the US city of Minneapolis.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain, 12 July 2020:

Thousands march in Brighton Black Lives Matter protest

THOUSANDS of people marched through Brighton on Saturday shouting “black lives matter every day” after a video showing a man pinned to the ground by police officers circulated online last week.

Around 5,000 protesters marched along the seafront towards the city centre carrying placards reading “the UK is not innocent” and “decolonise everything”.

It follows outrage over a video circulated on Tuesday showing a man shouting “I can’t breathe” as he’s restrained on the ground by three officers in Brighton.

This 9 July 2020 video, by the British Conservative Daily Telegraph, says about itself:

I can’t breathe‘ UK police restraint referred to watchdog

A police force is reviewing whether footage of its officers restraining a man who repeatedly shouts “I can’t breathe” needs to be investigated.

In a video circulating on social media, a man is lying on the ground, restrained by three officers, on a hill behind a police car in Brighton.

Neo-nazis in German military and police

This 14 October 2016 video says about itself:

Police in Germany say they have recovered DNA from the recently discovered remains of a girl who disappeared 15 years ago, claiming it matches that of a dead member of a neo-Nazi terror cell.

Peggy Knobloch was 9 years-old in 2001 when she vanished in broad daylight in the Bavarian city of Lichtenberg on her way home from school.

Her remains were finally found in July this year in a forest in the centre of Germany.

The discovery of DNA belonging to Uwe Böhnhardt on the girl’s body marks a dramatic breakthrough in the long-unsolved case.

Read more here.

By Jordan Shilton, 10 July 2020:

Massive neo-Nazi penetration of German military and police

In a lengthy July 3 article, the New York Times extensively documented a right-wing extremist conspiracy involving sections of the German military, intelligence agencies and police to carry out a violent uprising on “Day X”, The article, based on a year-long investigation, documents wide-ranging far-right networks within the military and police, the infiltration of the elite special forces unit (KSK) by fascists and the growing influence of right-wing extremist political forces like the Alternative for Germany (AfD).

Headlined “As neo-Nazis seed military ranks, Germany confronts an enemy within,” the article details how shadowy networks for planning attacks and storing weapons have been tolerated and even supported by army commanders for years. One former KSK commander, Gen. Reinhard Günzel, published a book in which he likened the KSK to the Waffen-SS, the Nazi stormtroopers notorious for carrying out numerous mass executions of Jews during the Holocaust.

In a raid on the house of just one KSK soldier in May, investigators found “two kilograms of PETN plastic explosives, a detonator, a fuse, an AK-47, a silencer, two knives, a crossbow and thousands of rounds of ammunition,” according to the Times. Another former KSK member nicknamed Hannibal ran a chat group in which the plotting of terrorist attacks were discussed. Several members of the group are under investigation, and one has been placed on trial. Interviewed by the Times, “Hannibal” described his group as being about “war gaming” against “gangs, Islamists and antifa,” who are “the enemy troops on our ground.”

The Times’ piece appeared just days after Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer was forced to announce the restructuring of the KSK, including the disbanding of one of its companies, due to its emergence as a hotbed for right-wing extremists. This extraordinary event, which illustrates how the German state apparatus and security forces are increasingly dominated by neo-Nazis 75 years after the collapse of Hitlerite fascism, forced the Times and a host of newspapers internationally to report on a reality they have largely sought to ignore for years.

Recalling political conditions during the Weimar Republic following World War I, the Times’ article paints a picture of a nominally democratic state confronting far-right conspiracies on all sides, above all from within. Right-wing extremist networks are “hoarding weapons, maintaining safe houses, and in some cases keeping lists of political enemies” to execute, the Times noted. Within the KSK alone, 48,000 rounds of munition and 62 kilograms of explosives have gone missing.

The Times article pointed to the comments of Brenton Tarrant, the far-right terrorist who gunned down dozens of Muslim worshippers in a mass shooting at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, to the effect that “hundreds of thousands” of soldiers in Europe’s militaries hold fascist and right-wing nationalist views. It continued, “Germany’s military counterintelligence agency is now investigating more than 600 soldiers for far-right extremism, out of 184,000 in the military. Some 20 of them are in the KSK, a proportion that is five times higher than in other units.

“But the German authorities are concerned that the problem may be far larger and that other security institutions have been infiltrated as well. Over the past 13 months, far-right terrorists have assassinated a politician, attacked a synagogue and shot dead nine immigrants and German descendants of immigrants.”

The true extent of the far-right infiltration remains unclear, the Times continued, because sections of the intelligence agencies are dominated by right-wing extremists as well. It referred to a tip-off given to KSK soldiers by a military counter-intelligence agent about a raid in May, before quoting Stephan Kramer, president of the domestic intelligence agency in the state of Thuringia, as saying, “What we are dealing with is an enemy within.”

The author of the article, Katrin Bennfold, observed that “military and intelligence officials” and “avowed far-right members” told her about “nationwide networks of current and former soldiers and police officers with ties to the far-right.” Some media outlets describe it as a “shadow army,” recalling the campaign of assassinations, coup plots and conspiracies conducted by far-right forces within the military during the Weimar Republic with the aim of overturning bourgeois democracy.

