Will innocent Guantanamo prisoner be free at last?


This music video about the Guantanamo Bay camp is the song We Are America by Esperanza Spalding from the USA.

By Peter Lazenby in Britain:

Shaker Aamer could be weeks from freedom

Thursday 28th May 2015

Last Briton in Guantanamo gets scent of home

THE last British prisoner in the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison camp could be released within weeks, it was revealed yesterday.

Shaker Aamer, whose wife and four children live in Battersea in London, has been unlawfully held in the United States’ camp in Cuba for 14 years after being arrested in Afghanistan in 2001.

His release was authorised by US authorities seven years ago, but he has remained in Guantanamo.

A cross-party delegation of MPs including Jeremy Corbyn and David Davis travelled to Washington on Monday to lobby President Barack Obama to finally release him.

In a BBC interview, Mr Aamer’s solicitor Clive Stafford Smith said that US government officials have told him Mr Aamer is going to be released in June.

However, a Reprieve spokeswoman told the Star that Mr Stafford Smith “did caveat what he said quite heavily — there have been positive noises and we are optimistic, but there’s no confirmation or timeline or anything like that.”

Mr Obama pledged to close the camp, which still holds 57 prisoners, in his 2008 presidential campaign.

Mr Aamer has never been charged with any offence or stood trial. He has suffered ill health through his detention and treatment at the hands of his US military captors, and has never met his last-born child.

When he was arrested in 2001, US authorities alleged he had led a unit of Taliban fighters and met former al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

But Mr Aamer has maintained throughout his imprisonment that he was in Afghanistan with his family doing charity work.

Mr Stafford Smith praised campaigners around the world, and particularly in Britain, for their actions demanding the release of Mr Aamer.

Earlier this month, as reported in the Morning Star, one volunteer spent 14 hours locked in a cage in Trafalgar Square — one hour for each year of Mr Aamer’s incarceration.

Mr Stafford Smith said: “So many people have done so many great things to help him and I think that’s had a great impact.”

Militarism and anti-militarism in Britain


This 2012 video from the USA is called Network XMilitarism in the Schools: Counter-Recruitment Conference. It says about itself:

Network X – 02/03/00 – Guests – Mario Hardy, Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors, Asif Ullah, War Resisters League, Michaelle Jacobson, Seattle Teacher and Activist.

By Ian Sinclair in Britain:

Timely antidote to pro-war propaganda

Monday 27th April 2015

Spectacle, Reality, Resistance: Confronting a Culture of Militarism by David Gee (Forces Watch, £7)

ARMED Forces Day. Help for Heroes. The government’s Troops to Teachers programme. The media frenzy around the military funeral repatriations in Wootton Bassett. Girl band The Saturdays opening the Poppy Appeal.

It’s clear that we are in the midst of a resurgence of militarism in Britain.

The government presents these pro-military schemes as an attempt to encourage understanding and appreciation for the armed forces. But, with a 2008 Mori poll finding 81 per cent of the British public already view the military favourably, David Gee, co-founder of the activist organisation Forces Watch, is unconvinced.

Rather, he argues these recent policy initiatives are a direct response to the public’s increasing opposition to an aggressive foreign policy, in particular the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 2009 the Chief of Defence Staff Jock Stirrup claimed that the Taliban’s roadside bombs were less of a threat to troops’ morale than the “declining will” among the public to support the war.

Tellingly, Stirrup added: “Support for our service men and women is indivisible from support for this mission.”

Unusually for a peace activist, Gee spends time looking at the role of popular culture, quoting cultural theorists like Guy Debord, Levi-Strauss and Slavoj Zizek.

He has a particular interest in Hollywood and how films with “violent romance quests” at their heart encourage audiences to form a positive view of the military and regenerative violence.

But while he notes that research shows war films as a key influence on British infantry recruits’ decision to enlist, he also explains how films like Avatar and The Hunger Games provide dissenting narratives.

Formed in 2011, Veterans for Peace UK is also working to counter pro-war propaganda, sending former soldiers into schools to teach children about the reality of war. “Simply put, we ought to know what war is, at the very least, before deciding whether or not to lend its support,” argues Gee.

While the parliamentary defeat for the government on their proposed attack on Syria was a huge victory for the anti-war movement, Gee is fully aware of the power disparity between the resistance and the Establishment.

“It might have failed to win our support for its recent wars but the government’s power to elicit public compliance and shape social culture through the education system, the media, and legislation is prodigious,” he notes.

Spectacle, Reality, Resistance is a short book but it’s important in inspiring anyone interested in exploring the increasing militarisation of society and learning about those opposing it.

British government loves wars, hates refugees from those wars


This video from London, England says about itself:

Libya: Stop the War Coaliton protest at Downing Street 19.04.11

As Cameron, Sarkozy and Obama escalated the attack on Libya to a regime-change war, Stop the War Coalition joined with CND and War on Want to protest at Downing Street, London, calling on the British government to end its bombing campaign. Video by Anupam Pradhan and Keith Halstead.

