British government lets Grenfell survivors down

This video from London, England says about itself:

Grime artist AJ Tracey on Grenfell Tower fire: ‘We’ve seen no government response

19 June 2017

AJ Tracey and his brother Mickey, who live close to Grenfell Tower in north Kensington, London, say they have witnessed no help from central or local government in response to the disaster. In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, they tell Iman Amrani the community has pulled together and ‘acted as a family’ for the victims.

By Felicity Collier in Britain:

Survivors still let down 6 months on

Monday 11th December 2017

Labour demands action from government to address its failings.

LABOUR is demanding answers and action from the government, six months on from the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Jeremy Corbyn accused the government today of failing the survivors, and branded it a disgrace that the majority of residents have still not been properly housed.

The Labour leader said: “Six months on from the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire, the government is failing to learn its lessons and, more importantly, failing the survivors.

“It is a disgrace that the majority of Grenfell residents have still not been given homes and that tower blocks across our country have still not been made safe. We need answers from the government and we need action.”

Shadow housing secretary John Healey has written to the Prime Minister, urging her to address several areas of failure including rehousing, testing of other blocks and funding.

The calls came as Britain’s human rights watchdog announced that it will conduct a review into the conduct of the government and Kensington and Chelsea Council before and after the fire.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has pledged to ensure that any critical shortcomings are not “overlooked” in its probe into the deadly fire which killed 71 people on June 14.

Its intervention comes amid concerns that the separate, judge-led public inquiry may neglect human rights issues.

The watchdog, which has had its budget slashed by the Tories, said: “The Grenfell Tower fire caused catastrophic loss of life for which the state may have been responsible.

“More than 70 people died in homes managed by the state. They should have been safe and they were not.”

The EHRC will consider whether authorities failed in their duty to protect human life after residents’ warnings about fire safety failings were ignored.

It will also look at the council’s obligation under international human rights law to provide “adequate and safe housing”, and will likely take into account the flammable cladding system that was wrapped around the council-owned tower in the months before the fire.

The work, expected to conclude by April, will also review whether tenants received adequate access to justice.

EHRC chair David Isaac said: “From the right to life to the duty to provide adequate housing, there are several areas where the state fell short in its duties to its citizens and these must be properly addressed.”

Grenfell Tower fire: Police considering manslaughter, corporate manslaughter and misconduct charges, hearing told. Jeremy Johnson QC said Scotland Yard was committed to carrying out a ‘thorough’ investigation, which was ‘desperately needed’: here.


Secret British Conservative-Rupert Murdoch deal

This video about Britain says about itself:

20 July 2011

At a rowdy emergency session of Parliament, British lawmakers grilled U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron on his relationship with Rupert Murdoch and his now disgraced executive team, reports Elizabeth Palmer.

By Julie Hyland in Britain:

Former UK minister indicates Brexit referendum “deal” between Rupert Murdoch and David Cameron

7 December 2017

The campaign over alleged “Russian meddling” in Britain’s 2016 referendum on membership of the European Union (EU) has now rumbled on for months.

With little substance, the claim is regularly made that the Leave vote was the result of the Putin government in Moscow planting “fake news” to achieve a desired political objective.

Such allegations are the British corollary of the campaign initiated by the Democrats and sections of the military-intelligence establishment in the United States, which also finds an echo throughout Europe. The aim is to justify both accelerating war preparations against Russia and massive state censorship of social media.

A remarkable admission by former Conservative justice secretary, Ken Clarke, to a government committee, raises far more substantive evidence of an insidious, pervasive and systematic effort to subvert the democratic process, also centred on Brexit, and involving wholesale manipulation of the news.

In contrast to the campaign against Russia, this has gone largely without comment because it concerns Clarke’s suggestion that former Tory leader David Cameron struck a “deal” with Rupert Murdoch in the run-up to the 2010 general election.

The former cabinet minister made his comments before the non-ministerial Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), part of an investigation into a proposed £11.7 billion takeover of the UK TV company Sky by Murdoch and his 21st Century Fox.

The deal would give Murdoch just under 20 percent of the TV news market and 45 percent of the radio audience in the UK, making him the largest competitor to the British Broadcasting Corporation. However, Murdoch’s reach is far more extensive, as he already controls the largest circulation share of any newspaper group in Britain—including the Sun, the Sun on Sunday, the Times and the Sunday Times.

The Fox/Sky move comes just five years after Murdoch’s now defunct News of the World was accused of criminality on an “industrial” scale, involving widespread phone hacking. Since then, it has settled at least 1,000 cases.

