British Thatcherite police on trial for Hillsborough football disaster


This video from England says about itself:

Liverpool fans sing anti Thatcher song at Sunderland. Sept. 15th 2012.

Liverpool fans make their feelings known in the wake of the Hillsborough “real truth” report.

By Thomas Scripps in Britain:

UK: Trial begins of police commander in 1989 Hillsborough football disaster

17 January 2019

The prosecution began its case against David Duckenfield and Graham Mackrell on Tuesday, for charges relating to the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans following the disaster at Hillsborough football stadium in Sheffield, on April 15, 1989.

Duckenfield was the South Yorkshire Police match commander in charge of policing the stadium on that day and faces 95 counts of gross negligence manslaughter. Mackrell was Sheffield Wednesday Football Club’s designated safety officer at the time and is charged with contravening the stadium’s safety certificate and a health and safety offence.

Retired police officers Donald Denton and Alan Foster, and police solicitor Peter Metcalf, are due to stand trial later in the year for acts tending and intending to pervert the course of justice.

The Hillsborough families have worked for decades to achieve justice for their loved ones. The trial of Duckenfield and Mackrell, who will now be properly cross-examined, is a welcome landmark in their campaign.

Addressing Preston Crown Court, Richard Matthews QC outlined the prosecution’s case against Duckenfield. In addition to failures to plan for the crowds beforehand, he said, “Sadly, there were also many collective and individual failures to intervene effectively once the disaster unfolded.” Duckenfield failed to declare a major incident or use emergency measures to help those in danger. “Nor did he make any attempt to even monitor what was occurring, let alone avert the tragedy.” He also failed to provide “emergency medical attention, particularly attempts at resuscitation” in a timely fashion.

Duckenfield, the court was told, had “ultimate responsibility” for the police operation. “It is the prosecution’s case that David Duckenfield’s failures to discharge this personal responsibility were extraordinarily bad and contributed substantially to the deaths of each of those 96 people who so tragically and unnecessarily lost their lives.”

Mackrell, Matthews said, “[E]ffectively shrugged off all responsibility” for arrangements for admission to the ground and the drawing-up of contingency plans—“important aspects of the role he had taken on as safety officer.” By “agreeing to, or at the very least turning a blind eye to” the fact the fact that the club had failed to agree methods of entry to the stadium with police, he is alleged to have breached the conditions of the club’s safety certificate.

More than 20 family members of those killed at Hillsborough sat in the public gallery and other relatives watched from Liverpool via a video link.

What the events at Preston Crown Court highlight above all is the immense scale of the state cover-up carried out over the Hillsborough events—presided over by successive Conservative and Labour governments alike. It has taken fully 30 years of tireless campaigning, at great personal cost to those involved, in the face of vicious media lies and government opposition, for the bereaved families to see anyone finally held to account for the worst sporting disaster in British history.

The government and the press initially responded to the deaths caused by actions of various institutions of the state by blaming a “tanked-up mob” of Liverpool fans and lauding the actions of “brave cops.” The first official report, carried out by Lord Justice Taylor in 1989, was forced to admit some of the truth, pointing to police mismanagement of the event and criticising South Yorkshire police for blaming Liverpool supporters instead of accepting responsibility themselves. However, no one was charged or even disciplined as a result of these findings. An inquest ruled that the 96 deaths were “accidental.”

In 1997, due to mounting pressure, the incoming Labour government ordered the scrutiny of new evidence, which had been brought to light by campaigners and documentary makers in the previous eight years. It emerged that South Yorkshire police changed 164 officers’ accounts of the disaster before sending them to the Taylor inquiry. Prime Minister Tony Blair refused to call a new public inquiry, however, writing “What is the point?” Blair’s Home Secretary Jack Straw claimed that nothing significant had been added by the new evidence.

It took more than a decade’s campaigning and protests by the families and their supporters for the Labour government to finally establish the Hillsborough Independent Panel (HIP), in 2009. The HIP published a report in 2012 which demolished the official police narrative and established that it was not the fans who were responsible for the deaths but the police and the authorities. Then Home Secretary Theresa May was forced to order a criminal inquiry. Now, six years later, and nearly 30 years after the event itself, the first trials of those involved have begun.

This is despite all the evidence and materials for a prosecution of the real criminals being available within the first days and weeks after the disaster. The tortured process leading to the first trials is entirely the result of the state’s efforts to deceive and delay the Hillsborough campaigners’ pursuit of the truth and justice—a deliberate strategy to render a proper accounting for the disaster impossible.

So long has the fight for justice taken that many individuals involved in the events that led to the deaths and their cover-up—including the filthy slander campaign against Liverpool fans which followed it—have died without ever facing investigation or being asked to testify.

Chief amongst these is former Tory Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Her government defended the officials at Hillsborough to the hilt and supported the right-wing media and Tory MPs in smearing Liverpool supporters. The leading role was played by Irvine Patnick, then MP for Sheffield Hallam, who contributed to the Sun newspaper’s disgusting lies about the behavior of Liverpool fans—published under the now infamous headline, “ The Truth.” Patnick died in 2012, still holding a knighthood.