“In many cases, soldiers have used the networks to prepare for when they predict Germany’s democratic order will collapse,” continued the Times, in perhaps its most startling revelation. “They call it Day X. Officials worry it is really a pretext for inciting terrorist acts, or worse, a putsch.”

For many Times’ readers, the news that Germany, held up by ruling circles as one of Europe’s leading democracies following the defeat of Nazism in 1945, faces the imminent threat of a military coup by the far-right will have come as a surprise. However, the reality is that the same objective contradictions of capitalism that led the German bourgeoisie to back the installation of Hitler as Chancellor in January 1933 behind the backs of a hostile working class are propelling its descendants towards the cultivation of the far-right and outright fascist forces. On the one hand, German imperialism is confronted by the necessity of advancing more ruthlessly its predatory economic and geostrategic interests around the world under conditions of accelerating tensions between the major powers. On the other, it faces deep-seated opposition among working people to its policies of austerity and war.

The German Trotskyists of the Sozialistische Gleichheitspartei (SGP) and the World Socialist Web Site warned from the outset that the attempt to develop a more aggressive foreign policy to assert German imperialist interests on the world stage was intimately bound up with the rehabilitation of right-wing extremist views and the promotion of pro-Nazi forces. The SGP declared in a September 2014 resolution adopted at a special conference against war, “The propaganda of the post-war era—that Germany had learnt from the terrible crimes of the Nazis, had ‘arrived at the West,’ had embraced a peaceful foreign policy, and had developed into a stable democracy—is exposed as lies. German imperialism is once again showing its real colours as it emerged historically, with all of its aggressiveness at home and abroad.”

This resolution was adopted in opposition to the statements of German President Joachim Gauck, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and Defence Minister Ursula Von der Leyen, who all proclaimed at the 2014 Munich Security Conference that the era of German military restraint was over. Germany was too large to comment on world politics from the “sidelines,” argued Steinmeier, before going on to call for a more decisive and substantial intervention by the armed forces in foreign military operations.

The same month Gauck, Steinmeier and Von der Leyen delivered their remarks, Jörg Baberowski, a professor of Eastern European history at Berlin’s Humboldt University, told Der Spiegel magazine, “Hitler was not a psychopath, he was not vicious. He did not want to talk about the extermination of the Jews at his table.”

Not a single voice from academia or the political establishment was raised against this gross falsification of history by Baberowski, who also proclaimed his support for Ernst Nolte, the most well-known pro-Nazi historian in post-war Germany. On the contrary, Baberowski and his co-thinkers were defended and supported by Humboldt University’s management, which declared “attacks in the media” on him to be “unacceptable.” This support extended beyond Germany, with Princeton University awarding Baberowski a research grant of $300,000 for his work on dictatorship, which the professor studies as a legitimate and even popular “alternative political order” to democratic forms of rule. When Baberowski travelled to Princeton in the spring of 2019 to attend a closed-door conference, he was accompanied by his research assistant Fabian Thunemann, who was identified as a leading participant in a neo-Nazi demonstration in the German city of Hannover in 1998. (See: Why did Princeton University provide funding for the German right-wing extremist Jörg Baberowski?)

While Baberowski’s far-right rewriting of history enjoyed sympathetic backing from the media and academia, the SGP and its student organization were subjected to a vicious media campaign. In 2018, the SGP was placed on a watch list by the Secret Service for being “left-wing extremist.” In its justification of the move, the intelligence agency, which was headed at the time by the AfD sympathiser Hans-Georg Maassen, argued that “the struggle for a democratic, egalitarian, socialist society” and “agitation against alleged ‘imperialism’ and ‘militarism’” are anti-constitutional, i.e., illegal.

The reason for this ruthless response was that the SGP’s opposition to Baberowski, the trivialisation of the Nazis’ crimes, and the revival of German militarism cut across the ruling elite’s conspiracy to shift politics sharply to the right. The neo-fascist AfD has been systematically built up since its founding in 2013. After it secured 12.6 percent of the vote in the 2017 federal election and became the first fascist party since 1945 to be represented in the federal Parliament, Steinmeier, who was by then German president, met with the AfD’s leaders and urged other parties to dismantle the “walls of irreconcilability” around the AfD and strive for “German patriotism.” Several months later, the Christian Democrats and Social Democrats concluded the formation of a new grand coalition government, which had the effect of making the AfD the official opposition party in Parliament.

The AfD has since been able to dictate large parts of the grand coalition’s policy, particularly in the areas of immigration and refugees. All of the parliamentary parties ensured that positions were left open at the head of important parliamentary committees for the far-right party to fill.

In February, the liberal Free Democrats and Christian Democrats took this cooperation with the AfD to its next logical step in the state of Thuringia, where they relied on the votes of the neo-fascists to elect the FDP’s Thomas Kemmerich as the state’s Minister President. Widespread popular outrage over the first Minister President in a post-war German state to be elected with the votes of a fascist party forced Kemmerich to resign soon afterwards. (See: Sound the alarm! Political conspiracy and the resurgence of fascism in Germany)

It is within this reactionary right-wing political climate that the activities of fascist terrorists and coup plotters in and around the military, police and intelligence agencies have flourished.

