Nuclear weapons waste health catastrophe in St. Louis, USA

Manhattan Project sites in the United States and Canada. SOURCE: Wikipedia

By Gary Joad in the USA:

Manhattan Project fallout: Nuclear waste health catastrophe in St. Louis, Missouri

27 November 2015

Over the course of almost 70 years, former and current residents from the northern suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri have struggled with the devastating health consequences from a series of nuclear dump sites. Beginning in the mid-1940s, contractors working for the Manhattan Project deposited tens of thousands of tons of radioactive waste in St. Louis County, population 1.001 million as of 2013. Federal and state governments and agencies delayed even beginning cleanup activities for at least 40 years, constituting an appalling indifference to the health risks of the county residents and their families.

After the fatal results of radiation exposure for the seven decades became undeniable and were publicized, principally by the ill residents and their families of northern St. Louis County, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Army Corps of Engineers, assigned by the federal government to oversee the “solving” of the crisis, displayed no urgency whatsoever in alleviating health risks to area workers and residents. Meanwhile, this last summer the Corp of Engineers documented the presence of radioactive isotopes in ball fields, public parks, playgrounds and backyards of homes.

The Manhattan Project, founded in 1939 by the US government, initiated the research and development for the world’s first nuclear weapons, and resulted in the first and only military uses to date of atomic bombs, dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan on August 6 and 9, 1945. Over 100,000 civilians in both cities were killed instantly, and at least another 100,000 injured. Tens of thousands also suffered the long-term consequences of radiation exposure. Altogether, World War II resulted in the deaths of at least 60 million human beings.

Eventually the Manhattan Project grew to employ over 130,000 people. The cost of the atomic bomb development was almost $2 billion, or some $25 billion in 2015 dollars, most of which was used to build factories to produce fissile materials. More than 30 nuclear fuel development sites were spread across the United States, Canada and the UK.

At the outbreak of the war, Edward Mallinckrodt Jr. of G. Mallinckrodt & Co, a very old chemical and pharmaceutical firm in St. Louis, obtained a contract from the US government to purify large quantities of uranium ore imported to the city’s downtown processing plants and other locations around the city from mines in Utah and Colorado; Port Hope, Ontario and Radium City, Northwest Territories, Canada; and the Belgian Congo, West Central Africa.

Uranium ore importation to St. Louis, Missouri. Published in the St. Louis Post Dispatch. SOURCE: US Department of Energy

Initially, the St. Louis purified uranium was sent to the University of Chicago for the demonstration of the first nuclear chain reaction, at the so-called Chicago Pile-1 location, under the supervision of Enrico Fermi’s research group.

From 1942 to 1957, the Mallinckrodt Co. purified some 50,000 tons of uranium, which was in turn shipped to other US facilities for further refinement in the process of weapons manufacture. Fifty-five gallon drums and piles of nuclear waste were dumped in vacant lots and fields north of St. Louis at and near the World War II Naval Air Station, now Lambert St. Louis International Airport. In the postwar boom, these would become the highly populated suburbs of Berkeley, Hazelwood, Bridgeton, Florissant, Earth City and Weldon Spring. The radioactive debris was stacked outside and open to the elements.

In the 1960s, the federal government approved the sale of a few thousand tons of the nuclear waste materials to private companies, firms which loaded and shipped the material out of state.

Beginning in the late 1980s, after “responsibility” for removal and/or long-term storage of the material was shifted around by the federal government and Congress from one set of reluctant bureaucratic hands to another, the US Army Corp of Engineers was assigned the task of removal of the nuclear waste from the old St. Louis downtown sites, the St. Louis airport area and sites nearby. After almost 10 years and numerous studies, the removal of waste piles began in the late 1990s and was completed late in the last decade, after several hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of contaminated waste and soil was shipped by rail from St. Louis County to federally certified nuclear dump sites, principally in Utah.

