‘Feed hungry Syrian civilians? We’ll kill you’, al-Qaeda ‘moderates’ say

This video says about itself:

Syrian refugees face roadblock in Hungary

31 August 2015

Refugees from Syria and North Africa face uncertainty and hardship as they try to enter Europe. Charlie D’Agata reports from the border between Serbia and Hungary, where the Hungarian government has been building a fence to hold back the influx of desperate immigrants.

By James Tweedie:

Moderates‘ vow to kill food smugglers

Thursday 11th February 2016

Islamists ‘will execute’ anyone breaking rebel siege

WESTERN-BACKED “moderates” in Syria are threatening to publicly execute anyone supplying food to besieged government-held areas.

The edict from the self-styled Judicial Council of the Jaish al-Fatah (Army of Conquest) was posted on the Twitter account of the web-based Terror Monitor and translated for the Morning Star.

The group’s decree, issued on Monday, said that it must be circulated to all mosques and imams in the areas under its domination by today.

It orders that anyone caught smuggling food, fuel or other human necessities into the besieged villages of Kafarya and Fu’ah, north-east of Idlib city, will be executed in the square of their home town.

The statement is peppered with fundamentalist and sectarian language, referring to President Bashar al-Assad’s government as the “criminal Alawite regime” — a reference to the Shi’ite sect that the Assad family belongs to and those who help it as “defectors in the army of Satan.”

The Army of Conquest, which occupies the northern Syrian city of Idlib and most of the surrounding province, is an alliance of extremist factions, with the two most prominent being the al-Qaida-affiliated Nusra Front and Ahrar ash-Sham, which boasts 10,000-20,000 guerillas.

Ahrar as-Sham’s inclusion in the Saudi-backed High Negotiations Committee (HNC), along with the equally brutal Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam), provoked protests from Syria and Russia that terrorists had been invited to the Geneva negotiating table.

While the governments of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, and the religious fundamentalist fighters paid by them were invited to the Geneva negotiating table, the Syrian Kurds, the only effective force fighting ISIS on the ground, were excluded. At the request of the Turkish Erdogan government and their NATO allies, of the Saudi Arabian government, etc.

But the HNC refused to enter the UN-mediated talks until the government agreed to their precondition of a unilateral ceasefire and the free flow of supplies to insurgent pockets.

Crucially the decree speaks of “liberating the Islamic State of al-Sham” (Isis).

The HNC finally abandoned any pretence of negotiation last week after the Syrian army, backed by Lebanese Hezbollah guerillas and Russian air strikes, cut their main supply line from Turkey north of Aleppo.

Monday’s edict claims a humanitarian motive for starving the population of the two villages into surrender or death, declaring that the aim is to end the army’s sieges of militant-held areas.

One of those areas is the town of Madaya, where Ahrar ash-Sham gunmen opened fire overnight on Wednesday on a Red Crescent convoy evacuating three sick people. Fortunately, no injuries were reported.

Bishops allowed to cover up child abuse by Vatican

This video from the USA says about itself:

Catholic bishop indicted for unreported child abuse

14 October 2011

American Catholic bishop Robert Finn, of the Kansas City, Mo., diocese, has been indicted for failing to report suspected child abuse. Michelle Miller reports on the significant charge – unprecedented in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Bishops do not have to report child abuse, Vatican says

The document emphasises that bishops’ only duty is to address such allegations internally

Samuel Osborne

Wednesday 10 February 2016 21:01 BST

The Catholic Church is telling newly appointed bishops it is “not necessarily” their duty to report accusations of clerical child abuse to authorities.

A document explaining how senior clergy members ought to deal with allegations of abuse suggests only victims or their families should make the decision to report abuse to police.

The victims are often too young or too scared to go to the police. And their families may be scared of reporting ‘a man of God’, and of maybe the church accusing them of being anti-God.

The document, recently released by the Vatican, emphasises that bishops’ only duty is to address such allegations internally

Address them in what way? With a slap on the wrist for the priestly perpetrator? By transferring him to another parish where the child abuse may start all over again; like has happened often so far?

though it says they must be aware of local laws.

Details were reported by John Allen, associate editor of the Catholic News Site Cruxnow.com.

“According to the state of civil laws of each country where reporting is obligatory, it is not necessarily the duty of the bishop to report suspects to authorities, the police or state prosecutors in the moment when they are made aware of crimes or sinful deeds,” the document states.