The fact that the Times now feels compelled to report so explicitly on the danger of right-wing extremist networks speaks to the deepening crisis of bourgeois rule under conditions of world capitalist breakdown that are unprecedented since the 1930s. Faced with glaring levels of social inequality, a resurgence of inter-imperialist rivalries and the erosion of democratic forms of rule, ruling elites everywhere are turning to authoritarian and right-wing extremist forces to defend their interests against the working class at home and their national competitors abroad. As Trotsky wrote in 1929, analysing the growing trend towards dictatorship in Europe and the strengthening of fascist forces, “The excessively high tension of the international struggle and the class struggle results in the short circuit of the dictatorship, blowing out the fuses of democracy one after the other.”

While the infiltration of the German military and state apparatus by fascist forces with the backing of the political establishment is the most graphic example of this process, no less dangerous developments are underway in other leading capitalist countries.

In neighbouring France, President Emmanuel Macron has lauded the legacy of Nazi collaborator Philippe Pétain as a national hero and ordered a brutal military-style crackdown on Yellow Vest protesters, resulting in fatalities and the maiming of hundreds.

In the United States, Trump continues to cultivate a base of support among far-right and fascist layers, as shown most recently by his retweeting of a video showing one of his supporters shouting “white power.” Confronted by mass, multi-racial protests against police brutality in early June, the US president responded by initiating a military coup with the aim of creating an authoritarian regime under his personal command.

Far-right and fascistic forces are also being promoted in Canada, including to intimidate and disperse working class struggles. Just a day prior to the publication of the Times’ exposé of the far-right in Germany, an army reservist motivated by right-wing extremist views launched a failed assassination attempt against Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

There could be nothing more criminally light-minded than to underestimate the threat from the fascist far-right. But unlike the 1920s and 1930s, the far-right in Germany and elsewhere does not yet enjoy a mass following. In fact, the AfD and its backers are widely despised among the broad masses of the population, who have not forgotten the barbaric crimes perpetrated by the Nazis throughout Europe, above all the Holocaust. The far-right’s apparent strength comes exclusively from the fact that it has powerful allies within the ruling elite and its state apparatus.

To prevent the far-right conspiracies of the ruling elites in Germany and other countries from succeeding, the widespread working-class hatred towards right-wing extremism must be transformed into a conscious political movement against the revival of fascism and militarism, and the rotten capitalist profit system in which this process is rooted.

The author also recommends:

German defence minister plans more effective organization of army’s far-right elite force
[4 July 2020]

Rupert Murdoch helps COVID-19 killing people

This 10 July 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Watching Fox News Coincides with Higher COVID-19 Death Rates | NowThis

Fox News contributes to COVID-19 spread, according to a recent academic study.

In US news and current events today, studies found Fox News viewership coincided with higher coronavirus mortality rates. In one study, infection and mortality rates were higher where Sean Hannity reached the largest audiences. People who listened to Hannity and conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh were also more likely to believe in rumors and conspiracy theories and less likely to take sanitary measures like hand washing. So how has this affected Fox’s most loyal viewer? Watch to find out.

German nazi terrorist threats against leftist woman

This 4 July 2020 German video by (right-wing) daily Die Welt says about itself, translated:

The parties in the Hessian state parliament reacted horrified to threatening letters against the Left Party faction leader Janine Wissler. According to her party, the 39-year-old, who is also the deputy federal chairwoman of the Left party, has received two emails from anonymous right-wing extremists marked “NSU 2.0“, in which she is being threatened massively. The letters are similar to the death threats against Frankfurt lawyer Seda Basay-Yildiz, whose author the police have not been able to catch for two years.

Maybe because the nazis threatening Ms Seda Basay-Yildiz’ and her little daughter’s lives probably were policemen.

About Wissler, they are also said to know personal information that is not publicly accessible.

The parliamentary leaders of the CDU, SPD, Greens and FDP in the state parliament published a joint statement on Saturday in which they expressed their solidarity with the left-wing politician. “The democratic parties in the Hessian state parliament are horrified by the apparently right-wing extremist threats”, it said in the letter. “The threats against our colleague Janine Wissler are hideous and disgusting,” explain the group leaders Ines Claus (CDU), Nancy Faeser (SPD), Mathias Wagner (Greens) and René Rock (FDP).

Good that CDU and FDP politicians now condemn these neo-nazi terrorists. However, we should not forget that the CDU and FDP recently formed a government (a short-lived government because of massive anti-nazi protests) in Thuringia state with the help of the neo-fascist AfD party.

The parallels to the earlier threatening letters to Basay-Yildiz are terrifying. “Anyone who threatens MPs with death attacks us all,” they continue. …

The party leaders of the Left party in Hesse, Petra Heimer and Jan Schalauske, were also shocked. “The attack on Janine is an attack on all of us,” they emphasized and explained: “We are not intimidated by right-wing violent offenders.” The Nazi greetings “Sieg Heil” and “Heil Hitler” are also said to have been included in the emails. The authors threatened Wissler with a “Day X” on which she would not be protected by the police.