The 19-mile-long Coldwater Creek begins just south of Lambert-St. Louis International Airport and courses beneath the runways to the north and northeast near the backyards of homes and businesses, emptying into the Missouri River near its confluence with the Mississippi River. In the decades since the dumping of nuclear waste at the airport and in the flood plains of the streambed, Coldwater Creek has been out of its banks numerous times. Over the many years, children played near and in the creek bottom, families moved into and out of the neighborhoods, all when few people knew of—let alone appreciated and understood—the risks of decades of exposure to uranium, thorium and radium isotopes.

Coldwater Creek illnesses and cancers in north St. Louis County, Missouri. SOURCE:

Since at least the early part of this century, persons who had grown up in, or had spent numbers of years in, northern St. Louis County became ever more aware of developing cancers in the area, including the number of persons with unusual tumors at a young age. An emergency department nurse currently living in Detroit, Michigan and who had spent her childhood near Coldwater Creek had a boy who was born with a fatal brain tumor. Another older St. Louis County resident lost both his father to a malignancy and his middle aged son to a rare form of colon cancer occurring in his appendix.

Another middle-aged woman with end stage lung cancer, who never smoked tobacco, was featured on CBS news recently with several of her neighbors, all of whom either suffered from malignancies or had family members who had cancer. Her backyard fronts Coldwater Creek.

In 2011, north St. Louis County residents established a website,, to spread the message of their common tragedies with a possible common origin.

The group compiled a list of illnesses with the use of a Facebook page, inviting present and former inhabitants of St. Louis County to report illnesses. As of this year, 45 cases of appendix cancer were reported (with a base incidence of less than one case in 100,000 persons), 448 autoimmune illnesses, 184 cases of brain cancer and tumors, 53 cases of Lupus, 84 cases of multiple sclerosis, 315 cases of thyroid illnesses and cancers. Cancers reported up to this year total 1,993.

In 1973, approximately 40,000 tons of radioactive waste were deposited in an unlined 1930s-era rock quarry at a 214 acre location, today called Westlake Landfill in Bridgeton, Missouri, also in northern St. Louis County. From 1979 to 2004, the majority portion of the same quarry was used as a municipal solid waste landfill, today managed by the for-profit Republic Services, the second largest “non-hazardous” solid waste management outfit in the US. In the world of Wall Street finance, it is praised for its swelling share price, attracting America’s richest investors, including Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

Open air nuclear waste site in St. Louis County, 1950s. SOURCE: United States Army Corp of Engineers

The EPA designated the Westlake Landfill a Superfund cleanup site, although in an October 16 appearance on a CBS radio affiliate in St. Louis an EPA spokesman was reported to have minimized the health risk to county residents.

In 2010, Westlake Landfill was noted by residents, city officials and landfill workers to be burning, deep in the landfill, emitting noxious odors and smoke into the atmosphere. Numerous landfill gas extracting wells penetrate a thick and tough vinyl membrane cover deep into the solid waste mass of the landfill, the well heads of which have been gradually growing hotter, with temperatures and gas emissions confirming spreading of the subterranean fire towards the nuclear waste contained at the north end of the old quarry. As of two months ago, the fire was thought to be about 1,000 feet from the many tons of nuclear debris deposited at Westlake.

City, state and federal officials have been confronted this fall in jammed public meetings by angry and dismayed residents, who fear a landfill fire and/or catastrophic explosion resulting in a citywide dispersal of radioactive debris.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster sued Republic Services and commissioned a landfill risk assessment study, which was completed and published in September.

Among the critical findings include the observation that Republic Services is severely over-pumping the gas extraction wells, resulting in an inflow of excessive levels of oxygen that is feeding and spreading the landfill underground fire, now burning for five years. The attorney general’s assessment included a recommendation to shut down the wells immediately to stop feeding the fires with air pumped in from the surface through air leaks in the vinyl cover. The study indicated that numbers of the wells have been excessively pumped as far back as 2007.

The study also noted that while hydrogen, a highly flammable gas, is not typically observed in landfill gas extraction operations, at Westlake Bridgeton LF, very high levels of up to 30 percent and more were confirmed routinely in scheduled gas samplings. In a dire historical warning, the study’s authors also expressly and explicitly reminded the Missouri attorney general and Republic Services of a catastrophic hydrogen explosion that occurred over New Jersey in May 1937.