The guidelines were written by the controversial monsignor and psychotherapist Tony Anatrella, who is serving as consultant to the Pontifical Council for the Family.

Monsignor Anatrella has been accused of sexual abuse himself.

Although the guide acknowledges “the church has been particularly affected by sexual crimes committed against children,” it emphasises statistics showing the vast majority of sexual assaults against children are committed within the family and by friends and neighbours, The Guardian reports.

It is true that the overwhelming majority of child abuse is not by the stereotypical men supposedly in ambush waiting for children unknown to them to pass. However, much of the abuse is by men (less often: women) in positions of authority whom the children do know and, wrongly, trust, like teachers, bosses and Roman Catholic, or other, religious authorities.

That people who are not priests commit child abuse as well can never be any excuse for covering it up in cases where perpetrators are priests.

Pope Francis previously declared a “zero tolerance” policy for members of the clergy who abuse children.

Bahrain absolute monarchy news

This video from the European parliament says about itself:

Bahrain: the case of Mohammed Ramadan

4 February 2016

Alyn Smith MEP speaks on the institutional reform in Bahrain and raises the case of Mohamed Ramadan who is one of five people facing the death penalty in Bahrain.

From Index on Censorship:

10 Feb: Failure to reform: Five years of dissent in Bahrain

9 February 2016

On the 5th anniversary of the 2011 Bahrain uprising, reform has stalled and human rights abuses have continued to be systemic and widespread. With the region in turmoil and abuses on the rise, has the UK’s reform assistance achieved its stated objectives?

Bahrain’s UK-funded police watchdog fails to investigate torture claims. UK has given more than £2m to fund judicial reforms but there are concerns over alleged abuse of Mohammed Ramadan: here.

This video from the European parliament is called Marietje Schaake – Plenary speech on Bahrain, the case of Mohammed Ramadan (04-02-2016).

‘Sham reforms’: UK-funded watchdog in Bahrain fails to investigate torture allegations: here.

British government deports child refugees to war zones

This video from Canada says about itself:

Syrian Children Experience Snow

19 January 2016

Snow is a new experience but fun in any language looks the same.

Unfortunately, not all refugee children have the luck of the children in this video (and if the previous Stephen Harper government in Canada would not have been defeated by the voters, then the children in the video might never have seen snow either.)

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Refugee crisis: Thousands of child asylum seekers deported back to war zones, Home Office admits

Exclusive: Hundreds sent back from UK to countries where Isis and Taliban are rampant

Maeve McClenaghan

Tuesday 9 February 2016 21:44 BST

Thousands of young people who sought refuge in Britain as unaccompanied child asylum-seekers have been deported to repressive regimes and countries partly controlled by Isis and the Taliban, the Home Office has admitted. Over the past nine years 2,748 young people – many of whom had spent formative years in the UK, forging friendships and going to school – have been returned to countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Syria.

The figures were finally published by the Home Office minister James Brokenshire this week. Previous Home Office figures significantly understated the scale of the deportations.

The bulk of those deported – some 2,018 – were sent to Afghanistan, but around 60 young people have been deported to Iraq since 2014, the year Isis seized control of swathes of the country. The findings, which were triggered by questions from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and the Labour MP Louise Haigh, raise serious concerns about what happens to child asylum-seekers when they turn 18, and at a time when Britain is being urged to help thousands of orphaned child refugees from Syria.

Unaccompanied child asylum-seekers arriving in the UK are given temporary leave to remain. But this expires when they become adults, at which point many are sent back to their home country – even if they have taken GCSEs and A-levels, integrated into British society and lost touch with their homeland. They often struggle to start new lives, because their Westernised mannerisms mean they are regarded with suspicion.

Ms Haigh said: “These shocking figures reveal the shameful reality behind our asylum system.

“Children who flee countries ravaged by war in the most appalling of circumstances are granted safe haven and build a life here in the UK, but at the age of 18 can be forced on to a flight and back to a dangerous country they have no links to and barely any memory of.

“With many more vulnerable young children due to arrive in the UK over the next five years the Government needs to answer serious questions and provide a cast-iron guarantee that vulnerable young people will not be sent back to war zones.”