A key element in the rehabilitation of the Murdoch empire was the whitewash inquiry into press standards, led by Lord Leveson. Clarke noted in his interview—the transcript of which just became available—that the second part of the inquiry was never held because the government was scared it would “upset Rupert.”

For more than a decade, and through three general elections, the oligarch had been a strident backer of Tony Blair and his New Labour government—so much so that Murdoch was described as an unofficial cabinet member.

This changed in the run-up to 2010. Clarke said “quite how” then Conservative Party leader Cameron had “got the Sun” away from Labour, “I shall never know.” Murdoch “would never let Tony down because Tony had backed the Iraq war,” he said, so “Maybe it was some sort of a deal. David would not tell me what it was. Suddenly we got the Murdoch empire on our side.”

Clarke said he assumed the appointment of Andy Coulson, former editor of News of the World between 2003 and 2007, as Cameron’s director of communications “was part of the deal.”

After the Tories’ surprise win in 2010, Clarke met with Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of Murdoch’s British arm, News International. Referring to Brooks’ law-and-order campaigns, Clarke said she “was instructing me on criminal justice policy… as I think she had instructed my predecessor…”

Brooks told Clarke that she was “running the government now in partnership with David Cameron” and instructed him to buy “prison ships because she had got some more campaigns coming,” he relayed.

Coulson was forced to quit as Cameron’s communications director in January 2011, just before he was arrested, accused of conspiracy to intercept voicemails. In June 2014, he was found guilty. He served just five months of an 18-month sentence.

Brooks’ plea of incompetence—that she was unaware of the illegal activities of the newspaper she had edited for three years—was accepted. The following year, she was made CEO of News UK, the relaunched News International.

Clarke is not the first to suggest a deal. At the time of the 2010 election, Labour’s [Lord] Peter Mandelson said Murdoch had agreed a “contract” with Cameron. This was denounced as sour grapes by the Tories. Cameron categorically denied any agreement stating, “There was no overt deal for support, there was no covert deal, no nods and winks.” There was no “trading policies for that support.”

Clarke’s account of Brooks’ remarks suggest that the former prime minister perjured himself. At any rate, it is a matter of record that Cameron met with executives of Murdoch’s News Corp and its UK subsidiaries on more occasions than with all other media outlets combined over the same timeframe. Murdoch told a committee of MPs investigating the phone hacking scandal that he “often entered Downing Street by the back door.”

As the World Socialist Web Site commented following the conclusion of the Leveson Inquiry, successive Tory and Labour governments “bent their knee at Murdoch’s court,” as the media mogul exercised “close to veto power over state policy! Democracy is a façade behind which plutocrats and their political hirelings operate as a law unto themselves.”

Clarke’s remarks confirm this appraisal. And not only prison ships are involved.

In 2004, Blair infamously made a sudden reversal on Labour’s opposition to a referendum on EU membership. That year, the EU agreed to draw up a constitution. In response, the Tories forced a vote in parliament demanding a referendum to veto the move, which Labour opposed, and was lost. Murdoch’s press ran with denunciations of Blair and Labour for “treachery.”

Murdoch had long campaigned for a British exit from the EU, which he accused of imposing unnecessary regulatory burdens on big business. His titles functioned as the main outlet for the euro-sceptic wing of the bourgeoisie.

Within weeks, Blair had changed his position. After a holiday, in which he returned home by way of Washington and New York, Blair announced he would support a referendum—to the astonishment of his cabinet, many of whom had not been informed.

According to reports, Blair’s change of mind on a referendum came after a visit from Sunday Times columnist Irwin Stelzer, who informed him Murdoch’s media would come out against him unless he did so.

Blair gave himself wriggle room, however, stating that the referendum should be held only after a constitution was agreed. In the end, referendums in the Netherlands and France vetoed the planned draft. The EU simply moved ahead regardless under the guise of the Lisbon Treaty.

In 2009, Cameron committed an incoming Conservative government to support a referendum. Having won office in 2010, with Murdoch’s backing, he vacillated several times in implementing this pledge—not least because of concern at the possibility of a Leave vote—before officially committing in 2013 to hold a referendum by 2017.

The 2016 referendum vote narrowly went to Leave—heavily backed by Murdoch—and Cameron, who led the Remain campaign, was forced to quit as prime minister. He was replaced by Theresa May, also a Remain campaigner, but who leads a cabinet committed to Brexit.