The attorney general’s study notes:

“It is not unreasonable to anticipate that a much larger bubble (of hydrogen gas) could develop beneath the EVOH (vinyl membrane cover) in the event of a prolonged power failure …

H2 is a highly flammable and explosive gas. Many will recollect the explosion of the Hindenburg dirigible as a graphic reminder of the danger posed by hydrogen gas in bubbles. LFCI (Landfill Fire Control, Inc., the company consulted by the state of Missouri) believes that an emergency plan needs to be developed concerning safe work procedures around these bubbles if one does not exist currently.”

The study adds:

“With elevated temperatures and exposure to oxygen through the observed overdraw condition, the oxidation of char could result in rapid escalation of temperatures. In LFCI’s opinion this condition has the potential to result in a major subsurface fire. Combustion temperatures for char can exceed 1,500 degrees F. There is a strong possibility that such a fire event would result in the melting of the EVOH membrane cap. If not quickly contained, this would allow very rapid incursion of atmospheric air in the subsurface, and potentially, a rapid escalation of the fire. At that point it may prove extremely difficult and highly dangerous to achieve control of the fire due to the risk of equipment collapse.”

Since the Westlake quarry was never lined before landfill filling began in the 1970s, the liquid (leachate) material within the waste mass is of profound health concern for the water table of St. Louis, and for the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers a scant few thousand yards away.

The attorney general’s recent study notes that Westlake LF is highly polluted with arsenic at 7 times water quality guidelines, mercury at 6 times drinking water (DW) limits and chromium at 1.4 times. An even greater concern are the volatile organic species including benzene at 182 times DW limits and 1,4 dichlorobenzene 6.7 times DW limits. A record finding for the company doing the study for St. Louis, however, was acetone at 140mg/L. Elevated cancer rates are noted for populations exposed to acetone concentrations at 6mg/L.

Moreover, butanone was found at 8.7mg/L. The EPA issues a 10-day health advisory for a 10Kg child at 7.5/L concentration, and a lifetime advisory at 4mg/L.

Of further vital importance, the attorney general’s consultants, in their September 2, 2015 report, scientifically documented the off-site migration of both toxins and uranium isotopes from the Westlake LF.

The nuclear waste and health calamity in St. Louis, like the many others around the country and globe, comprises yet another cataloguing of capitalism’s crimes, of the global profit system that constitutes a social and environmental scourge on humankind. And as far as America’s Wall Street elite is concerned, the working population is so much disposable refuse.

Paris massacre of Algerians, 1961

This video about Franmce says about itself:

The 1961 Paris Massacre

The murder of hundreds of Algerian protestors was covered up by the French government for decades.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

The forgotten Paris massacre

Friday 27th November 2015

PETER FROST looks back to 1961 at another act of bloodshed on the streets of France’s capital

THERE can be no excuse for the brutal acts of terrorism in Paris recently.

Watching the recent TV coverage and reading the papers I kept coming across the phrase “this is the worst atrocity in France since WWII.” Sadly that simply isn’t true.

Let me take you back to October 1961. President Charles de Gaulle was working hard to establish his and France’s pre-eminent position in what was then called the Common Market, a predecessor of the EU founded in 1957.

Britain wouldn’t join until 1973.

The French industrial working class was led by a powerful Communist Party that had earned its reputation and support as the most effective resistance to the nazi occupation forces just a few years before. The Communists were fighting de Gaulle’s right-wing policies — and just as militant as French workers were French farmers.

On the streets of Paris and other French towns, Algerian immigrants were protesting and demanding independence for their north African homeland, which was then a French colony. It would win its freedom in 1962.

The more militant Algerians were organised in the Front de Liberation Nationale (FLN), the main political party in Algeria. It had a socialist programme and many supporters among the Algerian immigrant population in France.