Peter Wright, chief constable of South Yorkshire police at the time of Hillsborough, came under suspicion for diverting blame from members of the police but died in 2011. Stefan Popper, the coroner who oversaw the original and thoroughly discredited inquest into events at the stadium, died in 2016. Bernard Murray, the ground commander and Duckenfield’s immediate subordinate on the day, is also deceased.

The passing of time has also made it increasingly difficult to prosecute still-living suspects. Sir Norman Bettison, former chief constable of West Yorkshire Police, is a case in point. He was originally charged alongside the other five defendants, in his case, for lying about his part in South Yorkshire police’s response to the tragedy and about his views on the role fans played in it. But the prosecution was forced to drop proceedings against Bettison when a key witness died and the evidence of two other witnesses changed.

As it stands, just five people—aged between 68 and 80 and having since retired from their positions of responsibility—are standing or due to stand trial. Duckenfield himself is 74 years old, having been retired for almost three decades on a full index linked pension of £23,000 a year.

The lesson of these events is that the ruling class will not allow its representatives to be held to account for the crimes they inflict upon the working class and will fight tooth and nail to prevent justice from prevailing. This is especially significant considering their response to the Grenfell Tower fire, where a similar cover-up operation is underway. This is despite the ongoing struggle by local residents, who angrily denounced the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea council in the immediate aftermath of the fire and insisted that the fight for justice for the victims of social murder at Grenfell not end up going down the same path as Hillsborough.

However, the fact is that the Grenfell public inquiry being held under Sir Martin Moore-Bick is designed to be a whitewash. From day one, it was specifically barred from discussing issues of a “social, economic and political nature” and “limited to the cause [of the fire], how it spread, and preventing a future blaze.” The first phase of the inquiry took nearly 18 months to complete. The next phase has been delayed until at least 2020. This was confirmed by Moore-Bick at the very end of the first phase of the inquiry in December, at the same time as the Metropolitan Police confirmed its investigation is expected to “take years” to complete.

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Criminal prosecutions finally brought 28 years after 96 Liverpool fans killed at Hillsborough stadium
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Anti-Cuban Donald Trump’s war on baseball?


This video says about itself:

Baseball Fiesta in Barcelona 1992 – Summer Olympics

Cubans play baseball just as Brazilians play soccer – it’s their national sport. Pick any street in Havana and you are as likely to see impromptu games taking place as you are to see locals walking to the shops.

The sport was introduced to the island by American sailors back in the 1860s. Banned during the first Cuban War of Independence from Spanish rule in 1869 because Cubans began to prefer it to bullfighting, the baseball ban only increased interest in the sport.

Baseball became a symbol of Cuban freedom and independence and even former President Fidel Castro was known to pitch a few balls from the mound in his day.

Cuban baseball players are among the best in the world. The national team became Olympic champions three times. So, the biggest baseball competition in the world, Major League Baseball in the USA, wants Cuban players. However, for a long time, Cuban-United States relations were very bad. That meant Cuban players could only travel to the US, eg, via Mexican criminal gangs extorting them.

Under the Obama administration, there was some improvement in US-Cuban relations. However, Donald Trump has ruined much of that improvement. In spite of that, the baseball federations of both countries did not give up, and have an agreement now.

After United States President Donald Trump’s war on American football … after Trump’s war on United States basketball … now Trump‘s war on United States baseball?

From the Washington Post in the USA:

MLB, Cuban Baseball Federation reach agreement; Trump administration signals it has issues with deal

19 December 2018

Major League Baseball on Wednesday reached a historic agreement with Cuba’s baseball federation, modeled after those with leagues in Japan and Korea, that would regulate and streamline the entry of Cuban players coming to the U.S., the league announced. But it remains to be seen whether the Trump administration’s harder line against the Cuban government leaves room for the agreement to work in practice.

The agreement, the result of years of negotiations between MLB, the MLB Players Association and the Cuban Baseball Federation (FCB), is designed to end decades of fraught relations between MLB and Cuba and eliminate the need for Cuban players to defect. …

However, a State Department spokesman said that players will have to travel to a third country to apply for a visa, like other Cuban nationals, per current U.S. policy.

Afghan women footballers abused sexually


This 3 December 2018 video says about itself:

Afghan women’s soccer team members accuse officials of sexual abuse | DW News

Some former and current women’s players on Afghanistan’s national football team made allegations of sexual abuse by football federation officials. … Former player Khalida Popal, who reported alleged abuse told DW she’s been waiting for months for FIFA to take action. FIFA is investigating claims that high-ranking Afghan sports officials sexually abused, raped and threatened members of the country’s national women’s football team.

After similar reports about the Sri Lankan women’s cricket team.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

The Afghan president has instructed the Public Prosecution Service to investigate allegations of sexual abuse against members of the national women’s football team. The British newspaper The Guardian wrote Friday that players have been abused by, eg, the chairman of the Afghan Football Association AFF. …

The FIFA world football association has also begun an investigation and the Danish sportswear manufacturer Hummel has broken its ties with the Afghan federation. …

Training camp

The Guardian spoke with, eg, the former head of women’s football at the AFF, Khalida Popal. She told about the events at a training camp in 2016 in Jordan.

