Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:
“It is smart that the activists jump on the yellow vest bandwagon”, says correspondent Marcel van der Steen. The vests have become the symbol of protests against the increase in fuel prices in France. “The protests in Iraq have been going on for months, but the vests ensure that these people now get more attention for their problems.”
The protesters gathered in front of a government building in the city, where they shouted slogans and set tires on fire. In the south of Iraq, water and electricity are only sporadically available and unemployment is high.
Since the elections in May this year, no new government has been formed in Iraq. According to Van der Steen, this means that so far little has happened to improve the living conditions in the area. “Because of the attention paid to the yellow vests, the pressure on the caretaker government is increasing”, says Van der Steen.
This 31 March 2018 SPA photo shows Jeff Bezos being chummy with the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammad bin Salman. Bezos is the boss of Amazon.com, notorious for its shabby treatment of workers, especially injured workers. Bezos is also the owner of the Washington Post daily.
At the time of this photo, Bezos could not know yet that, very probably on the orders of his princely buddy, his Washington Post employee Jamal Khashoggi would be murdered most cruelly. Since that murder, Bezos has been remarkably very silent on it, CNBC in the USA says.
Bezos did know at the time of the chummy photo that His Royal Highness Mohammad bin Salman was responsible for killing ten thousands of Yemeni civilians and threatening the lives of millions more by his famine warfare.
So, apparently, he hates critics of, eg, George W Bush’s Iraq war.
From VoteVets in the USA today:
Jeff Bezos — the world’s richest person — is funding a massive Super PAC that claims to be non-ideological in their support of veteran candidates.
Big problem with that, though.
Right now that Bezos-backed Super PAC is running ads attacking Lauren Baer, a former State Department appointee and Democratic candidate running for Congress in Florida, outrageously questioning her love of country, after 9/11.
And it uses all the same images and stereotypes the neoconservatives used to smear anyone who opposed the Iraq War. It is an absolutely dishonorable and shameful attack that has already resulted in one member of the Super PAC’s board resigning.
But today, we need to stand up for Lauren. Because these attacks are not only shameful, they could cost us a swing race we need to win in order to elect a Congress willing to stand up to Trump. …
The Super PAC’s name is With Honor. We want you to remember that. They are supporting more than a dozen Republican House candidates. With Trump in office, now is the time to pick sides. And using veterans to elect just enough Republicans to protect the Trump-led status quo is something we must reject.
All our best,
The team at VoteVets
POST WRITERS HAD TIES TO RIYADH Before the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, The Washington Post [ownerd by Bezos] was fine with having two of the newspaper’s regular opinion writers connected to lobbying firms with contracts with the Saudis. [HuffPost]
This 17 August 2018 video from the USA says about itself:
Trump’s HILARIOUS Excuse For Scrapping Military Parade
Trump’s base will gobble this up. Cenk Uygur, Ana Kasparian, Jayar Jackson, and Maz Jobrani, hosts of The Young Turks, discuss.
Trump said “local politicians” in D.C. were responsible for the cost in announcing the cancelation, though he offered no specific evidence.”
Read more here.
By Thomas Scripps in Britain:
UK military step up marches and parades on streets of Britain
26 September 2018
On September 13, several hundred soldiers from The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion of The Royal Regiment of Scotland marched through the streets of Inverness in full battle gear. The battalion had recently returned from a six-month tour in Iraq training Iraqi security forces. In a series of homecoming parades, the battalion marched over four successive days through towns and cities in Black Watch’s traditional recruiting areas, including Forfar, Dunfermline and Perth.
The Black Watch played a critical role in the war against Iraq, as British imperialism escalated its intervention after the illegal 2003 invasion. In October 2004, the regiment was moved 380 miles north from southern Iraq to Camp Dogwood, 20 miles (32 km) southwest of Baghdad. This was done in order to allow the UK’s main partner in crime, the US, to concentrate its forces on the bloody suppression of Fallujah.
Within 48 hours of arriving at their new base, the regiment suffered its first fatalities, as five members of the 850-strong Black Watch were killed and several others seriously wounded. The deaths led to growing opposition to the war, which the year before had sparked an anti-war march by some 2 million people in London.