Opposing them, often with great violence, was the ultra right-wing Organisation Armee Secrete (OAS). These were a group of disaffected army officers, soldiers, veterans of the Foreign Legion, rightist politicians and others determined to keep Algeria a French colony.

The OAS was a well-armed paramilitary organisation. They were happy to use murder and terrorism in their campaign. Their battle cry was “Algeria is French and will remain so.”

Predictably the Algerians in and out of the NLF fought back. They too brought violent protest and mass demonstrations to the streets.

And so the scene was set for what would be an even bigger massacre on the streets of Paris than that of recent days.

A FLN march of 30,000 unarmed Algerian Muslims demonstrated in central Paris against a racist curfew. Seven thousand police and special security forces armed with heavy riot clubs and guns attacked the march and hundreds of Muslims were beaten, shot, strangled and even drowned.

Thousands were rounded up and taken to detention centres around the city where there were more beatings and killings.

Accurate figures for deaths were never issued and the media, which was much more heavily controlled by the state at the time, hushed up and underplayed casualty figures and the events.

How many died? No-one knows for sure. Best estimates suggest more than 200, but later eyewitness reports over the years have indicated the number of victims could be very much higher.

Among those eyewitnesses were some foreign journalists who found their agencies and publications strangely reluctant to print their stories. Some reported piles of Muslim corpses “like piles of logs in a forest.”

They also reported seeing large numbers of drowned bodies floating in the River Seine, where crowds of demonstrators had been driven into the water by armed police. Bodies were being recovered downstream for weeks afterwards.

Thousands of Algerians were rounded up and brought to detention centres, where the violence against them continued. Scores of Algerians were murdered on the orders of senior police officers in the courtyard of the central police headquarters.

The head of Paris police at the time, and the man who ordered the attack on the peaceful march that ended in a massacre, was Maurice Papon. He advised his forces that there would be no action taken against them, however violent or illegal their acts.

Papon was a nazi. When Hitler occupied France he became a leading police officer in the Vichy government that collaborated with the nazi occupying forces.

After the war Papon also tortured prisoners as head of a police department in Algeria during the colonial war.

Rather than being brought to justice, de Gaulle awarded him the Legion of Honour. Papon was finally forced to resign in 1967 after the suspicious disappearance of Moroccan leader Mehdi Ben Barka.

That disgrace didn’t end his public career. Instead he entered parliament and de Gaulle made him a director of the Sud Aviation company, which created Concorde. He became an MP and a millionaire.

Finally in 1981 details about his WWII nazi past emerged in a satirical magazine. In 1998 he was convicted of crimes against humanity for his part in the deportation of more than 1,600 Jews to concentration camps.

He served only four years and was subsequently released from prison in 2002 on the grounds of ill health. He died in 2007.

Just like his WWII war crimes, Papon’s 1961 Paris massacre was largely covered up at the time.

The French press repeated official figures that only two and, later, five people had died in the demonstration.

Government-owned and controlled French TV showed Algerians being shipped out of France after the demonstration, but showed none of the police violence.

In Britain the Establishment media stuck to the official French government version, including lies that the Algerians had opened fire first.

A year later Algeria won its independence. As the French empire slowly crumbled, north African Muslim immigrants faced racism and ghetto living in France. They filled the low-paid anti-social jobs, and predictably resentment grew.

Generations of marginalisation and alienation provided fertile ground for fundamentalism to put down its evil roots.

Other parts of the old French empire have all been major targets for fundamentalist terrorist groups. Places such as Lebanon, where Beirut was once known as the Paris of the Levant; the Sahara state of Mali, when the Foreign Legion held sway in places such as Timbuktu; and Tunisia’s tourist beaches.

There is an old saying: “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Sadly it seems to be more relevant every day.

Since the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, new revelations have provided more evidence that Islamist elements who launched the attack were well known to the intelligence services before the attack that killed 130 people: here.

Turkish journalists jailed for reporting government-ISIS links

This video from the USA says about itself:

Turkish Government Caught Helping ISIS

29 July 2015

Cenk Uygur (host of The Young Turks) discusses a recent report of Turkish officials helping ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Cenk breaks down the evidence that Turkey turned a blind eye to the vast smuggling networks and may have even cooperated.

