Grouse-shooting lobby bribing British Conservative politicians

This is as red grouse video from Staffordshire in England.

By Luke James in Britain:

Shooting lobbyists bankroll Tory jolly

Monday 8th February 2016

Five senior backbenchers treated to grouse-hunting weekend

FIVE senior Tory MPs took part in a bloody “lads’ jolly” paid for by Britain’s biggest pro-shooting lobbying group, the Morning Star can reveal.

Graham Brady, chair of the influential 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, was among the group taken on a hunting weekend by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC).

Two more members of the committee’s executive, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown and Bill Wiggin, were also on the gruesome getaway, along with former attorney general Sir Edward Garnier and former environment committee member Mark Spencer.

Entries in the register of MPs’ interests shows the trigger-happy Tories were treated to “one day’s shooting and one night’s accommodation” by BASC.

The MPs were taken to the grade-II-listed Hoar Cross, which is described on its website as a “stately home retreat that pairs period style with modern luxury and attentive service.”

The total cost of the trip for BASC came to £3,860 — £772 for each MP.

Former Labour MP and animal rights campaigner Chris Williamson said it was clear that BASC was “providing hospitality to influence MPs.”

And it seems the group, which also spent thousands of pounds on an exhibition stand at last year’s Tory conference where delegates could enjoy a virtual shooting game, is having some success in its lobbying.

“At the same time as this Tory government is imposing austerity on the country, it has doubled subsidies for wealthy grouse moor owners,” Mr Williamson pointed out.

The Green Party has raised concerns during recent flooding over how managing land for grouse shooting prevents drainage, with devastating consequences for communities downstream.

And last night leader Natalie Bennett told the Star: “I wonder if during the Tory lads’ jolly the MPs took expert advice in these issues, or asked about the steps required to produce the number of grouse they were shooting?

“Managing the moors for intensive shooting is environmentally damaging and incompatible with a robust flood prevention programme.

“It is one of the reasons why the Green Party will continue to call for a ban on driven grouse shooting in the UK.”

The Star asked the MPs to comment on the criticism and come clean about how many animals they killed but did not receive a reply.

In December, the Star revealed how 1922 Committee executive member Simon Hart is being paid £30,000 a year to act as a consultant for the pro-hunting Countryside Alliance.

British government to be deported for bad spelling?

This video from 1992 in the USA says Vice President Dan Quayle attempts to correct a student spelling the word “potato”.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

English test launch mocked for misspelling language

Saturday 23rd January 2016

THE Tory plan to force migrants to pass English tests in order to stay in Britain was ridiculed yesterday after officials bungled their spelling in a policy announcement letter.

An item on the Home Office website explaining new regulations on English language requirements for those applying for family visas spelled the word language as “langauge.”

SNP Glasgow MSP Humza Yousaf quipped on Twitter: “Do Home Office civil servants have to pass an English language test? If they fail will they be deported?!”

BBC Radio 4 presenter Anita Anand said the typo was “beyond parody.”

This reminds me of United States former Vice President Dan Quayle, who told school children they should spell potato ‘potatoe’.

Britain’s David Cameron bullies Muslim women

This video from Britain says about itself:

Zahra Al-Alawi’s response to Prime Minister David Cameron‘s statement

18 January 2016

Zahra Al-Alawis response to Prime Minister David Cameron

On Thursday 14th January 2016 Zahra Al-Alawi along with other influential British Muslim women attended a meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron at 10 Downing Street.

On Monday 18th January 2016 the Prime Minister made a statement that Muslim women should learn English so that they can integrate into society in response to some families and communities who speak no or little English to prevent radicalisation.

By Lamiat Sabin in Britain:

PM threatens Muslim women

Tuesday 19th January 2016

Poor English language skills make women ‘more susceptible’ to Isis, claims Esol-slashing Cameron

A “LAZY, misguided and sloppy” David Cameron threatened yesterday to deport Muslim women who don’t improve their English, claiming they were easy prey for Islamic State (Isis) extremism.

The Prime Minister limply stated there was no “causal connection” between language and terrorism before warning that the 40,000 women in Britain who do not speak English — and 190,000 whose English is very poor — are “more susceptible” to the group’s message.

Women arriving in Britain on spousal visas are expected to have English skills at A1 level, equivalent to a native speaker starting primary school, but would need to reach A2 level within two-and-a-half years under his proposals.

Those who fail “can’t guarantee [they] will be able to stay.”

He announced a new £20 million fund in England to boost Muslim women’s language skills — less than six months after slashing £45m from the Esol (English for speakers of other languages) budget.

The cuts have ended the very classes that are designed to help people improve their English, the University and College Union (UCU) said.

Esol has already had its funding for non-apprenticeship courses cut by 40 per cent since 2009.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: “The Prime Minister’s strong words on the importance of learning English simply do not fit with his actions.