The Inverness event was clearly intended to provide an intimidating display of firepower. Soldiers on the march wore body armour and carried assault rifles with bayonets attached. Some wore camouflage and carried sniper rifles. The soldiers marched alongside several large armoured vehicles equipped with manned, high-calibre machine guns. A section of the march appeared to be mimicking the routines of a live patrol.
The show of force in Scotland is one particularly extreme example of a succession of military parades that have taken place across Britain in just the last few months.
Many of these demonstrations have been held in connection with the awarding of the “freedom” of the city, town or borough to a particular regiment. Voted on by local councils, this is the highest honour a local authority can award.
In the case of military units, it gives the soldiers in question the right to “march with drums beating, bands playing, colours flying and bayonets fixed” through the streets of the town. There are roughly 640 such “freedoms” currently awarded to military bodies—at least 280 of which have been given since 2008.
* In February, the Royal Marines were granted the freedom of Birmingham—the UK’s second largest city—in a ceremony in its central square, followed by a parade along its main streets.
* On June 3, soldiers from the 21 Engineer Regiment exercised the Corps of Royal Engineers’ freedom to march in Ripon, Yorkshire.
* Earlier this month, 500 soldiers of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers were allowed to march from the Tower of London to Guildhall. The City of London’s Square Mile was closed while the parade took place.
* The 75 Engineers Regiment marched through Warrington, Cheshire last Saturday, having been awarded the Freedom of the Borough in 2013.
In many places, Freedom of the Borough parades were held in connection with Armed Forces Week. The Yorkshire Regiment marched through Redcar and Stockton in the North East of England on June 28 as part of a series of events, including a drill display and flyover by a Dakota Royal Air Force plane. Redcar’s high street was decked in red, white and blue bunting for the occasion.
Two days later, St Ives hosted 120 soldiers of the 42 Engineer Regiment for the same occasion, after which residents were encouraged to get to know the regiment at a local museum. In July, plans were announced for hundreds of soldiers from the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers to march in Nuneaton on June 9 next year, to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day and celebrate Armed Forces Day. The town closed its streets for a march by soldiers from the 30 Signal Regiment in 2015.
Some army units are marching through Britain’s streets on multiple occasions. Earlier this month, The Rifles regiment exercised the Freedom of the Town of Wakefield, Yorkshire. They will do the same this month in Sherborne, Dorset, and again in Lyme Regis, as part of an event to commemorate the centenary of the ending of the First World War.
The Duke of Lancaster’s regiment, having marched through Blackpool’s city centre some months ago, visited three additional towns and cities this year. On June 30, soldiers carried out a 40 minute march through Preston, protected by armed police. On September 15, the regiment’s 2nd Battalion participated in a 200-strong Battle of Britain parade through the centre of Barrow. Another march, this time through the town of Wyre, was announced for sometime this month.
The British people are being inured to the regular presence of the armed forces on the streets. In recent weeks, the crisis over Brexit has seen numerous warnings that such could be the economic tumult and “civil unrest” following the UK’s formal exit from the European Union next March that plans are in place to put troops onto the streets.
The regular presence of serving soldiers in public spaces is intended both to glorify the military and intimidate the population. The ruling class is deeply concerned by the growth of anti-war sentiment and widespread revulsion at the actions of British imperialism around the world over the past 15 years, since the invasion of Iraq.
Armed Forces Day was established in 2009 by the Labour government of Gordon Brown to counteract this sentiment, replacing Veterans’ Day, which had been observed since 2006. The parades and ceremonies are an attempt to create a bond between the population and “their” local regiments.
The aim is to assert the centrality of the military and its interests in British political life. The event in Inverness indicates that this purpose is to be pursued more aggressively in the future.
In conducting these parades, the armed forces have the full support of the whole spectrum of bourgeois political parties, not least the Labour Party. Barrow, Birmingham, Redcar, Stockton, Nuneaton, Preston, Warrington and Wakefield are all governed by majority-Labour councils, whose members hail the presence of the military on their streets.
Labour Councilor Karen Mundry, mayor of Warrington, said of the town’s march: “The men and women of the 75 Engineers Regiment have long had a close association with Warrington. We were delighted to bestow upon them our highest honour by granting them the Freedom of the Borough in 2013.”
She added, “We are very proud of the regiment and this is a fantastic opportunity to thank them for the work they do… I’d urge everyone to come along, show their support and see this magnificent regiment in all its glory.”