From weekly The Observer in Britain:

Bishop says Britain has a moral duty to accept refugees from its wars

Rt Rev David Walker, bishop of Manchester, says it is ‘unworthy’ for politicians to label displaced migrants as criminals, and country should take in ‘fair share’

Mark Townsend

Saturday 25 April 2015 20.33 BST

One of the country’s most senior bishops has said that Britain has a moral imperative to accept refugees from conflicts in which it has participated.

After a week in which the death toll of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean into Europe grew to 1,700 so far this year, the bishop of Manchester, David Walker, said there was a duty to treat the survivors with compassion.

In a piece for the Observer published online, he writes: “They are pushed, not pulled, towards the EU, forced out of their homelands by war, terrorism and the persecution of minorities. A political rhetoric that characterises them as wilful criminals rather than helpless victims is as unworthy as it is untrue.”

The UK’s pivotal role in the 2003 invasion of Iraq prompted a sectarian war that the UN said had forced two million Iraqis to flee the country, an involvement that ran alongside the 13-year Afghanistan war and was followed by the 2011 attacks on Libya, both of which precipitated significant regional instability and migration.

According to the UN Refugee Agency in 2013, one in four refugees was Afghan, although most were in neighbouring countries, while the ongoing instability in Libya was credited with making the north African state a haven for people smugglers.

Walker writes: “The moral cost of our continual overseas interventions has to include accepting a fair share of the victims of the wars to which we have contributed as legitimate refugees in our own land.

“I want my country to be governed by those who are prepared to look at the faces of the desperate, be it the desperation of the asylum seeker or of the food bank client, and to look at them with compassion.”

He also criticised the language of mainstream parties on issues such as immigration and suggested that politics needed a new moral compass in the context of the growing number of deaths in the Mediterranean. “I want my political representatives to show they have values beyond expediency and appeal to the muddled middle. Only such politicians will I trust with the wellbeing of my family, my community and my nation.”

Despite the huge numbers of migrants heading north, only 5,000 resettlement places across Europe have been offered to refugees under an emergency summit crisis package agreed by EU leaders, with the rest sent back as irregular migrants under a new rapid-return programme coordinated by the EU’s border agency, Frontex.

“Welcome though it was that European leaders sat down to talk about the situation this week, their conclusions seem more directed at making the symptoms less visible than at tackling the disease,” said Walker.

EU ‘humanitarian’ response to hundreds of migrants drowning – a war on migrants: here.

From Europe, to Asia, to the Americas, the world is witnessing growing numbers of refugees and a corresponding wave of state repression and violence directed at denying them their fundamental democratic rights: here.

THE Easterhouse Baptist Church in Glasgow, which I attend, befriends and is strengthened by local asylum-seekers. It also supports a Baptist couple, David and Ann McFarlane, who are located in Reggio Calabria on the southern tip of Italy. This is a port where boats from Africa and Syria attempt to land refugees. Not all make it and drowned bodies float in. David and Ann join with others to welcome the penniless arrivals and provide food, clothes and shelter: here.

Racism in United States Army causes soldier’s suicide


This video from the USA about the Rupert Murdoch media says about itself:

Bob Beckel Earns His Pay As Fox News‘ Clown ‘Liberal’ Racist

11 July 2014

Fox News‘ token liberal host Bob Beckel used a racial slur Thursday on “The Five” to refer to Chinese hackers.

“The Chinese are the single biggest threat to the national security of the U.S.,” Beckel said. “They have been, they will be and they can wait, they’re very patient. You know what they just did? As usual, we bring them over here and we teach a bunch of Chinamen — uh, Chinese people — how to do computers. They go back to China and they hack into us, right?”

Beckel then made a vulgar arm gesture to drive his point home.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

US army platoon investigated for ‘Racial Thursdays’ tradition of soldiers yelling racist insults at one another

Reports claim commanding officer supported tradition as he believed it helped camaraderie

Andrew Buncombe

Friday 20 March 2015

The US army is investigating claims that a platoon where a soldier of Chinese origin took his own life after allegedly receiving racist taunts, has been holding “racial Thursdays” where soldiers hurl epithets at one another without any reprimand.

Reports said officials had launched an investigation into the “tradition”, after receiving complaints from a black sergeant who said a superior officer had supported the practice as he believed it helped build camaraderie.

The Army Times said the platoon being investigated – the Alaska-based 1st Stryker Brigade, 25th Infantry Division – is the group that Pvt Danny Chen belonged to.

Mr Chen, who was of Chinese ethnic background, is said to have killed himself in October 2011 in Afghanistan after what prosecutors alleged was physical and emotional abuse from his fellow soldiers. Eight soldiers were charged following Mr Chen’s suicide.

“It’s degrading to the soldiers,” a staff sergeant who was not identified, told the newspaper. “We’ve had soldiers almost fight over the crap that’s going on here.”