She now plans to bring a parliamentary debate on the issue, while the Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron is to chair an emergency cross-party summit on 10 February to explore how Britain can support future intakes of child refugees.

Mr Farron said: “It is a sad state of affairs that the Government is stripping the protective blanket of safety we have offered these children on their 18th birthday. Many will have integrated into their communities.”

As he released the figures, Mr Brokenshire was forced to apologise for previously providing the Commons with inaccurate numbers in November that said just 1,040 former child refugees had been returned to Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria and Libya since 2007. He blamed the inaccurate data on “an error during the extraction process”.

Ms Haigh said: “Ministers have been basing their confident assurances on protecting these extremely vulnerable young people on a calamitous guesstimate.”

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism explored the cases of several Afghan teenagers last year as they battled deportation orders. Some who were returned claimed they had been left homeless, chased by the Taliban, kidnapped, ransomed and beaten.

The latest Home Office figures show that in 2015, 57 former child refugees were sent back to Afghanistan, where the Taliban still controls many districts. Removals to the country have now been temporarily halted as lawyers argue that the security situation is so unsafe that no one should be returned.

However, earlier this month lawyers for the Home Office argued in a Court of Appeal case that removals should continue. The judgment is expected imminently. The latest figures also show 657 former child refugees have been returned to Iraq since 2007, including 22 last year and 38 in 2014 when Isis began to take territory in the region.

The Foreign Office advises against “all but essential travel” to half of Iraq, and against any travel to the north-western areas. …

Explainer: Child asylum claims

Children can apply for asylum when they first arrive in the UK, but the likelihood of getting refugee status at this point is low, and even less likely for Afghan or Iraqi children.

The UK Government does not generally deport unaccompanied children – so instead they are given temporary leave to remain, which lasts until they turn 17-and-a-half.

At this point, teenagers must apply to extend their leave. But the BIJ’s analysis of appeals from Afghan teenagers found just one in five was granted asylum at this point. Thousands of teenagers are deported after years living in the UK.

Refugee crisis: Welfare cuts and anti-migration policies ‘will not stop’ asylum seekers coming to Europe – report. New laws might change the countries where refugees end up but they will not stop them arriving, a report found: here.

Hillary Clinton, Sanders and Flint town in the USA

This video from Michigan in the USA says about itself:

Flint Lives Matter: Hillary Clinton Just Wants Votes

7 February 2016

Some residents of Flint say Hillary Clinton visited on Sunday just to get more votes. The water crisis affecting the mostly black Michigan city has become another battlefield in a progressive war between Clinton and Bernie Sanders. At the House of Prayer Missionary Baptist Church, Clinton said the lives of Flint children were as valuable as those from any other part of America. Church goers applauded Clinton, but others were less enthusiastic over her arrival. Flint Lives Matter organiser Calandra Patrick sees Clinton as an opportunist who is jumping on a national issue for more votes.

While the Flint water crisis has drawn international attention due to the magnitude of the disaster and the callous criminality of government officials involved, the high rates of lead poisoning in the Flint population are not unique. Countless cities and towns across the United States suffer from lead levels that are as high as what has been reported in Flint—and in many cases, far worse: here.

More e-mails have been made public showing that a year ago health officials were worried that the spike in cases of Legionnaires’ disease in Flint was connected to the use of the Flint River as a water source. When those concerns were communicated to Michigan environmental and health authorities, their response was to quash any public announcement that the city’s water was the source of the increase: here.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

United States: Clinton seems to write off primary

Tuesday 9th February 2016

by Our Foreign Desk

HILLARY CLINTON appeared yesterday to have given up on today’s New Hampshire primary, flying to Flint, Michigan, for a hit-and-run visit.

Ms Clinton, who has targeted African-American communities as potential backers, took a helicopter to the largely black city to express concern at a scandal over polluted drinking water.

However, Flint Lives Matter organiser Calandra Patrick sniffed electoral opportunism, commenting: “It doesn’t matter to me if she makes an appearance or not. It doesn’t matter to me one bit.”

The Clinton camp had already antagonised young women supporting Bernie Sanders, her left-wing rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, when Bill Clinton’s former secretary of state Madeleine Albright said there was “a special place in hell” for women who don’t help women.

Ms Albright: if you are correct about the geography of hell, then Hillary Clinton should go to that ‘special place’. Ms Clinton refused to support Saudi women, who were and are whipped and imprisoned for the ‘crime’ of driving cars.