The Labour leader of Wakefield Council, Peter Box, enthused: “It is a great honour to welcome the men and women of the Rifles Regiment, who are the largest regiment in the British Army. Please come along, welcome them to the city and celebrate our servicemen and women by lining the streets and enjoying the military displays.”
Barry Longden, a Labour member in Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council, described a planned march through Nuneaton as “a fantastic day out for all of the residents in the borough and further afield, so I hope we will all support this.”
For all the talk of support and celebration, the truth is that the imperialist violence and banditry carried out by Britain’s armed forces over the last two decades are widely opposed by the population. The spree of military parades reflects the deep concerns of the ruling elite over this opposition, which stands in the way of the militarist agenda …
In recent years, the armed forces have intervened in political affairs in Britain in a manner unprecedented in modern history. Only a week after Jeremy Corbyn was first elected as Labour leader, Murdoch’s Sunday Times reported the threat of a “mutiny” by a “senior serving general” in the event of his becoming prime minister. This was due to Corbyn’s professed opposition to nuclear weapons and war.
Lord West, the former first sea lord and ex-Labour minister, declared that Corbyn “should not lead the nation.” West warned that Corbyn’s criticisms of militarism might get “the unthinking masses to vote for him.”
The author also recommends:
[18 September 2018]
This photo shows British Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May and her husband Philip May making their way to last year’s remembrance service for dead soldiers in London. Philip’s company, Capital Group, is the largest shareholder in arms dealers BAE Systems.
By Sam Tobin in Britain:
Sunday, September 2, 2018
Exclusive: Grieving father to boycott remembrance service in ‘disgust’
Kingsman Alex Green was shot dead in Basra in January 2007 while returning from a patrol in the city centre. He was 21.
His dad Bill Stewardson told the Star he was declining his invitation to this year’s Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall on November 10 on the basis that Prime Minister Theresa May, her husband Philip May and former Labour prime minister Tony Blair will also be there.
“I have got actual, real reasons to attend things like that: my son’s died. I don’t go because of people like that.
Mr Stewardson added: “If a shiny white ribbon could be placed around the Cenotaph … and only those who have not supported or profited from war were to be allowed through it, who do you think would be there? Where would Mr and Mrs May find themselves?
“Leaving aside my son’s death, which is difficult, how the hell can we have a Prime Minister whose husband directly profits from companies that avoid paying tax and make a huge profit from selling arms to Saudi Arabia? How can that be? Why is that fair?”
For years following his son’s death, he was “the voice in the wilderness”, still supporting the war in Iraq despite his loss, he also told the Star.
“Until sort of 18 months, two years ago”, he said, “I have been the one not speaking in the way that other bereaved families have been speaking. Every bereaved person in the country has a crutch.”
But he said former prime minister Gordon Brown’s book My Life, Our Times, published last year, was “the point at which my mind changed course.”
In the book, Mr Brown accuses the Pentagon of knowing that the evidence for “the existence of WMDs [weapons of mass destruction] was weak, even negligible and in key areas non-existent”, but failing to tell Britain.
He now believes that “we were all misled.”
Mr Stewardson added: “People will point the finger at me and say: ‘That’s not what you used to say’ — well, of course not, because I wasn’t aware then of what I am now.
“I actually have no problem with the way my son died, representing Queen and country.
“He knew what he was getting into, he signed the form, me and him had the conversation and that’s not what I’m complaining about — it’s the abuse of the memories of all those people.”
Dutch soldier in Afghanistan killed by colleagues, parents demand talk with ‘defence’ department: here.
This video from the USA says about itself:
20 August 2018
“We’ll keep troops there as long as we think they’re needed … The main reason, after ISIS (Islamic State) is defeated militarily is the stabilization efforts and we still need to be there for that, so that’s one of the reasons we’ll maintain a presence”, Colonel Sean Ryan told a news conference in Abu Dhabi.
Read more here.
This photo from the USA shows protesters placing a large inflatable balloon in the likeness of President Donald Trump dressed in a Ku Klux Klan sheet across the street from Southwest Key Campbell, a private jail for children that have been separated from their parents, in Phoenix, Arizona, last week.
By Meenakshi Jagadeesan in the USA:
Iraq war contractor ran US detention centre for immigrant children
12 July 2018
The “war on terror” has now come home in the form of the US government’s war against immigrants. A report released last week by Reveal, the website of the Center for Investigative Reporting, exposed the existence of a detention facility for immigrant children run by private defense contractor MVM.