Popal herself lives just like some players abroad.

Ms Popal was forced to flee the country in 2016 and seek asylum in Denmark.

Players who traveled to the training camp from Afghanistan were accompanied by two men. “They were bullying and harassing the girls, particularly the ones from Afghanistan because they knew they wouldn’t speak up.” said Popal. “I confronted them, told them they can’t do that and I’d make a complaint.”

“It continued. These guys were calling on the rooms of the players and sleeping with the girls. AFF staff members would say to girls that they could get them on the team list and would pay them £100 a month if they would say yes to everything. They were pushing and forcing the girls.”

Popal complained to the AFF chairman. The two male officials then received better paid posts within the federation. Nine players living in Afghanistan were expelled from the team because they were supposedly lesbian.

Popal: “The president labelled them lesbians to silence them from speaking out about the sexual abuse in Jordan and abuses by coaches. He beat one of the girls with a snooker cue.”

Abuse, threats, rape

The whistleblower herself started an investigation that lasted six months. This has yielded several examples of sexual abuse, death threats and rapes.

In this way she discovered that the union president had a room in his office with a bed. Players were abused there and then removed from the team, says Popal. If they were to tell about the abuse, then it would appear that they were doing so out of revenge, because they no longer belonged to the selection.

USA GYMNASTICS FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY USA Gymnastics is turning to bankruptcy in an effort to ensure its survival. The embattled organization filed a Chapter 11 petition as it attempts to reach settlements in dozens of sex-abuse lawsuits. [AP]

Himalayan summit climbed for first time


This 26 November 2018 video says about itself:

Join David Lama from advanced base camp to summit on his successful solo push for the first ascent of Lunag Ri, a previously unclimbed peak of 6.907meters on the borderline between Nepal and Tibet. On 23 October 2018 the Austrian with Nepali heritage set out carrying a POV camera and was followed by a drone navigated from advanced BC.

This video says about itself:

Already in 2016, David Lama and Conrad Anker had set out to climb Lunag Ri, a stunningly beautiful, unclimbed peak of 6.907meters on the borderline between Nepal and Tibet. As things didn’t go as planned the duo has to retreat just shy of the summit but returns one year later, determined to bring the project to an end. Despite prime conditions and all the knowledge gathered during their last attempt, their endeavor is stopped rapidly with Anker’s life dangling between life and death, leaving Lama with some tough decisions to make.

Iranian women football match spectators


Iranian women fans of Persepolis football club, EPA photo

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Hundreds of Iranian women at Asian Champions League final

In the Azadi stadium in the Iranian capital Tehran, hundreds of women have attended the final of the Asian Champions League. Remarkable, because for almost forty years women had not been welcome in the stadiums.

80,000 spectators saw today the match between Persepolis and the Japanese Kashima Antlers in the Azadi stadium. In a separate section, approximately 850 seats were reserved for women.

The Iranians saw their team draw 0-0. Because they lost the away match with 2-0, they did not win the Asian championship.

The women present, family members of the players, players in Iranian women’s football teams and employees of the Iranian Football Association, loudly encouraged Persepolis.

Stadium ban

In Iran there has been a ban on stadiums for women since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. The religious authorities do not want mixing Muslim women with ‘excited men’, to the displeasure of many (female) football fans.

In March, 35 women were arrested who tried to attend a match in the Iranian competition. A month later, five women, disguised as men, managed to reach the stands of the Azadi stadium and watch a match there.

The fact that women were admitted today is seen as a possible new step towards the lifting of the stadium ban. Last month some hundred women were allowed to attend the friendly match of the Iranian national football team against Bolivia.

Protest during Iran-Morocco football match

Racism in Paris Saint-Germain football


This 18 February 2015 video says about itself:

Amateur footage shows Chelsea football fans preventing a black man from boarding a Paris metro train shortly before the Champions League fixture between Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday. The unidentified passenger attempts to squeeze on to the train, only to be pushed forcefully back on to the platform at the Richelieu-Drouot station. The fans then chant: ‘We’re racist, we’re racist and that’s the way we like it’.

These English Chelsea hooligans included a supporter of the far-right UKIP party.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

The French football club Paris Saint-Germain has for years been guilty of racism within their youth academy. That reports the French website Mediapart based on articles in Football Leaks.

PSG wanted to limit the number of dark-skinned players in their youth training. Scouts of the top level club had to indicate the ethnic background of players in their reports.
.
Confirmation

The number one club in the French competition confirms to the BBC that between 2013 and 2018 the ethnicity of footballers in the academy was filled in on assessment forms. The club is now going to find out how this could have happened and which measures should be taken against whom.

General manager Jean Claude Blanc told BBC radio he was shocked and felt betrayed. It may very well be that the French champion has broken the law with this approach. The club says in a statement that the relevant forms were an initiative of one specific person.

If that statement about only one person is true, then it is probably a really influential person.