Read more here.

If, as this blog said, Tony Blair is figuratively the godfather of ISIS, then these terrorists have various ‘godbrothers’ as well. Including President Erdogan of Turkey.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Turkey: Journalists face jail for revealing Isis backing

Friday 27th November 2015

TWO TURKISH journalists could face jail for exposing government arms smuggling to Islamic State (Isis).

Turkish media reported yesterday that state prosecutor Irfan Fidan requested arrest warrants for Cumhuriyet editor Can Dundar and the newspaper’s Ankara correspondent Erdem Gul following questioning.

Mr Fidan sought to charge the pair with membership of a terror organisation and espionage, which carry sentences of up to 20 years.

Cumhuriyet published images in May of Turkish lorries carrying ammunition to Isis militants.

The images were from January 2014, when local authorities searched Syria-bound vehicles leading to a standoff with Turkish intelligence officials.

Tony Blair, godfather of ISIS, wants to bomb Syria

This video says about itself:

Inside Iraq – Are Bush and Blair above the law?

7 June 2010

Many attempts have been made to try Tony Blair and George Bush for war crimes, but to no avail. In this episode of Inside Iraq, we ask: Is justice the property of the strong and is this a case of might is right?

Tony Blair is not only literally the godfather of a child of fellow warmonger Rupert Murdoch (with whom he quarreled later in a sexual jealousy conflict). Blair is also figuratively the godfather of ISIS terrorism. Because, as President Obama and many others have pointed out, without George W Bush’s and Tony Blair’s 2003 war on Iraq, there would be no ISIS now.

By Luke James in Britain:

Blair renews call for Britain to take military action in Syria

Friday 27th November 2015

TONY BLAIR has made a renewed call for Britain to bomb Syria — during a recording for a comedy podcast.

The unpopular former prime minister made a belated apology last month for dragging Britain into the Iraq war in 2003 on the basis of his “dodgy dossier.”

But now Mr Blair has backed David Cameron’s campaign for another British military intervention in the Middle East.

He played cheerleader for the Tory PM on Wednesday evening while recording the lighthearted Political Animal podcast, which is hosted by Labour adviser turned comedian Matt Forde.

Asked if he supported bombing, Mr Blair replied: “I would support the position that has been set out, not just by David Cameron, but by many Labour MPs.

“I think it’s important that we take strong action against Isis and take that action against them where they are headquartered, which is in Syria, so obviously I would support that.”

Stop the War convenor Lindsey German said Mr Cameron has failed to explain how bombing would improve the situation in Syria.

And she told the Star: “Tony Blair conveniently omits that these groups have grown since the war on terror began.

His policies of bombing and invasion set the world on fire. Now he wants to fan the flames even further.”

Mr Blair also indicated that further unwelcome political interventions could be expected from him.

He said he would be willing to appear alongside his historic rival Gordon Brown at events in the campaign to keep Britain in the European Union.

Turkish neo-nazi murdered Russian pilot

This video from Turkey, with English subtitles, says about itself:

12 March 2015

The Maraş massacre (Turkish: Maraş katliamı) was the massacre of about one hundred Alevi people in the city of Kahramanmaraş in December 1978 by the neo-fascist Grey Wolves.

The Grey Wolves were founded by Colonel Alparslan Türkeş, an admirer of Adolf Hitler; charged with “fascist and racist activities” in 1945. The Grey Wolves still distribute Adolf Hitler’s book Mein Kampf.

What a shame that ugly neo-nazis abuse the name of beautiful animals.

By James Tweedie in Britain:

Grey Wolves Fascist Killed Russian Pilot

Friday 27th November 2015

Turkmen Brigade murderer a Turkish citizen with far-right links

THE rebel leader who boasted of murdering a Russian pilot shot down over Syria is a member of the Turkish Grey Wolves fascist paramilitary group.