As Ms Clinton thought selling weapons to and buying oil from the Saudi absolute monarchy was more important than siding with these courageous Saudi women.

Feminist writer Gloria Steinem suggested at the same Concord meeting that women backing the Vermont senator did so to meet young men.

She apologised later in a Facebook post, saying that she “misspoke” in implying that young women weren’t serious about their political views.

Ms Steinem: you said something about young politically interested women. Something similar to what sexist men decades ago used to say about you and other then young feminists. Well, at least you apologized. Contrary to Ms Albright.

Ms Clinton defended Ms Albright’s “special place in hell” comment as a “light-hearted but very pointed remark.”

Ms Albright, when secretary of state, once declared that sanctions on Iraq that had killed 500,000 children were “worth it.”

This video from the USA is called Madeleine Albright – The deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children was worth it for Iraq’s non-existent WMD’s.

Mr Sanders emphatically rejected support from some men who have made misogynist comments about Ms Clinton, declaring: “I have heard about it. It’s disgusting. Look, we don’t want that crap.

“Anyone who’s supporting me and doing sexist things, we don’t want them, we don’t want them.”

I’m a woman and I will vote for the best feminist for president: Bernie Sanders, by RoseAnn DeMoro. I won’t vote against Hillary Clinton because she’s female, but I don’t intend to vote for her because I am. We need more fundamental changes in this country: here.

Refugees drowning, governments stopping them

This video from Greece says about itself:

Greece: Fisherman saves dozens of refugees stranded at sea off Lesbos

12 November 2015

There were jubilant scenes in Lesbos on Thursday evening, after local fisherman Skala Sikaminias saved dozens of refugees who were stranded in a dinghy three miles (4.8 kilometres) off shore.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

More refugees die as Merkel tells Ankara to stem the flow

Tuesday 9th February 2016

At least 27 drown in boat sinking off Lesbos

by Our Foreign Desk

TURKISH coastguard officials recovered the bodies of 27 refugees yesterday after a boat carrying them to the Greek island of Lesbos went down in the Bay of Edremit.

A search-and-rescue mission, backed by helicopters, was still under way for others reported missing. At least 11 of the victims were children, an official said.

The latest tragedy in the waters between Turkey and Greece happened as German Chancellor Angela Merkel met Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to discuss the refugee crisis.

She has made clear that she, in common with other EU leaders, wants Ankara to reduce the influx of refugees to Europe.

In her weekly video message on Saturday, Ms Merkel said that EU countries agree that the bloc needs to protect its external borders better and that is why she is seeking a solution with Turkey.

She added that, if Europe wants to prevent smuggling, “we must be prepared to take in quotas of refugees legally and bear our part of the task.

“I don’t think Europe can keep itself completely out of this,” she said.

The German and Turkish leaders agreed on a set of measures to halt the flow of refugees from Syria, including a joint diplomatic initiative to stop the current fighting around Aleppo.

Mr Davutoglu said that they would carry out “joint efforts” to increase Nato involvement in the refugee issue. They would seek the use of Nato observation capabilities at the border with Syria and in the Aegean Sea.

His deputy Yalcin Akdogan took issue with EU pressure on Turkey to open its border, accusing the bloc of giving his country lessons in morality without taking any responsibility itself.

“On the one hand, they say: ‘Open your borders, take everyone in’ and, on the other hand, they say: ‘Close your border, don’t let anyone through’.”

Despicable as the present Turkish government is: on this issue Yalcin Akdogan is correct in pointing out European politicians’ hypocrisy. Like, as this blog said before, a broken clock indicating the correct time twice a day.

Hungary’s right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban declared that migration into Europe “must be stopped” and reiterated his call for a “European defence line” on the northern borders of Greece to end the influx of people.

Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, a fellow conservative, agreed, insisting that “the migration issue has to be solved basically outside the EU borders.”

Hungary’s right-wing government plans to introduce far-reaching emergency powers. Under the pretext of combating terrorism and deterring refugees, which in official propaganda are one and the same thing, the government plans to grant itself dictatorial powers enabling it to suppress all social and political opposition: here.

Turkey must open its doors to the thousands of Syrians who have massed at the border after fleeing violence, the United Nations demanded Tuesday: here.