The threatening letters to Basay-Yildiz that first appeared in 2018 also contained personal information about her, her little daughter, and other family members. As it turned out, they had been sent from a Frankfurt police computer without an official reason. Several police officers working in the area were suspended shortly afterwards for participating in neo-Nazi chats.

By Ulrich Rippert (SGP in Germany national secretary), 11 July 2020:

Janine Wissler, chairwoman of the Hesse state parliamentary faction of the Left Party, has repeatedly received email death threats signed “NSU 2.0.” Her personal data had earlier been retrieved on a police service computer.

NSU 2.0 is a reference to the neo-Nazi National Socialist Underground (NSU), whose members were responsible for the murder of at least nine people with an immigrant background and one policewoman between 2000 and 2006.

The Sozialistische Gleichheitspartei (Socialist Equality Party—SGP) and the World Socialist Web Site strongly condemn these attacks, which, according to current knowledge, are based on a right-wing extremist conspiracy within the Hesse police force.

On Saturday, the Frankfurter Rundschau reported the death threats made against Wissler and described the results of its own research. According to the report, a police computer in the state capital, Wiesbaden, had retrieved private data of the Left Party politician in February. Shortly thereafter, Janine Wissler received two letters containing abuse and threats, as well as personal data that is not publicly accessible.

The letters evinced similarities to threats made against Frankfurt lawyer Seda Başay-Yıldız, who represented the family of an NSU murder victim in court. Since the summer of 2018, Başay-Yıldız has received several threatening letters containing coarse insults, which were also signed “NSU 2.0.”

In response to the Frankfurter Rundschau article, Wissler again received a death threat by email.

On Thursday, Hesse State Interior Minister Peter Beuth (Christian Democratic Union—CDU) was forced to issue a press release in which he admitted that a right-wing network in the police force could no longer be ruled out. The signature “NSU 2.0” raised this suspicion, Beuth said. He announced—as he had done before—a “thorough investigation.” He said he would appoint a special investigator to relentlessly probe the threats against Wissler and the lawyer Başay-Yıldız.

The investigations carried out so far, which have all come to nothing, indicate what all this means. The NSU murders took place under the eyes of the domestic secret service and at least two dozen of their confidential Informants. However, despite years of legal proceedings and numerous committees of inquiry, the close involvement of the secret service in this series of murders has been suppressed.

This cover-up has strengthened the right-wing terrorist networks in the state apparatus. After the first “NSU 2.0” letter to Başay-Yıldız threatening to “slaughter” her then two-year-old daughter, a right-wing extremist chat group was uncovered in the Frankfurt city police. The police officers exchanged pictures of Hitler and swastikas. A policewoman from this group had retrieved the data used in the threatening letter about Ms. Başay-Yıldız’ family and her home address from the internal police computer. In December 2018, six police officers, five of them in Frankfurt’s Precinct 1, were suspended from duty.

In response, “NSU 2.0” sent a second threatening letter to Başay-Yıldız. The right-wing terrorists felt so secure that they openly expressed their connection to the Hesse police. They wrote, “You [vulgar insult] are obviously not aware of what you have done to our police colleagues.”

Even then, it was clear that these were not individual cases, but a far-reaching right-wing terrorist conspiracy in the police force. Interior Minister Beuth is now following the same pattern as that pursued by his predecessor, Volker Bouffier (CDU), the current Hesse state premier, in the case of the NSU.

When Halit Yozgat was murdered by the NSU in Kassel in 2006, Bouffier concealed for as long as possible the fact that Andreas Temme, an officer from the Hesse state Office for the Protection of the Constitution (as the secret service is called), responsible for overseeing the Confidential Informants, was present at the scene of the crime. When the matter could no longer be concealed, he granted Temme only limited permission to testify. The relevant files are still under lock and key and are to remain so for another 30 years.

As a result, the right-wing terrorist conspiracy within the state apparatus remained undisturbed. Its next victim was Kassel’s district president, Walter Lübcke (CDU), who was shot in cold blood on the terrace of his house on June 2 of last year. The suspected murderer, Stephan Ernst, frequented the same Kassel neo-Nazi circles as the NSU and had for three decades been known to the police and secret service as a violent right-wing criminal.

The murder of Lübcke was the prelude to a whole series of right-wing terrorist assassination attempts. On 9 October 2019, more than 70 participants in a Yom Kippur celebration in Halle escaped mass murder only by luck. The right-wing extremist assassin Stephan Balliet shot two passers-by after he failed to gain entry to the synagogue.

On 19 February of this year, a right-wing extremist terrorist shot dead nine people in the Hesse city of Hanau and injured six others, some of them seriously. The massacre took place in two shisha bars, which are mainly frequented by immigrants. The investigating federal public prosecutor general spoke of the perpetrator’s “deeply racist attitudes.” A few days earlier, the police had arrested 12 right-wing extremists on suspicion of preparing simultaneous massacres in several mosques.

Right-wing extremist conspiracies in the Army have long been known. Last week, Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (CDU) was forced to partially dissolve the Special Forces Command (KSK) because more and more details about right-wing terrorist networks have come to light. However, as with the police, the restructuring of the KSK does not serve to combat and eliminate the right-wing networks, but to cover up and maintain them.