“His government has repeatedly cut funding to help foreign language speakers learn English and this money, although welcome, does not go far enough.

“Politicians need to back that rhetoric up with proper funding.”

Mr Cameron visited a project for Bangladeshi women in Leeds to promote his new plans — but reporters were banned from speaking to them, complaining the PM had set up a “propaganda” trip.

Mr Cameron also faced backlash from Islamic groups and former Tory minister Baroness Warsi for singling out Muslim women.

Lady Warsi, the Tories’ first female Muslim cabinet minister, attacked her party leader for his “lazy, misguided, sloppy linking” of language skills and extremism.

She told BBC Radio 4 that his threats of deportation was “a very unusual way of empowering and emboldening women.”

Ramadhan Foundation head Mohammed Shafiq accused Mr Cameron of once again using British Muslims as “a political football to score cheap points to appear tough.”

And Muslim Council of Britain secretary-general Shuja Shafi said Mr Cameron’s aim for better integration “falls at the first hurdle” if he has to bully Muslim women to drive his ideology.

Shadow home secretary Andy Burnham said: “His clumsy and simplistic approach to challenging extremism is unfairly stigmatising a whole community.

“There is a real danger that it could end up driving further radicalisation rather than tackling it.”

ATTEMPTS to link a lack of fluency in English with susceptibility to propaganda from the Isis death cult betray a fixation with scapegoat-seeking rather than community integration. David Cameron takes care to admit that there is no “causal link,” but he knows that conjoining the two in a speech will encourage people to believe that there is: here.

British government-Saudi Arabian government relations

This video from the USA says about itself:

As Saudi Arabia Executes Sheikh al-Nimr, Will U.S. Respond by Cutting $50 Billion in Weapons Sales?

4 January 2016 – After Saudi Arabia executed Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr on Saturday along with 46 others, protesters in the Iranian capital of Tehran responded by torching part of the Saudi Embassy. On Sunday, Saudi Arabia responded by severing ties with Iran. With Saudi Arabia and Iran backing opposing groups in Syria and Iraq, and on opposite sides of the conflict in Yemen, we examine how this will impact both regional tensions and the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia. Under the Obama administration, the United States has entered a record $50 billion in new arms sales agreements with the Saudis.

“If the Obama administration wants to show its displeasure with this execution and try to bring an end to the war in Yemen, there’s got to be a distancing from Saudi Arabia, beginning with cutting off some of these arms supplies,” says William Hartung, senior adviser to the Security Assistance Monitor and director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy. We also speak with Toby Jones, an associate professor of history and director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University and author of “Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia,” and with Ali al-Ahmed, the founder and director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs.

By Felicity Arbuthnot in Britain:

Britain and the Saudis: allies in atrocities

Thursday 14th January 2016

PRIME Minister David Cameron’s government can claim absolute consistency in just one policy: towering, jaw-dropping hypocrisy.

They follow in Tony Blair and his tantrum-prone, nail-biting successor, Gordon Brown’s footsteps as they attempt to market potential war crimes and illegal assaults as democracy-bringing, despot-vanquishing acts of mercy.

Recent events have again highlighted their contempt for human life, human rights and international law.

On Saturday January 3 Saudi Arabia announced it had executed 47 people.

Last September Saudi Arabia was elected chair of the UN human rights council panel that appoints independent experts, due (according to the Guardian) to Britain’s “secret vote-trading deals with Saudis to ensure both states were elected to the [council], according to leaked diplomatic cables.”

This was “after Riyadh sanctioned more than a hundred beheadings so far [in 2015] — more, it is claimed, than Islamic State [ISIS].”

So much for the integrity of the British and UN institutions.

According to legal action charity Reprieve, the: “executions took place in 12 cities in Saudi Arabia, four prisons using firing squads and the others beheading. The bodies were then hanged from gibbets in the most severe form of punishment available in the kingdom’s law.”

Amnesty International is specific: “The death penalty breaches two essential human rights: the right to life and the right to live free from torture. Both rights are protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN in 1948.”

Reprieve has now updated executions in Saudi Arabia for 2015 to “at least” 158 people. Among 2015 highlights of the country’s justice system include a 19-year-old woman gang-raped by seven men, subjected to 200 lashes and jailed for six months. Moreover, her lawyer Abdul Rahman al-Lahem was banned and had his professional licence revoked.

The response to this barbarism from Britain, which has enjoined in the destruction of the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria in the last two decades in the name of freeing citizens from “regimes” who “kill their own people,” was expressed by Foreign Office Minister Tobias Elwood as “disappointment.”

Invited on the BBC’s Today programme on January 8 to condemn the primitive inhumanity of the executions, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond declined, faithfully echoing Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman by stating that those shot, beheaded and hung from gibbets were “terrorists.”