The Morning Star can reveal that Alparslan Celik — deputy commander of the Turkmen Brigade that shot at the parachuting crew of the Su-24 tactical bomber downed in a Turkish ambush — is a Turkish citizen from Elazig province.

Lieutenant Colonel Oleg Peshkov — earlier incorrectly identified as Major Sergei Rumyantsev — was killed by Turkmen forces after ejecting from his jet on Tuesday.

His navigator Captain Konstantin Murakhtin was captured but rescued by Syrian and Russian special forces on Wednesday — the first known use of Russian ground forces in Syria’s civil war.

Mr Celik quickly claimed that his supposedly native Turkmen militia had killed both pilots.

But Turkey’s Dogan news agency reported last year that he is a Turkish citizen whose father Ramazan was mayor of Keban municipality for the ultra-nationalist National Movement Party (MHP).

The Grey Wolves is the paramilitary wing of MHP and has been linked to the murders of hundreds of left-wing and liberal activists since the 1970s.

Celik Jnr has posted pictures of himself performing a Grey Wolves salute and his father reported last year that he had gone to fight “until martyrdom, if necessary.”

The Turkmen Brigade had been losing ground to Syrian army forces backed by Russian air power in northern Latakia province — close to the Turkish border — in the days prior to the incident.

And yesterday Russian customs officials began checking Turkish imports for possible terrorist threats.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu insisted Ankara didn’t want the shooting to “affect our relations with Russia,” and insisted the leaders of the two states would meet soon, without giving details.

Stop British government bombing Syria

This video from London, England says about itself:

Jeremy Corbyn Fiery Syrian Refugee Rally. FULL SPEECH at Parliament Square After Elected

12 September 2015

Jeremy Corbyn addresses Parliament Square refugee rally

Jeremy Corbyn said he was “shocked beyond appalled” over some media coverage about refugees.

In his one of his first speeches since being elected Labour leader on Saturday, he addressed a rally about rights for refugees held in Parliament Square, Westminster.

He claimed “a lot of politicians had rediscovered their principles, their principles of humanity” over the refugees arriving in Europe in recent weeks.

Mr Corbyn called on people to open their hearts, minds and attitudes “towards people who are desperate“.

Jeremy Corbyn has promised to lead a Labour “fight back” after being elected the party’s new leader by a landslide.

The veteran left winger got almost 60% of more than 400,000 votes cast, trouncing his rivals Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall.

He immediately faced an exodus of shadow cabinet members – but senior figures including Ed Miliband urged the party’s MPs to get behind him.

Mr Corbyn was a 200-1 outsider when the three month contest began.

But he was swept to victory on a wave of enthusiasm for his anti-austerity message and promise to scrap Britain’s nuclear weapons and renationalise the railways and major utilities.

He told BBC News he had been a “bit surprised” by the scale of his victory but his campaign had showed “politics can change and we have changed it”.

He will now select his shadow cabinet – but without a string of existing members including Ms Cooper, Tristram Hunt and Rachel Reeves – who have all ruled themselves out.

He has also hinted that he wants to change the format of Prime Minister’s Questions – he faces David Cameron across the despatch box for the first time on Wednesday – suggesting other Labour MPs might get a turn.

The Islington North MP won on the first round of voting in the leadership contest, taking 251,417 of the 422,664 votes cast – against 19% for Mr Burnham, 17% for Ms Cooper and 4.5% for Ms Kendall. Former minister and Gordon Brown ally Tom Watson was elected deputy leader.

Corbyn supporters chanted “Jez we did” as he took to the stage, putting on his glasses to deliver his acceptance speech.

The leftwinger, who has spent his entire 32 year career in the Commons on the backbenches, promised to fight for a more tolerant and inclusive Britain – and to tackle “grotesque levels of inequality in our society“.

He said the leadership campaign “showed our party and our movement, passionate, democratic, diverse, united and absolutely determined in our quest for a decent and better society that is possible for all”.

“They are fed up with the inequality, the injustice, the unnecessary poverty. All those issues have brought people in, in a spirit of hope and optimism.”