Now the right-wing terror is being directed against a politician of the Left Party. This is a serious warning.

Representatives of the government and … parties in the Bundestag (federal parliament) have expressed “great concern” about the death threats against Janine Wissler and have declared their support. They did the same thing after the massacre in Hanau, the assassination in Halle and the cold-blooded murder of Walter Lübcke. As usual, they stressed their “horror”, their “consternation” and their sympathy with the relatives of the victims.

In truth, there is no institution within the entire political establishment—among the parties, the investigating authorities and the judiciary—that is willing and able to stop the right-wing conspiracy in the state apparatus.

The same politicians and parties that are now warning of the “dangers to democracy” have created the ideological climate and political conditions for the right-wing terror. This is directly linked to the return of German great-power politics and a frenzied program of military rearmament, which is being massively promoted by the grand coalition of the Christian Democrats and Social Democrats …

To implement this policy, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) and other extreme right-wing forces have been systematically promoted by the ruling elite. The AfD functions as the political wing of right-wing terrorism. The security apparatus, which is riddled with right-wing networks, is its state wing, and the grand coalition government is its protective umbrella and enabler.

The only way to stop right-wing terror is to mobilise the working class based on an international socialist programme.

Despite its deep political differences with the Left Party, the Sozialistische Gleichheitspartei calls for the defence of Janine Wissler and active political opposition to the attacks against her. It is high time to stop the conspiracy between the grand coalition, the state apparatus and the extreme right. No return of Germany to aggressive great-power politics! For a socialist programme against fascism and war!

Racism, anti-racism, police in the USA

This 10 July 2020 video says about itself:

Corrupt Prosecutors In Bed With Cops Who Killed Breonna Taylor

It’s time for police reform. Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian discuss on The Young Turks.

“LOUISVILLE — Previously unheard audio of interviews from the investigation of the fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor reveals new details about the events leading to her death, as well as the sympathetic approach investigators took while scrutinizing one of their own.

In the interview with Louisville police Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, who led the late-night raid in March, the investigator questioning Mattingly describes a raid involving at least seven officers and a battering ram as “the most passive way in””

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Strike for Black Lives set for July 20 in 25 US cities

STRIKES against systemic racism and police violence are set to take place in at least 25 US cities later this month, unions announced on Wednesday.

Tens of thousands of fast-food, care-home and airport workers will walk out in a 24-hour stoppage on July 20 for marches and rallies.

The Strike for Black Lives has been co-ordinated by organisations and trade unions including the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represents more than two million workers in the US and Canada.

Protests erupt after Detroit, Michigan police shoot and kill 21-year-old man. By Stephen Fuller, 11 July 2020. Tensions are high in the city after weeks of protests against police brutality in which hundreds have been arrested and police have rammed into protesters with their vehicles.

British gay Prime League footballer in closet

This 9 February 2020 video says about itself:

Only 8 male football players have come out as gay. There can be extremely negative consequences for male footballers who come out. Mocking, insults: homophobia is widespread in men’s football, and that clearly explains why only 8 male players have come out as gay.

Far more than eight male soccer players have come out of the closet. The video should say ‘8 INTERNATIONALLY WELL-KNOWN PROFESSIONAL players’.

An open letter by a British gay Prime League footballer today:

As a kid, all I ever wanted to be was a footballer. I wasn’t interested in doing well at school. Instead of doing homework, every spare minute I had was spent with a ball. In the end, it paid off. But even now I still have to pinch myself when I run out and get to play each week in front of tens of thousands of people.

However, there is something that sets me apart from most of the other players in the Premier League. I am gay. Even writing that down in this letter is a big step for me. But only my family members and a select group of friends are aware of my sexuality. I don’t feel ready to share it with my team or my manager. That’s hard. I spend most of my life with these guys and when we step out on the pitch we are a team.

But still, something inside me makes it impossible for me to be open with them about how I feel. I dearly hope one day soon I will be able to. I’ve known since I was about 19 that I was gay. How does it feel having to live like this? Day-to-day, it can be an absolute nightmare. And it is affecting my mental health more and more. I feel trapped and my fear is that disclosing the truth about what I am will only make things worse.

So, although my heart often tells me I need to do it my head always says the same thing: “Why risk it all?” I am lucky enough to earn a very good wage. I have a nice car, a wardrobe full of designer clothes and can afford to buy anything I want for my family and friends.

But one thing I am missing is companionship. I am at an age where I would love to be in a relationship. But because of the job I do the level of trust in having a long-term partner has to be extremely high.

So, at the moment, I avoid relationships at all. I dearly hope I will soon meet someone who I think I will be able to trust enough. The truth is I just don’t think football is ready yet for a player to come out. The game would need to make radical changes in order for me to feel able to make that step.

The Professional Footballers Association say they are ready to help a player to come out. And they have said they will offer counselling and support to anyone who needs it. This is missing the point. If I need a counsellor I can go and book a session with one whenever I want.

What those running the game need to do is educate fans, players, managers, agents, club owners basically everyone involved in the game. If I was to make that step I’d want to know that I would be supported at each step of my journey. Right now, I don’t feel I would be.