As Reprieve has pointed out, “of those facing execution in Saudi Arabia in 2015, the vast majority — 72 per cent — were convicted of non-lethal offenses … while torture and forced ‘confessions’ were frequently reported.”

Further: “Far from being ‘terrorists,’ at least four of those killed were arrested after protests calling for reform — and were convicted in shockingly unfair trials. The Saudi government is clearly using the death penalty, alongside torture and secret courts, to punish political dissent.

“By refusing to condemn these executions and parroting the Saudis’ propaganda, labeling those killed as ‘terrorists’, Mr Hammond is coming dangerously close to condoning Saudi Arabia’s approach.”

He was not alone. UN secretary-general Ban Ki Moon was merely “dismayed,” on the day of the mass murders, however when the Saudi embassy in Tehran was attacked by protesters enraged at the killing of respected cleric Nimr al-Nimr, Ban “deplored the violence.”

Masonry clearly has far higher value than mortality at UN headquarters.

Four days later when the Saudis were accused of an attempt to bomb the Iranian embassy in Yemen and dropping (US-made) cluster munitions in a populated area, Ban ignored the embassy attack and was merely “troubled” and expressed “concern” about the latter, in spite of saying that “use of cluster munitions in populated areas may amount to a war crime due to their indiscriminate nature.” Britain was blind, deaf and mute.

US President Barack Obama’s spokesman referred to a “list of concerns” regarding Saudi Arabia’s shooting and head-chopping rampage, confirming gently that “mass executions would rate highly in that list of concerns.”

For most in the real world it would “rate highly” in horror, outrage and unequivocal condemnation with immediate imposition of draconian trade and travel sanctions and withdrawal of diplomatic missions as has been meted out to countries for considerably lesser outrages, indeed even imagined ones, think Iraq and “weapons of mass destruction.” The White House was though also very exercised by the “violent” attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran.

Well it would be. Forget concerns about tyrants who “kill their own people.” Last November alone the US administration approved a $1.29 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia. This was despite concerns about the country’s interference in Yemen.

Raed Jarrar, government relations manager for the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) points out that it is “illegal under US and international law to transfer weapons to human rights abusers, or to forces that will likely use it to commit gross violations of human rights.”

Moreover, “there is documented evidence that such abuses have been committed by almost all US allies in the region.”

According to the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT), “David Cameron has overseen £5.6bn of military licences” to Saudi Arabia.

CAAT demands that due to the “mass executions and bombing of Yemen, the UK must stop arming Saudi Arabia,” which it says is by far the largest buyer of British arms licences included fighter jets, tear gas, military vehicles and targeting equipment. Sixty-two per cent of British adults oppose the sales.

CAAT’s Andrew Smith states: “The Saudi regime has a history of locking up bloggers, executing critics and cracking down on dissent. Despite this they can always rely on getting almost uncritical support from countries like Britain that prioritise arms company profits over human rights.”

Smith emphasises that British “bombs and fighter jets have been central to the destruction of Yemen. As long as Saudi Arabia enjoys the political and military support of the most powerful Western nations, then it will continue oppressing its own population and those of neighbouring states.”

The British government may though at least finally be held to account, hopefully setting a precedent.

Lawyers working for CAAT have called for a judicial review challenging the government’s decision to export arms to Saudi Arabia.

A letter sent to the government has asked Business Secretary Sajid Javid to comment within 14 days on whether it will:

– Agree to suspend licences for the export of military equipment and technology to Saudi Arabia for possible use in Yemen pending the outcome of a full review.
– Agree not to grant further licences for the export of military equipment to Saudi Arabia pending the completion of such a review.

Rosa Curling of law firm Leigh Day, representing CAAT, said: “The UK government is under a clear legal obligation to ensure any military equipment and/or technology exported from this country to another, is not being used in breach of international humanitarian law.

“Given the widespread and credible evidence that the Saudi authorities are breaching their international obligations in Yemen, we can see no credible basis upon which the UK government can lawfully continue to export arms to them.

“We hope our client’s letter will cause the government to reconsider its position and suspend all licences with immediate effect, pending a proper investigation into the issue.”

Those executed or threatened with death in Saudi jails were not, of course, waging war against Allah. Some were simply availing themselves of the human right to write, blog and protest in the country of a Western ally — a West which, with the UN, shames all in its selective attitude to humanity and human rights.

UK’s soft diplomacy approach to Saudi Arabia is not enough, say families of juveniles still on death row. Exclusive: Families of three juveniles on Saudi death row say nothing has changed and they still have ‘the sword over their necks’, despite apparent UK intervention: here.

What’s the real story behind Saudi Arabia’s execution of Shia cleric al-Nimr? Here.