He added: “When I first got to my unit, someone said we should do Racial Thursdays because it’s been a tradition. It’s something they made up where you can say any racist remark you want without any consequences. The platoon sergeant said no, but the shit is still going on.”

The army did not immediately respond to The Independent’s inquiries on Friday. However, Lt Col Alan Brown, a spokesman for the  army’s Alaska command, confirmed to the Army Times that an inquiry was underway.

Thomas Jefferson, Louis Agassiz, Donald Rumsfeld and racism in the USA: here.

United States politician’s suicide because of Republican colleague’s anti-Semitism


This video from the USA says about itself:

Was Tom Schweich Assassinated by GOP?

27 February 2015

Tom Schweich, Missouri Auditor And Gubernatorial Candidate, Dead At Age 54

Schweich attended Yale University and then Harvard Law School, made his political debut in 2009. He had initially considered running for the seat being vacated in 2010 by Republican U.S. Sen. Kit Bond, and he had the encouragement of his mentor, former U.S. Sen. John Danforth. But Schweich defered to Rep. Roy Blunt to avoid a divisive GOP Senate primary and instead challenged and defeated Democratic State Auditor Susan Montee in the 2010 election.

Schweich spent last weekend wooing fellow Republicans during the state GOP’s annual conference in Kansas City. He spoke energetically, frequently touting his work rooting out government waste and corruption as auditor.

But he also emphasized charity, citing his Christian beliefs as a source of compassion and promising to cut back on government spending and misuse without hurting the poor.

“Part of being a Christian is you gotta help people,” Schweich said while speaking to about a dozen members of the Missouri Republican Assembly on Saturday, his wife watching from the back of a small conference room in the Kansas City Marriott Downtown.

Later that day he scooped dollops of ice cream for supporters until his hands hurt.

Schweich was Danforth’s chief of staff for the 1999 federal investigation into the deadly government siege at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, and followed Danforth to the United Nations, where he was chief of staff for the U.S. delegation.

President George W. Bush appointed Schweich to the State Department in 2005 as an international law enforcement official. Two years later, Bush picked Schweich to coordinate the anti-drug and justice reform efforts in Afghanistan.

By Nick Barrickman in the USA:

Missouri Republican candidate, apparent target of anti-Semitic comments, commits suicide

28 February 2015

Missouri’s state auditor Tom Schweich died Thursday from a single gunshot to the head in what police are ruling an “apparent suicide.” According to a spokesperson for Schweich, he had been preparing to go public with allegations of anti-Semitism against state Republican Party Chairman, John Hancock.

Schweich, a practicing Episcopalian with a Jewish grandfather, had announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for governor of Missouri in the 2016 elections. Hancock, who is alleged to have made disparaging remarks about Schweich’s faith and ethnicity in private discussions, had worked as a consultant for rival Republican gubernatorial candidate, Missouri House Speaker Catherine Hanaway.

“The campaign had been difficult, as all campaigns are,” said Schweich’s spokesman Spence Jackson. “There were a lot of things that were on his mind.” Attempts to identify Schweich as Jewish were seen as potentially damaging to his chances of appealing to the Christian fundamentalists who play an enormous role in Republican primary elections.

Hancock denied the claims, stating that, “I don’t have a specific recollection of having said that,” while adding that it was “plausible that I would have told somebody that Tom was Jewish, because I thought he was, but I wouldn’t have said it in a derogatory or demeaning fashion.”

According to Tony Messenger, the editorial page editor for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Schweich had contacted him personally the morning of his death, requesting reporters be sent to his residence for a videotaped interview on the matter. Messenger said in a public letter that Schweich had been experiencing “significant angst” in the days prior to the suicide, and that “he had heard from campaign donors that while political consultant John Hancock was doing work for gubernatorial candidate Catherine Hanaway, he would mention in passing that Mr. Schweich was Jewish.” Messenger stated that Schweich had said he had a number of donors who would go on record to support the allegations.

A series of phone calls on the day of his death suggest that Schweich was undergoing some sort of crisis or breakdown. He called first the AP, then the Post-Dispatch, setting up appointments for interviews on the charge of anti-Semitism, but shot himself a few minutes later.

Whatever the circumstances that precipitated the fatal events, Schweich had held a series of responsible, high-stress positions in the federal government, beginning with a 1999 appointment as chief of staff for former US Senator John Danforth, who headed the federal probe into the FBI’s actions at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas.

He worked as chief of staff to the US ambassador to the United Nations for three years, serving three successive ambassadors—Danforth, then Anne Patteron, then John Bolton. He was also principal deputy secretary of state in the administration of President George W. Bush, responsible for international law enforcement, with a particular focus on illegal drug trafficking in Afghanistan under the US occupation.

That such an individual could be driven to suicide—if indeed that is what happened—speaks volumes about the toxic political environment in the American political establishment, and particularly in the fever swamps of the Republican Party’s right-wing.

See also here.