He said his campaign had given the lie to claims that young Britons were apathetic about politics, showing instead that they were “a very political generation that were turned off by the way in which politics was being conducted – we have to, and must, change that”.

Mr Corbyn added: “The fightback now of our party gathers speed and gathers pace.”

His first act as leader was to attend a “Refugees Welcome Here” rally, joining tens of thousands of people marching through central London in support of the rights of refugees.

Addressing cheering crowds in Parliament Square, he delivered an impassioned plea to the government to recognise its legal obligations to refugees from Syria and elsewhere and to find “peaceful solutions to the world’s problems”.

“Open your your hearts. Open your minds, open your attitude to suffering people, who are desperate and who are in need of somewhere safe to live,” added the new Labour leader.

Singer Billy Bragg then led the crowd in a rendition of socialist anthem The Red Flag.

Mr Corbyn earlier told supporters his first day at the helm of his party in Parliament would be spent opposing government plans to “shackle” trade unions by imposing higher thresholds for strike ballots.

By Luke James in Britain:

Corbyn Blows Apart PM Bid to Bomb Syria

Friday 27th October 2015

DAVID CAMERON’S bid to bomb Syria was frustrated yesterday as MPs pulled apart the Prime Minister’s claims that air strikes would be legal, effective or make Britain safer.

Mr Cameron hoped to secure a parliamentary majority in favour of bombing by personally making the case in a Commons statement.

But Mr Cameron held back from calling a snap vote after facing tough questions from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, as well as senior Tories.

Wide-ranging concerns raised by MPs from all parties could see the PM face a repeat of 2013, when Labour and progressive MPs united with Tory rebels to block bombing in Syria.

The PM had suggested a vote could be called as soon as Monday when he said earlier this week that MPs should “consider it (bombing) over the weekend.”

Downing Street sources were cautious after yesterday’s debate, insisting: “We’re not putting a timetable on a vote.”

And Mr Cameron told MPs: “Let me be clear — there will not be a vote in this House unless there is a clear majority for action, because we will not hand a publicity coup to Isis (Islamic State).”

With Parliament sitting for just 16 more days before the Christmas break, he is running out of time to call a vote.

Mr Cameron argued Britain’s intervention was legal on the grounds of self-defence and claimed the RAF’s capabilities could reduce civilian casualties.

The PM insisted he had “learned the lessons of previous conflicts,” but added that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose army is the main ground force engaged in fighting Isis, would not be part of the solution.

But Mr Corbyn raised fears that bombing could trigger “unintended consequences” that would put Britain at more risk of attacks and further destabilise Syria.

He said: “The question must now be whether extending the UK bombing from Iraq to Syria is likely to reduce or increase that threat and whether it will counter or spread the terror campaign Isis is waging in the Middle East.”

Labour veteran Paul Flynn went further, warning bombing would boost Isis and “escalate a regional war into a world war between Christians and Muslims.”

Dennis Skinner also ordered Mr Cameron to “keep out” of the “crazy war,” while only a handful of Blairites suggested they would break the Labour whip to back bombing.

Labour’s shadow cabinet met to consider the party’s position yesterday afternoon and will meet again on Monday.

Within the Tory ranks, Mr Cameron was boosted by the support of Crispin Blunt, the foreign affairs select committee chairman who voted against bombing in 2013.

But defence select committee chairman Julian Lewis was among senior Tory backbenchers who were sceptical of Mr Cameron’s plan.

Mr Lewis expressed disbelief at Mr Cameron’s claim that there were 70,000 Free Syrian Army soldiers which Britain could support with air strikes. US general Lloyd Austin estimated the number of “moderate” rebels in Syria as “four or five.”

European governments plan intensified military intervention in Syria: here.

Saudi Arabian beheadings, more and more

This video is called How Bad Are Saudi Arabia’s Human Rights Violations?