I wish I didn’t have to live my life in such a way. But the reality is there is still a huge amount of prejudice in football. There are countless times I’ve heard homophobic chants and comments from supporters directed at no one in particular.

Strangely it doesn’t really bother me during the matches. I am too focused on playing. It’s when I get back on the plane or the coach and I have time to think that it gets to me. As things stand my plan is to carry on playing for as long as I feel able to and then come out when I have retired.

It was great last month to see Thomas Beattie raise his hand and admit to being gay. But the fact he had to wait until retirement tells you all you need to know. Footballers are still too scared to make the step while they are playing.

For the past year I have been getting support from the Justin Fashanu Foundation, not least to cope with the toll this is all having on my mental health.

It is hard to put into words how much the Foundation has helped. It has made me feel supported and understood as well as giving me the confidence to be more open and honest with myself especially.

Without that support I really don’t know where I’d be now. I know it might get to the point where I find it impossible to keep living a lie. If I do my plan is to retire early and come out. I might be throwing away years of a lucrative career.

But you can’t put a price on your peace of mind. And I don’t want to live like this forever.

Dutch women’s national team lesbian football player Vivianne Miedema, playing in Britain, says: ‘Gay male Premier League players, please come out of the closet. Even just one man coming out will help lots of other players’.

The Dutch football league president says that professional football club bosses stop gay players from coming out of the closet for fear of losing money.

London Grenfell disaster killed photographer Khadija Saye

This 2 September 2017 video from Britain says about itself:

Khadija Saye tragically lost her life in the Grenfell Tower fire at the age of just 24. In this interview filmed a month beforehand, she talks about her ambitions and her photography exhibition in Venice.

The footage is taken from the BBC Arts programme Venice Biennale: Britain’s New Voices.

BY LUCY LAVER in Britain today:

Khadija Saye: Breath is Invisible

Khadija Saye 1992-2017 236 Westbourne Grove W11 2RH Until August 7th

WITH THE reconvening of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry on Monday and the recent and ongoing global Black Lives Matter uprising, this is a pertinent and timely outdoor exhibition of the remarkable photographic works of the late Khadija Saye.

The exhibition was unveiled by Labour MP David Lammy earlier this week in Notting Hill.

The large intriguing prints are displayed across the façade of 236 Westbourne Grove W11, and the powerful exhibition coincides with the launch of an art project, the Khadija Saye IntoArts Programme, that aims to diversify the industry, working with young people from disadvantaged and marginalised backgrounds.

It was founded in her memory by the charity, IntoUniversity, who had nurtured Khadija’s artistic talents as a North Kensington student from childhood, and her mentor Nicola Green, a British portrait painter and the wife of David Lammy.

Khadija Mohammadou Saye, also known as Ya-Haddy Sisi Saye, was a London born British Gambian artist and activist who lived and worked in the flat she shared with her mother, Mary Mendy, on the 20th floor of Grenfell Tower in urban North Kensington.

Although Kensington and Chelsea is one of the smaller and wealthier boroughs in London, North Kensington is a relatively deprived area where its pockets of poverty often sit in stark contrast to the wealth of those around them.

Despite this, at 16 Khadija won a full Arnold Foundation scholarship to the esteemed Rugby School and went on to study a BA in photography at UCA Farnham with a particular interest in post-colonial theory and identity politics.

Her graduate exhibition, ‘Crowned’ was a series of thought-provoking portraits shot in her home against a black velvet background depicting the traditional hairstyles such as braids, locks and cornrows worn by her friends, family and neighbours.

Saye had a passionate drive to make art a more inclusive space and had worked at Jawaab, a creative campaigning group aimed at legitimising young Muslims to become politically and artistically active.

The series used in the current exposition is entitled Dwelling: In This Space We Breathe.

The portfolio of self-portraits is a very personal exploration of the notions of identity and spirituality, inspired by Khadija’s Muslim and Christian religious heritage and portraying traditional Gambian rituals with culturally significant and meaningful objects.

The sepia-toned images have been described by critics as heartwarming, haunting and relic-like, with an ancient feel.

The aged look was achieved by an early photographic process created in 1851 called Wet Collodion Tintype.

The technique entails adding a soluble iodide to a collodion solution and then coating a glass plate with it.

This method results in images steeped in ethereal tones of grey and black.

Khadija’s use of this process and her characterisation of traditional African practices results in powerful and memorable portraits that are reminiscent of the sepia-toned images of early 19th century photographs.

Following her death, Tate Britain announced that they would exhibit a screen print of one of her tintype photographs from the Dwelling series.

Earlier in the year, they had been exhibited in the Diaspora Pavilion at the prestigious 57th Venice Biennale, where Saye was their youngest-ever participant, at just 24 years old.

Described by those that knew her as kind, funny, bright and extremely talented with an infectious laugh, Khadija had been nervous and thrilled to be selected for such an undertaking and had reportedly caught the eye of a prominent director.

The event had heralded the cusp of her recognition, and the images were still on display when the fire tragically engulfed her home and took her life, aged only 24, in June 2017.

Today, in this urban public space however, Khadija’s art lives.