The children were held in a large, vacant office building close to downtown Phoenix, Arizona. MVM, a Virginia-based company founded by three former Secret Service agents, at one time supplied guards for CIA-run prisons in Iraq.
Since 2014, the company has received contracts worth nearly $248 million, ostensibly to transport immigrant children. However, cell phone video footage recorded by concerned neighbors shows that MVM actually detained children in the Phoenix office building during the three weeks when the Trump administration was openly pursuing a policy of separately detaining all children from families arrested at the US-Mexico border.
Lianna Dunlap, a 25-year-old teaching assistant for children with autism, began recording the video footage when she saw white vans filled with dazed-looking children being unloaded into the formerly vacant office building for the second day in a row in early June. Some were so young, they had to be carried into the facility.
The few voices she could hear made it clear that the children were Spanish-speakers. Initially concerned that the children were being trafficked, Dunlap soon began to suspect that what she was witnessing was the detention of children who had been torn from their parents at the border under Trump’s “zero tolerance policy.”
Kristen Brown, another neighbor, also noticed that once brought in, children were never seen outside. Brown, herself a mother of an active two-year-old, told Reveal that she became worried about the lack of space and facilities for children inside the building. Brown then reached out to an on-site worker, telling him that “as a mom, it does not feel right … there are 40 kids in that place.” He added that she did not know what was being done with the children.
Concerned neighbors who tried to talk to the few on-site workers met with terse replies, if any. None saw the children outside the facility after they had been brought in. However, they did see food and water being brought in.
Three weeks after the first vans were sighted, Dunlap and others noticed the presence of five unmarked white vans to take the children away. The timing coincided with Trump’s executive order back-pedaling on family separations.
When her efforts to record the process were blocked by workers who moved the vans, Dunlap and her husband confronted them. They were told they could call the police, which they did. When the Phoenix police arrived at the building, they were informed that “MVM was contracted to perform that transport.”
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesperson Jennifer Elzea confirmed to Reveal the existence of the contract, stating that MVM “is authorized to use their office spaces as waiting areas for minors awaiting same-day transportation between US Customs and Border Protection custody and US Health and Human Services custody.” These spaces, Elzea claimed, provided the children “a more comfortable and private atmosphere” as compared to “public transportation hubs.”
MVM has claimed publicly that it does not operate “shelters or any other type of housing.” It is, however, a matter of public record that the company has held the lease for the Phoenix office building since shortly before Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ announcement of family separations under the “zero tolerance” policy.
When confronted with the fact that neighbors had video footage of children being taken into that facility, MVM claimed that it was a “temporary holding place” for children being flown to other locations. A company spokesperson insisted that the space was intended to hold children for a few hours before flights, but admitted that she was unsure how long the children ended up staying.
Apart from the testimony of the neighbors, Reveal reporters spotted objects including an inflatable mattress, a box marked “baby shampoo” and a medication schedule that made it apparent the building was, in fact, being used as a detention facility.
The Phoenix office building is not listed among the official shelters operated by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). Moreover, even if one took for good coin the claims of ICE and MVM about the Phoenix facility being merely a more comfortable transit center for children, it would not alter the fact that its use for such a purpose might be illegal under state law. The building, which has no kitchen, few toilets and only dark windows, is not licensed by Arizona to operate as a facility in which children are held or cared for. Such a license, as per the Arizona Department of Health Services, would require “qualified staff, outdoor play areas, age-appropriate toys, smoke detectors, a food establishment permit and other government health and safety inspections.”
Just last year, MVM was awarded a five-year contract worth $8 million by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the agency in charge of housing unaccompanied immigrant children, to “maintain readiness” and provide “emergency services.” Such services evidently include the running of unregulated and secret detention centers.
There is no reliable answer to the question of how many such facilities exist. The existence of this detention center was exposed only due to the actions of concerned citizens.
Brown, the neighbor who tried to obtain answers about the treatment of the children, was told by a worker that there was at least one other such facility run by the same company. MVM has refused to answer questions about how many such facilities it operates around the country.
Much like the CIA black sites operated under the veil of the “war on terror”, detention centers in this on-going war against immigrants operate outside of all accepted human rights norms and democratic oversight.
USA: The head of Health and Human Services has claimed that detaining immigrant kids is an act of “generosity.”