Murdoch was one of the first people May met as prime minister, using a visit to New York in September 2016—where she was making her maiden speech to the United Nations—to hold a private audience with the oligarch.

It is suggested that it was Murdoch who instructed May to appoint arch-Brexiteer, Michael Gove, to her cabinet, despite him backing Boris Johnson against her in the post-referendum leadership contest. Gove returned in June.

Talking about Rupert Murdoch: usually, wildfires in California in the USA hurt mainly not so rich people. However, this time the wildfires in Southern California ravaged the expensive Bel Air area in Los Angeles; destroying over half of Rupert Murdoch’s 30 million dollar vineyard there.

California fires – live updates: High winds intensify blazes as they hit Los Angeles. Live Blog. Fires are continuing to spread across Southern California: here.

British Conservatives complicit in Saudi butchery of Yemenis

This video says about itself:

Displaced Yemeni children speaking out about the Saudi-led war

22 November 2017

By Steve Sweeney in Britain:

Tories under fire as Damian Green

British Conservative Damian Green, deputy of Prime Minister Theresa May, is in a porn scandal; and former Conservative activist Kate Maltby accuses him of sexually harassing her.

defends deadly arms sales to Saudi Arabia

Thursday 30th November 2017

PM’s number two squirms under questioning as May fawns on Gulf tyrants

THE TORY government should continue to sell deadly weapons to Saudi Arabia, Damian Green insisted yesterday, despite being warned that 150,000 children would die in Yemen as a result.

Theresa May’s deputy told the Commons that British jobs would be at risk if weapons sales to the Saudis stopped because of concerns over war crimes committed during the three-year bombing campaign.

Mr Green was standing in at Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday as she flew into the Middle East for a three-day trip to drum up business for trade.

Scottish National Party leader Ian Blackford pressed Mr Green over weapons sales to Saudi Arabia in a heated Commons exchange.

Mr Blackford blasted: “The UK government has received £4.6 billion in selling arms to Saudi Arabia since the war in Yemen began. A war which has created a devastating humanitarian crisis.

Yemen is now on the brink of famine and Unicef has said that 150,000 children will die by the end of this year.

“Doesn’t the First Secretary agree that the best thing the Prime Minister can do with her meetings today is follow the example of the Netherlands and suspend licences for arms sales to Saudi Arabia?”

However, Mr Green told MPs it would be a mistake for the government to stop selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, despite a reported 10,000 deaths and millions affected by a cholera epidemic, as it might put jobs at risk.

Former defence secretary Michael Fallon caused a stir last month when he suggested MPs should stop criticising Saudi Arabia over human rights abuses and possible war crimes as it was hindering the sale of British-made fighter jets.

And anti-war campaigners failed in their High Court bid to bring a judicial review earlier this year pausing arms sales, despite the government being advised by three influential Commons committees to do so pending investigations.

Saudi Arabia is currently on the government’s own human rights watch list amid concerns over widespread abuses in the country, including state execution of children and the use of torture.

But continuing the sale of weapons to Riyadh is the right thing to do for Britain’s prosperity, according to Mr Green.

The PM is under pressure to raise the issue of child executions by the Saudi state during her visit to discuss post-Brexit trade deals.

Human rights organisation Reprieve said the Prime Minister arrived in Riyadh just after the 125th person had been killed this year.

Reprieve spokeswoman Maya Foya said: “Many more face imminent execution for attending protests calling for greater democratic rights, some when they were only children. They were sentenced to death in courts that relied on confessions gained through torture.”

While Ms May’s plans to raise the issue of a Saudi-imposed blockade on aid reaching the Yemeni people was welcomed, she was urged to stop selling weapons that contribute to their suffering.

Campaign Against Arms Trade spokesman Andrew Smith said that British weapons have underpinned the Saudi bombardment of Yemen.

He told the Star: “Theresa May is right to raise the issue of the devastating blockade, but the best thing she can do for the people of Yemen is to end the arms sales.

“How many more will die before May and her colleagues finally stop putting arms company profits ahead of Yemeni lives?”

MPs will debate the ongoing crisis in Yemen today in an emergency debate tomorrow after Tory MP Andrew Mitchell warned of a catastrophe of “biblical proportions.”

He said current policy will result in a “huge strategic failure” for Saudi Arabia with Britain “dangerously complicit” in the unfolding famine in Yemen.

MPs criticised for failing to turn up to debate on humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Only about 30 MPs showed up for emergency debate on ‘almighty catastrophe’ taking place: here.