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Saudi Arabia executions: Kingdom to behead 50 men convicted of terrorism offences despite Shia revolt threat

Impervious to international opinion, the desert kingdom is poised to execute more than 50 people, three of whom were under 18 when their alleged crime took place. All because of a power struggle within the ruling family

Bill Law

27 November 2015

Saudi authorities appear set in the next few days to carry out a series of beheadings across the country of more than 50 men convicted of terrorism offences. Among those facing execution are three young men who were juveniles when they were arrested.

The publication earlier this week of an article in the newspaper Okaz, which has close links to the Saudi Ministry of the Interior, has convinced families of the accused and concerned human-rights organisations that the executions are imminent.

Sources have said that the plan is to behead the men in several cities across the kingdom, most likely after Friday prayers.

Already this year Saudi Arabia has carried out at least 151 beheadings but these would be the first that deal with allegations of terrorism. Last year a total of 90 were executed but none were for terrorism offences. It is believed that seven of the condemned men are Shia from the region of Al-Awamiyah in the oil-rich Eastern Province. Saudi Shia have long protested over discrimination and mistreatment by the Sunni central government.

A leading Shia cleric, Sheikh Nimr al Nimr, arrested in a shootout with security forces in 2012, is among those thought to be facing execution.

The mothers of five Shia released a letter on Wednesday alleging that their sons, three of whom were juveniles at the time of their arrest, were subjected to torture while in custody. The letter says: “We affirm that our children did not kill or wound anyone. The sentences were based on confessions extracted under torture, trials that barred them from access to defence counsel and judges that displayed bias towards the prosecution.”

Baqer al Nimr, the older brother of Ali al Nimr and a nephew of Sheikh Nimr, told The Independent his brother was 17 and a juvenile when he was detained in February 2011. “Ali is a smart kid, he likes to play football, he is a photographer. He wasn’t political, he was just asking for his rights, for the rights of the Shia.”

ix months after the arrest, he saw Ali in jail. “I could see his nose was broken and I asked him what happened. He said ‘they punch everybody in here’.” Ali’s mother told Baqer that when she had first seen her younger son “she saw a lot of bruising on his face, she told me she didn’t recognise him”.

Saudi authorities consistently dismiss such claims.

Sevag Kechichian, Amnesty International’s researcher on the Middle East and North Africa, said: “Denials are absolutely not enough when there is clear evidence that points to the contrary.”

He called for a thorough and impartial investigation of the torture allegations: “These executions should not happen. Amnesty International is against the death penalty in all circumstances.”

Last month, the Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, said he did “not expect [Ali] al Nimr to be executed”, indicating the decision would be a victory for British diplomacy, after the UK was criticised for its links with the Saudi government. Campaigners have called on the British Government to take a more proactive stance in raising human rights issues with the kingdom.

A group of UN experts and the European Parliament have also urged Saudi Arabia to halt the execution of Ali al Nimr. The timing of the executions, should they be carried out, has much to do with a power struggle going on between Mohammad bin Nayef, the Interior Minister and crown prince, and Mohammad bin Salman, Minister of Defence, deputy crown prince and favoured younger son of King Salman.

For several years, the 30-year-old Mohammad bin Salman has served as his ailing father’s gatekeeper – the king is believed to be suffering from dementia. But since the king ascended to the throne in January his son has amassed vast new powers. In addition to his appointment as Defence Minister, he serves as chief of the royal court, and chairman of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs.

Saad al Faqih is a Saudi critic of the ruling family living in London. “Mohammad bin Salman has taken everything,” he said, adding: “Mohammad bin Nayef wants to make a statement. He wants to be seen as very strong by killing 52 people in one go.”

Mr Faqih says that Okaz would not have gone ahead with the article without clear guidance from the Ministry of Interior: “If Okaz published, it is authentic. They would not have been allowed to publish without the express permission of Mohammad bin Nayef.” He described the condemned men as “pawns in a political game”. …

Baqer al Nimr says that if his brother and the others are beheaded, he hopes there will be no violence. “We do not want to be held responsible for any blood,” he said.

For now, though, his thoughts are with his kid brother. “I taught him how to ride a bike and now he is in solitary confinement and every time they open the door he must be thinking, ‘Is now the time that they have come to kill me?’”