Breath Is Invisible is a public art project which will show four artists’ work in a shared public space to celebrate, reflect, question and heal, and work collaboratively with young creative and local non-profit community arts organisations. It is a project born of urgency to address issues of racism and injustice.

English Grenfell fire disaster scandal continues

This 20 June 2017 video from the USA about England is called Grenfell Tower Disaster Could’ve Been Avoided.

From daily News Line in Britain, 10 July 2020:

Grenfell Inquiry bans survivors and relatives while safety experts didn’t even bother to read about cladding

GRENFELL survivors and relatives of the 72 people killed in the Grenfell Tower inferno are furious that they have been excluded from the inquiry that re-started on Monday under strict social distancing rules.

Despite the fact that the Tories have been driving forward relaxation of these rules when it comes to re-opening pubs, restaurants and shops and exhorting people to come out and spend, spend and spend to save the economy, none of this applies to the bereaved and their supporters.

They are banned from attending the hearing which is taking place with only the inquiry panel, witnesses and their lawyers along with cross-examining inquiry counsel permitted to be present.

Monday saw the opening of the second phase of the Grenfell Inquiry which will hear testimony from corporate witnesses from the firms responsible for creating the death trap at Grenfell Tower.

In February these witnesses and the companies they work for were granted immunity by the Tory attorney general from prosecution arising out of the evidence they give following the threat that they would refuse to give evidence that would reveal crimes they had committed.

This immunity was also granted to the Kensington and Chelsea Management Organisation (TMO), the private company paid by the council to run and maintain Grenfell Tower.

In fact, the fear of prosecution for the criminal acts carried out against Grenfell Tower residents was well grounded.

It emerged in the first phase of the inquiry that there existed overwhelming evidence that the designers and contractors who installed the cladding responsible for turning the Tower into a death trap knew in 2011 that this cladding had failed fire safety tests and was ‘not suitable for use on building facades’.

This total disregard for human life and the cavalier dismissal of all risk was brought home by the first witnesses’ statements heard this week.

Terry Ashton, the lead fire and safety consultant of the cladding refurbishment told the inquiry that he had ignored the documents outlining the proposed insulation and cladding materials to be used.

Ashton said he didn’t read an email from the project architects detailing the cladding system because he was not the ‘primary recipient’ and he had not bothered to read the plans because they were ‘very lengthy documents’.

Ashton is employed by the materials and testing firm Exova employed to assess the refurbishment and has been a fire consultant for 25 years despite having no formal training.

He produced a fire safety strategy that made no mention of plans to reclad the tower, and concluded that: ‘The proposed changes will have no adverse effect on the building in relation to external fire spread, but this will be confirmed by an analysis in a future issue of this report.’

Ashton has already told the inquiry he gave advice on the fire safety of the refurbishment and cladding without even once visiting the tower block.

No wonder the inquiry was desperate to keep survivors and relatives of those killed out of the room while those with responsibility for overseeing the fire risk from cladding already known in the industry to be a massive danger testify they couldn’t be bothered to read relevant documents because they were too ‘lengthy’.

This entire inquiry has been a sham from the start.

The public are excluded out of fear that they will explode in anger as they listen to the contemptuous disregard for the lives of workers living in a death trap.

It was a death trap built by companies out to make a profit out of using cheap, deadly materials and relying on them being passed as safe by companies that ignored the most fundamental safety oversight.

There must be no immunity for these criminals.

Grenfell was not an accident. It was the inevitable result of a Tory government working hand in glove with these companies to make a profit out of building deathtraps for workers and their families.

Justice for the crimes committed for profit will not be achieved through this sham inquiry but only by bringing down this Tory government and bringing in a workers’ government that will arrest the real criminals and force them to answer in court for their murderous crimes against the working class.

British Conservatives complicit in butchering Yemeni civilians

A Yemeni woman offers prayers at the grave of her husband who was killed during Yemen's ongoing conflict, at a cemetery in Sanaa

This photo shows a Yemeni woman offering prayers at the grave of her husband who was killed during Yemen’s ongoing conflict, at a cemetery in Sanaa.

By Ceren Sagir in Britain, 10 July 2020:

Government’s decision to resume arms sales to Saudis is ‘tantamount to signing the death warrants’ of thousands of Yemeni children

THE government’s decision to continue licencing arms sales to Saudi Arabia is “tantamount to signing the death warrants” of thousands of children in Yemen, charity War Child said today.

Despite a court ruling last year ordering the government to cease sales of weapons to Saudi Arabia, International Trade Secretary Liz Truss claimed there was no pattern of deliberate breaches of international humanitarian law involving British-made weaponry in Yemen.

The Saudi-led coalition was responsible for killing and injuring at least 3,481 children from 2015 to 2019, according to the UN.

COVID-19 kills hundreds of United States prisoners

This 3 July 2020 video from California in the USA is called More Than 1,100 Inmates Infected With COVID-19 At San Quentin Prison.

By Nicole Chavez, CNN in the USA:

7 prisoners with coronavirus died at San Quentin and hundreds more are dying in US jails and prisons

July 10, 2020

Governor Gavin Newsom [of California] is facing mounting pressure to release inmates as corrections officials scramble to contain outbreaks of coronavirus at state prisons.

The outbreak at San Quentin State Prison, where more than half of the Covid-19 cases in state prisons have been reported, has claimed the lives of at least seven incarcerated people, according to a tally from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

“It is incredibly frustrating that we had one person make the decision to transfer a few patients from one prison, Chino, into San Quentin,” Newsom said Thursday in a news conference. “That decision created a chain of events that we are now addressing and dealing with. I’m not here to sugarcoat that.”

The prison had escaped the early months of the pandemic unscathed until cases began soaring in late May after a transfer of detainees from the California Institution for Men in Chino.

Several advocates and lawmakers gathered outside San Quentin on Thursday, calling for the release of medically vulnerable and older detainees. California has not had an execution since 2006, yet six people from my understanding in the past few weeks have been executed by Covid while on death row,” said Adnan Khan, executive director for Re:Store Justice, a criminal justice reform advocacy group.

Authorities in California have been releasing prisoners who are close to finishing their sentences since March due to the pandemic. In San Quentin, more than 500 detainees have been released due to both expedited and natural releases, the CDCR has said.

Inside prison and jails, the pandemic couldn’t feel more palpable as detainees were forced to live, work and eat in close quarters.

Correctional facilities across the country have become major hotspots for the virus in the past months and San Quentin is just the latest.

Nearly 100 people have died in Texas facilities

Before the outbreak at San Quentin, the virus ravaged correctional facilities in central Ohio, Illlinois, Colorado and Texas, where at least 91 incarcerated people and nine staff members with Covid-19 have died, according to state’s department of criminal justice.

Corrections officials are still trying to determine whether 26 additional deaths are linked to the virus.

About 130,000 people are incarcerated across Texas facilities and more than 10,500 detainees have or have had Covid-19. At least 1,927 staff members have also tested positive for the virus, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Unlike California and other states, Texas officials have not moved to release parole-eligible detainees or those who are near the end of their sentences in an effort to reduce the population and slow the spread of the virus, despite calls from advocates and family members.

Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order in March to prevent the release of “dangerous criminals” from correctional facilities.

“We want to prevent the spread of #COVID19 among prison staff & inmates. But, releasing dangerous criminals in the streets is not the solution,” the governor tweeted at the time.

Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union released a report saying that more than 570 incarcerated people and over 50 correctional staff have died.

The ACLU analyzed the states’ response to Covid-19 in jails and prisons and found that many states have taken very little action to “implement a cohesive, system-wide response to protect and save lives” amid the pandemic.

Coronavirus infections are more than 5 times higher in prisons

A study released earlier this week showed that the number of incarcerated people infected with Covid-19 and the coronavirus-related death rate in federal and state prisons is higher than the overall US population.

Coronavirus deaths and infection rates higher in US prisons than general population, analysis finds

“The number of US prison residents who tested positive for Covid-19 was 5.5 times higher than the general US population,” said an analysis led by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Researchers said the disparity could be worse because mass testing in some prisons revealed wide Covid-19 outbreaks “with infection rates exceeding 65%” but many facilities are not testing inmates or only test symptomatic people.

The study analyzed cases and deaths from March 31 to June 6 using publicly available data from corrections departments websites, news reports and other sources. As of June 6, there were more than 42,100 cases of Covid-19 and 510 virus-related deaths among the nearly 1.3 million incarcerated people, researchers said.

‘They have given us flimsy paper masks,’ detainee says

Families and advocates have been calling for better conditions at the Prince George’s County jail in Maryland and now actors Jesse Williams and Alec Baldwin, singer Fiona Apple and several Broadway actors have joined them.

“We’re locked down for twenty-three hours or more per day in our hot cells. I get one hour to shower, use the phone, and clean my cell. There’s no social distancing on the phones,” said Baldwin in a video as he read a statement from a 39-year-old detainee.

The video is one of several messages recorded by celebrities, attorneys and activists for “Gasping for Justice”. An initiative by the impact advocacy project Hear Us to share first-hand accounts from detainees.

The statements were part of a federal lawsuit filed in March on behalf of detainees, describing unsanitary and crowded conditions at the Prince George’s jail.

“I don’t think it’s clean enough in here, and we are not getting enough cleaning supplies. I try to keep my cell clean, but they don’t let us use bleach. I ask for spray-nine and the guards say no. I use a rag and my hands. When I find a way to sneak some spray-nine, I use that too,” another detainee said in a statement, read by Broadway’s “Jagged Little Pill” actor Sean Allan Krill.

“They have given us flimsy paper masks. The guards tell us not to lose our masks because we can’t get a replacement,” the detainee’s statement added. “Not all inmates wear their masks; neither do the guards.”

Scott Hechinger, a public defender and director of Zealous, a national initiative to support defenders and communities in moving their advocacy outside of court, said the pandemic has only made the conditions at correction facilities like Prince George’s even more visceral.

“Just because there are not cameras inside, it doesn’t mean there isn’t injustice happening there,” Hechinger told CNN.

As of Wednesday, there have been 19,456 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Prince George’s county, according to data by the state’s health department.